CALGARY – The leader of the Alberta Party says he isn’t interested in a shotgun marriage with the provincial Liberals, but he’s still open to an eventual merger.
The Liberals rebuffed that idea on the weekend and instead chose Calgary MLA and one-time boss David Swann to be the party’s interim leader over a caucus colleague who had pitched co-operation with the centrist Alberta Party in the next election.
Swann said he argued before a meeting of the party executive in Calgary on Sunday that there wasn’t time to join forces in some way with the Alberta Party before a vote now widely speculated to come this spring.
READ MORE: Musical chairs continues in Alberta politics
Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark said Monday his door is still open for a merger and, if a deal can eventually be worked out, he would like to see a leadership race that he would probably be interested in.
But he said he wouldn’t go after the vacant Liberal leadership to hurry things along.
“I would not think about running for the Liberal leadership. No,” Clark said.
“If we’re going to do this, it’s going to be out in the open. I don’t want to do any sort of back-door takeovers or anything like that. I’ve cast my lot with the Alberta Party.”
Clark said he was disappointed with the move the Liberals made on the weekend and has heard from a number of the party’s members who share his sentiment.
“I’ve heard from a lot of people in the Alberta Liberals, even in the last 24 hours, who’ve said they’re interested and disappointed in what their board did,” Clark said. “My message is if there are people out there who are supporters of the Alberta Liberals, who I would think would find a home with the Alberta Party, certainly they’re welcome.”
Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman released a statement Sunday saying she would agree to be interim leader on the condition that she be permitted to negotiate a deal to co-operate with the Alberta Party, and eventually merge with it.
She said a deal would allow the parties to nominate candidates in constituencies they can win and to “prepare for and run an election together.”
Clark said he reached out to both Swann and Blakeman after Raj Sherman stepped down as leader last week. He said he hasn’t heard back from Swann and suggested there is some urgency since he expects Alberta Premier Jim Prentice to call an election about a year earlier than required under the province’s election law.