The former Conservative cabinet minister Jim Prentice is, apparently, leaving Bay Street and a seven figure salary as vice-chair of CIBC to make a run at becoming leader of the Progressive Conservatives and premier of Alberta, replacing Alison Redford.
Mr. Prentice spent his last couple of years in federal politics as Minister of Environment in a cabinet that was not known for its enthusiasm for climate change science. His ability to influence national policy was, therefore, limited and not nearly as high-profile as others who would be likely contenders for the leadership of the party once Prime Minister Stephen Harper retires.
As premier of Alberta, though, Mr. Prentice would gain experience in actually running a government second in strategic importance only—many would argue—to the federal government. A term or two in Edmonton could very well be just what Mr. Prentice needs to prepare him for the top job in Ottawa.
As such, Alberta’s premiership could be considered a sort of political finishing school for Jim Prentice.
A formal announcement of his plans has yet to be made, but is expected in a week or so. The vote will be held September 6, 2014 in a Two-round system of voting. If no candidate receives more than 50 per cent on the first ballot, the top two candidates (only) will move on to a second ballot on September 20, 2014.
Consequently, there should be no chance of a third candidate with little first-ballot support slipping up the middle to win on a later ballot as has occurred too often in the past.
Mr. Prentice is heavily favoured to win in September and, if he does, he’ll effectively be out for the short- or mid-term of any run to lead the federal Conservative Party. The prime minister, however, does not seem to be leaving any time soon, which means Mr. Prentice needs not give up hope of returning to federal politics in the longer term.
Mr. Prentice was MP for Calgary Centre North from 2004-2010 and owns a house in northwest Calgary. It is not known, though, where he’ll choose for his provincial riding.
Once he gets his team together, I think we’ll be hearing a lot from Jim prentice over the summer and probably well beyond that.