Alberta Party hopes leadership race draws new members, big-name contenders
Three days after Greg Clark announced he was stepping down as leader of the Alberta Party in order to launch a leadership race, more people are weighing in on his decision.
Clark’s move was aimed at solidifying a place in the centre of Alberta’s increasingly polarized political landscape.
“I’ve stepped back here to allow the party an opportunity to grow, and grow very quickly,” Clark said the day after news of his resignation became public.
“It’s the right thing to do to give Albertans a better understanding of what our party is all about.”
Clark won the leadership of the party in 2012, and became its first elected member when he defeated Progressive Conservative (PC) cabinet minister Gordon Dirks in Calgary-Elbow in the 2015 election.
The political landscape has changed considerably since then, with the PC and Wildrose parties merging to form the United Conservative Party under the leadership of Jason Kenney.
The Alberta Party says that merger, combined with how the NDP is managing the economy, has led to a growing interest in its centrist movement.
“When we say we’re attracting people from the NDP, the Liberals, the PCs and the Wildrose, we actually are,” said Alberta Party board member Paul Doherty.
The party’s goal is to generate enough public interest, and attract enough strong candidates, to become a force in the next provincial election in 2019, but Lori Williams – a political analyst with Mount Royal University – doesn’t see a clear path.
“The kind of time people need to get to know a party, for a party to perform and to win people’s confidence, I don’t think they’ve got that kind of time,” Williams said on Monday.
“A year-and-a-half I don’t think is enough.”
Nobody has publicly declared their intent to seek the leadership, but Clark hasn’t ruled out running again for the top job in the race. The party will begin discussing the rules during its annual general meeting in Red Deer this weekend.
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