Author Archives: Dave Cournoyer

Edmonton City Councillor Ed Gibbons in September 2013.

Ed Gibbons and Ray Martin not seeking re-election

Two long-time Edmonton politicians announced this week that their names will not be on any ballot when the municipal elections are held on October 16, 2017.

Ed Gibbons announced he will not be a candidate in this fall’s municipal elections. Gibbons has served on Edmonton City Council since 2001, first representing northeast Edmonton’s Ward 3 from 2001 to 2010 and for Ward 4 from 2010 until now. He served as the Liberal MLA for Edmonton-Manning from 1997 to 2001, during which he was the official opposition critic for Municipal Affairs. He was also President of Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues from 1995 to 1997.

Ray Martin NDP MLA School Trustee Edmonton Alberta

Ray Martin

Ray Martin announced that he will not seek re-election as the public school board trustee in Ward D. He was first elected to the board in 2013 and is currently serving as vice-chair.

Martin has been a fixture in Alberta politics for four decades, having stood as a candidate in nine provincial and four federal elections since 1975. He served as the MLA for Edmonton-Norwood from 1982 to 1993 and Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview from 2004 to 2008. He was leader of the Alberta New Democratic Party from 1984 until 1994 and leader of the official opposition from 1986 to 1993.

He was recently appointed as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

The Secret Path by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire topped Edmonton best-sellers last week

Here is the list of the top 10 fiction and non-fiction titles sold in Edmonton for the week ended April 23, 2017, compiled on April 24, 2017, by Audreys Books and provided by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta.

Edmonton Fiction Bestsellers

1. Secret Path – Gord Downie, Jeff Lemire
2. Homes – Winnie Canuel *
3. Little Wildheart (Poetry) – Micheline Maylor * †
4. Believing Is Not the Same (Poetry) – Lisa Martin-Demoor *†
5. Rising Abruptly: Stories – Gisele Villeneuve *†
6. Wake for the Dreamland – Laurel Deedrick-Mayne *
7. Nuala: A Fable – Kimmy Beach *+
8. Listen If? (Poetry) – Douglas Barbour *†
9. Change Room – Karen Connelly
10. Fifteen Dogs – Andre Alexis

Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers

1. When All You Have is Hope – Frank O’Dea
2. Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief – Alexis Marie Chute *
3. Unbroken Machine: Canada’s Democracy in Action – Dale Smith
4. Big Fit Girl – Louise Green
5. Celebrating Canada’s 150th Event Planner – Cathy Harvey *
6. Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story – Diane Akerman
7. Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One – Rob Soria *
8. Medicine Unbundled: A Journey Throught the Minefields of Indigenous Health Care – Gary Geddes
9. Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations – Richard Wagamese.
10. Passage Across the Mersey – Robert Bhatia *

*  Alberta Author
† Alberta Publisher

Edmonton municipal election candidates Aaron Paquette, Brandy Burdeniuk, Tim Cartmell and Keren Tang.

Edmonton City Council Elections Updates

There are 179 days left until Edmontonians cast their votes to choose their next city council. With the spring approaching and prime campaigning weather just around the corner, candidates are beginning to launch their campaigns.

Here are some of the most recent updates from my list of candidates running in Edmonton’s 2017 municipal elections:

Ward 1: First-term councillor Andrew Knack held a re-election fundraiser on March 26, 2017 at a at the Delux Burger Bar. Knack is expected to formally launch his campaign in the coming months.

Ward 4: Local artist and advocate Aaron Paquette is running in Ward 4. Paquette was the federal New Democratic Party candidate in Edmonton-Manning during the October 2015 election, where he placed third with 11,582 votes  (23.6 percent of the total votes cast). He is also known as the founder of the clever #Ottawapiskat meme that satirized criticisms of the Idle No More protests.

Ward 5: Sarah Hamilton is running in Ward 5. Hamilton is the owner of a local communications and public relations company. She previously served as the director of communications and media relations for the Coal Association of Canada from 2015 to 2017, and previous to that served as deputy press secretary for health minister Stephen Mandel from 2014 to 2015.

Ward 6: First-term councillor Scott McKeen will launch his bid for re-election on May 13, 2017 at the Westmount Community League. McKeen’s event will feature music from El Niven and The Alibi, singer-songwriter Lucette, and indie folk group Post Script.

