St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse has announced his intentions to run for leader of the Alberta Liberal Party, but he won’t be stepping down as mayor.
“I’m not leaving the mayor’s job and I wont leave the mayor’s job even if I become the leader,” Crouse said. He intends to stay on a mayor until the end of his term in October.
The Alberta Liberal Party opened its leadership contest on Monday and Crouse is the first candidate to throw his hat in the ring. If elected leader of the party, he hopes to be able to unite Albertans in the middle ground on the provincial political spectrum.
“It’s really about taking left and right and finding middle ground and creating a triangle of ideology,” Crouse said. “You have a large gap in the middle, that sensible centre, that the liberals will have to find a way to capture and capitalize on.”
Part of the appeal of the job, Crouse said, is the process of rebuilding the party.
“It’s the challenge of rebuilding the party that at one time governed Alberta and now it has the potential to be rebuilt and reconstructed,” Crouse said.
Another reason he wants the job is his passion for public service. Crouse said being Liberal leader would be a full-time volunteer role, that he would begin in the fall.
The campaign won’t be quite as involved or gruelling as the Progressive Conservative leadership race that is currently underway, Crouse said, because the party membership is much smaller across Alberta. He said he doesn’t have plans to travel across the entire province to drum up support for his campaign. Instead, he will focus his energy on connecting with Albertan’s through an online presence and a social media campaign.
In late December 2016 Crouse picked up his application package and paid $1,000 of the required $7,425 to the party to run for the leadership spot. He will not be allowed to start fundraising or campaigning until he is approved as a candidate by Elections Alberta.
After mulling over many options over the last year, such as writing a book or working for Travel Alberta, Crouse landed on the centre of the political spectrum. He considered joining the Progressive Conservative party and went to the policy conference in November, but ended up deciding the Alberta Liberals was a better fit for him.
Crouse has spent much of his career getting start-ups off the ground. In 1999, Crouse moved to Brooks to become the first head coach and general manager of the brand new Brooks Bandits junior hockey franchise. While living in Brooks in a basement suite, Crouse helped build the franchise into a successful award-winning operation.
Currently, the Alberta Liberal Party only has one seat provincially, which is held by MLA David Swann in the Calgary-Mountain View riding. Swann is the interim leader of the party after Raj Sherman stepped down before the 2015 provincial election.
The deadline for nominations is March 31.
The Alberta Liberal Party leadership race wraps up with a one-week voting period for party members in May. A new leader will be announced June 4, 2017.