The Alberta Party held their leadership convention on May 27 and 28 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton and I attended as a member from the Edmonton-Centre constituency. Despite my reservations about the low-key leadership contest, I was impressed with the quality, organization, and positive energy of the event, which drew over 300 attendees from across the province.
Hinton Mayor Glenn Taylor was elected leader by earning 55% support on the first ballot. Candidate Randy Royer placed second with 23%, Lee Easton placed third with 12%, and Tammy Maloney placed fourth with 8%. One thousand two hundred voting members cast their leadership ballots over the telephone and the internet. Twelve hundred votes may not seem like a lot, but it is a significant number when you take into account that the Alberta Party only had around 40 members at the beginning of 2010.
Mayor Taylor takes over the party leadership from acting-leader Sue Huff, who has stepped into the position after former leader Edwin Erickson resigned in November 2010. Ms. Huff is expected to be nominated as her party’s candidate in Edmonton-Glenora, an area she represented as a Public School Board Trustee until October 2010. During the convention, Ms. Huff wowed convention attendees with a tongue-in-cheek rendition of “Over the Rainbow,” a good-humoured response to critics of the Alberta Party’s focus on its new approach to policy development through the Big Listen process.
Aside from the announcement of the leadership vote, the May 28 program included updates on constituency organizing from Michael Walters and the party’s 60 constituency Presidents, and speeches from Calgary-Currie MLA Dave Taylor, Election Readiness Chair Chima Nkemdirim, and the announcement of the Alberta Party’s new Health Care policy brief. The policy was introduced to attendees by University of Alberta Public Health PhD student Elaine Hyshka and former U of A Hospital CEO Don Schurman. The policy brief puts a strong focus on primary care and long-term care elements of Alberta’s health care system.
On the evening of Friday May 27 the Alberta Party launched its new visual identity and held a Pecha Kucha-style Big Ideas Night, giving participants five minutes on stage to share their “big idea.” Speakers included Dennis Lenarduzzi, Everett Smith, Danielle Klooster, Connie Jensen, Lisa Marie Fox, Glenn Taylor, Jesse Rowe, and Wade Ferguson. I missed the Big Ideas Night while volunteering at Homefest’s One Room concert that night, so I was glad to read that Mack Male had written about it on his blog.
Having attended countless political events organized by nearly every major political organizations in the province, I have become accustomed to spotting the “usual suspects” in these organizations. One of the measurements I use to judge the success of political organizations are the amount of people I do recognize when attending political events. This weekend, I was pleased to discover that I only recognized around 1/3 of the convention attendees, which I believe is promising news for the Alberta Party.
I have posted more photos from the Alberta Party leadership convention on Flickr.