2019 is a long way away, but Peter Lougheed and Rachel Notley have shown us one thing: in Alberta, a party with few seats can become Government. With Kevin Feehan and Nirmala Naidoo as co-chairs and a new executive, the Alberta Liberal Party is on the cusp of a new era.
My optimism might initially seem strange but it is founded in this province. Premiers Lougheed and Notley understood one simple thing. They knew – long before Anita Van Herk used the phrase – that Alberta is a province of mavericks. From First Nations who continue to fight for their voice, to farmers who tilled the soil to Oil Men who have built Billions and Billions of dollars of wealth, we are a province of unconventional and brave people.
The reason is simple: Albertans are courageous. We look for the person with a vision of the future that includes us all. We are not scared by hard or difficult work; in fact, we want it. But we want that challenge for a reason: to ensure that our neighbours, family and friends are taken care of. Albertans want to become rich together, to lift each other up. We want to do that to create a future that protects ourselves and our heritage because our province is our home. We have created a future that uses the greatest resources of the province – our land and our people – and created wealth for us all. We want to elect a government for all of us and the Alberta Liberal Party can be that government.
However, to do so we need to be a strong party. To get that Party, I ask – nay beg – for some rules for the Leadership Process. We need rules because unlike the Federal Leadership Race or other Provincial Races, Alberta Election Law requires that Elections Alberta oversee this race. Accordingly, no money raised before Alberta Election begins its oversight role can be used. Consequently, Leadership Candidates need time to find support and raise money. They need time to ensure that they are capable.
But the Party also needs time to rebuild riding associations and refresh membership roles to face the Alberta Party, the Alberta Green Party, the Wildrose Party, the Alberta Progressive Conservatives and the Alberta New Democratic Party in 2019. Leadership Candidates need a long runway to get the process started and our candidates need to do a lot to ensure that they are not “also-rans” in 2019.
Accordingly, I am proposing a framework. Instead of having a large Leadership Candidate Fee, let us make Leadership Candidates find members. Let’s ask Leadership Candidates to find 200 to 1,000 unique members from 40 to 45 ridings. Each member can only sign one nomination form. Under these rules, Leadership Candidate can’t just have support from Calgary or Edmonton. Any Candidate would have to have support in Olds and Lethbridge and Red Deer and Vulcan. Leadership Candidates would actually have to do the hard work of building the Party and those that are successful might actually be capable of pulling off our goal: being the first Liberal Premier in Alberta since the 1920s.
After they have found support from 200 to 1,000 members, then Leadership Candidates would become official nominees. For, only then have they proved that they can find supporters, donations, membership and, most importantly, their general election voters.
My Liberal colleagues, this is the type of start we need. We know we are courageous enough to lead; so why don’t we move forward?