Sturgeon River-Parkland by-election.

Sturgeon River-Parkland by-election competing with Alberta’s municipal elections

As if voters won’t already have enough candidates knocking on their doors with Alberta’s municipal elections scheduled for October 16, 2017, a federal by-election will be held in the Sturgeon River-Parkland electoral district with a vote on October 23.

It is widely expected that whoever wins the Conservative Party of Canada candidate nomination will be easily elected as the riding’s next Member of Parliament. And with the by-election being held one week after the municipal elections, voter fatigue could lead to a record low turnout in this by-election.

I plan to pay particular attention to this by-election over the next few weeks, as it is where I grew up and where my family originally settled and homesteaded in the 1890s.

Here is a look at the candidates running in the by-election and for party nominations:

Conservative Party

Jamie Mozeson Conservative Sturgeon River-Parkland

Jamie Mozeson

Initially scheduled for mid-October, the Conservative Party moved its nomination meeting dates to September 23, 2017 in Stony Plain and September 24, 2017 in Morinville.

Four candidates are seeking the Conservative Party nomination: local party organizer Jamie Mozeson, recently relocated Vancouver businessman Rick Peterson, and political staffers Dane Lloyd and Luke Inberg (Note: I haven’t seen Luke in years, but our families lived down the street from each other in Morinville and we worked together at the St. Albert IGA while we were both studying in University. I can’t speak to his politics today, but I remember him as a nice guy back then).

Mozeson’s website lists endorsements from former riding MP Rona Ambrose, former Stony Plain MLA Ken Lemke, and sitting Conservative MPs Michelle Rempel, Matt Jeneroux, Tom Kmeic, Garnett Genuis, and Arnold Vierson.

After a twelfth-place finish in the Conservative Party’s recent leadership race, Peterson relocated moved from Vancouver to Spruce Grove in order to run in this by-election. His campaign has adopted an oil derrick as their logo, likely to demonstrate how Albertan he has become since moving back to the province a few months ago.

New Democratic Party

Shawna Gawreluck NDP Sturgeon River Parkland

Shawna Gawreluck

Medical laboratory technologist and small business owner Shawna Gawreluck is expected to be acclaimed as the New Democratic Party candidate at a nomination meeting on September 21 at the Elks Social Hall in Spruce Grove.

Christian Heritage Party

Ernest Chauvet defeated Kevin Schulthies in a nomination meeting to become the Christian Heritage Party candidate in early September. Chauvet earned 690 votes as his party’s candidate in this riding during the 2015 federal election.

Liberal Party

While i have not been able to find any information on who might run as the Liberal Party candidate in this by-election, the party has scheduled a nomination meeting on Sept. 21 at the Border Paving Athletic Centre in Spruce Grove. The party does appear to have shown some activity in the riding. A tweet was posted showing Halifax Liberal MP Andy Fillmore campaigning with local party supporters on Sept. 8.

Update: The St. Albert Gazette reports that Brian Gold will be acclaimed as the Liberal Party candidate in Sturgeon River-Parkland. Gold ran in the 2015 election in the Edmonton Griesbach riding and finished third with 10,387 votes.

 

Nomination Day kicks off Edmonton’s 2017 Municipal Elections

Photo: Sarah Chan (left) and her husband, Mayor Don Iveson (right), at Nomination Day at Edmonton City Hall.

Dedicated citizens across Alberta gathered this morning in town halls and community centres to submit their nomination forms to become official candidates in this year’s municipal elections. In Edmonton, 132 candidates and their supporters stood in a line stretching through City Hall’s grand atrium in order to file their papers and officially start their bids for election.

For Edmonton, this represents a record number of candidates running for Mayor, City Council and the city’s two school boards.

Over the past year, I have maintained a list of declared nomination candidates for Council and the Public and Catholic school boards. This list is now updated to reflect the names of the candidates approved to run in the October 16, 2017 municipal elections.

On this year’s ballots, Edmontonians will see a few familiar faces and the names of many first time candidates. Three long-time local politicians will not be on the ballot this year. Longtime councillors Bryan Anderson and Ed Gibbons, and one-term councillor Michael Oshry, have decided to not seek re-election.

