Tag Archives: Allan Hunsperger

Who are Alberta’s top MLAs of 2012?

It has become tradition on this blog that near the end of each year I publish a list of Members of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly who have been the best, worst, or most notable of the past year. Each year’s list has taken a different form and focus (see 2010 and 2011), and the addition of dozens of rookie MLAs after the spring election has left me with little more than seven months to base this list upon. There are sure to be talented and not-so-talented MLAs that have not made list this, so if you feel inspired, please feel free to make additions to the list in the comment section below.

Rookie of the Year - Jeff Wilson, MLA for Calgary-Shaw.

Rookie of the Year – Jeff Wilson, MLA for Calgary-Shaw.

Jeff Wilson (Wildrose – Calgary-Shaw) Rookie of the Year. Perhaps the most unexpected addition to this year’s list is the newly elected Wildrose Party MLA for Calgary-Shaw. Mr. Wilson was a virtual unknown to political watchers when he defeated well-funded Tory star candidate Farouk Adatia (who is now Premier Alison Redford‘s Chief of Staff), but he seems to be fitting into his new role quite comfortably. During the fall sitting, Mr. Wilson stood out from his colleagues when asking tough in question period and launching into spirited and thoughtful debates over legislation. He may have also asked one of the more light-hearted question of this year’s session.

Premier Alison Redford

Premier Alison Redford

Alison Redford (PC – Calgary-Elbow) A better Premier than she is a politician. In her first year, Premier Redford excels at the duties of her job, whether it be advocating for the province at international conferences or in interprovincial relations or debating shifts in government policy. The Premier appears to be less interested or willing to play the political game, which will become increasingly difficult in the face of an aggressive official opposition and a growing list of government scandals and missteps. A recent change in her communications staff may be a sign that the Premier hopes to react more swiftly to the Wildrose attacks in the new year.

Danielle Smith

Danielle Smith

Danielle Smith (Wildrose – Highwood) – A better politician than she probably would be a Premier. She was unable to lead her party into government in the April 2012 election, but with 17 MLAs and 34% of the province-wide vote, the Wildrose Party secured the Official Opposition benches. Borrowing aggressive tactics from the federal Conservatives in Ottawa, who are organizationally tied at the hip with the Wildrose, Ms. Smith’s party is leading the most aggressive and partisan official opposition in recent memory. Whether or not you like her tactics, it is nice to see the Tories sweat for a change.

Kent Hehr

Kent Hehr

Kent Hehr (Liberal – Calgary-Buffalo) The two-term MLA from downtown Calgary is easily one of the most effective and reasonable voices in the tiny Liberal caucus. Mr. Hehr has picked up the mantle left by recently retired Liberal MLA Kevin Taft and challenged the governing Tories about the serious revenue problems facing our province. More recently, his comments about uniting progressive voters drew the ire of Liberal Party archetypes. While his party plays with gimmicky name changes, Mr. Hehr is trying to figure out how to get the Liberal-minded Albertans back in the game after the party fell to third place in the 2012 election.

Doug Horner (PC – Spruce Grove-St. Albert) Trying to change the political culture around debt and budget financing in Alberta is a the tough job faced by Finance Minister Doug Horner. Taking advantage of low inflation and avoiding boom-time construction costs, Mr. Horner is leading the government to using financing to make some much needed investments in public infrastructure. While initially the clear second in command to Premier Redford, he appears to have taken a slight step back from the spotlight. If the next three years do not go well for the current Premier, Mr. Horner could find himself in a position to take his party’s reins.

Thomas Lukaszuk (PC – Edmonton-Castle Downs) The Tory attack dog has been both Minister of Nothing and Everything at the same time. Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk has been the Tory government’s main defender against aggressive attacks launched by the Wildrose Party during Question Period. Whether or not his sometimes aloof style is effective, I expect we have yet to witness just how tough this political minister is.

Kerry Towle (Wildrose – Innisfail-Sylvan Lake) and Ian Donovan (Wildrose – Little Bow) The two first-term Wildrose MLAs were thrown into the media spotlight this summer over issues related to seniors care in Alberta. As Seniors critic, Ms. Towle has been relentless in attacking the government over the quality of food in long-term care centres (an issue raised by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees) and the “one-bath a week” policy. Mr. Donovan was thrown into the media spotlight when the Tory government closed the Little Bow Continuing Care Centre in his Little Bow constituency. As rookies finding their political footing on this issue, it was not an uncommon sight this summer to see the two Wildrose MLAs awkwardly sharing the podium (or megaphone) with NDP MLA David Eggen and leaders of Alberta’s public sector unions.

