Alberta Politics

alberta’s legislature needs more dave.

I have a growing list of thoughts on the start of the fall session of the Alberta Legislature that I’ll post tomorrow. But until then, here is my one first thought:

1) There are three Dave’s (Dave, Dave, and Dave) who should be allowed to speak more often.

Alberta Politics

let the fall session begin!

The fall session of the Alberta Legislature begins this afternoon and it should be interesting.

With rumours of a fall election potentially starting to fade and and the potential for a spring election looking more likely, look for the parties inside and outside of the Assembly to try to capitalize on this session.

Here are some things to look forward to:

1) Ed Stelmach‘s Tories will be putting forward 24 Bills forward for the fall session which includes an agressive agenda on smoking-bans and speeding tickets (no legislation on royalties will make it this fall). The most controversial will no doubt be Bill 46.
Critics fear that under the premise of making the EUB more efficient, Bill 46 breaks up the EUB into two separate entities, the ERCB and AUC. The Bill then:

1. Gives the Alberta Utilities Commission the power to make orders and issue decisions without giving public notice or holding public hearings (section 9(1));

2. Gives the Alberta Utilities Commission the power to prevent landowners and consumers from making verbal representations to the Commission (section 9(4));

3. Limits the time period in which Albertans can appeal a decision or order made by the Alberta Utilities Commission to 30 days (section 29(2)).

4. Restricts the ability of landowners to hire outside legal counsel when intervening in regulatory hearings (section 9(4));

5. Corrects past misdeeds and wrongdoings by making this law retroactive to June 1 2003. Section 98(2)

If Ed Stelmach is smart, he’ll let Dave Hancock do all the talking.

As well as focusing in on Bill 46, Kevin Taft’s Alberta Liberals will be putting forward a legislative agenda including a comprehensive housing strategy, labour-code reforms, and water protection.

They will also keep up the pressure on Ed Stelmach and Mel Knight so the issue of the billions of dollars of resource royalties the Tories failed to collect stays on the minds of Albertans (they’ve also put together a fancy map showing what those billions could have been used for).

The Alberta Liberal Caucus has also hired former Edmonton Journal reporter Larry Johnsrude as their new Caucus Communications Director.

3) Watch out for Drayton Valley-Calmar Tory MLA Tony Abbott. Abbott is a standard bearer for the right-wing in the Tory caucus and was defeated in his nomination for the next election. He could be unpredictable.

4) Watch for the Wild Rose Party to try to fill the void left by Paul Hinman’s one-man Alberta Alliance caucus on the right flank. Don’t count on it, but maybe we’ll hear something from newly elected Social Credit leader Len Skowronski.

5) Look for the issue of the Stelmach Tories Public Affairs Bureau spending spree on a $145,000 infomercial and +$200,000 taxpayer funded partisan advertising campaign to make news through question period.

Alberta Politics Alberta Royalty Review

more on royalties, politics, etc.

– CBC Edmonton will be hosting a forum on royalties tonight at the Royal Alberta Museum:

Alberta Royalties – Are we getting our fair share? You maybe interested in our upcoming event: CBC PUBLIC FORUM ON THE ROYALTY REVIEW It’s Your Future-Have Your Say! How do oil and gas royalties affect Alberta? Our Jobs? Our Economy?

This is your chance to hear from a panel of industry experts on the controversial recommendation to change Alberta’s oil and gas royalties, and have an opportunity to participate in public feedback.

Join CBC for this public forum: Tuesday, October 30th from 7 to 8 p.m.Royal Alberta Museum, 12845-102nd Avenue

Visit our website for CBC’s in-depth coverage and analysis at

– Recently nominated Red Deer-South Stelmach Tory candidate Cal Dallas is now in competition with Calgary-Varsity Alberta Liberal MLA Harry Chase for the best name on Alberta’s political scene.

– Kevin Taft’s Alberta Liberals have outlined their legislative agenda for the Fall Session of the Alberta Legislature which begins on Monday, November 5.

