Author Archives: Dave Cournoyer

Paper Teeth by Alberta author Lauralyn Chow tops Audreys List of Bestselling Books

Here is the list of the top 10 fiction and non-fiction titles sold in Edmonton for the week ended Aug. 13, 2017, compiled by Audreys Books and provided by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta.

Edmonton Fiction Bestsellers

1. Paper Teeth – Lauralyn Chow * +
2. The Late Show – Michael Connelly
3. Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
4, Milk and Honey – Rupi Kaur
5. Raincheck – Marlo Lanz *
6. The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
7. Camino Island – John Grisham
8. Seven Stones to Stand or Fall – Diana Gabaldon
9. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
10. House of Names – Colm Tóibín

Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers

1. Confederation Drive – Janice MacDonald * +
2. Fifty Percent of Mountaineering Is Uphill – Susanna Pfisterer
3. Welcome to Radio! – Bob Layton *
4. Dunkirk: The History Behind the Major Motion Picture – Joshua Levine
5. No is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need – Naomi Klein
6. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow – Yuval Noah Harari
7. Rocks, Ridges, and Rivers: Geological Wonders of Banff, Yoho and Jasper National Parks – Dale Leckie *
8. The Beauty of Discomfort: How What We Avoid is What We Need – Amanda Lang
9. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy – Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg
10. You Might Be from Canada If… – Michael de Adder

*Alberta Author
+ Alberta Publisher

Wildrose leader Brian Jean campaigned with Derek Fildebrandt in Strathmore-Brooks on the first day of the 2015 election. (Photo from Brian Jean's Facebook Page).

Derek Fildebrandt has a very, very bad week.

Photo: In happier times, as Derek Fildebrandt campaigned alongside Wildrose leader Brian Jean in Strathmore-Brooks on the first day of the 2015 election. (Photo from Brian Jean’s Facebook Page).

Over the course of eight days, Strathmore-Brooks MLA Derek Fildebrandt went from being a potential leadership candidate to stepping down from the United Conservative Party Caucus.

As a former spokesperson for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and Official Opposition finance critic in Alberta’s Legislative Assembly, he had earned a reputation as a relentlessly partisan critic of the old Progressive Conservative and current New Democratic Party governments. His reputation as a fiscal crusader, and his political future, were put in question this week.

Here is a quick look at the past eight days in FIldebrandt’s political world:

August 8, 2017: Former Wildrose Party finance critic and United Conservative Party finance co-critic Derek Fildebrandt announces he will not run for the leadership of the new party. He tells reporters than he will instead use his United Liberty PAC to push the party and leadership candidates to adopt libertarian policies.

He takes a direct shot at former Wildrose leader Brian Jean, now a candidate for the UCP, saying that “he is not the best man to lead the party and lead Alberta.” (Background: Jean attempted to suspend Fildebrandt from the Wildrose Caucus in June 2016).

August 9, 2017: Postmedia reports that Fildebrandt has been renting his taxpayer-subsidized downtown Edmonton apartment on Airbnb. Fildebrandt tells the media to “Find someone under 35 with a downtown apartment that doesn’t let their apartment if they’re gone half the year.

August 10, 2017: Fildebrandt issues a statement saying he plans to donate the $2,555 he earned through Airbnb to the provincial debt. ‘I’m not interested in letting the politics of smear distract from the real issues,’ his statement read.

Rather than focusing on complaining about people trying to smear him, he should acknowledge that it was a mistake and he should apologize,” Premier Rachel Notley tells reporters.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci calls on Fildebrandt to apologize for his actions. “The public puts a lot of faith in their elected officials, and when people act like that I think they destroy that faith,” Ceci told reporters.

Alberta Party leader Greg Clark calls for penalties for MLAs who break reimbursement rules and writes to Legislative Assembly Speaker Bob Wanner to ask for an audit of all MLA living expenses.

Late that night, Fildebrandt announces he is taking leave from his position as UCP finance co-critic and is leaving on vacation.

August 14, 2017: Clark releases documents that he suggests show Fildebrandt claimed meal expenses and an MLA per-diem for the same meal nine times. Fildebrandt releases a statement admitting that there “were some administrative errors in processing meal receipts.

