Category Archives: Alberta Politics

Candidate Nomination Update: Calgary-Buffalo, Calgary-Mountain View and Bonnyville-St. Paul-Cold Lake

Photo: Central Calgary, with Calgary-Buffalo located south of the Bow River and Calgary-Mountain View located to the north.

It has been a while since I have posted a nomination update, so here are a few of the big nomination related stories that have caught my attention over the past few weeks:

Liberal Swann not seeking re-election

David Swann Liberal MLA Calgary-Mountain View

David Swann

Alberta’s lone Liberal MLA has announced that he will not seek re-election in the 2019 provincial election. David Swann was first elected as MLA for Calgary-Mountain View in his party’s 2004 breakthrough in that city and he later served as party leader from 2008 to 2011 and 2015 to 2017. His departure in the next election will mark the first time since 1986 that the Liberal Party will not have an incumbent MLA running for re-election in a general election.

Ganley running in Mountain View

On the same day as Swann’s announcement, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley announced she would seek re-election in Calgary-Mountain View, across the river from the Calgary-Buffalo district she currently represents. Ganley will become the New Democratic Party‘s first nominated candidate of the 2019 election on April 14 when she is expected to be acclaimed at a nomination meeting in Calgary-Mountain View.

Ceci running in Buffalo

Kathleen Ganley Alberta MLA

Kathleen Ganley

Ganley’s move across the river to Mountain View allows for Finance Minister Joe Ceci to run for re-election in Calgary-Buffalo. Redistribution of the electoral boundaries has added areas from Ceci’s Calgary-Fort district into Calgary-Buffalo, including the neighbourhood he lives in.

The move allows the NDP to avoid two senior cabinet ministers challenging each other for the same district nomination ahead of the next election. It also moves Ceci into what could be expected to be more friendlier territory than the new Calgary-Peigan district, which encompasses much of the rest of the Calgary-Fort district.

Calgary-Buffalo is the historically least conservative district in Calgary, with voters in that district having elected Liberal or NDP MLAs in 8 of the past 10 elections.

Cyr vs. Hanson in Bonnyville-St. Paul-Cold Lake

Scott Cyr MLA Bonnyville-Cold Lake

Scott Cyr MLA Bonnyville-Cold Lake

While the NDP have been able to avoid incumbent MLAs challenging each other for nominations, the United Conservative Party has not. In northeast Alberta, two UCP MLAs are running against each other for the past nomination in the new Bonnyville-St. Paul-Cold Lake district. Bonnyville-Cold Lake MLA Scott Cyr and Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills MLA David Hanson have seen their districts significantly redrawn, with one less district in that region of the province to reflect population changes.

Had UCP MLA Brian Jean not resigned as MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin, Hanson might have run for his party’s nomination in the new Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche district. But Jean’s resignation means a by-election to choose a new MLA will need to take place in Fort McMurray-Conklin before the next election. If a UCP candidate is elected in that by-election, they will presumably run for re-election in the new Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche district.

Political parties in Alberta have generally avoided the type of scenarios that would pit two incumbent MLAs from the same party against each other.

I can only recall one example of two incumbent MLAs from the same party challenging each other for a nomination in the same district. Ahead of the 1993 election, Edmonton-Kingsway MLA Alex McEachern and Edmonton-Jasper Place MLA John McInnis both sought the NDP nomination in the newly redrawn Edmonton-Mayfield district. McEachern won the nomination contest and McInnis ended up running in another district across the city.

More updates on the way…

I am planning to post additional updates about the growing list of nomination candidates in the next few days. But in the meantime, if you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them to the list.


Green Party leader resigns

“Effective immediately I have tendered my resignation from the role of leader of the Green Party of Alberta,” was the one-line statement posted on the Green Party website by leader Romy Tittel on March 24. Tittel was chosen as party leader in November 2017 and ran under her party’s banner in the Calgary-Lougheed by-eleciton.

Green Party president Marco Reid posted online that the party’s executive council would be calling a meeting to discuss this affair further. The party is scheduled to hold its policy conference in Calgary on May 5, 2018.

Only in Alberta are huge deficits and low taxes completely irreconcilable

“When the global price of oil collapsed and the recession hit, we had a choice: Cut or build. We chose to build. In making that choice, we focused on the priorities of regular people and families – creating badly needed jobs, building our province for the future, making life more affordable for people and protecting the schools, hospitals and public services all Albertans rely on.”

