Tag Archives: Andrew Scheer

Derek Fildebrandt Maxime Bernier Jagmeet Sighn Rachel Notley Daveberta Podcast Alberta Politics

Episode 18: Maximum Bern and The Disgruntled Politicians of Canada

In this episode of the Daveberta Podcast, Dave Cournoyer and Ryan Hastman discuss the what’s happening in Alberta politics, including the New Democratic Party convention on September 28, 29 and 30, 2018 in Red Deer and the Freedom Conservative Party convention on October 20, 2018 in Chestermere.

We also delve into federal politics and talk about what impact Maxime Bernier’s departure from the Conservative Party of Canada might have in Alberta and the pipeline split between Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley and federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh. We also discuss some of the latest candidate nomination news and answer some of the questions you sent us, including our origin story.

The Daveberta Podcast is a member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB Financial. The network includes more than 30 podcasts, including The Creative Block.

You can listen and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, Stitcher, or wherever you find podcasts online. We’d love to hear what you think of this episode, so feel free to leave a review where you download, comment on the blogFacebook or Twitter or send us an email at podcast@daveberta.ca.

Also, it would be a big help if you could leave a review where you download this podcast and share this episode with a friend.

We are always thankful to our hard working producer, Adam Rozenhart, who helps make each episode of the Daveberta Podcast sound so great.

Thank you for listening!

Recommended reading/listening

Michelle Rempel, Jason Kenney, Joe Ceci, Rachel Notley, Oneil Carlier and Andrew Scheer (sources: Facebook, Twitter, and Alberta Beef)

Episode 15: Politicians pretending to be Cowboys. It’s Stampede Week in Calgary!

It is Calgary Stampede season, which means politicians from across Canada are flocking to Alberta’s largest city to show off their recently purchased plaid shirts and cowboy hats.

In this episode of the Daveberta Podcast, Dave Cournoyer and Ryan Hastman discuss politicians pretending to be cowboys, the latest federal and provincial nomination news, including the retirement of long-time New Democratic Party MLA Brian Mason, the July 12 by-elections in Fort McMurray-Conklin and Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, and the 18-year old groping allegations levelled against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

We also share some personal stories from the campaign trail in our regular ‘So you want to be a candidate’ segment.

The Daveberta Podcast is a member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB Financial. The network includes more than 30 podcasts.

You can listen and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, or wherever you find podcasts online. We’d love to hear what you think of this episode, so feel free to leave a comment on the blogFacebook or Twitter or send us an email at podcast@daveberta.ca.

We are always thankful to our hard working producer, Adam Rozenhart, who helps make each episode of the Daveberta Podcast sound so great.

Thank you for listening!

Recommended reading/watching

Photo: Michelle Rempel, Jason Kenney, Joe Ceci, Rachel Notley, Oneil Carlier and Andrew Scheer (sources: Facebook, Twitter, and Alberta Beef)

Former Ontario MP Jeff Watson running for UCP nomination in Calgary-Peigan

Photo: Jeff Watson (left) speaks at a rally in support of Ontario PC candidate Chris Lewis (right) on May 11, 2018. (Source: Facebook)

Former Essex Member of Parliament Jeff Watson is the fourth candidate to enter the United Conservative Party nomination contest in the new Calgary-Peigan district.

Calgary-Peigan

Watson served as the Conservative Party MP for southern Ontario district of Essex from 2004 until 2015 when he was unseated by New Democrat Tracey Ramsey. He had previously run in Windsor-West as a Reform Party candidate in 1997 and a Canadian Alliance candidate in 2000.

While in Ottawa he served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport.

The Windsor Star reported in November 2016 that Watson was planning to relocate himself and his family to Calgary to pursue new opportunities.

Watson works as a Constituency Assistant in the office of Calgary-Hays UCP MLA Ric McIver.

His LinkedIn page describes him as the Proprietor of Issachar Strategies with his clients listed as “Jason Kenney Leadership, Alberta Advantage Fund, the Hon. Andrew Scheer, We R Conservative.” His Facebook page does not name specific organizations but states that some of his clients are “independent schools and parent groups fighting the NDP for school choice and to preserve parental authority.”