I will delve deeper into the candidates and the issues facing voters in this election in the weeks ahead, but here are a few initial observations about Nomination Day:

  • By my count, 48 of the 132 candidates running in Edmonton’s municipal elections are women. 13 of the 20 candidates running for the Edmonton Catholic School District are women. 11 of 28 candidates running for the Edmonton Public School Board are women. 24 of 84 Mayoral and City Council candidates are women. Equal Voice has an excellent analysis of the gender balance in this election on their website, yegparity.ca.
  • Mayor Don Iveson is being challenged by 12 candidates. Most recognizable among the challengers is perennial candidate Don Koziak. Koziak has run in at least nine municipal and provincial elections since 1995, including the mayoral race in 2007 and briefly in 2010, and as the Wildrose Party candidate in Edmonton-Glenora in 2012 and 2015.
  • Edmonton Public School Trustee Michelle Draper was acclaimed in Ward B. She is the only candidate in Edmonton to be acclaimed in this election.
  • The most crowded City Council race is in Ward 4, where 13 candidates are running to replace retiring Councillor Ed Gibbons. The least crowded City Council race is in Ward 2, where incumbent Councillor Bev Esslinger is facing 2 challengers in her bid for re-election.

Here are a few of the photos from Nomination Day that I have posted on Flickr under Creative Commons licensing:

Aaron Paquette, candidate for Edmonton City Council in Ward 4.

Aaron Paquette, candidate for Edmonton City Council in Ward 4.

Bridget Stirling, candidate for Edmonton Public School Board in Ward G.

Bridget Stirling, candidate for Edmonton Public School Board in Ward G.

Kris Andreychuk (right) and his family. Kris is running for Edmonton City Council in Ward 7.

Kris Andreychuk (right) and his family. Kris is running for Edmonton City Council in Ward 7.

Michael Janz, candidate for Edmonton Public School Board in Ward F.

Michael Janz, candidate for Edmonton Public School Board in Ward F.

Laura Thibert, candidate for the Edmonton Catholic School Board in Ward 77.

Laura Thibert, candidate for the Edmonton Catholic School Board in Ward 77.

Ahmed Knowmadic Ali, candidate for Edmonton Public School Board in Ward A.

Ahmed Knowmadic Ali, candidate for Edmonton Public School Board in Ward A.

Edmonton’s Election officially starts tomorrow.

There are only 28 days left until Edmontonians go to the polls to vote in this year’s municipal elections. Tomorrow is Nomination Day, which will see candidates line up from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm at City Hall to officially register their intentions to stand in the election. I will be at City Hall tomorrow to watch the candidates show up and snap a few photos.

The list of candidates running for City Council and School Board will become official tomorrow, but until then, here are the latest additions to the unofficial list of declared candidates running in the election:

While there will likely be candidates who submit their papers tomorrow who had not previously declared their plans to run in the election, as of tonight, it appears as though three candidates could be running unchallenged in this election.

I will update the list of candidates with links to websites and social media accounts when the official list is published by Edmonton’s Elections office.


Starting on September 25, the City of Edmonton Elections Office will be holding a series of all-candidate forums for the mayoral and city council elections. The forums will also be broadcast online.

If you are looking to get more informed about the issues in this year’s municipal election, Intervivos is hosting an “Inform Yo’self” event featuring speakers on topics like Residential Infill, Transit, Homeless and Housing, Diversity on Council, and Safe Injection Sites. The event is being held on Sept. 18, 2017 at Cartoga from 5:30pm until 8:00pm.

United Conservative Party leadership candidates Brian Jean, Jason Kenney, Doug Schweitzer and Jeff Callaway.

Tracking MLA endorsements in the UCP leadership race

Members of the United Conservative Party will be selecting the party’s first permanent leader on October 28, 2017. After of this week’s fee payment deadline, four candidates will be listed on the ballot: Brian Jean, Jason Kenney, Doug Schweitzer and Jeff Callaway.

Of the 28 UCP MLAs represented in Alberta’s Legislative Assembly, nineteen have endorsed candidates in this leadership race (I am including Jean, the only sitting MLA in the contest, who has obviously endorsed himself). Here is a map showing which UCP MLAs have endorsed which leadership candidate as of September 14, 2017.Brian Jean: Leela Aheer (Chestermere-Rocky View), Wayne Anderson (Highwood), Dave Hanson (Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills), Todd Loewen (Grande Prairie-Smoky), Don MacIntyre (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake), Angela Pitt (Airdrie), Ron Orr (Lacombe-Ponoka), Dave Schneider (Little Bow), Pat Stier (Livingstone-Macleod), Glenn van Dijken (Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock), Tany Yao (Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo)

