Premier Ed Stelmach’s leadership of Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives was top of mind as elected members returned to the assembly for the fall sitting.

Sustainable Resources Minister Ted Morton told reporters on his way into the chamber yesterday that it would be a mistake to dump Stelmach when the Tories hold a leadership review vote next week.

And it would be a bigger mistake to plunge the party into a leadership contest at this point, said Morton.

“So I’m encouraging my constituents and all PCs to vote against a leadership review on Nov. 7,” he said.

There’s been widespread speculation that Morton, who lost the 2006 leadership race to Stelmach, has been waiting in the wings in case grumpy Tories push Stelmach aside.

But Morton laid those rumours to rest yesterday with his first public comments on the mandatory leadership review that Tories hold after every general election.

“What we need to do is focus on policy and win back those wavering Conservatives that are looking at the (Wildrose Alliance party),” he said.

“The last thing we need is a leadership review.”