These expense claims are concerning and appear to be part of a larger pattern of behaviour that is unacceptable for a member of the United Conservative Party caucus,” United Conservative Party leader Nathan Cooper said in an statement

August 15, 2017: CBC reports that ‘Edmonton police conducted an investigation and on June 14, 2016, charged Fildebrandt under the provincial traffic act with leaving the scene of an accident and failing to notify the owner of the damaged vehicle.’ Cooper tells CBC he did not know about the charge. The trial was adjourned until September 6, 2017, when Fildebrandt is expected to present his evidence.

Late tonight, Fildebrandt issued a statement on his Facebook page where he took two swipes at the media before announcing his plans to leave the UCP caucus and sit as an Independent MLA.

Doug Schweitzer United Conservative Party

Rebel Media becomes a wedge issue in the United Conservative Party leadership race

This weekend’s violent march of Nazis and white supremacists through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia made international headlines and also had repercussions for the United Conservative Party leadership race in Alberta.

Leadership candidate Doug Schweitzer, a Calgary lawyer who is trying to position himself as a social moderate in the contest, used this weekend’s dark events south of the border to call on Jason Kenney and Brian Jean to denounce Rebel Media. The fringe right-wing website is more of an opposition group than a media organization and is seen to be closely allied with “alt-right” organizers in Canada and the United States.

“Enough is enough. We have to be better than this in Canada. Stand up to them for a change. We all need to lead by example,” Schweitzer tweeted.

Founders of the website include Ezra Levant, who, along with Kenney was a member of the “snack pack” in the mid-1990s, and Hamish Marshall, who is Jean’s campaign manager and was campaign manager for Andrew Scheer‘s successful federal leadership bid.

Many Wildrose Party and federal Conservative politicians have supported Levant’s Rebel website on social media, through online interviews, and participation in rallies and events organized by Levant and his employees.

Schweitzer’s challenge to Jean and Kenney will undoubtedly result in nasty pushback from a legion of right-wing twitter users, which I am sure he is prepared to respond to. But drawing a line helps Schweitzer differentiate himself from the two major candidates in the race, who have both been seen to be sympathetic or supportive of Levant’s Rebel website, and signals what kind of conservatives might not be welcome in a United Conservative Party led by Doug Schweitzer.

2012 Derek Fildebrandt to 2017 Derek Fildebrandt: No Tax Dollars for Airbnb

Photos: 2012 Derek Fildebrandt (above), 2017 Derek Fildebrandt (below).

For Immediate Release

CALGARY – Standing in front of a giant inflatable pork chop, 2012 Derek Fildebrandt denounced 2017 Derek Fildebrandt for renting his government-subsidized downtown Edmonton apartment on Airbnb.

Derek Fildebrandt Alberta Wildrose MLA

2017 Derek Fildebrandt

“People with enough money to support themselves and rent out government-subsidized second homes on Airbnb shouldn’t be the beneficiaries of taxpayer subsidized housing,” said 2012 Derek Fildebrandt, the then-Alberta spokesperson for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“Making $134,000 dollars doesn’t make you rich, but it makes you capable of standing on your own two feet. If an MLA isn’t passing the smell test then it’s time for the party leader to do the right thing, and kick this person out,” continued 2012 Derek.

“Taxpayers pay good money to help house MLAs and this money is clearly going to people who don’t need or deserve it,” said 2012 Derek.

“These news reports strongly suggest that a system intended to help MLAs is being gamed and that some people are allowing it to be gamed,” fumed 2012 Derek. “We need a full audit of MLA Housing Allowance to determine the extent of this practice.”

2012 Derek also reiterated his belief in MLA recall.

“We’ve always stood for recall but 2017 Derek makes the case better than we ever could. So we want to give Albertans, and voters in Strathmore-Brooks specifically, the right to recall their MLA,” he said.

“I am writing my nomination for the Teddy Awards this morning and 2017 Derek is at the top of my list,” said 2012 Derek, as he poked the giant pork chop with an oversized cardboard fork.

– 30 –

(The above piece is satire, but most of the quotes are adapted from CTF press releases and media reports)

Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt faced a bizarre 72 hour suspension from the Official Opposition caucus this week.

Derek Fildebrandt caught renting government-subsidized apartment on Airbnb

United Conservative MLA Derek Fildebrandt has been renting his government-subsidized downtown Edmonton apartment on Airbnb, according to a report by one of Postmedia’s Edmonton newspapers.

