Tag Archives: Andrew Constantinidis

By-election update: Conservatives choose Barlow for Macleod, Liberal MPs invade Alberta

Macleod by-election map

The sprawling prairie, peaks of mountains, and rolling hills of the Macleod riding run from Spray Lakes in the north to the edge of Waterton National Park in the south.

John Barlow was chosen as the Conservative Party candidate last night in the Macleod riding. With a by-election expected to be called soon, Mr. Barlow defeated three other candidates – Melissa Mathieson, Phil Rowland and Scott Wagner – to win the nomination.

During the campaign, Mr. Barlow faced severe opposition from Canada’s gun lobby for his defence of RCMP actions during last year’s flood in High River. The National Firearms Association waded into the debate and urged Conservatives to support Ms. Mathieson and Mr. Rowland.

Mr. Barlow was the Progressive Conservative candidate in Highwood in the 2012 election, where he faced off against Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith. In that race, he earned 8,159 votes to Ms. Smith’s 10,094 votes.

Dustin Fuller is the first person to declare a candidacy for the Liberal nomination in Macleod. Wascana Liberal MP Ralph Goodale is expected to visit the Macleod next week for a meet and greet in Okotoks. Mr. Goodale will also attend an event in Calgary-Centre.

Fort McMurray-Athabasca
Up north, Chris Flett is the second candidate to enter the Liberal nomination to run in the upcoming Fort McMurray-Athabasca by-election. Mr. Flett, an active member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 955, joins Kyle Harrietha in the race.

A nomination date has not yet been announced, but the cutoff to purchase a Liberal membership to vote in the contest is March 13, 2014.

Hoping to gain support in the by-election, the Liberals have focused resources on the diverse and energy rich northern Alberta riding. Liberal MPs Rodger Cuzner and Marc Garneau will headline a $250 a plate fundraising dinner in Fort McMurray on March 18. Last month, Labrador Liberal MP Yvonne Jones visited Fort McMurray to meet with local members.

Meanwhile, rumours continue to circulate about whether former PC turned Wildrose MLA Guy Boutilier will jump into federal politics as the Conservative candidate. Tim Moen announced last week that he plans to run for the Libertarian Party nomination.

Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan
Conservative activist Garnett Genuis is the first candidate to enter the Conservative nomination in the new Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan riding.

Mr. Genuis was the 2012 Wildrose Party candidate in Sherwood Park, and is a vice-president of a polling company and the executive director for Parents for Choice in Education, a pro-Charter school lobby group whose board of directors includes former Wildrose candidates John Carpay and Andrew Constantinidis. Mr. Genuis has been endorsed by former MPs Ken Epp and Stockwell Day.

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

Ron Liepert versus Rob Anders: the next PC-Wildrose proxy war?

Rob Anders

Rob Anders

Will former provincial cabinet minister Ron Liepert make the jump into federal politics?

With the launch of the TimeToDoBetter.ca website today, rumours began to spread that the former two-term Calgary-West Progressive Conservative MLA turned consultant could challenge ultra-conservative Rob Anders for the Conservative Party nomination in the new Calgary Signal Hill riding.

Alberta Finance Minister Ron Liepert

Ron Liepert

Mr. Liepert’s candidacy would surely spark another proxy-war between the supporters of the provincial PC and Wildrose parties first seen in last year’s Calgary-Centre by-election.

This would not be the first time these two men have publicly sparred. In 2009, Mr. Liepert accused Mr. Anders of campaigning against him in the 2008 provincial election. Many of Mr. Anders associates have joined Danielle Smith‘s Wildrose Party, including his close confident Andrew Constantinidis, who ran to replace Mr. Liepert in the 2012 provincial election.

While many of his supporters flocked to the new provincial party, some in the Wildrose establishment see Mr. Anders as a political liability whose ideology could challenge their attempt to rebrand as a moderate conservative alternative to the governing PCs.