– In what could be one of the hotest and most watched races of the next provincial election, it is being reported that former NBC news anchor Arthur Kent has announced that he will be running for the Stelmach Tory nomination in Calgary-Currie (then again, it was reported by vast left-wing conspiracy theorist Kerry Diotte – a self-described friend of Kent’s – so I’ll remain somewhat skeptical until I see more credible evidence).

If nominated, Kent will take on popular former QR77 radio host and Alberta Liberal MLA Dave Taylor. Taylor surprised many when he defeated former Tory MLA and high-profile City Councillor Jon Lord in 2004.

– The Alberta Social Credit Party will be holding its leadership selection this weekend. Get out the digestive cookies!

– With the Fall session of the Alberta Legislature beginning on November 5, Ed Stelmach continues to refuse to fire Energy Minister Mel Knight after Auditor General Fred Dunn singled out Knight’s Department of Energy for short-changing Albertans by billions of dollars after failing to collect resource revenues over the past 15 years under the current royalty regime.

Here is what Dunn said of Knight’s Department of Energy:

“The principals of transparency and accountability, I believe, were not followed. I’m not impressed.”

“The department should demonstrate its stewardship
of Alberta’s royalty regime and provide analysis to support that stewardship and
this was not done.”

“The department’s monitoring and technical review findings were communicated to decision-makers. The question is: Did they hear or were they listening? At the end of the day, I don’t know, but they chose not to act.”

– Meanwhile, in fairytale land, Rachel Notley is spending her time attacking the Alberta Liberals in letters section of the Edmonton Journal, letting Stelmach’s Tories off the hook for his compromising on resource royalties.

Considering that any New Democrat gains will only come in Edmonton at the expense of the Alberta Liberals, it’s no surprise that all my Tory friends love the New Democrats. Leave it to a small third-party candidate to completely miss the real target on purpose.

2008 Alberta Provincial Election AEUB Alberta Politics Alberta Social Credit

back on the provincial scene…

I’ll briefly return to Alberta’s provincial political scene for a post or two…

– Drayton Valley-Calmar Tory MLA Reverend Tony Abbott lost the Tory nomination to former Drayton Valley Mayor Diana McQueen. This is a huge blow to the social conservative-wing of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives. Though I don’t consider Abbott to have been a very effective MLA, he carried the anti-abortion crazy flag dropped by former Tory MLA Julius Yankowski (Yankowski was defeated in Edmonton-Beverly Clareview in the 2004 election). The Reverend will be running as an independent and will pose a strong challenge to McQueen’s Tory ambitions.

– Because I’m sure no one noticed, the Alberta Social Credit Party is in the midst of a raucous leadership race… here are the candidates…

Gordon Barrett (click here for more info in PDF format)
Larry Heather (click here for more info in PDF format)
Len Skowronski
(click here for more info in PDF format)

– The senior security executive on the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board was finally fired over the AEUB spy scandal. This is a good first step, but the real problem remains – Energy Minister Mel Knight, who along with Ed Stelmach protected and defended the AEUB’s after its use of public funds to hire a private investigator to spy on ordinary Albertans, still remains in his job. This is a serious issue and actions like these should not be taken lightly. If the Stelmach Tories are serious about “accountability and transparency,” Knight would no longer be sitting at the Tory Cabinet table.

The AEUB spy scandal is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Mel Knight’s reputation as Minister of Energy, along with former Minister of Energy Greg Melchin, Knight’s department was singled out by Auditor General Fred Dunn in his report:

“The principals of transparency and accountability, I believe, were not followed. I’m not impressed.”

“The department should demonstrate its stewardship of Alberta’s royalty regime and provide analysis to support that stewardship and this was not done.”

“The department’s monitoring and technical review findings were communicated to decision-makers. The question is: Did they hear or were they listening? At the end of the day, I don’t know, but they chose not to act.”

So, when are the real heads going to roll?