This year’s honourable mentions go to two candidates who were not elected in April, but contributed a considerable amount to the results on election day. Edmonton-South West Wildrose candidate Allan Hunsperger‘s “Lake of Fire” comments and Calgary-Greenway Wildrose candidate Ron Leech‘s “caucasian advantage” comments were a last minute reminder to Albertans about the extreme conservative elements that exist within the Wildrose Party’s coalition. It indisputable that these two men helped convince many thousands of Albertans to vote for a party led by political moderate Premier Redford, rather than Wildrose leader Ms. Smith.

On this blog, the post that attracted the highest readership and most comments in 2012 was Thorny candidates could be the Wildrose Party’s Biggest Liability. The April 4, 2012 post was shared 603 times on Twitter and Liked by 4,724 Facebook users (Thank you).

Alberta Conservatives can relate to Tea Party “bozos eruptions.”

Tea Party

Angry Tea Party supporters rally against President Barack Obama.

Glued to my television last night, I, like probably millions of other Canadians, watched as the blue states and red states were tallied until President Barack Obama defeated former Governor Mitt Romney.

Last night and over the course of the American election campaign, I could not help but think of the similarities between the missed opportunities of the Republican Party in this election and Danielle Smith‘s Wildrose Party in Alberta’s recent provincial election.

Admittedly, the comparison is not perfect, but as someone who has immersed himself in Alberta politics and, for the past few months, American politics, I could not help but notice some similarities.

Both parties likely had opportunities for significant electoral gains, yet both suffered or were seen to have suffered electorally because of the extreme elements of their electoral coalitions.

Just as the “bozo eruptions” made by Reverends Allan Hunsperger and Ron Leech drove moderate Alberta voters away from Ms. Smith’s party earlier this year, the cruel and mean-spirited “rape” comments made by extreme right-wing Tea Party Republicans Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Murdock in Indiana appear to have driven moderate voters away from the Republican Party. As some pundits have suggested, the American bozo eruptions may have cost the Republicans the opportunity to win back states that they narrowly lost to the Democrats in 2006.

It was promising to see that moderate American voters rejected this type of politics. It was also promising to see American voters support ballot initiatives to legalize same-sex marriage in a handful of states, turning the tide back against years of electoral attacks on marriage equality. In Wisconsin, Democrat Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay Senator, which is made more exciting because her sexual orientation does not appear to have even be an issue during the election campaign.

For those of you who did not have the energy to stay awake into the early hours of the morning to listen to President Obama’s victory speech, you can watch it in the video below.

If only our political leaders could work up an ounce of President Obama’s charisma and powerful speaking skills, Canadian politics could be so much more inspiring.

guest post: the real worry about election 2012.

By: Richard Liebrecht

Going into the election, the two-person caucus of Brian Mason and Rachel Notley was well known among media insiders and observers for punching above their weight in earning coverage. Having served as communications officer for the caucus, I like to think I also played a small part in that excellent coverage. You get it by being relevant and timely.

Brian Mason Alberta NDP leader 2012 Election

Brian Mason

But relevancy and timeliness weren’t required this past election. New Democrats got solid coverage everyday. As did the Liberals, PCs and Wildrose. When I say solid, as a professional public relations practitioner (read: flack), I mean uncritical, straight-up recording of events and releases. I know that some press releases were literally re-written into stories and published.

Early in the campaign, the New Democrats sent Mason into a sports store to buy an Oilers jersey. Five cameras showed up just to get tape. It was way too easy.

Had it not been for a blogger talking about conscience rights and the Wildrose, and a P.C.-connected tweeter highlighting gay-damning comments from a Wildrose candidate, the election may have been nothing but a bunch of rehashed press releases and horserace stories.

I’m not here to slam reporters, however. I count many as friends, and I formerly worked for the Edmonton Sun.

Perhaps that’s why the slack coverage of the election is in my mind easily explained – this election was the product of a dwindling media presence in this province. It’s a national and international trend that’s seeing the reporting industry shrink while economies and populations are at historically large sizes.

Danielle Smith Wildrose Party Alberta Election 2012

Danielle Smith

Firstly, newsrooms were under resourced this election. The Wildrose at times had only one reporter aboard their mammary motor coach, despite their surge in the polls. The reporters who may have been assigned to it were instead covering multiple campaigns in a day because there just weren’t enough bodies to put someone full time with each campaign.

