Alberta Tories face money woes, leadership vacuum

Two weeks after Alison Redford announced she was resigning as Alberta premier, no one has stepped forward in the race to replace her as Progressive Conservative Party leader.
Edmonton-Leduc MP James Rajotte is still thinking about whether he will run for the leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party. (CBC )

Two weeks after Alison Redford announced she was resigning as premier, no one has stepped forward in the race to replace her as Alberta Progressive Conservative Party leader.

Instead, many possible candidates have taken themselves out of contention, the latest being former Alberta treasurer and unsuccessful 2006 leadership candidate Jim Dinning, who made the announcement Wednesday.

Dinning said that the next leader should come from outside of the current caucus. 

"Those of us who remain members of the PC party need to remember who's the boss," Dinning wrote. "We must elect a leader who gets it: a leader who believes Albertans are the entitled ones."

Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose, Alberta Senator Scott Tannas and Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont MP Mike Lake have said they won’t seek the leadership.

Former Alberta cabinet minister and PC leadership candidate Gary Mar isn’t interested either.

However, not everyone has ruled themselves out of the race.

Several Alberta cabinet ministers have indicated some interest but not formally declared, including Diana McQueen, Jonathan Denis, Doug Horner, Thomas Lukaszuk and Ken Hughes. 

There is also speculation former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel is considering a bid, and he hasn't publicly ruled out the idea. 

Edmonton-Leduc MP James Rajotte says he is still thinking about it.

“I’m talking to people and we’ll see what happens,” he said Wednesday. ”I haven’t made any final decisions at this point.”

'Secret' trust fund questioned 

The new leader will have to unite a party that’s been rocked by spending controversies that led to Redford's resignation as well as debt and declining party donations. 

It was revealed this week that a secret, but legal, Tory trust fund set up in the 1970s before election legislation was changed has been used to fund campaigns outside of election spending limits.

The Wildrose Party is calling for full disclosure of its value and what it was used for.

NDP MLA Rachel Notley says the fund shows how opposition parties have operated at a disadvantage.

"We've got a secret slush fund that is of an undetermined amount that has been successful at transferring massive amounts of money to the PC party, well in excess of what the rest of the political parties in the province are able to receive,” she said.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon,  party president Jim McCormick said the fund, called the TAPCAL Trust, has operated within rules that govern how funds can be withdrawn or deposited.

“Interest from the TAPCAL Trust has, as required, been reported as income on every one of our annual operating statements submitted to Elections Alberta,” McCormick said.

“At the time the legislation was changed, all political parties in Alberta were entitled to similarly establish such trusts.”

Dave Hancock is filling in as party leader and Alberta premier until a new leader is selected in September. He has already ruled himself out of the leadership race.