2008 Alberta Provincial Election Alberta Politics Alberta Tories

give me a p-a-t-r-o-n-a-g-e!

For those who doubted the existence of the culture of entitlement and partisan patronage present under Alberta’s 36-year Tory regime, I present Case #9731.

Edmonton… Edmonton lawyer and community volunteer Douglas Goss has been designated chair of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT)’s Board of Governors.

It just so happens that Doug Goss is also the co-chair of the Stelmach Tories’ election campaign.

For more information on Tory political patronage in Alberta, click here, here, and here.

Alberta Politics Ed Stelmach

ed stelmach does bobby mcferrin.

What happens to politicians who become running jokes?

Alberta Politics Barry McFarland Cindy Ady Idaho-Alberta Task Force Laurie Blakeman

blakeman sets an example.

In the wake of yesterday’s revelation that Tory MLA’s Cindy Ady and Barry McFarland received $19,000 for work on the Idaho-Alberta task force – a task force which only met once and has no recorded accomplishments or activity beyond the one meeting – Edmonton-Centre Alberta Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman has announced that she had returned the $3,000 she received for work on another MLA committee that did little work:

Liberal MLA gives back committee pay
Archie McLean, The Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON – Alberta Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman gave more than $3,000 back to the government this month after she was paid for membership on a committee that stopped doing work.

Three Conservative MLAs received a combined $17,630 for their seven-month membership on the Legislative Grounds Renewal Committee despite meeting only three times in two months. One NDP member got $3,526, but has pledged to return a portion of the cash as well.

The revelation comes just one day after The Journal reported another two Tory MLAs received more than $19,000 for their membership in the Idaho-

Alberta Transboundary Task Force, which did little or no work during their paid stint.

Blakeman and the others were part of the legislative grounds committee from April 3 to Nov. 8, 2006 and were each paid $508.50 per month. The chair, Tory MLA George Rogers, got about $1,500 per month.

Blakeman even paid back the money she received in May, saying she didn’t ask for it and didn’t believe she did enough work to justify the payment.

2008 Alberta Provincial Election Alberta Politics Edmonton Manning

tory nominated in edmonton-manning.

In a surprise win, Peter Sandhu bested former MLA Tony Vandermeer, Emerson Mayers, and Independent MLA Dan Backs in this weekend’s Edmonton-Manning PC nomination.

This is disappointing on two fronts. First, Sandhu’s nomination means that the Tories won’t have the pleasure of running Dan Backs under their banner. And second, it means that I now have no reason to post the series of embarrassing emails that Mayers sent me a couple of weeks ago.

It also looks like it’s backs to the drawing board for Dan Backs…

Sandhu will face strong competition from Alberta Liberal candidate Sandeep Dhir in Edmonton-Manning in the next election.

Edmonton-Manning has been held by the Alberta Liberals from 1993 to 2001 and 2004 to 2006 and by the Tories from 2001 to 2004.

2007 Edmonton Municipal Election Alberta Politics

getting more than a nickel’s worth.

– Right-wing Edmonton City Councillor Mike Nickel launched his pun-filled Ward 5 re-election campaign this week. Nickel’s campaign logo is a coffee stain (which accurately reflects his past three years on City Council).

– Tory MLA’s Greg Melchin (Calgary-North West) and Denis Ducharme (Bonnyville-Cold Lake) announced their retirements this week. Both Melchin and Ducharme were elected in 1997 after defeating Decore-era Liberal MLA’s Frank Bruseker and Leo Vasseur (Bruseker is the current President of the Alberta Teachers’ Association).

– The Edmonton City Council Election candidates list has been updated. The nomination deadline is on Monday, September 17, so I will be providing a final list on Monday afternoon (I may actually make a trip down to City Hall to watch who shows up as well). Help spread the word about the October 15 Municipal Election by joining the “I’m voting in the Edmonton Municipal Election on October 15, 2007” facebook group.

