Tag Archives: Al Kemmere

Rural Alberta Advantage

AAMDC wants a Rural Alberta Electoral Advantage

The Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties approved a resolution opposing the recommendations included in the final report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission this week at their annual meeting in Edmonton. The organization representing municipal districts and counties opposes the dissolution of three rural districts and is calling for an amendment to Section 13 of the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act.

A press release issued by the AAMDC states the organization has no issue with the creation of new urban seats to support the significant growth in the urban centres, but feels strongly these seats should not be created at the expense of rural Alberta.

“To suggest that effective representation will be achieved by decreasing the number of long-standing rural seats will disservice rural Alberta greatly,” AAMDC president Al Kemmere said in the news release. “Rural communities are an intrinsic part of Alberta and as such, deserve to have a voice in our democratic institutions.”

Section 13 of the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act limits the number of districts represented in Alberta’s Legislative Assembly to 87. Presumably, the AAMDC would like to see an increase to the total number of MLAs in order to offset the loss of rural representation in the Assembly.

In 2010, then-Justice Minister Alison Redford introduced Bill 28: Electoral Division Act, which increased the total number of electoral districts represented in the Legislature from 83 to 87. It was widely believed that this increase was an attempt to quell political opposition to any decrease in rural representation by the large caucus of rural Progressive Conservative MLAs.

The Commission’s final report recommends the creation of three new urban districts to reflect significant population growth in urban municipalities such as Airdrie, Calgary, Chestermere, Cochrane, Edmonton and Spruce Grove. The report’s recommendations also reflect the considerable growth of suburban and acreage communities in counties surrounding these urban areas.

While most areas of the province have experienced some level of population growth since the last time electoral boundaries were redrawn in 2011, some rural areas east of Red Deer and in east central Alberta have experience a decline in population.

The elimination of rural districts will result in geographically larger rural districts. This will pose increased challenges to MLAs who will need to represent more sprawling and geographically diverse constituencies, but the elimination of rural districts is inevitable unless their populations increase at a rate larger than the growing urban areas.

Rural Alberta has experienced a significant decline in electoral representation over the past fifty years, partly due to population growth in the urban centres but mostly due to the gradual elimination of intentional political gerrymandering of electoral districts, which created a lopsided over-representation of rural MLAs in the Assembly.

In the 1967 election, rural Albertans were 31 percent of the population but rural areas represented 44 of 63 electoral districts in the province. That rural overrepresentation declined only slightly in the 1971 election, when rural Albertans represented 27 percent of the population and 42 of 75 electoral districts.

The blatant overrepresentation of rural areas over the province’s growing urban areas continued under the old PC government until at least the mid-1990s. Rural gerrymandering was once a hallmark of Alberta’s political history, but recent Electoral Boundary Commissions worked to equalize representation of rural and urban areas in the Assembly.

Politics and Rural Representation

When the Commission’s final report is introduced for debate in the Assembly, which could happen in the coming weeks, we can expect the United Conservative Party caucus to oppose many of the recommended changes. While there are legitimate concerns with some of the boundary changes impacting rural areas, the UCP will use the report’s recommendations to attack the urban-based New Democratic Party, which is already unpopular in rural Alberta.

Unlike the PC caucus in 2010 and the UCP caucus in 2017, the governing NDP caucus is largely composed of MLAs representing urban districts in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer and Lethbridge. The relatively small rural NDP caucus, which includes Children’s Services Minister Danielle Larivee, Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd, Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson, Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier and Economic Development Associate Minister Jessica Littlewood, does not have the numerical leverage over their colleagues that rural caucuses have had in the past.

The decreasing influence of rural MLAs in Alberta governments since 2012, when the Wildrose Party swept into opposition, led the AAMDC to find itself sitting on the outside of political power for the first time in decades.

For many years, the AAMDC was known in political circles as the PC Party’s “farm team,” because many rural politicians had used the organization as a springboard in attempts to win PC candidate nominations (including current president Al Kemmere and former county reeves Jack Hayden, Ray Danyluk and Ed Stelmach).

