Category Archives: Canadian Politics

Underdog Liberal has a shot in Fort McMurray-Athabasca by-election

Kyle Harrietha Fort McMurray Athabasca By Election Liberal

Liberal candidate Kyle Harrietha stands with his first sign of the Vote Harrietha campaign in Fort McMurray-Athabasca. (Photo from Kyle Harrietha’s Facebook Page)

Four federal by-elections will be held across Canada on June 30, 2014, including in Alberta’s Macleod and Fort McMurray-Athabasca ridings made vacant by the retirements of Conservative Members of Parliament Ted Menzies and Brian Jean months ago.

While most general elections in Alberta can be counted on to result in broad Conservative sweeps, Albertans have shown themselves to be a more unpredictable when an uncommon by-election is held.

Last year’s by-election in Calgary-Centre, a riding represented by Conservatives for nearly fifty years came within a sliver of being won by Liberal Harvey Locke. And in 1989, the spark that led to a Reform Party sweep of the West four years later was lit when Deborah Grey won a by-election in Beaver River.

This year’s by-election in Fort McMurray-Athabasca is expected to be particularly interesting. Home of Canada’s Oil Sands, this riding is Ground Zero for the international debate about climate change, pipelines and the future of the energy industry. This riding is also demographically different than southern Alberta’s Macleod or most other rural Alberta ridings.

Fort McMurray-Athabasca Federal Election Results 2006 2008 2011 by-election 2014

Home to a young and transient population that includes Aboriginals, New Canadians and Canadians from across the country (and many temporary foreign workers), the industrial nature of employment in the riding means it also has a higher percentage of labour union membership than most rural Alberta ridings. Low levels of voter turnout in recent general elections (40% turnout in 2011) could contribute to an unpredictable by-election result.

While much of the northern half of the riding benefits from an industrial boom, the Municipality of Wood Buffalo faces the incredible challenge of keeping up with the pressures that accompany this type of fast growth – transportation infrastructure (and Highway 63), housing, public services, etc.

Some local Fort McMurray-ites I have spoken with feel that federal government has not contributed its fair share in helping their community deal with these pressures – something that Conservative candidate David Yurdiga is likely to hear about at the doorsteps.

Federal cabinet minister Kellie Leitch campaigned with Conservative candidate David Yurdiga in Fort McMurray this week.

Federal cabinet minister Kellie Leitch campaigned with Conservative candidate David Yurdiga in Fort McMurray this week. (Photo from Ms. Leitch’s Twitter page @KellieLeitch)

Mr. Yurdiga hails from the vote-rich southern portion of the riding, where he is a councillor in the County of Athabasca (the area he represents on County Council will not be part of the new Fort McMurray-Cold Lake riding, which will be created at the next federal election).

The regional divide between the northern and southern parts of this riding are relevant and the large geographic distances can present a significant challenge in organizing an effective campaign.

Mr. Yurdiga will face a strong challenge from well-organized Liberal candidate Kyle Harrietha, who has been bolstered by Justin Trudeau, who has become a frequent visitor to the community over the past year.

Mr. Harrietha also draws on the support of an extensive network that includes provincial Progressive Conservatives, community organizers (he was a campaign manager for Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake) and the Metis community, who he works for as executive director of General Manager of Fort McMurray Métis Local 1935. 

While Mr. Harrietha is certainly the underdog in this race, resentment toward the former MP and a lacklustre Conservative nomination race could help him make gains in this by-election (and now would be a good time for Mr. Trudeau to make sure Ottawa-South MP David McGuinty does not stray off message).

NDP candidate Lori McDaniel with Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MP Linda Duncan (Photo from Lori McDaniel's Facebook Page).

NDP candidate Lori McDaniel with Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MP Linda Duncan (Photo from Lori McDaniel’s Facebook Page).

The New Democrats have nominated Suncor employee and Unifor Local 707A health and safety representative Lori McDaniel as their candidate. This by-election will be an important test for the official opposition NDP, who have been criticized by Conservatives for leader Tom Mulcair‘s ‘Dutch Disease‘ comments last year.

In a gesture of pan-Canadianism, it perhaps would not be a bad idea for Mr. Mulcair to fly his party’s large contingent of first-term MPs from Quebec to campaign alongside Ms. McDaniel in the by-election in our nation’s new industrial capital. It would probably help her campaign and expand the horizons of opposition MPs who are sometimes too eager to criticize those who work in Canada’s energy industry.

Federal by-elections in Alberta have proven to be unpredictable events and if the trend continues, as I sense it might, the results of the Fort McMurray-Athabasca vote could be very interesting on June 30.

Next post… a by-election in Cowboy Country (aka Macleod)… yah hoo.

Lewis Cardinal steps down as NDP candidate in Edmonton-Centre

Edmonton-Centre NDP candidate Lewis Cardinal and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair in Edmonton on March 26, 2014.

Edmonton-Centre NDP candidate Lewis Cardinal and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair in Edmonton on March 26, 2014.

Lewis Cardinal announced today that, due to personal and health reasons, he is stepping down as the New Democratic Party candidate in Edmonton-Centre for the upcoming federal election.

Although he had been campaigning for longer than a year, on March 26, 2014, Mr. Cardinal was officially nominated as his party’s first candidate for the next general election. He was joined at the nomination rally by more than 500 supporters, and took the stage alongside NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.

