Tag Archives: Bill Given

Greg Clark Alberta Party Calgary-Elbow

Will the Alberta Together takeover turn the Alberta Party into PC 2.0?

Photo: Alberta Party leader Greg Clark on the campaign trail in Calgary-Elbow in 2014. Source: Twitter.

In the latest shakeup in Alberta politics, Greg Clark announced last Friday that he would resign as leader of the Alberta Party at the party’s upcoming annual general meeting on November 18, 2017. Clark has served as party leader since 2013 and became the party’s first elected MLA in 2015 when he unseated Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Gordon Dirks in Calgary-Elbow.

Karen McPherson Alberta Party MLA Calgary Mackay Nose HIll

Karen McPherson

With the floor-crossing of former New Democratic Party MLA Karen McPherson earlier this month, Clark had succeeded in helping double his party’s caucus. But despite generating an impressive share of media attention, Clark has been unable to raise the amounts of money the Alberta Party would need to be competitive in the next election. And even though there has been increased interest in the party’s membership since the PC Party became defunct under Jason Kenney’s leadership, the Alberta Party has not seen growth in the public opinion polls.

With the increasing influence of the Alberta Together political action committee, formed by former PC Party officials including Stephen Mandel, rumours had been circulating for months that Clark’s leadership could come to an end before the party’s annual meeting.

Over the course of its three decades in existence, the Alberta Party has become sort of a rotating door for politcos without a home, starting with western separatists in the early 1980s and disaffected Greens, Liberals, New Democrats and moderate Tories in the late 2000s. Clark was a former Liberal, having worked as a staffer at the Legislature during Laurence Decore‘s time as party leader (Clark’s father, Gilbert Clark, was 823 votes away from ending Ralph Klein‘s political career when the former mayor first ran for provincial office in Calgary-Elbow in 1989).

Now it appears the party is a new home for moderate Tories unhappy with the hard right-ward turn of the UCP under Kenney’s leadership.

Katherine O'Neill

Katherine O’Neill

As I wrote in June 2017, the Alberta Party is a blank slate with a great name, but whether or not this latest group to wander over will translate that name into electoral success is yet to be determined.

The party has the support of well-known political operatives Susan Elliott and Stephen Carter, who worked together as the top campaign strategists for Alison Redford in the 2012 provincial election – the last successful Hail Mary campaign of the PC Party.

According to the Globe & Mail, the party could lean on the Alberta Together PAC for fundraising support to help offset the costs of the leadership race. This is concerning because PACs like Alberta Together fall outside of the province’s Election Finances and. Contributions Disclosure Act, which raises legitimate concerns about transparency and accountability of political fundraising and spending.

With less than 15 months until a potential election call, the urgency surrounding the leadership and the role of Alberta Together could be a reaction to signals from Premier Rachel Notley that the NDP government plans to tighten rules governing PACs before the next election.

Now that Clark has made his announcement, it is unclear if he or the Alberta Together group have a chosen candidate waiting in the wings to run for the party leadership.

Doug Griffiths

Doug Griffiths

McPherson has said she does not intend to run and neither does Alberta Together CEO Katherine O’Neill. It is also unclear whether Clark will re-contest the leadership he is about to resign from.

Had Clark resigned four months ago, it might not be surprising to see municipal politicians like Nenshi, Edmonton mayor Don Iveson and Grande Prairie mayor Bill Given consider throwing their name in the race. But with the municipal elections having only been held on October 16, it would be difficult politically for any current municipal mayor or councillor to justify running for the leadership.

Former Morinville mayor and past Alberta Urban Municipalities Association president Lisa Holmes has been rumoured as a potential candidate, as has Nenshi’s chief of staff Chima Nkemdirim.

Former PC MLAs Thomas Lukaszuk, Doug Griffiths, Teresa Woo-Paw, and Stephen Khan and current Independent PC MLA Richard Starke have been mentioned as potential candidates, though bringing in former politicians associated with an unpopular old government might not be the best strategy for the newly rebranded party.

