CALGARY, October 31, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Alberta's new conservative party has chosen as its first leader a candidate known for his pro-life values, and for taking a stand in defense of freedom for social conservatives.
Campaign Life Coalition, Canada's largest national pro-life group, says they are “delighted” that former federal minister Jason Kenney was chosen as leader of the newly minted United Conservative Party of Alberta.
“We congratulate Jason on his win. He is principled and highly qualified,” says Jeff Gunnarson, vice president of CLC, Canada’s national pro-life lobbying group.
Kenney captured 61.1 percent of the vote on the first ballot, which was announced Saturday at the UCP convention in Calgary.
Former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean received 31.5 percent and Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer 7.3 percent.
On Sunday, MLA for Calgary-Lougheed Dave Rodney announced that he was stepping down to allow Kenney to run in his riding.
Kenney wants NDP Premier Rachel Notley to call a by-election before Christmas so he can “enter the legislature without delay as the leader of the Opposition,” reported the Calgary Herald.
The UCP is the Alberta’s official opposition, holding 27 of the 87 seats in the Alberta legislature to the NDP’s 54.
It was formed in July when the Progressive Conservatives merged with the Wildrose, a process Kenney started about 16 months ago and which the media dubbed “uniting the right.”
But Kenney rejected that description in his Saturday night victory speech.
“This was never about uniting the right,” he said.
Rather, the UCP unites Albertans who hold “mainstream” values “like personal responsibility, self reliance, strong communities, and the family and not the government as the basic unit of society,” Kenney told the cheering crowd.
“Hope is on the horizon and common sense is coming back,” he said.
“We are one step closer to a government based on common sense and the mainstream values of ordinary Albertans, instead of the failed and divisive ideology of the NDP,” added Kenney.
“If we work hard, stay humble, and earn every vote, we will ensure that this deceptive, divisive, debt-quadrupling, tax-hiking, job-killing, accidental socialist government is won and done.”
Kenney appeared to downplay social conservative issues.
“We don’t care in this party what God you worship, or who you love, what we care about as Albertans is how hard you work,” he told the crowd.
“This is a big tent, diverse, free enterprise coalition that reflects the diversity of today’s Alberta, including younger Albertans, and that we will be in touch with the mainstream values of this province.”
Campaign Life backed Kenney based on his impeccable pro-life voting record during his 19 years as a federal MP, during which he held several high-level portfolios in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.
It also supported Kenney for his defence of parental rights during his campaign.
“We’re confident Jason will be the next premier of Alberta,” Gunnarson told LifeSiteNews.
“We hope that not only will Jason continue to defend parental rights, but that he will defend the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death during his campaign and as premier,” he added.
“Defunding abortion would be a good start.”
A Catholic convert, Kenney has spoken for the rights of parents even as the NDP overhauls the province’s curriculum, including its kindergarten to Grade 12 sex education program.
Kenney rebuked NDP Premier Rachel Notley after she claimed the Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta’s proposed sex-ed curriculum based on Catholic moral teaching was “unacceptable.”
“It’s not for me or the premier to dictate to the Catholic education system how it teaches Catholic values,” Kenney said.
“In this case, the Catholic school system has a constitutional right to be Catholic, and I would ask our premier to respect the Constitution and those rights,” he added.
“I wish she would stop picking fights with school boards and educators who are simply doing their best to live out their mandate.”
The NDP government also plans to make it illegal for schools to tell parents if their child has joined a “gay-straight alliance.”
Kenney observed parents have a right to know what is going on with their children at school, and schools must have a serious reason to withhold information from them.
Education Minister Dave Eggen and Notley thereupon accused Kenney of being an “extremist” who wants to “out” same-sex attracted students.
The new UCP leader dismissed the NDP when talking to reporters Sunday.
“It’s the same old, same old stuff they threw at Stephen Harper. It’s the NDP anger machine cranking up again,” Kenney told the National Post.
“The louder and more hysterical they get, the less people listen to them.”
Kenney said he’s ready to go to the polls if NDP “makes some strange decision” to call an election before the legislated date of between March and May 2019, reported the Globe and Mail.
He said the UCP’s founding convention will be held May 4-6 in Red Deer, the CBC reported.
The UCP is the second largest political party in Canada, with some 100,000 members.
Kenney announced his caucus leadership team on Monday afternoon.
Leela Aheer is deputy leader, Jason Nixon the leader of the opposition in the legislature and opposition house leader, Ric McIver the chief whip, Prab Gill the deputy whip, and Angela Pitt the deputy house leader.