A new leader for the Wildrose Party will be announced this month after the party’s executive council voted unanimously to speed up the nomi - nation process in anticipation of an early provin - cial election.
Members can vote through telephone ballot with the results being announced on March 28 at an event taking place at the Sheraton Cavalier in Calgary.
“We talked to our political advisors, we talked to our membership, you know, there’s general feedback from within our constituency association,” said Jeff Calloway, Wildrose Party president. “The general feedback is that it would be preferable to have a leader in place before an election or going into an election.”
The original date they had set out was for June 6, but when they set that date, back in January, they were banking on the Alberta government to abide by their own fixed election law. Calloway said it now looks as though the Progressive Conservatives are not going to follow that and the Wildrose wants to be ready.
“It appears very clear that they’re going to be breaking their own law to call an election,” he said. “They say they need a mandate, but they have 72 out of the 87 seats already, so I’m not entirely sure what more of a mandate that is than anyone else.”
The ballot for the Wildrose Party has been set with three candidates from across the province ready for the job. Members Drew Barnes, Linda Osinchuk and Brian Jean have all submitted their candidate package, entry fee, and nominating signatures in time for the March 7 deadline to enter the race.
Callaway said each candidate brings a great deal of political experience and their diverse political backgrounds will make for an exciting leadership race. Barnes is the current MLA for Cypress– Medicine Hat, Jean is a former Conservative MP in Fort McMurray-Athabasca and Osinchuk is the former mayor of Strathcona County.
Calloway said unless an illegal election is called before March 28, he thinks the party will be in a good position to fight.
“We’ve got something like 45 candidates in place. And we’ve got a whole slough more to go and get nominated,” he said. “We’re probably also shooting for the end of March to have most of those sorted out or lined up at least. So we’ll have candidates on every ballot in the province in every constituency.”
The party began mailing out ballots on March 7 and will mail out a second round on March 16 for those who happen to join around that week. Calloway said they have a 14-day membership cutoff, so they’re encouraging members to make sure they have the right address.
They can do this either through the leadership campaign they want to contact or by calling the Wildrose office.
“It will be a telephone ballot, so people will be able to dial in, frankly from the moment they receive their ballots until the 28th on voting day,” said Calloway.
“So people could potentially start voting for who they think the leader of the party should be by around March 10 or 11 or so.”