Ryan Jespersen 630 CHED Alberta Party

Ryan Jespersen

Popular 630CHED radio host Ryan Jespersen is a compelling name on the list of rumoured leadership candidates named by Postmedia columnist Don Braid. Jespersen is well-known in Edmonton and northern Alberta, well-spoken on a wide-range of issues and is not a former PC MLA – which would be an asset if he did decide to run. (He would not be the first of his family to enter Alberta politics. His great-uncle, Ralph Jespersen, served as the Social Credit MLA for Stony Plain from 1967 to 1971).

And on the topic of radio personalities turned politicians, the political action committee named for the son of one such politician, the Manning Centre, will also hold its first Alberta Networking Conference in Red Deer on November 18. Attendees will hear from Kenny and UCP MLAs, Conservative MPs, and representatives of likeminded groups including the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation and the Canadian Constitution Foundation who will “chart the course for the future” of conservative politics in Alberta.

As some conservatives will meet under Preston Manning’s banner at Red Deer College, former PC supporters and the Alberta Together group will meet across town at the Radisson Hotel to consolidate their position inside the Alberta Party. A dozen notable former PC officials are running to fill the 12 positions on the party’s board of directors:

  • Sumita Anand served as the PC Party’s west Calgary regional director until she resigned on May 24, 2017. She had served as president of the PC association in Calgary-Foothills during and immediately following Jim Prentice’s tenure as party leader.
  • Denise Brunner served as the PC Party’s vice president organization. She stepped down in January 2017 after being accused of bias by Kenney’s supporters during the PC leadership race. According to Elections Alberta financial disclosures, she was Chief Financial Officer for the Edmonton-Castle Downs PC association in 2006 and currently serves as the president of Alberta Party association in Edmonton-Castle Downs.
  • Cole Harbin served as Executive Vice President of the PC Youth of Alberta until 2016 and as a Vice President of the PC constituency association in Lethbridge-West until 2017. He previously worked as a constituency assistant for former MLAs Doug Griffiths and former Lethbridge-West PC MLA Greg Weadick.
  • Jackie Clayton was recently re-elected to serve a second term on Grande Prairie City Council and is the former Peace Country regional director for the PC Party.
  • Kerry Cundal is a former PC Party activist and federal Liberal candidate who ran for the provincial Liberal leadership earlier this year on a platform of working closer with the Alberta Party.
  • Brian Heidecker is a big name in the former PC Party establishment. He served as Chair of University of Alberta Board of Governors, and was appointed to the boards of the Alberta Treasury Branches Board and the Alberta Securities Commission. He served as a PC Party Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer for Doug Griffiths’ 2011 campaign for the PC Party leadership.
  • Blake Pedersen was elected in 2012 as the Wildrose Party MLA for Medicine Hat and crossed the floor to the PC caucus in 2014. He was defeated by NDP candidate Bob Wanner in 2015 and currently serves as president of the Alberta Party association in Cypress-Medicine Hat.
  • Shawn Pickett served as president of the PC association in Red Deer-North and Central North regional director until resigning in July 2017, referring to Kenney’s leadership bid as a “hostile takeover” of the PC Party.
  • Stephanie Shostak is the former north Edmonton regional director for the PC Party. Shostak now serves as the president of the Alberta Party association in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview.
  • Marcel Van Hecke was the PC Party’s Northern Vice President and appears to have started attending Alberta Together meetings in July 2017.
  • Patty Wickstrom served as the PC Party’s Board Secretary until she resigned in July 2017. According to Elections Alberta financial disclosures, she previously served as president of the PC association in Calgary-Currie from 2008 to 2010.
  • Lorna Wolodko previously served as St. Albert regional director with the PC Party and worked as a constituency manager for Stony Plain PC MLAs Fred Lindsey and Ken Lemke before working in the Office of the Premier. Wolodko ran for the PC Party nomination in Stony Plain ahead of the 2015 election.

Don Iveson’s win a vote for optimism and smart planning in Edmonton

Don Iveson Karen Leibovici Kerry Diotte Edmonton Election 2013

Mayor-elect Don Iveson, and mayoral candidates Karen Leibovici and Kerry Diotte.

