Wildrose leadership battle draws a crowd

The snowball that started with the Calgary-Glenbow byelection has gained size and momentum as the Wildrose Alliance heads toward its leadership convention in Edmonton Oct. 17.

Danielle Smith listens as Mark Dyrholm answers a question during the Wild Rose Alliance party’s leadership forum at the Capri Centre Wednesday night.

The snowball that started with the Calgary-Glenbow byelection has gained size and momentum as the Wildrose Alliance heads toward its leadership convention in Edmonton Oct. 17.

More than 250 people jammed a ballroom at Red Deer’s Capri Centre on Wednesday to hear from the two remaining candidates running for party leadership.

Jeff Willerton backed out at the end of a forum in Calgary last week, leaving Mark Dyrholm and Danielle Smith battling in the homestretch to replace party leader Paul Hinman, who announced his resignation earlier this year.

Calgary-Glenmore voters shifted the Wildrose leadership campaign into high gear when they chose Hinman, turfed from his Cardston-Taber-Warner riding in the 2008 election, to replace Tory MLA Ron Stevens.

Stevens had resigned in May to accept a judicial posting. Tory candidate Diane Colley-Urquhart finished in third, roughly 1,000 votes behind Liberal candidate Avalon Roberts.

Among the people gathered for the Red Deer leadership forum were founding members of the federal Reform Party and a number of people who have strong ties with the provincial Progressive Conservatives.

Red Deer County business owner Garett Cupples, who had helped with Premier Ed Stelmach’s leadership campaign, said someone else had purchased a Wildrose membership for him, so he attended the forum out of curiosity.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with competition,” said Cupples.

Cattle producer Tom Towers, defeated by Luke Ouellette when the Tories were choosing a new candidate in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, also declined to state whether he had made any commitment to the Wildrose Alliance.

Myron Thompson, former Conservative MP for the federal riding of Wildrose, said he supports everything the Wildrose Alliance stands for.

Thompson said that, while he had served as an MP with the Conservative Party of Canada, he started as a Reformer and has always held fast to the party’s original set of principles.

“I’m pleased with what I’m seeing in this party. That’s the track we need to get on, as far as I’m concerned,” Thompson said while waiting for the forum to begin.

While he declined to predict a victory for the party, Thompson said Hinman will have “a lot of company” after the next general election.

Others were firm in their belief that the Wildrose Alliance has the people and the momentum to upset the Progressive Conservative party’s 38-year hold on the Alberta Legislature.

The candidate who wins the Oct. 17 leadership race will become the province’s next premier, running victoriously up the steps of the Legislature, just like Peter Lougheed and his crew did in 1971, said Hinman.

Former Canadian Wheat Board delegate Jim Chatenay, who supported Ted Morton’s bid to lead the provincial Tories, said time is up for Stelmach and his government.

“I think it’s time for a showdown,” said Chatenay.

While critical of Stelmach’s leadership, Chatenay said that, regardless of who is at the helm, the Progressive Conservative Party has become complacent after holding the reins of power for too many years.

“It’s a tired old party that’s outlived its usefulness.”


Just Posted

Olympic ski run designer creates upgrades at Canyon Ski Resort

Jeff Ihaksi says free-style and alpine ski venues are Canada Winter Games-worthy

Updated: Collision expert backs version of crash of driver accused of manslaughter

Daniel Newsham accused of manslaughter in fatal 2016 collision

Red Deer artist highlights the dinosaur connection of Alberta birds

Jeff Powers is fascinated by winged creatures

Murder charges laid against woman from the Sunchild First Nation

The 25-year-old female victim was found dead on Dec. 12

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

Fashion Fridays: How to change your beauty routine

Kim XO, lets you in on her style secrets each Fashion Friday on the Black Press Media Network

WHL’s Thunderbirds, Silvertips open to NHL joining Seattle hockey market

TORONTO — The Seattle area’s major junior hockey teams aren’t worried about… Continue reading

Canadian freestyle skier Karker excited for Dew Tour’s modified superpipe

Rachael Karker has a renewed sense of confidence heading into her second… Continue reading

CBS settled with Dushku over ‘Bull’ star’s sexual comments

LOS ANGELES — CBS reached a $9.5 million confidential settlement last year… Continue reading

Kanye reignites Drake feud on Twitter, alleges threats

LOS ANGELES — Kanye West is not sending Christmas cheer to Drake.… Continue reading

Councillors in Toronto, Ottawa vote to allow retail cannabis stores

TORONTO — Councillors in Toronto have voted to allow retail pot shops… Continue reading

Barry Cooper: Separation has become a real possibility, thanks to Ottawa’s abuses

In the past couple of weeks, a retired senior oil executive, Gwyn… Continue reading

Most Read