What if the Alberta Party Leader Lost His Appeal? #ableg #abpoli

As Stephen Mandel awaits his day in court to appeal the five-year ban on running that was handed down from Elections Alberta, people are talking about the possibility of a loss because there’s no assurance he will win. The more partisan supporters of any Party seem to hope for the former result as it might mean less support for the candidates who are left and a better chance for their team. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. 

In any case, there’s been some interesting potential outcomes so I thought I’d give those a little air. 

Maintain the Status Quo

Mandel was elected without a seat in the legislature so why change anything? Personally, I don’t see that being an option. For Mandel, as leader of the Alberta Party, there is more at stake than just running in 2019. 

This has not been good press for the Party itself and voters aren’t happy. Whether they are being truthful or not, comments have been in the realm of “I had hope for the Alberta Party but not now” and “this will kill them in the election” and some suggested the Party no longer had a leader (it seemed silly but perhaps it was just ahead of its time). 

For both Mandel and the Party, if the five-year ban is upheld,  it is very likely he will have to step away as leader because it’s not just about the election.

Appointing an Interim (Acting) Leader

Suffice it to say that if Stephen Mandel lost his appeal, Party members could be less confident in his leadership.  Greg Clark, Rick Fraser and Karen McPherson are current MLAs and there are over 60 candidates currently running for election including former leadership candidate Kara Levis

This would be the most likely scenario as there is little time for a leadership race. The most plausible choice would be someone with more name recognition who doesn’t have to do as much work to be associated with the Party as well as campaign in their own riding. That could result in Greg Clark being named interim leader but there are others such as Katherine O’Neill in Edmonton who have a fair amount of personal name recognition.  

One person pondered if Mr. Brian Jean would find a parachute in to yet another Party right before an election. 

Speaking of which, the political rumour mill has been churning with regard to Mr. Jean over the last week saying Alberta could see the formation of yet another Party before the 2019 election, with Jean at the helm.  If the latter is true then the former could be a possibility, albeit a distant one.

But without having a full slate of candidates already in place, the Alberta Party has space for someone to jump in and be named interim leader. In a way, it’s not a bad gig for someone who was on the fence about running and had designs on the leader’s role anyway.

That is not to say being an interim leader gives anyone a leg up but… a leader who took over during the eleventh hour and gained seats, well, it was definitely something people gave Brian Jean credit for. Although, I think Wildrose supporters would have voted for a wind-up talking doll with limited vocabulary so long as they could vote Wildrose in 2015 (and a LOT of people wish they had that opportunity in 2019).

Have Another Leadership Race

This would be ludicrous directly before an election but I’m just a person who spends a lot of time questioning why people make questionable decisions or statements and expect to get elected … so it’s not out the realm of my imagination by any means… but seriously, nobody should do that.

And all of the above possibilities hinge on Mr. Mandel being unsuccessful in his appeal. We are a mere ten days away from hearing the outcome and with any luck, by then this post may simply have been a mildly entertaining way to spend my afternoon.

This post is an opinion.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean

[email protected]

@Mitchell_AB @thisweekinAB