In the conservative bloodbath that is sure to ensue if the rumours are true, I would expect nothing less than for Mr. Anders and conservative entertainer Ezra Levant to slice directly at Mr. Liepert’s jugular. They will be sure to remind their conservative base about Mr. Leipert’s record as the Health minister who created the centralized Alberta Health Services and the Finance minister who introduced deficit budgets and talked about increasing taxes.

Mr. Liepert’s ties to the provincial PC establishment date back to the Peter Lougheed era, when he worked at the Legislative Assembly and was appointed as a staff member at Alberta’s trade office in Los Angeles. He first ran for the PC Party in 1993, first in an unsuccessfully bid for the party nomination in Edmonton-Glenora and then as the PC candidate in  Edmonton-Highlands-Beverly (in the election he was defeated by his Liberal opponent, Alice Hanson). He was first elected to the Assembly in 2004 as the PC MLA for Calgary-West.

Alison Redford Alberta Election 2012 Conservative leader

Alison Redford

Mr. Leipert is no slouch. In provincial politics, he thrived off the cut and thrust of partisan conflict.  Whether he could win the Conservative Party nomination against Mr. Anders is yet to be seen.

There is no shortage of criticism of Mr. Anders. Perhaps the most hard-edged social conservative in Ottawa, he is well-known for being the sole parliamentarian to vote against granting former South African president Nelson Mandela an honorary Canadian citizenship. He also embarrassingly attacked two Canadian Forces veterans, who he described as “NDP hacks.” He used his podium at an official Government of Canada press conference to endorse right-wing conservative Ted Morton. And he recently suggested that former NDP leader Jack Layton‘s death was hastened by now-leader Thomas Mulcair.

Since he was first elected in 1997, Mr. Anders has been challenged by many high profile conservatives and easily defeated all of them in nomination battles.

At the age of 24, Mr. Anders, then a young Republican Party provocateur, returned to Canada to defeat nine other candidates to win his first Reform Party nomination in Calgary-West. His election coincided with the election of a group of young conservative Reformers, including Jason Kenney and Rahim Jaffer.

If he is challenged by Mr. Liepert in the upcoming nomination, it would not be the first time a high-profile politico who has attempted to end Mr. Anders career in Ottawa.

In 2004, future Progressive Conservative premier Alison Redford made her first jump into electoral politics with an unsuccessful nomination bid against Mr. Anders. Mr. Liepert was her campaign manager.

In 2000, he was unsuccessfully challenged by Calgary-Currie PC MLA Jocelyn Burgener (now a poet) and in 2009 he faced future Calgary-Varsity PC MLA Donna Kennedy-Glans. With the help of Mr. Levant, he nastily branded Ms. Kennedy-Glans as a “Liberal saboteur” and a “bizarre cross between a radical feminist and an apologist for a women-hating Arab dictatorship.”

Internal nomination contests are not the only area Mr. Anders has faced challengers. In the 1997 election, alderman and future mayor Dave Bronconnier led an unsuccessful campaign against him as the Liberal Party candidate. In the 2000 election, Mr. Anders defeated both former Calgary-North West Liberal MLA Frank Bruseker and PC candidate Jim Silye (a Reform Party MP for Calgary-Centre from 1993 to 1997). Wind energy entrepreneur Justin Thompson earned 29% as the Liberal candidate in the 2004 election, the highest of any of Mr. Anders challengers. And the 2006 and 2008 elections, former Calgary Board of Education trustee Jennifer Pollock carried the Liberal banner against Mr. Anders.

Despite these high-profile challengers from inside and outside his party, Mr. Anders has yet to face electoral defeat in the political arena.

big money spent in alberta’s 2012 election.

 

Canadian Money

Money, money, money.

Elections Alberta has released the financial disclosure forms submitted by candidates who ran in the April 2012 provincial election and some of the disclosure forms reveal some interesting information about how much money was fundraised and spent during the campaign. The money spent by candidates and political parties in Alberta elections are nowhere near the truckloads being spent south of the border in advance of November’s presidential and senate elections, but some of these numbers demonstrate how pitched some electoral battles were in the recent provincial election. Although money cannot replace hard-working candidates and dedicated volunteers, it makes available resources that can, in many cases, make a big difference in pushing a candidate to electoral success.