MLAs who live outside of the Edmonton area are eligible to receive a housing allowance to use toward a residence in the capital city, but the rules appear to be silent on whether an MLA can rent their government-subsidized accommodations on Airbnb while they are not there.

According to the Postmedia report, “between January and March, eight Airbnb renters reviewed the apartment. Over the same three months, Fildebrandt claimed $7,720 for accommodation in Edmonton.”

While the housing allowance makes sense, the entitlement is certainly not meant to be a secondary source of income for the MLA.

This might not be as big surprise if Fildebrandt were some Tory good ol’ boy, but he is someone who built his political career around attacking public spending by elected officials.

From the time he arrived in Alberta to work as the local spokesperson for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, he was a very spiky thorn in the side of the old Progressive Conservative government. As the Wildrose Party finance critic since 2015, he has been an unabashed partisan in his attacks against Rachel Notley’s New Democratic Party government.

This story comes only days after Fildebrandt announced he would not run for the leadership of the United Conservative Party. In one media report, he blamed the story on Brian Jean’s “backroom operators.”

Fildebrandt could have easily used this as an opportunity to make a point about public spending by claiming the funds he received through renting his government-subsidized Airbnb and applying for a lower housing allowance. But instead, he now says he will use the funds to help pay down Alberta’s provincial debt – after he got caught.

UPDATE: Fildebrandt announced last night that he is on-leave from his position as Finance co-critic for the United Conservative Party and is leaving the province on vacation.

The Late Show, by Michael Connelly, tops Audreys Books 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. 6, 2017, compiled by Audreys Books and provided by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta.

EDMONTON FICTION BESTSELLERS

1. The Late Show – Michael Connelly
2. Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Arundhati Roy
3. The Last Neanderthal – Claire Cameron
4. A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
5. The Nix – Nathan Hill
6. The Alice Network – Kate Quinn
7. Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty
8. The Scribe of Siena – Melodie Winawer
9. Faithful – Alice Hoffman
10. The Bosun Chair – Jennifer Bowering Delisle*

EDMONTON NON-FICTION BESTSELLERS

1. Reality Fitness: An Incremental, Achievable, & Sustainable Weight Loss Method – Angela De Jong
2. No Is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need – Naomi Klein
3. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil deGrasse Tyson
4. Finding Gobi: A Little Dog with a Very Big Heart – Dion Leonard, Craig Borlase
5. On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century – Timothy Snyder
6. The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America – Thomas King
7. Gutenberg’s Fingerprint: Paper, Pixels and the Lasting Impression of Books – Merilyn Simonds
8. Keeping My Sisters’ Secrets: The Moving True Story of Three Sisters Born into Poverty and their Fight for Survival – Beezy Marsh
9. Our Place: Changing the Nature of Alberta – Kevin Van Tighem*
10. Welcome to Radio! – Bob Layton*

*Alberta Author

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien tops Audreys Bestseller List

Here is the list of the top 10 fiction and non-fiction titles sold in Edmonton for the week ended July 30, 2017, compiled by Audreys Books and provided by the Books Publishers Association of Alberta.

Fiction

  1. Do Not Say We Have Nothing — Madeleine Thien

    Do Not Say We Have Nothing — Madeleine Thien

    Do Not Say We Have Nothing — Madeleine Thien

  2. Milk and Honey — Rupi Kaur
  3. Beren and Lúthien — J. R. R. Tolkien
  4. The Alice Network — Kate Quinn
  5. The Handmaid’s Tale — Margaret Atwood
  6. The Whistler — John Grisham
  7. The Nightingale — Kristin Hannah
  8. Bit Riot — Douglas Coupland
  9. Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains — Yasuko Thanh
  10. Anything is Possible — Elizabeth Strout

Non-Fiction

  1. Reality Fitness: An Incremental, Achievable, and Sustainable Weight Loss Method — Angela deJong*
  2. Among the Walking Wounded: Soldiers, Survival, and PTSD — John Conrad*
  3. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry — Neil deGrasse Tyson
  4. Welcome to Radio! My Life in Broadcasting, So Far — Bob Layton*
  5. Dementia in the Family: Practical Advice from a Caregiver — Lee Cardwell*
  6. No is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need — Naomi Klein
  7. The Glass Castle — Jeannette Walls
  8. Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency — Joshua Green
  9. Collaborating with the Enemy: How to Work with People You Don’t Agree with or Like or Trust — Adam Kahane
  10. Confederation Drive — Janice MacDonald*

*Alberta author, Alberta Publisher

Sturgeon River-Parkland by-election.

