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Alberta Politics

alberta politics notes 8/05/2011

Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Alison Redford
Alison Redford

1. Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Alison Redford announced that she would raise monthly payments from the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program from $400 to $1,588 and doubling the allowable income earned for participants. Wildrose communications director Brock Harrison criticized the announcement on Twitter, claiming it would be too costly. The Liberals and NDP have called for increases to AISH funding for years.

During the 2004 provincial election, then-Premier Ralph Klein was criticized for claiming that there was rampant abuse in the program. He then told the media that “severely normal” people do not want to talk about AISH.

2. Gary Mar attempted to grab headlines about Edmonton’s recent streak of murders by criticizing the Safe Communities Initiative, initiated by Premier Ed Stelmach and former Justice Minister Redford. Ms. Redford rebutted Mr. Mar’s criticism of the Safe Communities Initiative by listing statistics showing Youth Crime in Calgary down by 25% and that crime in Canada is at its lowest since 1973.

For more facts debunking Edmonton’s claim to fame as “Canada’s Murder Capital”, see everybodyinthiscityisarmed.com

3. While Ms. Redford and Mr. Mar are two candidates most likely to be branded as Calgarians, southerner Ted Morton is has picked up support from six MLAs in the Edmonton area, including some who have deep connections to their cultural communities (which can produce significant amounts of sold memberships).

4. Former President of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers David Manning has been appointed as Alberta’s Representative in Washington DC, replacing Mr. Mar, who left the position to seek the PC leadership. Mr. Manning’s appointment comes as the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas continues to cause controversy south of the border.

5. Outgoing Liberal leader David Swann raised concerns about Mr. Mar’s Public-Private Partnership (P3) friendly health care policy and one of Mr. Mar’s leadership campaign’s largest donors Dr. Kabir Jivraj. Dr. Jivraj is the former Chief Medical Officer of the Calgary Health Region and is the founder of AgeCare, a for-profit corporation that provides long-term care for senior citizens.

Read more Alberta Politics Notes.

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Alberta Politics

provincial politicians being gamed into katz downtown arena funding debate.

The game of funding billionaire Daryl Katz‘s contentious downtown Edmonton arena proposal entered the provincial political arena this week with candidates in the Progressive Conservative leadership contest and an opposition politician dancing around this delicate issue. Supporters of the Katz downtown arena, including Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel, are stalking the provincial leadership candidates for commitments to hand over provincial tax dollars to fill an extra $100 million gap to construct the project on top of the $125 million from taxes on surrounding development and other municipal funds.

In front of a crowd of more than 350 supporters in Vermilion last week, the PC leadership candidates balked at the idea of using provincial funding to support the construction of the privately-operated downtown arena.

A day later, conservative crusader Ted Morton astonishingly floated the bizarre idea that the capital region hold a referendum to add one per cent to Goods and Services Tax (a “penny tax”) for two years in order to pay for the Katz downtown arena. This proposal is problematic at its most basic (including the fact that the GST is a federal tax).

Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Ted Morton in Vermillion on July 21, 2011.
Ted Morton wants to raise the GST to help a billionaire?

After being incorrectly reported as supporting a tax increase to fund the arena, Alison Redford issued a statement setting the record straight that she opposes any provincial direct funding or a dedicated tax. Former Deputy Premier Doug Horner ruled out direct funding from the provincial government.

In Vermilion, Gary Mar reaffirmed his previous position that the Katz downtown arena will not receive any provincial funding if he becomes Premier.

Never too far away to deliver a soundbite, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith issued a hastily written media release during a stop in Peace River calling for a lottery to fill the $100 million gap.

Premier Ed Stelmach suggested that Mayor Mandel look to existing funds in the already allocated funds from the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) to fill the gap. Using MSI funds to find $100 million for the Katz downtown arena could mean diverting already promised towards the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure such as roads, public transit, and community halls.

While the City of Edmonton will technically “own” the new downtown arena, Mr. Katz, the billionaire owner of the Edmonton Oilers, will collect the revenue generated at the arena.

Meanwhile, Mr. Katz remains conspicuously missing from this public funding debate (perhaps he is hanging out with his millionaire friend Gary Bettman).

Related posts
boosterism beating diligence and reason in katz downtown arena debate.
understanding the katz arena district debate: community revitalization levy, opportunity costs, and the arena poll.
election promises, arena subsidies, and political zealots.
for better or worse, the katz group is getting their arena deal.

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Alberta Politics

peter sandhu endorses ted morton, lindsay blackett endorses doug horner.