With Conservative MP Laurie Hawn retiring at the next election, there is an open race in this riding that the NDP and Liberals hope to capitalize on.  With a year and a half until the next federal election is expected to be held, the NDP will have to find a new candidate to fill Mr. Cardinal’s spot.

The NDP had hoped to build on Mr. Cardinal’s success in the 2011 election, in which he placed second and earned more than 12,400 votes in this riding which has been traditionally dominated by Liberals and Conservatives.

Statement from Lewis Cardinal on Edmonton Centre Candidacy:

“I would like to take this time to express deep appreciation to so many supporters and volunteers who have helped me in the federal riding of Edmonton Centre. Their commitment and energy demonstrates the passion for political change that is growing in Edmonton Centre and throughout our city.

“I have decided that due to personal and health reasons to step down as the nominated Federal candidate for the Edmonton Centre NDP. This decision was a very difficult one for me to make, but I know that a strong candidate will step forward to build the future that Edmonton Centre needs and deserves.

“I know the desire for change in Edmonton Centre is strong, and that the people here will continue to fight for the things we hold close to our hearts and the future we all wish to see.”

Conservatives spar for safe Alberta ridings

While the epic battle between Rob Anders and Ron Liepert in Calgary-Signal Hill was entertaining to watch, preparation for the next federal election has sparked nomination contests in ridings across the province. And with two  by-elections expected to be called within weeks, federal political parties are lining up their candidates for the vote.

By-Election nominations

Justin Trudeau and Kyle Harrietha on the front page of Fort McMurray Today.

Justin Trudeau and Kyle Harrietha on the front page of Fort McMurray Today.

Fort McMurray-Athabasca
On March 30, Liberal Party members chose Kyle Harrietha as their candidate. Mr. Harrietha faced Chris Flett in the nomination contest.

The Liberals are expected to run a strong campaign in the sprawling northeast Alberta riding. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau recently visited the riding, drawing a crowd of hundreds to a meet-and-greet event in Fort McMurray.

The Conservative Party will hold its nomination votes on April 24 in High Prairie and Slave Lake, April 25 in Athabasca and Lac La Biche, and April 26 in Fort McMurray. The results will be announced following the Fort McMurray vote. Fort McMurray lawyer Arlan Delisle and Athabasca County councillor David Yurdiga are the only two candidates seeking the nomination.

Oilsands worker Lori McDaniel will run for the New Democrats and firefighter Tim Moen is the Libertarian Party candidate.

John Barlow George Canyon Conservative Macleod By-Election

John Barlow and George Canyon

Macleod
On April 6, Dustin Fuller was nominated as the federal Liberal candidate in the upcoming by-election. Mr. Fuller will face Conservative John Barlow when the by-election is called. There has so far been no sign of any NDP or Green Party candidates.

General Election nominations

Meanwhile, nominations for the general election are also underway. As most of Alberta are largely considered safe territory for the Conservatives, competitive races have emerged in newly redrawn ridings across Alberta. Here are some ridings with recent updates:

Bow River
Country music crooner George Canyon has withdrawn his name from the Conservative nomination contest in southern Alberta’s Bow River. Christian television talk show host Paul Arthur has since announced he will seek the nomination.

Calgary-Nose Hill
Michelle Rempel was acclaimed as the Conservative candidate in this newly redrawn north Calgary riding. Ms. Rempel has represented the Calgary-Centre North riding since 2011.

Calgary-Rocky Ridge
Recent defeated in the Calgary-Signal Hill nomination contest, Mr. Anders may seek the Conservative nomination in this neighbouring riding. The Conservative nomination is already being sought by former MP Eric Lowther and party organizer Gord Elliott.

Mr. Lowther represented Calgary-Centre as the Reform Party/Canadian Alliance MP from 1997 until 2000, when he was defeated by former Prime Minister Joe Clark, who had returned to politics to lead the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.

Edmonton-Mill Woods
Edmonton-Sherwood Park MP Tim Uppal has decided to jump across the city to seek the Conservative nomination in the new Edmonton-Mill Woods riding. Mr. Uppal was the Canadian Alliance/Conservative candidate in that area in 2000 and 2004 but was defeated by Mike Lake for the Conservative nomination in 2006.

Varinder Bhullar is seeking the Liberal nomination and Deep Hundal has announced that he plans to run for the NDP nomination.

Edmonton-Riverbend
Will James Rajotte run for the Alberta PC Party leadership? It seems unlikely, but rumours persistTofael Chowdhury is challenging Mr. Rajotte for the Conservative nomination in this new south Edmonton riding.

This is not Mr. Chowdhury’s first attempt at a party nomination. In 2011, he challenged Matt Jeneroux for the Progressive Conservative nomination in the provincial riding of Edmonton-South West and in 2008 he unsuccessfully sought the federal Liberal Party nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona.

Edmonton-West
Edmonton Police Constable Brad Rutherford has entered the Conservative nomination race in this new riding. He will face Edmonton-McClung PC MLA David Xiao, who announced his candidacy in March.

Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan
Recent municipal election candidate Nicole van Kuppeveld has announced she will seek the Conservative nomination in this new riding east of Edmonton. Ms.  van Kuppeveld, the former president of the Sherwood Park provincial PC Party, will face off against Garnett Genuis, the 2012 Wildrose candidate in Sherwood Park.

If there are any additions to the list of nomination candidates for the 2015 federal election, please contact me through the comment section below or by email at david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com.