It was with this familiar refrain that Finance Minister Joe Ceci began his speech on the floor of the Legislatve Assembly as he introduced the Alberta Government’s 2018/2019 budget. This was Ceci’s fourth budget since the NDP were swept into office in the 2015 provincial election and this is likely the last governing budget from this government before next year’s provincial election is called.

This year’s budget appears to have avoided the “compassionate belt tightening” that Premier Rachel Notley warned about in her 2017 year-end interviews. The NDP has avoided making significant cuts to public services over the past three years, instead opting for stable increases to operations funding and major investment in capital spending.

Titled “A Recovery Built to Last,” the themes of this budget – a path to a balance budget, jobs and diversification, protecting public services – are key to the narrative the NDP hopes to shape between now and next spring’s election.

This budget’s narrative also provides a contrast between the NDP and what many expect would be a much different budget implemented under a government led by United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney, which might be expected to impose deep cuts to funding for public services, education and health care.

Welcome to pre-election season.

Overall, it was a generally acceptable budget, but it is difficult to get too excited about it.

With government prone to make major changes to budgets over the course of a year, it is hard not to see the Budget Day pomp and ceremony as just an overrated exercise in expectations management.

Ceci said in his speech that the NDP are projected to balance the provincial budget by the 2023/2024 fiscal year, which would coincide with the end of a second NDP term in government.

The current deficit is forecast to be $8.8 billion, which is $1.5 billion less than was initially forecast. The government will be lambasted for taking on more debt, even though significant debt accumulation was already forecast in the media coverage of last year’s budget. Economists will be quick to point out that the Alberta government is still in a fairly strong position when it comes to the net debt to GDP ratio, but that message might be hard to sell to newspaper opinion writers and voters at the doorsteps.

But what is not clear in this budget is how the government plans to deal with its revenue problem.

Only in Alberta could a finance minister calmly deliver a speech about an $8.8 billion budget deficit while also bragging about the lowest taxes in the country. “…Albertans and Alberta businesses pay at least $11.2 billion less in taxes than they would in any other province,” Ceci stated. Maybe if we paid a little bit more taxes, we could have a balanced budget, or at least a lower deficit?

Economists and political staffers might tell me it’s not that easy, and maybe it’s not, but only in Alberta could huge deficits and low taxes be totally reconcilable in reality but completely irreconcilable in politics.


What’s in a budget name?

The titles of Alberta’s budget documents typically present a general theme. Budget names can sometimes be quite silly, but they do provide a snapshot of the political and economic agenda of the government of the day. Here is a look back at titles of Alberta budgets from 1997 to 2018:

  • A Recovery Built to Last (March 22, 2018)
  • Working to Make Life Better (March 16, 2017)
  • Alberta Jobs Plan (April 14, 2016)
  • Supporting Jobs, Supporting Families (October 27, 2015)
  • Budget 2015 (March 26, 2015)
  • The Building Alberta Plan (March 6, 2014)
  • Responsible Change (March 7, 2013)
  • Investing in People (February 9, 2012)
  • Building a Better Alberta (February 24, 2011)
  • Striking the Right Balance (February 9, 2010)
  • Building On Our Strength (April 7, 2009)
  • The Right Plan for Today and Tomorrow (April 22, 2008)
  • Managing Our Growth (April 19, 2007)
  • Strengthening Today, Securing Tomorrow (March 22, 2006)
  • Investing in the Next Alberta (April 13, 2005)
  • On Route, On Course – Heading Toward Alberta’s Second Century (March 24, 2004)
  • Making Alberta Even Better (April 8, 2003)
  • The Right Decisions for Challenging Times (March 19, 2002)
  • The Future … Meeting Priorities, Sharing Benefits (April 24, 2001)
  • New Century. Bold Plans. (February 24, 2000)
  • The Right Balance (March 11, 1999)
  • Agenda for Opportunity (February 12, 1998)
  • Building Alberta Together (February 11, 1997)
Photo: Ryan Hastman, Greg Clark, and Dave Cournoyer.

Best of Alberta Politics 2017: Greg Clark, MLA for Calgary-Elbow

Photo: Ryan Hastman, Greg Clark, and Dave Cournoyer.

After the dust settled and more than 1,200 votes were tallied, Dave Cournoyer and Ryan Hastman were delighted to present Greg Clark with the Best Opposition MLA of 2017 award from the Best of Alberta 2017 survey.

