PHOTOS: Former Morinville mayor Lisa Holmes. Below: Doug Griffiths, Thomas Lukaszuk, Stephen Khan and Chima Nkemdirim. These photos were chosen completely arbitrarily, mainly because they came from the author’s own collection and hadn’t been used a bunch of times before.

If it weren’t for the takeover of the once-rather-liberal Alberta Party by political aliens associated with the Alison Redford wing of the old Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, we’d be deep into the pre-holiday doldrums.

So, thank God for small favours! The Alberta punditocracy is grateful.

Over the past few days, blogger Dave Cournoyer, Postmedia political columnist Don Braid, CBC political reporter Michelle Bellefontaine, and Yours Truly, have all added names to the growing list. What’s more, legislative newsletter author Ric Dolphin promises to deliver another such list, possibly with some new names, at the end of the week.

Of course, even if the race has achieved a little journalistic traction right now, there’s no guarantee the party will have any more success now than it has in the past getting on Alberta’s political radar – no matter who is pulling the strings.

Still, there are some shrewd political players in this mix – including Tory heavyweights like former Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel and political strategists Stephen Carter and Susan Elliott – so the chances of the Alberta Party raising money and making a splash under its new management may well be better than in the days of rainbows and unicorns associated with the previous generation of party operatives.

Here’s a fairly complete list of names that have been suggested as likely or at least potential Alberta Party leadership candidates in the last few days. There are doubtless more to come.

Who among them is serious, who has the potential to actually get somewhere, who is just floating a balloon or being floated as a balloon by someone else? All this is less clear at this early hour. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

  • Greg Clark, MLA for Calgary-Elbow and just-displaced leader of the Alberta, but nevertheless a potential candidate at this hour.
  • Nolan Crouse, former mayor of St. Albert, former candidate to lead the Alberta Liberals who stepped out of that race.
  • Kerry Cundal, a Calgary lawyer, and not that long ago a candidate to lead the Alberta Liberal Party.
  • Rick Fraser, former PC and United Conservative Party MLA, now the independent MLA for Calgary-South East.
  • Doug Griffiths, former PC MLA for Wainwright and municipal affairs minister under Ms. Redford, who ran to lead the PC party in 2011 and is well known as the author of a book, 13 Ways to Kill Your Community.
  • Lisa Holmes, former mayor of the suburban town of Morinville a few miles north of Edmonton, and former president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.
  • Ryan Jespersen, the well-known Edmonton talk radio host.
  • Stephen Khan, former PC MLA for St. Albert and, briefly, a candidate in the most recent PC leadership race.
  • Kara Levis, a lawyer employed by TransCanada Corp. in Calgary, on the board of the Association of Women Lawyers of Calgary.
  • Thomas Lukaszuk, Ms. Redford’s deputy premier, defeated by Jim Prentice to lead the PCs in 2015.
  • Karen McPherson, former NDP MLA for Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill, who recently left the party and swiftly crossed the floor to become the second Alberta Party MLA.
  • Chima Nkemdirim, currently the chief of staff to Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and one of the founders of the last iteration of the Alberta Party.
  • Katherine O’Neill, executive-director of the Alberta Together PAC, associated with the rebranded Alberta Party, former PC Party president and former Globe and Mail reporter (Katherine Harding).
  • Michael Oshry, one-term Edmonton Ward 5 alderman who chose not to seek re-election in 2017, seen as an ally of Mr. Mandel.
  • Doug Schweitzer, Calgary lawyer and former PC and UPC leadership candidate.
  • Richard Starke, MLA for Lloydminster-Vermilion, recently a candidate to lead the PCs and still the sole PC member of the Alberta Legislature.
  • Teresa Woo-Paw, former PC MLA for Calgary-Northern Hills and nowadays active in many community associations.

Join the Conversation


  1. That’s a lot of ex-Tories who lost for a reason and/or people who have even less of a profile than Clark…and then there’s the guy who runs the kiss cam at Oilers games and he thinks he should be premier, give me a break. If this is the best the Alberta Party can do……..sigh….

  2. It’s a fairly comprehensive and impressive list for a party that only managed to ever elect one MLA. Perhaps some prospective candidates imagine a certain amount of future potential for this party, or they really have no better political options at this point. A number of the better known names on the list have some connection to the PC’s. I am not sure that will be beneficial in some cases, especially for those more closely associated with Redford, who seemed to lurch from the left to the right and eventually alienate both. It will be interesting to see who emerges as actual candidates.

    I suppose the race could be interesting if there are several different candidates who have some profile, somewhat different ideas and there are no clear front runners. However, I am not so sure how much leadership races really energize parties or voters anymore. The PC race to elect Prentice certainly didn’t seem to help the PC’s in the end and the Liberal race to elect Sherman didn’t seem to either.

    Unfortunately, the Alberta Party has no “safe” seats for an MLA to step aside, so if a person who is not currently an MLA wins (which is most of the prospective list), they could be on the outside looking in for quite a while, which may do little to help raise the party’s profile.

    I suppose the main goal of the race is to find someone who could appeal to former PC’s and clearly articulate the free enterprise and socially moderate positions they supposedly stand for. I guess to basically continue what Clark was trying to do over the last several months, but perhaps more convincingly and effectively.

  3. A few days ago, I listened to a short interview on CTV on Greg Clark’s resignation. The Alberta Party spokesperson being interviewed, a former PC strategist, admitted calling a leadership contest was a bold and risky move. When asked who might run, she claimed they had no idea. I would say that was highly unlikely. If the former PCs and their backers are scripting this, they already have a prominent person in the wings. If, on the other hand, Greg Clark stepped down for personal reasons (e.g. taking too much of a toll on his family or he didn’t want to be under total control), the party really could be scrambling. It will be very interesting to see who runs.

  4. Personally, I plan on voting for Jacob Huffman, the only candidate who doesn’t hold his fingers behind his back at every moment.

  5. One of at least two very last posts I’ll ever make here! Your best centrist bet is Rachel. All this end timey bullshit is just that!

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