Liberals defending choice to run candidate against Greg Clark

Alberta Liberal leader David Swann is defending his party decision to run a candidate in Calgary-Elbow, a riding Alberta Party leader Greg Clark may have a good chance of winning.
Liberal leader David Swann says an election isn't the time to make side-deals between parties on who should run where. (CBC)

Alberta Liberal leader David Swann is defending his party's decision to run a candidate in Calgary-Elbow, a riding Alberta Party leader Greg Clark may have a good chance of winning.

The party has appointed John Roggeven to run against Clark in the riding won by Progressive Conservative candidate and Education Minister Gordon Dirks in the October byelection.

Clark came in second place to Dirks by 803 fewer votes. Liberal candidate Susan Wright finished in fourth place, by 2,686 fewer votes.

Although he called the situation "unfortunate," Swann said the Alberta Party has shunned the Liberals despite attempts to work together.

"Frankly, we've been building for an election there for four years and we have funding and we have a candidate," Swann said Monday.

"Unfortunately we weren't able to do some kind of meeting of the minds before this but leading into an election campaign is not the time when we can do side deals on specific constituencies.

"Liberals want a Liberal to vote for. Nobody's quite sure what the Alberta Party stands for."

Clark focused on beating Dirks 

The Liberals decided to run a candidate even though the Alberta Party agreed to stay out of ridings like Calgary-Mountain View where the Liberals have a chance.

Clark sidestepped questions about the Liberal decision, stating that he is focused on beating Gordon Dirks on May 5.

"It's a two-horse race in Calgary-Elbow. The polls are absolutely clear," he said. "It is the PCs or me."

Clark confirms that the Alberta Party declined to run a candidate in Swann's riding of Calgary-Mountain View.

"That's the choice we made," he said.

On Monday, Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman, who is also running for the Greens and Alberta Party in this election, posted her feelings about the Calgary-Elbow fight on Twitter.

Prior to the election, Blakeman tried to get the Liberals to work with the Alberta Party.

Blakeman offered to become interim Liberal leader  if she was given a mandate to negotiate "a structured cooperation and eventual amalgamation with the Alberta Party."

She said the party should talk with the Alberta Party "and possibly others" to nominate candidates in competitive areas of the province and "run an election together."

Her proposal was rejected and the board appointed Swann as interim leader instead.

Several weeks later, Blakeman announced she would run for the Liberal, Green and Alberta Parties in Edmonton-Centre.

She will appear as a Liberal on the ballot to comply with rules set by Election Alberta.



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