Rental property manager and developer Tish Prouse is also running in Ward 6. He ran for city council in 2013 as a candidate in Ward 7 where he placed fourth with 1,053 votes (7.3 percent of the total votes cast).

Ward 7: Matt Kleywegt launched his campaign at the Bellevue Community Hall on March 31, 2017. According to his website, Kleywegt is a Graduation Coach with Edmonton Public Schools, where he assists Indigenous teens graduate High School. Here is the video of his campaign launch:

Ward 9: Physician Rob Agostinis will launch his campaign for election on April 21, 2017 at the Whitemud Creek Community Centre. Agostinis is a former president of the Terwillegar Riverbend Advisory Council and former president of the U of A medical alumni association. HE was briefly nominated a candidate for the Liberal Party in Edmonton-Whitemud before the 2001 election.

Also in Ward 9, engineer Tim Cartmell launched his campaign on April 9 and realtor Payman Parseyan launched his campaign on April 16.

Ward 10: First-term councillor Michael Walters will launch his re-election campaign on May 13, 2017 event at the Yellowbird Community Hall.

Ward 11Keren Tang and Brandy Burdeniuk have launched their bids for city council in this south east Edmonton ward. Tang is President of the board of the Edmonton Multicultural Coalition and is a health promotion researcher. Burdeniuk is a co-founder of a building certification and sustainability company.

If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for Mayor, Council, or School Board, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!

First quarter political party fundraising puts NDP in the lead

Elections Alberta released the financial disclosures showing the results of political party fundraising in the first quarter of 2017.

Combined party and constituency fundraising results show the governing New Democratic Party in the lead in early 2017, having fundraised $373,060.23 between January 1 and March 31, 2017. The Wildrose Party raised $345,125.06 and the Progressive Conservatives raised $226,572.21 in the same period. The Liberal Party raised $47,959.83 and the Alberta Party raised only $14,070.49.

These totals are considerably less than what was raised by the governing and official opposition parties in the fourth quarter of 2016, when the NDP raised $1,985,272.00 and the Wildrose raised $2,063,737.63. Similar to previous years, political fundraising in the first quarter of the year is typically lower than the previous year’s final quarter.

Both the NDP and Wildrose Party fundraised less in this quarter than in the first quarter of 2016, when the NDP raised $398,843.71 and Wildrose raised $448,912.71. The PCs raised more than twice in this quarter than the $105,436.47 the party raised in the first quarter of 2016.

This is the first fundraising quarter to fall under new political finance laws introduced by Democratic Renewal Minister Christina Gray in 2016, which lowered the maximum annual donation limits from $15,000 to $4,000. This followed reforms introduced by the NDP in 2015 that banned corporate and union donations to political parties and candidates.

Here is a quick look at the top donors for each of the five main political parties in Alberta in the first quarter of 2017:

Alberta NDP
Jamie Kleinsteuber – $2,612.50
Amanda Nielsen – $2,287.50
David Mayhood – $2,015
Thomas Dang – $1,976
Brian Malkinson – $1,702.50
Roari Richardson – $1,570

Wildrose
Harvey Aarbo – $4,000
Gordon Elliott – $4,000
Gudrun Schulze Ebbinghoff – $4,000
Robert Such – $4,000
Larry Thompson – $4,000

Progressive Conservative
Maria Binnion – $4,000
John Neudorf – $4,000
Constance Nolin – $4,000
Dennis Nolin – $4,000
Prem Singhmar – $4,000

Liberal Party
Ebrahim Karbani – $4,000
Zulqurnain Abbas – $3,500
Tariq Hussain – $3,300
Israr Ullah – $3,300
Fazal Rehman – $3,000
Saifuddin Syed – $3,000

Alberta Party
James Tererenko – $820.94
Patrick Baillie – $500
Aaron Blair – $500
Greg Clark – $500
Brad Grundy – $500
Brian Mahoney – $500

Thin Air of the Knowable by Wendy Donawa tops Audreys Books list of best sellers

Here is the list of the top 10 fiction and non-fiction titles sold in Edmonton for the week ended April 16, 2017, compiled on April 18, 2017, by Audreys Books and provided by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta.