Watson worked as Director of Outreach and Coalitions in Kenney’s leadership campaign.

Joe Ceci Calgary NDP

Joe Ceci

Watson travelled back to Ontario during the first week of that province’s recent election and spoke at a rally organized for Progressive Conservative candidate Chris Lewis in the provincial Essex district on May 11, 2018.

Elections Alberta lists Watson as being the President of the Calgary-Hays UCP association since 2017 and as having served as president of the PC association in the same district in 2017.

Calgary-Peigan is a new district that is created mostly from areas currently included in Calgary-Fort as well as Calgary-Acadia, Calgary-Hays, Calgary-South East. Current Calgary-Fort MLA Joe Ceci will run for the NDP in the newly redrawn Calgary-Buffalo district.

The other candidates running for the UCP nomination in this district are Tanya Fir, Andrew Griffin, and two-time Wildrose Party candidate Jeevan Mangat.


If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!

Episode 13: Doug Ford’s big win, Andrew Scheer’s deal with the Cheese Mafia, and more.

In this episode of the Daveberta Podcast, Dave Cournoyer and Ryan Hastman discuss Doug Ford’s win in Ontario’s election, the NDP’s mid-campaign surge, and the Green Party’s surprising growth across Canada. We also tackle Andrew Scheer’s deal with the Cheese Mafia and his purging of Maxime Bernier from the Conservative front benches in Ottawa, and Ryan delves into GOTV strategies in our “so you want to be a candidate segment.”

We also talk about the latest Alberta candidate nomination news, including the Airdrie-East dogfight between Angela Pitt and Roger Millions, and NDP MLA Michael Connolly’s decision to run for re-election in Calgary-Varsity.

We also announce the results of our review contest – congratulations to Sebastien Togneri, who is the new owner of a copy of The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America by Thurston Clarke and a hand-full of Alberta politics swag, including a vintage Alberta Party t-shirt. Thank you to everyone who left a review!

The Daveberta Podcast is a member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB Financial. The network includes more than 30 podcasts, including the awesome Let’s Find Out Podcast.

You can listen and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, or wherever you find podcasts online.

We’d love to hear what you think of this episode, so feel free to leave a comment on the blog, Facebook or Twitter or send us an email at podcast@daveberta.ca.

We are always thankful to our hard working producer, Adam Rozenhart, who helps make each episode of the Daveberta Podcast sound so great.

Thank you for listening!

Donald Trump’s trade war, the Ontario Election, the Trudeau government’s pipeline and more

Photo: Donald Trump with United States Secretary of Commerce Kim Kardashian (kidding). 

There was no shortage of political news to talk about this week on the Ryan Jespersen Show.

On Friday morning I joined political analyst John Brennan, Global News provincial affairs reporter Tom Vernon and Ryan Jespersen to talk about Donald Trump’s trade war against Canada and the European Union, the federal government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, the gong-show that has become Ontario’s provincial election and the decision by United Conservative Party MLAs to boycott debate on a bill that would protect patients and abortion clinic staff from harassment.

Listen to the panel discussion:

Rachel Notley, Justin Trudeau, John Horgan Bill Morneau and Andrew Weaver.

We bought a pipeline! How the key players are impacted by the federal government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline

We own a pipeline!

Well, not yet.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced yesterday that the federal government plans to purchase the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline from Kinder Morgan Inc. by August 2018 if another investor cannot be found. The federal government has committed to help the Texas-based corporation find a new owner for the pipeline by August 2018, or else Ottawa will “purchase the company’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project and related pipeline and terminal assets for $4.5 billion.”

In the meantime, the federal government will loan funds to Kinder Morgan Inc. in order to start construction on the pipeline this summer. If the federal government does purchase the pipeline, which seems likely, then a Crown Corporation will be created to complete the estimate $9 billion expansion of the currently existing pipeline.

Morneau declared the federal government would be eager to sell the pipeline back to a private company once it is built, but if the project is truly in the national interest – and going to be built with public dollars – then maybe it should remain an asset of the federal government and the people of Canada.