There will be plenty of analysis about what last night’s election means for the city of Edmonton. With 132,162 votes – 62% of the vote – Don Iveson earned a commanding victory in the mayoral election over his two main opponents, Karen Leibovici and Kerry Diotte.

This is a win for the positive campaign and a stunning rebuke of the traditional negative campaign. While his main opponents strayed into negative tactics, Mr. Iveson’s campaign avoided the taunts by focusing on remaining positive and optimistic. And it worked. This should send a strong message to voters and politicians across the land that you do not need to go negative to win.

This is a vote for the future. I spoke with many people over the past month who weren’t sure what this election was about. While “the future” and “long-term planning” aren’t sexy wedge issues like the closure of an airport or the construction of a new hockey arena, they are so much more important. Campaigns can be delivered in full-sentences. Mr. Iveson’s comprehensive platform and its focus on long-term planning differentiated him from the other candidates.

Edmontonians have given Mr. Iveson a clear mandate to move forward with an agenda to renew public infrastructure, kickstart innovation, expand LRT, and change the way we fund our city.

There are challenges ahead. As mayor, Mr. Iveson will have to build a team on a city council with six new faces. Any successful mayor understands that they are only one vote of thirteen on council. Balancing progressive voices like re-elected councillors Ben Henderson and Amarjeet Sohi and newly-elected Michael Walters and Scott McKeen, along with moderate conservatives like Michael Oshry and fiscal hawks like Mike Nickel could be a challenge.

Building a strong region will be critical to moving Edmonton forward and new opportunities exist for the Capital Region Board with new mayors Tom Flynn in Sturgeon County, Lisa Holmes in Morinville, and Roxanne Carr in Strathcona County. Regional cooperation on planning and development, as well as service delivery, are areas where the capital region could see progress over the next four years.

Solving the fiscal challenges facing Alberta’s cities will also be difficult. The provincial government needs to be convinced that Alberta’s cities require additional resources and responsibilities to address the tremendous pressures associated with fast growing populations. The introduction of City Charters could be a significant step to helping cities deal with this issue.

With the province’s most dynamic political leaders now leading our large urban municipalities, Naheed Nenshi in Calgary, Don Iveson in Edmonton, Melissa Blake in Wood Buffalo, Bill Given in Grande Prairie, and newly elected Tara Veer in Red Deer have an opportunity to pursue a strong urban agenda that the provincial government cannot ignore.

(Note: I have been happy to volunteer my personal time during the election campaign to help Don Iveson become the next mayor of Edmonton. I am ecstatic that Edmontonians have entrusted him with their votes)

A short roundup of municipal election races across Alberta

With a feeling of excitement in the air, Nomination Day came and went today as residents across Alberta officially became candidates in this year’s municipal election. With nearly 120 candidates registered to run in Edmonton’s municipal election, today’s event was busy. I was at Edmonton City Hall at this morning’s event and snapped photos of many candidates.

While it was expected that some Edmonton City Council candidates could be acclaimed, the only two unchallenged incumbents in this year’s vote are Edmonton Public School Trustees Sarah Hoffman and Cheryl Johner. I have updated the list of Edmonton election candidates with their social media links.

After a busy morning and evening of attending election related events, I joined Ryan Hastman and Mack Male for a special Nomination Day #yegvote Google Hangout. You can watch the hangout in the embedded video above and find previous episodes at EdmontonPolitics.com.

Here is a quick look at some of the interesting municipal election news from across Alberta:

– Popular Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is expected to cruise to victory, but still faces eight challengers.

– Former Progressive Conservative MLA and cabinet minister Ray Danyluk is running to become the next Reeve of St. Paul County. Mr. Danyluk served as MLA for Lac La Biche-St. Paul from 2001 until 2012.

– Former PC and Wildrose candidate Guy Boutilier has thrown his name into the election for Wood Buffalo Municipal Council. Mr. Boutilier was MLA from 1997 until 2012 and Mayor of Wood Buffalo from 1995 until 1997.

– Former Wildrose candidate Maryann Chichak is running for Mayor in Whitecourt.

