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It's official: Sandra Jansen is now running for Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership

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Sandra Jansen

OK. It's official. Calgary-North West MLA Sandra Jansen confirmed yesterday she will be running for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party. There was coverage in the evening from all the usual media suspects.

Not that this is a surprise, of course, since political rainmaker Stephen Carter -- who nowadays is almost as newsworthy as any candidate he works for -- let it slip (or something) three weeks ago he expected to soon be managing Jansen's campaign.

Since then, there's been enough talk about just when the former associate minister of family and community safety in premier Alison Redford's cabinet would actually announce she was running to make suspicious minds wonder if Carter's slip was no slip at all. Whether intended or not, surely the high-profile strategist's revelation generated more still-important mainstream media coverage than a regular announcement ever would’ve.

It's a weird situation when the campaign manager is almost more prominent than his candidate, but -- hey! -- that probably works for Jansen, not to mention for Carter.

The buzz got particularly loud over the Thanksgiving weekend, with the sense something had to happen soon. Now it has.

Today's official announcement was unorthodox in other ways too: No news conference, no news release, and no staged TV pictures of fresh-faced supporters lining up behind the candidate. There were interviews with selected reporters and an appearance on a Calgary talk-radio show.

Well, that's easier to organize on a slim budget, I suppose, and it doesn't show favouritism to one big city or another -- always a point of needlessly high sensitivity in this province. On the other hand, Jansen is a former TV newscaster who is professionally telegenic, so this seems like waste of her talent for looking credible on the air.

Some political observers, of course, had other theories: "Maybe because Carter accidentally spilled the beans and didn't want to face the ridicule," said one such individual, who naturally must remain anonymous. This, of course, presupposes it was an accident.

Jansen joins four other candidates in the race to grasp the tarnished Tory brass ring: Front-runner Jason Kenney is a social conservative and prominent former Harper Government cabinet minister who wants to execute a hostile double reverse takeover of the PCs first, and then the Wildrose Party, thereby "uniting the right” under his leadership. His supporters assume this would be an automatic prelude to unseating the NDP government.

The other candidates, who display varying degrees of skepticism about Kenney's project, are Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Richard Starke and former MLA Donna Kennedy-Glans, both also former members of Redford's cabinet, and Calgary lawyer Byron Nelson. With nominations open until Nov. 10, there could still be a few more.

As has been previously noted in this space, no love is lost between Kenney and Jansen, who has said she would leave the party rather than serve in a caucus led by Kenney. For his part, Kenney has promised to follow any leader who defeats him, although a certain amount of skepticism might be warranted about that vow were a Red Tory like Jansen to triumph.

Jansen, is certainly the most liberal of the candidates declared so far -- which doesn't necessarily mean she is the CINO (conservative in name only) she is accused of being by the far-right nuts at Rebel Media.

Speaking of whom, Jansen faces another unorthodox problem in this campaign. Someone has hijacked her most obvious website domain name, SandraJansen.ca, and is using it to redirect readers to the scurrilous Rebel Media website, where yesterday an item attacking her was posted prominently.

It's not immediately apparent from the WhoIs.net website who has done this, but it's a legitimate problem and appears to be a violation of the Canadian Internet Registry Authority policy against registrations that have been made "in bad faith" or by persons with "no legitimate interest in the domain name.

One would think that if Rebel Media were a serious news operation as it claims, it would contact the registrant through CIRA and ask that the link be removed. Perhaps that has been done.

SandraJansen.com, meanwhile, appears to belong to a Dutch artist of that name.

Regardless, Jansen yesterday posted her own campaign website at TeamSandra.ca. She indicated her campaign team had made the decision not to dispute the use of her dot-ca domain name, however illegitimate, presumably for fear someone would try to turn that into an embarrassing sideshow.

Alberta Liberals set schedule for leadership nominations and election:

The Alberta Liberal Party, meanwhile, has now set timelines for a leadership race of its own.

Interim Liberal Leader David Swann was the only grit left standing after being re-elected to represent his Calgary-Mountain View riding in the May 2015 general election. He had been party leader from 2008 until 2011 when he tried to quit, but he was back in the post as interim leader just before the 2015 vote when leader Raj Sherman suddenly resigned.

Swann won’t be running again.

Timelines just set by party officials, which will likely be released to the media later today or tomorrow, show applications for the right to be nominated will open on Monday, Jan. 16, 2017. The nomination process is scheduled to close on Friday, March 3.

There will be two candidate debates, the first in Calgary on Saturday, April 8, and then in Edmonton on Saturday, May 6.

The cutoff date for new members to be eligible to vote will be Monday, May 15, and voting will run from May 27 to June 3. The new leader -- who won't have a seat in the legislature -- will be announced on June 4, 2017.

This has the potential to create a problem for the Alberta Liberals, who will be without a leader in the legislature, and therefore fear they could lose their $100,000 annual leader's allowance. So Liberals are praying the NDP Government will find a way to continue the payments, rather like what the PCs did for the NDP when they failed to qualify for party status back in 2008 when Ed Stelmach was premier.

Stelmach did it, of course, to keep the Liberals at bay. A plan that appears to have eventually paid off, after a fashion.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

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