Reil chosen to lead Alberta First Party

Alberta's newest political party, has a new leader. He's fifty-one year old John Reil.

Reil was chosen as president of the Alberta First Party in Edmonton on Saturday. He beat his only rival Calgary businessman Neil Wiltzen.

Reil is an elk farmer and businessman and has served as interim president of the party since it was set up last November.

Reil says the new party's first objective is to provide a real alternative to Premier Ralph Klein's conservative government - a government Reil considers too left-of-centre.

" I don't think the PC's are a right wing party," said Reil in question and answer session during the convention. "If you ask me, there is little to choose from between the PC's and the Liberals which is why the PC's have governed this province for so long."

Alberta First Party members believe MLA's in the legislature should have free votes instead of toeing a party line. They also want to have regular referenda on contentious issues such as abortion and rights for gays and lesbians. The party also supports privatizing Alberta's health care system.

The party claims it has more 500 members. It plans to field candidates in all of Alberta's 83 provincial ridings in the next election.