Here is a look at how yesterday’s pipeline announcement impacts some of the key players in this seemingly never ending political dispute:

Justin Trudeau: The Prime Minister of Canada silenced conservative opponents from claiming he was secretly plotting the pipeline’s demise and mutes his social democratic opponents who say he was just kowtowing to a Texas-based oil company. While the project will move forward with the powers of the federal government behind it, it is unclear if this will help Trudeau’s Liberals electorally in Alberta (where his Liberal Party holds three seats) or in British Columbia (where his party holds 19 seats).

Rachel Notley: This is a big win for the Premier of Alberta. Notley has been the strongest public advocate for the pipeline expansion and has poured almost all of her political capital into the success of this project. She has taken a firm line with pipeline opponents, most notably the Government of British Columbia, by threatening to slow or halt the transport of oil and gas from Alberta into BC.

Kinder Morgan Inc: If all goes according to plan, Texas-based Kinder Morgan Inc. will walk away with a big $4.5 billion payment from the Government of Canada, all because our system of democracy and federalism inconvenienced its shareholders.

John Horgan: The Premier of British Columbia says he will continue to use the tools available to him to oppose the pipeline expansion, including its current legal challenges. The entry of the federal government as the owner of the pipeline introduces a new dynamic between the governments in Victoria and Ottawa. As many premiers have discovered, running for re-election with Ottawa as your main opponent can be a recipe for success.

Andrew Weaver: The leader of the BC Green Party holds the balance of power in his province as long as his 3-MLA caucus continues to support Horgan’s NDP government in Victoria. The Green leader described the federal government’s intervention as “a betrayal by a government who ran on a hopeful vision for a better future.” The Greens will expect Horgan to continue their fight against the pipeline and likely will not consider ending their agreement with the NDP until sometime after the upcoming Proportional Representation referendum.

Jason Kenney: The leader of the Official Opposition in Alberta supported Notley’s pitch last month for the Alberta government to invest in the pipeline, so he has once again been relegated to the sidelines on the pipeline issue.

Andrew Scheer: The leader of the Official Opposition in Ottawa attacks the Trudeau Liberals for driving away private sector investment and claimed Trudeau forced through expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline by nationalizing the project. To better understand the track record of government involvement in the energy industry, Scheer would benefit from taking a crash-course in Canada’s energy history. I recommend he start his education by reading Larry Pratt’s The Tar Sands: Syncrude and the Politics of Oil, which is an essential text on the history of Alberta’s oil sands.

Will the pipeline actually get built? Maybe. 

Ownership of the pipeline will change and the federal government does have powers, both political and legal, that a private corporation does not, the opposition to the pipeline has not magically evaporated overnight. Public opinion remains mixed in British Columbia and the opposition to the pipeline expansion is firm. There will continue to be protests against the pipeline and demonstrations of civil disobedience can be expected.

There are also a number of court challenges underway, including the BC government reference case and challenges from First Nations communities to the Federal Court of Appeal.

There is also a federal election scheduled to take place in October 2019 and a provincial election expected to be called in Alberta in spring 2019.

While Morneau was clear he wants construction on the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion to begin immediately, a number of legal and political challenges still stand in the way of the project’s completion.

UCP draws huge crowds, huge controversy to its first policy convention

(Photo credit: @Alberta_UCP on Twitter)

With more than 2,500 party members in attendance, this weekend’s United Conservative Party founding convention was one of the biggest political events in Alberta’s recent memory. It was a big show of force for the official opposition party, which continues to dominate in the polls and fundraising.

Ric McIver

Ric McIver

The convention should have been a victory lap for Jason Kenney after forcing the merger of the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties and winning the new party’s leadership. Instead, the big story of the convention is how it was derailed by a membership base weirdly obsessed with Gay-Straight Alliances.

Fifty-seven percent of convention delegates voted in favour of a policy that would out students who join Gay-Straight Alliances. Supporters of the policy claimed it was about parental rights, but that did not stop three MLAs from going to mic to plead with UCP members to end the madness.

