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Alberta Party Leader makes flimsy excuses for missing election deadline

Stephen Mandel regrets. Photo: David J. Climenhaga.

Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel now says he regrets missing the deadline for filing his nomination candidate expense paperwork, but nevertheless expects the courts to make the problem go away.

Well, good luck with that.

He blames a retired party financial functionary for the filing fiasco that resulted in six Alberta Party candidates, including himself, being banned from running for public office in Alberta for five years. ("My CFO was sick. He missed some dates.")

For heaven's sake, this is embarrassing!

Maybe the time really has come for Mandel to retire. For that matter, the same point could be made about the whole long, twisty-turny Alberta Party experiment -- which started out as just another Alberta right-wing fringe party, joined a province-wide political discussion club run by disillusioned Alberta Liberals to become an aspiring political movement slightly to the left of centre, and eventually was wrested back to the right by a group of supposed Red Tories led by Mandel.

Now this! Me, I miss the days in 2011 when Sue Huff was interim leader of the party and could mount the stage with her guitar and sing Somewhere Over The Rainbow in a sweet soprano voice with a straight face and without anyone breaking into guffaws. Turns out that was the high point of Alberta Party history! Who knew?

So, while this might mean Mandel ends his long political career on a sour note -- if, indeed, that is what happens -- it may be an opportunity to put the little party that never quite grew out of its misery. The events of the past few hours certainly can't be described as a bravura performance for the party in general, or Mandel in particular.

The excuses trotted out for the missed deadline by the former Edmonton mayor and Progressive Conservative cabinet minister at his news conference in Edmonton on February 11 really were starting to take on a pathetic quality.

As a commenter on this blog observed last night: "The 'dog ate my homework' excuse isn't likely to fly for Mandel -- no matter how hard he and his lawyers bark. Elections Alberta is meticulous. They should be when it's the only job they've got to do -- looking after administrative matters surrounding by-elections, elections and referenda."

Well, never say never. This is Alberta, after all, and Mandel is a well-heeled guy with friends in high places. Still, you've got to consider this 11th hour strategy a Hail Mary pass at best.

Wouldn't you think, if you'd received a letter in July saying clearly some routine bureaucracy had to be completed by September 12, you would have done so by then, even if you thought the date was wrong? Mandel's paperwork was filed on September 27, and he wants you to know it wasn't his fault. As the Edmonton Journal's reporter pointed out, that's a four-month window to complete a simple job.

It has never been clear to me whether the Alberta Party was more likely to rob the New Democratic Party Government or the United Conservative Party of votes, or whether even with Mandel at the helm it could do so in sufficient volume to have any kind of impact on the outcome of the upcoming general election.

Either way, it appears as if there is a significant chance that entire matter is now moot.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Image: David J Climenhaga

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