Kenney was the clear winner, taking 61.1 per cent of the vote over opponents Brian Jean (31.5 per cent) and Doug Schweitzer (7.3 per cent).
In July, Wild Rose members and Progressive Conservative members voted to merge the two right-of-centre Alberta parties in an effort to defeat Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP in the next provincial election.
“If we work hard, stay humble and earn every vote, we will ensure that this deceptive, divisive, debt-quadrupling, tax-hiking, job-killing, accidental socialist government is one and done,” Kenney said in his victory speech.
“We are one step closer to a government based on common sense and mainstream values of ordinary Albertans, instead of the failed and divisive ideology of the NDP.”
An MP of 19 years for Calgary Midnapore, Kenney resigned his seat from the House of Commons in 2016 in order to run for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta.
Jean, the leader of the old Wild Rose party, was Kenney’s main rival in the leadership race. Kenney invited both Jean and Schweitzer on stage on Saturday, in a show of solidarity.
“All of us owe a debt of gratitude to this gentleman, who at a time of great personal adversity and political adversity, stepped up when others wouldn’t,” Kenney said of Jean.
“Brian Jean has been a true champion of ordinary Albertans, of grassroots democracy, and of conservative values.
“We can never thank him enough,” said Kenney.
Following Kenney’s acknowledgement, Jean left the stage quickly and did not speak to media.
Kenney also thanked Schweitzer, whose campaign argued that the party should be more “socially moderate.”
“Thank you for bringing to this race a fresh young voice that represents in so many ways the future of Alberta,” Kenney said.
Schweitzer remained positive following the announcement of Kenney’s win and told media that he plans to run for a seat in the 2019 provincial election.
“I’ve travelled far and wide in this province in the last four or five months and everywhere I go Albertans are looking for the UCP to lead going forward,” Schweitzer said.
“I think this is the party of the future and I’m excited about it.”
We don’t care in this party what god you worship or who you love. – Jason Kenney
Despite being widely criticized for his views on gay-straight alliances (GSA) in schools, Kenney’s closing remarks included a nod to Schweitzer’s “socially moderate” campaign.
“We don’t care in this party what god you worship or who you love,” said Kenney.
“What we care about as Albertans is how hard you work and how you will contribute to renewing this as a place of opportunity.”