– Just in case no one noticed (which is a complete possibility), the Alberta Social Credit Party is looking for a new Leader as Socred stalwart Lavern Alstrom is hanging up his hat.

2008 Alberta Provincial Election Alberta Politics

leroy = out.

Wetaskiwin-Camrose Tory MLA LeRoy Johnson has officially announced that he will not be seeking re-election under the Ed Stelmach Tory banner.

2007 Edmonton Municipal Election 2008 Alberta Provincial Election Alberta Politics

updated candidates list.

The 2007 municipal election candidates list and 2007/2008 Alberta provincial election candidates list have both been recently updated…

(Also, thanks to Emerson Mayers, running for the PC nomination in Edmonton-Manning, for the bizarre email…)

Alberta Politics

friday morning roundup.

– Longtime Tory MLA Clint Dunford has officially announced that he won’t be seeking re-election in Lethbridge West. Dunford, a former Klein Minister, has held the hotly contested seat since 1993.

The controversy surrounding the awarding of a post-election contract to defeated Edmonton Meadowlark Tory MLA Bob Maskell continues with charges of favoritism and overbilling being launched at the Tories.

– The AEUB scandal continues as investigators south of the border in the State of Montana are shocked about the public board’s spying activities:

A scandal that has plagued Alberta’s energy regulator has become an international incident, with the Montana government wanting to know whether its citizens were spied on by an arms-length agency of the Alberta government.

Ken Toole of Montana’s Public Service Commission said Wednesday that while he doesn’t have full information on the issue, what he has heard about the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board is troubling.

“It is of great concern to me if any citizen group is being monitored by government agencies because they oppose a power line or a power plant or oil well or —whatever,” he said.

“I believe in civil liberties, and I don’t think it’s appropriate that government agencies monitor citizens who are protesting something they don’t like, as long as they’re lawful.”

Alberta Liberals Alberta Politics Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach polls

albertans going shopping.

A poll released today by Cameron Strategy Group shows Ed Stelmach’s Tories dropping 22 points in the past 7 months to 32% support across Alberta (down from 54% in January 2007).

The poll also shows Stelmach’s Calgary approval ratings dropping from 52% in January to 38% in August (his disapproval rating in Calgary is 40%). Stelmach has also dropped from a January high of 58% to an August 45% in Edmonton, and a 59% to 50% drop in the other regions of Alberta (his disapproval ratings in Edmonton and other Alberta regions are 39% and 26%).

But what is most interesting is the dramatic increase of undecided voters from 18% to 36% in 7 months (with 39% of Calgarians and 36% of Edmontonians falling in the unsure or won’t vote category). From the report:

“The increase in undecided voters in the past 3 months in Alberta is unprecedented. A huge swath of the Alberta electorate is now without a firm voting intention, which means that dramatic changes in the electoral landscape are possible. The key question remains to be answered in the next 6 months is who will be successful in luring these newly undecided voters: the PC’s, who need to bring them back to the fold, or the Liberals, who have not yet shown signs of growth in voter support.”

Here are the regional breakdowns:

Provincial Voting Intentions (January support in brackets)

PC – 32% (54%)
Liberal – 16% (16%)
NDP – 11% (9%)
Alliance – 5% (3%)
Unsure/Won’t vote – 36% (18%)

PC – 30% (59%)
Liberal – 17% (14%)
NDP – 8% (8%)
Alliance – 5% (2%)
Unsure/Won’t vote – 39% (16%)

PC – 27% (50%)
Liberal – 17% (16%)
NDP – 16% (12%)
Alliance – 5% (2%)
Unsure/Won’t vote – 36% (19%)

Other Alberta
PC – 41% (52%)
Liberal – 13% (18%)
NDP – 7% (6%)
Alliance – 7% (4%)
Unsure/Won’t vote – 31% (20%)

Another poll released by Cameron Strategy Group asked the question “Is the Stelmach Government Leading Alberta in the right direction?”

