A prominent candidate for the Alberta Party leadership made a stop in St. Albert on Wednesday night.
Stephen Mandel, the former mayor of Edmonton, stopped by the Celtic Knot to persuade local Alberta Party members to vote for him in the upcoming leadership vote.
Mandel, 72, said that he was drawn to the Alberta Party because they represent a balanced, centrist and practical approach to politics.
“They fundamentally believe in entrepreneurship, which is something I really really believe in. Their view of what Alberta should be aligns with me very well,” Mandel said.
Mandel is no rookie to politics. He was a member of the former Progressive Conservative Party and Minister of Health under Premier Jim Prentice and has now been a member of the Alberta Party for eight months.
As part of his platform, Mandel said would like to see a carbon tax that is revenue neutral with the tax money being invested in research in environment industries to help the economy grow. Mandel said that he does not support the province’s current carbon tax because it is not helping to reduce carbon emissions and it is a wealth transfer.
The candidate also has his eye on tackling the debt and deficit in the province. Mandel would like to reduce the overall operating costs in the province and put in place a program for the province to have a plan to pay back all money that is borrowed.
Without seeing the numbers Mandel isn’t certain where he would save money in the budget but highlighted the growing costs of health care in the province since he was the head of the ministry.
“I don’t think they have made any effort to reduce the costs in health care,” Mandel said. “I imagine there are a lot of savings in that area.”
The three-term Edmonton mayor said that he also thinks that the province would be able to save money by increasing the “general effectiveness and efficiency of government” and through reducing the costs of writing cheques back to people for the carbon tax.
Although the party only has three MLAs, it has been gathering steam over the past year.
The party was elected in 2015 with only one seat but two members have crossed the floor to sit with the party. In October 2017, former NDP member Karen McPherson joined the Alberta Party and in December 2017 Rick Fraser joined the three-person caucus.
The party has also been growing the number of constituency associations across the province. In mid-2016 the Alberta Party had representation in 40 ridings and today they have 65 that are active or currently in formation.
Mandel said he plans to run candidates in all 87 ridings if he is elected as the leader.
Mandel is running against Alberta Party MLA Rick Fraser and Calgary lawyer Kara Levis.
The party will vote online using a preferential ballot to select their new leader from February 25 to 27.
To vote, memberships need to be purchased before noon on Feb. 12.