Ryan Hastman, Greg Clark, and Dave Cournoyer

Clark was first elected as the MLA for Calgary-Elbow in the May 2015 election, becoming the first candidate to be elected under the Alberta Party banner. As party leader and a one-man caucus for most of the past three years, Clark was known for punching above his weight as an opposition critic and was sometimes referred to by political watchers as the leader of the unofficial opposition.

He currently serves as the House Leader for the now 3-MLA Alberta Party Caucus and sits on the Standing Committee on the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund and the Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future.

We would also like to recognize the runners-up in this category, Nathan Cooper, UCP MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills and David Swann, Liberal MLA for Calgary-Mountain View.

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Photo: Ryan Hastman, Dave Cournoyer, and Jason Kenney.

Best of Alberta Politics 2017: Formation of the United Conservative Party

Photo: Ryan Hastman, Dave Cournoyer, and Jason Kenney.

It was the clear winner in the first round of voting in the Best of Alberta Politics 2017 survey. With a solid 59 percent of votes, readers of this blog and listeners of The Daveberta Podcast chose the formation of the United Conservative Party as the biggest political play of 2017.

Dave Cournoyer and Ryan Hastman were pleased to present the Best Political Play of 2017 award to UCP leader Jason Kenney today at his office in the Federal Building near the Alberta Legislature.

Established in July 2017 as a merger between the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta and the Wildrose Party, the UCP currently forms the Official Opposition in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. Its formation dramatically changed the political landscape in Alberta and mended some of the tears in a conservative movement that had been deeply divided for more than a decade.

We would like to thank Mr. Kenney for taking some time out his day to sit down with us for an interview that will be included in the next episode of the Daveberta Podcast.

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Public schools should be the priority, says trustee Michael Janz

With Finance Minister Joe Ceci scheduled to table Alberta’s budget in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, March 22, there was plenty of activity today by advocates wanting to see big changes in provincial education.

Public schools should be the priority, says Janz

Edmonton Public School Board Trustee Michael Janz is calling on the province to prioritize the construction of public schools in new communities. Janz will introduce a motion encourging the board seek a commitment from the provincial government that ‘the first school built in any community or neighbourhood be a public school or a shared public, separate, and/or francophone board facility.’

As of September 2017, around 100,000 students were enrolled in Edmonton’s public school system, a 3.4 percent increase from the previous year. According to Janz, the board’s draft projections indicate an increase of an additional 3,000 students in the 2018-2019 school year.

The board is currently debating its Three Year Capital Plan.

3 out of 4 taxpayers say no money for elite and exclusive private schools 

Progress Alberta released a poll from Environics showing that 75 percent of Albertans agree that schools charging more than $10,000 per year in tuition should not receive public funding. According to data released by Progress Alberta in 2017, 15 private schools that charge more than $10,000 in annual tuition fees received more than $30 million in taxpayer subsidies from the Alberta government in 2015-2016.

Some school boards falling behind on protecting sexual minority students

Public Interest Alberta has released a new report on four school boards’ policies and procedures on sexual and gender minorities that points to the need for changes to protect students and their rights. “Policies should be clear, comprehensive and unequivocal in their support for LGBTQ students, staff and families. Students shouldn’t need a lawyer to make sense of their school policies, or to find out if they’re fully protected or not,” University of Alberta assistant professor Kristopher Wells told Metro Edmonton.

Photo: Edmonton Public School Trustee Michael Janz

Photo: Culture Minister Ricardo Miranda, Education Minister David Eggen, Premier Rachel Notley, Community and Social Services Minister Irfan Sabir and Finance Minister Joe Ceci walk out of the Legislative chambers following the Speech from the Throne. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Episode 8: The Return of the Leg, Pipelines, and prep for the 2019 election

With Alberta’s Legislature back in session this week, Dave Cournoyer and Ryan Hastman deliver their takes on the hottest issues facing MLAs, including Premier Rachel Notley’s Pipeline motion and how Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous really feels about the British Columbia government.

We also talk about the latest candidate nomination news, including David Swann’s retirement and averting a nomination contest between Finance Minister Joe Ceci and Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley in Calgary-Buffalo, something that UCP MLAs Scott Cyr and David Hanson have not been able to avoid in the new Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul district.

