The Alberta Party signalled it hopes to attract new votes in the next provincial election with an experienced conservative politician at the helm as former Edmonton mayor and Alberta cabinet minister Stephen Mandel was announced as its new leader on Tuesday evening.
The leadership race results were announced at Edmonton’s Lister Conference Centre. Mandel, 72, won 66 per cent of the vote on the first round of voting on a preferential ballot. Levis captured 18 per cent of the vote and Fraser got 16 per cent.
“You’ve shown Albertans just how much you value inclusivity, next-generation thinking and perhaps, a little bit of moxy,” Mandel told the crowd at the Lister Conference Centre.
LISTEN: Stephen Mandel on his vision for the Alberta Party
Watch below: The Alberta Party announced its new leader on Tuesday night and he’s a person who should be very familiar to Albertans. Tom Vernon has more on Stephen Mandel’s latest political victory.
Mandel emerged victorious in the centrist party’s leadership race less than four months after Greg Clark resigned from the post. Mandel beat out Rick Fraser — who was part of the same Progressive Conservative caucus as Mandel when he served as Alberta’s health minister — and Calgary lawyer Kara Levis.
“I think there’s a tremendous yearning from Albertans to see other alternatives,” Mandel said of the Alberta Party. “The two current alternatives, I think we can offer a much more diverse, a much more innovative way of dealing with things and we’re a party that I think offers a very long-term but creative vision of how we can build Alberta.”
Mandel acknowledged the party has some money to raise and some work to do ahead of the next provincial election but added “the party is well-poised to do that and there’s a tremendous yearning for change.”
Watch below: On Feb. 25, 2018, Julia Wong filed this report about last-minute campaigning before the Alberta Party leadership vote began.
The Alberta Party’s leadership race has reignited interest in the party. Figures provided by the party show its number of members has risen by 539 per cent since last March. Back then, there were 1,024 card-carrying members of the party. Now there are 6,543. In the last two days of eligibility earlier this month, 1,969 new members were signed up. The membership drive ended on Feb. 12.
Prior to joining the Alberta Party’s leadership race last month, Mandel had largely kept out of the media spotlight after losing his legislature seat in the 2015 election.
Watch below: On Jan. 10, 2018, Stephen Mandel joined the Alberta Party leadership race. The former Edmonton mayor and Alberta health minister spoke with Gord Steinke about the move.
In 2014, former Alberta premier Jim Prentice named Mandel health minister even though Mandel was not an MLA. He later got won a legislature seat in a byelection.
Mandel served as mayor of Edmonton from 2004 to 2013 during which time city council embarked on a number of large-scale infrastructure projects and struck a deal with the Edmonton Oilers to build a new downtown arena now known as Rogers Place.
The Alberta Party currently has three MLAs in the legislature: Fraser, Clark and Karen McPherson.
When asked if he would immediately focus on winning a seat in the Alberta legislature, Mandel told Global News it’s not a priority at the moment.
“Our job right now is to get the word out about the Alberta Party, what it’s about, how we can attract candidates, how we can attract support,” he said. “I think as the leader, that’s my primary function right now.
“I’m not concerned about legislature at all, we’ve got good people there.”
-With files from The Canadian Press