Nation, after a relatively early night and a morning spent fighting off my hayfever (the battle wages on), I find myself sitting in Salons 8-10 at the Shaw Conference Centre.
The membership of this party is streaming through the doors, on their way to their various tasks or their breakfast tables. The party's President, Chris Labossiere, just stopped by one of the 2 "Blogger Tables" to say hi. Spirits are high, and many of these folks have already cast their ballots via telephone and online. I'm not 100% convinced that's the best course of action before the candidates have had a chance to speak to the convention, but those votes are no less informed than many of those cast in any other party's leadership races.
There's a smoky smell to the air in Edmonton today - I expect that's related to the wildfires that still blaze in many areas to the north. But there's also anticipation in the air, as the party may meet its new leader by 1:15 this afternoon, as the results from the First Ballot are announced.
The voting works as follows:
First Ballot voting is open until 1:00 pm today. Votes will be tallied, and if no candidate has 50% of the vote plus 1, the candidate with the least votes will be dropped off the list, and the remaining 3 candidates will again stand for election, on a second ballot.
Second Ballot voting, if required, will take place in-person at the Shaw Centre, and via telephone and online, from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm. The results will be tabulated and announced, and if none of the 3 remaining candidates secures 50% of the vote plus 1, the 3rd place candidate will be dropped from the ballot and the final 2 candidates will move on to a third a final round.
Third Ballot voting, if required, will take place from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm. By my limited grasp of math, I'm pretty sure that with only 2 candidates on the ballot, one of them will certainly have the 50% plus 1 required to be declared the elected Leader of the Alberta Party.
What strikes me most about the people in this room is the relative youth that I see... in my own party, I tend to spend more time around the youth than anyone else, but it's clear in larger party events that the youth contingent, while passionate, is certainly outweighed by the elder lions (a group towards which I find myself inexorably sliding further and further with each passing year).
As I look around this room, I'm counting about 150 people at breakfast - and maybe 30 of the heads are sporting grey foliage. The party has a provincial board of 24 members, and 18 of them are under the age of 40.
Now, youth isn't EVERYTHING - you've got to be GOOD at running a party, too. And the Alberta Party is still early in the game. But in terms of growth and energy going forward, they're in a place that many parties would love to be: Chock-full of young, passionate volunteers who want to make a difference.