The PCs under Redford’s leadership struggled to communicate rural interests in government and it is unclear if the current NDP government even has much of a rural agenda.

This week’s announcement from Shaye Anderson that the government will provide a tax credit for uncollectible education property taxes on defunct oil and gas properties, known as orphan wells, should be popular among rural municipal leaders. But previous transgressions, like the fumbled passage of Bill 6 and the phase-out of coal-fired power plants early in the NDP’s term in government created significant resentment in rural areas. These issues will pose a major challenge for NDP MLAs seeking re-election in rural districts in the 2019 election.

Danielle Larivee Rachel Notley Deron Bilous

Notley creates Economic Development ministry, appoints rural Municipal Affairs minister

Alberta’s provincial cabinet grew from twelve to thirteen today with the appointment of Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee to the posts of Minister of Municipal Affairs and Service Alberta.

Ms. Larivee takes over those roles from Deron Bilous. Mr. Bilous, one of the four NDP MLAs elected before this year’s orange chinook swept across Alberta, is now the Minister of Economic Development and Trade, a new department created from elements of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Innovation and International and Intergovernmental Affairs.

With Finance Minister Joe Ceci scheduled to table the provincial budget in the Legislative Assembly on Oct. 27, the creation of this new ministry is meant to send a message about the importance of job creation and economic diversification. It was announced today that the budget will also include an “economic development plan” that will help provide some direction for this initiative.

The provincial budget is expected to include significant investment in public infrastructure and job creation projects to compensate for the loss of jobs caused by the drop in the international price of oil.

Calgary No Longer the Centre of Alberta’s Political Universe

The appointment of a rural northern Alberta MLA to cabinet has already generated complaints from some Calgary-based pundits. Only four of thirteen cabinet ministers represent constituencies south of Edmonton, including Finance Minister Joe Ceci, Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley and Environment Minister Shannon Phillips.

Over the course of its 44 years in power, the old Progressive Conservative government was led by Calgarians for more than three decades – Premiers Peter Lougheed (1971 to 1985), Ralph Klein (1992 to 2006), Alison Redford (2011-2014) and Jim Prentice (2014-2015).

It is suspected that former Alderman Bob Hawkesworth would have been appointed to cabinet as Minister of Municipal Affairs if he had won a September by-election in the Calgary-Foothills riding. If this is true, Calgarians can rightfully ask why one of the other eleven NDP MLAs in Calgary wasn’t appointed to cabinet. But they would be mistaken to believe they are the only group the provincial government is trying to represent.

As an MLA representing a large rural constituency, Ms. Larivee’s appointment to the Municipal Affairs post is more likely a tip of the hat to the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties. An incredibly well-connected lobby group during the PC Party’s time in power, the AAMDC has found itself sitting on the outside of political power for the first time in decades.

The group was known in political circles as the PC Party’s “farm team,” because many of its officials have used the group as a springboard in attempts to win PC candidate nominations (including current president Al Kemmere and former cabinet minister Jack Hayden).

As a registered nurse who worked in a community health care setting, Ms. Larivee will understand some of the challenges facing the rural and remote communities represented by the AAMDC. It just so happens that Ms. Larivee’s new job starts a month before her first large event as minister – the AAMDC’s annual general meeting on November 17 and 18.


Alberta’s New Cabinet

Rachel Notley (Edmonton-Strathcona) – Premier

Deron Bilous (Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview) – Economic Development and Trade

Oneil Carlier (Whitecourt-Ste. Anne) – Agriculture and Forestry

Joe Ceci (Calgary-Fort) – Finance and Treasury Board President

David Eggen (Edmonton-Calder) — Education and Culture and Tourism

Kathleen Ganley (Calgary-Buffalo) Justice and Aboriginal Affairs

Sarah Hoffman (Edmonton Glenora)— Health and Seniors

Danielle Larivee (Lesser Slave Lake) – Municipal Affairs and Service Alberta

Brian Mason (Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood) –  Infrastructure and Transportation

Margaret Mccuaig-Boyd (Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley) – Energy

Shannon Phillips (Lethbridge-West) – Environment and Parks and Status of Women

Irfan Sabir (Calgary-McCall) – Human Services.

