Former Alberta premier Ed Stelmach believes that current Premier Dave Hancock did the right thing by apologizing for the behaviour of the Progressive Conservatives over the past few years.
Stelmach told reporters in Edmonton on Saturday that anyone seeking the party leadership needs to show humility and modesty.
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“We’ve got to rebuild the image and trust of Albertans,” Stelmach said after receiving an honorary Bachelor of Business Administration degree from NAIT.
“I said a couple of weeks ago it’s like in the Easter season, getting down and washing the feet of Albertans and winning back their respect.”
In a speech to a party fundraising dinner on Thursday, Hancock said he was sorry that the PC caucus didn’t listen, took people’s support for granted and lost touch with the grassroots.
While Hancock didn’t specifically name former premier Alison Redford, his apologies mirrored the criticisms that forced the former premier to step down in March.
Political observers have said that Stelmach, the surprise winner of the 2006 PC leadership race, was never truly accepted by party stalwarts in Calgary even though he led the Tories to a sizable majority in the 2008 election.
On Saturday, Stelmach would not weigh in on how the party treated Redford but seemed resigned to the situation.
“Politics is politics and hasn’t changed and won’t change,” he said.
Stelmach says he is looking forward to the leadership race and expects a few more candidates to join in.
He says success comes to those who meet the most people and sell the most party memberships -- not candidates with the slickest advertising campaigns.
“It’s simply getting out to meet as many people, touch them personally, sell a membership, and follow up with the team that gets them to vote on voting day,” he said.
So far, only former municipal affairs minister Ken Hughes has entered the race. Former Conservative cabinet minister Jim Prentice is expected to run as well.