Jason Kenney: Drew Barnes (Cypress-Medicine Hat), Grant Hunter (Cardston-Taber-Warner), Ric McIver (Calgary-Hays), Jason Nixon (Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre), Mark Smith (Drayton Valley-Devon), Rick Strankman (Drumheller-Stettler)

Doug Schweitzer: Wayne Drysdale (Grande Prairie-Wapiti)

November, poems by Alberta’s Jaspreet Singh, leads Audreys Books’ Edmonton Fiction Bestsellers List this week

Here is the list of the top 10 fiction and non-fiction titles sold in Edmonton for the week ended Sept. 10, 2017, compiled by Audreys Books and provided by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta.

EDMONTON FICTION BESTSELLERS

1. November: Selected Poems – Jaspreet Singh*November Jaspreet Singh
2. Glass Houses – Louise Penny
3. The Golden House – Salman Rushdie
4. The Alice Network – Kate Quinn
5. A Great Reckoning – Louise Penny
6. A Legacy of Spies – John le Carré
7. A Column of Fire – Ken Follett
8. Into the Water – Paula Hawkins
9. The Child – Fiona Barton
10. Swing Time – Zadie Smith

EDMONTON NON-FICTION BESTSELLERS

1. Self Approved: A Guide to Accepting, Loving and Expressing the Person You Truly Are – Kat Trimarco*
2. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End – Atul Gawande
3. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy – Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg
4. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil deGrasse Tyson
5. Finding Gobi: A Little Dog With a Very Big Heart – Dion Leonard, Craig Borlase
6. Decade of Discovery: A Couple’s Adventure that Spanned the Globe – Shahla and Peter Nygaard*
7. Coming Alive: 4 Tools to Defeat Your Inner Enemy, Ignite Creative Expression, and Unleash Your Soul’s Potential – Phil Stutz, Barry Michels
8. Run, Hide, Repeat: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood – Pauline Dakin
9. Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice – Bill Browder
10. Welcome to Radio! – Bob Layton*

*Alberta Author +Alberta Publisher

What if Paul Hinman had lost the 2009 by-election in Calgary-Glenmore?

Former Wildrose Alliance Party leader Paul Hinman staged an odd and brief reappearance on Alberta’s political stage this week when he announced his plans to run for the leadership of the United Conservative Party. But when the Sept. 12, 2017 deadline for candidates to deposit a $57,500 fee had passed, Hinman did not appear to make the cut.

Hinman’s blip on the political radar this week got me thinking about the bigger role he has played in shaking up Alberta’s political environment. Not as a major player but as a secondary character.

His time as leader and sole MLA representing the social conservative Alberta Alliance and Wildrose Alliance from 2004 to 2009 was fairly unremarkable, but it was the role he played after he resigned as leader that had a much bigger impact in our province’s political history.

After he was defeated in his bid for re-election in Cardston-Taber-Warner in 2008, Hinman was returned to the Legislature by a 278-vote narrow victory in a September 2009 by-election in Calgary-Glenmore. The seat was previously represented by deputy premier Ron Stevens and was believed to be a Progressive Conservative urban stronghold.

Even though he would again be unsuccessful in his bid to get re-elected in the following general election, Hinman’s win undoubtably added to the momentum of Danielle Smith‘s Wildrose Alliance going into the 2012 election.

But what would have happened if Hinman had lost that by-election race in Calgary-Glenmore?

Hinman’s by-election win provided early credibility for the Wildrose Alliance by showing that the party could elect candidates in long-held PC Party constituencies. Without this by-election win, the Wildrose Alliance’s momentum could have stalled or slowed going into the 2012 election.

Liberal candidate Avalon Roberts finished only 278 votes behind Hinman. Had she won the by-election, David Swann might have stayed on as party leader instead of resigning in 2011. A win in Glenmore might have led the Liberals to experience a resurgence in support going into the 2012 election, building on the party’s 2008 gains in Calgary. Or maybe the PCs would have simply won back the constituency in the following general election, as they did in 2012.

Popular city councillor Diane Colley-Urquhart placed third as the PC candidate in the by-election, which was not really a reflection of voters feelings towards her but of the unpopularity of then-premier Ed Stelmach in Calgary. If Colley-Urquhart had held on to Glenmore for the PCs, would PC MLAs Heather Forsyth and Rob Anderson have crossed the floor to the Wildrose Party in January 2010?