Edmonton Fiction Bestsellers

  1. Thin Air of the Knowable – Wendy Donawa
  2. Maunder – Claire Kelly *
  3. This Accident of Being Lost – Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
  4. Medicine Walk – Richard Wagamese
  5. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane – Lisa See
  6. Believing is Not the Same as Being Saved (Poetry) – Lisa Martin * †
  7. Fifteen Dogs – André Alexis
  8. Fall of Man in Wilmslow – David Lagercrantz
  9. A Wake for the Dreamland – Laurel Deedrick-Mayne * †
  10. The Woman in Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware

Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers

  1. The Bosun Chair  (Memoir/Poetry) –  Jennifer Bowering Delisle * †
  2. On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century – Timothy Snyder
  3. Medicine Unbundled: A Journey through the Minefields of Indigenous Health Care – Gary Geddes
  4. Edmonton Cooks: Signature Recipes from the City’s Best Chefs – Leanne Brown, Tina Faiz *
  5. Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One – Rob Soria *
  6. Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit issues in Canada –  Chelsea Vowel
  7. Notley Nation: How Alberta’s Political Upheaval Swept the Country – Don Braid and Sydney Sharpe
  8. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race – Margot Lee Shetterly
  9. Elon Musk: Tesla, Spacex, And the Quest for a Fantastic Future – Ashlee Vance
  10. Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss – Anderson Cooper, Gloria Vanderbilt

*   Alberta Author
†  Alberta Publisher

This Accident of Being Lost and two others by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson on Audreys bestseller list of last week

Here is the list of the top 10 fiction and non-fiction titles sold in Edmonton for the week ended April 9, 2017, compiled on April 11, 2017, by Audreys Books and provided by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta.

EDMONTON FICTION BESTSELLERS

1. This Accident of Being Lost – Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
2. Encountering Riel – David D. Orr*†
3. Punk – Lex J Grootelaar*†
4. Islands of Decolonial Love – Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
5. Something Unremembered – Della Dennis*†
6. Believing is Not the Same As Being Saved (Poetry) – Lisa Martin*†
7. Homes – Winnie Canuel*†
8. Orphan’s Tale – Pam Jenoff
9. Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman
10. Milk & Honey – Rupi Kaur

EDMONTON NON-FICTION BESTSELLERS

1. Half-Breed – Maria Campbell
2. Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence, and a New Emergence – Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
3. This I Know: Marketing Lessons from Under the Influence – Terry O’Reilly
4. My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell – Arthur Bear Chief†
5. Edmonton House Journals 1821-1826 – Ted Binnema & Gerhard J. Ens (editors)*†
6. My Love Affair with Bruges – Margaret Olsen*†
7. The Prosperity Factor: How to Achieve Unlimited Wealth in Every Area of Your Life – Joe Vitale*
8. Tar Wars: Oil, Environment and Alberta’s Image – Geo Takach*†
9. When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
10. Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can’t, and What Can Be Done About It – Mark Seidenberg

*Alberta Author
†Alberta Publisher

Alberta’s Conservatives are obsessed with Gay-Straight Alliances

Following Progressive Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney’s comments to the Calgary Postmedia editorial board fifteen days ago when he came out in favour of allowing schools to inform parents when students join a student-initiated Gay-Straight Alliance club, Alberta’s conservative politicians have tied themselves in knots over the issue.

Gay-Straight Alliances are student-initiated clubs meant empower students to create safe environments in their own schools, which studies have found may reduce the odds of suicidal thoughts and attempts among both sexual minority and straight students. As I wrote last week, having schools track their involvement in these clubs and informing their parents is not just creepy but could be dangerous.

It appeared as if Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean was setting himself apart from Kenney on April 3 by coming out against outing students to their parents, saying that “it’s much like a math club or a prayer club, and I don’t think that would be appropriate (for parents to be told when a child joins).” On April 4, he changed his tune, stating that parents should only sometimes be notified. But by April 5, he switched back to his original position that he did not believe parents should be notified if their child joins a GSA.

On April 6, Jean appeared to be contradicted by Mark Smith, the Wildrose MLA for Drayton Valley-Devon, who criticized a letter sent to school officials by Education Minister David Eggen reaffirming the NDP government’s belief that parents should not be informed if students join GSAs.

The NDP have visibly enjoyed the attention that Kenney and Jean’s comments have generated, on a provincial and even international level. These types of social issues generally play to the strength of the NDP, which is why Kenney desperately tried to pivot his message back to the provincial economy before disappearing from public sight last week.

The NDP are trying to frame Kenney as a social conservative – which he is – going back to his days as an anti-abortion activist while enrolled as a student at a Roman Catholic university in San Francisco.

A large portion of the membership base of the Wildrose Party is also social conservative, which both Kenney and Jean are courting for support in their bids to lead a new conservative party.

