Bell: Aheer runs for UCP leader, insiders insist they’re for change

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She’s in it and the political temperature is rising a few more degrees.

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It will heat up in the coming days as more join the fray.

Leela Aheer, MP for Chestermere, is expected to announce on Tuesday that she is entering the race to replace Prime Minister Jason Kenney as UCP leader and provincial leader.

She knows all about Travis Toews, Kenney’s budget boss, who last week announced he was in the running.

She knows all about the 23 UCP members of the legislature, including several from the prime minister’s inner circle, backing Toews.

She knows all about last weekend’s show of force in Calgary where Toews was surrounded by many UCP politicians and other party people and they were very excited.

Aheer is not upset.

The outspoken MP, who is no stranger to Kenney’s bad books, says she has great respect for Toews as a human being.

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But …

“Nothing has changed,” says Aheer, of Toews and his sizeable team.

“If there was an agent of change, then where were those views when things needed to be changed? »

“When there was an opportunity to fix and change and alter and remove the pain and fear from our people, where was that voice? »

“Where was the defense of the people when fingers were waved at particular groups and organizations? »

“If they are an agent of change, where was it? Where was he until now? I certainly haven’t seen it.

“How can you be an agent of change when you weren’t willing to try to make changes when you had the chance? »

“There were many, many opportunities to make changes gracefully and with convincing arguments when we were in the previous situation and that didn’t happen. »

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For Aheer, a former cabinet minister kicked by Kenney because she took on the big guy, change requires empathy.

“The empathy was not there. If we had conducted this, we could have been in a very different discussion today.

Aheer adds that she spoke up because things weren’t worked out internally and “you know corruption happens.”

So why are the group that didn’t say a word before the May 18 leadership vote now posing as agents of change?

“I think that’s the only way for Albertans to accept someone in charge, especially from the premier’s team. But I think the average Albertan will see that it’s too little too late for that.

Toews clearly disagrees. In Calgary, his shot wasn’t supposed to set the world on fire and he didn’t.

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He presented himself as the stable and responsible candidate who was a straight shooter and disliked political drama.

UCP leader Travis Toews at a press conference in Edmonton.
UCP leader Travis Toews at a press conference in Edmonton. Photo by Ed Kaiser/Postmedia

Toews mentioned leading with humility and listening and pointed out how some Albertans were mischaracterized and needed to be heard and needed to have a voice.

He answered questions from reporters.

He said he and the Prime Minister were very different people and that he was not a career politician.

He didn’t develop much more.

A reporter, not yours, asked him if having so many members of the Prime Minister’s inner circle on board was a help or a hindrance, baggage he had to carry.

He didn’t really take this one head-on.

But Toews believes in a code of conduct for government politicians and he promises that this code will be enforced.

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He also talked a lot about unity among the Conservatives.

For the record, your doodler was treated very well, unlike when the prime minister’s survival was at stake.

More than one member of the Toews crowd even acknowledged that much of the Prime Minister’s criticism was correct.

Some may have believed in it for a while, but did not have the courage to come forward.

Maybe, for others, when things happened, they finally got to see the writing on the wall.

There was no benefit in defending a government attitude that clearly puts off most Albertans.

The folks at love-in Toews insisted their guy would be different. He would be changed. Just wait and see.

We will wait and see. It’s a long campaign.

Meanwhile, Aheer says her voice will be heard.

She makes a statement that all leadership candidates ignore at their peril.

When he was ignored by the PCs in 2015, their one-party rule dating back to 1971 came to an end.

“We are here because it is necessary to change the status quo. Arrogance will never win. Albertans can never, ever be ruled by arrogance.

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