And an even larger ‘what-if’ question is, if Hinman had not won the by-election and his party’s momentum had sputtered, would Stelmach have resisted pressure from his cabinet and party to resign in 2011? Would he still be premier today?

While Hinman’s narrow win in a 2009 by-election is now an obscure footnote in Alberta’s political history, its impact on our province’s political environment and the split it helped create in the conservative movement in Alberta was huge.

Thinking about these kinds of scenarios can be endless fun for politicos (or at least for me).

What Edmonton City Hall is expected to look like on Feb. 22, 2016.

Edmonton Election Candidate Update: 34 days left until E-Day

Photo: Edmonton City Hall in the cold and dark depths of winter.

There are only 34 days left until Edmontonians go to the polls to vote in this year’s municipal elections. And there are only seven days remaining until Nomination Day on September 18, when candidates will have to line up at City Hall to officially register their intentions to stand in the election.

Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running in Edmonton’s municipal election for City Council, the Edmonton Public School Board and the Edmonton Catholic School District.:

  • John Oplanich is running for Edmonton City Council in Ward 3. Oplanich previously ran in Ward 3 in 2010 and in 2012 he was the Wildrose Party candidate in Edmonton-Castle Downs.
  • Philip Asher is running for City Council in Ward 5.
  • Walter Youb is running for City Council in Ward 12.
  • Mara Suchy is running for the Edmonton Catholic School Board in Ward 71.
  • Mina Angotti is running for the Catholic board in Ward 72. She is listed as being a student at Newman Theological College on the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton website.
  • Carla Smiley is running for the Catholic board in Ward 73. She is the planned giving coordinator for the Edmonton Archdiocese.
  • Charles Laing is no longer running for Mayor of Edmonton.

If you know any other candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for Mayor, Council, or School Board and are not on this list, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them. Thank you!

The big revenue problem facing Alberta that none of our politicians want to talk about

As the Alberta New Democratic Party passes the half way mark of their first four-year term in office and the United Conservative Party chooses its next leader, a big question that remains unanswered in Alberta politics today is how, in the long-term, the Alberta government plans to deal with the revenue shortfall created by the drop in the international price of oil.

Premier Ralph Klein

Ralph Klein

After decades of rich oil and gas royalties pouring into public coffers, the Alberta government became over-dependent on oil and natural gas royalties to pay for a large portion of the daily operations of government.

The old Progressive Conservative government led by Ralph Klein used those high royalty revenues to subsidize corporate and personal tax cuts, which proved politically popular in the short-term but fiscally irresponsible in the long-term. When the international price of oil dropped in 2014, so did about $10 billion worth of expected government revenue that the PCs were depending on.

After their election in 2015, Rachel Notley‘s NDP took steps to diversify government revenue with moderate increases to corporate and personal taxes. Even after those increases, Albertans still pay some of the lowest taxes in Canada and those increases were nowhere enough to fill the revenue shortfall.

Jason Kenney Calgary Stampede Alberta

Jason Kenney

The positive news is that Alberta’s economy is recovering, but unless the international price of oil recovers, the government will remain in a deficit situation for the foreseeable future.

While I support Notley’s smart choice to continue investing in public services and capital infrastructure projects during the course of the economic recession, it is not clear that the NDP have a real plan to deal with Alberta’s revenue challenges in the long-term.

It is unlikely that the government will revisit Alberta’s comparatively low royalty rates anytime soon, and the NDP appear unwilling to start a discussion about introducing a provincial sales tax, at least until after the next election. A sales tax could help alleviate the government revenue problems and would be smart move for the province in the long-term.

It is an odd sight to read Finance Department documents that both lament a large budget deficit and boast about low taxes. The NDP inherited one big bad habit from the old PC government and have been unable to break from it.

Brian Jean Calgary Stampede AlbertaBut if you think the candidates for the leadership of the new United Conservative Party are coming up with new, bright ideas for Alberta’s long-term future, think again. Political rhetoric about returning to the mythical “Alberta Advantage” and calls for drastic cuts to both government spending and revenue are mostly what Jason Kenney, Brian Jean and Doug Schweitzer have proposed.

It is meat for the party base, but not exactly inspiring plans for Alberta’s future.

I get the impression that while they are playing from different sides of the political spectrum, both the NDP and the UCP’s prospective leaders are praying that oil prices recover enough to avoid having to raise taxes or slash the budget to shreds.

