United Conservative Party (UCP) MLA Angela Pitt has resigned as leadership candidate Rajan Sawhney’s campaign chair, citing a need to realign with her values and constituents.

Sawhney has dubbed herself as the antidote to frontrunner Danielle Smith, but her campaign has so far struggled to gain momentum.

It’s time to “step back into alignment with my constituents and my values,” Pitt wrote on Facebook on Sunday.

“I believe in a strong Alberta that will both stand up to Ottawa and respect individual freedoms.”

Sawhney has relentlessly attacked Smith in public statements and during leadership debates.

She’s been especially critical of Smith’s Alberta Sovereignty Act, a proposal to present legislation to bar federal laws deemed harmful to Alberta. The plan is risky, hot-headed and it won’t be successful, Sawhney said.

The Calgary-North East MLA said the party needs more than a “talk show host,” a dig at Smith’s six years on the radio. She also said a Smith government would be “disunifying” for the party’s caucus.

A recent Leger poll found that Sawhney was polling at 0% among UCP supporters, while Smith was leading the seven candidates with 22% support.

The Sawhney campaign did not respond to a request for comment by publication deadline. Contacted by True North on Monday, Pitt declined to comment further.

Sawhney is a wonderful, smart and compassionate person, Pitt wrote in her resignation announcement.

“She loves Alberta, her community and works tirelessly for her constituents.”

Pitt also cited a need to refocus her efforts to serve her constituents on issues like Airdrie’s “inadequate urgent care facility and the EMS crisis” which “must be resolved and I am working hard to do that.”

“We must remember why we are here and what needs to be done.  I will do my part to ensure the conservative movement in Alberta remains united as we rebuild a free and prosperous future for our province.”

Sawhney named Pitt as her campaign chair when she launched her campaign on June 13, saying Pitt has been a strong voice opposing government decisions in the last two years.

She also praised Pitt’s work reaching out to grassroots conservatives. 

Sawhney has promised the electorate a public inquiry into the Covid-19 pandemic response, if elected. She’s also said issues with Alberta Health Services might be better resolved with a move back to regional boards. 

UCP members will select a new leader on October 6. 

Alberta Correspondent | + posts

Rachel is a seasoned political reporter who’s covered government institutions from a variety of levels. A Carleton University journalism graduate, she was a multimedia reporter for three local Niagara newspapers. Her work has been published in the Toronto Star. Rachel was the inaugural recipient of the Political Matters internship, placing her at The Globe and Mail’s parliamentary bureau. She spent three years covering the federal government for iPolitics. Rachel is the Alberta correspondent for True North based in Edmonton.

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