Four byelections called in Alberta with Jim Prentice and two unelected cabinet …

Albertans will go to the polls in four byelections on Oct. 27, after two more Calgary MLAs announced Monday they are resigning.

Calgary-Foothills MLA Len Webber said Monday he’s stepping down to focus on his looming campaign for federal office, clearing the way for a byelection run by Premier Jim Prentice.

Webber — a former PC cabinet minister who was elected three times in the north Calgary riding — announced he would resign as MLA after he captured the federal Conservative nomination for Calgary-Confederation on Saturday.

“I will work to earn the right to stand up for Calgary-Confederation in Ottawa by running an engaging campaign, and to do this I need to close the chapter on my time as a MLA today,” Webber said in a statement.

A short time later, Calgary-West MLA Ken Hughes also announced he would also step down to help with the renewal of the Progressive Conservative party.

The former energy minister, who backed Prentice in the PC leadership race after halting his own campaign for the top job this summer, said he will continue to support the long-governing party.

“Nobody can argue with the analysis that the Progressive Conservative party, the caucus, the cabinet and the Government have needed renewal,” Hughes said in a statement.

“We are seeing that essential renewal taking place under the leadership of … Jim Prentice.”

A former chairman of Alberta Health Services and a former federal Tory MP, Hughes said he has no plans to retire, but will rejoin his company, Alpine Insurance and Financial.

The twin resignations came before Prentice was set to announce where he will run in a byelection this fall to gain a seat in the legislature prior to the Nov. 17 throne speech.

Prentice will run in Calgary-Foothills, as he wants to hold a seat close to his home north of the Bow River, while former police officer Mike Ellis will run in Calgary-West.

Two other byelections are also in the offing.

Former premier Alison Redford resigned as MLA in Calgary-Elbow in August, while Dave Hancock — who replaced Redford as premier during the summer — recently stepped aside in Edmonton-Whitemud.

The premier’s two unelected cabinet ministers — Education Minister Gordon Dirks and Health Minister Stephen Mandel — have been nominated by the Tories to run in Calgary-Elbow and Edmonton-Whitemud respectively. The opposition parties are also gearing up for the votes, which are to be held Oct. 27.

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