LAKELAND – United Conservative Party (UCP) membership holders living in the Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul constituency will soon be heading back to the ballot box to vote on who will represent the riding as the UCP candidate in the next provincial election.
So far, three men, all with political experience, have filed their papers to run as Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul’s next UCP representative.
The list of current candidates includes the riding’s current UCP MLA David Hanson, along with former UCP MLA Scott Cyr, and former MD of Bonnyville Reeve Greg Sawchuk.
The deadline to enter the local UCP nomination race is Thursday, Nov. 17.
Constituency Association President Ron Young for Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul tells Lakeland Today the list of candidates running is unlikely to change by Thursday.
“Everybody has until Thursday night to file their nomination papers, but realistically, if someone hasn’t filed the paper by now it would be pretty impossible to do by the 17th. So, we know now that it is going to be Greg Sawchuk, Dave Hanson, and Scott Cyr because they have already filed their paperwork with the party,” Young explains.
After the deadline for candidates to enter the race has passed, the UCP party will confirm voting dates with the local constituency association.
But, before the vote takes place each candidate will be interviewed, and their application reviewed by the Local Constituency Nomination Committee.
“These candidates all have to be approved by the constituency. So, there's a committee of the constituency association whose responsibility will be to sit down with the three candidates and interview them and ask them questions. At the end of each one, the committee will decide to approve this person as a candidate or not approve the person as a candidate,” explains Young
The local committee is made up of City of Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland, former MLA Genia Leskiw, and Loree Renyolds, of Elk Point.
Considering the candidates currently running, Young says it is highly unlikely that there would be a reason to disqualify any of them as they have all run for positions in public office before.
“It will be largely a formality I think, in interviewing these people and approving them as candidates,” Young says.
The local Constituency Association is seeking to have the nomination vote take place around December 8-10.
Young confirms that polling stations will be set up in Bonnyville, Cold Lake and St. Paul. He adds the local association is also hoping to get approval to run ballot boxes in Glendon and Elk Point for at least a few hours.
“In order to accommodate all those polling stations, we're hoping that the party will let us run it over three days,” he says.
A three-day period was permitted by the Party four years ago during the last UCP constituency nomination.
The nomination vote must take place between Dec. 8 and Dec. 22, according to UCP party guidelines.
Community members wanting to vote for the riding’s next UCP candidate must be a member for at least three weeks before the vote takes place.
“Because we've just gone through the leadership review in the spring, and because we've gone through the leadership election process, we think that most people who are inclined to get a UCP membership already have a UCP membership,” says Young. “The same membership that you had to have for the leadership vote is what you need to vote for the nominee here.”
For those who don’t have a membership for the party, they have about a week to purchase one from the UCP party’s website to be eligible to vote for the local UCP candidate in December.
The Local Constituency Nomination Committee will also be responsible for arranging candidate forums where voters can hear each nominees’ platform and ask questions.
Young says he hopes that a forum or multiple forums can be arranged prior to the vote in December.
While many other constituency associations around the province have already held their nomination vote, the Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul constituency decided to hold off, in order to see results of the UCP leadership race.
“We wanted to wait until after the leadership race to open nominations, because depending on who the Premier was, we thought some people might choose to run or not run based on who won the leadership,” Young says. “They have to know who the leader is going to be before they sign on for four years.”
Young also encourages all UCP membership holders to get out and vote for their next provincial representative.
“One message they should be getting from the American election is that every vote counts. And no one should be sitting on their hands thinking that they know the outcome of the race, because it could come down to one vote. If you were sitting on your hands and you didn't vote, you got nobody but yourself to blame,” adds Young.
*A previous version of this article stated Scott Cyr was a former Progressive Conservative MLA. It has been corrected to state Cyr was a former UCP MLA.
Cyr was originally elected in 2015 under the Wildrose Party and became a United Conservative Party MLA in 2017 when the two parties merged. Cyr retired as a UCP MLA in 2019 for the Bonnyville-Cold Lake constituency.