26% responded the ‘right’ direction, 30% responded the ‘wrong’ direction, and 44% were ‘unsure.’ When you compare these numbers to January 2007 when 54% responded ‘right,’ 10% responded ‘wrong,’ and 36% responded ‘undecided’ you can see a pretty substantial shift.

Though these numbers clearly don’t benifit any specific political party, the growing undecided pool of voters leaking from the Tory support hints that a fall 2007 election may start to look more likely (before the S.S. Stelmach sinks any further).

It also means that the Liberals and Tories are going to have to put in extra effort to woo the growing undecided vote in the run up to the next election.

AEUB Alberta Liberals Alberta Politics Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach

top ten.

I’m going to be taking a break from the world of blogging for the month of July, but I will be back in August.

Until then, I will leave you with the Ed Stelmach Top Ten List…

10. The $5,000 Fundraiser

9. Ed Stelmach’s first cabinet (90% male, 90% rural, 90% rookie)

8. Ed Stelmach’s second cabinet (89% male, 89% rural, 89% rookie).

7. The Stelmach-Oberg 2007 Budget.

6. Ed Stelmach agreeing with Calgary Elbow PC candidate Brian Heninger that he should be choked (Heninger was defeated by Alberta Liberal Craig Cheffins. Kevin Taft’s Alberta Liberals won Calgary Elbow after 36 years as a Tory stronghold).

5. Ed Stelmach picking a fight with Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier over municipal funding.

4. Ed Stelmach letting Education Minister Ron Liepert pick a fight with the Alberta Teachers’ Association over the unfunded pension liability during a bargaining year.

3. Ed Stelmach defending the AEUB for hiring four private investegators to spy on Albertans and their lawyers.

2. Ed Stelmach doing nearly nothing to address Alberta’s growing affordable housing crisis.

1. Ed Stelmach blaming market forces for his 19 point drop in support in Calgary.

There you have it folks, see you in August!

2008 Alberta Provincial Election Alberta Politics

nom season.

It’s that season again! Here’s a rundown on some nomination news for your reading pleasure…

With longtime PC MLA Denis Herard likely retiring at the next election, PGIB (not to be confused with POGOB) Director Craig Chandler is running for the Tory nomination in Calgary-Egmont. No word if any other Tories are challenging Chandler in Egmont.

It’s expected that up to 8-10 Calgary PC MLAs may retire at the next election. The list of suspected retirees includes Richard Magnus (Calgary North Hill), Hung Pham (Calgary Montrose), Moe Amery (Calgary East), Heather Forsyth (Calgary Fish Creek), Yvonne Fritz (Calgary Cross), and Shiraz Shariff (Calgary McCall) – most of who were elected in 1993. It will be interesting to see what type of candidates will line up to run for the Tories now that their party leader wears very short coattails in Calgary – which could result in some very competitive races in that city.

The Liberals have (or will soon have) nominated a number of candidates in Calgary, including Kent Hehr (Calgary Buffalo), Carole Oliver (Calgary Fort), Bill Kurtze (Calgary Hays), and Avalon Roberts (Calgary Glenmore). All current Alberta Liberal MLAs are candidates in the next election.

In Calgary West, prominent Calgary lawyer Virginia May will take on Tory Education Minister Ron Liepert as the Liberal candidate. May led the 2001 defamation lawsuit against former Treasurer Stockwell Day. Calgary West has represented by former Tory Premier Peter Lougheed (1967-1986), PC Elaine McCoy (1986-1993), Liberal Danny Dalla-Longa (1993-1997), PC Karen Kryczka (1997-2004), and Ron Liepert (2004-Present).

Calgary Fort also looks like its setting up to be an interesting race with the Liberals and NDP nominating their candidates early. The Liberals have nominated former CBE Trustee Carole Oliver and the New Democrats have nominated Parkland Institute Outreach Coordinator Julie Hrdlicka. Julie Hrdlicka will be a strong candidate for the New Dems in Calgary, but with 3% support in the recent Calgary Elbow by-election, Calgary New Dems may have to rely on personal appeal to make any sort of dent in Calgary. Tory MLA Wayne Cao has represented Calgary Fort since its creation in 1997.

