Tag Archives: Anne Wilson

NDP leader Rachel Notley speaks to a crowd of more than 2,000 Albertans at a May 4 election rally in Edmonton.

Partying like it’s 2016! A look ahead at next weekend’s Alberta NDP convention in Calgary

In the past, the media and political watchers would pay little attention to a provincial convention held by Alberta’s New Democratic Party. It is expected that all media and political watchers will be paying close attention to the debate at the NDP’s convention in Calgary next weekend.

Back in 2009, during a stint as a freelance writer, I covered the NDP convention for the now-defunct alt-weekly known as SEE Magazine. I may have been the only media representative actually in attendance at the convention.

That weekend in 2009, in a dim-lit windowless ballroom in a downtown Edmonton hotel the most contentious topic of debate was a proposal from a small group of New Democrat founders of the Democratic Renewal Project. The DRP advocated the creation of an electoral arrangement or cooperation agreement between the NDP and the Liberal Party to prevent vote splitting by progressive voters. Both opposition parties had major loses in the previous year’s election, with the NDP dropping from four to two MLAs.

The ideas put forward by the DRP sounded sensible to me at the time but were soundly rejected by conference delegates. Seven years later, the NDP are no longer debating vote splitting or electoral agreements. They are holding their first convention as Alberta’s governing party after their win in the 2015 provincial election.

Instead of a dingy hotel in downtown Edmonton, this year’s convention will be held on June 10, 11 and 12, 2016 at the swanky Hyatt Regency in downtown Calgary. Along with 54 NDP MLAs in attendance, the convention will feature keynote speeches from the Edmonton Oilers‘ Andrew Ference on Jobs and Diversification, Pembina Institute executive director Ed Whittingham on Climate Leadership, Ontario NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh on Diversity and Reducing Inequality, and Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan on Labour issues.

This will be the first NDP convention in recent memory that the mainstream media will pay much attention to and with that in mind, the party’s leadership will do their best to turn the weekend into a celebration of the NDP’s 2015 election win and accomplishments in its first year of government. The weekend includes a $200 a plate banquet and a party at the Glenbow Museum featuring Scenic Route to Alaska, The Northwest Passage and Los Moreno’s.

It feels far from the dim-lit windowless hotel ballroom in downtown Edmonton but that does not mean it will be without its acrimonious moments.

A group of party activists unhappy with NDP MLA’s support of a Wildrose Party motion calling on the federal government to scrap a planned moratorium on tankers on Canada’s Pacific coastal waters are expected to spearhead a debate on whether the motion goes against against a party policy opposing the Enbridge Corporation’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline passed at a previous convention.

There may also be debate about changing the role of organizational affiliates in the NDP. Unlike other provincial political parties, the NDP allows organizations to affiliate with their party in order to have a greater say in their leadership votes and at conventions.

These affiliates are almost always labour unions but as unions are no longer allowed to donate to political parties or pay for delegates to attend conventions, the previous existing advantages for the party and affiliate no longer exists. I am told that before the NDP banned corporate and union donations in the first law they passed in 2015, affiliated unions donated 15-cents per member per-month to the party.

Delegates will also be voting in elections for the party’s provincial executive. For some reason that is unknown and puzzling, the NDP is the only provincial political party in Alberta that does not list the names of its executive or board of directors on its website. Perhaps this will change now that the NDP is the province’s governing party.

Here is a list of who is running for the party’s four table officer positions:

President: Teacher and president of the party’s Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview constituency association Peggy Wright is the only candidate to have entered the presidential election. The position was made vacant when former president Chris O’Halloran, who had served as president since 2013, stepped down to start a job in the Premier’s Southern Alberta office at the McDougall Centre in Calgary.

First Vice-President: Two candidates are running for this position: labour activist and United Nurses of Alberta Labour Relations Officer Jason Rockwell and lawyer and past candidate Anne Wilson. Mr. Rockwell ran as an NDP candidate in the 2006 federal election in the Edmonton-Spruce Grove riding. Ms. Wilson ran as a provincial NDP candidate in 2008 in Banff-Cochrane and 2015 in Calgary-Foothills (against Progressive Conservative leader Jim Prentice). In July 2015 she ran for the NDP nomination for the Calgary-Foothills by-election but was defeated by former alderman Bob Hawkesworth.