Alberta has a revenue problem. And the sooner someone is willing to “take the tax bull by the horns,” as my colleague David Climenhaga wrote, and begin planning for a more sustainable government revenue stream, the better off future generations of Albertans will be.


Schweitzer wants to lower the minimum wage

Doug Schweitzer Calgary Alberta Conservative

Doug Schweitzer

Doug Schweitzer says he would cut Alberta’s minimum wage from $15 per hour to $12.20 per hour, because it is “right choice for Albertans whose livelihoods count on it the most.”

While he is likely referring to the livelihoods of business owners, it would be the wrong choice for the people impacted the most – the lowest wage working Albertans who would have their wages cut from $15 per hour to $12.20 per hour.

It is safe to say that Schweitzer has earned much, much more than $12.20 per hour at his downtown Calgary job as a partner at Dentons, the world’s largest law firm.

38 days left until Edmonton’s Municipal Election

You may have noticed election lawn signs beginning to pop up around the city – that is because there are only 38 days left until Edmontonians go to the polls to vote in this year’s municipal elections. Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running in Edmonton’s municipal election for City Council, the Edmonton Public School Board and the Edmonton Catholic School District.:

  • Neil Stephens becomes the eleventh candidate to announce their intentions to run for Mayor of Edmonton.
  • Rob Bernshaw is \ running for City Council in Ward 8. He he ran in Ward 3 in the 2013 election.
  • Lenore Dilts appears to have withdrawn from the City Council race in Ward 8.
  • Neda Asadi is running for the Edmonton Public School Board in Ward H. Asadi is a community volunteer and researcher who recently completed her PhD in Educational Policy Studies at the University of Alberta. (Note: Neda Asadi is an acquaintance of mine and a former colleague of my wife. I am not involved in her election campaign but I do believe she would be an excellent addition to the Edmonton Public School Board).
  • Orville Chubb is running for for re-election as a public school board trustee in Ward C. Kurt Kronebusch is also running for election in Ward C.
  • Jeff Behrens is running for the public school board in Ward D.
  • Retired teacher Sam Filice is running for the Edmonton Public School Board in Ward E. According to his website biography, Filice taught at Jasper Place High School and then Centre High until his retirement in June 2017.
  • Marilyn Bergstra is running for re-election to the Edmonton Catholic School District in Ward 76.

If you know any other candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for Mayor, Council, or School Board and are not on this list, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them. Thank you!

Lightfinder, young adult book by Edmonton author Aaron Paquette, tops this week’s Audreys Books bestseller list

Here is the list of the top 10 fiction and non-fiction titles sold in Edmonton for the week ended Sept. 3, 2017, compiled by Audreys Books and provided by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta.

EDMONTON FICTION BESTSELLERS

Lightfinder by Aaron Paquette Edmonton Audreys Books

Lightfinder by Aaron Paquette Edmonton Audreys Books

1. Lightfinder (Young Adult) – Aaron Paquette*

2. Glass Houses – Louise Penny
3. A Legacy of Spies – John le Carré
4. The Alice Network – Kate Quinn
5. House of Spies – Daniel Silva
6. TwoBlackEyes and The Unfinished Script – Tyler Trafford*
7. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
8. The History of Bees – Maja Lunde
9, The Good Daughter – Karin Slaughter
10. A Stranger in the House- Shari Lapena

EDMONTON NON-FICTION BESTSELLERS

1. Rocks, Ridges, and Rivers: Geological Wonders of Banff, Yoho and Jasper National Parks – Dale Leckie*
2. Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight – Loren Olson*
3. Decade of Discovery – Shahla & Peter Nygaard*
4. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End – Atul Gawande
5. Unsocial Media: Virtual World Causing Real World Anxiety – Wade Sorochan*
6. Reality Fitness: An Incremental, Achievable, & Sustainable Weight Loss Method – Angela de Jong *
7. Arrival: The Story of CanLit – Nick Mount
8. To Hell and Back: A Former Hells Angel’s Story of Recovery and Redemption – Joe Calendino, Gary Little
9. No is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need – Naomi Klein
10. Preserving on Paper: Seventeenth-Century Englishwomen’s Receipt Books – Kristine Kowalchuk*

*Alberta Author +Alberta Publisher

Photo: Kent Hehr with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Calgary Stampede in July 2017. (Photo from Kent Hehr's Facebook Page)

Mid-week Alberta Politics Roundup

Photo: Kent Hehr with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Calgary Stampede in July 2017. (Photo from Kent Hehr’s Facebook Page)

It has been a busy week for me, so without the time to write a full column-type post, here is a quick summary of what I have been watching in Alberta politics over the past few days.