I know that reporters had found Hunsperber’s blog, but didn’t have time to look through it extensively enough to find the trouble posting.

Secondly, editors are desperate to cover every bit of news available. Sounds good, but thanks to short staffing, they’ve been forced to choose: do original work and let some news slip by, or throw all your resources into making sure you have all the news that’s everyone else is doing. Their choice is evident when several cameras showing up for a guy buying a hockey jersey. Every station was worried they may not have the shot. And God help that editor if they tweet a picture of it 30 minutes later than another outlet. This is the blowfish act of outlets too proud to show that there’s little meat left on the bones.

Allan Hunsperger Wildrose Party Edmonton South West

Allan Hunsperger

It’s scary to think that Hunsperger’s blog may not have come to light before Election Day. Premier Smith would have had damage control to do, no doubt – but also no one to answer to for four years. The tidal wave of strategic voting may never have been triggered. Who knows what else media missed?

While a shrivelled press corps makes getting out my story as a PR flack easier, as a citizen I know that’s a dangerous state. While truth can be relative, it is relatively objective. I hope and expect media will be out there wading through the facts and opinions with genuine, untainted curiosity to expose lies and half-truths. Media, at its best, is a bulwark of accountability. When that accountability dwindles, then so too does the warning of punishment for spinning half-truths and even lies, as some dishonourable members of my profession do. Corruption and confusion come unheralded and unstoppable.

None of this is inevitable in a growth society. As news consumers, we have two important choices to make. We can decide to reward enterprising journalism with our readership, or continue to loyally follow a shrunken media into irrelevance. We can decide to pay for subscriptions to good journalism, or we can continue to live under the illusion that news is free.

Demand news with insightful analysis, interesting human perspectives, exploration of new angles and lots of background research. And pay for it.

While handfuls of journalists will continue to lose their jobs if media continues to whither, it’s you who next election may unwittingly vote for someone or something you didn’t even know you were voting for.

Richard Liebrecht (@wardofcanada) is a public relations specialist. He’s formerly communications officer for Alberta’s NDP opposition, where he consulted on communication strategy. He’s also a former staff reporter at the Edmonton Sun. He blogs at wardofcanada.blogspot.com.

edmonton’s advantage: we owe danielle smith nothing.

Danielle-Smith-Stephen-Mandel

After three years of slagging him in the media, Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith met Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel for the first time yesterday (The image is a dramatization of actual events).

Three years after becoming leader of her party, Official Opposition Wildrose Party leader and southern Alberta MLA Danielle Smith met with Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel for the first time yesterday.

It is bizarre that Ms. Smith, who believed she was on the verge of becoming Premier of Alberta before April 23, had not met the Mayor of Alberta’s capital city until today. Knowing how many events Mayor Mandel attends on a weekly basis it is surprising to me that the two  have not coincidentally (or even purposely) bumped into each other at a reception or fundraiser. Perhaps this suggests where Edmonton fit in the Wildrose Party’s grand strategy to form government on April 23, 2012.

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel

Stephen Mandel

In the three years since she was selected as leader of the Wildrose Alliance, Ms. Smith has attempted, very publicly, to turn decisions made by Edmonton City Council into wedge issues in northern Alberta.

The most notable attempt was in 2010, when the Wildrose Party leader denounced the decision by City Councillors to implement a phased closure of the City Centre Airport, and used the conclusion of the long-standing and painful civic to wedge away traditional Tory support in northern communities concerned about what effects the closure could have on medivac and charter flight services.

While campaigning for the cancelation of the phased closure plans, Ms. Smith and her party started what became a personal battle against Mayor Mandel, who supported the phased closure. Despite the Wildrose Party’s incursion into municipal affairs, Mayor Mandel was re-elected with 55% of the vote.

Over the course of the next two years, and the 2012 election campaign, Ms. Smith’s party made issue of the provincial funding for a new Royal Alberta Museum and the renovation of the too-long abandoned Federal Building in Edmonton’s downtown.

These wedge issue did not translate into seats in northern Alberta on election day. The party’s candidates were competitive in many constituencies north of Edmonton, but only Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills candidate Shayne Saskiw was successful and the party’s only incumbent in the north, Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Guy Boutilier, was defeated.

