Category Archives: Dave Bronconnier

207 days until mayoral vote 2010.

Following Mayor Stephen Mandel‘s recent announcement that he will be running for a third-term in office, I have a couple of quick thoughts on the October Municipal election:

1) A cake-walk through the park? It is really too early to tell whether Mayor Mandel will face an easy re-election in October. In the non-race for Mayor of 2007, second place challenger Don Koziak earned 25% while only running a semblance of a city-wide campaign. I would not underestimate the electoral potential of an even moderately organized & well-funded outsider/anti-Council candidate, especially if it looks like Mayor Mandel is going to cruise to another victory.

2) Opposition is split. Mayor Mandel enjoys wide-spread support and the opposition he does face appears to be fragmented around varying issues. The people who are furious about the closure of the Edmonton City Centre Airport or annoyed about the funding of the Art Gallery of Alberta are unlikely to vote for the same candidate as the people angry over the Capital Power-Epcor decision. At this point, no champion challenger apparent has emerged with the potential of galvanizing this dissent (watching Season 3 of The Wire has taught me that even two or three reasonable challengers could bleed a Mayor’s support and create some interesting results).

3) What issues? There are no shortage of issues that I hope will be the focus of debate in this election (urban sprawl, inner city schools, regional amalgamation, and others that I plan to write about over the next six months), but the one issue that may have the potential to create a major wave is the Katz Group‘s desire to have the City of Edmonton to fund $400,000,000 for a new downtown arena. The Katz Group has hired long-time PC-insider Peter Elzinga as a lobbyist and launched a political campaign to “Revitalize Downtown” in advance of the election. Mayor Mandel was an early supporter of the downtown arena, but remains publicly coy about his position on the actual Katz Group proposal.

Meanwhile in Calgary, the race to replace retiring Mayor Dave Bronconnier remains eerily quiet. Former PC MLA Jon Lord and food activist Paul Hughes are in the race. Former Ontario NDP MPP George Dadamo entered the race last Summer and has since dropped off the political map. Game show contestant and Alderman Ric McIver is widely expected to join the race and an online campaign to draft Mount Royal University professor Naheed Nenshi is growing.

alberta politics notes 2/24/2010

– As Bill 1, the Alberta Competitiveness Act is this sessions flagship piece of government legislation. With all the focus on “competitiveness,” has anyone wondered what happened to the Premier’s Economic Strategy Committee that was announced last summer? (their website has not been updated since July 2009) The committee included former Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, former MP David Emerson, and former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge.
– Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier announced that he will not be seeking re-election in October. Bronconnier was first elected as Mayor in 2001. Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel has yet to make his electoral intentions public.
– Alberta could hold its fourth Senate election since 1989 along-side the municipal elections this October.
– Edmonton City Council approved the Municipal Development Plan this week. Councillor Don Iveson has posted some remarks on his blog.
– Lethbridge-East MLA Bridget Pastoor scored a win for the Liberal Opposition this week when the Assembly approved her motion to “…urge the Government to establish an independent Commission to review the current salaries and benefits for Members of the Legislative Assembly…” It is important to note that as this was a Private Member’s Motion, it is non-binding.
– Facing charges of cocaine-possession and drunk-driving, former Edmonton-Strathcona Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer is expected to plea-bargain when his case reconvenes in March.
– In my previous post, I mentioned the low-voter turnout in the 2008 provincial election. Here is a map showing voter turnout in ridings across the province (only 4 out of 83 ridings had a turnout larger than 50%).

save the date: alberta politics in fall 2009.

October 14: Premier Ed Stelmach will deliver a televised address on CTV and AccessTV.

It is no surprise that Stelmach has a difficult time articulating himself when speaking in public, so these kind of productions will allow the Premier to present a message that is pre-produced, edited, and heavily scripted. The address is being pitched as a talk on the economy titled “The Way Forward.”  This avenue presents Stelmach with the opportunity to make bold announcements, but I expect that while making numerous references to tough economic times, he will focus on the government’s legislative agenda, economic agreements with neighbouring provinces, public service salary freezes, the recently implemented lobbyist registry, and the international role of Alberta’s oilsands. It is also difficult to imagine Stelmach not mentioning that the Governments of Alberta and Canada have provided a $865 million subsidy for carbon capture projects to Shell, one of the largest and most profitable oil companies in the world.

Stelmach’s 2007 televised address cost taxpayers $145,000, and with internet ads already popping up, I wouldn’t be surprised if the total cost was closer $200,000 this year. The Premier has already been booked on the Rutherford Show for the next morning, so expect a full court press.

October 17: Riding high in the polls, the Wildrose Alliance will announce the results of their leadership contest after over 11,000 members vote to choose either Danielle Smith or Mark Dyrholm as their new leader. It was first rumoured that ten, and now four PC MLAs are interested in chatting with Smith if she wins the contest. Since outgoing leader Paul Hinman was by-elected in Calgary-Glenmore, a number of former Progressive Conservative MLAs, including former cabinet minister Ernie Isley have joined that party.

Also on October 17 is ChangeCamp Edmonton, an event that invites Edmontonians and Albertans to re-imagine government in the age of participation. As citizens, we have a responsibility and opportunity to start redesigning the way that we participate in government. Interested? Register online for free and join the conversation on October 17!

October 26-December 3: The Alberta Legislature will sit for the first time since the spring session ended with widespread opposition to Bill 44. I anticipate the first two weeks of the fall session to be about positioning Stelmach and his cabinet in a positive light before the PC leadership review. There continues to be talk of a cabinet shuffle, and with the retirement of Ron Stevens, Stelmach has been left without a designated Calgary Lieutenant. Justice Minister Alison Redford appears to be a natural fit for this position, but with rumoured leadership ambitions herself, she may be cautious to how tight she tethers her horse to Stelmach’s buggy.

