Alberta Party Leader Glenn Taylor
The heavy wet snow blanketing Edmonton is making it difficult to reach people's doorsteps this April morning but Glenn Taylor is undaunted.
The genial leader of the centrist Alberta Party is only in Edmonton for one more day, so he and Edmonton-Glenora candidate Sue Huff carry snow shovels to clear their way to the doors. Many people aren't home but they finally get a response at a house where the walk is already shoveled.
"We're a new option for Albertans to consider," Taylor tells Ben, the young man who answers the door. "We've been at this for about two years now, and we just want to try and bring a different kind of politics to Alberta."
After making their pitch, Taylor and Huff give Ben their pamphlet and grab their shovels to start clearing another sidewalk.
"You're getting fast," Huff laughs.
"I am," Taylor replies. "A lot of ground to cover in the next two weeks."
Taylor does have a lot of ground to cover — he's trying to make the Alberta Party the choice for voters who won't support right-wing parties like Wildrose and the Progressive Conservatives, and are disenchanted with the Liberals and the NDP.
First elected mayor of Hinton in 2004, Taylor stepped down from that position in January so he could focus on leading the party and unseating the Tory incumbent in the riding of West Yellowhead.
Taylor has mostly focused on his home riding since the start of the campaign. But today he is on a whirlwind tour of Edmonton, going from TV interview to TV interview, and meeting with a number of Alberta Party candidates.
Trying to build a party
The Alberta Party is running candidates in 34 of the province's 87 ridings.
In a contest dominated by the battle between the two right-wing parties and their leaders, Taylor and his candidates are doing their best to make an impression on Alberta voters.
Michael Walters has been door-knocking in the hotly-contested Edmonton-Rutherford riding since last fall.
And supporters fought a decision by the team of academics behind Vote Compass, who decided not to include the Alberta Party as a choice in the online election feature they created for CBC.
The party wasn't included because it didn't have an MLA elected in the last election in 2008, and isn't running a full slate of candidates this time around. But Alberta Party supporters continued to voice their opposition on Twitter using the #brokencompass hashtag.
Taylor told a CBC editorial board last month that while he has been invited to participate in a number of public forums, the media hasn't yet embraced the idea that Albertans might be interested in his party.
"You have to earn that, I understand that and I respect that," he said. "But we're not looking for media for the sake of getting media. We're busy building a party on the ground, on the doors, in the neighbourhoods, where are candidates are working hard.
"Would we like to get more coverage? Absolutely, because it would help Albertans understand the diversity of choice they have."
Despite these challenges, Taylor thinks his party will end up attracting a higher level of support than many expect.
"People are realizing that the Liberals and the New Democrats simply haven't got the job done in opposition," he said.
First elected in 2001
Taylor, 49, was born in Guelph, Ont. but moved many times because his father was in the military.
He first came to Alberta in 1982 and settled in Hinton four years later, where he met and married his wife.
Taylor worked in a lumber mill as a teenager and later became an occupational health and safety instructor. He now works as the vice-president of program development and strategic initiatives for Western Canada Fire and First Aid.
Taylor launched his political career in 2001, when he won a seat on Hinton town council.
In addition to his seven years as mayor, Taylor served as the vice-president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.
Taylor has a daughter who is a nurse and a son who is a second-year apprentice automotive mechanic.