I have updated the list and map of MLAs endorsing candidates in Alberta’s Progressive Conservative leadership contest. Edmonton-Manning MLA Peter Sandhu has endorsed Ted Morton‘s candidacy and Calgary-North West MLA and Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett has endorsed Doug Horner.

Gary Mar still has the most MLA endorsements with the support of 17 MLAs, Mr. Horner has the support of 13 MLAs and Mr. Morton has the support of 10 MLAs. Alison Redford and Doug Griffiths remain having the support of of their fellow MLAs each. Rick Orman has no MLA support.

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Alberta Politics

alberta tories video on demand.

All the candidates for Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party, save Alison Redford and Rick Orman, have used online videos to promote their campaign. What do their videos say about how their campaigns are going so far?

Doug Griffiths: “I’m standing out in the rain” (an unfortunate metaphor for his campaign) or “My name is Doug Griffiths and I’m built Ford tough.”

Ted Morton: “My program to remove the word “Wildrose” from Alberta’s licence plates.”

Doug Horner: “Don’t I look cool when I hold this iPad2?”

Gary Mar: “If I don’t get this job, I’m a shoe in for a gig on the Food Network!”

Rick Orman: “I retired from politics 18 years ago and in my day we bought old fashioned newspaper ads. People still read newspapers, …right?”

Rick Orman Stelmach sinking ship Calgary Herald Ad
This ad appeared in the Calgary Herald
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Alberta Politics

recap of the alberta progressive conservative leadership forum in vermilion.

Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership forum July 21, 2011 in Vermilion.
Alberta PC leadership candidates at the July 21, 2011 forum in Vermilion.

More than 350 Progressive Conservative supporters packed into the main hall at Vermilion’s Lakeland College Campus to hear and ask questions to the six candidates seeking the leadership of Alberta’s governing party.

Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Alison Redford in Vermilion on July 21, 2011.
Alison Redford

The format of the debate only allowed each candidate a short 30 seconds to respond to questions. Instead of encouraging direct answers, it limited the candidates responses to quick soundbites, leaving many of the questions to be simply unanswered. This visibly frustrated some of the candidates, most notably Alison Redford who attempted numerous times to delve into details only to have her mic cut off at the 30 second mark.

The only candidate this seemed to help was Gary Mar, who rattled out 15 second soundbites with ease. Unfortunately, this also meant that he said very little of substance during the entire evening. “Alberta is a beautiful garden of flowers”, “forged in the fire of fiscal fury”, and “opportunities in agriculture are sensational” are not exactly policy positions. His soundbite-style responses were an unfortunate distraction and, in my opinion, downplayed his intelligence.

Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Gary Mar on July 21, 2011 in Vermilion
Gary Mar

The limiting format aside, it was interesting to watch how the candidates are positioning themselves in the group. As this was the first of seven all-candidates forums planned to be held across Alberta, the candidates were fairly collegial to each other. It will be interesting to see if this changes as the September 17 first ballot vote approaches.

Each of the candidates spoke against the lay-off of over 1,000 teachers province-wide. Rick Orman accused the government of breaking its word, saying that “a deal is a deal.” Doug Griffiths compared the lay-offs to “selling the topsoil off the farm.”

When asked if any of the candidate would support provincial funding for billionaire Daryl Katz‘s planned downtown Edmonton arena, each of the candidates answered with a definitive “no.” Ted Morton led the group consensus, saying that schools and hospitals, not expensive sports facilities, should be the provincial government’s funding priorities.

Peddling another non-starter issue at the forum was a group of sad looking volunteers representing Envision Edmonton. The lobby group failed to stop the phased closure and re-development of the City Centre Airport lands during the 2010 municipal elections and has been living in a self-imposed exile in Vermilion ever since. They also failed to ask the leadership candidates any questions about their issue at the forum.

Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Doug Horner at the July 21, 2011 forum in Vermilion.
Doug Horner

Dr. Morton was the only candidate to take a more than veiled shot at the outgoing Premier Ed Stelmach, saying that the 2007 Royal Review was his party’s biggest mistake and that under his leadership the government would return to Ralph Klein-style fiscal planning. Considering that Dr. Morton was a key player in forcing Premier Stelmach to resign, it is not surprising that he took the most aggressive stance against the Premier’s agenda.

Doug Horner told the audience that he believed his party’s biggest problem has been the failure to engage their grassroots in a meaningful way. In his closing speech, he reminded the crowd about his family’s connection to the PC dynasty and the role his father, Dr. Hugh Horner, played in building the PC Party with Peter Lougheed.

This weekend, I will write a post that compares and contrasts the two leadership forums I attended this week (the other being the Liberal Party forum).

View more photos of last night’s PC leadership forum in Vermilion on Flickr.

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Alberta Politics

liberal leadership candidates woo edmonton supporters.