“This is about outing gay kids,” said Calgary-Hays UCP MLA Ric McIver as he pleaded with party members not to pass the policy. “Don’t be called the Lake of Fire party, I’m begging you. This will really severely hurt our chances at winning. Don’t do that to yourself.”

“When we’re talking about freedoms, that means all people’s freedoms. That means making sure that children have safe spaces in schools,” urged Chestermere-Rockyview UCP MLA Leela Aheer.

But the pleas from the MLAs were not enough to change the minds of members, including a well organized contingent of social conservatives, at the convention.

The debate over this motion came only days after Edmonton’s Pride Festival Society rejected the UCP’s application to march in this year’s pride parade. A similar application was rejected by Calgary’s Pride festival in August 2017.

Even though it was Kenney’s comments about Gay-Straight Alliances that reignited this issue back in March 2017, he now says he won’t implement the policy if he becomes premier.

It could, and probably will, be argued that Kenney’s denouncement of this policy contradicted his “Grassroots Guarantee” that the party membership will determine the party’s policies. Kenney used the “guarantee” as a way of circumventing any substantive policy debates during the 2017 UCP leadership contest.

It is not clear what other member-endorsed policies Kenney will choose to ignore if and when he becomes Alberta’s next premier.

UCP members also adopted policies to eliminate the carbon tax, reintroduce a flat tax, increase privatization in health care and education, and require parental consent for invasive medical procedures on a minor (this motion was cheered by anti-abortion groups).

All things considered, it is hard to imagine that Rachel Notley‘s New Democrats could have hoped for a better outcome this weekend.

One Big Conservative Family

An underreported story of this weekend’s convention is the very close relationship between the UCP and the Conservative Party of Canada.

The presence of a federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer as a keynote speaker would have been unheard of at any provincial party convention in recent years. Scheer was joined at the convention by a number of Conservative MPs, and former leader Rona Ambrose, who spoke at the convention on a panel about women in politics.

The relationship between the federal and provincial conservative parties has always been complex, but it has been exceptionally complicated over the past three decades. The rise of the Reform Party and collapse of the federal PC Party in the early 1990s meant there was no formal alliance between the dominant federal and provincial conservative parties in Alberta for many years.

Almost as soon as the Conservative Party of Canada was formed in 2003, the Alberta Alliance, and later the Wildrose Alliance and Wildrose Party split the provincial conservative movement, leaving federal Conservative MPs divided in their loyalties for the PC and Wildrose parties.

While most of the focus has been on the Wildrose-PC merger, Kenney’s “unity” extends to the federal party as well.

Who is running in Alberta’s 2019 Election?

A handful of aspiring elected officials have already put their names forward to run in Alberta’s next provincial general election, which, due to our odd-ball fixed-election period, is expected to be called between March 1, 2019 and May 31, 2019.

Omar Masood ALberta Party Calgary Buffalo

Omar Masood

One candidate has already been nominated. Omar Masood was acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate in Calgary-Buffalo in December 2016.

Six incumbent MLAs were acclaimed to run as Wildrose Party candidates in February and March 2017, before the formation of the United Conservative Party and the redistribution of electoral boundaries for the next election. Those six MLAs were Angela Pitt in Airdrie, Glenn van Dijken in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock, Leela Aheer in Chestermere-Rockyview, Todd Loewen in Grande Prairie-Smoky, Dave Hanson in Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills and Ron Orr in Lacombe-Ponoka. It is expected that, due to the creation of a new party and a new electoral map, those MLAs will have to run for their new party’s nominations.

Here is a list of candidates who have announced their intentions to seek party nominations:

Aidrie-Cochrane: Peter Guthrie is seeking the UCP nomination in this new district. Guthrie is a former owner of a Mr. Lube franchise in north east Calgary and a former co-owner of a ranch near Castor. He has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alberta.

Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul: Glenn Spiess is seeking the UCP nomination in this newly redistributed district. Spiess was the Assistant Director of Development for the Living Water College of the Arts in Derwent and is a homeschooling facilitator with WISDOM, the home schooling administration of Trinity Christian School in Cold Lake.