Danielle Smith Wildrose Party Alberta Election 2012

Danielle Smith

The Wildrose Party was also strongly rebuked in Edmonton, where in total votes it placed behind both the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats. Following controversial comments made on a blog by Edmonton Wildrose candidate Allan Hunsperger, Mayor Mandel cautiously waded into the election campaign. Voters in only one urban Edmonton-area constituency gave the party more than 30% support (in Sherwood Park).

Newly elected Cardston-Taber-Warner Wildrose MLA Gary Bikman believes his party’s drubbing in Edmonton was a result of rural voters “possessing more common sense” than the city dwellers, suggesting that Ms. Smith’s party may still have to undergo a significant psychological transformation before it will appeal to those nonsensical city voters.

The Edmonton’s Advantage

Simple geopolitics gives the two other opposition parties an advantage over the new Wildrose Official Opposition in the capital city. The leaders of of the two other opposition parties actually live there. The four MLA NDP caucus, led by Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Brian Mason, is entirely based in Edmonton and the former official opposition Liberal Party, led by Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Raj Sherman, holds two seats in the capital city.

Even as a Calgary-based politician, PC Premier Alison Redford appointed some powerful Edmonton representatives at the cabinet table, including Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk, Human Services Minister Dave Hancock, Health Minister Fred Horne, Culture Minister Heather Klimchuk, and PC caucus whip Steven Young. Just outside the city limits, Advanced Education Minister Stephen Khan, Education Minister Jeff Johnson, and Finance Minister Doug Horner represent constituencies in the Capital Region.

Despite Ms. Smith’s electoral posturing against the Mayor and City Council, and her party’s contingent of MLA’s hailing mostly from rural southern constituencies, Edmonton’s municipal officials will benefit from cultivating working relationships with the new Official Opposition. There will undoubtably be times over the next four years when the Mayor and City Council do not see eye to eye with the Government and that is when a healthy relationship with the bodies occupying the Official Opposition benches will be of benefit to Edmontonians.

With Ms. Smith’s party shut out of Edmonton, the city’s elected representatives do not owe anything to the Wildrose MLA’s, meaning that the Mayor and City Council can build relationships in their own time and on their own terms.

predicting alberta’s election results.

We have received more than 100 entries for the joint Daveberta and CalgaryGrit Great Alberta Election pool and have entered these predictions into a state of the art spreadsheet to discover some interesting predictions for tomorrow’s vote.

Alberta Election Pool Seat Count Prediction Averages

Alberta election pool seat count prediction: Averages (from CalgaryGrit.ca)

The average of the seat count predictions would see Danielle Smith’s Wildrose Party form a minority government with 42 of the 87 seats in the Assembly. The Progressive Conservatives would hold on to 37 (down from 72 in the 2008 election), the NDP would become the third largest party in the Assembly with 4 MLAs, and the Liberals would drop from 9 to 3 MLAs.

The average seat count prediction shows the Alberta Party electing one MLA, but the averages response to the question predicting that party’s best results in a constituency is 22%.

Who will be re-elected?

Most entrants predict that PC MLA Ted Morton will be defeated in Chestermere-Rockyview and that Premier Alison Redford will be re-elected in Calgary-Elbow. The entires were split on predicting whether Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman would be re-elected in Edmonton-Meadowlark.

MLA Hunsperger and Leech?

The entries also showed a signifiant split in predicting whether controversial Wildrose Party candidates Allan Hunsperger and Ron Leech would be elected tomorrow.

Edmonton-Glenora

More than 50% of entries predict that PC MLA Heather Klimchuk will be re-elected in hotly contested Edmonton-Glenora campaign. Predicting her opponents chances of winning, 21% chose NDP candidate Ray Martin, 17% chose Alberta Party candidate Sue Huff, 8% chose former Liberal MLA Bruce Miller, and 3% chose Wildrose candidate Don Koziak.

Highest Tory votes

Battle River-Wainwright (represented by PC MLA Doug Griffiths), Edmonton-Whitemud (represented by PC MLA Dave Hancock), Edmonton-South West, Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills (represented by PC MLA Ray Danyluk), Spruce Grove-St. Albert (represented by PC MLA Doug Horner), and Strathcona-Sherwood Park (represented by PC MLA Dave Quest) were the constituencies predicted to have the highest PC vote on election day.

The pool is still open for new participants until the polls open at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.

the great alberta election pool.

Alberta Legislative Assembly

Who will run the show after April 23?

On Monday, Albertans will go to the polls in what is already being dubbed a “historic” election. The outcome is uncertain, so why not gaze into your crystal ball and enter the Daveberta and CalgaryGrit election pool. It is simple enough – predict the seat totals for each party and answer 10 bonus questions. Everyone gets 87 points minus one point for each seat you are off per party, plus two points per correct bonus question.