This week, the president of the Wildrose Party association in Medicine Hat evoked the legacy of residential schools and forced sterilization in a Facebook post supporting Kenney’s position. “How did the native schools turn out? Yup, that was the government telling us they knew best. How about sterilizing handicapped people? Yup, another brilliant government idea,” wrote Maureen Prince on Facebook post published on April 4, 2017. She also claimed in a Facebook post published on March 16, 2017 that the United Nations wants to “redistribute children to be raised by governments.”

Prince appears to be an active member of a conservative education group called Concerned Parents of Medicine Hat School District #76, which is a vocal critic of the NDP and its stance on GSAs.

The Concerned Parents group provided “Include Parents” buttons to several Wildrose MLAs who wore them in the Legislative Assembly this week. The group appears to be associated or allied with a province-wide conservative education advocacy group called “Parents For Choice in Education.

Parents for Choice took issue with Jean’s first and third positions against potentially outing students to their parents, saying that he and Education Minister David Eggen had the “gall to falsely and audaciously accuse parents of being the greater danger to these vulnerable youth.”

With conservative politicians stuck on the GSA issue, Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP government has been playing to their strengths, spending the past few weeks announcing lower school fees, school nutrition programs, locations for $25-per day childcare programs, and the construction of new schools, hospitals and affordable housing projects.

The NDP subtly shifted their messaging over the past few months, focusing on launching new programs and projects that they argue will “make lives better for Albertans,” rather than trying to out-flank the conservatives on economic issues. And it is working remarkably well for the NDP.

Meanwhile, despite previous claims by Brian Jean that he has “no interest” in social issues and Jason Kenney’s pledge to create a free-market conservative party, it appears that the only issue galvanizing conservatives over the past two weeks is whether or not to allow the state-sanctioned outing of gay kids.

Edmond Croteau

Edmond Croteau and the Battle of Vimy Ridge

This week we mark 100 years since the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Canadian soldiers played a defining role the famous First World War battle, which took place from April 9 to 12, 1917, by taking the ridge at great cost from the German Imperial Army. More than 3,500 Canadians were killed at the battle, which has become part of our country’s patriotic narrative as a defining moment in our nation’s history.

My great grand uncle, Private Edmond Croteau (photo above), fought in and died from wounds received in the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Born in Saint-Sylvestre in October 1880, he left Quebec as a young man and traveled west to the Yukon during the height of the Klondike Gold Rush. When the gold rush died out, he moved south, settling in Maillardville, which is part of present-day Coquitlam. He enlisted in the Canadian Army in New Westminster in June 1915. He initially served with the 104th Regiment Westminster Fusiliers of Canada and later with the 47th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, who he served with at Vimy Ridge.

Private Edmond Croteau was seriously wounded on April 11, 1917, during the successful attempt by Canadian forces to take Hill 120 (also known as The Pimple), a fortified point at the northernmost point of Vimy Ridge. He died on April 14, 1917 at the No. 6 Casualty Clearing Station. He was 36 years old.

He was buried at the Barlin Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas de Calais, France.

Edmond Croteau's headstone at the Barlin Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas de Calais, France.

Edmond Croteau’s headstone at the Barlin Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas de Calais, France.

‘My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell’ by Arthur Bear Chief tops Audreys Books non-fiction bestseller list

Here is the list of the top 10 fiction and non-fiction titles sold in Edmonton for the week ended April 2, 2017, compiled on April 4, 2017, by Audreys Books and provided by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta.

EDMONTON  FICTION BESTSELLERS

1. Believing is not the same as Being Saved (Poetry) – Lisa Martin*†
2. The It Girl and Me: a Novel of Clara Bow – Laini Giles*
3. Fifteen Dogs – Andrè Alexis
4. Ragged Company – Richard Wagamese
5. Something Unremembered – Della Dennis *†
6. Encountering Riel – David D. Orr*†
7. The Break – Katherena Vermette
8. Milk & Honey – Rupi Kaur
9. Punk – Lex J. Grootelaar*
10. Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

EDMONTON NON-FICTION BESTSELLERS

1. My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell – Arthur Bear Chief†
2. The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World – Peter Wohlleben, Tim Flannery
3. The Right to Be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet – Sheila Watt-Cloutier
4. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood – Trevor Noah
5. When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
6. The Bosun Chair (Memoir/Poetry) – Jennifer Bowering Delisle*†
7. Edmonton Cooks: Signature Recipes from the City’s Best Chefs – Leanne Brown, Tina Fiaz *
8. Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life – Jessica Nutik Zitter
9. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race – Margot Lee Shetterly
10. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, And the Quest for a Fantastic Future – Ashlee Vance

*Alberta Author
†Alberta Publisher

Does anyone want to lead Alberta’s Liberal Party?