– Well-known political blogger David Climenhaga is running for city council in St. Albert.

– In July he announced his retirement from politics, but according to the Bonnyville Nouvelle, Town of Bonnyville Mayor Ernie Isely is running for re-election. Isley has served as mayor since 2006 and was the PC MLA for the area from 1979 to 1993.

– He may be enjoying retirement from Ottawa, but former Member of Parliament Myron Thompson is once again running for a spot on Sundre Town Council. Mr. Thompson was the MP for Wild Rose from 1993 until 2008, and was Mayor of Sundre from 1974 to 1980.

– Former MLAs Weslyn Mather and Ray Martin have thrown their hats in Edmonton’s public school board election. Ms. Mather was the Liberal MLA for Edmonton-Mill Woods from 2004 until 2008. Mr. Martin was leader of the Official Opposition NDP from 1986 to 1993, and was elected as MLA from 1982 to 1993 and 2004 to 2008.

Robert Wilkinson was convicted of impaired driving, became an internet sensation with his rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and is the only candidate challenging Edson Mayor Greg Pasychny in this year’s election.

– In the Village of Bawlf, only one candidate filed nomination papers to contest the election for the five member village council. According to the Village’s Twitter account, the “Village Office will be open 10-12 weekdays til Sept30, until 5 nominations are received.”

– In Grande Prairie, popular mayor Bill Given is being challenged by former councillor Gladys Blackmore.

Richard Richards has been acclaimed as mayor in the Town of Stettler.

Twenty-four candidates have filed nomination papers to contest five council seats in the flood damaged town of High River.

Please share in the comments section below if there are any interesting races or candidates who I have missed.

photo post: alberta party policy conference.

I attended this weekend’s Alberta Party conference in Red Deer and took some photos along the way. You can find more photos on Flickr.

The participant package for the 2010 Alberta Party policy conference.

Alberta Party Chief Financial Officer Paul Ney was a rock star on Saturday night of the conference.

About 150 people participated at the Alberta Party conference.

Alberta Party Board Member Chima Nkemdirim shared stories from his role as Campaign Director for Naheed Nenshi's successful Mayoral campaign in Calgary.

Almost all of the weekend's conference was taken up by debate and discussion about policy proposals.

Grande Prairie Mayor Bill Given spoke to conference participants about his recent election.

Alberta Party President Chris Labossiere votes during one of the many policy discussions.

Alberta Party Board Members Josh Kjenner and Christel Hyshka were two of the key players in organizing the policy conference.

Participants discuss policy on the final day of the conference.

live from red deer: alberta party policy conference.

I am in the City of Red Deer this weekend attending the first policy conference of the new Alberta Party. About 150 people are participating at the conference, which is pretty good for a party that barely existed just a year ago. Energized by some of the results in the recent municipal elections, there is a sense of optimism in the air about this conference and the growth potential for this party.

The policy debate sessions today have focused on the four most common themes identified in the Big Listen process: Environment, Democratic Renewal and Meaningful Citizen Engagement, Education, and Health Care. Some sessions have been more heated than others, but there has generally been a focus on collaboration and respect in the discussions.

At the sessions I have attended, I sensed a mixed sense of caution and boldness among the participants, who understand that the decisions they make today will shape how this party will be perceived by Albertans.

Some portions of the weekend conference will be live-streamed online, including a panel discussion this evening with Grande Prairie Mayor Bill Given and organizers from the campaign teams of Naheed Nenshi, Stephen Mandel, and Don Iveson. The panelists will be sharing some experiences and stories from the recent municipal election campaigns.

I will be delivering the closing remarks for the conference tomorrow morning at 12:30pm, which you can watch online via live-stream (I will post the remarks on this blog afterwards). You can also follow the conference participants on Twitter at #abparty.

alberta politics notes 11/11/2010

Alberta Party Conference in Red Deer
The upcoming Alberta Party policy conference in Red Deer is getting attention from the political class, including provincial Tories who are nervous about the links between the new party and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi‘s campaign team. On the Saturday evening of the conference, Mayor Nenshi’s Campaign Director and Chief of Staff Chima Nkemdirim and campaign Communications Coordinator Richard Einarson will be participating in an political discussion panel (which will also include Mayor Stephen Mandel‘s Chief of Staff and Campaign Manager Patricia Mistuka, Councillor Don Iveson‘s campaign manager Chris Henderson, and the new Mayor of Grande Prairie Bill Given).