 

Liberal leadership candidates (L-R) Bruce Payne, Raj Sherman, Laurie Blakeman, and Hugh MacDonald.
Liberal leadership candidates (L-R) Bruce Payne, Raj Sherman, Laurie Blakeman, and Hugh MacDonald.

More than 200 dedicated Liberal Party supporters piled into Edmonton’s Santa Maria Centre yesterday evening to hear candidates for their party’s leadership speak and answer questions. I attended and was surprised to discover a fairly lively evening for a traditional style all-candidates forum.

All the candidates spoke well, but I believe that the real star of the evening was the moderator, Josipa Petrunic. Ms. Petrunic was well-spoken, articulate, and did not seem to take herself too seriously. I had to ask myself a few times through the course of the evening why she was not on stage as a candidate (she did announce that she plans to stand as a candidate in the next provincial election).

The perceived front-runner, former Tory MLA Raj Sherman, was well-received by the crowd of Liberals, many who see him (rightfully or wrongfully) as a an anti-Tory folk hero. Dr. Sherman spoke well, but will need to expand his responses beyond “health care” in order to prove that he is not a one-trick policy pony.

Despite my being distracted by his uncanny resemblance to James Brolin‘s Governor Robert Ritchie, Bruce Payne spoke well. I am not convinced that he should lead the Liberals, but this experience is sure to help him as his party’s next candidate in Calgary-Varsity (replacing the retiring Harry Chase)

Edmonton-Gold Bar MLA Hugh MacDonald showed his experience with a commanding performance, abandoning his usual conspiracy theory-driven Question Period style for a more dignified pose. His knowledge of detail and experience as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee helped him throughout the evening.

Calgarian Bill Harvey took a strong conservative-angle on fiscal and social policy, made contradictory statements about government involvement in business, and never missed an opportunity to mention a certain former political leader. After hearing the policy positions espoused by this candidate, I would not be surprised to see Mr. Harvey’s name on a Wildrose lawn sign in the near future.

In my opinion, Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman was the only candidate who left the impression that she would define the Liberal Party as more than just a softer version of the Progressive Conservatives. I believe this may be the biggest challenge that will face the next Liberal leader. What place does their party have in a field that has become increasingly dominated by the PCs and Wildrose?

Switching gears, this evening I will be hitting the road eastward to attend the PC leadership forum in Vermilion to watch candidates Doug Griffiths, Doug Horner, Gary Mar, Ted Morton, Rick Orman, and Alison Redford square off in the first of many open-forums.

Visit my Flickr page to see more photos of last night’s Liberal Party forum.

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Alberta Politics

where the votes were in the 2006 alberta pc leadership vote, where the mla support is in 2011.

Maps comparing total number of votes in the final ballot of the 2006 Alberta PC leadership contest and MLA support in the 2011 PC leadership contest.
Total number of votes in the final ballot of the 2006 Alberta PC leadership contest and MLA support in the 2011 PC leadership contest.

As Jim Dinning learned six years ago, having the support of MLAs in a leadership contest does not assure victory. The long-time front-runner in the 2006 Progressive Conservative leadership contest counted the support of over forty sitting MLAs, but on the final ballot vote, it was a low-key cabinet minister named Ed Stelmach with the initial support of nine MLAs who upset Mr. Dinning’s sure-win.

The current PC leadership contest has shown a larger diversity in choices among PC MLAs, with Gary Mar drawing the support of seventeen MLAs, Doug Horner twelve MLAs, Ted Morton nine MLAs, and one each for both Alison Redford and Doug Griffiths.

Premier Christy Clark‘s recent victory in the BC Liberal leadership contest proved that even a candidate with the support of only one-MLA can become the leader of a governing party. A downside of this scenario, as Premier Clark is said to be discovering, and as Premier Stelmach discovered, is that you still have to work with those MLAs who did not support your bid.

Support from sitting-MLAs does have its advantages if the MLA has a strong local organization and especially in rural areas, where local representatives have a different kind of relationship with municipal councils, community organizations, and local weekly newspapers than their counterparts representing big city constituencies.

The maps above compare the total number of votes in the final weekend of the 2006 PC leadership contest with the support of MLAs in 2011. The number of voting members in each constituency will change in this year’s contest, due to different candidates and a different political environment, but it is an interesting look at where the largest groupings of PC memberships were sold in that year’s contest.

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Alberta Politics

after months of campaigning, the pc leadership race officially begins.

All six candidates expected to enter the Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership contest successfully filed their nomination papers, meeting yesterday’s deadline. With less than 70 days left before Alberta’s four-decade long governing party chooses its next leader, and Premier-designate, Doug Griffith, Doug Horner, Gary Mar, Ted Morton, Rick Orman, and Alison Redford will participate in a number of officially hosted open forums.