Good riddance, Rob Anders

Rob Anders Ron Liepert Calgary Signal Hill Conservatives

Former MLA Ron Liepert defeated 17-year MP Rob Anders in a nasty and divisive contest for the Conservative nomination in the new Calgary-Signal Hill riding.

It finally happened. The man who called Nelson Mandela a terroristinsulted Canada’s veterans, and called for war against Russia, has suffered his first major defeat since he was first elected in 1997.

Rob Anders Calgary Signal Hill Conservative

Rob Anders

After a campaign filled with accusations of dirty tricks and political mischief, arch conservative Member of Parliament Rob Anders lost the Conservative Party nomination in the new Calgary-Signal Hill riding. After 17-years and many attempts, Calgary’s political establishment finally managed to achieve their goal of denying Mr. Anders the party nomination he needs to win in the next election.

It highlights how divisive a figure Mr. Anders is that Calgarians rallied around and many outsiders (including myself) quietly cheered for his opponent, Ron Liepert. The former provincial cabinet minister’s record suggests that he is not a Red Tory, as some would expect, and perhaps not even a moderate conservative.

Alberta Finance Minister Ron Liepert Calgary-Signal Hill Conservative

Ron Liepert

During his time in provincial politics, Mr. Liepert was known as a hard-nosed conservative bulldog who the media cast as the bully of the Alberta Legislature. He will fit in well in Stephen Harper‘s Ottawa.

To his credit, Mr. Liepert accomplished something that many other challengers failed to do. Mr. Anders had until yesterday succeeded in the past in besting high-profile challenges from former MLA Jocelyn Burgener, future premier Alison Redford and future MLA Donna Kennedy-Glans in nomination votes and defeated future Calgary mayor Dave Bronconnier and former Liberal MLA Frank Bruseker in general elections.

Unless he decides to seek a nomination in the neighouring Calgary-Rocky Ridge riding or elsewhere, Mr. Anders is now partially unleashed from his partisan obligations in the next campaign and could cause serious trouble for Mr. Liepert and his party before the 2015 election.

While Mr. Liepert may not prove to be a huge improvement  from Mr. Anders, he and his team have certainly done Canadians a service by delivering Mr. Anders the political defeat he deserved.

I am sure I speak for many Canadians when I say: good riddance, Mr. Anders.

Thomas Mulcair reminds me of Stephen Harper

Edmonton-Centre NDP candidate Lewis Cardinal and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair in Edmonton on March 26, 2014.

Edmonton-Centre NDP candidate Lewis Cardinal and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair in Edmonton on March 26, 2014.

More than 500 people packed into the lobby of the Winspear Centre yesterday to watch the New Democratic Party of Canada officially nominate Edmonton-Centre‘s Lewis Cardinal as the first candidate for 2015 federal election. The selection of Edmonton-Centre as the NDP’s first nomination demonstrates that party’s desire to turn Edmonton into a battle ground in the next election.

Jack Layton NDP Edmonton

Jack Layton at a NDP rally in Edmonton during the 2008 federal election.

After Mr. Cardinal was nominated, NDP leader Thomas Muclair took to the stage to congratulate the new candidate.

During his speech, I could not help but reflect on the differences between Mr. Mulcair and former leader Jack Layton, who spoke to a raucous crowd in the same room during the 2008 federal election.

I remember being impressed with Mr. Layton’s ability to raise the level of energy in the room just with his presence. He oozed style, was charismatic and felt like a made-for-TV leader. His energy was contagious, but I could not help but question whether he had enough substance behind that style.  I always had a difficult time picturing Mr. Layton as the next Prime Minister of Canada.

This week, Mr. Mulcair’s speech to the crowd at the Winspear was more business than partisan play. Unlike Mr. Layton’s high-energy speech in 2008, Mr. Mulcair’s speech focused on the policy and values that differentiates his party from the Conservatives and Liberals. The partisans cheered, but he did not generate the same type of excitement in the room that his predecessor was able to.

Mr. Mulcair’s speech reminded me of what Stephen Harper sounded like before the Conservatives formed government in Ottawa eight years ago. What he delivered was a perfectly acceptable grounded speech. Mr. Mulcair sounded like he could be the next Prime Minister of Canada.

Side note: A great concert hall and an excellent venue, the Winspear Centre is named for philanthropist Francis Winspear, who, along with Preston Manning,  helped found of the Reform Party of Canada in 1987.

Harper endorses Rob Anders and more nomination updates

With Dave Hancock being sworn-in as the 15th Premier of Alberta and speculation running rampant about who will replace him in four to six months, I thought now would be a good opportunity to provide a quick update about nominations for federal election candidates in Alberta.

Calgary-Signal Hill

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and MP Rob Anders.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and MP Rob Anders.

In what could be a deciding factor in one of Calgary most hotly contested Conservative Party nomination races, Member of Parliament Rob Anders has posted on his website an endorsement from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Here is the audio from a robocall placed by Mr. Anders’ campaign to Conservative Party members in Calgary-Signal Hill announcing Mr. Harper’s endorsement:

One of Canada’s most offensive hyper-Conservatives, Mr. Anders is facing a stiff nomination challenge in the new Calgary-Signal Hill from former Calgary MLA and provincial cabinet minister Ron Liepert.

Mr. Harper’s endorsement is sure to inflame supporters of Mr. Liepert, who will be quick to point out how unusual it is for leader of a party to openly endorse a candidate in a contested nomination race.

Moderate Tories have tried for 17 years to grab the nomination from Mr. Anders, sending high-profile candidates like Alison Redford, Jocelyn Burgener and Donna Kennedy-Glans to run against him, to no avail.