No room for good ideas?
Proving that the current political climate in Alberta is not always friendly to thought-provoking ideas, Battle River-Wainwright PC MLA Doug Griffiths is feeling a lash back by the political establishment within his party and the opposition. After trying to start a public discussion about how a provincial sales tax could  reduce government dependency on natural resource revenue, Mr. Griffiths became the target of his own colleagues who shot down his idea at the recent PC Party convention and by the Wildrose Alliance, who have used Mr. Griffiths’ comments as a fundraising-focused attack campaign.

Maybe it is something about Battle River-Wainwright, because this is not the first time an idea coming from that constituency was shot down by the political establishment. At the 2008 PC policy convention, that constituency association brought forward a motion supporting fixed elections dates. The motion passed at the policy convention and was soon after introduced as a private members bill (Bill 203: Election Statutes (Fixed Election Dates)) in the Assembly by St. Albert PC MLA Ken Allred.

Mr. Allred’s private members bill was attacked by Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills PC MLA Richard Marz, who claimed that the creation of fixed election dates would allow public sector unions to schedule strikes near election dates (because as all Albertans know, it is those evil public sector Unions who have been standing in between the PC Party and majority governments for the past forty years… oh wait…). The fixed election dates bill was tabled to be discussed six months later. Two years later, the bill remains tabled and there is no sign that any debate will reassume.

On a similar note, Edmonton-McClung PC MLA David Xiao hopes to start a discussion on mandatory voting in Alberta. While the idea probably has enough merit to deserve the opportunity to be debated and fully discussed, it is likely doomed to reach the waste bin of ideas to combat electoral disinterest.

Liberal Environment Policy
Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman released the Liberal Caucus environment policy yesterday, which includes a hard cap on greenhouse gas emissions by 2017 and a provincial groundwater inventory and water quality monitoring program.


Water
The fight over access to fresh water may be one of the next big fights on the political horizon as Premier Ed Stelmach has said that new water storage will need to be created in Southern Alberta to help increase industrial development.

As part of a country-wide speaking tour, Council of Canadian chairperson Maude Barlow was in Edmonton in October and warned against the creation of water markets that could open the sale fresh water from Alberta to corporations and overseas markets. Ms. Barlow believes that water should be held in a public trust and has outlined her beliefs in a new book, Blue Covenant: The Global The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.

alberta politics inside and outside the dome.

Alberta’s Legislative Assembly resumes for Fall Sitting in a constantly changing political environment.

As the leaves fall and winter approaches, so does the resumption of the venerable institution known as the Alberta Legislative Assembly. Much has changed since last year’s Fall Sitting in Edmonton.

When MLAs return to the Assembly next Monday, they will have a few unfinished business to continue. The summer months have been far from quiet on Alberta’s political landscape. Premier Ed Stelmach has focused on promoting the oilsands to both audiences internationally and at home, including a tour with Hollywood Film Director James Cameron.

Premier Ed Stelmach at his Summer BBQ at the Alberta Legislature.

There were three pieces of legislation that were left undealt with at the end of the Spring sitting. The Traffic Safety (Distracted Driving) Amendment Act, 2010 (Bill 16) which will ban the use of handheld mobile telephones while driving is back up and two private members Bills that may have little chance of reaching third reading. The Municipal Government (Local Access and Franchise Fees) Amendment Act, 2010 (Bill 203) and the Fiscal Responsibility (Spending Limit) Amendment Act, 2010 (Bill 204) are two private members bills that may have very little chance of reaching third reading. Bill 203 was introduced by Calgary-North Hill PC backbencher Kyle Fawcett, who recently had his knuckles rapped for boneheaded comments made over Twitter. Bill 204 was introduced by Airdrie-Chestermere Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson and may be blocked from ever reaching third reading by the Tory majority in the Assembly.