July 21: All-Candidates Forum in Vermillion
July 28: All-Candidates Forum in Grande Prairie
August 11: All-Candidates Forum in Fort McMurray
August 18: All-Candidates Forum in Medicine Hat
August 25: All-Candidates Forum in Lethbridge
September 1: All-Candidates Forum in Red Deer
September 7: All-Candidates Forum in Calgary
September 15: All-Candidates Forum in Edmonton

Advanced voting for the first-ballot will commence on September 13 and regular voting on September 17. If no candidate receives 50%+1 on the first-ballot, then the three candidates with the most votes will contest a preferential second-ballot vote October 1. If no candidate earns 50%+1 on the second-ballot, the second choice votes from the third place candidate will be redistributed among the final two candidates.

The list of MLA endorsements of PC leadership candidates is being continually updated. Recent changes include the addition of Rocky Mountain House MLA Ty Lund and Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Richard Marz, and Whitecourt-Ste. Anne MLA George VanderBurg, who have endorsed Mr. Mar. I have also removed Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Broyce Jacobs‘ endorsement of Dr. Morton, after receiving conflicting reports that he was also supporting Mr. Mar. It is also expected that Calgary-Shaw MLA Cindy Ady may soon endorse Mr. Mar.

Over the next few weeks, I will be taking a closer look at what MLA endorsements actually mean for the leadership candidates and how deep the PC Party membership has been in many of the constituencies these MLAs represent.

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Alberta Politics

mla support in the alberta pc leadership contest (july 14, 2011)

Here is a preliminary list and map of MLAs who are supporting candidates in the 2011 Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership contest. Please comment below or send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com if there are additions or subtractions to be made to this list.

 

2011 Alberta PC leadership MLA support July 14 2011
Map of MLA support in the 2011 Alberta PC leadership contest.

Candidate: Doug Griffiths (1 MLA)
Kyle Fawcett (Calgary-North Hill)

Candidate: Doug Horner (12 MLAs)
Ray Danyluk (Lac La Biche-St. Paul)
Wayne Drysdale (Grande Prairie-Wapiti)
Hector Goudreau (Dunvegan-Central Peace)
Jack Hayden (Drumheller-Stettler)
Jeff Johnson (Athabasca-Redwater)
Ken Kowalski (Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock)
Genia Leskiw (Bonnyville-Cold Lake)
Len Mitzel (Cypress-Medicine Hat)
Frank Oberle (Peace River)
Luke Ouellette (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake)
Dave Quest (Strathcona)
Greg Weadick (Lethbridge-West)

Candidate: Gary Mar (11 MLAs)
Naresh Bhardwaj (Edmonton-Ellerslie)
Iris Evans (Sherwood Park)
Heather Klimchuk (Edmonton-Glenora)
Mel Knight (Grande Prairie-Smoky)
Diana McQueen (Drayton Valley-Calmar)
Ron Liepert (Calgary-West)
Thomas Lukaszuk (Edmonton-Castle Downs)
Ray Prins (Lacombe-Ponoka)
Rob Renner (Medicine Hat)
George Rogers (Leduc-Beaumont-Devon)
Lloyd Snelgrove (Vermilion-Lloydminster)

Candidate: Ted Morton (10 MLAs)
Moe Amery (Calgary-East)
Carl Benito (Edmonton-Mill Woods)
Evan Berger (Livingstone-Macleod)
Jonathan Denis (Calgary-Egmont)
Doug Elniski (Edmonton-Calder)
George Groenveld (Highwood)
Broyce Jacobs (Cardston-Taber-Warner)
Dave Rodney (Calgary-Lougheed)
Tony Vandermeer (Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview)
David Xiao (Edmonton-McClung)

Candidate: Rick Orman
None

Candidate: Alison Redford (1 MLA)
Art Johnston (Calgary-Hays)

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Alberta Politics

doug horner reminds albertans that he is still running for premier.

Alberta PC leadership candidate Doug Horner.
Doug Horner

Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Doug Horner held a media conference on the steps of the Legislative Assembly building in Edmonton today.

The presser was billed as a launch of his “Enhancing Education” policy framework and his plan to “unite the PC Party,” but in reality it was used as an opportunity to remind the media that despite the attention-making campaigns of Alison Redford and Gary Mar, Mr. Horner is still in this race.

Lite-policy framework
While policy framework introduced some interesting ideas, including the creation of a $50 million fund to help students experience overseas studies and volunteer work, it was surprisingly vague for Mr. Horner who has very capably held the Advanced Education & Technology portfolio over the past four years. The biggest example of this vagueness was found in the eighth point of  his plan to unite the PC Party, “Organizational ability to understand the structure needed to implement change and to effectively make things happen.”