Robert Vollman has generously donated the following political book prize packs (shipping extra, unless we can arrange a pick-up in Calgary, Edmonton, or Toronto):

1. The Bill of Rights package: One Canada (Diefenbaker), Memoirs (Trudeau)
2. The Preston Manning package: Thinking Big, The New Canada and Roots of Reform
3. The Jean Chretien package: The Friendly Dictatorship, Straight From the Heart
4. The Federalists package: A Nation Too Good to Lose (Joe Clark), Fighting for Canada (Diane Francis)
5. The Obscure Package: The Betrayal of Canada (Mel Hurtig), Navigating a New World (Lloyd Axworthy)

First choice goes to the overall winner, with the winners of the seat prediction portion and the bonus question portion also winning a book pack. So even if you are an Ontarian, like my friend Dan, with no clue what a “Ted Morton” is, never mind if he’ll win his seat, you can skip the bonus questions and still be eligible for the prizes, based on a shot-in-dark seat prediction.

Contest will close as soon as the polls open Monday. Please paste your entry in the comments here or at CalgaryGrit, or e-mail your picks in to david.cournoyer@gmail.com.

Election Results Questions

Number of MLAs elected by each party (total: 87 MLAs)

Alberta Party:
Liberal:
NDP:
PC:
Wildrose:
Other:

Bonus Question

1. The constituency where the PC candidate will earn their highest percentage of the popular vote:
(2008 results here; candidate list here; top ridings last time: Vermilion-Lloydminster (Lloyd Snelgrove – not running), Battle River-Wainwright (Doug Griffiths), Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville (Ed Stelmach – not running), Bonnyville-Cold Lake (Genia Leskiw), Strathmore-Brooks (Arno Doerksen), Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills (Ray Danyluk))

2. Will PC MLA Ted Morton be re-elected in Chestermere-Rockyview?
(Morton won with 57% of the vote last time, but 308.com projects 22-point Wildrose win)

3. Will Premier Alison Redford be re-elected in Calgary-Elbow?
(Redford beat the Liberals by 3% last election, and 308.com projects her to beat the Wildrose by 3%)

4. Will Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman be re-elected in Edmonton-Meadowlark?
(As a PC, Sherman defeated the Liberals 54% to 30% in 2008)

5. What will the highest vote percentage for the Alberta Party be in a riding? (points if you’re within +/- 5%)
(Polls show them under 5% province-wide, but they’ve targeted a pair of Edmonton constituencies, including the one in Q7)

6. Will either Allan Hunsperger (“gays burn in hell”) or Ron Leech (“being white is an advantage”) win their seat?
(308.com projects Hunsberger to lose, but has Leech in a virtual dead heat)

7. Who will be elected in Edmonton-Glenora?
(Candidates: Sue Huff AP, Bruce Miller Lib, Ray Martin NDP, Heather Klimchuk PC, Don Koziak WR; 2008 vote: PC 40%, Lib 39%, NDP 15%, WR 2%)

8. Which party leaders will announce plans to resign within 48 hours of the vote?
(Alison Redford PC, Danielle Smith WR, Raj Sherman Lib, Brian Mason NDP, Glenn Taylor AP)

9. How many of the 3 senate positions will the Wildrose Party win?
(They’re running 3 candidates, the PCs are running 3 candidates, the Greens have 1 candidate, and there are 6 independents; full list here)

10. Who will get more votes – Liberals or NDP?
(current polls have them effectively tied)

thorny wildrose candidate’s intolerant views are out of step with modern alberta.

It is not very often that you see a candidate for public office in Alberta reference the Book of Revelation.

Allan Hunsperger Wildrose Party Edmonton South West

Wildrose Party candidate Allan Hunsperger

In a tirade against gays and lesbians on his website last summer, Edmonton-South West Wildrose Party candidate Allan Hunsperger evoked references from the Old Testament about ‘lakes of fire’ while he criticized a policy created by the elected trustees of the Edmonton Public School Board that would help fight bullying and ensure safe spaces for all students, especially those who are or are perceived to be sexual minorities.

What should bother Albertans most about these comments are that they are not a case of run of the mill redneck homophobia. Mr. Hunsperger’s comments were partially directed toward children in Edmonton’s Public School system.

Are you wondering how this could possibly be worse?

Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith refuses to condemn Mr. Hunsperger’s comments. Ms. Smith told reporters that “when a person is making personal statements in their capacity as a pastor, which he was, I don’t think anybody should be surprised that they’re expressing certain viewpoints.”

There is such thing as personal viewpoints and there is such thing as prejudice and intolerance.

There are well-meaning candidates running under the Wildrose Party banner in this election, but the controversial views of some of Ms. Smith’s potential cabinet ministers should be of concern to Albertans.

Read Mr. Hunsperger’s comments for yourself:

Sunday, 05 June 2011 09:55
Born this Way
Written by Allan & Cindy Hunsperger

I have decided to do a sequel to Lady Gaga’s CD, “Born this Way.” My CD will be entitled, “Born this Way – And that’s why Jesus came.”The world is believing the lie that because you were “born this way” you now have a right to live this way – the way you were born. Sounds great at first except nobody is mentioning what the results will be of living the way you were born!If you were “born this way,” are you going to “die this way?” Well if that is true, and it is, then you have fallen right into the trap that is as old as time. That trap is what satan wants for you – but is that what you want?You see, you can live the way you were born, and if you die the way you were born then you will suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire, hell, a place of eternal suffering. Now at this point I am not judging, I am just stating a fact! You may not believe me and you have that choice, but I would challenge you to seriously check it out because once you cross over, there is no turning back. It is not only Lady Gaga that doesn’t understand this, it is also our educators with the Edmonton Public school board. The following is right from the public school board’s website: “PHILOSOPHICAL FOUNDATION STATEMENT The Board is committed to establishing and maintaining a safe, inclusive, equitable, and welcoming learning and teaching environment for all members of the school community. This includes those students, staff, and families who identify or are perceived as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two- spirit, queer or questioning their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The Board expects all members of our diverse community to be welcomed, respected, accepted, and supported in every school.” Why this from our public educators? Because they believe people were “born this way” and have a right to die this way. The blind leading the blind! Now every Christian school that has come under the Edmonton Public School board will have to adopt this as well. Trapped! For years I have warned Christian educators that you can’t partner with public education because public education is godless. As far as public education is concerned, there is no God. The dictionary defines godless as profane or wicked. Psalm 1:1 “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel (teachings) of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.”There is so much I could teach on from this point but I will stick to the subject and then all the other subjects that come out of this, I can speak to later. Back in the eighties Holy Spirit revealed to me a truth that I have never forgotten. Our family was flying from California back to Calgary and we had to make a change over in San Francisco. As we were waiting for our plane to leave, two men who were homosexuals were also waiting and we began to share in conversation. Once they found out that I was a pastor the conversation went to their lifestyle and they began to expand how we as Christians have judged them wrongly. Then one of the men said to me, “You will never understand what it is like to be born one way and have society expect to you live another.” Immediately Holy Spirit dropped this in my mouth and I said, “You know, I do understand, because I was born the same way. I was born living one way and God expects me to live another way. I can’t do that on my own and that’s why Jesus Christ came so I could be changed.”Warning people to not live the way they were born is not judgment or condemnation – it is love! Accepting people the way they are is cruel and not loving!

thorny candidates could be the wildrose party’s biggest liability.

Danielle Smith Wildrose Alberta

Danielle Smith (photo from Wildrose Facebook page)

As the face of the campaign, Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith is her party’s biggest asset. She is media savvy, personable and, despite her limited governance experience (one year as a trustee on the dysfunctional Calgary Board of Education), she talks about becoming Premier with more confidence than any opposition leader in a long time.

But looking beyond the high-profile face of the Wildrose Party, which polls from the first week of the campaign suggest could be poised to form government, Albertans should be asking important questions about who would serve as cabinet ministers in a Wildrose Party government? The Premier is only one person at the table. Which Wildrose candidate would serve as Minister of Justice, Minister of Education, Minister of Finance, and Minister of Health?

Ask most Albertans to name a Wildrose candidate outside their own riding, and they will probably respond with a puzzled face. The lack of “star-candidates” is likely a product of timing. The Wildrose Party began to hold its candidate nominations in 2010 during a time when the party was seen to have peaked and was sitting in the mid-teens in the polls. What the party ended up with were plenty of well meaning candidates, but not many who would be defined as “star candidates.”

The recent success of the federal NDP in Quebec provides a textbook example of why any party should take seriously the candidates it nominates to run under its banner, even if it does not look like they might form government at the time.