Lori Sigurdson (Edmonton-Riverview) – Advanced Education, and Jobs, Skills, Training & Labour

alberta candidate nomination update – november 2011 (part 3)

For the past year I have been maintaining a list of declared and nominated candidates planning to stand in Alberta’s next provincial general election. To give readers a better idea about where in the province the five main political parties are actually nominating candidates, I have created an easy spreadsheet with a regional breakdown.

Nominated Alberta Election candidates by Region November 27 2011

Nominated Alberta election candidates by region. November 27, 2011.

For the regional breakdown, I have used the same divisions used by Wikipedia. The Edmonton region consists of all constituencies within the city, and St. Albert, Spruce Grove-St. Albert, Sherwood Park, and Strathcona-Sherwood Park.

Here are some of the recent updates that I made to the list:

Battle River-Wainwright: Buffalo Trail Public Schools Trustee Dave Nelson was nominated as the Wildrose candidate in this east central constituency. Mr. Nelson defeated Rob JohnsonTom Jackson, and Heisler Mayor Sean Maciborski.

Calgary-Cross: Teacher Narita Sherman was acclaimed as the Liberal Party candidate in this north east Calgary constituency. Ms. Sherman is the niece of party leader Raj Sherman.

Calgary-Currie: St. Michael’s School Principal Christine Cusanelli is seeking the Progressive Conservative nomination in this south central Calgary constituency. The constituency is currently represented by Alberta Party MLA Dave Taylor, who will be retiring at the next election.

Calgary-KleinChris Tahn was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate.

Broyce Jacobs

Defeated: MLA Broyce Jacobs

Cardston-Taber-Warner: Pat Shimbashi defeated MLA Broyce Jacobs to win the PC nomination. Mr. Jacobs was first elected in 2001, was defeated by Alberta Alliance candidate Paul Hinman in 2004, and was re-elected in 2008.

Edmonton-Gold Bar: Recent Mayoral candidate David Dorward has announced that he will be seeking the PC nomination. Mr. Dorward placed second as the PC candidate in the 2008 election. The Wildrose have nominanted Linda Carlson as their candidate. The Liberals will be holding a nomination meeting to replace retiring MLA Hugh MacDonald on December 5. Josipa Petrunic and Christian Villeneuve are the two candidates who have announced their entry into the Liberal nomination contest.

Edmonton-Mill Creek: On December 7, the NDP are expected to nominate Evelinne Teichgrabber as their candidate.

Edmonton-Mill Woods: Sources say that a challenger by the name of Ron Randhawa will challenge PC MLA Carl Benito for their party’s nomination. First-term MLA Mr. Benito grabbed headlines when it was revealed that he broke a promise to donate his entire MLA salary to a youth scholarship and when he publicly blamed his wife for not paying his municipal taxes.

Premier Ed Stelmach and Tofield Mayor Nabil Chehayeb

Premier Ed Stelmach and Tofield Mayor Nabil Chehayeb

Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville: Tofield Mayor Nabil Chehayeb has entered the PC nomination race. Already in the race are Vegreville Mayor Richard Coleman, Strathcona County Councillor Jacquie Fenske, and former Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Jim Sheasgreen. The nomination meeting to replace local MLA and former Premier Ed Stelmach is scheduled to be held on January 23, 2012.

Lacombe-Ponoka: Doug Hart is seeking the NDP nomination in this central Alberta constituency. In the 1989 election, Mr. Hart was the NDP candidate in the now defunct Ponoka-Rimbey constituency. He is the President of the Federal NDP association in the Wetaskiwin riding.

Lethbridge-East: With MLA Bridget Pastoor crossing the floor to the PC caucus, the Liberals are left without a candidate in this long-held Grit constituency. Ms. Pastoor has indicated that she will seek the PC nomination to run in the next election.

MLA Little Bow Barry McFarland

Retiring: MLA Barry McFarland

Little Bow: Long-time MLA Barry McFarland has announced that he will be retiring at the next election. Mr. McFarland was first elected in a 1992 by-election. In February 2011, County of Lethbridge Deputy Reeve Henry Doeve publicly expressed his interest in the PC nomination.

Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills: Darcy Davis has won the PC nomination in this central Alberta constituency. Mr. Davis defeated candidate Al Kemmere and Will Stevenson. Mr. Davis is the past Chair of Alberta Beef Producers.

Stony Plain: Stony Plain Mayor Ken Lemke is the nominated PC candidate, having defeated four other candidates – Parkland County Councillor Dianne Allen, Vern Hardman, David Cymbaluk and second-place finisher Lorna Wolodko. The Wildrose Party will nominate their candidate on December 17. Hal Tagg is only candidate to declare his entry so far.

West Yellohead: Barry Madsen is expected to be acclaimed at a December 9 nomination meeting in Hinton. As the NDP candidate in the 2004 provincial election, Mr. Madsen placed second with 21% of the vote.

UPDATEAlberta School Boards Association President Jacquie Hansen announced today that she is taking a leave of absence to seek PC nomination in St. Albert. Ms. Hansen has been a trustee of the Greater St. Albert Catholic School Board since 2001.


alberta candidate nomination update – october 2011 (part 3).

I have updated the list of candidates who have been nominated or declared their intentions to stand as candidates in Alberta’s next provincial election expected in 2012. Please email comment below or email me at david.cournoyer@gmail.com if there are additions to the list.

Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock: CUPE activist Trudy Grebenstein is seeking the NDP nomination scheduled for November 14, 2011. Ms. Grebenstein previously contested the NDP nomination in Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater on September 21 and was defeated by Mandy Melnyk.

Bonnyville-Cold Lake: Many-time NDP candidate Luanne Bannister is seeking the NDP nomination on November 16. Ms. Bannister has previously stood as an NDP candidate in the 2004 election in Cardston-Taber-Warner and in the 2008 election in Drayton Valley-Calmar.

Calgary-FortJeevan Mangat has been nominated as the new Wildrose candidate in Calgary-Fort. Mr. Mangat replaces previously nominated candidate Bob McInnis, whostepped down for personal reasons earlier this year. Also contesting the nomination wasDalton Dalik.

Calgary-Hawkwood: Previously nominated in Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill, Collin Anderson is now seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-Hawkwood. In the 2008 election, Mr. Anderson stood as the NDP candidate in Calgary-North West.

Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill: Replacing the previously nominated Mr. Anderson (see above) is Anne Wilson who is seeking the NDP nomination scheduled for November 10. Ms. Wilson was the NDP candidate in Banff-Cochrane in the 2008 election.

Cardston-Taber-Warner: The NDP have nominated Barbara Eng-Bonthoux as their long-shot candidate in this deep rural south constituency. In the 2008 election, NDP candidate Susan Sirias earned 190 votes out of the 9,505 votes cast.

Edmonton-Centre: The NDP nomination originally scheduled for last week has been postponed. The candidate expected to be nominated was Nadine Bailey, who had stood as the federal NDP candidate in Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont in the recent federal election.

Edmonton-Whitemud: Julia Necheff has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Ms. Necheff is a former reporter with Canadian Press and writer for Faculty of Medicine at the University of Alberta.

Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills: The Progressive Conservative nomination to replace retiring MLA Richard Marz is scheduled for November 26, 2011. Declared candidates include Darcy Davis, Al Kemmere, and William Stevenson. The NDP have nominated Kristie Krezanoski as their candidate.

Red Deer-South: On November 3, 2011, the Alberta Party is expected to nominate Serge Gingras as their candidate.

Rocky Mountain House: Jocelyn Stenger is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate at a meeting scheduled for November 17, 2011. Ms. Stenger is currently employed in the Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood constituency office of NDP MLA Brian Mason.

St. Albert: Recently retired Canadian Forces Major Jeff Wedman is seeking the PC nomination in St. Albert, challenging incumbent PC MLA Ken Allred. Mr. Wedman recently retired as Deputy Commanding Officer of 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in Edmonton. Mr. Allred was first elected in 2008 after defeating Liberal MLA Jack Flaherty by 2,805 votes.