A Premier who will be his own gatekeeper
Included in the “Accessible Leadership” section of today’s policy framework release was the promise that as Premier, Mr. Horner would dissolve the Chief of Staff position and create “regional liaison officers” in its place “to ensure that MLA`s, Cabinet Ministers and stakeholders have direct access to the Premier.” This is a subtle shot at Premier Ed Stelmach‘s Chief of Staff Ron Glenn, who’s “gatekeeper” tendencies led to much frustration and resentment among PC MLAs over the past four years.

Alberta PC leadership candidate Doug Horner and MLA supporters
Doug Horner with his MLA supporters

MLA endorsements
Standing behind Mr. Horner during the media conference were a group of MLAs endorsing his candidacy. Many of these rural MLAs made up the core of Premier Stelmach’s caucus support in his 2006 leadership bid, they include Lac La Biche-St. Paul MLA Ray Danyluk, Grande Prairie-Wapiti MLA Wayne Drysdale, Dunvegan-Central Peace MLA Hector Goudreau, Drumheller-Stettler MLA Jack Hayden, Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Luke Ouellette, and Peace River MLA Frank Oberle. Mr. Horner also has the endorsements of Bonnyville-Cold Lake MLA Genia Leskiw and Strathcona MLA Dave Quest.

These endorsements will make it easy for his opponents to make comparisons between Mr. Horner and to the unpopular Premier Stelmach, but these comparisons would be misguided. Mr. Horner is a sharp mind and is a much better public speaker that the current occupant of the Premier’s office.

Mr. Horner is a former Deputy Premier and has served as the MLA for Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert since 2001. He is the son of former Deputy Premier Hugh Horner.

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Alberta Politics

a first ballot victory for gary mar?

 

A photo of Alberta PC candidate Gary Mar's campaign bus.
Gary Mar's campaign bus.

First ballot voting for Alberta’s Progressive Conservative leadership does not take place until September 17, but a show of force has led some politicos to begin speculating that former cabinet minister Gary Mar could be steamrolling towards a first ballot victory against his five opponents. With a flashy campaign launch, a deep war-chest, and a strong showing of support at a fundraiser attended by around 1500 supporters in Edmonton, it may not be far fetched speculation.

Attracting the endorsements of the PC Party establishment, including cabinet minister Iris Evans, Ron Liepert, Mel Knight, Lloyd Snelgrove, and Thomas Lukazsuk, as well as growing bevy of MLAs including Ray Prins and George Rogers. According to the newsletter Insight into Government, long-time Calgary Liberal fundraiser Daryl Fridhandler is supporting Mr. Mar’s candidacy.

Questions that were initially raised about his connections to mismanagement while Health & Wellness Minister in the late 1990s have been swept aside by Mr. Mar’s General Election-style campaign. Even the Alberta Medical Association, which has spent a considerable amount of time in the past cozying up to the Progressive Conservatives (perhaps with questionable results for its members) is promoting Mr. Mar.

His main opponents will do their best to stop Mr. Mar from rolling to a first-ballot victory. Right-wing standard bearer and former Finance Minister Ted Morton has attracted the support of Housing Minister Jonathan Denis and MLAs George Groenveld and Dave Rodney. While his campaign should not be underestimated, Mr. Morton is either on vacation or campaigning in a stealth plane. He has barely made news headlines since a highly-public row with Premier Ed Stelmach over the provincial budget led to his resignation earlier this year.

Former Deputy Premier Doug Horner is criss-crossing the province, and as the only candidate from northern Alberta (and the Edmonton region), he is likely to draw considerable regional support that Mr. Mar may find difficult to tap into. The endorsement of Lac La Biche-St. Paul MLA Ray Danyluk and more expected MLA endorsements may position Mr. Horner as the de-facto “northern opposition” to the Calgary-based Mr. Mar.

Rick Orman, a Calgary oil-man and former cabinet minister who left politics in 1993, is said to be well-funded and eating away at Mr. Morton’s support. For all his good intentions, Battle River-Wainwright MLA Doug Griffiths is said to be struggling financially, which must be disappointing for the young MLAs enthusiastic supporters, which include Calgary-North Hill MLA Kyle Fawcett.

Former Justice Minister Alison Redford may be the biggest obstacle standing between Mr. Mar’s and a first-ballot victory on September 17. A fellow Calgarian with considerable financial support and an aggressive campaign to distance herself from the unpopular administration of Premier Stelmach, Ms. Redford may challenge Mr. Mar for the support of moderates in the PC Party. Challenging Mr. Mar for the votes of these moderate PC members could deny him the base he needs to mount an early victory.