[Note: I work with Jason Rockwell in my day job as Communications Advisor with United Nurses of Alberta. I am not an NDP member, but if I were he would certainly get my vote at this convention.]

Second Vice-President: It appears that Lou Arab may be acclaimed in his bid for re-election. Mr. Arab is a near-legendary campaign manager in NDP circles for his role in the election campaigns of Marlin Schmidt in 2012 and 2015 and Sarah Hoffman in 2010. He is a Communications Representative with the Canadian Union of Public Employees – Alberta and also happens to be the husband of Premier Rachel Notley.

Treasurer: Siobhan Vipond, the Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL, is running for re-election and does not appear to be facing any challengers at this time.

I am told that more than 500 delegates have registered to attend the Calgary convention.

Wildrose win Calgary-Foothills by-election, NDP hold on to ‘Orange Chinook’ support

Wildrose Party candidate Prasad Panda became his party’s only MLA from Calgary with a fairly decisive win in yesterday’s by-election in Calgary-Foothills, stealing the constituency away from the Progressive Conservatives. PC candidate Blair Houston finished third in the constituency that elected former Premier Jim Prentice in another by-election ten months ago and in a general election only four months ago.

The New Democrats mounted what appeared to be a strong campaign with candidate Bob Hawkesworth, but the governing party was only able to finish with second place in the by-election.

The NDP lost some ground in this by-election, holding 25.7 percent of the vote compared to the 32.3 percent earned by candidate Anne Wilson in the May 5, 2015 general election but still significantly more than the 3.7 percent earned by the NDP candidate in the October 2014 by-election. The results suggest that the NDP “orange chinook” from May 2015 has not completely dissipated as some would have argued and that NDP have developed a base of support in the city that was non-existent only a few months ago.

An NDP loss in this by-election would not have been a notable outcome had that party not intentionally raised the stakes of the results by pouring significant resources into the campaign, including high-profile endorsements of Mr. Hawkesworth and at least three campaign visits by Premier Rachel Notley. The loss does not spell the end of the NDP in Calgary but it does demonstrate that the party faces strong conservative opposition in the city, which should come as a surprise to no one.

Media commentaries will likely frame the Wildrose win as a rebuke of NDP policies in Calgary-Foothills, which it was, but at a more interesting level the results of this by-election are reflective of the divide between the Wildrose and the PC Party.

While the electoral outcomes were different from the last election, the percentages of the combined PC and Wildrose votes were 59.8 percent, up slightly from their combined vote of 58 percent in May 2015. This is a major decline from the October 2014 by-election, when the two conservative parties dominated with a combined 88 percent of the vote.

Conservative voters were split in this by-election, but Mr. Panda’s win will give the Wildrose Party potent ammunition to argue that the old PC Party is not a viable conservative alternative to the NDP in the three and a half years leading up to the next general election. The by-election results do suggest that in Calgary, the mostly rural based Wildrosers could still have some hard work ahead of them, as the PC Party is at the very least “still standing.”

The Wildrose caucus will now grow from 21 to 22 MLAs, making it the largest official opposition since the Liberals had 31 MLAs in the early-1990s. The PCs have 9 MLAs in the Legislature.

Here are the unofficial results from the September 3, 2015 by-election (66/66 polls reporting):

Prasad Panda, Wildrose: 4,877 (38.3%)
Bob Hawkesworth, NDP: 3,270 (25.7%)
Blair Houston, PC: 2,7,46 (21.5%)
Ali Bin Zahid, Liberal:  791 (6.2%)
Mark Taylor, Alberta Party: 610 (4.8%)
Janet Keeping, Green: 377 (2.9%)
Antoni Grochowski, Independent: 46 (0.36%)

Calgary Foothills Electoral Riding Alberta Map

Gearing up for another Calgary-Foothills By-Election

Voters in Calgary-Foothills will face their third election in less than a year when a by-election is called to replace Jim Prentice in the next few months. I’ve created a special page to track candidate nominations and news about the upcoming by-election. Here are the latest candidate updates:

New Democratic Party: Past candidate Anne Wilson and former MLA and city councillor Bob Hawkesworth, are seeking the NDP nomination. Ms. Wilson was the NDP candidate in the recent election and earned 32% of the vote. Mr. Hawkesworth represented Calgary-Mountain View from 1986 to 1993 and was elected as a city councillor for a ward south of the Foothills constituency. This will be the first electoral test faced by the new NDP government since Rachel Notley led them to victory on May 5. The nomination meeting has been scheduled for July 27, 2015.