Philip Schuman United Conservative Party Calgary Glenmore

Philip Schuman

Calgary-Beddington: Videographer and editor Daniel Kostek is seeking the UCP nomination in this new northwest Calgary district. The new district will be created from areas of the current Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill, Calgary-Northern Hills and Calgary-Foothills districts.

Calgary-Glenmore: Philip Schuman is seeking the UCP nomination in this southwest Calgary district. Schuman is an MBA student, insurance company account executive and the Vice President of the Braeside Community Association. Until July 2017, Schuman was listed as the Media Coordinator for United Liberty, the political action committee created by now-former UCP MLA Derek Fildebrandt.

Calgary-Mountain View: Thana Boonlert is seeking the Green Party  nomination, which is scheduled to take place on  February 28, 2018. Boonlert previously ran in the 2016 Calgary-Greenway by-election and 2015 federal election in Calgary-Centre. The district is currently represented by fourth-term Liberal MLA David Swann.

Calgary-South East: Matthew Jones is seeking the UCP nomination.

Edmonton-Gold Bar: New Democratic Party MLA Marlin Schmidt is seeking re-election. Schmidt is currently serving as Minister of Advanced Education and Acting Minister of Justice and Solicitor General. Schmidt was elected in 2015 with 68.9 percent of the vote and his crushing 11,205 vote margin of victory, the largest in any district in that election, earned him the nickname “Hurricane Marlin.”

Christina Gray Edmonton Mill Woods MLA

Christina Gray

Edmonton-Mill Woods: Christina Gray will seek re-election as the NDP candidate. She was elected in 2015 with 64.8 percent of the vote and currently serves as Minister of Labour and Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal.

Edmonton-Whitemud: Tunde Obasan is seeking the UCP nomination. He is an accounting and finance professional and was an organizer for Andrew Scheer‘s federal Conservative leadership campaign and Jason Kenney‘s UCP leadership campaign in 2017.

Leduc-Beaumont: Former Edmonton police officer Brad Rutherford is seeking the UCP nomination. Rutherford previously ran for the federal Conservative Party nomination in Edmonton-West ahead of the 2015 election. He is the president of the Leduc-Beaumont UCP and the federal Edmonton-Wetaskiwin Conservative association.

Red Deer-North: Cole Kander is seeking the UCP nomination. He is a former political assistant who publicly attacked former Wildrose leader Brian Jean after he lost his job at the UCP caucus due to budget cutbacks in September 2017.

St. Albert: Marie Renaud plans to seek re-election as the NDP candidate. Renaud was first elected in 2015 with 53.9 percent of the vote.

If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them to the list.

Liberal candidate Brian Gold and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a campaign event in Spruce Grove on October 20, 2017

The Forgotten By-Election in Sturgeon River-Parkland

Photo: Liberal candidate Brian Gold and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a campaign event in Spruce Grove on October 20, 2017. (Source: Twitter)

Overshadowed by this past Monday’s municipal elections, the federal by-election in Sturgeon River-Parkland scheduled for October 23, 2017 could be described as the forgotten by-election. I drove through Sturgeon County and the town of Morinville this week and spotted only a few Conservative, Liberal and Christian Heritage party signs scattered on the sides of the highways alongside the soon-to-be collected municipal election signs.

It was easy to forget that the by-election was evening happening.

Dane Lloyd Conservative Sturgeon River Parkland

Dane Lloyd

Along with the municipal election, the lack of general interest in the by-election could also be a result of its widely predicted outcome – a landslide victory by Conservative Dane Lloyd.

The district re-elected Conservative MP Rona Ambrose with 70 percent of the vote in 2015. And even though Ambrose’s handpicked successor, Jamie Mozeson, was surprisingly defeated in the party’s nomination race, the outcome will likely be similar, albeit with a much lower voter turnout. This is a reliably Conservative voting area of Alberta and any candidate running under that party’s banner can expect to be easily elected.

