Highwood MLA RJ Sigurdson has announced his leadership endorsement.

He’s officially backing fellow caucus member Travis Toews.

Sigurdson’s endorsement comes a little later than some of his fellow MLAs, and that was a very deliberate decision on his part.

“I took the time over this leadership race to really sit back and kind of take a look at all the candidates. I paused, I didn’t endorse early. I wanted to see what all the candidates had to offer as they move forward through the leadership race.”

After watching the leadership debates and taking a look at each candidate’s platform, Sigurdson feels Toews stood out.

Sigurdson finds himself aligned with Toew’s stance on several issues, including EMS services; an issue close to Sigurdson’s heart.

He co-chairs the EMS advisory committee along with Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard.

Toews’s plan, according to his website, would involve allowing EMS workers to treat non-medical situations on-site rather than transporting patients to Emergency, as well as expediting the transferal of patients to facilities in order to get EMS workers and ambulances back into service as soon as possible.

Toews’s time as finance minister is, to Sigurdson, indicative of a leader who can carry Alberta through its current economic hardships.

“Of course, we have a balanced budget, we talk about that a lot. His plan was supported and it got there through the combined effort of all of our ministers and all of our MLAs, but really Travis came forward with a plan to get Alberta’s finances back on track, and with that, I think, he’s really got that great plan to move forward and diversify this economy.”

Sigurdson also lauds Toews’ plan to strengthen Alberta’s seat at the table of confederation.

He says he shares in the anger felt by many Albertans, and points to a calculated and “realistic approach” from Toews.

"I think that path is going to take a very methodical, strategic plan moving forward. There's no one thing that's going to get us there. It's really going to be a concerted effort towards continuing to strengthen. We're going to get there inch over inch."

He continues, "I've said it before, a lot of people use the analogy of saying 'we want what Quebec has.' Quebec got there over 30 years of taking inch by inch. Travis' plan is just that, moving forward strategically and ensuring that, at every opportunity we have, we're going to continue to strengthen. I wish more than anybody that we could get there overnight, I just think that we have to be realistic and understand that right now it's about buckling down and doing the hard work. It's going to take time, but I think through that strength and commitment, we'll get there."

For UCP members who may not be ready to cast their votes, Sigurdson recommends attending campaign events to get a feel of the candidates.

“If you can find the time and you can get to one of the campaign functions where you can connect with the candidates one-on-one, I really try to encourage everybody to do that. I think that’s one of the best platforms to see what each individual has to offer.”

Ballots have been sent out to UCP members, with voting to continue until September 14.

The results will be announced on October 6.