Fresh off a victory in Alberta’s provincial election, several United Conservative Party MLAs and cabinet ministers are getting set to return to the campaign trail — this time, stumping for Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party of Canada.
A number of Alberta UCP MLAs and cabinet ministers have been out campaigning for the federal Tories across Canada.
“Some of our MLAs and ministers have gone out of province on their own time, on the weekend at their own expense, to help out in some swing constituencies outside the province,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Wednesday. “I commend them for doing that.
“I certainly encourage Alberta conservatives, if they have some personal time, to support a change in government in Ottawa.”
According to several press secretaries within the Alberta government, ministers have already been on the trail or plan to stump on campaigns across Canada and within Calgary on their own time.
The list includes key ministers such as Energy Minister Sonya Savage, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Economic Development, Trade and Tourism Minister Tanya Fir, Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon, and Labour Minister Jason Copping.
It remains unclear how often Kenney will campaign for his former federal colleague Andrew Scheer, but he vowed to be vocal in his support for a change in government throughout the 40-day election campaign.
“Our economic future, jobs in this province are linked to the outcome of this federal election and I’m not going to sit by passively without making that case,” Kenney said. “I’ve got a more than full-time job as premier that I will be focused on but I will certainly make my views known and I will certainly assist with the federal Conservative campaign occasionally.”
WATCH: Global’s Joel Senick is joined by Chief Political Correspondent David Akin and political scientist Duane Bratt to discuss how federal party leaders will or will not campaign in Calgary.
According to political watchers, the move is unprecedented in Canadian politics.
Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Calgary’s Mount Royal University, said there are no other provincial leaders campaigning federally to the same extent as Kenney and the UCP.
Bratt pointed to then-Ontario premier Kathleen Wynn campaigning with Justin Trudeau in the 2015 election.
“[Wynn] didn’t campaign against Stephen Harper and she stayed in Ontario,” Bratt said.
He also pointed to 2008, when then-Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams ran an “Anybody but Conservative” campaign against Stephen Harper only in Newfoundland; Williams didn’t campaign with any Liberal candidates in that election.
“Jason Kenney is saying, ‘We have to defeat Justin Trudeau. Don’t choose anybody else. Only choose Scheer,’” Bratt said. “[Kenney] adjusted his legislative timetable so the legislature comes back after the election, the budget is released after the election and it frees up an opportunity for MLAs on their own time and on their own dime to go and campaign for the Conservatives outside of Alberta.”
“That’s what’s different here,” Bratt said.
The move to allow MLAs to campaign while they’re not on the government dime isn’t sitting well with Calgary-Centre Liberal candidate Kent Hehr, who was door-knocking on Wednesday.
“I find it highly disturbing that Premier Kenney finds it necessary to go campaign in a federal election across the country when, right here in Alberta, they are moving forward on deep cuts to healthcare, deep cuts to education, not making sure they keep an eye on what needs to be done in this great province,” Hehr said.
Despite the result of the federal vote, Kenney told reporters on Wednesday that he would work responsibly with whichever party is elected.
But Bratt expects a rockier relationship between Alberta and Ottawa if the Conservatives sweep the province and Trudeau wins re-election, despite the time and effort put in by the UCP to assist in the federal Tories campaign.
“You’re already hearing people say, ‘Well, if Trudeau is re-elected, it’s time to get out,’” Bratt said. “What they are talking about is they are moving questions of separatism, basically, to a public policy decision and one single election.”
Canadians head to the polls on Oct. 21.