Sturgeon River-Parkland by-election to replace Rona Ambrose to be called by end of 2017

A federal by-election will be held in Sturgeon River-Parkland in the coming months following the resignation of Conservative Member of Parliament Rona Ambrose. Ambrose served as MP for this riding from 2015 to 2017 and as MP for the now defunct Edmonton-Spruce Grove riding from 2004 to 2015.

A by-election must be called by December 31, 2017.

This is a very safe Conservative riding.

Ambrose earned 43,220 votes in the October 2015 election, compared to 9,586 votes for Liberal Travis Dueck, 6,166 for New Democrat Guy Desforges, 1,875 votes for Green Brendon Greene and 690 for Christian Heritage candidate Ernest Chauvet.

In order to find a competitive race in this riding, you have to go all the way back to a 1986 by-election, when parts of the riding were included in the former Pembina riding. In that year’s by-election, Progressive Conservative Walter Van de Walle narrowly edged out New Democrat and former Edmonton mayor Ivor Dent by 274 votes.

No doubt an indication of their political strength in the riding, the Conservatives appear to be the only party with an active candidate nomination race underway. Here is a look at the candidates, both declared and prospective:

  • According to her online biography, Conservative Party activist Jamie Mozeson has worked as a political staffer in the offices of a few prominent Conservative politicians, including former Stony Plain MLA Stan Woloshyn, Edmonton MP Mike Lake, Premier Jim Prentice and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. She recently served as Alberta Regional Organizer and Target Seat Manager during the 2015 election.
  • Vancouver businessman Rick Peterson placed 11th out of 13 candidates in the recent Conservative Party leadership race and is reported to be considering running for the Conservative Party’s nomination in this by-election. According to recent comments posted on Twitter, he is moving to Edmonton this month, presumably to run in the by-election.
  • Garry Keller does not appear to have officially announced his candidacy, but there was speculation by Ottawa media following Ambrose’s resignation that he might run in the by-election. Keller, who is from Stony Plain, served as Ambrose’s chief of staff and previously served as chief of staff for Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird. He worked as Legislative Assistant to former area MP John Williams from 1997 to 2006.

Ambrose appointed to blue ribbon NAFTA Panel

It was announced today that Ambrose will be appointed to the Canadian government’s North American Free Trade Agreement advisory panel ahead of renegotiation discussions with the United States and Mexico. Ambrose joins 12 other panelists, including Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff, fellow former Conservative MP James Moore, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley‘s former Chief of Staff Brian Topp.

Don Iveson Mayor Edmonton 2017 election

81 days left until Edmonton’s Municipal Elections

Don Iveson officially launched his campaign for re-election as Mayor of Edmonton at an event at La Cite Francophone yesterday. Here is the video of his campaign launch speech, which is also available on his Facebook page.

It's a beautiful night to launch the re-election campaign! The one and only Julian Faid has kicked off the evening's program and we'll be live with Don's speech here at La Cité Francophone starting at 8pm.

Posted by Don Iveson for Mayor on Wednesday, July 26, 2017

With 81 days left until the October 16, 2017 municipal elections in Alberta, more candidates have put their names forward to run for public office. Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running in Edmonton’s municipal election for City Council and the Edmonton Public School Board:

  • Bob Ligertwood is running for mayor. He is the owner of Naked Cyber Cafe and Expresso Bar and he previously ran for mayor in 2007 and 2010.
  • Felix Amenaghawom is running in Ward 4. Amenaghawom is an Assistant General Supervisor with the City of Edmonton.
  • Former Progressive Conservative 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. He faced public criticism after claiming travel expenses of nearly $35,000 in 2012, even though his constituency is located in Edmonton, and 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.
  • Glenda Williams is running for City Council in Ward 10.
  • Shelagh Dunn is running for Edmonton Public School Board in Ward C. Dunn is a psychologist who has worked as a counsellor in schools and at post-secondary institutions, and taught high school and post-secondary students about community engagement and mental health.
  • Saira Wagner is running for Edmonton Public School Board in Ward I.
  • Jeff Lee is running for the Edmonton Catholic School Board in Ward 73. He is the owner of the The Homework Centre, located in St. Gabriel School.

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!

