There were a couple of things that did surprise me though. First was the inordinate amount of attention they were giving to those of us on Twitter who were needling them throughout the day. Why did they even respond? Why not just ignore us?
They really went off the deep end though, when the MC of the event read out one of my Tweets to the audience. Actually, it wasn't even my Tweet originally, simply one that I had "retweeted" from someone else. This occurred at the wrap up of all the leadership candidates speaking; surely there are better ways to respect these candidates than giving an active member of an opposing party, public acknowledgement.
In fact they were paying so much attention to me, that my username started to trend in Calgary.
And the winner is......
Glenn Taylor, Mayor of Hinton, Alberta. Glenn pulled it off in the first round of balloting by garnering 665 votes out of 1200 votes. According to their President (the night before on Twitter); they had 2066 members eligible to vote. Today that number somehow grew to 2200. Either way, according to their own press release voter turnout was 58.8%. This was the second surprise of the day. Nearly 42% of their members couldn't even bother to vote!!! They couldn't have made it any easier. You could phone in, do it online, you could do that on Friday or Saturday, rain, snow or sun.
Even the Wildrose Alliance in their 2009 leadership race managed to get nearly 72% of the members to vote. And they used old fashioned mail-in and in-person ballots.
One of the Alberta Party's big mantra's is "engaging the 60% of people who didn't vote in the last election". Well, again credit where credit is due..... apparently they have engaged them.... and guess what 40% of them still don't vote.
As an interesting side note, Glenn Taylor got more votes in 1997 when he ran for the NDP, than the Alberta Party has members.
A commenter in Calgary Herald also put the vote into perspective with these thoughts.
So 1200 Alberta Party members voted on a new leader with Mr. Taylor winning on the first ballot with 665 votes. Let's see how these results stack up with other recent leadership contests in Alberta.
In 2009, Danielle Smith won the Wildrose Alliance Party leadership with 6,295 votes out of 8,297 ballots cast. Taylor's 665 votes would have qualified him for a last place finish, behind 2nd-place contender Mark Dynholm's 1,905 votes.
In 2008, 4,575 Alberta Liberals voted for their party's leader, with David Swann receiving 2,468 of those votes. Glenn Taylor's 665 votes would have placed him 3rd in that race behind Dave Taylor's 1,616 votes and ahead of Mo Elsalhy's 491 votes.
And in 2006, the first round of the PC leadership race produced 97,690 votes and no clear winner on the first ballot. Taylor's 665 votes would have qualified him for last place, behind 8th-place Gary McPherson's 744 votes and compared to front-runner Jim Dinning's 29,470.
Oh the irony.......
One of the things the political pundits on the left like to skew is how many people didn't vote for the winning candidate. Alberta Party supporters did this plenty after the Federal Election... things like "60% of Canadians didn't even vote for the Conservatives". So I have no qualms turning the table on them and say; "nearly 70% of their membership doesn't even support their new leader."
Let the music play.....
Music was a big part of today's event. They had bongo drums scattered about the room and outgoing interim Leader Sue Huff did a marvelous rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"; proving she does indeed have a sense of humor. (The Alberta Party is often referred to as the Rainbow and Lollipop Party).
During the breaks in the programmed events, there was prerecorded music provided by the convention centre that was fed over the live streaming video. At the end of the convention they "rolled credits" on the screens all the while playing Corb Lunds' "This is My Prairie". This was interesting on two fronts; one the selection itself, given the lyrics in my opinion are somewhat political. And two, that an artist would agree to be directly affiliated with a political party.
On Twitter I asked; "Wonder if #abparty paid @CorbLund for rights to publicly broadcast his recording?
People of course jumped down my throat saying they did nothing wrong. But it was indeed a genuine question on my part. A couple of years ago I was asked to approach Paul Brandt's agent about using one of his songs at a convention and we were turned down. They cited reasons of not wanting to be connected to a political party. Now Alberta Party members claim there was no public broadcast of it. Well how is it then, that I heard it in Calgary when the convention was in Edmonton? Is the internet not public? According to Evan Adnams broadcasting via the web is doesn't count. Huh, who knew. Learn something new everyday.