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Alberta Politics

how much money do alberta’s political parties have in the bank? comparing financial disclosures from 2009 and 2010.

Submitted to Elections Alberta earlier this year, the 2010 financial disclosures from the constituency associations of Alberta’s political parties have been released (the central party financial disclosures were released in April). I have taken some time over the past few days to collect the 2010 data and compare them with financial disclosures from 2009.

There are a number of interesting things about these disclosures, including the annual expenses of some constituency associations as recently mentioned by Edmonton-Gold Bar MLA Hugh MacDonald.

Not surprisingly, the Progressive Conservatives have shown their political strength with functional organizations in nearly all 83 constituencies. PC constituency associations disclosed over $3.1 million in net assets in 2010, a jump from $2.5 million in 2009. The three wealthiest PC constituency associations with over $100,000 in net assets are Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock (MLA Ken Kowalski), Calgary-Elbow (MLA Alison Redford), and Whitecourt-Ste. Anne (MLA George VanderBurg).

The Wildrose Alliance showed substantial growth in 2010, as its constituency associations grew their total net assets to $455,595 from a low $78,298 in 2009. The constituency organizations of two of that party’s new MLAs, former Tories Rob Anderson and Heather Forsyth, increased their net assets by an impressive $60,723 in Airdrie-Chestermere and $36,075 in Calgary-Fish Creek in 2010.

The Liberals showed marginal financial growth and still face substantial challenges in fundraising compared to the PCs and Wildrose Alliance. The Liberals fundraised well in constituencies their 8 MLAs currently represent and a few other constituencies which that party’s MLAs held until the last election (notably Edmonton-Rutherford, where former MLA RIck Miller is his party’s nominated candidate).

In five constituencies that the Liberals represented until 2008 or more recently, there were signs that none or very little local fundraising had taken place in 2010 (Calgary-Currie, Calgary-Elbow, Edmonton-Decore, Edmonton-Ellerslie, and Edmonton-Meadowlark).

Alberta NDP local organizations in the majority of the province’s constituencies appeared to be dormant or non-existant in 2010.

The NDP is strategically targeting its financial and organizational resources in a handful of constituencies in Edmonton where it hopes it can make gains in the next election. While the party’s local organizations have not wracked up large net assets, there is noticeable spending happening in a few constituencies (including more than $24,000 in expenses in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview where candidate Deron Bilous is campaigning).

Here are breakdowns of the party’s 2009 and 2010 financial disclosures:

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Alberta Politics

alberta politics notes 6/17/2011

Marz and Lindsay retiring
Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills PC MLA Richard Marz announced that he will retire when the next provincial election is held. Mr. Marz was first elected in 1997, defeating Liberal MLA turned Social Credit candidate Don MacDonald with a 19% margin of victory.

Stony Plain PC MLA Fred Lindsay also announced that he will be retiring at the next election. An MLA since 2004, Mr. Lindsay was rewarded for his early support of Premier Ed Stelmach‘s leadership candidacy with an appointment to cabinet as Solicitor General in 2006. His loyalty only took him far until January 2010, when he was shuffled out of cabinet to the Tory backbenches. He soon after publicly mused that he might run for the Wildrose Alliance in the next election.

PC leadership contest
Alison Redford released her social policy strategy. Gary Mar has a new ride. Ted Morton was wooing potential supporters at the Conservative Party of Canada convention in Ottawa.

Opposition Parties take a Municipal Focus
Alberta Party leader Glenn Taylor released his party’s municipal policy brief this week in the wake of Mayor Naheed Nenshi‘s call for a Charter for the Cities of Calgary and Edmonton. Outgoing Liberal leader David Swann reaffirmed his party’s position endorsing the municipal charter.

RCMP respond to NDP letter
The RCMP have responded to a letter from NDP MLA Brian Mason asking for an investigation into accusations of politically influenced queue-jumping for medical procedures. According to Sergeant Tim Taniguchi: “It has been reviewed and the matter has been referred to our Edmonton commercial crime section which is going to look into it further to see what further steps are needed.

Kowalski going to pasture?
Calgary politico David Heyman wrote about rumours that Assembly Speaker and Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock PC MLA Ken Kowalski may retire after a very long (long, long, long) 32 years in politics.

Heyman goes Wildrose
Speaking of Mr. Heyman, it appears that he is now working as a campaign advisor to Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith. Mr. Heyman was until recently working in Communications roles in Premier Stelmach’s Calgary Office and for Energy Minister and Calgary-West MLA Ron Liepert. The former Calgary Herald Reporter was also a supporter of Calgary-Buffalo Liberal MLA Kent Hehr‘s early-aborted Mayoral campaign in 2010.