Daveberta Podcast Alberta PoliticsAlso in this episode, we talk about the return of former UCP MLA Derek Fildebrandt as the mosquito in Jason Kenney’s tent, and the impact of Doug Ford’s victory in the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership will have in that province’s fast approaching general election.

Ryan leads this week’s ‘So you want to be a candidate‘ segment with useful tips for Albertans wanting to run in next year’s election. And we answer some of the questions you sent us.

And we are pleased to announce that The Daveberta Podcast is now a member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB Financial. The network includes more than 30 podcasts, including one of our favourites, The Broadcast, a podcast about women and politics.

Listen and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, and wherever you find podcasts online. It would be a big help if you could leave a review where you download this podcast and share this episode with a friend.

We’d love to hear what you think of this episode, so feel free to leave a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter or send us an email at podcast@daveberta.ca..

And once again, we are eternally thankful to our producer, Adam Rozenhart, for his help in making this podcast a reality.

Thank you for listening!

Photo: Culture Minister Ricardo Miranda, Education Minister David Eggen, Premier Rachel Notley, Community and Social Services Minister Irfan Sabir and Finance Minister Joe Ceci walk out of the Legislative chambers following the Speech from the Throne. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Daveberta joins the Alberta Podcast Network

We are excited to announce that The Daveberta Podcast has joined the growing roster of great podcasts in the Alberta Podcast Network. Powered by ATB Financial, the Network includes more than 30 Alberta-based podcasts covering a wide-range of topics.

The Daveberta Podcast joins The Broadcast and the Highlevel Showdown in bolstering the Network’s contingent of politics podcasts.

Subscribe and listen to the latest episodes of The Daveberta Podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, or wherever you find podcasts online.

Notley NDP set to roll out their next legislative agenda. Brian Jean departs Alberta politics.

With the next provincial election expected to be a little more than one year away, Alberta’s MLAs will return to the Legislative Assembly for the new session on Thursday.

This session will mark the first time that Premier Rachel Notley and Official Opposition leader Jason Kenney will publicly face each other in debate. Expectations are high. But while both leaders are talented debaters and skilled politicians, don’t expect high-minded debate. Thick partisan rhetoric and talking points will continue to dominate the discourse in this Legislative session.

And with one year left until the next election, much attention will be paid to the provincial budget.

With the province’s economic fortunes improving, expect pipeline-champion Notley to boast about her government’s decision to weather the recession without making the deep funding cuts to health care and education that the opposition conservatives have called for.

The decision not to impose deep budget cuts was smart, but the government still faces a significant revenue shortfall. A decades long over dependence on revenue from natural resource royalties to pay for the day to day operations of public services needs to be addressed to provide long-term financial stability for Alberta.

While it is unlikely that this issue will be addressed in this Legislative session, Albertans deserve an honest discussion about our low levels of taxation and the role taxes play in funding the public services Albertans depend on each day.

The final year before the writ is dropped is typically seen as a period where governments conduct house-keeping and tie up loose ends as they prepare to enter full re-election mode. Here is a look at some of the legislation that the NDP government is expected to introduce in this spring session of the Legislature:

  • The NDP are expected to lead their legislative agenda with an act that will implement some of the initiatives recommended by the Energy Diversification Advisory Committee last month.
  • The government will introduce supports for economic diversification initiatives including the renewal of existing tax credits and the creation of new tax incentives, including an Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit.
  • With the federal government planning to implement the legalization of marijuana this year, the Alberta government is also expected to introduce two bills creating a regulatory framework and rules around the creation of a tax structure for the cannabis industry.
  • The government is also expected to introduce legislation addressing some of the recommendations from the Standing Committee on Resource Stewardship review of the Lobbyists Act. The all-party committee reviewed the act last year and submitted recommendations in July 2017.
  • Following the introduction of a private members’ bill related to Henson Trusts by Calgary-Currie MLA Brian Malkinson last year, the government is expected to introduce a bill related to discretionary and non-discretionary trusts as assets when determining individual eligibility for the AISH program.
  • Recognizing the role of Alberta grown food, the government is expected to proclaim an annual Local Food Week.
  • And after numerous recent natural disasters, the government is expected to introduce a bill expanding the authority of the enforcement of evacuation orders and creating a Municipal Emergency Management regulation to define the responsibilities of municipalities under the Act.

Goodbye, Brian JeanBrian Jean United Conservative Party Leadership Wildrose

Less than three years since Brian Jean jumped into provincial politics, the former Leader of the Official Opposition announced today that he has resigned as the MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin.