The deadline is fast approaching. On March 31 at 5:00 p.m. we will know for sure who, if anyone, wants to lead Alberta’s Liberal Party. The race to choose a replacement for the party’s last permanent leader – Raj Sherman, who resigned in January 2015 – has been less than exciting.

Nolan Crouse

Nolan Crouse

Until he dropped out of the race yesterday, the candidacy of three-term St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse had given the leadership contest some much needed media attention. It also gave the party some hope for its political future. Crouse is a well-known name in the Edmonton-region, which is also where Rachel Notley’s NDP has its strongest support.

David Swann was the only Liberal to be re-elected in 2015, and that was largely due to his own personal popularity in Calgary-Mountain View. He was the party’s leader from 2008 to 2011 and interim leader since 2015.

Crouse’s departure only days before the deadline left the party in a lurch. Party executives scrambled to ensure that they would have at least one candidate, or maybe even two, submit their papers before 5:00 p.m. on March 31. It would be incredibly embarrassing if no one signed up to run.

In the wake of Crouse leaving the race, rumours circulated that former Tory MLA Thomas Lukaszuk could become a candidate, but those rumours appear to have dried up.

Kerry Cundal Liberal Calgary

Kerry Cundal

CBC reports that two last-minute candidates are planning to throw their names in the race: Kerry Cundal and David Khan.

Cundal ran as a federal Liberal candidate in the 2015 election, placing second to Conservative Ron Liepert in Calgary-Signal Hill. She was involved with the Progressive Conservative Party in support of Sandra Jansen’s brief leadership campaign and the “Renew” faction of the party that opposed Jason Kenney’s campaign.

Khan is a Calgary-based lawyer who ran as a provincial Liberal candidate in Calgary-West in 2014 and in Calgary-Buffalo in 2015. He was the executive vice-president of the party until recently (his name has been removed from the party website). He has also become a frequent political commentator on CBC’s national politics program, Power & Politics.

Jacob Huffman Alberta Liberal Leadership

Jacob Huffman

Neither Cundal or Khan have formally announced their plans to run.

A third potential candidate, University of Calgary student Jacob Huffman, launched a Facebook page announcing his candidacy shortly after Crouse dropped out. The way this race has progressed it might be hard to tell whether or not his candidacy is serious, but at the rate it is going Huffman might be acclaimed (he’s already planning his victory party).

Who will actually run for the leadership of the Alberta Liberal Party? Wait to find out at 5:00 p.m. on March 31, 2017.

Photo above: Liberal Party executive director Gwyneth Midgley and David Khan at the reception following the 2017 Speech from the Throne.

Jason Kenney’s appeal to social conservatives targets Gay-Straight Alliances

Perhaps not completely understanding how much acrimony the Gay-Straight Alliance issue caused his party back in 2014, recently selected Progressive Conservative leader Jason Kenney brought the issue back to the forefront this week.

According to reports from Postmedia, when asked about Gay-Straight Alliances, Kenney told the editorial board of the Calgary Herald and Sun that he would allow schools to inform parents if their students join a Gay-Straight Alliance.

Gay-Straight Alliances are student-initiated clubs meant empower students to create safe environments in their own schools. A study from the University of British Columbia found that Canadian schools with GSAs may reduce the odds of suicidal thoughts and attempts among both sexual minority and straight students – which is why having schools track their involvement in these clubs and informing their parents is not just creepy but could be dangerous.

As Postmedia columnist Paula Simons wrote today, ”…why should publicly-funded schools treat GSAs differently than they’d treat any other student-led club? Why, that is, unless deep deep down, we still do believe that it is, in fact, a shameful, dangerous thing to be gay — or to associate with gay friends.”

Now that Kenney has secured the leadership of the PC Party, he is now effectively running for the leadership of the Wildrose Party – which he wants to merge his party into.

Kenney is known for his social conservative views and he shied away from publicly commenting on social issues during the PC leadership race. But now that he is running against Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean for the leadership of a new conservative party, we are beginning to see his open appeal to the party’s social conservative base.

