New PC leadership rules angers former Alberta cabinet minister

Some Alberta conservatives aren't happy with new rules put in place by the PC party for its upcoming leadership contest.

It's unclear whether prohibition on damaging the PC brand will affect Jason Kenney's aspirations

Former PC cabinet minister Rick Orman, who supports uniting the right in Alberta, is opposed to a new rule for PC leadership candidates. (CBC)

A former Alberta cabinet minister isn't happy with new rules put in place by the PC party for its upcoming leadership contest.

One rule forbids candidates from doing anything that could harm the Tory brand, which could affect the leadership ambitions of Jason Kenney, who's running on a platform to merge the PCs with the Wildrose Party. 

"I'm not sure what that means. I mean, what does that mean?" asked former PC cabinet minister Rick Orman.

Like Kenney, Orman is in favour of uniting Alberta's conservative parties.

"If there are issues, they will come up during the campaign, and people will cast their vote based upon whether or not they feel that candidate is quote, 'damaging the brand,' unquote," said Orman.

New board rules

Sandra Jansen, MLA for Calgary North West, says the rules could spell trouble for Kenney.

"If his goal is to collapse the PC party, then it would appear that he doesn't fit the criteria for running for leader," Jansen said Monday.

But she added she'll leave it to the PC party executive to deal with the question when the leadership race formally begins Oct. 1.

"That's not my call to make. I respect the board's autonomy in making decisions about who can and cannot run and we'll leave it to them," said Jansen.

The board voted to include a clause from the 2014 campaign that said candidates must "avoid causing harm or disrepute to the (Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta) and its brand through any detrimental action or conduct."

Jansen said she is happy with the rules. She pointed out that 50 directors from across the province, not a select few, hashed it out.

"I'm pleased with what they came up with. That is grassroots democracy in action."

Each of the 87 constituency associations will vote to send 15 delegates to the March 18 convention in Calgary. Of those 15, five will be from the local constituency association boards and 10 from members at large.

Interim PC leader Ric McIver, who is also weighing a leadership run, said he voted against the delegate breakdown. He would rather see all 15 delegates come from members at large.

"One of the things that we've promised ever since the last election is that we were going to be a party that was open and available to all Albertans," said McIver.

'Hypothetical question'

PC party executive director Troy Wason won't say whether Kenney's merger plan would violate the rule.

"That's a hypothetical question. Until we have actual candidates, I won't speculate on what would or wouldn't be detrimental," he said.

The PC party has also decided that candidates must disclose all spending and donations received in the pre-writ period, from June 30 to October 1st, when the race officially begins.

Kenney, who is still a sitting MP, has been raising money in the pre-campaign period through a third-party organization known as Unite Alberta. 

Kenney has yet to respond to the leadership race rules.