Alphabet Stage, a children’s book by Linda Phillips and Denise Hayward, returns to top of Audreys Edmonton Bestseller list

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

EDMONTON FICTION BESTSELLERS

1. Alphabet Stage (Children’s) – Linda M. Phillips & Denise V. Hayward

2. Swimming Lessons – Claire Fuller
3. The Alice Network – Kate Quinn
4. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
5. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Arundhati Roy
6. Here I Am – Jonathan Safran Foer
7. Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
8. The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
9. Camino Island – John Grisham
10. The Spawning Grounds – Gail Angerson-Dargatz

EDMONTON NON-FICTION BESTSELLERS

1. On the Road with the Coking Ladies: Let’s Get Grilling – Phyllis Hinz, Lamont
MacKay
2. Welcome to Radio! – Bob Layton*
3. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Harari
4. Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations – Richard Wagamese
5. Passage Across the Mersey – Robert Bhatia*
6. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future – Ashlee Vance
7. Finding Gobi: A Little Dog With a Very Big Heart – Dion Leonard, Craig Borlase
8. No Is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We
Need – Naomi Klein
9. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil DeGrasse Tyson
10. You Might Be from Canada If… – Michael de Adder

* Alberta Author

Brian Jean United Conservative Party Leadership Wildrose

UCP merger kickstarts another summer of politiking in Alberta

Photo: Wildrose leader Brian Jean formally launches his campaign to lead the United Conservative Party (source: Facebook)

It has been a busy week in Alberta politics, and it is only Tuesday.

Nathan Cooper

On Saturday, 95 percent of Wildrose and Progressive Conservative Party members who cast ballots voted in favour of amending their respective parties constitutions and create a new political party – the United Conservative Party.

Only 57 per cent of eligible Wildrose members, and 55 percent of PC member, cast a ballot, which is roughly 25,000 and 27,000 members of the two parties. It is suspected that a significant number of individuals who voted held membership in both parties, and voted twice.

Here is a quick look at what has happened since:

  • As predicted on this blog a few days ago, Nathan Cooper has been chosen as interim leader of the new 29-MLA joint-Wildrose-PC United Conservative caucus. Cooper will serve as leader of the Official Opposition, though likely not in the Assembly as the Legislature is not scheduled to reconvene until after the new party chooses a permanent leader in October 2017. He is a first-term Wildrose MLA for Olds-Didisbury Three Hills and a former Wildrose caucus Chief of Staff, Carstairs town councillor, and spokesperson for the social conservative Canada Family Action group.
  • Richard Starke

    Richard Starke

    PC MLA Richard Starke will not join the new UCP caucus. Starke, who has represented Vermilion-Lloydminster since 2012, ran against Jason Kenney in the 2017 PC leadership race and opposed his plans to merge the PCs with the Wildrose Party. Starke wrote on Facebook that: “My experience, and that of many like-minded party members who have left or been driven from the party, is that our views are not welcome, and that the values and principles we believe in will not be part of the new party going forward.”

  • Wildrose leader Brian Jean formally announced his bid for the leadership of the new party at the Apple Creek Golf Course in Rockyview County. Jean was accompanied by Airdrie Wildrose MLA Angela Pitt, who has endorsed his campaign.
  • Kenney is expected to formally announce his leadership bid on Saturday, July 29, 2017.
  • Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt, who is also expected to join the leadership race, vowed he would never support Jean in a leadership race. Jean briefly attempted to suspend Fildebrandt from the Wildrose Caucus in May 2016, after the MLA’s partisan antics went too far. 
  • Long-time PC Party strategist Susan Elliott announced she will be joining the Alberta Party. Elliott managed the PC Party’s successful 2012 election campaign.

Wildrose-PC merger a big deal, but not a silver bullet for 2019

Albertans will find out on July 22 whether members of the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties have voted to amend their party constitutions in order to abandon their existing parties and form a new party named the United Conservative Party.

For the vote to pass, it will need the support of 75 percent of Wildrose members and 50 percent plus one of PC Party members.

There seems to be two likely scenarios: if it passes or fails.

A) If members from both parties vote to approve the agreement and amend their party constitutions, then a joint board of directors will be appointed to govern the business of the UCP and the two existing parties. The creation of a new party will need to be approved by Elections Alberta, which I expect will happen shortly after a successful vote.

