Alberta Politics

Stephen Mandel wins Alberta Party leadership. Alberta Advantage Party acclaims Marilyn Burns as leader.

Former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel, 72, is the new leader of the Alberta Party.

Kara Levis Alberta Party
Kara Levis

Mandel was elected on the first ballot with 66 percent of the vote, defeating Calgary lawyer Kara Levis, who placed second with 18 percent, and Calgary-South East MLA Rick Fraser, who placed third with 16 percent. 4,613 of the party’s 6,443 members participated in the vote.

Mandel served as mayor of Edmonton from 2004 to 2013 and as a city councillor from 2001 to 2004. He represented the Edmonton-Whitemud district as a Progressive Conservative MLA from 2014 to 2015 and was Minister of Health until his defeat in 2015 to New Democrat Dr. Bob Turner.

He has said he will run in the next election in the Edmonton-McClung district, currently represented by New Democratic Party MLA Lorne Dach.

The Alberta Party currently has three Calgary MLAs in the 87 MLA Legislative Assembly. It is widely rumoured that lone-PC MLA Richard Starke could cross the floor to join the Alberta Party caucus this spring. Starke was endorsed by Mandel in last year’s PC Party leadership race.

While the Alberta Party has framed itself as a “centrist” alternative to the two main political parties in the province – the NDP and the UCP – the party’s policies reveal it to be a conservative party in a similar vein as the old PC Party.

Alberta Advantage Party acclaims leader

Marilyn Burns Alberta Advantage Party
Marilyn Burns

Meanwhile, much further to the fringe populist right, Edmonton lawyer Marilyn Burns has been acclaimed as leader of the anti-UCP Alberta Advantage Party.

A co-founder of the Wildrose Party and vocal critic of the UCP, Burns was the only candidate in the race. She was a candidate for the leadership of the Alberta Alliance Party in 2005 and was a candidate for that party in Stony Plain in the 2004 election.

The party is in the process of registering but is not yet recognized as an official party by Elections Alberta.

3 replies on “Stephen Mandel wins Alberta Party leadership. Alberta Advantage Party acclaims Marilyn Burns as leader.”

Who will Mr. Mandel name as the AB Party’s “legislative leader” or whatever you want to call it?

I assume that role has to go to Rick Fraser now, right? It would be weird to keep Greg Clark on as the party’s lead face in the chamber, and Karen McPherson doesn’t have the skills to do it.

Unless Mandel can succeed in getting Dr Starke to join them, in which case maybe Tricky Dick gets that role?

Also props to you for flogging the dead Alberta Advantage horse. 50 people with no status from Elections AB; why they even make the AB Party look like a serious option!

You’re right that it would be an odd choice to keep Clark on as Legislative leader, but he’s really their strongest performer in the Assembly. So it might be weird but it might be the right choice. I assume that Fraser would be offered the role, as a nod to his role in the leadership race and his crossing the floor from the UCP in January.

Alberta has some history of political parties wondering in the wilderness for years, before they suddenly catch on, or after they lose power. The PC’s were a good example of the former, Social Credit and the Liberals and example of the latter. I am not sure the time is right now for the Alberta Party, but they did pick the strongest candidate as leader. However, one big disadvantage is he has no seat in the Legislature so it will be harder to raise his profile across the province.

One wonders about the Alberta Advantage group. It reminds me a bit of the Alberta Alliance crowd that eventually became Wildrose. There was some success, but only after many, many years of wandering in the wilderness before that. At this point, Kenney is probably much better positioned to fend off any serious challenges to his right, rather than from Mandel and the Alberta Party.

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