Premier Alison Redford Alberta

Premier Alison Redford

It appears that the most expensive race between two candidates was in Calgary-Elbow, where Premier Alison Redford faced Wildrose Party challenger James Cole. While Premier Redford’s campaign spent a massive $154,345.53, Mr. Cole’s campaign was not far behind, spending $123,647 during the election period.

South of Calgary in the Highwood constituency, the campaign of Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith (named Marlaina Danielle Smith by Elections Alberta) spent only $55,010.97 compared to the $90,706.19 spent by the campaign of Tory challenger John Barlow.

In the hotly-contested constituency of Calgary-Acadia, Wildrose challenger Richard Jones spent 69,335.39 on his unsuccessful campaign to unseat Justice Minister Jonathan Denis, whose campaign spent $71,246.45. Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson, who crossed the floor to the Wildrose Party in 2010, saw his campaign spend $77,295.20, which dwarfed the $32,411 spent by the campaign of his main challenger Kelly Hegg.

Danielle Smith Wildrose Party Alberta Election 2012

Danielle Smith

In the long-time Liberal-held Edmonton-Gold Bar constituency, Tory David Dorward‘s campaign spent $77,732.39, NDP Marlin Schmidt‘s spent $38,400.73, and Liberal Josipa Petrunic‘s spent $33,079.39. The contest was won by Mr. Dorward, who was elected with 33% of the vote. In Calgary-McCall, Liberal MLA Darshan Kang‘s campaign spent $82,629.80 to ward off challengers Tory Muhammad Rasheed and Wildroser Grant Galpin, whose campaigns spent $87,327.25 and $27,695.12.

In Edmonton-Rutherford, Tory Health Minister Fred Horne‘s $108,327.30 campaign easily outspent a wide field of challengers. Former Liberal MLA Rick Miller‘s campaign spent $41,117.36, the campaign of Alberta Party candidate Michael Walters spent $30,085.18, and Wildrose challenger Kyle Mcleod‘s campaign spent $23,477.51.

In many cases, the Tory MLA’s vastly outspent their main challengers (which in most cases, was the local Wildrose candidate). In Calgary-Greenway, Tory Manmeet Bhullar‘s campaign spent $133,294 against challenger Ron Leech‘s $14,078.05 campaign. In Fort McMurray-Conklin, the campaign of first-time Tory candidate Don Scott spent $110,955.44 to Wildroser Doug Faulkner‘s $21,011.41. In Edmonton-Whitemud, Tory cabinet minister Dave Hancock‘s campaign spent $121,233.35 to Wildrose challenger Ian Crawford‘s $11,598.73. In Calgary-West, Tory candidate Ken Hughes‘ campaign spent $111,796.33 compared to $31,781.49 from Wildrose challenger Andrew Constantinidis.

Ted Morton MLA

Ted Morton: the $159,618.90 man.

In some cases, outspending a challenge made little difference for incumbent Tory MLAs. In Chestermere-Rockyview, Energy Minister Ted Morton‘s campaign spent $159,618.90 compared to Wildrose challenger Bruce McAllister‘s $48,062.69. Mr. McAllister defeated Minister Morton on election night.

There were some other surprising finds as well. In Lethbridge-West, the campaign of NDP candidate Shannon Phillips spent $48,852.88 compared to PC MLA Greg Weadick‘s $39,394.54. This was also the NDP’s best showing outside of Edmonton.

The ‘Maurice Tougas Award for Electoral Victory on a Shoestring Budget’ goes to Wildrose MLA Jeff Wilson, who was elected in Calgary-Shaw for the first time in April 2012. Mr. Wilson was one of the last Wildrose Party candidates to be nominated and defeated Tory star candidate Farouk Adatia, who outspent the Wildrose challenger $78,347 to $15,358. Less extreme cases took place across central and southern Alberta, where Wildrose candidates were elected in long-time Tory voting constituencies.

