For­mer Wil­drose boss seeks Al­berta Con­ser­va­tive crown, but lacks cash

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - News -

A for­mer Al­berta Wil­drose leader says he wants to run for the lead­er­ship of the new United Con­ser­va­tive party, but needs do­na­tions to meet the steep $95,000 en­try fee.

Paul Hin­man says he has to come up with $57,500 — about two-thirds of the money — by the Tues­day night dead­line, but isn’t sure he can do it.

Hin­man char­ac­ter­ized his chances of mak­ing the dead­line as “a coin flip.’’ “It’s not look­ing as good as I thought it would at this point in the game, but I’m not giv­ing up,’’ he said Mon­day in an in­ter­view.

He said the high fee is un­demo­cratic and not con­sis­tent with a party that champions grass­roots de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

“It’s not in the gen­eral in­ter­est,’’ he said. “I know as con­ser­va­tives we get hung up on dol­lar costs, and that was the ex­cuse that was given out, that we don’t want this to be a money-los­ing propo­si­tion. “(But) I think there are a few things in gov­ern­ment — as well as in the party — that it’s not about mak­ing money.’’

Hin­man served two sep­a­rate terms in the leg­is­la­ture, first as a mem­ber of the old Al­berta Al­liance in 2004, and later as a mem­ber of the merged Wil­drose Al­liance in 2009.

The Wil­drose joined forces with the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives ear­lier this sum­mer to form the new party. A new leader will be picked on Oct. 28 and there are four other an­nounced can­di­dates. The fee for the race has been set at $95,000 per can­di­date to cover the ex­pected cost of the vote and to en­sure it does not run a deficit.

The base fee is $75,000 along with a $20,000 good con­duct bond that will be re­funded if the can­di­date abides by the race rules. Half the base fee, $37,500, plus the $20,000 good con­duct bond is due Tues­day. Hin­man said he would stand for free votes in the leg­is­la­ture and pro­tect par­ents’ rights in ed­u­ca­tion.

He said he would also cham­pion con­science rights for public providers, some­thing the gov­ern­ing NDP cau­cus, in a state­ment, char­ac­ter­ized as “a dog whis­tle to mean re­strict­ing ac­cess to con­tra­cep­tion, abor­tion and med­i­cal as­sis­tance in dy­ing.’’

For­mer Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive leader Ja­son Kenney and for­mer Wil­drose chief Brian Jean are run­ning, as is long­time con­ser­va­tive strate­gist Doug Sch­weitzer and for­mer Wil­drose pres­i­dent Jeff Call­away. All have said they ex­pect to meet the fi­nan­cial deadlines.

Call­away said Hin­man’s con­cerns about the fee echo what he’s hear­ing from UCP mem­bers.

“I’ve heard a lot of feed­back from mem­bers that it’s is ex­ces­sive,’’ said Call­away. “And I’ll just say as a for­mer pres­i­dent of the (Wil­drose) party, hav­ing run two of these lead­er­ship election races, we ran them on a lot lower amounts.’’ Any­one wish­ing to vote must buy a party mem­ber­ship by Sept. 29. The vote will be done by phone or on­line over three days start­ing Oct. 26.

It’s not look­ing as good as I thought it would at this point. Paul hin­man

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