Fort McMurray-Athabasca
Unlike the raucous Conservative by-election nomination race in Macleod, the contest to choose the next Conservative candidate in northeastern Alberta’s Fort McMurray-Athabasca is a sleepy affair. As of this morning, only Fort McMurray lawyer Arlan Delisle and Athabasca County councillor David Yurdiga have entered the Conservative nomination race.

Today, March 24, is the deadline for candidates to enter the Conservative Party nomination contest and the cutoff for membership sales is March 31, 2014.

Lewis Cardinal Edmonton NDP

Lewis Cardinal

Edmonton-Centre
On March 26, Edmonton-Centre’s Lewis Cardinal is expected to be acclaimed as the first New Democratic Party candidate nominated for the 2015 federal general election. The nomination meeting will take place in the lobby of the Winspear Centre and will leader Thomas Mulcair and a handful of NDP MPs from across the country. The lobby of the Winspear is a memorable place for many local New Democrats, who remember when Jack Layton used the venue to host a large and energy-filled election campaign rally in 2008.

No candidates have yet to step forward for the Conservative nomination since MP Laurie Hawn announced his resignation on March 9, 2014. Three candidates – Randy BoissonnaultHarold Robinson and Don Padget – are seeking the Liberal Party nomination.

Edmonton-Mill Woods
Varinder Bhullar 
has announced that he will seek the Liberal Party nomination in the new Edmonton-Mill Woods riding.

Edmonton-Wetaskiwin
When Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont MP Mike Lake decided to seek the Conservative nomination in the new Edmonton-Wetaskiwin riding, he was taking a gamble. Mr. Lake, who lives a south Edmonton neighbourhood included in the new riding now facing the challenge of winning a nomination in a riding where 75% of the new territory is new ground. Well-respected in Edmonton, he is now facing a challenge from Leduc County mayor John Whaley and Edmonton police officer Mohinder Banga.

Lethbridge
First-term MP Jim Hillyer is facing two challengers for the Conservative nomination in the new Lethbridge riding. With Mr. Hillyer cut-off from his base of support in the southern half of the former Lethbridge riding, Doug McArthur and Alex Hann hope to replace him as the Tory candidate.

Red Deer-Mountain View
MP Earl Dreeshen has announced his plans to seek the Conservative nomination in the new Red Deer-Mountain View riding. Mr. Dreeshen has represented the current Red Deer riding since 2008.

If there are any additions to the list of nomination candidates for the 2015 federal election, please contact me through the comment section below or by email at david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com.

Laurie Hawn to retire, blowing Edmonton-Centre race wide open

Edmonton-Centre Conservative MP Laurie Hawn

Edmonton-Centre Conservative MP Laurie Hawn

Edmonton-Centre Conservative Member of Parliament Laurie Hawn has decided to retire when the next election is called, according to the latest column by the Edmonton Sun’s Lorne Gunter.

The retired Air Force lieutenant-colonel first entered politics in 2004, running unsuccessfully against Liberal MP and Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan. Mr. Hawn defeated Ms. McLellan in a re-match in 2006 and has been appointed to various parliamentary positions related to national defence and security, including Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence.

Mr. Hawn’s departure is expected to kick-off a hotly contested Conservative nomination contest, which could include a number of high profile conservatives.

A lack of Conservative Party incumbent could also open an opportunity for the opposition parties.

In 2011, Edmonton NDP candidates Lewis Cardinal, Linda Duncan and Ray Martin.

In 2011, Edmonton NDP candidates Lewis Cardinal, Linda Duncan and Ray Martin.

Running for his second time, New Democratic Party candidate Lewis Cardinal finished second in 2011 vote, knocking the Liberals to third-place. He has already been campaigning for nearly one year and hopes to build on the support he earned in the previous election.

The Liberals are hoping excitement about leader Justin Trudeau is enough to help win back the area represented by Ms. McLellan from 1993 to 2006. Three candidates are vying for the Liberal nomination, Randy Boissonnault, Harold Robinson and Don Padget.

Here is a breakdown of the federal election results in Edmonton-Centre from 2004 to 2011:

Edmonton-Centre election results 2004-2011

Kerry Diotte to run for federal Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Griesbach

Kelly Diotte

Former city councillor and mayor candidate Kerry Diotte announced on his Facebook page today that will seek the nomination to run as a a Conservative Party of Canada candidate in the new Edmonton-Griesbach riding in the 2015 election.

Kerry Diotte Edmonton Mayor Election

Kerry Diotte

Mr. Diotte represented Ward 11 on Edmonton City Council from 2010 until 2013. He was a candidate for mayor in the 2013 election, running on a platform that focused almost entirely on potholes, snow removal, spending and debt. When the votes were counted, he was swept aside by the young and dynamic Don Iveson, placing third with 15% of the vote.

The current Edmonton-East riding is represented by Conservative Member of Parliament Peter Goldring. It is unclear whether Mr. Goldring, now serving his sixth-term in the House of Commons, will seek re-election in 2015. Edmonton-Decore PC MLA Janice Sarich announced last month that she would not seek the nomination.

The new riding is considered a battle ground, with the New Democratic Party hoping to build on past growth in the current Edmonton-East riding. Between 2004 and 2011, the NDP vote in the riding grew from 14% to 37%.