The award is named after writer Maurice Tougas, who served as the Liberal MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark from 2004 to 2008. Mr. Tougas’ campaign spent $5,366.55 in his last minute campaign against Tory MLA Bob Maskell, whose campaign spent $46,957.00. Mr. Tougas unseated Mr. Maskell on election night.

Note: I had hoped that I would be able to provide a more comprehensive list of numbers from the financial disclosure. Unfortunately, the unfriendly interfaced used by Elections Alberta on their website did not allow me the time to complete this. Rather than transferring the data into easily searchable and useable formats on their website, Elections Alberta provides PDFs of scanned paper forms which were completed in handwriting by the candidate’s Chief Financial Officers (the writing ranges from chicken-scratch to cursive). It is my hope that in the near future, Elections Alberta is able to build a more user-friendly website that allows Albertans to more easily access these important records.

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.

tories scramble into damage control mode over no-work committee pay and mla resignation.

Alberta MLAs fight against MLA Committee Pay

Alberta MLA's are scrambling to control the monster that has become the "Pay for No Work Committee."

Scrambling to balance damage control with party unity on the eve of an election call, MLA’s in Premier Alison Redford‘s Tory caucus are returning pay earned over the past six months from the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections. The committee has not met since 2008, yet MLAs serving on the committee have collected $1,000 per month over that period of time.

Ray Prins MLA Lacombe-Ponoka

Resigned: MLA Ray Prins.

After collecting an estimated $18,000 per year as chairman of the committee, sources say that PC MLA Ray Prins has resigned as the PC candidate in Lacombe-Ponoka.

The move highlights how big a political problem this issue has become for the governing party. Last week, members of the caucus were directed by Premier Redford to take significant pay cuts, which the Tories hoped would help quash the issue. Despite attempts quash the issue, fifteen Tory MLAs are now having to write cheques for the past six months of this committee pay. Rather than repay the full amount collected, six months may be the best that Premier Redford could afford to ask for (I can imagine more than a few Tory MLA’s are feeling a some angst and hostility about how this issue was handled).

Some Opposition MLAs pledged to return the pay after the committee’s absence became public weeks ago. After briefly taking a stand defending the most unpopular position he could under the circumstances, Calgary-Glenmore Wildrose Party MLA Paul Hinman agreed to repay the funds, as did Calgary-Fish Creek Wildrose MLA Heather Forsyth. Liberal leader Raj Sherman cut a cheque for $44,000 to return funds collected from his time as a PC MLA on the committee. Only one opposition MLA, Calgary-Mountain View Liberal David Swann, refused the pay from the beginning, donating it to charity instead.

The end of publicly funded religious education? Amen.
Grande Prairie and District Catholic School chairman Ralph Wohlgemuth calls the new Education Act the beginning of the demise of Catholic education in Alberta, according to the Grande Prairie Daily Herald Tribune. The Act would allow for the creation of blended school boards, in which both public and Catholic trustees would sit. In an attempt to address crowded schools in many districts across the province, the new Act would give school districts the ability to share space.

Earlier this week, thousands of parents pulled their home-schooled children away from their kitchen tables to protest in front of the Assembly against changes included in the new Education Act.

Andrew Constantinidis Wildrose Calgary-West

Andrew Constantinidis

Meet Ken Hughes dot com
In Calgary-West, Wildrose candidate Andrew Constantinidis is attacking PC candidate Ken Hughes with a new website MeetKenHughes.com. The attack website includes some particularly nasty accusations against the former Conservative Member of Parliament and Alberta Health Services chairman. The emergence of these ads suggests that some Wildrose Party candidates may go to great lengths, and into great depths of negativity, in their campaign against the PCs in the upcoming election.

UPDATE: The videos attacking Mr. Hughes appear to have been taken down from Mr. Constantinidis’ website, likely due to copyright infringement because they used video taken from network television news.

alberta election candidates update: march 2012.

