Leela Aheer, who lost her Cabinet position for criticizing Jason Kenney, has promised to remove the influence of big money in politics if she is picked to lead the United Conservative Party.
The UCP MLA for Chestermere – Rocky View and former Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism, and Status of Women, vowed to run a truthful grassroots campaign, as opposed to one that caters to the party establishment.
If elected, she would reverse the de-indexing of income support for Albertans with disabilities, address problems stemming from the centralization of emergency medical services and increase space in universities to train more doctors and nurses. She has also been critical of the Canadian Energy Centre, saying that its work to promote the oil-and-gas industry could be done by other organizations.
Aheer’s conflict with Kenney began when she criticized the Premier after he was photographed breaking COVID-19 restrictions. She would further condemn him after Kenney made public remarks defending former Prime Minister John A. MacDonald after the discovery of unmarked graves in Kamloops, which led to her dismissal from Cabinet.
Before her election in 2015 as a Wildrose MLA, Aheer taught music and was involved in family-owned businesses, including property investment, a car wash, and a gas station. After the merger of the Wildrose and Progressive Conservatives, which Aheer supported, she was appointed the Deputy Leader of the UCP. At the time, she said she was surprised at the appointment, saying she saw herself as a “very centrist conservative.”
When she was Minister, Aheer helped pass Alberta’s version of Clare’s Law, which assists individuals at risk of domestic violence in obtaining more information about their partners. Her primary appeal is to the centre and left wings of the UCP, as evidenced by her stance on social issues, like her campaign to defeat an anti-Gay Straight Alliance Motion at the first-ever UCP policy convention.
Born in Edmonton, her family moved to Chestermere, a community east of Calgary, in 1979. After graduating from Chestermere High School in 1988, she spent ten months in South India, where her family originated. Afterwards, she began her political science degree at the University of Calgary before transferring to the University of Manitoba to earn a Bachelor of Music degree.
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