02/22/2015 08:09 EST | Updated 04/24/2015 05:59 EDT

Wildrose Leadership Convention To Happen Sooner In Anticipation Of Election

Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith at the 2011 Speech from the Throne. February 22, 2011.
CALGARY - Alberta's Opposition Wildrose party is bumping up its leadership convention in case Premier Jim Prentice calls an election before the party has a permanent leader in place.

Wildrose president Jeff Callaway says the attendees at a members assembly in Calgary over the weekend overwhelmingly supported moving up the date from June 6.

After the meeting, he says the executive committee voted to move the leadership selection to sometime at the end of March.

Callaway says the party has a few details to iron out before announcing a firm date, but he says he hopes to know for sure by Tuesday afternoon.

Heather Forsyth has been interim Wildrose leader since former leader Danielle Smith and eight other Wildrose MLAs crossed the floor and joined the Progressive Conservatives in December.

Premier Jim Prentice has not ruled out calling an early election this spring despite a law mandating it be held in 2016.

Callaway says Albertans seem to favour the party having a permanent leader.

"Talking to our candidates, too, the feedback is they want to have a good leader in place before the election, a permanent leader versus a temporary leader," Callaway said on Sunday.

"Everybody is expecting an election."

The move by the floor-crossers left the Wildrose with five seats compared with 70 for the Tories.

Forsyth, in her remarks to party members in Calgary on Saturday, called the past year in Alberta politics "a wild ride."

"The last time anyone saw the leader of the opposition leave to join the government was during Confederation in the noble act of forming a country, whereas we saw certain members leave in their pursuit to sustain a 44-year-old government," Forsyth said, noting party members shouldn't feel discouraged.

"Let there be no question, all indicators show our party is strong, united and rejuvenated and ready for the task ahead of us."


Portraits Of Past Alberta Premiers