Richard Starke will be seeking to lead the Progressive Conservative Party in 2017.
Starke made his intentions officially known during a morning press conference held at the Hampton Inn Hotel in Lloydminster, addressing local media about the decision and the reasons behind it. During the address, Starke indicated he wanted to unite Albertan’s under the banner of the Progressive Conservative party.
Starke had been publicly discussing the idea of running for the leadership in recent days, mentioning the potential of a run during an address to the Lloydminster Rotary Club in late August. This morning, Starke indicated that he had been hearing encouragement from multiple residents of the province that brought him to his decision, as well as residents from his riding of Vermilion-Lloydminster.
As for his provincial profile, Starke said he felt there he had a growing recognition across Alberta.
“I’m not saying I’m a household word, but certainly I go to a lot of communities, and it’s not like I’ve been there for the first time,” said Starke.
“There are a lot of communities that I go to that I first visited before I was ever elected, in many cases, but certainly as Tourism Minister I was throughout the province, and put on a lot of miles just visiting with the communities. When I did the rural health services review, that pattern was repeated, I was up to High Level and Fort Vermilion and down as far south as places like Stirling and Milk River, that sort of thing.”
Starke also spoke about economic changes he has been seeing in the riding, which he felt were influenced by current provincial government policies.
“I hear from Lloydminster employers, who are telling me that where possible, in many cases, they’re shifting operations from the Alberta side to the Saskatchewan side, for example in the oil services sector,” said Starke.
“I also understand that, and can’t go into a lot of details, that there are businesses that are considering expansion in the Lloydminster area, and they are seriously considering expanding on the Saskatchewan side rather than on the Alberta side. We saw that with Husky, when they announced three SAGD projects last fall, they’re all on the Saskatchewan side. You have to start asking yourself the question, why is that happening?”
As for his immediate campaign plans, Starke said he had been reaching out to PC constituency organizations across the province, with plans to reach out to ‘dozens’ more. He also does not plan on campaigning in a blue pickup truck.
“I have a pickup truck of my own, and today at least I’ll be driving my Hyundai Sante Fe that I bought here in Lloydminster,” said Starke.
The vote for the PC leadership takes place on March 18, 2017, and Starke is the fourth candidate in the race to declare their intentions.