Jean’s departure is not a surprise. His lack of critic role in the United Conservative Party caucus after his defeat to Kenney in the party’s 2017 leadership race signalled that Jean was likely looking to depart the provincial scene.

A former Member of Parliament, Jean took over the thankless role of leader of the Wildrose Party as his party was teetering on the brink of the abyss following the mass floor crossing of most of the party’s MLAs in late 2014. To most people’s surprise, he led his party to win 21 seats in the 2015 election.

A by-election will be called in Fort McMurray-Conklin within the next six months.


Download and listen to the latest episode of The Daveberta Podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, or wherever you find podcasts online.

Episode 7: #MeToo, Women in Politics, Education and another old white male political leader

This week on the Daveberta Podcast, guest hosts Lianne Bell, Kyla Fisher and Janelle Morin discuss the #MeToo movement and how it has impacted them and the latest on Alberta’s political landscape, including Stephen Mandel’s win  in the Alberta Party leadership race. They also answer some of the questions you submitted to us.

This week’s guest co-hosts.

And Lianne and Janelle lead the second entry of our new regular segment – So you want to be a candidate – where we try to share helpful tips and advice for aspiring politicians hoping to run in the 2019 election.

Listen and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, and wherever you find podcasts online. We’d love to hear what you think of this episode, so feel free to leave a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter or send us an email at podcast@daveberta.ca.

Also, it would be a big help if you could leave a review where you download this podcast and share this episode with a friend.

And once again, we are deeply thankful to our producer, Adam Rozenhart, for his help in making this podcast a reality.

Thank you for listening!

March 3, 2008 was an optimistic day to be a Liberal supporter, at least up until 8:22 p.m.

Photo: Liberal Party leader Kevin Taft speaks to a rally of supporters on the weekend before the 2008 election. Taft, in my opinion, was one of the best premiers Alberta never had.

March 3, 2008 was an optimistic day to be a Liberal Party supporter, at least up until 8:22 p.m that night. The polls had only closed for 22 minutes when the news channels began declaring that the long in the tooth Progressive Conservatives would form another majority government in Alberta.

The front page of the Edmonton Journal on March 4, 2008 (Photo originally shared by Les Stelmach on Facebook).

The front page of the Edmonton Journal on March 4, 2008 (Photo originally shared by Les Stelmach on Facebook).

It was a heartbreaking loss for those of us who were involved in the Alberta Liberal Party campaign that year.

I had been involved with the Liberal Party since the early 2000s and played a behind the scenes role in that year’s election campaign.

While I spent a considerable amount of time knocking on doors for candidates in Edmonton, I was also working with a group of MLAs, lawyers and former PC cabinet ministers on what would have been the plan to transition the Liberals into government if the party had won that election ten years ago today.

The whole project felt like a silly effort at 8:22 p.m. that night, but there were moments in the campaign where it did feel like Albertans were looking for a change.

After a divisive PC leadership race and a surprise win in the Calgary-Elbow by-election, it looked as if the Liberals led by Edmonton MLA Kevin Taft were about to build significant gains after their Calgary breakthrough in the 2004 election.

The Liberals did make gains in Calgary that night, electing five MLAs including rookies Kent Hehr and Darshan Kang, but the party suffered huge losses in its traditional base of Edmonton. Liberal MLAs were defeated in seats the party had held since the 1980s and 1990s and gains they had made in the city in the previous election were competely erased. When the dust settled, there were only 3 Liberal MLAs left in the capital city.

It was also bittersweet night for our opponents in the New Democratic Party campaign. Star candidate Rachel Notley was elected in Edmonton-Strathcona, retaining the seat held by former party leader Raj Pannu. But the party’s caucus was reduced to two after MLAs David Eggen and Ray Martin were swept away in the PC’s Edmonton wave.

It really felt like Edmonton that night.

The Progressive Conservative Party’s new leader, Ed Stelmach, had been underestimated by just about everybody inside and outside his party. Even as he led a party that had been in power for almost 40 years, his campaign tipped their hat to an energetic campaign south of the border by using the slogan “Change that works for Albertans.”

For those involved in the PC campaign, it was a remarkable landslide. And the last big landslide of the party’s more than four consecutive decades in office.