Alexander beats Blanchard
Roy Alexander defeated popular QR77 Radio Host Mike Blanchard for the Wildrose Alliance nomination in the new constituency of Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill. The Wildrose Alliance are expected to announce high-profile candidates in Banff-Cochrane and Lethbridge-East within the next few weeks.

What polls are good for
A new poll showing the Wildrose Alliance catching up to the PCs? Take a closer look a the source.

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Alberta Politics

alison redford distancing herself from premier stelmach.

“She’s taking the same position as Raj Sherman, who’s now -I don’t know what he is now, an Independent? -and I believe David Eggen who is also an NDP candidate (and) is asking for the same.”

“You’d have to ask why she took the position. Obviously, some of the leadership candidates are going to try to differentiate themselves and this is one way of doing it.” – Premier Ed Stelmach (June 7, 2011)

Premier Ed Stelmach took a remarkably partisan pot shot at one of his own party’s leadership candidates, Alison Redford, after she called for a judicial inquiry into accusations of politically influenced queue-jumping made by former Alberta Health Services CEO Stephen Duckett.

This is the second time in two weeks that Ms. Redford has taken a public position opposite to the Premier. Last week she publicly rebutted the Premier’s confused statement that teachers were to blame for lay-offs.

It is not difficult to see why Ms. Redford would be trying to distance herself from Premier Stelmach. According to a Angus Reid Vision Critical poll released yesterday, only 27% of Albertans surveyed approved of Premier Stelmach’s job performance (54% of Albertans surveyed disapproved of his job performance).

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Alberta Politics

a look at the candidates lining up in the race to replace ed stelmach.

The candidates lining up to replace Premier Ed Stelmach as leader of the PC Party have been campaigning for months, yet what should be the hottest political leadership contest of the year has so far been a quiet affair. Will it take the summer months to heat up this contest, or will Albertans wait until the September 17 first ballot vote approaches before they begin to pay attention?

Here is a look at the candidates who are seeking the PC Party leadership:

A photo of Doug Griffiths, Alberta PC leadership candidate.
Doug Griifths

Doug Griffiths
Slogan: Better Alberta
Elected experience: MLA for Wainwright from 2002-2004 and Battle River-Wainwright from 2004 to present.
Released policies: Energy, Finance, Property Rights
Background: An underdog in this contest, Mr. Griffiths’ public musings have made him a pariah among some fellow conservatives and his openness to go to these uncomfortable places makes him unique when contrasted with the large contingent of comfortably-silent MLAs in the PC caucus. These musings have likely cost him a spot in cabinet, but they have also built him a solid following of supporters online.

Despite support of some rural high-rolling Tories, word on the street is that Mr. Griffiths campaign has had a challenge keeping up with fundraising compared to the other candidates in this contest. Calgary-North Hill backbencher Kyle Fawcett is the only MLA to have endorsed Mr. Griffiths. He supported Jim Dinning in the 2006 PC leadership contest.

A photo of Doug Horner, Alberta PC Leadership candidate.
Doug Horner

Doug Horner
Slogan: Let’s get it done right.
Elected experience: MLA for Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert since 2001.
Background: Calgary Tories still bitter from Jim Dinning’s defeat in 2006 will try to paint Mr. Horner with the same brush as they did Premier Ed Stelmach. Mr. Horner is a more comfortable figure than the Premier and did a decent job filling various cabinet posts, including Agriculture and Advanced Education & Technology.

The heir to a three-generation political dynasty, Mr. Horner follows in the footsteps of his grand-father Senator Ralph Horner, his uncles former MPs Jack Horner and Norval Horner, and his father former MP, MLA and deputy Premier Hugh Horner. Big shoes to fill.

Under the auspices of the grassroots Albertan group, led by advisor Brad Ferguson, Mr. Horner is embarking on a province-wide “Think Big Alberta” speaking tour with retired Canadian Forces General Rick Hillier and Vancouver 2010 Olympic Committee CEO John Furlong. The tour kicks off in Edmonton on June 22 and has stops planned in Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, and Calgary.

In 2006 he supported Mark Norris on the first ballot and Ed Stelmach on the second ballot.

A photo of Gary Mar, Alberta PC leadership candidate.
Gary Mar

Gary Mar
Slogan: None evident, supporters on Twitter are using the hashtag #GOGARY
Elected experience: MLA for Calgary-Nose Hill from 1993 to 2004 and Calgary-Mackay from 2004 to 2007.
Released policies: Education, Municipal Funding
Background: Smart and slick, Mr. Mar’s campaign has the feel of a candidate for the United States Senate, which is not surprising considering that he has spent the past five years dining and lobbying the Washington DC political establishment on behalf of the Alberta Government. An MLA and cabinet minister from 1993 until 2007, he has been out of the public eye long enough not to be directly tied to the current PC Party administration.