Lloyd, a 26-year old political staffer for St. Albert-Edmonton Conservative MP Michael Cooper, earned media attention during the nomination race after calling for a “no body, no parole” law. He has also expressed some very conservative political views online about feminism and firearms.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer made a campaign stop in the district on October 10, 2017.

His party’s prospects aside, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a visit to the district on October 20, 2017 to campaign alongside Liberal Party candidate Brian Gold.

Shawna Gawreluck NDP Sturgeon River Parkland

Shawna Gawreluck

At a campaign event in a pizza parlour in Spruce Grove, the district’s largest community, Trudeau told supporters: “I know you’re going to be talking to families and you can talk to them about the fact that the first thing we did was lower taxes for the middle class and raise them for the wealthiest one per cent. You can talk about the fact, as (Gold) said, we approved pipelines that the previous government couldn’t get done.”

Trudeau deserves credit for the visit. The Liberal leader appears to have personally campaigned alongside his party’s candidates in every by-election since becoming leader, including in past by-elections in Calgary, Foothills, Fort McMurray, and Yellowhead.

While New Democratic Party candidate Shawna Gawreluck has not had a visit from her party’s new leader, Jagmeet Singh, she has had the support of Edmonton-Strathcona MP Linda Duncan and Spruce Grove-St. Albert MLA Trevor Horne. Christian Heritage Party candidate Ernest Chauvet also had a visit from his party’s leader, Rod Taylor.

Sturgeon River-Parkland by-election.

Sturgeon River-Parkland

Voting stations will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m on Monday, October, 23, 2017. You can use the Elections Alberta online tool to locate your polling station.

Here are the list of candidates and their social media links:

Christian Heritage Party: Ernest Chauvet (Facebook)
Conservative: Dane Lloyd, (Facebook, Twitter)
Liberal: Brian Gold (Facebook, Twitter)
NDP: Shawna Gawreluck (Facebook, Twitter)

The Energy East Blame Game. Who blames who?

Today’s announcement by the TransCanada Corporation that it would no longer pursue the construction of the Energy East Pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Saint John, New Brunswick triggered a storm of statements, accusations and criticisms from politicians trying to drive their political narratives.

While the reasons for the TransCanada Corporation withdrawing its plans are likely influenced more by economics than by politics, there will certainly be political implications for the politicians – like Premier Rachel Notley – who have tethered their governing agenda to the approval of pipeline projects.

So, politics being politics, here is a quick look at who is blaming who for the demise of the Energy East Pipeline:

The TransCanada Corporation blames existing and likely future delays caused by the National Energy Board regulatory process, associated costs and challenging “issues and obstacles” facing the project.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley blames “a broad range of factors that any responsible business must consider.”

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant doesn’t blame the TransCanada Corporation, but recognizes “recent changes to world market conditions and the price of oil have negatively impacted the viability of the project.”

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall blames Justin Trudeau, the federal government, and Montreal mayor Denis Coderre.

Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr blames the decision to cancel the pipeline project as a business decision.

Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer blames Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Alberta Liberal MPs Randy Boissonnault, Amarjeet Sohi and Kent Hehr blame “current market challenges related to world market conditions and lower commodity prices.

Calgary Conservative MP Michelle Rempel blames “Liberal ideological opposition to the wealth and prosperity of western Canada, to the detriment of the nation as a whole.”

United Conservative Party interim leader Nathan Cooper blames the Alberta NDP.

UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean blames Rachel Notley, Justin Trudeau and Denis Coderre.

UCP leadership candidate Jason Kenney blames the Alberta NDP carbon-tax and social license, and the Trudeau Liberals. He later also blames Denis Coderre.

UCP leadership candidate Doug Schweitzer blames Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley.

Alberta Party leader Greg Clark blames the Alberta NDP.

Alberta Liberal leader David Khan blames economic factors, describing the decision as “a business decision by TransCanada based on current economic and political realities.”

UCP MLA Drew Barnes blames Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

UCP MLA Prasad Panda blames the Alberta NDP’s carbon tax.