Stelmach ended up being a fairly decent premier, who I believe history will treat kindly, but landslide victories like these can be a doubled-edged sword. The large PC caucus of 72 MLAs, which included rookie MLAs Alison Redford and Raj Sherman, proved to be too unruly to manage. And the politics of a bitter conservative establishment festered as aspiring leadership contenders jockeyed for power. It was less than four years later that Stelmach resigned from the Premier’s Office.

The 2008 election was a real formative political period for me. Despite the disappointing and depressing outcome, I learned so much from my time working with the dedicated and passionate Albertans involved that campaign. It was a real honour.

To this day, I think Albertans were looking for change on March 3, 2008. It just took them another seven years to decide that the change they were looking for wouldn’t come from inside the PC Party.

Grant Hunter and Jason Kenney (source: Facebook)

Oh, Grant Hunter. Where do I start?

Photo: Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA MLA Grant Hunter and UCP leader Jason Kenney. (source: Facebook)

While announcing his plans to run for re-election in the new Taber-Warner district, United Conservative Party MLA Grant Hunter is reported to have compared the New Democratic Party’s 2015 election win to the 2004 Tsunami that ravaged southeast Asia and is estimated to have killed upwards of 280,000 people.

Hunter offered an apology to anyone was offended by his comments, but this is just the sort of ridiculous anti-NDP hyperbole that we have become accustomed to hearing from some Wildrose/UCP MLAs over the past three years.

But when talking about his decision to run in the new Taber-Warner district, rather than challenging his caucus colleague Dave Schneider for the UCP nomination in the new Cardston-Siksika district, he made another statement that caught my attention.

“…the NDP have put us in a bad position in this southern part here, in that when the boundaries were redrawn, they split Cardston-Taber-Warner into two different ridings.”

The Cardston-Taber-Warner district Hunter currently represents will see significant changes when the next election is called. While he may have legitimate concerns about the redistribution of the electoral boundaries in southern Alberta, it is misleading to blame the NDP for putting him “…in a bad position…”

The new district boundaries for the 2019 election were drawn by a commission composed of an independent chairperson (Justice Myra Bielby), two NDP Caucus appointees (Bruce McLeod of Acme and Jean Munn of Calgary) and two Wildrose Caucus appointees (Laurie Livingstone of Calgary and Gwen Day of Carstairs). The commission was appointed in October 2016 and held public hearings and received hundreds of submissions from Albertans throughout 2017.

Of the Wildrose appointees, Livingstone supported the final report recommending the new electoral map, including the changes to Hunter’s district, and Day submitted a minority report opposing changes to rural district boundaries.

The bi-partisan commission submitted recommendations for a new electoral maps to the Legislative Assembly for debate and it were voted into law by 40 NDP MLAs and Alberta Party MLA Greg Clark last December.

The process used to redraw Alberta’s electoral boundaries certainly has its flaws (I will write more about this soon), but with Hunter’s own party’s handpicked appointees deeply involved in the process it is misleading for him to blame the party in power for changes he might not like.

Note: 25 MLAs voted against the new electoral map, including two NDP MLAs, Colin Piquette and Eric Rosendahl.

Ed Stelmach, Danielle Smith, Kevin Taft, and Alison Redford.

Total Votes in Alberta political party leadership races from 1998 to 2018

Photo: Ed Stelmach (elected leader of the PC Party in 2006), Danielle Smith (elected leader of the Wildrose Alliance in 2009), Kevin Taft (elected leader of the Liberal Party in 2004), and Alison Redford (elected leader of the PC Party leader in 2011).

Following the announcement this week of the results of the Alberta Party leadership race, I thought it would be interesting to look at the voter participation in party leadership races in Alberta over the past twenty years.

The largest participation in a party leadership race in the past two decades, and in Alberta’s history, took place during the Progressive Conservative leadership race in 2006. More than 144,000 members voted in the race and it is believed that more than 200,000 memberships were sold. The party had a very open membership sales policy, which allowed any Albertan to purchase a membership at their local voting station on the day of the vote. This vote chose Ed Stelmach to replace Ralph Klein as PC Party leader and Premier of Alberta.

The 2011 Liberal Party leadership vote, which selected Raj Sherman as party leader, used an open membership system. This allowed any Albertan to participate in the vote without having to actually purchase a party membership.

The 2014 New Democratic Party leadership vote that selected Rachel Notley to replace Brian Mason used a hybrid one-member one-vote system which allocated 25 percent of the total vote to affiliate organizations. The lack of clarity around how many organizations took part in the vote and who they may have supported makes it unclear how many individual votes were actually cast in that leadership election.

