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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney flips pancakes at the annual Premiers Stampede breakfast, in Calgary, on July 11.TODD KOROL/Reuters

Jason Kenney, at his last Premier’s Stampede Breakfast on Monday, announced Sept. 1 has been designated Alberta Day.

“We are instituting a new annual tradition to celebrate this province in a big and beautiful way,” Kenney told hundreds of people gathered for the annual pancake breakfast at McDougall Centre, the provincial government’s office space in Calgary.

“We rightfully celebrate Canada Day. It’s time we celebrate this place we call home.”

Those gathered, including Stampede officials, members of the business community and other politicians, cheered the announcement.

Kenney, who walked through the crowd to talk and pose for photos, said it won’t be a statutory holiday, because it comes around the same time as Labour Day.

“We already have a statutory holiday,” he said during a news conference after his speech. “This is about taking one special day of the year, setting it aside and actually celebrating this province.

“One of the things we heard in the fair deal panel is there is a really unique history and culture in this province. We don’t do enough to celebrate it.”

Alberta became a province on Sept. 1, 1905.

The government said it plans to host celebrations, starting this year, in Edmonton and Calgary and support other municipalities in planning their own events. It suggests people can visit a provincial historic site or museum, go to a provincial park or host a block party for friends, family and neighbours.

Kenney, wearing a white cowboy hat, flipped pancakes with other United Conservative legislature members before making the announcement.

“I feel a real buzz at this Stampede, partly because we haven’t had everybody able to get together in such a big way for a couple of years,” he said. “Everywhere I go, there’s a renewed optimism, people feeling the huge economic momentum of the province.

“We’re back in a big way.”

Kenney said in May he would be stepping down from his job after receiving 51 per cent support in a UCP leadership review. He is to leave when a new leader is chosen Oct. 6.

Several leadership candidates, including Rebecca Schulz and Raj Sherman, were spotted in the crowd at the breakfast.

Kenney told reporters Monday he has absolutely no regrets as premier.

“When I stepped into the breach to reunite the free enterprise movement in this province, most of the pundits said it couldn’t be done,” he said.

“We won the largest mandate in democratic history on the most ambitious platform any government’s run on. We have now implemented (most) of those platform commitments.

“The focus was on the economy and it’s rocking. We’ve done what we said we would do. I did what I said I would do. And so when I hand over the reins this fall, I’ll do so with a sense of achievement, accomplishment, no regret, filled with optimism for this province.”

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