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Olds-area resident elected UCP president not a Take Back Alberta member

Rob Smith, the current president of UCP Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills Constituency Association, intends to relinquish the post now that he's on the provincial board
Rob Smith mugs for a photo with Bonnie Meikle, a board member of the UCP Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre Constituency Association and Take Back Alberta supporter, during the UCP AGM in Calgary. Facebook/Bonnie Meikle

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - Olds-area resident Rob Smith was elected president of the United Conservative Party of Alberta (UCP) at the party’s convention in Calgary last weekend.

The current president of the UCP’s Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills Constituency Association, Smith takes over from outgoing president Cynthia Moore. Smith’s election at the provincial level is for a two-year term.

He was vying for the position against Jack Redekop, Rick Orman and Ruven Rajoo. Smith won it over Redekop in the third round of voting 1,258 votes to 1,149, according to unofficial results.

In an Albertan interview, Smith said he has a number of top priorities going forward.

“My number one focus of the two years I’m there as president will be ensuring that we have strong and contributing constituency associations so that when we go to fight the election in 2027, we gain seats,” Smith said. “We will be there to fight the election.

“I very much want to ensure that the board is really, really focused on bringing up the issues and discussing the topics that are important to the 130,000 members of the party.

“We are the voice of members at our provincial party level and so I want to make sure that all of us are doing our level best and I’m very, very confident that the board will do that.”

The UCP president is a volunteer position, he noted.

“It is very much like being the president of the local constituency association, except it is of the provincial board, which is made up of 20 individuals, including the president and the leader of the party (Premier Danielle Smith) and two other MLAs (Jackie Lovely and Shane Getson). Everybody else is an elected volunteer,” he said.

Smith says he believes the provincial board can provide meaningful input to the current government.

“By having the premier and the two MLAs sitting on our provincial board we do have the ability to try to impart some direction as well as some support to those three individuals who are part of caucus,” he said.

Asked if he is a member of the Take Back Alberta (TBA) conservative lobbying group, he said no.

“I think everybody who is there (on the new board) has respect for these grassroots conservative organizations,” he said. “I believe there are some of the (successful) candidates are TBA members, but not all of them. 

“I’m not a member of TBA but I do have a tremendous amount of respect for that organization, as well as the other grassroots conservative organizations that have been so successful at actually galvanizing and inspiring Albertans that have not traditionally been involved in party politics or government.

“Take Back Alberta, as well as a number of other fairly new grassroots conservative movements that have emerged over the last couple of years were very cooperative and gracious with every single one of the candidates (for president and other positions on the board) invited to speak at all of the TBA meetings that took place in September and October.”

Smith said he would like to see UCP constituency associations working more closely together than in the past.

“One of the things that is really important to me and will be a focus in the next couple of years in respect to these constituency associations is if, say, one constituency association comes up with a great idea that is perhaps something government should be looking at in terms of turning it into law, we'll then start sharing it with other local constituency associations,” he said.

“I want to ensure that mechanisms are in place from a communications perspective that we are doing a lot more talking than maybe we have done in the past and a lot move sharing. I think that can help make our party strong and government stronger as well.”

The new board will be looking into the candidate selection process with an eye to possible improvements, he said.

“I think there will be some very serious discussion about the candidate selection process to ensure that a number of the challenges we had in 2022 and 2023 with respect to candidate selections leading up to the 2023 (provincial) election,” he said. “We are going to nail down what that process looks like and make it be, I think, a lot better than it was.

“We are even taking about the candidate selection processes being open perhaps months or months or even years in advance of the election to give those candidates the optimal ability to be able to connect with the communities they are hoping to serve and become known, so that when election time comes in 2027 those folks are not fighting such an uphill battle.”

Smith said he will be giving up his position as president of the local constituency association.

“We will be having an Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills AGM coming up in a few weeks and I had already planned to relinquish the position of president,” he said. 

“I hope to stay on the local board of Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills. I’ve done Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills for two years and I think that is enough.”

During his campaign for UCP president, Smith reminded voters that the Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills Constituency Association was one of many to call for then-Premier Jason Kenney's early leadership review; a move he said fought for unity within the party by getting rid of its barrier to unity: Kenney.

Smith is a past chief executive officer of the Canadian Angus Association and a former general manager of the Olds Agricultural Society and Olds Regional Exhibition. He is co-owner of Diamond T Cattle Company, including the Diamond T Solutions management contacting business.

- With files from MVP Staff


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