Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel has decided to step down from his role to take on the role of Chancellor at Concordia University.
Mandel took over the party 15 months ago, taking over from previous leader, Greg Clark.
Mandel won the Alberta Party leadership race in 2018 beating Kara Levis and Rick Fraser in the contest.
“To serve as the leader for the past 15 months has been a tremendous honour. The results were not as we had hoped but I believe we have broken new ground by gaining the support of over nine per cent of the popular vote,” Mandel said in a prepared statement.
“I am grateful for all the support and thoroughly enjoyed travelling the province making connections. Although I’m stepping aside as leader, I will continue to be involved in the party. I also look forward to quality time with my family.”
With Mandel, the Alberta Party fielded candidates in all 87 Alberta ridings, garnering 179,000 votes – compared with 33,000 in the prior election.
The party is expecting to appoint an interim leader and then pursue a full on leadership race after their next annual general meeting, which has yet to be scheduled.
“Mr. Mandel is one of the hardest working leaders this province has seen since Peter Lougheed,” said Conrad Guay, Alberta Party president.
“His commitment to the Alberta Party was immense and widespread. Mandel has left the party with the tools needed to move forward. We thank him for his hard work and wish him well in his future endeavours.”
Duane Bratt, political professor at Mount Royal University, said he wasn’t surprised by the announcement.
“It was just a question of when the announcement was going to be made,” said Bratt.
“Stephen Mandel, given his age, was never a long term project.”
According to the party’s constitution an Annual General Meeting must be held every 18 months. The previous meeting took place on October 20, 2018 which means the party has approximately 10 months left to hold the AGM where leadership race details are expected to be released.
However, the constitution also states: “Where a Leadership Vote is to be called, the Provincial Executive shall within fifteen (15) days, announce the date on which the Leadership Vote will be held.”
The next party leader will have its work cut out for them, according to Bratt.
“They’re going to need someone who is going to be able to travel the province and is going to build up supporters and raise money and keep a profile for the party in the absence of not having a seat,” said Bratt
He said he was unsure who would take the leadership, but it will be a lot of hard work for whoever takes it.