Alberta Politics

Does anyone want to lead Alberta’s Liberal Party?

The deadline is fast approaching. On March 31 at 5:00 p.m. we will know for sure who, if anyone, wants to lead Alberta’s Liberal Party. The race to choose a replacement for the party’s last permanent leader – Raj Sherman, who resigned in January 2015 – has been less than exciting.

Nolan Crouse
Nolan Crouse

Until he dropped out of the race yesterday, the candidacy of three-term St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse had given the leadership contest some much needed media attention. It also gave the party some hope for its political future. Crouse is a well-known name in the Edmonton-region, which is also where Rachel Notley’s NDP has its strongest support.

David Swann was the only Liberal to be re-elected in 2015, and that was largely due to his own personal popularity in Calgary-Mountain View. He was the party’s leader from 2008 to 2011 and interim leader since 2015.

Crouse’s departure only days before the deadline left the party in a lurch. Party executives scrambled to ensure that they would have at least one candidate, or maybe even two, submit their papers before 5:00 p.m. on March 31. It would be incredibly embarrassing if no one signed up to run.

In the wake of Crouse leaving the race, rumours circulated that former Tory MLA Thomas Lukaszuk could become a candidate, but those rumours appear to have dried up.

Kerry Cundal Liberal Calgary
Kerry Cundal

CBC reports that two last-minute candidates are planning to throw their names in the race: Kerry Cundal and David Khan.

Cundal ran as a federal Liberal candidate in the 2015 election, placing second to Conservative Ron Liepert in Calgary-Signal Hill. She was involved with the Progressive Conservative Party in support of Sandra Jansen’s brief leadership campaign and the “Renew” faction of the party that opposed Jason Kenney’s campaign.

Khan is a Calgary-based lawyer who ran as a provincial Liberal candidate in Calgary-West in 2014 and in Calgary-Buffalo in 2015. He was the executive vice-president of the party until recently (his name has been removed from the party website). He has also become a frequent political commentator on CBC’s national politics program, Power & Politics.

Jacob Huffman Alberta Liberal Leadership
Jacob Huffman

Neither Cundal or Khan have formally announced their plans to run.

A third potential candidate, University of Calgary student Jacob Huffman, launched a Facebook page announcing his candidacy shortly after Crouse dropped out. The way this race has progressed it might be hard to tell whether or not his candidacy is serious, but at the rate it is going Huffman might be acclaimed (he’s already planning his victory party).

Who will actually run for the leadership of the Alberta Liberal Party? Wait to find out at 5:00 p.m. on March 31, 2017.

Photo above: Liberal Party executive director Gwyneth Midgley and David Khan at the reception following the 2017 Speech from the Throne.

11 replies on “Does anyone want to lead Alberta’s Liberal Party?”

I am surprised nobody is running for the Liberal leadership with a plan to take over the NDP afterwards in emulation of Jason Kenney ! OK, that is mostly meant in jest, but could the absence of candidates not be because we in fact already have a Liberal provincial government, in all but name? If the Liberals were really all that different in policy and approach from the NDP, why would Sandra Jansen not have crossed the floor to the Liberals, and then run for the leadership of that party ?

*flashback to 1993*

Wow this is so sad NDP. Time to close up shop and join the Liberals. No need for your voices anymore! Not like you’ll ever lose your way and votes will come back to us.

Fine, flash to 2011 federally, or the elections in Nova Scotia between 1999 and 2013, to tonnes of other elections and other contexts. Point is, things can and will change, especially when a party like the NDP flukes it’s way into power then inevitably lets it’s backers down. If you do your jobs well enough, maybe one day the Liberals, Greens or whoever else won’t be needed – but then again, that has never been the state of things in any democratic system. Definitely not in Notley’s Alberta.

Kerry Cundal was at Greg Clark’s bar event in Calgary last night. She was a PC member until about 5 minutes ago. I bet she runs as a “unity” candidate to merge the Liberals into the Alberta Party.

There was some unity discussion around the time of the last election that seemed to go no where. I think the small group remaining are mostly liberal die hards who don’t really want to unite with anyone if it involves changing their party name. Unlike the PC’s the liberals are used to being in the political wilderness for long periods of time and not eager to sacrifice a lot for the chance to (re)gain power.

So, in reply to does anyone want to lead the Alberta Liberal Party; one reply might be no one.

The one candidate to file nomination in a reasonable timeframe, quits. Two file papers at the last minute – an indication of willing to lead a party, but perhaps not a wanting to lead the party – and one hasn’t yet declared intention to run.

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