Alberta Liberal Kerry Cundal is launching her bid for the party leadership with an appeal to people who believe a government can be both fiscally responsible and socially progressive.
Cundal said she will officially launch her campaign Thursday night in Calgary.
"Having a heart and a brain are not mutually exclusive — I really believe that Albertans are looking for that," Cundal said in an interview.
Earlier this week the Alberta Liberals approved Cundal and David Khan as candidates for the leadership, but Cundal put off committing to the race until she could take a leave from her work as a lawyer with the federal immigration department.
Cundal, 42, said most Albertans aren't members of any political party and just want to support an honest, hard-working leader who can come up with practical solutions and make smart decisions.
If she wins the leadership, Cundal said she would be willing to work with any like-minded people who believe that Alberta would be better off without the NDP or a new hard-right party under Progressive Conservative leader Jason Kenney or Wildrose chief Brian Jean.
"I think it is time for folks in the centre to start working together and build something for 2019," Cundal said.
"Those are the folks that I want to appeal to. There is another way. We can build something that includes greater fiscal responsibility and still be socially progressive."
'Unite-the-centre' meeting planned
Cundal said she plans to attend a meeting of people who have been talking about forming a "unite-the-centre" political movement in Alberta, including former PC cabinet minister Stephen Mandel.
The Alberta Liberals are not sending an official delegation to the April 15 meeting in Red Deer but Cundal said she wants to be there to listen.
"I want to reach out to the Alberta Party and all of the folks who worked on federal Liberal campaigns and all the folks who are progressive and don't want to move further to the right — and there are lots of them."
Khan, 42, who is also a lawyer, said he wants more information about the meeting before deciding whether to attend.
He said with the Liberal leadership campaign underway the timing isn't good.
Khan said he is pleased that Cundal is throwing her hat in the ring.
"It is very healthy for the party. Kerry is a good friend of mine and I have a lot of respect for her," he said. "We have some differing views on things and that is what a leadership race is about."
The new leader is to be announced at the party's annual general meeting in Calgary on June 4.