Leadership candidates square off one last time

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Alberta Party poised to elect its first leader

With just days to go before the party’s leadership vote, the four Alberta Party leadership candidates made their last public pitches to party members at a forum Wednesday night.

Approximately 60 people attended the forum at Grant MacEwan University along with candidates Glenn Taylor, Tammy Maloney, Randy Royer and Lee Easton.

The fledgling party will pick its new leader Saturday with a system that gives each member a vote that can be cast online or by phone.

The candidate that receives a simple majority will be declared the winner. The party has allotted time for three ballots if no candidate wins more than 50 per cent of the vote after the first ballot.

On Wednesday night, Maloney was the first to make her opening pitch, arguing her experience in other areas, combined with her political inexperience makes her the ideal choice.

Maloney said to win an election, the party will have to bring people into the fold that have traditionally stayed home.

“I believe I am the candidate that can deliver the 60 per cent of Albertans that don’t vote.”

Maloney is a former oil and gas analyst from Calgary who now works with the homeless.

Lee Easton, chair of the English program at Mount Royal University in Calgary, argued he would show Albertans the new party was listening, marking a stark choice with the current government.

“We have a government that seems intent on not listening to Albertans. In fact it often ignores them.”

Randy Royer, who was born and raised in Lethbridge, was president of a large company called Hospitality Trust.

He argued he was ready to do the hard work a leader faces in building the party’s infrastructure and fundraising mechanisms as well as defining its policies.

“If you don’t define yourself, someone else will do it for you and it won’t be favourable.”

Hinton Mayor Glenn Taylor emphasized his leadership there and his involvement in the party from its earliest days.

He said the Alberta Party is poised to create something great for the province.

“We have an amazing party with amazing people and we can build something new for Albertans.”

Following their opening statements, the four candidates took questions from several panellists, as well as from the audience on a wide range of topics from on municipalities, education, the economy and health care.

There was broad consensus from the four candidates on the approach the party needed to take on all of these issues with a big emphasis on engaging the public.

Audience members also wanted to know what issue the candidates would focus on first and how they would build the fledgling party.

Again the candidates largely agreed on the need to continuing listening to Albertans and not focus one specific issue.

The party, which emerged from the Renew Alberta movement in 2009, has reached 2,000 members and has been operating with an acting leader.

The leadership results will be announced at the party convention at the Shaw Conference Centre Saturday.

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