While Kenney’s comments are directed toward social conservative voters he will need to win the leadership of a new conservative party, they are reckless. Allowing schools to “out” students to their parents would undermine the ability of Alberta students to create clubs that are proven to help make school environments more safe and welcoming for some of their classmates.

Crouse drops out of Liberal leadership race, Lukaszuk in?

Thomas Lukaszuk

Thomas Lukaszuk

The only candidate running for the leadership of the Alberta Liberal Party has dropped out two days before the nomination deadline.

St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse announced on his website that he was withdrawing from the race for personal reasons. Crouse’s candidacy would have been a big catch for the Liberal Party, which currently only has one MLA in the Alberta Legislature.

Rumours are swirling that Crouse’s departure could make way for former Tory MLA Thomas Lukaszuk to potentially enter the Liberal Party leadership race before the March 31 deadline. The former deputy premier and 2014 PC leadership candidate publicly trashed his PC Party membership card after Kenney won the party leadership on March 18.

The race is being held to choose a replacement for past leader Raj Sherman, another former Tory MLA who crossed the floor to the Liberals in 2011. He resigned as leader in January 2015.

Assdeep in Wonder – a book of poetry – tops Audreys 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 March 26, 2017, compiled on March 28, 2017, by Audreys Books and provided by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta.

EDMONTON FICTION BESTSELLERS

  1. Assdeep in Wonder (Poetry) – Christopher Gudgeon
  2. Fifteen Dogs – André Alexis
  3. Encountering Riel – David D. Orr*†
  4. Break – Katherena Vermette
  5. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
  6. The Summer Before the War – Helen Simonson
  7. A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans – Bruce W. Cameron
  8. 4 3 2 1 – Paul Auster
  9. Medicine Walk – Richard Wagamese
  10. Something Unremembered – Della Dennis*†

EDMONTON NON-FICTION BESTSELLERS

  1. The Event Planner – Celebrating Canada’s 150th – Cathy Harvey*
  2. Trees in Canada – John Laird Farrar
  3. The Burgess Shale: The Canadian Writing Landscape of the 1960s – Margaret Atwood†
  4. Earls: The Cookbook – Jim Sutherland
  5. Lion – Saroo Brierley
  6. The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate:  Discoveries from a Secret World – Peter Wohlleben, Tim Flannery
  7. Medicine Unbundled: A Journey Through the Minefields of Indigenous Health Care – Gary Geddes
  8. Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations – Richard Wagamese
  9. The Making of Donald Trump – David Cay Johnston
  10. Calling Our Families Home: Metis Peoples Experience with Child Welfare – Jeannine Carrière, Catherine Richardson

*Alberta Author

†Alberta Publisher

Linda Johnson Dave Quest Don Scott

Former Tory MLAs jumping into municipal politics

As the October 16, 2017 municipal elections approach, we are starting to see a number of candidates from the 2015 provincial and federal elections putting their names forward to run for municipal office. At least three former Progressive Conservative MLAs who were defeated in the 2015 election have put their names forward to run:

A few other recent provincial and federal candidates are running as well:

  • Jim Black is running for city council in Medicine Hat. He was an Alberta Party candidate in the 2015 provincial election.
  • Rod Frank is running for mayor of Strathcona County. He earned 20 percent of the vote as the 2015 federal Liberal candidate in the Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan riding.
Thousands of Albertans packed the Legislature Grounds to watch Premier Rachel Notley and the NDP cabinet be sworn-in.

My submission to the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission

Earlier this year I submitted a series of recommendations to Alberta’s Electoral Boundaries Commission, the appointed body tasked with redrawing Alberta’s provincial electoral districts for the next election. I initially meant to share this after I submitted it, but for no particular reason I never got around to posting them. The commission will scheduled to submit its interim report to the Legislative Assembly on May 31, 2017 and, after another round of public hearings, it will submit its final report on October 31, 2017.

Here are the recommendations I submitted to the commission in February 2017:

Population in each district

The previous Commission did a good job keeping the population of most electoral districts within ten percent of the provincial average population per electoral district. But some districts have become outliers as populations grow or decline, which creates a system of unequal representation in the Legislative Assembly.

