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Alberta Party members meet in Edmonton to debate, set policy ahead of election

EDMONTON — Members of the Alberta Party are meeting in Edmonton today to vote on principles that will help craft the platform they take to voters in the spring election.

Party leader Stephen Mandel says the party aims to have its platform completed and all 87 candidates in place by as early as year’s end.

There are 16 resolutions to be debated, which came from discussions, focus groups and committee work.

They range from economic policy to seniors care to infrastructure goals.

Members are to vote on whether to back a review of public spending and a taxation model that ensures long-term, sustainable revenues, but does not go into more detail.

They’ll also be asked to vote on a resolution calling for phased-in funding reductions to private schools that selectively admit students and on higher tuition for those schools.

The party is working to make its mark in the election after microscopic results in 2015 in which it garnered just 2.2 per cent of the popular vote. One member, Greg Clark in Calgary Elbow, was elected to the legislature.

Mandel was chosen leader earlier this year, and said he’s heard from people around the province that they’re concerned about the economy and about having their voices heard.

“It’s an awful lot to do with jobs, jobs, jobs,” Mandel said. “People are concerned about the future and what’s going to happen to them and their community.”

Members are to debate and vote on five core resolutions. The rest will b addressed if time allows. The five include the resolution on spending and taxes and the changes to private school funding.

Another resolution looks at improving health care while reducing costs by eliminating tests deemed unnecessary based on evolving research.

Other resolutions include removing barriers to business development and committing a portion of resource revenue to balance the books and to the long-term Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund.

Mandel said the party has 43 of 87 candidates nominated so far compared with 35 who ran in the 2015 election.

The Alberta Party currently has three members in the legislature: Karen McPherson coming over from the NDP and Rick Fraser left the United Conservatives to join.

Fundraising remains a concern. Figures released this week show the Opposition United Conservatives have raised almost $2.7 million in the 2017-18 fiscal year compared with $1.9 million for Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP.

The Alberta Party is third at $235,700.