I foresee the building conflict over Bill 50, the mess inside the Department of Children Services, staff pay hikes and bonuses, cuts to health care and education, and continuing anger over Bill 44 to dominate the debate. With the Copenhagen Conference happening in December, expect Greenpeace hold another round of oilsands actions. Also, with new allies (including Enmax and Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier), landowners rights advocate Joe Anglin will be out in full force against Bill 50.

November 6-7: Premier Stelmach will face delegates at the PC leadership review in Red Deer. There is a lot of talk about how unhappy some PC supporters are with Stelmach and I don’t doubt it. Former PC insider Hal Walker has publicly dismissed the Premier, Ralph Klein has mused that the Premier should step down if he receives less than 70% support, and Calgary-North Hill PC MLA Kyle Fawcett has publicly said that Stelmach has “done very little” to convince Calgarians that he’s capable of leading the province. There is also a rumoured behind-the-scenes campaign to draft Calgary philanthropist and media personality Brett Wilson to save the dynasty that Peter Lougheed built.

The critics are vocal, but when push comes to shove I believe that the delegates to this convention will heed to the party brass and rally to protect the brand by giving Stelmach the support he needs to continue to occupy his current office.

November 6 and 26: The Alberta Liberals will be hosting their annual leader’s dinner in Calgary and Edmonton, the first since David Swann became leader of the Official Opposition in December 2008. While some Liberals remain optimistic, that party has been tied down by debt since their disasterous election campaign in 2001. The ticket sales and fundraising numbers from these two dinners will be a key indicator of the financial support that the Liberals are receiving from their traditional larger donors.

the you’re fired grab bag.

1) You’re fired. At least that is what supporters of Calgary philanthropist Brett Wilson may want delegates to November’s PC leadership review to tell Premier Ed Stelmach.

While Stelmach attempts to deal with his predecessor’s solid track-record of short-sighted fiscal planning, Wilson was spotted in the company of American billionaire Donald Trump while participating in the Eastern Ontario Economic Showcase.

2) Duncan Wojtaszek and I were the two lucky guests on the 9th episode of the Unknown Studio, set to be released around the second week of October. The topic? Politics, post-partisanship, and changing the game! If you aren’t familiar with Adam and Scott’s podcast, take a listen to my two personal favorites (episode two and episode four) that include interviews with Don Iveson and Scott Lilwall.

3) Friend of Daveberta, the Enlightened Savage has launched a series of blog posts titled Perfecting Alberta. Take a read and contribute in his posts on Health Care, Primary & Secondary Education, and Economics & Industry.

4) Both Enmax and Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier have waded into the debate over Bill 50. I believe that this is a more complex issue than some proponents may have the public believe and I am working on an expanded blog post with some thoughts.

5) The Alberta NDP have begun hosting a series of meetings on the always hot topic of Health Care. Last week, nursing students from the University of Alberta rallied at the Legislature, expressing their frustrations about future job prospects in Alberta.

6) Premier Stelmach has recently denied rumours that 10 PC MLAs would cross to the Wildrose Alliance if Danielle Smith wins that party’s leadership on October 17. Calgary Rants has some thoughts on the speculation.

provincial representatives minding [municipal] affairs [re: bills 202, 203, 204].

Municipal issues are a hot topic for MLAs introducing Private Member’s Bills in this session of the Alberta Legislature:

Bill 202: Municipal Government (Municipal Auditor General) Amendment Act, 2009

Introduced by Calgary-Hays MLA Art Johnston. The AAMDC is waiting for more details, but the AUMA has written to Premier Ed Stelmach raising concerns about the “bureaucracy and increased costs, to both the Province and municipalities,” which they argue could be created if this Bill becomes Law. This Bill could also have the unintended consequence of creating increased tension between the province and municipalities, as many municipalities (including both the Cities of Edmonton and Calgary) already employ their own Auditors who report to the elected Councils. While I support increases accountability and transparency, I would hope that a new Auditor General would not face the same funding challenges that have plagued the provincial Auditor General over the past few months.

Bill 203: Local Authorities Election (Finance and Contribution Disclosure) Amendment Act, 2009

Introduced by Athabasca-Redwater MLA Jeff Johnson. As rules around municipal campaign financing currently vary from municipality to municipality, this Bill would bring law and order to one of the last frontiers of campaign finance in Wild Rose Country. Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier has recently introduced recommendations to change campaign finance regulations after his 2007 opponent, Alnoor Kassam, self-funded a $1 million dollar campaign against the incumbent Mayor. Increased consistency, transparency, and accountability on the municipal level is a good start, but there’s still a long way to go.

Bill 204: Municipal Tax Sharing Act, 2009

Introduced by Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman. Especially important in areas of the province such as Edmonton’s Capital Region, the creation of municipal tax-sharing agreements and formulas are a critical growth management issue in Alberta. I’m unsure how this Bill would complement the recently agreed upon ‘peace in our time* among the 25 Capital Region municipalities, but I’ve always thought it likely that provincial legislation would need to be enacted before we would ever see concrete action on this issue. Unfortunately, due to Blakeman’s political geography in the Legislature (sitting in the 9 MLA Liberal caucus, and not in the 72 MLA PC caucus), it’s very likely that Bill 204 will meet a similar fate to Kent Hehr‘s Bill 201 and be defeated.
Here’s video of Blakeman introducing Bill 204:

*More on this later.