If the Wildrose Party are to form the next government in Alberta, an important question needs to be asked about whether their candidates are the kind of politicians that Albertans want running the show. Here is a look at some of the Wildrose candidates who could end up serving as a cabinet minister under Premier Danielle Smith:

Link Byfield Wildrose Barrhead Morinville Westlock

Link Byfield

Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock candidate Link Byfield is the former publisher of the right-wing Alberta Report magazine. As has been noted elsewhere, Mr. Byfield was the president of the Society to Explore and Record Christian History and the founder of the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy, which stands, among other things, “against expanding influence of the Charter of Rights.”

John Carpay Wildrose Calgary Lougheed

John Carpay

Calgary-Lougheed candidate John Carpay penned an opinion-editorial in the National Post in 1994 which criticized Premier Ralph Klein for not invoking the Notwithstanding Clause to block the Supreme Court decision forcing Alberta to include protection of homosexuals from discrimination.

More recently, Mr. Carpay defended the University of Calgary Campus Pro-Life Club and was part of the legal team which defended anti-gay activist Bill Whatcott against charges in Saskatchewan. (Mr. Whatcott was recently detained by the police for distributing anti-gay hate literature to homes in northwest Calgary).

Ron Leech Wildrose Calgary Greenway

Ron Leech

Calgary-Greenway Wildrose candidate and evangelical pastor Ron Leech penned an article in the Calgary Herald in 2004 which argued “to affirm homosexuality is to distort the image of God, to insult the nature and being of God.” Perhaps this fits with Ms. Smith’s ideas on conscience rights (which has angered at least one now former Wildrose supporter).

Edmonton-South West candidate Allan Hunsperger is the self-described pioneer in the establishment of Alberta’s private schools in the late seventies and founder of Heritage Christian Schools.

Don Koziak Wildrose Edmonton Glenora

Don Koziak

Edmonton-Glenora candidate Don Koziak‘s short-lived mayoral bid in 2010 was kicked off by a promise to halt LRT expansion, calling the public transit “enormously environmentally unfriendly.” When asked what he would do differently, Mr. Koziak trumpeted the construction of more “interchanges and wider roads.” Toronto Mayor Rob Ford would be proud.

Edmonton-Castle Downs candidate John Oplanich, kicked off his campaign by offering to raffle a free big screen televisionto voters who would support him.

Andrew Constantinidis Wildrose Calgary-West

Andrew Constantinidis

– A number of Wildrose candidates running in Edmonton constituencies have indicated over the past year that they would re-open the acrimonious City Centre Airport debate, even though elected City Councillors have already made the decision to phase out operations of the tiny downtown airport.

– As I have already written, a few Wildrose candidates from Calgary have strong connections with controversial Conservative MP Rob Anders. This includes Calgary-West candidate Andrew Constantinidis, who served as Mr. Anders’ local constituency president and media coordinator during the 2011 federal election.

These are the highest profile stories around these candidates, the truth is that outside of Ms. Smith and the four established Wildrose MLA’s running for re-election, surprisingly little is known about the party’s candidates. And the Wildrose Party has done a superb job of focusing the media’s and voters attention on what they want, namely Ms. Smith and ensuring that she, rather than their candidates are the ones making headlines.

alberta election candidate update – january 2012.

With an election fast approaching, Alberta’s political parties are busy nominating candidates across the province. Here is a regional breakdown showing where candidates have been nominated and some of the recent updates.

Nominated Alberta Election candidates by region (January 16, 2012)

Nominated Alberta Election candidates by region (January 16, 2012)

Airdrie: Former Airdrie Mayor Linda Bruce and current Alderman Kelly Hegg are seeking the Progressive Conservative nomination.

Banff-Cochrane: Real Estate broker Jon Bjorgum, Canmore Mayor Ron Casey have Rob Seeley have joined businessman John Fitzsimmons and Cochrane Mayor Truper McBride in the contest for the PC nomination on January 28, 2012. The Liberal Party nomination is scheduled to take place on January 26, 2012.

Bonnyville-Cold Lake: The Wildrose Party is searching for a candidate to replace Chuck Farrer, who has withdrawn his candidacy. Mr. Farrer was nominated in October 2010.

Norm Kelly Alberta Party candidate Calgary-Currie

Norm Kelly

Calgary-Currie: Lawyer Norm Kelly has been acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate.

Calgary-GlenmoreLinda Johnson will face lawyer Byron Nelson for the PC nomination. The constituency is currently represented by Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman, who was elected in a 2010 by-election.

