The Ledge: Anti-abortion group that backed UCP plans to push for changes

Taking stock after the acrimonious Alberta provincial election campaign are lobby groups that backed either winning or losing parties.  

Wilberforce project director thinks his group now has the ear of government

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, flanked by his cabinet, speaks after being sworn into office in Edmonton on Tuesday. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Taking stock after an acrimonious Alberta provincial election campaign are lobby groups that backed either winning or losing parties. 

The Wilberforce project, previously known as Alberta Pro-Life, was active in supporting UCP nomination candidates, some of whom ultimately ran and were elected as MLAs.

Wilberforce project political director Cameron Wilson won't disclose how many candidates his group backed, or how many were successful.

Wilson said he was pleased with the outcome of the election and what he has seen so far in Premier Jason Kenney's cabinet picks.

"Adriana LaGrange is a pick we're happy with," said Wilson, noting the new minister of education has a long-standing affiliation with Red Deer's anti-abortion organization.

'Good perspective'

"We think that she'll bring a good perspective and will represent all Albertans, including those with pro-life views, very well in cabinet," said Wilson, speaking to CBC on the Ledge podcast.

Wilson emphasized that Kenney hasn't made any promises to his group but said the Wilberforce project will work to get the new UCP government to adopt some of its policies.

The appointment of Red Deer-North MLA Adriana LaGrange as education minister is being applauded by an anti-abortion organization. (Government of Alberta)

Two policies in particular on the group's radar involve increasing supports for pregnant women fleeing domestic violence, and entrenching conscience rights into legislation for health-care professionals.

"We think those are things that the UCP should be willing to support," Wilson said. "As a government, that seems to be in line with what's their governmental priority that they've laid out so far."

Kenney is personally opposed to abortion. But like the prime minister he once served under — Stephen Harper — has said he has no interest or intention of revisiting the abortion issue.

Mount Royal University professor Lori Williams said a major test of Kenney's leadership will be how he handles competing demands from groups expecting favours from a new government.

"It's a huge challenge, there's no question about it," said Williams.

On this week's episode of the Ledge, Kim Trynacity and Michelle Bellefontaine examine the new cabinet picks, and look ahead to what will be a busy few weeks as new MLAs are sworn in, and a new legislative agenda unfolds under Alberta's first UCP government.