Lethbridge West PC MLA Clint Dunford is also likely to not seek re-election. First elected in 1993, Dunford has been undergoing cancer treatment over the past year. Lethbridge West has seen tight races between the Tories and Liberals since 1993, so this should be one to watch. Lethbridge East is currently held by Liberal MLA and former Alderwoman Bridget Pastoor.

Many-time City Council candidate Ian Crawford and Federal Liberal organizer and former STARS Physician Dr. Raj Sherman are lining up for the PC nomination in Edmonton Meadowlark. Liberal Maurice Tougas defeated Tory Bob Maskell in 2004 by just over 100 votes, so this should be a race to watch. Meadowlark has elected MLAs from both the Tories and Liberals since its creation in 1971 including PC Gerald Amerongen (1971-1986), Liberal Grant Mitchell (1986-1993), Liberal Karen Leibovici (1993-2001), PC Bob Maskell (2001-2004), and Liberal Maurice Tougas (2004-Present).

Catholic School Trustee Janice Sarich is looking for the Tory nod in Edmonton Decore. If Sarich wins the nomination, she will take on Liberal MLA Bill Bonko – a former Public School Trustee. Edmonton Decore and its previous incarnations have gone Liberal since 1989.

In Edmonton McClung, a number of Tories are lining up to take on Liberal MLA Mo Elsalhy. Allison Boychuk and David Xiao are two candidates looking to carry the Tory flag against Elsalhy – who hasn’t stopped door knocking since he was first elected in 2004. Edmonton McClung was created in 1993 and elected Liberal MLAs Grant Mitchell (1993-1998), Nancy MacBeth (1998-2001), and Tory MLA Mark Norris (2001-2004).

Edmonton Castle Downs went for three judicial recounts following the last election, so you can bet a media spotlight will be hovering over a second showdown between Tory Thomas Lukaszuk and Liberal Chris Kibermanis.

In St. Albert, the three Tories are seeking the nomination: current St. Albert Mayor Paul Chalifoux, former Alderman Ken Allred, and former Council candidate Frances Badrock. Two of these candidates have Federal connections: Chalifoux ran for the Federal Liberals in 1968 and Allred ran for the Reform Party in 1988 (Allred’s nomination ads in the Saint City News make no mention of the PC Party). Chalifoux was narrowly elected as Mayor in 2004 after being defeated by former Mayor Richard Plain in 2001 (Chalifoux served one-term in the Mayor’s chair from 1998-2001 and then defeated Plain in 2004 in a return to the Mayor’s chair). St. Albert has elected MLA’s from three parties in the past 20 years including NDP MLA Bryan Strong (1986-1989), PC Richard Fowler (1989-1993), Liberal Len Bracko (1993-1997), PC Mary O’Neill (1997-2004), and Liberal Jack Flaherty (2004-Present).

In Edmonton Whitemud, former School Trustee Nancy Cavanaugh will be challenging Tory Health Minister Dave Hancock for the Liberals. Hancock is a strong MLA, but past results have shown that Edmonton Whitemud can be a competitive seat (In 1989, Liberal Percy Wickman defeated Tory Premier Don Getty in Edmonton Whitemud). Past MLA’s include Liberal Percy Wickman (1989-1993), Liberal Mike Percy (1993-1997), and Tory Dave Hancock (1997-Present).

On the Green side of the block, a number of candidates have nominated including former leader David Parker (Edmonton Centre), Adrian Cole (Edmonton Strathcona), and Sean Mah (Banff-Cochrane). Look for the Greens to solidify their position as third place in Calgary. The New Democrats have also nominated a handful of first-time candidates including Christina Gray (Edmonton Mill Woods), Deron Bilous (Edmonton Centre), and Rachel Notley (Edmonton Strathcona).