PHOTOS: What a glorious opportunity to use this photo of Stephen Mandel again! Say what you will about the guy, he’s got style! Below: Rick Fraser, the other former Progressive Conservative known to be running for the leadership of the Alberta Party and, by coincidence, the other credible candidate with any sort of profile as well (Photo: Found in Mr. Fraser’s Facebook account).

As predicted here and elsewhere, former Progressive Conservative and United Conservative Party MLA Rick Fraser, who abandoned the UCP Caucus in late September to sit as an Independent, is about to re-cross the floor of the Legislature to become a member of the Alberta Party.

What’s more, it turns out the MLA for Calgary-South East had already registered to run for the Alberta Party’s leadership.

Meanwhile, there are semi-credible reports that former Edmonton Mayor, PC MLA and cabinet minister Stephen Mandel will step up and throw his hat in the same ring on Wednesday. How do we know this? Well, the seventysomething political veteran ran an upside-down picture on his hitherto dormant Twitter account, and if that’s not a certain sign of serious political intent, I don’t know what the hell is!

Both are credible candidates with reasonably high profiles nowadays, so if this all unfolds as predicted, the Alberta Party can have a real leadership race, maybe generate some enthusiasm, and get down to the task of rebranding itself as the new PC Party.

This was presumably what those mysterious persons unknown had in mind when they encouraged former party leader Greg Clark to walk the plank back in November. At least it will save the party from the embarrassment of calling a leadership race and then having nobody much turn up, as it appeared for a spell just might happen.

Two other candidates have declared their intention to run to lead the Alberta Party, neither of them former PC types: Kara Levis, a Calgary energy industry lawyer and former president of the federal Liberal Party’s national women’s commission, and Jacob Huffman, who was a University of Calgary student when he announced he was running to lead the Alberta Liberal Party last year. And who knows? He may still be.

Edmonton radio host Ryan Jesperson, touted for a few days as the high-profile answer to the all party’s troubles, dropped out of the race before he’d even dropped in. Mr. Clark also declined to waste his time applying for his own job.

The deadline for nominations is next Monday. The winner is scheduled to be announced on Feb. 27.

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  1. Perhaps there is a spark of life in the Alberta Party after all. It took long enough for credible candidates to come forward, but I suppose the looming deadline has caused at least one of the undecideds to lean towards running and another to already enter the race.

    Although I like and think quite highly of former mayor Mandel, I think Mr. Fraser would be the best option for the Alberta Party at this point. While he doesn’t have the same profile as the former mayor, he is already an MLA so he does not have to wait for a seat to open up or try get attention from outside the legislature, which can be difficult. Also, the history of former mayors running to take over the leadership of small, struggling parties has been mixed in Alberta. It did not go well for former Calgary Mayor Sykes in the early 1980’s when he took over the leadership of Social Credit. It did go better for former Edmonton Mayor Decore when he took over the Alberta Liberals around a decade later. However, one could argue the Alberta Liberals at that time were no longer struggling and were on the upswing already. Perhaps in Mr. Sykes defense one could argue Social Credit was on the decline before he arrived. In the current case, it is hard to say right now whether the Alberta Party is on the upswing or the decline. I would argue neither – it is basically in a holding pattern.

    However, either Fraser or Mandel will probably appeal to some PC lite voters – the type of former PC’s that are put off by Kenney and the UCP and may have been sitting on the fence until now. There has been a lot of commentary about the suspicious, roundabout and somewhat ham handed way former PC’s have taken over the Alberta Party and while I don’t dispute that, I look at those former PC’s more as political refugees looking for a new home. For whatever reasons, they did not think former leader Clarke was up to the challenge of building the party into PC version 2 and so after their takeover, they forced him out. I don’t think either Mr. Fraser or Mr. Mandel will guarantee electoral success, but either could take away some support from the UCP with a kinder, gentler less social conservative version of conservatism. However, the overall political effect may be negligible as it is possible most of these former PC’s were otherwise going to stay at home after their party disappeared.

    In any event it is not bad to have choices and politics like nature abhors a vacuum. Kenney may have succeeded in killing the PC’s, but he may be less successful in preventing something similar springing up in its place.

    1. So now Alberta will have PC #2 (the Alberta Party) and Social Credit #2, 3 or 4 (under the UCP name formerly Wildrose, Alliance, Reform or what ever you want to call it). This Social Credit Party, after being soundly beat by Peter Lougheed, does not give up easily. The Social Credit Party took over the Liberal Party in B.C. deceiving the voters in that Province for several years until they ran that Province into the ditch like they did in Alberta in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

  2. I agree that the Socreds did not give up easily in Alberta, but despite that they never did get back to power since the 1970’s in any form. Yes, it did go through many various reincarnations over the years, but I think it eventually quietly died of old age, as opposed to the PC’s who were more recently and suddenly killed off. The connection between UCP and Social Credit is convoluted and somewhat tenuous, but the connection between the more recently deceased Alberta PC’s and the Alberta Party seems to be clearer and much more direct.

  3. Alberta “liberals” continue their ongoing desert wanderings and apparently have found the next oasis. Maybe this one won’t turn out to be another mirage.

    They abandoned the big-L Alberta Liberal party after Trudeau-pere destroyed the brand. They started a PC takover with the Stelmach regime, completed it with Redford, and promptly drove it into the dirt with deficit, deceit, and decadence. Adrift on their lifeboats they approached a would-be rescue vessel but were repelled by Captain Kenney and his marauders. Now they have landed on Alberta Party island and ejected the handfull of ragtag natives.

    Maybe they will find success there. Good luck. You’ll need it.
    (Sorry for all the metaphors)

  4. So I am curious, if those on the left believe that the Alberta Party is going to take votes from the UCP why did the Alberta NDP put out a tweet this morning mocking Stephen Mandel? He had just lost his daughter to cancer in November but the NDP in their wisdom tweet that when Stephen Mandel was health minister in 2015 he postponed the new cancer center due to the drop in the price of oil. Very tasteless and tone deaf, was deleted quickly once they realized their mistake with an apology. Apparently the NDP is worried about the Alberta Party!

  5. No-one should worry about the Alberta party. Quite the contrary. We are the hope of the future. Not to unite the right or unite the left but to unite all of us. We need to come together and find what we have in common. because these are very difficult times. We need to think about what we have in common as Albertans not those superficial points of view that divide us. Look at what is happening in the US right now. Do we want the same thing to happen here with the Trump-lite ultra-right Jason Kennyites in power? I think not. The Alberta party deserves a chance to govern. That is what democracy is all about. The NDP have had their chance and didn’t do all that well.I think all three leadership candidates for the Alberta party would do a good job as leader of the province but my first choice is Stephen Mandel. I have known him for many years. He is a good man. I know Albertans would be proud to have him as their leader.

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