Calgary MP moved in Trudeau cabinet shuffle

Calgary-Centre Member of Parliament Kent Hehr was appointed Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities this week as part of a fairly significant shuffle in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet. Hehr had previously served as Minister of Veterans Affairs, a post he had held since his election in 2015. Though the move is viewed as a demotion at worst or a lateral move at best, there is no indication that the shuffle was a reflection on Hehr’s performance as minister, which appeared to fulfill competently.

As a former amateur athlete and leader in the Canadian Paraplegic Association, Hehr appears to be a good fit for this role.

While the Minister of Sports is traditionally seen as a junior level position in cabinet, the prospect of Calgary bidding for the 2026 Winter Olympics and Canada joining with the United States and Mexico in a bid to co-host the 2026 World Cup could increase its political importance.

Meanwhile, Calgary-Skyview Liberal MP Darshan Kang announced he would take a medical leave of absence due to stress caused by allegations of sexual harassment that have dogged the federal politician over the past few weeks.

Alberta MPs in Ottawa Shadow Cabinet

Following this week’s federal cabinet shuffle, Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer announced a new roster of Official Opposition critics. Alberta Conservative MPs in the shadow cabinet include: International Development critic Ziad Aboultaif, Agriculture and Agri-Food critic John Barlow, Status of Women critic Rachael Harder, Science critic Matt Jeneroux, National Revenue critic Pat Kelly, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship critic Michelle Rempel, and Natural Resources critic Shannon Stubbs.

NDP Minister continues his Coal Tour

Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous continues his town hall tour of Alberta’s coal communities this week. In the Town of Hanna, Bilous and mayor Chris Warwick announced $450,000 in funding create Community Action Teams led by the Cactus Corridor Economic Development Corporation to focus on initiatives identified in a report by the Hanna Climate Change Strategy Task Force.

While Bilous left Hanna with more questions than answers, he deserves some credit for traveling to these communities holding these town halls – something the NDP government should have done two years ago.

UCP candidate calls on Alberta to national Manitoba port

Jeff Callaway was looking to generate headlines for his United Conservative Party leadership campaign, and he succeeded with his proposal for the Alberta government to nationalize and build a pipeline to access Manitoba’s Port of Churchill. Federal NDP leadership candidate Niki Ashton, who is the MP for  Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, called on the federal government to nationalize the port of Churchill in Dec. 2016.

Low federal NDP membership numbers in Alberta

Speaking of the federal NDP, the party released the breakdown of membership numbers by province ahead of its September leadership vote. Despite having one of only two NDP governments in the country, the federal NDP only recorded having 10,188 members in Alberta, compared to 52,200 in Ontario and 31,974 in British Columbia.

The low participation rate may have a lot to do with the deep political divide between the Alberta NDP and its federal and provincial counterparts over the expansion and construction of oil pipelines, which is a priority for Rachel Notley’s government. To my knowledge, no Alberta NDP MLAs have released public endorsements for any of the federal NDP leadership candidates.

Garry Keller joins the UCP caucus

Until recently he was rumoured to be eyeing the federal Conservative nomination in the upcoming Sturgeon River-Parkland by-election, but it was announced today that Garry Keller, a former chief of staff to Rona Ambrose, would join the United Conservative caucus as a special advisor.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn tops Audreys Book’ Edmonton Bestseller list this week

Here is the list of the top 10 fiction and non-fiction titles sold in Edmonton for the week ended Aug. 28, 2017, compiled by Audreys Books and provided by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta.