Wildrose: Retired police officer Kathy Macdonald will seek the Wildrose nomination. Ms. Macdonald placed second with 30% in the 2014 by-election in this constituency.

LiberalAli Bin Zahid announced on Twitter that he would once again seek the Liberal Party nomination. He was that party’s candidate in the recent election and earned 7.2% of the vote.


I have not yet heard any rumours about who might seek the Progressive Conservative nomination. Voters in this constituency have elected PC MLAs since 1971 but following Mr. Prentice’s abrupt resignation in May 2015 they may not be sympathetic to the next PC candidate (who will now represent the third place party).

Update: Green Party leader Janet Keeping has confirmed she will stand as a candidate in the Calgary-Foothills by-election.

Rachel Notley Alberta NDP Premier

June 15 marks the end of the NDP’s trek through Alberta’s political wilderness

On June 15, 2015, Alberta’s new government will present its first Speech from the Throne. Read by new Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell, the speech will represent the first official major statement made by Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP government since its stunning election win on May 5.

Premier Ralph Klein

Ralph Klein

In an important lesson about how political fortunes can change, June 15 also marks the 22nd anniversary of Alberta’s 1993 provincial election, which marked the beginning of the Alberta NDP’s long march through the political wilderness.

On June 15, 1993, the official opposition NDP led by Ray Martin saw their political fortunes plummet from 15 to zero MLAs in an election dominated by the Liberals led by former Edmonton mayor Laurence Decore and Progressive Conservatives led by former Calgary mayor Ralph Klein.

Ray Martin NDP MLA School Trustee Edmonton Alberta

Ray Martin

The NDP regained a beachhead in the Legislature four years later and their tiny caucus spent the next eighteen years fluctuating between two and four MLAs before electing 54 MLAs in the historic 2015 election.

Twenty-two years after Alberta’s Klein-era began, a populist centre-leftish New Democratic Party was elected with a majority government while promising prescriptions to heal much of the damage caused by the short-sighted slash and burn policies of Mr. Klein’s government.

In contrast, the two parties that dominated Alberta’s political landscape 22 years ago today are decimated. After 44 years in power the PC Party has been relegated to opposition benches with 9 MLAs and the Liberals are searching for meaning with only one MLA left in the Assembly.

With a clean slate and a fresh mandate, the first NDP throne speech will lay out the new government’s plans for its four year term as government, marking Alberta’s first change in government since 1971.

Blast from the Past
Anne Wilson NDP Calgary Foothills

Anne Wilson

The resignation of PC leader Jim Prentice on election night means that a by-election will need to be held in Calgary-Foothills within the next six months.

Lawyer Anne Wilson earned 32% while standing as the NDP candidate against Mr. Prentice in the recent election and has announced she is seeking the NDP nomination.

Facebook page has been created to draft former Calgary City Councillor and NDP MLA Bob Hawkesworth to seek the nomination. Mr. Hawkesworth served as a city councillor from 1980 to 1986 and 1994 to 2010, and as the NDP MLA for Calgary-Mountain View from 1986 to 1993 (in 1986 he defeated young PC candidate Mr. Prentice in his first electoral bid).

Retired Calgary police officer Kathy MacDonald has expressed interest in seeking the Wildrose nomination in this by-election. Ms. MacDonald was the Wildrose candidate in the October 2014 Calgary-Foothills by-election and general election candidate in the Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill constituency. The Wildrose were unable to elect any candidates in Calgary in the May election.

PC Party tossed into the wilderness

Beginning their own trek through the political wilderness, the PC Party has hired Calgary consultant and long-time party loyalist Troy Wason as interim managing director. Amid rumours that the long governing party is deep in debt, the PC Party announced shortly after the election that it was laying off most of its paid staff and could close down its offices in Calgary and Edmonton.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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