I have updated the list of candidates standing in Alberta’s 2012 election. Here are some of the recent additions to the list:

Ken Hughes PC candidate Calgary-WEst

Ken Hughes

Calgary-West: Ken Hughes defeated formerly nominated candidate Shiraz Shariff in the second Progressive Conservative nomination contest in this constituency. Former MLA Mr. Shariff was disqualified as after winning the first nomination meeting in February after questions of voting irregularities arose. Mr. Hughes was the chairman of Alberta Health Services, a former Member of Parliament, and a close ally of Premier Alison Redford. Not surprisingly, Wildrose Party candidate Andrew Constantinidis believes Mr. Hughes is a bad choice (Mr. Constantinidis’ website mentions nothing of his role as the past riding president to sleepy Conservative MP Rob Anders).

Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock: Leslie Penny is expected to seek the Liberal Party nomination. Ms. Penny was her party’s candidate in the 2008 election, where she placed second with 1,804 votes.

Hubert Rodden Liberal Bonnyville-Cold Lake

Hubert Rodden

Bonnyville-Cold Lake: Former Cold Lake City Councillor Hubert Rodden is the nominated Liberal Party candidate. Mr. Rodden was first elected to council in 2007 and was defeated in 2010.

Calgary-Currie: Dean Halstead has been nominated as the Evergreen Party candidate.

Calgary-Klein: Roger Gagne has been nominated as the Evergreen Party candidate.

Calgary-Varsity: Carl Svoboda has been nominated as the Evergreen Party candidate. Justin Anderson, brother of MLA Rob Anderson, is no longer the Wildrose Party candidate. Rob Solinger.

Edmonton-Calder: Alex Bosse has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate.

Edmonton-Ellerlsie: Completing the slate of 87 NDP candidates is Rod Loyola, who was nominated as the NDP in this south east Edmonton constituency. Mr. Loyola replaces previously nominated candidate Tina Jardine, who withdrew her candidacy for health reasons.

Dari Lynn Evergreen Party Edmonton Highlands-Norwood

Dari Lynn

Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood: Herbal practitioner Dari Lynn has been nominated as the Evergreen Party candidate.

Lethbridge-East: Rob Miyashiro defeated Alderman Jeff Carlson to win the Liberal Party nomination. Mr. Miyashiro will face Liberal-turned-PC MLA Bridget Pastoor in the upcoming election. After serving two-term as a Liberal MLA, Ms. Pastoor crossed the floor to join the PCs in October 2011.

Vermilion-Lloydminster: Corina Ganton is the nominated Liberal Party candidate in this east central Alberta constituency. Ms. Ganton works for the Liberal Party and was the Federal Liberal candidate in Peace River during the 2011 election.

Wetaskiwin-Camrose: Printing press operator Mike Donnelly has been nominated as the Evergreen Party candidate in this central Alberta constituency.

is rob anders only supportin’ morton? anders loyalists flocking to wildrose.

Proving again why he should never be trusted with the responsibility to stand-in for a cabinet minister at a press conference, Calgary-West Member of Parliament Rob Anders, inappropriately used his time at the podium to boast his support for Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Ted Morton.

This is hardly the first time Mr. Anders has displayed such buffoonery. Before he was an MP, he worked as a professional heckler with the Oklahoma Republicans.

The inappropriate Mr. Anders is well-known for a hardcore right-wing conservative views. Many Canadians may remember him as the only MP to vote against making Nelson Mandela an honorary citizen of Canada. He defended his actions by stating that Mr. Mandela was a communist and a terrorist and later refused to take a phone call from the former President of South Africa.

Despite his comments that his support for Dr. Morton is an effort to “avoid a civil war in the province of Alberta over the next election,” his recent public support of the Wildrose’s Danielle Smith suggests that he is simply interested in supporting conservatives that fit his ideological brand.

A significant number of Anders loyalists on Conservative Party of Canada board of directors in Calgary-West (not to be confused with the former board) are also hitching their political careers to Ms. Smith’s party.