The 2017 United Conservative Party leadership vote was conducted by delegates who were elected by party members in each district. The party membership consisted of new UCP members, as well as individuals who had been members of the Wildrose Party and Progressive Conservative Party until that point.

Acclamations occurred in the 2000 and 2004 NDP leadership contests, the 2001 Liberal Party leadership contest, and the 2003 Alberta Alliance leadership contest.

 

Candidate Nomination Update: Innisfail-Sylvan Lake by-election and more

Photo: Tom Olsen, Michaela Glasgo, Thana Boonlert, and Nathan Cooper

With just over one year left until the next provincial election is expected to be called, I am continuing to track potential candidates as they step up to run for party nominations. While some New Democratic Party MLAs have announced their intentions to seek re-election, most activity on the nomination front has come from prospective United Conservative Party nominees.

In Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, where a by-election will be held in the next six months to replace former UCP MLA Don MacIntyre, four candidates have stepped up to run for the UCP nomination. MacIntyre resigned in February after being charged with sexual assault and sexual interference.

The two newest candidates to join the UCP nomination in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake are lawyer Gayle Langford and former Sylvan Lake town councillor Joan Barnes.

More candidates have stepped up to run for party nominations in other districts across the province:

Brooks-Medicine HatMichaela Glasgo is seeking the UCP nomination in this newly redrawn southeastern Alberta district. Glasgo is a Constituency Assistant for Cypress-Medicine Hat UCP MLA Drew Barnes and is a contributor to the Story of a Tory blog.

Calgary-Bow – Demetrios Nicolaides is seeking the UCP nomination. Nicolaides is an Associate with the Humphrey Group and is the former vice president of communications for the Progressive Conservative Party and the former president of the PC association in this district. According to his online bio, he holds a PhD in Political Science and Conflict Resolution from the University of Cyprus.

Calgary-Buffalo – Lobbyist Tom Olsen is seeking the UCP nomination in this downtown Calgary district. Olsen is a former Calgary Herald reporter and columnist, and a former Press Secretary for premier Ed Stelmach. He is also the lead singer of Tom Olsen and the Wreckage, who headlined the 2014 PC leadership vote results party.

Calgary-Foothills – Connor Staus is seeking this UCP nomination in this northwest Calgary district. Staus works as a Constituency Assistant for Calgary-Shepard Conservative Member of Parliament Tom Kmiec. This district is currently represented by UCP MLA Prasad Panda, who was elected as a Wildrose Party MLA in a 2015 by-election.

Calgary-Glenmore – Christopher Grabill is seeking the UCP nomination.

Calgary-Mountain ViewThana Boonlert has been nominated as the Green Party candidate in this district. Boonlert was his party’s candidate in the 2016 Calgary-Greenway by-election.

Edmonton-Riverview – Shawn McLeod is seeking the UCP nomination in this district which includes the University of Alberta.

Morinville-St. Albert – Former Sturgeon County mayor Don Rigney is seeking the UCP nomination. Rigney served as mayor from 2007 to 2013. He mounted an unsuccessful campaign for the Wildrose nomination in the Athabasca-Redwater district ahead of the 2012 election and was reported as being an applicant in a legal challenge launched in 2015 to prevent then-premier Jim Prentice from calling an early election.

Olds-Didsbury-Three HillsNathan Cooper is seeking the UCP nomination. Cooper has served as the MLA for this district since 2015 and was previously elected to Carstairs town council. He served as the interim leader of the UCP in 2017.

Red Deer-South – Matt Chapin is seeking the UCP nomination. He ran for the PC nomination in Red Deer-North in 2015 and has run for Red Deer City Council numerous times over the past decade.

Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-SundreJason Nixon is seeking the UCP nomination. He has served as the MLA for his district since 2015 and served as the UCP leader in the Legislature in late 2017.

Sherwood Park – Wildrose and UCP caucus researcher Maureen Gough is seeking the UCP nomination in this suburban district east of Edmonton.

Spruce Grove-Stony Plain – Spruce Grove City Councillor Searle Turton is the third candidate to join the UCP nomination race in this district west of Edmonton.

If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them to the list.

Stephen Mandel Alberta Party Leadership

Stephen Mandel wins Alberta Party leadership. Alberta Advantage Party acclaims Marilyn Burns as leader.