Karen Leibovici Edmonton Mayor Election

Karen Leibovici

As reported earlier this week, five candidates have stepped up to run for the NDP nomination in this riding. NDP nomination candidates include Canadian Labour Congress representative Amanda Freistadt, educator Janis IrwinCam McCormickNamrata Gill and Zane Smith.

Since the conclusion of the mayoral election in October 2013, rumours have circulated that Mr. Diotte and his second place competitor, former councillor Karen Leibovici, are eyeing ridings with open Conservative Party nominations in Edmonton.

For up-to-date nomination news, follow the list of Alberta Federal Election candidates.

Interesting federal nomination races emerging across Alberta

Edmonton's 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.

Edmonton’s 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.

Interesting nomination races are emerging across Alberta as parties prepare to choose candidates to run in the next federal election, slated for October 2015. Below are some of the most recent updates from ridings across the province, where candidates are seeking nominations to run in two by-elections and the general election.

By-elections

Macleod
Conservative Party members will choose their candidate at nomination meetings in Pincher Creek on March 6, Claresholm on March 7 and Okotoks on March 8. Five candidates remain in the contest after Rick Waljamaa withdrew from the race. The remaining candidates include John Barlow, Melissa Mathieson, Phil Rowland, and Scott Wagner. Firearms lobby groups and conservative media pundits have intervened to ensure that guns have become the dominant issue of the campaign.

Fort McMurray-Athabasca
First out of the gate, Kyle Harrietha announced that he is seeking the Liberal nomination to run in the impending by-election. Mr. Harrietha is a former Ottawa staffer and worked in Fort McMurray as the program manager of the Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA). He now works as General Manager of Fort McMurray Métis Local 1935.

The NDP have recruited their first nomination candidate in Lori McDaniel, a Suncor employee and health and safety representative for Unifor Local 707A. Ms. McDaniel announced her plans as NDP leader Thomas Mulcair visited Fort McMurray last week.

Three-term councillor and former Athabasca County reeve David Yurdiga is the first candidate to enter the Conservative Party nomination contest. Mr. Yurdiga currently represents the Grasslands area, which will become part of the new Lakeland riding when the next general election is called and the new Fort McMurray-Cold Lake riding is created. The current boundaries will remain the same when the by-election is held.

General Election 2015

Banff-Airdrie
Incumbent Conservative MP Blake Richards will seek his party’s nomination in the new Banff-Airdrie riding. Mr. Richards has represented the current Wild Rose riding since 2006.

iPolitics.ca
is reporting that Marlo Raynolds is seeking the Liberal Party nomination in the new Banff-Airdrie riding. Mr. Raynolds is the former executive director of the Pembina Institute and spoke at last weekend’s federal Liberal Party convention in Montreal on the topic of cities and infrastructure investment. He currently serves Vice-President of Market Development for BluEarth Renewables.

Edmonton-Greisbach
Six Five candidates have stepped up to run for the NDP nomination in this east central Edmonton riding. Candidates include Canadian Labour Congress representative Amanda Freistadt, educator Janis Irwin, Cam McCormick, Namrata Gill, Bashir Mohamed and Zane Smith.

Edmonton-Riverbend
Five-term Conservative Member of Parliament James Rajotte plans to seek his party’s nomination in the new Edmonton-Riverbend riding. He has represented southwest Edmonton since 2000.

Edmonton-Wetaskiwin
Three-term Conservative MP Mike Lake has announced his plans to seek the Conservative nomination in the new Edmonton-Wetaskiwin riding. Mr. Lake has represented Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont since 2006 and lives in the south portion of Edmonton that will be included in the new riding. He will face Mohinder Banga for the Conservative nomination.

For up-to-date nomination news, follow the list of Alberta Federal Election candidates.

Fair Elections Act would introduce Alberta-style partisan elections officials

A proposed amendment to Canada’s Elections Act would introduce handpicked partisan elections officials into the current non-partisan election process.

The ‘Fair Elections Act,’ a sweeping act introduced by Conservative minister Pierre Poilievre, includes an amendment to Section 124 of the Elections Act which would give the incumbent candidate, riding association or political party the authority to submit a list of names from which that riding’s Central Polling Supervisor will be appointed.

Under the current Elections Act, the Central Polling Supervisors are appointed by the local returning officer, a non-partisan elections official.

It is unclear why this amendment is necessary, as it would give new powers to incumbent politicians and their political parties to hold over the election process.

In Alberta, a similar practice was stopped in 2010 by then-Justice minister Alison Redford after it was revealed that local returning officers had been appointed from a list submitted by the Progressive Conservative Party. Many of those appointed were PC constituency officers, past nomination candidates and supporters of the governing party. Nearly half of the returning officers appointed in the 2008 provincial election had ties to the PC Party.

This specific amendment to the Elections Act is particularly problematic for incumbent Members of Parliament who plan to seek re-election under a different party banner or as an independent candidate.

Reached via email, Edmonton-St. Albert MP Brent Rathgeber explained that these amendments will create advantages for parties at the expense of fairness. “These are paid positions; it is blatant patronage for local volunteers,” Rathgeber wrote.

Elected as a Conservative in 2011, Mr. Rathgeber left the governing Conservative Party to sit as an Independent MP in 2013 because of what he described as a “lack of commitment to transparency and open government.”

If this law passes and Mr. Rathgeber seeks re-election as an independent candidate, his Conservative opponent will be allowed to submit a list of Central Polling Supervisors who will supervise the election.