An interim leader will be appointed by the caucuses of the two parties. There is strong speculation that the interim leader will be the mild-mannered and well-respected Wildrose Opposition House Leader Nathan Cooper, who has served as MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills since 2015. Calgary-Fish Creek MLA Richard Gotfried and Calgary-Foothills MLA Prasad Panda could also be contenders for interim leader position.

A leadership race will be scheduled for October 28, 2017 and four candidates have already declared their candidacy or interest in running: Wildrose leader Brian Jean, PC Party leader Jason Kenney, Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt and Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer.

B) If the vote fails, it is expected this would be because of opposition by Wildrose Party members. While I would be very surprised if the vote fails, it would not be the most outlandish event to occur in Alberta politics in the past decade. The Wildrose membership are known for being cantankerous and notoriously anti-establishment.

A big loss would be a huge blow to Jean’s leadership of the party and would probably spell the end of his career in provincial politics. It might also lead to Wildrose MLAs crossing the floor to the PCs, as Kenney could continue to move ahead and create a UCP regardless of a rejected vote by Wildrose members.

A Plan B could take the form of a non-compete agreement, where the two parties would not challenge each other in constituencies in the next election. This would be similar to what Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Richard Starke proposed during the PC leadership race.

If technical issues hamper the vote and cause party members to question or challenge the validity of the results, it could damage the UCP before it is even officially formed.

What does this mean for the conservative movement in Alberta? 

With some prominent PC members jumping to the Alberta Party, a group of disgruntled Wildrose members threatening to start another new party and some conservatives even joining the NDP, Conservatives actually appear less united than they have been in years. While much of the Conservative establishment is backing the Wildrose-PC merger, there is a threat that it would lead to a further split into smaller conservative parties.

The outcome of the Wildrose-PC merger could be determined during the UCP leadership race, which will set the tone and policy direction of the new party. And association with unpopular positions could dog the candidates.

Jean is trying to appeal to rural Wildrose supporters while convincing urban conservatives that he is a centrist. Kenney is associated with social conservative causes and sparked controversy when he told a Postmedia editorial board he would support outing students who join Gay-Straight Alliances. And Fildebrandt’s leadership campaign can be expected to bring a blunt message of ‘weaponized conservatism‘ and painful funding cuts to public services.

What does this mean for the NDP?

While the NDP have mostly stayed out of the Wildrose-PC merger fray, they will be eager to define the new Conservative party as angry and uncompassionate right-wingers who are out-of-touch with modern and increasingly urban Alberta.

Rachel Notley’s New Democratic Party has subtly shifted their messaging over the past year, focusing on launching new programs and projects that they argue will “make lives better for Albertans.” This will provide the NDP with a significant contrast to the UCP, who they will argue would attack the public services and hurt Alberta families.

Kenney has stated that if he becomes Premier in 2019, the months that follow would be known as the “Summer of Repeal” as his government would immediately move to repeal legislation passed by the NDP since 2015. The trouble with Kenney’s promise to repeal all of the NDP’s agenda is that, despite anger from conservatives still bitter from losing the 2015 election, some of the changes introduced by Notley’s NDP are popular among Albertans.

Would a UCP government cancel the construction of the Cancer Treatment Centre in Calgary or the new hospital in south Edmonton? Would a UCP government lower the minimum wage, increase school fees and cancel the $25/day childcare program? Expect the NDP to make sure Albertans are asking these questions.

What does this mean for Alberta Together and the Alberta Party?

Moderate and centrist Conservatives who have left the PC Party to support the Alberta Together political action committee and the Alberta Party also have an interest in seeing the UCP branded as Wildrose 2.0 in the minds of Alberta voters.

Since being elected as MLA for Calgary-Elbow in 2015, Greg Clark has punched above his weight in generating media attention while his party has floundered at fundraising and constituency organization. The recent injection of centrist PC activists into his party might be a boon for fundraising and organizing, especially if the UCP is cast as just a new Wildrose Party.

Wildrose-PC merger not a silver bullet

Since the morning after the NDP’s victory in the 2015 election, many Conservatives have talked about merging the Wildrose and PCs parties as if it were a silver bullet to winning the next election. While the NDP have not been the most popular government in Alberta history, Conservatives underestimate Rachel Notley at their own peril. Notley is a smart and savvy political leader and, as 2015 proved, she is an incredibly talented campaigner.

And, as the past two elections have proven, Conservatives in Alberta have a track record of shooting themselves in the foot at the most inopportune times.


