EDMONTON — Whoever wins the leadership of the Alberta PC party will face a bigger battle with the Wildrose and its surging support.
A poll released this week shows the Wildrose Party leads the PC Party with 33 per cent support. The Tories have 29 per cent support. The Liberal Party sits at 18 per cent, while the NDP sit at 16 per cent support.
“We are being a more effective opposition,” Leader Danielle Smith said in a recent interview with Global Edmonton. “We’re being, I think, a lot more mature in the approach that we take to dealing with policy issues. I think we have a level of credibility when it comes to how we operate in the legislature.”
It’s taken two years of steady effort to make up for the party’s loss in the April 2012 election.
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In the weeks leading up to that vote, Wildrose had a commanding lead in the polls, but then a series of controversies hit.
Just days before the vote, Edmonton candidate Allan Hunsperger made headlines when it was revealed he had written a blog warning homosexuals that Satan was setting a “trap” for them and if they didn’t change their ways, they would “suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire.”
At the same time, Calgary candidate Ron Leech came under fire for comments he made suggesting he was the best person to represent his multi-ethnic riding.
“When a Punjabi leader speaks to the Punjabi, the Punjabi are listening. But when a Caucasian speaks on their behalf, everybody is listening.”
Smith defended her candidates, and the party was defeated by the PCs, winning just 17 seats.
“I think we disappointed a lot of people,” Smith said. “I think we made a lot of mistakes and I made a lot of mistakes in the last 10 days of the campaign, giving people too many reasons to vote against us.”
READ MORE: ‘Loud and proud’ Wildrose party affirms gay rights, moderates social policies
The party has worked hard to regain the trust of Albertans, amending many of its policies since then, Smith added.
This summer, while the PCs have been searching for new leadership, the Wildrose has been focused on policy, rolling out a number of new platforms.
“We thought it was important for Albertans to know the areas that we’ve looked at and revised, different areas where we’ve made some changes in our policies, so that we could release them and they have a choice in the next election.”
With files from , Gary Bobrovitz, Global News.