The Alberta Health Act will likely be the most contentious piece of legislation introduced in this sitting of the Assembly. Originally framed as a replacement for already existing pieces of health care legislation, the PC Government has since backed off after receiving an earful from Albertans in province-wide consultation meetings. The previously expected Alberta Health Act may be a shell of what it was envisioned to be when it is introduced in the next few weeks, but it could leave the door open for further legislative reforms (after the next election?).

At a media conference yesterday, Minister Gene Zwozdesky accepted recommendations from the Minister’s Advisory Committee on Health, led by Edmonton-Rutherford PC MLA Fred Horne, but used his time to take a defensive stance against his critics. Minister Zwozdesky and Mr. Horne were also unable to fully explain the purpose of their proposed non-legally-binding Health Charter when questioned by reporters. The purpose of the new Alberta Health Act was challenged by Edmonton-Riverview MLA and Liberal Health Critic Kevin Taft, who labelled the Health Charter idea as “vacant” and predicted that the new Act “will be filled with platitudes that have no legal standing and have no recourse.”

Wildrose Alliance MLAs Paul Hinman, Heather Forsyth, and Rob Anderson with their party leader Danielle Smith.

I fully expect a continuation of the blood fued between the Wildrose Caucus and Assembly Speaker Ken Kowalski to continue over the next session. Since the Wildrose Caucus grew to three MLAs with the floor-crossing of Mr. Anderson and Calgary-Fish Creek MLA Heather Forsyth in January 2010, Speaker Kowalski has used his power on the Members’ Services Committee to block any further increases in funding to the now third party caucus (the two MLA NDP Caucus still receives more funding that the 3 MLA Wildrose Caucus) and even demand that Danielle Smith‘s name be removed from media releases. Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Guy Boutilier joined the Wildrose Alliance Party in June 2010, but has remained as an Independent MLA in order to secure more research and communications funding (when he officially joins the Wildrose Caucus next week, their combined funding will decrease).

Since last session, the Wildrose have declared war on Speaker Kowalski outside the Assembly by nominating Senator-in-Waiting Link Byfield as their candidate in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock. Speaker Kowalski has represented variations of that constituency since 1979. Mr. Byfield has been endorsed by former Conservative Members of Parliament John Williams and David Chatters.

Not to be outdone by the insurgent Wildrosers, the PC Party will be holding their Annual Convention in Calgary on October 29 and 30. I am told by a number of sources that the Convention will also serve as the kickoff for a series of “discussion sessions” with PC Party members billed as Speak Easies which will attempt to reconnect the party leadership with an increasingly disillusioned voter-base in the year before the party celebrates its fortieth year in government.

Liberal leader David Swann.

After a brutal Spring sitting that included the high-profile departure of Calgary-Currie MLA Dave Taylor from the Official Opposition Caucus, Liberal Opposition leader David Swann is looking to improve his party’s position this Fall. Dr. Swann is attempting to hitch his horse close to the Reboot Alberta group, which has attracted many partisan and non-partisan activists to its ranks during its two previous gatherings. In an email sent out today from his Calgary-Mountain View constituency office email, Dr. Swann implored his supporters to join him in attending the next Reboot Alberta meeting in Edmonton on November 5 and 6.

The NDP Caucus is probably feeling rightfully jubilant for the election of their Director of Research, Sarah Hoffman, to the Edmonton Public School Board, but those feeling of excitement may be tempered as they enter the Fall Sitting short-staffed. In early October, Communications Director Brookes Merritt left the NDP Caucus to accept a job with the Government of Alberta’s Public Affairs Bureau. Until they find a replacement, Chief of Staff Jim Gurnett is covering the Communications portfolio.

NDP MLA Rachel Notley

The NDP will be reporting tomorrow on the results of their province-wide “Earning your trust” tour that saw Edmonton-Strathcona MLA Rachel Notley and Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Brian Mason make summer policy announcements in a handful of cities across the province. The NDP will also be holding their annual convention in Red Deer on November 4, which will include British Columbia NDP leader Carole James as the keynote speaker (assuming that she is still leader on November 4).