Mr. Anders’ former Riding President Andrew Constantinidis is the nominated Wildrose candidate in the provincial constituency of Calgary-West. Mr. Anders constituency assistant Russell Hillier is seeking the Wildrose nomination in Calgary-North West (As noted in my previous post, Mr. Hillier is also a founder of the anti-immigration and anti-multicultualism group Canadian Culture and Integration Society). Another member of Mr. Anders’ board of directors, Tim Dyck, is seeking the Wildrose nomination in Calgary-Bow. The three Wildrose candidates were given a platform to speak at Mr. Anders’ recent Calgary Stampede BBQ.

Other members of Mr. Anders’ constituency organization are also prominent members of the Wildrose. Peter Csillag is a Vice-President of the Wildrose Campus Club at the University of Calgary. John DeRinzy is the President Wildrose association in Calgary-Bow. Hermina Dykxhoorn is the Vice-President Policy for the Wildrose association in Calgary-West. Paul Hamnett is the Vice-President Communications of the Wildrose association in Calgary-West. Until recently, Candice Malcolm was the Executive Assistant to Ms. Smith. Joseph Zamuda is the Treasurer of the Wildrose association Calgary-West.

After almost forty-years of PC governments, Albertans are in the mood for political change. I have a hard time believing that most Albertans have the appetite for the type of change that Rob Anders and his loyalists have in mind.

testing conservative unity.

Calgary-Centre North by-election could be a test of conservative unity in alberta.

As the first major political event on the federal stage in Alberta since the Wildrose Alliance jumped from insignificance to contender in the polls over the past year, the Calgary-Centre North by-election could be a symbolic test of the Conservative Party’s strength in tolerating the provincial split in the conservative movement in Alberta. The resignation of Environment Minister Jim Prentice could open the door for a contested race for the Conservative Party nomination that could highlight some of these cleavages. Could that riding’s Conservative nomination contest become a proxy war in the battle between moderate and ideological conservatives that has exploded on the provincial level?

I have had an number of interesting and frank conversations with federal Conservative Party organizers who are acutely aware of their delicate balancing act. In most provinces, many members of the federal Conservative Party are also members of the equivalent “conservative” party in the provincial level (ie: BC Liberals, Saskatchewan Party, PC Party in Ontario and the maritimes). Alberta’s conservatives are in a different situation.

Many active members of the Conservative Party of Canada remain active members of the four decade-long governing Progressive Conservatives, but many have become active with the Wildrose Alliance over the past year (including Wildrose candidates Andrew Constantinidis in Calgary-West and Rod Fox in Lacombe-Ponoka who are former Conservative Party Electoral District Association Presidents). Two of the Wildroses main political staffers are also products of the federal Conservative school of politics. Executive Director Vitor Marciano and Communications Director William McBeath both left positions in the federal Conservative establishment to join the insurgent Wildrosers since Danielle Smith became leader.

It is somewhat reminiscent of the split that happened among conservative voters in the 1990s with the rise of the Reform Party of Canada and the decline of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Although they did not form a functional provincial-wing, the split between the Reformers and the federal PC Party in Alberta also happened during a time of flux on the provincial level. Many Reform Party supporters were drawn to the policies of fiscal conservative provincial Liberal leader Laurence Decore. A few Reformers such as Don MacDonald and Donna Graham ran as Liberal Party candidates. Mr. MacDonald stunned many political watchers when he handily won a 1992 by-election in the Three Hills riding in the conservative heartland. The Liberals also won support in the Little Bow constituency where candidate Ms. Graham came within 262 votes of defeating Tory Barry McFarland. It was a different time.

Following the 1993 re-election of the PC Party led by Premier Ralph Klein, many of these tensions disappeared as many Reformers made amends with Alberta’s natural governing party. Some of these tensions re-emerged under a resurgent Social Credit in 1997, but that year’s election proved to bare no fruit for the antiquated political movement. By 2001, when Reform MP Ian McClelland moved into provincial politics it appeared that all was beautiful, calm, and quiet on the conservative front. What a difference nine years can make.

Back to my original point, it will be very interesting to watch how the Conservative Party of Canada will try to mitigate any migration of the conservative conflict into its ranks in Alberta.