The amendment to Section 124 of the Elections Act is unnecessary and would undermine and introduce doubt into a process that is currently fair and non-partisan.

CURRENT Section 124 of the Elections ActCentral poll supervisor

(2) When a returning officer establishes a central polling place that contains four or more polling stations, the returning officer may appoint a central poll supervisor to attend at the central polling place on polling day to supervise proceedings and keep the returning officer informed of any matter that adversely affects, or is likely to adversely affect, the proceedings.

Proposed by the ‘Fair Elections Act’44. Section 124 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (2):

(3) Each of the central poll supervisors for an electoral district shall be appointed from lists of names of suitable persons provided by the candidate of the registered party whose candidate finished first in the electoral district in the last election or by the registered association of that registered party or, if there is no registered association, by that registered party.

(4) A returning officer shall proceed to appoint central poll supervisors from other sources if, by the 24th day before polling day, none of the candidate, the registered association and the registered party has made a recommendation or all three have not, as a group, recommended a sufficient number of suitable persons.

(5) A returning officer may, on reasonable grounds, refuse to appoint a central poll supervisor that is recommended by a candidate, a registered association or a registered party and shall immediately advise the candidate, registered association or registered party of the refusal.

(6) If as a result of the refusal a position is not filled, the candidate, registered association or registered party may, within 24 hours after being advised of the refusal, recommend another person and, if no one is recommended, the returning officer shall proceed to appoint another person whose name is solicited from another source.

Gun-toting conservatives take aim at Macleod by-election candidate

Melissa Mathieson Rob Anders Macleod Conservative Guns

Conservative nomination candidate Melissa Mathieson and Calgary-West MP Rob Anders pose with their guns and targets: bearded men wearing turbans, and zombies. (Photo supplied by a friendly daveberta.ca reader).

Just say no-to-Barlow!” was the message broadcast to the 15,941 followers of the National Firearms Association Facebook page.

The National Rifle Association‘s Canadian cousins hope to drag down John Barlow, a candidate for the Macleod Conservative Party of Canada by-election nomination who they claim supports the RCMP seizure of firearms from abandoned houses during last year’s High River flood. The organization calls the gun seizure the “largest breech (sic) of Canadian civil rights in Canadian history.”

The controversy stems from a comment Mr. Barlow posted on his Facebook page defending the intentions of the local RCMP detachment during the flood. He later deleted the comment after the page was swarmed by critics (you can see the screenshot of Mr. Barlow’s comment here).

A reasonable person might believe that collecting abandoned weapons in an disaster zone is a sensible idea for any police force wanting to avoid potentially dangerous confrontation with emotionally distressed citizens. But the gun lobby is not convinced and has encouraged its supporters to vote for other candidates in the Conservative nomination race. “We need concerned citizens in the Macleod riding to support either Philip Rowland or Melissa Mathieson,” the NFA said in another message posted on its Facebook page.

It may not be a mere coincidence that these attacks have occurred just as Mr. Barlow’s opponent, Ms. Mathieson, received the endorsement of Shawn Bevins, the Vice President of the National Firearms Association and Todd Brown, the co-founder of the Concerned Gun Owners of Alberta group.

John Barlow George Canyon Conservative Macleod By-Election

John Barlow and George Canyon

A local newspaper editor and former provincial election candidate, Mr. Barlow’s chances of winning the hotly contested Conservative nomination received a boost last month when popular country music artist George Canyon endorsed his campaign. The two men have since been making campaign stops across the Macleod riding. Mr. Canyon is seeking the Conservative nomination in the neighbouring Bow River riding.

The other candidates for the Conservative nomination in Macleod have released mixed reactions to the attacks. Scott Wagner issued a statement criticizing Mr. Barlow and calling for a judicial inquiry into the RCMP actions and Rick Wiljamma appears to have not responded to the attacks on his opponent through social media.

This is not the first time this issue has been raised by politcians. Wildrose Party leader and local Highwood MLA Danielle Smith was raked over the coals last year for criticizing the RCMP in a fundraising letter to supporters.

February 10 is the deadline for Macleod residents to purchase Conservative Party memberships in order to vote in the nomination contest. The date of the by-election has not been set.

Fort McMurray-Athabasca By-Election update

Fort McMurray Today published a list of potential candidates who could run in the imminent by-election in the northern Alberta riding. Potentially seeking the Conservative nomination are former Wildrose MLA Guy Boutilier, political staffer Laila Goodridge, and municipal councillor Phil Meagher. The Liberals have attracted a surprisingly large crowd of potential nominees, including Chris FlettKyle Harrietha, Joanne Roberts, Colleen Tatum, and Ron Quintal

Five ways to save the Senate of Canada

Save the Canadian Senate

Is the Senate of Canada broken? And if so, is it worth saving? Here are the positions held by Canada’s federal political parties:

1) Abolish the Senate
The New Democratic Party of Canada, the official opposition since 2011, are staunchly in favour of entirely abolishing the Senate of Canada. “Unelected party hacks have no place writing or rewriting the laws of this country. It’s as simple as that,” NDP leader Thomas Mulcair told reporters in August 2013. Saskatchewan’s conservative premier Brad Wall is also in favour of abolishing the Senate.

It is unclear how the NDP would actually implement the abolition of the Senate if the party ever formed government in Ottawa.