Photo: Kent Hehr with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Calgary Stampede in July 2017. (Photo from Kent Hehr's Facebook Page)

Mid-week Alberta Politics Roundup

Photo: Kent Hehr with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Calgary Stampede in July 2017. (Photo from Kent Hehr’s Facebook Page)

It has been a busy week for me, so without the time to write a full column-type post, here is a quick summary of what I have been watching in Alberta politics over the past few days.

Calgary MP moved in Trudeau cabinet shuffle

Calgary-Centre Member of Parliament Kent Hehr was appointed Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities this week as part of a fairly significant shuffle in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet. Hehr had previously served as Minister of Veterans Affairs, a post he had held since his election in 2015. Though the move is viewed as a demotion at worst or a lateral move at best, there is no indication that the shuffle was a reflection on Hehr’s performance as minister, which appeared to fulfill competently.

As a former amateur athlete and leader in the Canadian Paraplegic Association, Hehr appears to be a good fit for this role.

While the Minister of Sports is traditionally seen as a junior level position in cabinet, the prospect of Calgary bidding for the 2026 Winter Olympics and Canada joining with the United States and Mexico in a bid to co-host the 2026 World Cup could increase its political importance.

Meanwhile, Calgary-Skyview Liberal MP Darshan Kang announced he would take a medical leave of absence due to stress caused by allegations of sexual harassment that have dogged the federal politician over the past few weeks.

Alberta MPs in Ottawa Shadow Cabinet

Following this week’s federal cabinet shuffle, Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer announced a new roster of Official Opposition critics. Alberta Conservative MPs in the shadow cabinet include: International Development critic Ziad Aboultaif, Agriculture and Agri-Food critic John Barlow, Status of Women critic Rachael Harder, Science critic Matt Jeneroux, National Revenue critic Pat Kelly, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship critic Michelle Rempel, and Natural Resources critic Shannon Stubbs.

NDP Minister continues his Coal Tour

Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous continues his town hall tour of Alberta’s coal communities this week. In the Town of Hanna, Bilous and mayor Chris Warwick announced $450,000 in funding create Community Action Teams led by the Cactus Corridor Economic Development Corporation to focus on initiatives identified in a report by the Hanna Climate Change Strategy Task Force.

While Bilous left Hanna with more questions than answers, he deserves some credit for traveling to these communities holding these town halls – something the NDP government should have done two years ago.

UCP candidate calls on Alberta to national Manitoba port

Jeff Callaway was looking to generate headlines for his United Conservative Party leadership campaign, and he succeeded with his proposal for the Alberta government to nationalize and build a pipeline to access Manitoba’s Port of Churchill. Federal NDP leadership candidate Niki Ashton, who is the MP for  Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, called on the federal government to nationalize the port of Churchill in Dec. 2016.

Low federal NDP membership numbers in Alberta

Speaking of the federal NDP, the party released the breakdown of membership numbers by province ahead of its September leadership vote. Despite having one of only two NDP governments in the country, the federal NDP only recorded having 10,188 members in Alberta, compared to 52,200 in Ontario and 31,974 in British Columbia.

The low participation rate may have a lot to do with the deep political divide between the Alberta NDP and its federal and provincial counterparts over the expansion and construction of oil pipelines, which is a priority for Rachel Notley’s government. To my knowledge, no Alberta NDP MLAs have released public endorsements for any of the federal NDP leadership candidates.

Garry Keller joins the UCP caucus

Until recently he was rumoured to be eyeing the federal Conservative nomination in the upcoming Sturgeon River-Parkland by-election, but it was announced today that Garry Keller, a former chief of staff to Rona Ambrose, would join the United Conservative caucus as a special advisor.

Doug Schweitzer United Conservative Party

Rebel Media becomes a wedge issue in the United Conservative Party leadership race

This weekend’s violent march of Nazis and white supremacists through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia made international headlines and also had repercussions for the United Conservative Party leadership race in Alberta.

Leadership candidate Doug Schweitzer, a Calgary lawyer who is trying to position himself as a social moderate in the contest, used this weekend’s dark events south of the border to call on Jason Kenney and Brian Jean to denounce Rebel Media. The fringe right-wing website is more of an opposition group than a media organization and is seen to be closely allied with “alt-right” organizers in Canada and the United States.