Former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel, 72, is the new leader of the Alberta Party.

Kara Levis Alberta Party

Kara Levis

Mandel was elected on the first ballot with 66 percent of the vote, defeating Calgary lawyer Kara Levis, who placed second with 18 percent, and Calgary-South East MLA Rick Fraser, who placed third with 16 percent. 4,613 of the party’s 6,443 members participated in the vote.

Mandel served as mayor of Edmonton from 2004 to 2013 and as a city councillor from 2001 to 2004. He represented the Edmonton-Whitemud district as a Progressive Conservative MLA from 2014 to 2015 and was Minister of Health until his defeat in 2015 to New Democrat Dr. Bob Turner.

He has said he will run in the next election in the Edmonton-McClung district, currently represented by New Democratic Party MLA Lorne Dach.

The Alberta Party currently has three Calgary MLAs in the 87 MLA Legislative Assembly. It is widely rumoured that lone-PC MLA Richard Starke could cross the floor to join the Alberta Party caucus this spring. Starke was endorsed by Mandel in last year’s PC Party leadership race.

While the Alberta Party has framed itself as a “centrist” alternative to the two main political parties in the province – the NDP and the UCP – the party’s policies reveal it to be a conservative party in a similar vein as the old PC Party.

Alberta Advantage Party acclaims leader

Marilyn Burns Alberta Advantage Party

Marilyn Burns

Meanwhile, much further to the fringe populist right, Edmonton lawyer Marilyn Burns has been acclaimed as leader of the anti-UCP Alberta Advantage Party.

A co-founder of the Wildrose Party and vocal critic of the UCP, Burns was the only candidate in the race. She was a candidate for the leadership of the Alberta Alliance Party in 2005 and was a candidate for that party in Stony Plain in the 2004 election.

The party is in the process of registering but is not yet recognized as an official party by Elections Alberta.

Premier Rachel Notley met with steel workers during a tour of the Tenaris Prudential welded pipe mill in Calgary on Feb. 8, 2018. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Notley opens the Quails’ Gate and lets the BC wine flow into Alberta once again.

Did Alberta win the pipeline war against British Columbia? No, but the great BC wine boycott of 2018 appears to be over.

John Horgan BC NDP Leader Premier

John Horgan

The interprovincial dispute over the Kinder Morgan Inc. Trans Mountain Pipeline is likely far from over, but Premier Rachel Notley announced today that the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission would lift its weeks-long boycott of British Columbia wine.

Notley’s announcement comes as BC Premier John Horgan confirmed his government will not restrict increases in bitumen shipments until further spill studies are conducted, a move he initially announced after last week’s Throne Speech in Victoria. But this does not mean Horgan’s government is ending its opposition to the pipeline. It will be seeking the opinion of the courts to confirm its “constitutional rights to defend against a bitumen spill.’

The pipeline issue has allowed Notley to drape herself in the Alberta flag while highlighting her government’s action on climate change, most notably the phase-out of dirty coal-fired power plants that were generating a significant amount of Alberta’s carbon emissions. 

The Alberta-BC dispute was also the first time United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney filled the role traditionally reserved for official opposition leaders in our province: Irrelevance. As Notley led the defence of Alberta’s oil industry, Kenney was left on the sidelines, jumping up and down and waving his hands, while pleading ‘pay attention to me!

This has been a good issue for Notley. She has been able to solidify herself as a champion of an issue that has near unanimous support in Alberta. While it may not be her New Democratic Party‘s golden ticket to re-election in 2019, it certainly won’t hurt her chances (as slim as they might look).

While public support is divided, opposition to the pipeline in BC remains strong and opponents of the pipeline are planning to converge on Burnaby Mountain for a rally on March 10, 2018, the location of Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Burnaby Terminal.

It is still unclear how this will end, but at least we can enjoy an honest glass of BC wine on both sides of the provincial boundary again.


Meanwhile, hundreds of climate scientists and policy makers will meet in Edmonton from March 5 to 7, 2018 at the first annual CitiesIPCC Cities and Climate Change Science conference, hosted by the City of Edmonton.

Hosting the 2018 Cities and Climate Change Science conference gives us the opportunity to share knowledge with other municipalities, while learning, advancing ideas and forming partnerships that will help the world’s cities make progress on climate change,” Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said in a statement when the conference was announced in 2017.