According to Statistics Canada 2016 Census data made available on Feb. 8, 2017, there has been tremendous growth in Alberta’s urban areas, including the Edmonton region, Calgary region and the Red Deer corridor which spans the length between the province’s two largest cities. Communities like Airdrie and Cochrane have seen significant growth of more than 40 percent since the last census. Because of this, it would be appropriate to redistribute new districts into these regions of the province.

The census data also shows a decline in population in areas west of the Red Deer corridor and in east central Alberta. It would be appropriate to redistribute the boundaries of these districts to reflect this population decline.

I recommend that the commission attempt to keep districts within ten percent, but ideally within five percent, above or below the provincial average population per electoral district.

Special districts

I would prefer that no district fall below twenty-five percent of the average, as increased funding should be allocated to MLAs in geographically larger rural ridings for additional offices, staff and travel costs. But political necessity will likely lead to the existence of one or two of these special exceptions.

I recommend that if special districts are required, that be created only in extreme circumstances and be kept to a minimum number.

Naming districts

In the past there has been little or no guidelines for the Commission to name electoral districts. Some districts are named after geographical locations and some after prominent figures from Alberta’s political history.

I recommend that the Commission or the Legislative Assembly create a protocol for naming of electoral divisions for the guidance of future commissions and legislatures.

Noncontiguous districts

The Wetaskiwin-Camrose electoral district.

The Wetaskiwin-Camrose electoral district.

There is currently one district that is noncontiguous, meaning that a portion of the district is completely surrounded by another district. A portion of the Samson Indian Reserve #13 located in the Wetaskiwin-Camrose district is currently completely surrounded by the Drayton Valley-Devon and Lacombe-Ponoka districts.

I recommend that all districts be contiguous.

On this topic, it appears that the communities of Maskwacis are divided between two districts – Drayton Valley-Devon and Wetaskiwin-Camrose. This appears to be an anomaly as all other First Nations communities in Alberta which are adjacent to each other are kept in the same district. If the commission is seeking draw district boundaries around communities of interest, it would make sense for Maskwacis to be included in the one district.

Rural/urban perspectives

As the provincial population increases in urban communities and decreases in many rural communities, it seems inevitable that outlying districts may be fewer and larger in the future. As stated by the previous commission which existed in 2009/2010, this raises a question about how large a division can be before it involves so many non-common interests that it is impractical for the disparate issues of the electors to be represented, and for the MLA to represent them.

As was recommended by the previous commission, I agree that the Legislative Assembly needs to seriously consider how the urban/rural perspectives will be addressed in the future.

 

 

Alberta author and publisher top list of Edmonton’s bestselling books

An Alberta author and publisher top this week’s list of bestselling books. Ranking first in the fiction category is Nuala: A Fable, written by award winning Red Deer poet and author Kimmy Beach and published by University of Alberta Press. In the non-fiction category,  Margaret Atwood’s The Burgess Shale: The Canadian Writing Landscape of the 1960s is also published by University of Alberta Press as part of the Canadian Literature Centre’s Kreisel Lecture Series.

Here is the list of the top 10 fiction and non-fiction titles sold in Edmonton for the week ended March 19, 2017, compiled on March 22, 2017, by Audreys Books and provided by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta.

Edmonton Fiction Bestsellers

  1. Nuala: A Fable – Kimmy Beach  *  †
  2. The Lonely Hearts Hotel – Heather O’Neill
  3. Fifteen Dogs – André Alexis
  4. If I Were in a Cage I’d Reach Out for You – Adele Barclay
  5. The Break – Katherena Vermette
  6. Encountering Riel – David D. Orr *  †
  7. Company Town – Madeline Ashby
  8. Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman
  9. Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
  10. Swimming Lessons – Claire Fuller

Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers

  1. The Burgess Shale: The Canadian Writing Landscape of the 1960s – Margaret Atwood  †
  2. Medicine Unbundled: A Journey Through the Minefields of Indigenous Health Care – Gary Geddes
  3. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race – Margot Lee Shetterly
  4. The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love and Loss  –  Anderson Cooper, Gloria Vanderbilt
  5. I’ll Be Damned: How My Young and Restless Life Led Me to America’s #1 Daytime Drama – Eric Braeden
  6. The Right to Be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet – Sheila Watt-Cloutier
  7. Feast: Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Road Trip – Lindsay Anderson, Dana VanVeller
  8. This I Know: Marketing Lessons from Under the Influence – Terry O’Reilly
  9. The Happiness Equation – Neil Pasricha
  10. Lion – Saroo Brierley

*   Alberta Author
†  Alberta Publisher