“Enough is enough. We have to be better than this in Canada. Stand up to them for a change. We all need to lead by example,” Schweitzer tweeted.

Founders of the website include Ezra Levant, who, along with Kenney was a member of the “snack pack” in the mid-1990s, and Hamish Marshall, who is Jean’s campaign manager and was campaign manager for Andrew Scheer‘s successful federal leadership bid.

Many Wildrose Party and federal Conservative politicians have supported Levant’s Rebel website on social media, through online interviews, and participation in rallies and events organized by Levant and his employees.

Schweitzer’s challenge to Jean and Kenney will undoubtedly result in nasty pushback from a legion of right-wing twitter users, which I am sure he is prepared to respond to. But drawing a line helps Schweitzer differentiate himself from the two major candidates in the race, who have both been seen to be sympathetic or supportive of Levant’s Rebel website, and signals what kind of conservatives might not be welcome in a United Conservative Party led by Doug Schweitzer.

Kevin O'Leary is coming to Alberta but skipping the Conservative Party leadership debate.

O’Leary skips Conservative debate, federal NDP debate skips Alberta

The most high-profile candidate running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada will be skipping tomorrow’s leadership debate in Edmonton. As the thirteen other candidates for the leadership gather on stage at the Citadel Theatre, Boston-resident and American reality television personality Kevin O’Leary will instead be hosting a “fireside chat” in a fireplace-less conference room across the street at the Westin Hotel.

Jason Kenney Wildrose Conservative Alberta

Jason Kenney

O’Leary will be joined by former Conservative MP Tim Uppal who will moderate the chat. Uppal represented the Edmonton-Sherwood Park riding from 2006 until 2015 when he switched ridings and was defeated by Liberal candidate Amarjeet Sohi in Edmonton-Mill Woods in October 2015.

O’Leary was spotted chatting with former MP and Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Jason Kenney at last weekend’s Manning Centre Conference in Ottawa. Kenney participated in a panel discussion at the conference with Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt and conference namesake Preston Manning on the topic of uniting Conservatives in Alberta.

Manning, who has been involved in conservative politics in Alberta since the 1960s (his father, Ernest Manning was premier of Alberta from 1943 to 1968), played an instrumental role in convincing nearly the whole Wildrose caucus to cross the floor to join the PCs in 2014.

Back to the federal Conservative leadership, Fildebrandt has endorsed leadership candidate Maxime Bernier, the Quebec MP known for his libertarian views briefly served as Minister of Foreign Affairs before resigning in 2008 after he acknowledged leaving sensitive government documents out in the open, apparently at his former girlfriend’s home. Bernier has also been endorsed by Calgary MP Tom Kmiec and former Wildrose MLA Heather Forsyth.

The largest group of Conservative MPs (ten) from Alberta are supporting Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer‘s bid for the leadership. Four are supporting Ontario MP Erin O’Toole and one, David Yurdiga, is supporting Kellie Leitch (watch her latest video here, if you can bear it). Bow Valley MP Martin Shields is supporting Calgary MP Deepak Obhrai‘s candidacy.

Derek Fildebrandt Alberta Wildrose MLA

Derek Fildebrandt

O’Leary does not have the support of any sitting MPs from Alberta but has gained support from Uppal and former PC MLA Ken Hughes. O’Leary was widely mocked online last year after writing an open letter to Premier Rachel Notley pledging to invest $1 million to Alberta economy if she would resign (it is not known if the letter was sent by O’Leary from his home in Massachusetts).

Federal NDP skip Alberta in leadership debate schedule

Meanwhile, the federal NDP released a schedule of debates for their leadership contest and have apparently skipped over Alberta, the only province in Canada with an NDP government.

It is an odd slight, but one that is probably welcomed by Notley’s pro-pipeline NDP government, whose Climate Leadership Plan helped gain approval for the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia. The divide between the Alberta NDP and its counterparts in Ottawa on the pipeline issue is stark and the federal party would not be doing Notley’s government any favours by rolling into the province trumpeting an anti-pipeline message.