2) Elect the Senate
Elected, equal and effective was the Triple-E proposal supported by the now-defunct Reform Party of Canada.  Alberta is the only province to have ever held Senate nominee elections (in 1989, 1998, 2004 and 2012). Typically coinciding with provincial or municipal elections, the Senate elections are a sideshow that have received little attention from the media or the general public. The Senate nominee candidates have run as provincial party candidates. Five elected nominees have been appointed to the Senate by prime ministers since 1990.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper‘s Conservative Party of Canada proposed legislation that could shorten terms in office and move towards provincially elected senators in 2006. The legislation was stalled and  the Conservative have since asked the Supreme Court of Canada for its opinion on the Senate reform proposals.

3) Panel-appointed independent Senate
Liberal Party of Canada leader Justin Trudeau announced this week that he had removed all 32 Liberal senators from the party’s national caucus. The justification for doing so was to make the Senate less partisan and to eliminate patronage. Mr. Trudeau suggested that a non-partisan panel select new appointees to the Senate.

4) Proportional representation Senate
The Green Party of Canada passed a motion at their 2010 convention which supports the election of senators through a system that ensures proportional representation. While the policy is not specific, it could be referring to the electoral system used to elected members to the Australian Senate.

5) The status-quo Senate
In practice, the Governor General makes appointments to the Senate at the recommendation of the Prime Minister. Senators must be citizens of Canada and at least thirty years of age to be eligible for appointment to the Senate. They must maintain residency in the provinces or territories for which they are appointed and can only serve until the age of seventy-five.

While prominent Canadians have been appointed to the Senate, they overshadowed by the long-list of party loyalists who have been rewarded with appointments by various Conservative and Liberal prime ministers. Mr. Harper has appointed 51 of the 96 current senators since the Conservatives formed government in 2006 (there are currently 9 vacancies in the Senate).

MLA Janice Sarich not jumping into federal politics

Janice Sarich

Janice Sarich

Edmonton-Decore Progressive Conservative MLA Janice Sarich released a statement this morning announcing that she will not seek a Conservative Party nomination for the next federal election.

The two-term backbench MLA and former school trustee had until recently been considered a contender for the nomination in the new Edmonton Griesbach riding.

Before today’s announcement, the provincial New Democrats, Wildrose and Liberals had been itching for an opportunity challenge the Redford Tories in a by-election in the working-class north Edmonton constituency. While Ms. Sarich was elected with healthy margins in the past two election, Edmonton-Decore had previously been represented by Liberal and NDP MLAs since the mid-1980s.

Two other PC MLAs could also make the jump into federal politics in the next election. Calgary-Foothills MLA Len Webber is seeking the Conservative nomination in Calgary Confederation, and Edmonton-McClung PC MLA David Xiao is expected to announce his intentions in Edmonton-West in the coming weeks.

Here is Ms. Sarich’s statement:

After a thorough exploration I have decided not to pursue a nomination for the federal Conservative Party of Canada.

I have been asked about the possibility on many occasions lately, and I want to try to address the questions by giving a sense of why I came to this conclusion.

I had been encouraged by many people to contest the nomination for Edmonton Griesbach riding, and in many ways it would have been a logical move and an interesting new challenge, given my work as an elected representative at the local and provincial levels since 2001.

I took the possibility seriously, and explored it very carefully. In the end, the constituent’s of Edmonton-Decore have been very good to me, and we have built a strong connection over the years.

The factor that made the biggest difference was that the issues and concerns that mean the most to me are at the provincial level. It is not that federal issues are not important – foreign policy, defence, and international trade are of course very important. But to me, issues related to education, health care and human services are simply much closer to my heart, and I think they are more crucial to the people I represent as well.

I have consistently focused on trying to support the development of healthy and well-educated families in strong and safe communities.
After much thought, it is quite clear to me that I have far more opportunity to do so at the provincial level.

I have genuinely appreciated all of the offers of support to pursue the federal nomination, and I want to thank all of those who offered encouragement and assistance. I hope this explanation will clarify my decision, and I want to encourage others to pursue the federal nomination in order to address the important issues at the national level.

Sincerely,

Janice

Big names running for federal party nominations in Alberta

Justin Trudeau Edmoton Alberta

Federal Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau surrounded by supporters at an Edmonton rally on January 23, 2014. (photo from @JustinTrudeau on Twitter)

There has been plenty of activity this week as candidates from all political parties put forward their names to run in Canada’s next federal election, scheduled to be held in October 2015.

Wooing voters and potential candidates alike, both New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau travelled through Alberta this week. Mr. Muclair visited Edmonton and attended party events with provincial NDP leader Brian Mason. Mr. Trudeau was a headliner at well-attended Liberal Party rallies in Okotoks, Calgary and Edmonton.

George Canyon Conservative Canada Bow River

George Canyon

Bow River
Award-winning country music artist George Canyon has announced his intentions to seek the Conservative Party nomination in the new Bow River riding. Mr. Canyon will coordinate his campaign with John Barlow, who is seeking the Conservative by-election nomination in neighbouring Macleod riding (an eastern portion of the new Foothills riding will become part of Bow River when the next federal general election is called).

While he would be a star candidate for the Conservatives, he is expected to be joined by a large group of local conservatives interested in seeking the nomination.

Calgary Confederation
Calgary-Foothills PC MLA Len Webber announced his plans to seek the Conservative nomination in the new Calgary Confederation riding. Rumours of Mr. Webber’s jump into federal politics were first reported on this blog in November 2013. Consultant Susanne DiCocco is also seeking the Conservative nomination in this riding.

