Political challenge from Wildrose

Newly crowned Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith has the right qualities to lead the surging right-wing party to victory in the next provincial election, says a Rocky Mountain House supporter.

Danielle Smith wins the leadership of the Wildrose Alliance Party of Alberta in Edmonton

Newly crowned Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith has the right qualities to lead the surging right-wing party to victory in the next provincial election, says a Rocky Mountain House supporter.

Fanie van Heerden said he’s confident the 38-year-old political newcomer from Calgary has the skills to topple Premier Ed Stelmach and the nearly four-decade Progressive Conservative dynasty.

“I think she’s the best thing that’s happened to the party since it was formed and she has the qualities that we need to take this party forward,” said van Heerden from Saturday’s leadership convention in Edmonton. “The PCs will see us as a real threat in the next election.”

Stelmach, who won a solid majority in March 2008, doesn’t have to call another election for three years.

The smaller party would then have the time to build up an arsenal of members, candidates and finances.

Smith soundly defeated Calgary chiropractor Mark Dyrholm, 38, for the party’s top job vacated by Calgary-Glenmore MLA Paul Hinman. She received 6,295 votes, while Dyrholm took 1,905.

Van Heerden said the spirits were high within the conference hall where an estimated 400 party members gathered to hear the victory speech made by Smith, a former journalist.

“She’s really good with the media, she carries the message really good,” van Heerden said. “And I think it will make a big difference that we have a female as a party leader. That might swing a lot of people towards us.”

Van Heerden also supported Smith because of her business experience. She was the provincial affairs director for Alberta with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. It lobbies various levels of government on behalf of 10,000 small business members in Alberta.

Van Heerden moved to Alberta from South Africa 11 years ago and shortly after, became a member of the Progressive Conservative party.

He grew frustrated with the Tories because he said it was ignoring its grassroots followers.

“They lost all ability for common sense — our education system is such a mess and now they talk about downgrading it,” said van Heerden, a former teacher and automotive mechanic for the past eight years. “I was so frustrated with how Ed Stelmach’s government is doing things — the wasting that is happening. I thought I’ve got to make a difference.”

He joined the Wildrose Alliance party soon after it was formed in January 2008, following the merger of the Wild Rose Party of Alberta and Alberta Alliance Party. When a provincial election was held two months later, van Heerden ran as a candidate in the Rocky riding.

He was a distant second to Tory veteran Ty Lund.

With Smith at the helm, van Heerden has renewed confidence and vows he’ll be a part of the ruling government next time.

“I’m ready to take over the riding,” he said.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

WATCH: Every square tells a story: Edmonton expert is exploring Red Deer’s quilting history

Community members can bring in family heirloom quilts for documentation

Pine Lake shooter loses conviction appeal

Cory Lavallee sentenced in 2016 to nine years in prison for attempted murder

Police say a woman in the Red Deer area may be in danger

Public’s assistance is urgently requested

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

PHOTO: Chew On This! campaign draws attention to national poverty

Lunch bags were being handed out in front of The Hub downtown… Continue reading

Wickenheiser, Pegula reflect NHL’s trend toward diversity

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With a laugh, Kim Pegula’s competitive nature kicked in… Continue reading

Harry and Meghan bring rain to drought-stricken Outback town

DUBBO, Australia — The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were jokingly thanked… Continue reading

TV Review: A Roseanne Barr-less ‘The Conners’ is a triumph

NEW YORK — Can there be a “Roseanne” without Roseanne? The answer… Continue reading

Canadian manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent in August: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent to… Continue reading

Brian Mulroney joins board of directors of New York-based pot company

NEW YORK — Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is joining the board… Continue reading

Canadians waking up to legalized cannabis: ‘My new dealer is the prime minister’

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Canadians across the country woke up to legalized… Continue reading

B.C. man accused of swimming naked in Toronto shark tank arrested in Thunder Bay

THUNDER BAY, Ont. — Police have arrested a B.C. man who is… Continue reading

Most Read