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Alberta Tories look towards next provincial election at Banff AGM

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice addressed Progressive Conservative members gathered in Banff for the party's annual general meeting this weekend. He said the party is back on track and has made strides in regaining the public's trust.

Premier Jim Prentice tells annual general meeting that the PC party is 'back on track'

The leader of Alberta's governing Progressive Conservative Party told delegates at its annual general meeting that the party is back on track. 32:10

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice addressed Progressive Conservative members gathered in Banff for the party's annual general meeting this weekend.

"There's nobody writing obituaries of this party this weekend," he told the crowd Friday night. "We are under new management and we are serious about moving Alberta forward."

The party is coming off of last month's victories in four byelections. The wins mean Prentice and his two previously unelected cabinet ministers, Stephen Mandel and Gordon Dirks, now have seats in the Alberta legislature.

The byelection sweep took some political analysts by surprise, especially since the party’s support was dropping following the resignation of former premier Alison Redford. She resigned in a cloud of controversy this summer about her leadership style and use of government planes. 

Kelley Charlebois, the executive director of the PC Party, says they will review what worked and what didn't in the byelectionsHe says there will also be discussion of how well the party's electronic voting system worked in this year's leadership contest.

Fundraising underway for election

But Charlebois says the party is turning its attention to prepare for the next provincial election, which includes building up the PC coffers.

"Six months ago they were writing stories that we couldn't raise any money," Prentice told the crowd.

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice, right, faces off against Calgary MLA Dave Rodney, left, in a ball hockey game prior to the PC convention in Banff on Friday. (Bill Graveland/Canadian Press)

"Well, we wanted to report to you tonight that over the past month we have rebuilt the provincial fundraising team of this party. We now have in place the best fundraising team this party has seen since the 1970s."

The premier has also made a series of announcements in recent weeks that reversed decisions made under Redford's reign.

"In eight short weeks, our new government has begun to establish a reputation for commons sense and no-nonsense action," Prentice said in his speech.

"We have shown that our decisions will be based on the people’s priorities, sound financial management and ... taking care of our seniors."

He says the recent changes show Albertans that the party is committed to restoring trust in the government. 

"This party is back on track," said Prentice. "You can feel it."

Prentice continues Keystone push

Another big topic recently for the party has been the Keystone XL pipeline project. The Alberta government has pushed hard in lobbying for the project as a way to diversify oil markets in the province.

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The proposal now moves on to the U.S. Senate.

Prentice told CBC’s Power & Politics he has to be respectful of the American process.

"Some of the comments that have been made are not very encouraging,” he said. “We'll continue to advocate that this is a project that's in the best interest of both countries."

Prentice wasn’t the only leader addressing the party faithful tonight. Wildrose leader Danielle Smith also spoke at her party's annual general meeting tonight in Red Deer.

Smith herself acknowledged that the party is now at a “crossroads” after a couple of "challenging" weeks. She says she will either be premier after the 2016 election or step down as Wildrose leader.

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