Calgary Forest Lawn
Abdul Mohamud has announced his plans to seek the Liberal Party nomination in this new east Calgary riding.

Calgary Shepard
Tom Kmiec
, a former staffer to Calgary MP Jason Kenney, is the first candidate to announce his candidacy for the the Conservative nomination in this new south east Calgary riding.

Edmonton-Centre
Lawyer and Metis advocate Harold Robinson has joined the Liberal Party nomination in Edmonton-Centre. Mr. Robinson will face entrepreneur Randy Boissonnault in his party’s yet to be scheduled contest. The Edmonton-Centre Liberals announced on their Twitter account this week that 2011 candidate Mary MacDonald would not seek the nomination.

Edmonton-Griesbach
PC MLA Janice Sarich is reportedly campaigning for the Conservative Party nomination in the new Edmonton-Griesbach riding. Ms. Sarich was an Edmonton Catholic school trustee from 2001 to 2007 and was elected as MLA for Edmonton-Decore in 2008. It is unclear whether current Edmonton-East MP Peter Goldring will seek his party’s nomination in the new riding. Mr. Goldring has represented the area in Ottawa since 1997.

There are at least six candidates running for NDP nomination in Edmonton-Griesbach. The riding association is hosting a candidate meet and greet on January 31.

Edmonton-West
The Globe & Mail reports that Edmonton-McClung PC MLA David Xiao is preparing to seek the Conservative nomination in the new Edmonton-West riding. This would not be Mr. Xiao’s first foray into federal politics. In 2004 he was defeated by Laurie Hawn in the Conservative nomination contest in Edmonton-Centre.

Fort McMurray-Athabasca
Following the resignation of Conservative MP Brian Jean, rumours continue to swirl about who could seek the party nominations in an upcoming by-election.

Former Wood Buffalo municipal councillor Don Scott, who was elected MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin in 2012, is suspected by some to be eyeing the Conservative nomination, but might be hard pressed to leave his provincial cabinet post. Expected to seek the nomination is Laila Goodridge, a Fort McMurray-native and current constituency assistant to Calgary-Centre MP Joan Crockatt.

Former Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA and current Wood Buffalo deputy mayor Guy Boutilier is being talked about as potentially seeking either the Conservative or Liberal Party nominations. First elected under the PC banner in 1997, Mr. Boutilier joined the Wildrose Party in 2011 and was defeated in the 2012 election.

Lethbridge
Investment advisor Doug McArthur will challenge incumbent MP Jim Hillyer for the Conservative Party nomination in the new Lethbridge riding.

Macleod
With a by-election expected in the coming months, five candidates – Melissa Mathieson, John Barlow, Scott Wagner, Phil Rowland and Rick Wiljamma – are vying for the Conservative Party nomination in Macleod.

While no Wildrose MLAs from the area have officially endorsed a candidate in this race (as far as I have seen), Mr Barlow has received the endorsement of former Highwood PC MLA George Groeneveld and Ms. Mathieson has the endorsement of former Livingstone-Macleod PC MLA David Coutts.

Peace River-Westlock
Peace River school administrator Terry Hogan is the first candidate to announce plans to seek the Conservative nomination in this new sprawling south west northwest Alberta riding.

Sturgeon River
Cabinet minister
Rona Ambrose announced her intentions today to seek the Conservative Party nomination in the new Sturgeon River riding. Ms. Ambrose has represented the rurban Edmonton-Spruce Grove riding since 2004.

Visit the Federal Election 2015 page to find links to websites and social media accounts for candidates listed in this post and in previous updates.

He’s in: Ron Liepert challenges Rob Anders in Calgary Signal Hill

Calgary Signal Hill federal riding Anders Liepert

Boundaries of the new Calgary Signal Hill riding.

Former provincial cabinet minister and MLA Ron Liepert officially announced in a statement this morning his intentions to seek the Conservative Party of Canada nomination in the newly redistributed Calgary Signal Hill riding.

Mr. Liepert’s candidacy has been widely suspected since the “timetodobetter.ca” group announced it would support a candidate to challenge ultra-conservative Member of Parliament Rob Anders. Mr. Anders has represented west Calgary since 1997 and since then he has defeated a “who’s who” of challengers who would seek to defeat him in the nomination contest or general election.

Here is an exert from Mr. Liepert’s statement:

Ten days ago a concerned group of community members launched a campaign featuring a few road signs and a website “timetodobetter.ca.” The initiative was designed to re-engage federal Conservatives in the city’s west and northwest that will form the new Signal Hill riding in the next election. This initiative was led by Conservative party members who are strong supporters of the Conservative cause and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The website registered over 3000 visitors and over 500 email sign-ups within just over a week signalling early and overwhelming support for democracy and open nominations. As a result Conservatives from throughout the Calgary Signal Hill riding became excited again.

I was proud to be a member of the group and overwhelmed by the response our campaign generated. So now it is time to take the next step. Today I am announcing that I will put my name forward as a candidate for the federal Conservative nomination in Calgary Signal Hill when it is called this year.

Mr. Liepert is the second candidate to announce a challenge to Mr. Anders in Calgary Signal Hill. Former Calgary-West Conservative president Dan Morrison announced his candidacy last week.

List of 2015 federal election candidates

Canada’s next federal election is scheduled to be held on October 19, 2015. I am maintaining a list of candidates who have announced their intentions to seek nominations and run in the next federal election in Alberta ridings. Please contact me at david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com for additions or updates related to candidate nominations in Alberta.