Former deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk has resigned from cabinet and will join the race to become Alberta's next Progressive Conservative party leader.

“[The] Alberta … government needs ordinary people to get involved and bring our government back to its basics,” he announced Thursday morning in Edmonton.

Asked about his campaign platform, Lukaszuk said his focus at present was on making his nomination official.

“This afternoon, I will be visiting the PC party headquarters and I will be picking up my nomination package,” he said, adding that he would also be dropping off the $20,000 deposit

His next step, he said, would be to collect 500 signatures from eligible Albertans living in every part of the province.

“I’m really looking forward to a positive, inspiring race driven by ordinary Albertans and winning their support one membership at a time,” he said of his plan for the next three and half months before the leadership vote.

Lukaszuk said he plans to run an ‘inspirational and challenging’ grassroots campaign supported only by volunteers.

Bringing debate to leadership race

Lukaszuk emphasized the importance of debate within the leadership race several times throughout his address, saying, “the way to become a leader is to have a good debate.”

“Some run just simply for wanting to win,” he said. “I’m running to have a good debate on policies and bring Albertans the government they want – and if I do that effectively and successfully, then I will win.”

Lukaszuk stated he was among the first government figures to speak out when he felt the Tories had lost moral authority.

“I was the first one to come out and say there was an issue with entitlement. I was the first one to say that this government has lost its moral authority to govern.”

Now, he says it is his goal to earn back the lost trust, one Albertan at a time by balancing fiscal prudence with meeting the fundamental needs of people in the province.

“I have always been forward with Albertans, I have always reflected their views at caucus table and cabinet table – sometimes at my own peril – but that’s what they elected me to do,” he said, promising to do the same if elected leader.

Joining Prentice in leadership race

Lukaszuk said he had been holding off announcing his decision to run in order to see who else would be running and what platforms they would be campaigning on.

“I have [now] seen that, and I believe I am bringing Albertans a credible choice. They will have a real choice to make at the end of this race,” he said.

Asked whether he was worried about the substantial support that has already been shown to Jim Prentice, the only official candidate in the running,  Lukaszuk said “intimidation inspires me.”

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight – it is the size of the fight in the dog, and I have to tell you, I have a good fight in me. I’m very motivated by the future and what the future of this province can look like.”

When asked if he had any support in caucus, he replied, “I have to tell you, I’m not an establishment candidate, that has simply never been and never will be my style.” 

Former Alberta infrastructure minister Ric McIver intends to run but, as of Monday, was in the midst of collecting signatures.

Nominations will officially close on May 30. The leadership vote will take place in September.