Greg Clark explains why he stepped down as Alberta Party leader

Greg Clark appeared on CBC Radio's Alberta@Noon to talk about his sudden decision to resign Friday as the Alberta Party's leader.

Former party leader says he's trying to boost membership sales, motivate volunteers before election

Greg Clark, who resigned Friday as leader of the Alberta Party, became leader of the centrist party in 2013. He won the party's first seat in 2015. (CBC)

Greg Clark says he'll be taking the week to decide if he'll run again for leader of the Alberta Party, after resigning from the job last Friday.

With his resignation, he says he's trying to spark a membership drive. He recently consulted with the Alberta Party's board and agreed to "throw open" a leadership race ahead of the 2019 provincial election.

Clark spoke with CBC Radio's Alberta@Noon on Monday and took questions from Calgarians about his sudden decision to resign as the Alberta Party's leader.

"When opportunities like this present, we can take a little step back, spend some time with family and really evaluate, what does it mean now that I've been in elected office for two and a half years, been party leader for four years now?" Clark said.

You can watch the video here in the web story and join the conversation on Facebook.

Clark became leader of the centrist party in 2013, and secured the party's first seat with his 2015 election to represent the riding of Calgary-Elbow at the provincial legislature.

Regardless of his yet-undecided leadership plans, he says he plans to run again in the 2019 election to represent his riding.

'A middle path'

The party has an annual general meeting on Saturday in Red Deer — and had to move to a larger room, Clark said, because more people than expected registered to attend. 

Clark said he hopes many candidates come forward to run and share new ideas for the party, which he says can reflect "a middle path" between the United Conservative Party and the New Democrats. He pointed to Bill 24, which would outlaw informing parents of when students join gay-straight alliances, as an example.

"We're a centrist party and so fiscal responsibility is a cornerstone of our party," Clark said. "It is absolutely possible in 2017 in Alberta to protect gay kids and work towards a balanced budget."

Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark says he is quitting the position to spark a leadership race he says is needed to galvanize support for a party that is on the rise. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

The party has been picking up momentum in the past few months with these changes and following the recent creation of the UCP.

The party now has two members, after Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill MLA Karen McPherson joined its caucus at the end of October. McPherson left the NDP earlier that month to sit as an Independent.

The second MLA gives the party more questions at the legislature and $136,000 in extra caucus funding.

'Can't get its act together'

Clark's sudden resignation could have the opposite effect and instead slow that growth, Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said last week on Radio Active.

"This is going to show you that maybe they don't have their own act together and that you're going to have to pick and choose between the left and the right because the centre can't hold itself," he told CBC News.

"It can't get its act together."

'Bit of a risk'

But Susan Elliot, a former Progressive Conservative strategist and current Alberta Party volunteer, argues the volunteers will be motivated by the leadership race to run events, collect donations and sell memberships.

That's what's needed ahead of the next election, Elliot said Monday morning on The Calgary Eyeopener.

"Listen, it's a bit of a risk. It's a bold move. I give Greg full credit for saying, 'At my personal expense, I'm going to do what I believe... I need to do to make this party move forward very quickly,'" she said.

A new leader is expected to be elected by early 2018, in time for the next sitting of the legislature, Clark said.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener, Radio Active. and Alberta@Noon