The Alberta Progressive Conservative party leadership vote to replace Alison Redford will take place Sept. 6, with a potential run off vote scheduled for Sept. 20.
The PC party, which has formed the government in Alberta continuously for more than four decades, made the announcement about the leadership contest after a long board meeting in Red Deer, Alta. Monday night. The winner of the party race will become the next Alberta premier as soon as a swearing in ceremony can be scheduled.
Under the party's new leadership system, the candidate who wins more than ½ the total votes in the first round of voting will be declared party leader. If no one wins a clear majority, the two leading candidates will go on to a second round of voting.
Any Albertan aged 14 and older who buys a $10 PC party membership will be eligible to vote. Leadership candidates – who will likely be able to start formally registering in the next two weeks – will have to submit a non-refundable $50,000 deposit.
"We expect a tremendous group of qualified candidates to put their name forward," party president Jim McCormick said in an interview.
Ms. Redford – who never was able to completely win over her own caucus – resigned as premier and PC leader on the weekend following two months of controversy over travel expenses, questions about her leadership style and low polling numbers. Until the PC party selects a new party leader, long-serving cabinet minister Dave Hancock will serve as Premier.
A number of cabinet ministers and party members have expressed a willingness to run but none have made a final declaration of their candidacy Some were waiting for details of the race to emerge before making their decision.
Under the party constitution, a vote could have been scheduled anytime between four and six months following Ms. Redford's resignation. The party wanted to avoid holding a contest in the summer, when many people will be away on vacation. There was a push from some PC quarters not to drag out the contest and to hold the balloting as early as June – but that would have required a change to the party's leadership selection rules.
"There was a great discussion amongst our executives towards setting up a clear set of guidelines for our new leadership selection," Mr. McCormick said Monday night.
"As a group we explored a few different options, and in the end, we decided to remain with the existing structure of selecting our new leader."
The next Alberta election is scheduled for 2016. But Official Opposition Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith has said she believes an election could called as early as next year.