'Albertans want to be positive again': Calgary lawyer taking on big names in UCP leadership race

Doug Schweitzer is the lesser-known leadership candidate for the United Conservative Party and says being an outsider might just be his advantage

Doug Schweitzer says being an outsider might just be his advantage

Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer is taking on Jason Kenney and Brian Jean in the United Conservative Party leadership race. (Schweitzer campaign )

A Calgary lawyer has set his eyes on the political prize by entering into the leadership race for the new United Conservative Party.

Doug Schweitzer told the Calgary Eyeopener how a relative unknown plans to win over Albertans.

Q: Why start your political career with a leadership bid?

I think Albertans are tired of career politicians. They are looking for someone who is going to put forward solutions, they're tired of rhetoric over substance, and we're putting together a robust campaign based on those ideas.

Q: So what is your political experience?

I mean, I've been involved in politics since my university days … behind the scenes.

I've run numerous campaigns and I'm just really excited to get out and talk to Albertans about what they're looking for in the next government.

I was campaign manager for Jim Prentice during his leadership campaign and I've been involved in numerous other campaigns across Alberta.

Q: How would you take a different approach?

Well, I think Albertans want to be positive again. Just traveling the province, they're ready to be excited about what our future can look like.

They don't want negative rhetoric, they don't want Ottawa-style campaigns and they definitely don't want U.S.-style campaign tactics brought into Alberta.

Running for the leadership of Alberta's new United Conservative Party are former MP and Alberta PC party leader Jason Kenney, Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer, and former Wildrose leader Brian Jean. (CBC)

So we're putting forward a real positive message as to where we think … the province can go. Included in that is the largest tax relief in Alberta history. We think that's important to get our competitiveness back on track. So things like that.

Right now, with Jason Kenney's position of not putting out any policy, he wants try and turn this leadership race into a campaign of rhetoric over substance, and I don't think that's acceptable to Albertans.

Q: You've also talked about cutting wages for public service workers.

We've put forward what we call our 9/6/3 Plan … politicians would take a nine per cent wage reduction across the board.

On top of that, [government employees] on the sunshine list — people making about $120,000 and up — would take a six per cent wage roll back, and people below that would take a three per cent wage rollback.

The important thing is that we wouldn't cut frontline services and we wouldn't cut staff.

Even after this wage reduction, which will save us over a half a billion dollars a year, we still have the highest-paid public sector in Canada at the provincial level.

Q: Would you repeal the carbon tax?

I'd repeal the NDP carbon tax and keep the focus on major emitters.

Saskatchewan has its court challenge it's pursuing. I think that's the right course of action.

This is provincial jurisdiction. I think [Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau and the federal government have overreached, and we would join in that and challenge that in court

Q: Where do you stand on LGBT rights?

I'm passionate about equality and making sure that we have a diverse and inclusive Alberta.

I've marched in pride events, I've been accepted to march in the Calgary pride. The one big issue that always comes up is gay-straight alliances, and I would not out kids (to their parents).

Right now, there's discussions in conservative circles, certain candidates may or may not out kids to their parents. I just don't think that is appropriate in the gay-straight alliance scenario.

Those kids, suicide rates go up, homelessness rates go up.

You have to make sure that you're there and you support them.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener