Alberta Party leader eyes 2019 opportunity
Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel talks to a Camrosian at Jaywalkers Jamboree in Camrose on Saturday. Josh Aldrich/Camrose Canadian
Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel is positive the party will be a factor in the 2019 provincial election.
The former Edmonton mayor was in Camrose on Saturday for Jaywalkers and a meet-and-greet at Mainstreet 1908, and he is eyeing the void in the middle of the political spectrum created when the right was united by the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta an the Wildrose Party.
"We call it the centre but it's practical policies not ideological policy, policy driven by need not by ideology and philosophy," he said. "We've been getting a good response from people saying we need this."
The Alberta Party is not a traditional left or right party, but borrows heavily from both ends of the spectrum, touting socially driven policy but with a firm eye on economics and spending within limits.
Mandel said they are also bringing in a lot of new faces to the political scene with many of their current slate of potential candidates in their early 30s.
"I think, if anything, we're a very young, dynamic party," said Mandel. "In previous elections, the people who were progressive in the (Progressive Conservative) Party, 30-40 per cent of the popular vote was that area. Our party hopes to attract that voter."
With the redrawing of the constituency map, Camrose will be a brand new riding, also encompassing some of the local rural areas. The Wetaskiwin-Camrose constituency was created in 1993 and had been held by the PCs until this past election when NDP candidate Bruce Hinkley won the seat. The Alberta Party has never had a candidate run in the region, but that will be different in 2019.
Mandel said the Alberta Party fits well with the rural regions of the province but also works well with smaller urbanized centres like Camrose.
"I think you'll find these people worry about social issues but also want to make sure the government is fiscally responsible," said Mandel.
Mandel was elected as the party's leader in February and he has been on a barnstorming tour since and talking to as many people as possible. The party currently has three elected MLAs in the legislature former party leader and current house leader Greg Clark, Karen McPherson, and Rick Fraser.
The negative to this is that Mandel is not in on debates surrounding major topics like the pipeline, but it has allowed him to hit the road with his Alberta Party public awareness campaign.
Mandel said while much of the talk right now is about the NDPs and the UCP, he is playing the long game and banking on growth before voters go to the polls.
"As election mode increases and you start taking a closer look at policy and ideas and who will be the best government, we then believe that they will take a longer, harder look at the Alberta Party," he said. "I'm very optimistic about the future and hopeful that Albertans want to see a positive government and that’s what we'll give them."