The list of people running for leadership of the Alberta Party is growing and its most high-profile nominee yet confirmed the news in Calgary on Tuesday.
Documents show Calgary-South East MLA Rick Fraser, who was part of the United Conservative Party (UCP) until September when he left the caucus to sit as an Independent, will join the race to replace Greg Clark.
During an event in Calgary on Tuesday, Fraser spoke about the decision to run, joined by his wife and two sons.
“Running for the leader of the Alberta Party is not a decision I made lightly. While there is a lot of excitement, I know through experience what it takes to build a party, attract members, recruit candidates and be ready for the next election,” he said.
“But I believe that work is important because Albertans deserve to have a common-sense alternative to the division being pushed on them by the government and the official opposition.
“I’ve had a front-row seat for the increasing polarization of politics in the Alberta legislature.”
Fraser said he wants to bring Albertans together on key issues and have respectful debate in the legislature to better-serve the public. He also stressed there are more than just two political options for Alberta voters.
“Today is the day that I hope we can start to do politics better by being respectful and working to bring Albertans together instead of driving them apart,” Fraser said.
Calgary lawyer Kara Levis and Jacob Huffman are also seeking leadership of the party.
The Alberta Party welcomed Fraser to its Caucus in a news release on Tuesday.
“Rick went through a long and thoughtful process and he actively listened to the constituents of Calgary-South East,” Clark said. “Just like the process Karen McPherson followed, the focus was on doing the right thing for the people they represent and for the people of Alberta.”
The party said it supports “principled floor crossing that was passed in spring of 2016.”
Alberta Party president Rhiannon Hoyle said they were excited to welcome Fraser as the third sitting MLA as momentum for the Alberta Party continues to build.
“Rick will be a great fit alongside the strong, reasoned opposition that Karen McPherson and Greg Clark have presented in the legislature.”
Watch below: In the fall of 2017, Tom Vernon filed this report on why Greg Clark is stepping down as leader of the Alberta Party.
Fraser was first elected to the Alberta legislature in 2012 as a Progressive Conservative. He has sat on various legislative committees and is best known for his work as associate minister of public safety and associate minister of recovery and reconstruction of High River after the 2013 flood.
Before running for politics, the Calgary-born paramedic served as president of Calgary paramedics and sat on the Alberta College of Paramedics committee.
When Fraser left the UCP in September, he wrote a letter explaining that while he has respect for the UCP, the “multiple leadership races, cabinet changes and an election” since Alison Redford resigned as premier, there had been “an overwhelming focus on politics in Alberta and not on the people of Alberta.”
Last month, Levis announced she would run for leadership of the Alberta Party after long-time leader Clark stepped down in November.
“I have made a decision on what I believe is the best path forward for the party and most importantly, for the province,” Clark said in a statement on Nov. 10. “We must jumpstart the Alberta Party by selling memberships, raising money and raising our profile by debating different visions for the future of our province.
“To do that, I must step down as leader to trigger a leadership contest.”
The biography on Huffman’s website does not provide information on his background but his policy platform calls for the return of “Redford supporters to positions of power and influence” and calls for a “leadership coup after every election at minimum.”
-With files from Joe McFarland and Heide Pearson