The race to be leader of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party officially started in Edmonton Monday night at an event that presented the three candidates to party members.
Former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice, Calgary MLA Ric McIver and Edmonton MLA Thomas Lukaszuk are vying to replace Alison Redford as party leader. Redford stepped down as premier and leader in March.
The three men made brief remarks to about 250 party members before tackling three questions from the crowd.
McIver told the room that he was running as PC leader to get more for the "ordinary Albertans" who he says are his bosses, a nod to party members who felt that former leader Redford wasn't in touch with the grassroots.
“I think they are ready to actually have this government lead knowing that they are in the service of Albertans, serving under them, not ruling over them," he said.
Lukaszuk also made a veiled reference to Redford, who travelled frequently to Washington to push for the Keystone XL pipeline and advocated for the Northern Gateway Pipeline so Alberta crude could be shipped to Asian markets.
"Yes, there are important issues that are pan-national and international, relevant to access to markets, diversifying our economy and pipelines. And that is something that government has to be on top of all the time," he said.
“But there are also issues, I refer to them as everyday issues, that are just as important to Albertans and that is what I’ll be bringing forward.”
Prentice, the only candidate not to serve provincially, talked about his 40 years with the party and how he listened to former premier Peter Lougheed at a policy conference in the very same room 35 years ago.
Prentice said he wasn't going discuss policy at this event. Instead, he mentioned well-attended events in Medicine Hat, Edmonton, Brooks and Calgary as signs that voters are returning to the PC fold.
“These people are coming back because they care about this province and they care about the vision that we are talking about," he said.
Party members will vote for a new leader in September.