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Updated: Mon, 28 Apr 2014 19:33:02 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Jim Prentice to run for Alberta PC leadership

Jim Prentice speaks to reporters in Ottawa in this Sept. 30, 2010 photo. Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

Jim Prentice speaks to reporters in Ottawa in this Sept. 30, 2010 photo. Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

Former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice will run for the leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party, CBC News has learned.

Prentice’s imminent announcement will end weeks of speculation about his intention to replace former premier Alison Redford. She resigned last month amid allegations of lavish spending

Sources tell CBC News that Prentice has contacted Alberta cabinet ministers and members of the PC caucus in recent days to gauge support, and has been told he should run.

He has begun putting together a campaign and finance team to make the run.

Prentice left federal politics three and a half years ago after holding several key portfolios in the government of Stephen Harper, including environment and aboriginal affairs.

Since then he's been vice-chairman of CIBC and, more recently, took on the role of helping Enbridge work with First Nations opposed to the company's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline through British Columbia.

Prentice is seen as a so-called Red Tory, but he retains strong connections and a solid working relationship with both the Harper government and Alberta PCs.

3 Alberta MLAs behind Prentice's bid

Since CBC News announced that Prentice will be running in the PC leadership race, several Alberta MLAs have spoken publicly of their support for him.

Neil Brown, PC MLA for Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill, tweeted his support in reaction to a published report of Prentice's decision, saying, "If so, Jim will have my full support."

Two Alberta cabinet ministers, Manmeet S. Bhullar and Kyle Fawcett, told reporters last week that they would support Prentice if he decided to run.

The leader of Alberta's Wildrose Party, Danielle Smith, also tweeted to welcome him into the race, saying, "Welcome to the [PC leadership] race, [Jim Prentice.] We've been looking forward to you stepping into the arena."

Earlier in the day, Smith had accused Redford of trying to hold on to her Calgary seat so Jim Prentice could potentially take it in a byelection.

Danielle Smith's office said in a news release Redford is trying to use her constituents in Calgary-Elbow "in an effort to clear the way for Jim Prentice's possible leadership bid."

Redford has not attended the legislature since her resignation last month, and last week it was revealed she had informed the Speaker of the Alberta Legislature that she will continue to be absent.

If Smith's accusation sticks, political scientist Tom Flanagan said it could affect Prentice's reputation.

"The other parties will be able to interpret this as a black mark against Prentice," he said. "He's supposed to be coming in from the outside as the saviour and he's unsullied by the history of cronyism and special dealings that we've seen in the PC Party."

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