Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith speaks to guests during the party's leader's dinner at the Edmonton Expo Centre in Edmonton on Thursday, February 16, 2012.
Credits: CODIE MCLACHLAN/EDMONTON SUN QMI AGENCY
CALGARY -- As they surge in popularity in the polls, the Wildrose Party is for the first time set to unveil a full slate of candidates for the upcoming election.
The party says it is ready and willing to meet the embattled PCs head on in every Alberta riding when the writ is dropped, expected in the coming days.
The party will reveal details of their campaign and the 87 MLA hopefuls and three Senate candidates who will carry its banner.
It marks the first time the party, in its reincarnation as the Wildrose, has put forward candidates in all ridings.
The party fielded a full slate in 2004 when it was called the Alberta Alliance.
Grant Galpin, Wildrose candidate for Calgary McCall, said there is an appetite for change.
The Tories have suffered recently over several controversies.
"I think it's going to be a very competitive election going forward and I think from a Wildrose perspective, and certainly from a personal perspective, I think there is a real growing sense there could be a significant change going forward," he said.
"It is quite a feat for a relatively new party to ... go from one MLA to not only having additional MLAs due to floor crossing, but to also suddenly be competing at a level of head-to-head with a major party that has been in power for 40 years."
A recent QMI Agency/Sun News Network/Abacus Data poll showed the PC lead has dwindled to 34% compared to the Wildrose, which sits at 29%.
It was conducted just before controversies erupted over MLA pay for a non-active committee and a controversial fundraiser by losing Tory leadership candidate Gary Mar.
All of it has helped uplift the Wildrose, Galpin said.
"People are clearly saying they want a change and that poll was not totally surprising to those of us who have been going to the doors for the last month," he said.
Tory MLA Jonathan Denis was not fazed by the Wildrose's announcement, saying at the end of the day it will be up to voters.
"Good for them. We have a full slate of candidates as well," he said.
"It's going to be up to the voters to decide -- at the end of the day that's in their hands."