I joined Brock Harrison and Shaye Ganam on July 21, 2017 to chat about Alberta politics and the July 22 vote on 630CHED. Here is the audio recording of our discussion.

NDP tops political fundraising in Alberta for second quarter in a row

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

Combined party and constituency fundraising results show the governing New Democratic Party in the lead in for the second consecutive quarter of 2017, having fundraised $553,733 between April 1, 2017 and June 30, 2017, a jump from $373,060 raised by the NDP in the first quarter of 2017.

The Wildrose Party raised $511,704, up from $345,125 in the first quarter, and the Progressive Conservatives raised $86,818, a steep drop from the $226,572 raised in the first four months of 2017. The the Alberta Party raised only $38,124.51 and the Liberal Party raised $33,845.93 in the same period.

The NDP have raised a combined total of $926,793 in the first two quarter of 2017, while the Wildrose raised $852,689 and the PCs raised $313,791.

This is the second 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 second quarter of 2017:

Alberta NDP
Kathleen Feehan – $4,000
Allan Kettles – $4,000
Don Smith – $4,000
Tom Boyce – $2,718
Ericka Simonelli – $2,650
Anne McGrath – $2,407

Wildrose Party
Cheryl Wilei – $4,500
Paul Doucette – $4,000
Arlene Goodchild – $4,000
Sterling Goodchild – $4,000
Tasker Goodchild – $4,000
George Janzen – $4,000
Len McCullah – $4,000
Jennifer Swertz – $4,000

PC Party
John Peter – $4,000
Stanley Milner – $4,000
Heather Shaw – $4,000
Deborah Wall – $4,000
Jeff Boyce – $1,500
Wayne Foo – $1,500

Alberta Party
Rhondda Siebens – $4,000
Sharon Gutrath-Siebens – $3,000
Troy Wason – $1,700
Dale Huntingford – $1,500
Patricia Cochrane – $1,050

Liberal Party
Dan McLennan – $2,100
Grant Dunlop – $1,800
Bill Sevcik – $1,000
Raj Sherman – $1,000
Clifford Faden – $650
David Swann – $600
Nick Taylor – $600

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson tops this week’s Audreys Books Edmonton bestseller list

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

Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers

  1. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil deGrasse Tyson
  2. No Is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need – Naomi Klein
  3. The Vimy Trap: Or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Great War – Ian McKay, Jamie Swift
  4. Hunger. A Memoir of (My) Body – Roxane Gay
  5. Finding Gobi: A Little Dog with a Very Big Heart – Dion Leonard, Craig Borlase
  6. Into the Fire: The Fight to Save Fort McMurray – Jerron Hawlwy *, Graham Hurley *, Steve Sackett *
  7. Welcome to Radio! My life in broadcasting, so far – Bob Layton *
  8. The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story – Diane Ackerman
  9. A Peakbaggers Guide to the Canadian Rockies: North – Ben Nearingburg *, Eric Coulthard *
  10. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future – Ashlee Vance

Edmonton Fiction Bestsellers

  1. The Witches of New York – Ami McKay
  2. The Alice Network – Kate Quinn
  3. The Child – Fiona Barton
  4. Camino Island: A Novel – John Grisham
  5. Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman
  6. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  7. One Brother Shy – Terry Fallis
  8. Children of Earth and Sky – Guy Gavriel Kay
  9. Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
  10. The Heavy Bear – Tim Bowling *
Edmonton City Hall

There are 90 days left until Edmonton’s Municipal Elections

There are 90 days left until Edmonton’s municipal elections. Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running in Edmonton’s municipal election for City Council and the Edmonton Public School Board:

  • Fahad Mughal Edmonton Mayoral Election

    Fahad Mughal

    He had initially planned to run for City Council in Ward 10, but Fahad Mughal made a surprise announcement at his campaign launch on July 15 that he would instead run against Don Iveson in the Mayoral election.

  • Eli Schrader is running for election to City Council in Ward 8. Schrader is civics director with the Cloverdale Community League and a member at large of the University of Alberta alumni association.
  • Cheryl Johner is planning to seek re-election as a trustee on the Edmonton Public School Board in Ward A. Johner was first elected in 2010.
  • Joseph Luri has announced his candidacy in Edmonton Public School Board’s Ward A. Luri has been a settlement practitioner in Edmonton since 2007 and is currently a team leader for the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers Domestic Violence Prevention Program.

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!