Albertans ‘not overly’ engaged in UCP leadership race, says would-be candidate Paul Hinman – Edmonton

A would-be candidate in the United Conservative Party (UCP) leadership race has failed to raise the necessary deposit by the deadline of 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Former Alberta Alliance and Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman was a late entry to the contest, which he says put him at a disadvantage to raise the “exorbitant” entrance fee, which in total adds up to $95,000.

“We’re not going to make it, I won’t be heading over there with a cheque,” Hinman told CBC Tuesday afternoon.

Hinman said his last-minute campaign raised more than half of the required deposit, but the arrival of three grandchildren over the summer focused his priorities on his family, not politics.

“I’m passionate about good government, but you know I certainly enjoy my private life better,” Hinman said. 

As he campaigned, Hinman said he discovered  Albertans were “not overly, at this point” engaged in the contest to choose the first leader for the recently amalgamated Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties.

 The lack of public engagement is symptomatic of the overall attitude with politics and politicians, he suggested.

“There’s just a lot of apathy when it comes to politics in general,” Hinman said.

As an experienced politician who has won two elections as an MLA for the defunct Alberta Alliance and Wildrose parties, Hinman said he is alarmed — but not surprised — by what he hears on the doorstep.

“Most people, when I talk to them  … if you ask them the question, ‘You think it makes any difference who you elect?’, the answer is usually ‘No,’ ” he said.

Hinman said he believes the level of interest would increase if voters had power to “fire” their elected officials, alluding to the mechanism whereby constituents could seek to gather enough names on a petition to have their MLA recalled from office.

“We need to engage and be accountable to the public,” he added.

The campaign deposit needed by Tuesday amounted to half of the total $75,000 entrance fee, plus a $20,000 refundable compliance fee for following leadership-race rules set out by the party. Hinman says he raised about half the required amount. 

FIre politicians

But Hinman said being in the race, albeit for a short time, allowed him to raise issues, such as MLA recall which he feels has been overlooked or ignored.

“We need to be able to fire our politicians in between elections, and I don’t know that it’s a high enough priority with the other leadership…

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