Outside the dome of the Assembly Building, there are some very real political changes happening. The new Alberta Party held its Annual General Meeting in Red Deer at the beginning of October and after months of touring the province holding Big Listen events, that party will hold their first policy convention in the same city on November 13.

The Alberta Party Annual General Meeting.

The new Alberta Party has also moved forward with the hiring of their provincial organizer Michael Walters. The party will also undoubtedly benefit from having many of its members involved in recent municipal election campaigns, including Alberta Party Vice-President Chima Nkemdirim, who was the Campaign Director for Naheed Nenshi’s successful Mayoral campaign in Calgary. Mr. Walters was also heavily involved in the Election Day get out the vote organization that helped get Mayor Stephen Mandel re-elected in Edmonton.

Also not to be ignored is the role that the Wildrose Alliance played in recent municipal elections in the province’s two largest cities. The party has already hired organizers and been nominating candidates for the next provincial election, but leader Danielle Smith’s foray into the City Centre Airport issue in Edmonton and the Airport Tunnel issue in Calgary should not be ignored. Many Wildrose organizers active in the campaigns of Calgary Mayor candidate Ric McIver and Edmonton Mayor candidate David Dorward. While they may not walk away with voters lists, it is clear that they are taking advantage of any opportunity to get an organizational edge over the Progressive Conservatives in the next provincial election.

A lot of attention has been paid to Mayor-elect Nenshi’s victory in the Calgary Mayoral contest (and rightfully so), but he was not the only new Mayor elected on October 18. Seven of Alberta’s medium sized municipalities also elected new Mayor’s this week. In the north west city of Grande Prairie, Bill Given unseated Mayor Dwight Logan. East of Edmonton, Linda Osinchuk unseated Mayor Cathy Olesen to become Mayor of Strathcona County, Rajko Dodic was elected as the new Mayor of Lethbridge. Along the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary, Jeff Mulligan defeated incumbent Mayor Ken Baker in the City of Lloydminster. In the City of Wetaskiwin, Bill Elliot defeated incumbent Mayor Don Montgomery. In Airdrie, Peter Brown defeated incumbent Mayor Linda Bruce. In Alberta’s newest City, Steve Christie was elected Mayor of Lacombe, replacing the retiring Mayor Judy Gordon (who also served as the PC MLA for Lacombe-Stettler from 1993 to 2004). There was a lot of political change happening across Alberta on October 18, 2010. Of course, it is too soon to tell whether this will foreshadow a provincial election expected in March 2012.

The Fall Sitting of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly will likely open with a low level of substantive legislation and legislative debate, but outside the Dome there will be no shortage of new characters and exciting politics.

edmonton election 2010: election night experience and hope for the future.

As far as municipal elections in Alberta usually go, Monday night was a pretty exciting time to be a political person in this province.

After a day of traveling across the City visiting campaign offices and gauging the energy of the difference campaigns, I made my first election night stop at Ward F Public School Board Trustee Michael Janz‘s election night party at the Boston Pizza on Whyte Avenue. I have known Michael for many years and was thrilled to watch the results consistently placing him ahead of his challengers Bev Sawyer and Joanna Rozmus.

Michael and his team have worked hard and effectively ran a City Council-like campaign for the Public School Board seat, so it was a rewarding experience to watch their hard work pay off when he was declared elected with 53% of the vote. It was also great to see so many people celebrate Michael’s victory last night, including Edmonton-Riverview MLA Kevin Taft and Ward D Public School Trustee Dave Colburn, who both stopped by to offer their congratulations.

At this point in the evening, word had begun to trickle in from our southern neighbours that Naheed Nenshi had taken the lead in Calgary’s Mayoral contest. Later that night, he would solidify his lead over Ric McIver and Barb Higgins and be elected Mayor of Calgary. Maybe it was the power of effectively using social media and word of mouth, but I did not talk with one person that night in Edmonton who had not heard about the Nenshi campaign over the previous 30 days.

