Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews and Environment Minister Sonya Savage have announced they won’t seek reelection just two months ahead of the province’s spring general election. Toews, who placed second in a leadership contest just months ago, said he remains deeply committed to the conservative movement.
“It has been an honour to serve,” he said in a statement.
Hours later, Savage announced she won’t seek reelection in Calgary-North West.
“I have been committed to Conservative politics since I was in my teens, and I look forward to continuing to be part of the party for years to come,” she said in a statement. “I wish the Premier and my UCP colleagues success in the upcoming election and will be there to support the Premier.”
One senior Alberta conservative strategist said the resignations mark an “orchestrated effort” by former premier Jason Kenney’s loyalist faction to assist the NDP with the narrative that the UCP is in “chaos and disarray” prior to the May election.
“The question I would ask readers: what support for Toews’ political career changed within his family between October and March,” he told True North. “Nothing changed, except for maybe a phone call from Jason Kenney.”
The source suggested three or four more resignations from Kenney loyalists could be coming in the weeks ahead.
During the United Conservative Party leadership race last summer, Toews appealed to voters hoping to unite under common principles of responsible fiscal management, individual freedom, and limited government. He was the caucus favourite with as many as 25 MLAs endorsing him throughout the race, though some later pulled their endorsements as Danielle Smith pulled ahead in the polls.
Toews placed second in the leadership contest won narrowly by Smith on the sixth and final ballot. Smith garnered 53.8% of the vote; Toews had 46.23%.
Both he and Smith raised over $1 million to support their leadership bids.
The Grande Prairie-Wapiti MLA entered politics in 2019. He was named Finance minister under Jason Kenney, a role Smith promptly re-appointed him to.
In response to his announcement, NDP MLA Shannon Phillips said she doesn’t admire Toews’ record, but that he “conducts himself with decency and is mostly grounded in reality, unlike the new crop of Smith candidates.”
“Toews was one of the last members of the reality-based community on Danielle Smith’s team,” Phillips wrote on Twitter. “His exit means UCP candidates are only more extreme, less competent, and less able to navigate Alberta’s challenges and opportunities in to the future.”
Leadership contender Leela Aheer, who placed last in the contest, also announced she won’t seek reelection. Rajan Sawhney, who placed second last, has said she won’t seek reelection in her riding of Calgary-North East.
Sources say Sawhney wants the premier to appoint her in Savage’s riding of Calgary-North West.