Stony Plain: Alberta Federation of Labour staff member Linda Robinson is seeking the NDP nomination scheduled for November 1, 2011.

Vermilion-Lloydminster: Many-time NDP candidate Ray Stone is seeking his party’s nomination on November 16, 2011. Mr. Stone stood as his party’s candidate in Vermilion-Lloydminster in the 2004 election and as the federal NDP candidate in Vegreville-Wainwright in the 2008 and 2011 elections.

alberta candidate nomination update – september 2011.

I have updated the list of declared and nominated candidates standing in the next provincial election.

Airdrie: The Airdrie City View is reporting that former Airdrie Mayor Linda Bruce is volunteering for Gary Mar‘s PC leadership campaign, adding to the speculation that she may seek the PC nomination to challenge Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson.

Janis Tarchuk, PC MLA Banff-Cochrane, Alberta

Is Janis Tarchuk hanging up her hat?

Banff-Cochrane: Transport worker Jamie Kleinsteuber has been nominated as the Alberta NDP candidate in this mountain constituency. Incumbent PC MLA Janis Tarchuk is being tight lipped about whether she will seek re-election. Ms. Tarchuk was first elected in 1997 and served in cabinet until she was dropped from cabinet in 2010.

Calgary-Currie: Alberta Party MLA Dave Taylor has announced that he will be retiring at the next election. This is not a complete surprise, but it is not good news for the new party, who will lose their only incumbent MLA at the next election. Mr. Taylor was first elected as a Liberal in 2004 and left that party to sit as an Independent in 2010. He joined the Alberta Party in 2011.

Calgary-Mackay-Nose HillCollin Anderson has been nominated as the NDP candidate in this north Calgary constituency. Ms. Anderson ran in the recent federal election as the NDP candidate in Calgary-Nose Hill and in the 2008 provincial election in Calgary-North West. has served in positions with Telecommunications Workers Union and the Calgary & District Labour Council.

Calgary-McCall: Depending on who you believe, the Wildrose either disqualified them for breaking the nomination rules or they quit, but candidates Deepshikha Brar, Khalil Karbani, and Braham Luddu are no longer eligible to run for that party. Candidate Grant Galpin appears to be the only candidate left standing.

Drumheller-Stettler: Hanna Town Councillor Chris Warwick has withdrawn his nomination for the Wildrose candidacy in this constituency. Candidates Dave France, Rick Strankman, and Patrick Turnbull remain declared in the nomination contest,.

Edmonton-Castle Downs: Former pharmaceutical employee John Oplanich is the nominated Wildrose candidate in this north Edmonton constituency. Mr. Oplanich ran for Edmonton City Council in 2010, placing third in Ward 3.

Edmonton-McClung: Varscona Theatre executive director John Hudson has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in this west Edmonton constituency.

Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MLA Rachel Notley

NDP MLA Rachel Notley

Edmonton-Strathcona: NDP MLA Rachel Notley is expected to be acclaimed at a nomination meeting planned for October 11. Vancouver-Kingsway NDP Member of Parliament Don Davies is the guest speaker.

Lethbridge-West: Candidates Shannon Phillips and James Moore will face-off in a contested NDP nomination meeting on September 11.

Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills: The race to replace retiring Progressive Conservative MLA Richard Marz is on. Mountain View County councillor and former reeve Al Kemmere has announced his candidacy to seek the PC nomination. Mr. Kemmere is also a director for the Association of Alberta Rural Municipalities and Districts.

Also seeking the nomination is William Stevenson, who has been endorsed by PC leadership candidate Ted Morton and Wild Rose Member of Parliament Blake Richards.

St. Albert: Former St. Albert alderman James Burrows is the nominated Wildrose candidate. Liberal Party activist Alex Bosse is seeking his party’s nomination.

Sturgeon-St. Albert: Linda Robinson, co-chair of the Indigenous Peoples caucus of the NDP, is seeking her party’s nomination in this constituency. Ms. Robinson works for the Alberta Federation of Labour.