Edmonton Fiction Bestsellers

1. The Alice Network – Kate Quinn
2. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry – Fredrik Backman
3. Selection Day – Aravind Adiga
4. Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
5. The Cafe by the Sea: A Novel – Jenny Colgan
6. The Force – Don Winslow
7. Men Without Women – Haruki Murakami
8. By Gaslight – Steven Price
9. Rather Be the Devil – Ian Rankin
10. The History of Bees – Maja Lunde

Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers

1. Finding Gobi: A Little Dog With a Very Big Heart – Dion Leonard, Craig Borlase
2. Voice in the Wild: A Memoir – Laurie Sarkadi
3. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil deGrasse Tyson
4. The Glass Castle – Jeanette Walls
5. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari
6. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy – Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg
7. Yardwork: The Biography of an Urban Place – Daniel Coleman
8. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future – Ashlee Vance
9. The Preservatory: Seasonally Inspired Recipes for Creating and Cooking with Artisanal Preserves – Lee Murphy
10. Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story – Diane Ackerman

 

Alberta Politics Roundup: It rarely slows down, even in the summer

Photo: Grande Prairie-Smoky MLA Todd Loewen, Livingstone-Macleod MLA Pat Stier, UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean, and Little Bow MLA David Schneider. (credit: Brian Jean’s Facebook page)

It feels like politics rarely slow down in Alberta, even in the summer. Here is a quick look at some of what has been happening:

New UCP caucus has a spending problems

A day after the United Conservative Party lined up to criticize Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci, it was revealed that the UCP caucus is facing a $337,000-deficit this year. The report triggered criticism of former Wildrose leader Brian Jean (pictured in the photo above) from Bonnyville-Cold Lake UCP MLA Scott Cyr and party leadership candidate Doug Schweitzer.

Cyr said Wildrose MLAs were stonewalled when they requested information about ballooning staff at the former official opposition caucus office.

Schweitzer said the new party will not be a credible voice for fiscal management if it cannot manage its own internal budget. Schweitzer has described Jean’s leadership platform as “big government” and is proposing deep cuts to the provincial budget if he becomes premier in 2019.

Bilous hosts town halls in Coal Communities

Minister of Economic Development and Trade Deron Bilous will be spending much of the next week visiting communities impacted by the phase-out of coal fired power plants. Bilous will be hosting town hall meetings in Hanna on August 27 and 28, Forestburg on August 28 and 29, and Leduc, Warburg and Wabamun on August 31. Bilous admitted earlier this month that the New Democratic Party government needed to improve its communications with these communities (I wrote about this in Nov. 2016).

Kenney too busy to meet with kd lang

When Jason Kenney was asked why he was not attending any Calgary Pride Week events, he initially said it was because he did not get an invitation. When he received an invitation from Alberta-born internationally successful musician kd lang to meet in person to discuss LGBTQ issues, Kenney’s spokesperson said the UCP leadership candidate was too busy. It appears as though Kenney will go to far lengths not to do anything that would alienate the social conservative supporters he hopes will help make him leader of the UCP in October 2017.

Hehr on the move

Calgary-Centre Member of Parliament Kent Hehr is expected to be shuffled from his role as Minister of Veterans Affairs as Newfoundland MP Seamus O’Regan is moved into the role. When Hehr was appointed to cabinet in 2015, he became the first Liberal cabinet minister from Calgary since the early 1970s. It is not yet known what his new role will be.

Kang expected to be booted from Liberal caucus

The Hill Times reports that Calgary MP Darshan Kang is expected to be removed from the Liberal Caucus this week “after an investigation into sexual harassment allegations levelled against him by a young staffer unearthed troubling findings.” Kang was elected as the MP for Calgary-Skyview in 2015 after serving two-terms as the Liberal MLA for Calgary-McCall.

Keller out of Sturgeon River-Parkland race

Gerry Keller, the former chief of staff to Rona Ambrose, has decided not to enter the Conservative Party nomination to run in the upcoming Sturgeon River-Parkland by-election. Current candidates running for the nomination include local party organizer Jamie Mozeson, recently relocated BC-businessman Rick Peterson and political staffer Dane Lloyd.

 

Photo: Former PC MLAs Jacquie Fenske, Don Scott, Linda Johnson and Ron Casey

Former PC MLAs running for municipal office in 2017

Alberta’s 2015 provincial election resulted in the election of 75 new MLAs in the 87 seat Legislative Assembly. More than two years after that historic election, a group of former Progressive Conservative MLAs have put forward their names to stand in the October 16, 2017 municipal elections. Here is a quick look at some of the former PC MLAs jumping into municipal politics:

  • Jacquie Fenske is running for Mayor of Strathcona County. Fenske served as the PC MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville from 2012 until 2015 and previous to that as a Strathcona County councillor. Fenske was unseated by New Democrat Jessica Littlewood in the 2015 election.
  • Former Fort McMurray-Conklin PC MLA Don Scott is running to become the next mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. Scott served on council from 2010 to 2012 and as MLA from 2012 until he was unseated by Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean in 2015. He served as Associate Minister of Accountability, Transparency and Transformation from 2012 to 2014 and Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education from 2014 until 2015.
  • Linda Johnson announced she is running for Calgary City Council in Ward 11. Johnson was the PC MLA for Calgary-Glenmore from 2012 until 2015, when she was defeated by 6 votes by New Democrat Anam Kazim. Current Ward 11 councillor Brian Pincott, who is not seeking re-election this year, is considering a run for the NDP in Calgary-Mountain View in the next provincial election.
  • Former Banff-Cochrane PC MLA Ron Casey is running for Mayor of Canmore, an office he held from 1998 to 2001 and 2004 until entering provincial politics in 2012. Casey will challenge John Borrowman, who was elected mayor in the by-election following the 2012 provincial election. Casey was unseated in the 2015 election by New Democrat Cameron Westhead.
  • Former PC MLA David Xiao is running for city council in Ward 5. Xiao was the MLA for Edmonton-McClung from 2008 to 2012 and served as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Employment and Immigration. ‘Edmonton-McClung MLA David Xiao’s claimed travel expenses of nearly $35,000 last year, more than any of his Edmonton colleagues,’ the CBC reported on Jan. 22, 2013. In 2014, he was disqualified from running for the federal Conservative nomination in the Edmonton-West riding. He was defeated in the 2015 election by New Democrat Lorne Dach.
  • Former PC MLA Art Johnston is running for Calgary City Council in Ward 13. Johnston was MLA for Calgary-Hays from 2004 to 2012. Johnston has the distinction of being the only MLA to endorse Alison Redford in the first round of voting in the 2011 PC leadership race and he served as parliamentary assistant to premier Redford from 2011 until 2012. He lost two bids to win his party’s nominations in advance of the 2012 election – to Rick Fraser in Calgary-South East and Ric McIver in Calgary-Hays.
  • Dave Quest had initially announced plans to run for Strathcona County council but has since withdrawn his name from the race. He served as the PC MLA for Strathcona-Sherwood Park from 2004 to 2015 until he was unseated by New Democrat Estefania Cortes-Vargas.

If I have missed any former MLAs running in this year’s municipal election, please let me know and I will mention them in future updates. Thanks!

Former PC MLA now organizing for the Alberta Party

Blake Pedersen MLA Medicine Hat

Blake Pedersen

Speaking of former PC MLAs… Blake Pedersen is listed as the contact person for upcoming annual general meetings for Alberta Party associations in the Medicine Hat and Cypress-Medicine Hat constituencies.

Pedersen was elected in 2012 as the Wildrose Party MLA for Medicine Hat and crossed the floor to the PCs in 2014. During his time as MLA he served as the Official Opposition critic for Culture and Innovation and Advanced Education.

He was unseated by New Democrat Bob Wanner in the 2015 election.

The Treasure by Alberta author Suzanne LaMontagne leads Audreys Book’ Edmonton Bestseller list this week

Here is the list of the top 10 fiction and non-fiction titles sold in Edmonton for the week ended Aug. 20, 2017, compiled by Audreys Books and provided by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta.

EDMONTON FICTION BESTSELLERS

1. The Treasure – Suzanne Lamontagne*
2. Daimonion – J.P. Jackson*
3. The Alice Network – Kate Quinn
4, We All Love the Beautiful Girls – Joanne Proulx
5. Nightingale – Kristin Hannah
6. The Lying Game – Ruth Ware
7. Girl in Snow – Danya Kukafka
8. The History of Bees – Maja Lunde
9. Late Show – Michael Connelly
10. Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien

EDMONTON NON-FICTION BESTSELLERS

1. Reality Fitness: An Incremental, Achievable, & Sustainable Weight Loss Method – Angela De Jong*
2. Welcome to Radio! – Bob Layton*
3. The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from A Secret World – Peter Wohlleben, Tim Flannery
4. Tales of the Modern Nomad – John Early
5. Preserving on Paper: Seventeenth-Century Englishwomen’s Receipt Books – Kristine Kowalchuk*
6. Modern Death: How Medicine Changed the End of Life – Haider Warraich
7. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body – Roxane Gay
8. The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in Healthy Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain – Steven R. Gundry MD
9. The Social Life of Ink: Culture, Wonder, And Our Relationship With The Written Word – Ted Bishop*
10. The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story – Diane Ackerman

*Alberta Author +Alberta Publisher