Calgary-Hawkwood: Sumita Anand has joined declared candidates Farouk AdatiaJason Luan, Chris Roberts, Kumar Sharma, and Doug Stevens in the PC nomination contest.

Calgary-McCall: It is a full house in the PC nomination contest on January 21, 2012 with 10 candidates having entered the race. Candidates include Khandaker Alam, Deepshikha Brar, Afzal Hanid, Amtul Khan, Jamie Lall, Aslam Malik, Ravi Prasad, Muhammad Rasheed, Jagdeep Sahota, and Jangbahadur Sidhu.

Calgary-Mountain View: Lawyer Cecilia Low was acclaimed as the PC candidate. This constituency has been represented by Liberal MLA David Swann since 2004.

Calgary-Northwest: First reported on this blog, former cabinet minster Lindsay Blackett will not be seeking re-election. Sandra Jansen announced yesterday that she will be seeking the PC nomination. Ms. Jansen is a former news anchor for Global Television and has served as Communications Manager for Premier Alison Redford‘s Southern Alberta Office since late last year.

Calgary-Shaw: The Alberta Party will be holding a nomination meeting on January 30, 2012. At this time, Brandon Beasley is the only declared candidate.

Calgary-West: Allan Ryan and former Calgary-McCall MLA Shiraz Shariff have joined Calgary Police Sergeant Mike Ellis and Ken Hughes.

Nicole Martel Edmonton-Centre PC nomination candidate

Nicole Martel

Edmonton-Centre: Urban Development Institute executive director Nicole Martel is seeking the PC nomination scheduled for January 24, 2012. Ms. Martel was the federal Liberal candidate in Edmonton-East in the 2006 election and a candidate for the Liberal nomination in Edmonton-Centre in 2008.

Edmonton-Ellerlise: Past Public School Board candidate Tina Jardine has withdrawn her name as the NDP candidate for personal reasons.

Edmonton-Gold Bar: Dennis O’Neill was acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate.

Edmonton-Mill Woods: Despite bizarre nomination shenanigans, the PCs will hold their nomination meeting on January 28, 2012. Candidates include Ron Randhawa, Sohail Qadri, and controversy-prone MLA Carl Benito.

Edmonton-Riverview: Taleb Choucair, Edmonton Police Officer Steve Young, and former Public School Trustee Bev Esslinger are seeking the PC nomination on January 27, 2012.

Edmonton-South WestAllan Hunsperger is the nominated Wildrose candidate. Matt Jeneroux and Tofael Chowdhury are competing in the PC nomination scheduled for January 30, 2012. Mr. Choudhury was a candidate for the federal Liberal nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona in 2008.

Doug Faulkner Fort McMurray-Conklin Wildrose

Doug Faulkner

Fort McMurray-Conklin: Former Wood Buffalo Mayor Doug Faulkner was acclaimed as the Wildrose candidate. Mr. Faulkner was a federal PC candidate in the 2000 election and federal Liberal candidate in the 2004 election. Councillor Don Scott was acclaimed as the PC candidate.

Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo: Andrew Highfield has joined declared candidates Mike Allen, Nick Sanders, and Jeff Thompson in competing for the PC nomination scheduled for January 28, 2012.

Lethbridge-East: Lethbridge County Reeve Lorne Hickey is challenging Liberal-turned-Tory MLA Bridget Pastoor for the PC nomination scheduled for January 26, 2012.

Medicine Hat: Darren Hirsch and Linda Rossler are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency is currently represented by 17-year MLA Rob Renner, who is not seeking re-election.

Red Deer-North: Well-known local historian Michael Dawe is seeking the Liberal nomination scheduled to be held on January 19, 2012.

Sherwood Park: Six candidates are vying for the PC nomination on January 21, 2012 to replace outgoing MLA Iris Evans. Declared candidates include Matthew Bissett, County Councillor Brian Botterill, Helen Calahasen, Murray Hutchinson, former Mayor Cathy Oleson, and local PC organizer Susan Timanson. Ms. Calahasen is the sister of long-time Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pearl Calahasen.

Vermilion-Lloydminster: Dr. Richard Starke was acclaimed as the PC candidate to replace outgoing MLA Lloyd Snelgrove.

Senator-in-Waiting Election 
Former PC Member of Parliament Douglas Fee has joined the PC nomination contest, to be held on February 10 and 11. Mr. Fee served as the MP for Red Deer from 1988 to 1993.