Mr. Mar’s campaign carries significant support from Establishment Tories like former Finance Minister Iris Evans and current Energy Minister Ron Liepert, who rumours say has been trying to strong-arm support from other Tory MLAs. Mr. Mar’s campaign public relations are being handled by long-time government spokesperson Mark Kastner, who is still listed as Alberta Health Services Executive Director of Media Relations.

The membership list of a secret Facebook group created before Mr. Mar officially entered the PC leadership contest included Jim Dinning‘s 2006 campaign chairman Brent Shervey, Calgary-Nose Hill MLA Neil Brown, Drayton Valley-Calmar MLA Diana McQueen, Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Fred Horne, co-chair of the PC Party’s 2008 election platform committee Brenda Barootes, and pollster Janet Brown.

He supported Jim Dinning in the 2006 PC leadership contest.

A photo of Rick Orman, Alberta PC leadership candidate.
Rick Orman

Rick Orman
Slogan: The Right Choice
Elected experience: MLA for Calgary-Montrose from 1986 to 1993
Background: This blast from the past could turn into the Ron Paul of the PC leadership contest. As the MLA for Calgary-Montrose from 1986 to 1993 and third place candidate in his party’s 1992 leadership contest, Mr. Orman faded into political obscurity until making a return as a candidate in this contest. Taking aggressive positions at candidate forms and typing with a sharp wit on Twitter, he does not owe much to the PC Party in its current incarnation and has little to lose by telling PC members what the other candidates are afraid to say. It has been suggested that Mr. Orman’s candidacy poses the biggest threat to Dr. Morton.

Mr. Orman’s campaign is moving into an office recently vacated by Calgary-Centre Conservative MP Lee Richardson‘s campaign team, opening speculation that Mr. Orman’s support may not be so thin.

A photo of Justice Minister Alison Redford at the 2011 Alberta budget announcement in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Alison Redford

Alison Redford
Slogan: None.
Elected experience: MLA for Calgary-Elbow since 2008
Released policies: Democratic Renewal, Education, Energy, Health Care
Background: The only woman in this contest, Ms. Redford is not your typical Red Tory. While her campaign has so far focused on important issues like health care, education, democratic renewal, and energy policy, the safe communities initiative during her time as Justice Minister demonstrated that she is creative enough to look beyond the “tough on crime” agenda. She is also appears to be taking a page from popular Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Edmonton City Councillor Don Iveson by “campaigning in full sentences.” (This may have been influenced by her campaign strategist Stephen Carter, who was involved with Mayor Nenshi’s campaign).

Ms. Redford has only been an MLA since 2008, but her political experience is broad, ranging from serving as a Senior Policy Advisor to External Affairs Minister Joe Clark, being appointed as one of four International Election Commissioners to administer Afghanistan’s first parliamentary elections, and challenging Calgary-West MP Rob Anders for the Conservative Party nomination in 2004 (she was unsuccessful).

A photo of Ted Morton, Alberta PC leadership candidate.
Ted Morton

Ted Morton
Slogan: Alberta Proud/Proud to be Albertan
Elected experience: Senator-in-Waiting 1998 to 2004, MLA for Foothills-Rockyview from 2004 to present
Released policies: Democratic Renewal, Power Transmission
Background: The former Finance Minister and third place leadership candidate from 2006 who’s actions forced Premier Ed Stelmach to resign and this contest to begin. Many of his key organizers from his previous leadership bid have joined the Wildrose Alliance and it is questionable whether they will return to the PC Party fold if they have embraced Dr. Morton’s ideological soul-mate Danielle Smith. His time as Finance Minister hurt his conservative credentials, especially among rural landowners furious at the government’s recently passed transmission line legislation – Bill 50.

In 2006, Dr. Morton received support of Rob Anders, Myron Thompson, and Jason Kenney, who have each since quietly or loudly shown support for the Wildrose Alliance.

Expected to enter the race:

Thomas Lukaszuk
Elected experience: MLA for Edmonton-Castle Downs from 2001 to present
Background: Yet to enter the contest, rumours have been swirling for months about Minister Lukaszuk’s potential entry into this contest. He would be the only MLA from Edmonton to enter the contest and while he would be a long-shot candidate, it could help solidify his position in cabinet under the next PC Premier.

He supported Jim Dinning in the 2006 leadership contest.