We had also heard that Bill Given had unseated Dwight Logan to become the youngest-ever Mayor of Grande Prairie and that Linda Osinchuk was on her way to unseating the popular Cathy Olesen as Mayor of Strathcona County.

Following some hearty celebratory drinks, we grabbed a cab over to the Ward 10 Don Iveson election night party at the Parkallen Restaurant where celebrations were in full swing. Not only had Don just been re-elected to his second term on City Council, he also earned the highest percentage (76.3%) and highest vote total (12,945 votes) of any Councillor candidate running in this election.

Don has done an excellent job on City Council over the past three years as a voice for both new ideas and prudent planning. Along with fellow Councillors like Ben Henderson, Don has been a strong advocate for smart transit planning and family-oriented infill in his three years on Council.

After catching up with the crew at Team Iveson, we headed downtown to Mayor Stephen Mandel‘s election night party at the Sutton Place Hotel Ball Room. Mayor Mandel had been leading in the polls all night and by that point had settled into a 25% lead over second place challenger David Dorward.

In the end, Mayor Mandel was re-elected with 55% of the vote, a stunning rebuke to the Envision Edmonton lobby group that had essentially labeled the Mayor everything but a terrorist for not supporting their invalid plebiscite petition a month earlier.

The party at the Sutton Place was dying down by the time we arrived, but I still got the chance to chat with a few of the evenings successful candidates, including Councillor-elect Dave Loken who won a close race in the new Ward 3 and Councillor Henderson who was re-elected in the new Ward 8.

It was a late night and overall it was a fun evening for party hopping.

Overall thoughts on the election results…

I am thrilled that Naheed Nenshi was elected Mayor of Calgary. His election victory has proved that you can win a Mayoral campaign by using full-sentences and presenting well-thought ideas. He will have a lot of challenges, including inheriting a dysfunctional City Council who do not owe him any allegiance, but not being an incumbent Councillor probably helped propel him into his election victory. I am sure that Premier Ed Stelmach is glad to be rid of his old rival, outgoing Mayor Dave Bronconnier, but Nenshi is no political slouch.

In Edmonton, the clear mandate that Mayor Mandel has received in this re-election should mean the end of the Envision Edmonton lobby group’s crusade to keep the City Centre Airport open, but it will not. Not satisfied with the electoral defeat of their endorsed Mayoral candidate, the lobby group will be taking the City of Edmonton to court on February 10, 2011.

I am generally pleased with how Edmonton’s City Council contests resulted. The potential for ideological contrarians like Kerry Diotte and Tony Caterina to cause havoc exists, but I believe that we may even have a stronger Council than the previous one, which could bode well in terms of cooperation and consensus building to move projects forward.

I am also excited about the new faces on Edmonton’s Public School Board. As I wrote last week, our Public Board was in desperate need for new blood and new ideas to help make the institution more relevant to the broader community. Now is time to make it happen.

Monday was a good day for democracy in our province. I look forward t more good days to come.

alberta, you are beautiful.

Election night victories for Naheed Nenshi, Don Iveson, Stephen Mandel, Bill GivenMichael Janz, and Sarah Hoffman, among many others.

Calgary chooses Nenshi for Mayor

Election butterflies turn into Ward 10 landslide for Iveson

Finally we will move forward: Mandel

Youngest Mayor in Grande Prairie history

Public School Board shaken up

More later.

guest post: grande prairie election 2010.

By Jerry MacDonald

Grande Prairie: the flowers of democracy (campaign signs) are in full bloom in this northern city of just over 50,000. Grande Prairie is in for a relatively interesting civic election this year. There are five (5) candidates for the Mayor’s chair, and 14 candidates for the eight seats on council. The City of Grande Prairie has no wards, so all positions are elected “at large”. For this reason, the position of mayor does not have the unique influence it has in a city with a ward system, where only the mayor’s mandate is city-wide. In Grande Prairie, the mayor is just another vote on city council. On the other hand, the adjacent County of Grande Prairie No. 1 is going to have a very uninteresting election, as six of its nine divisions (including that of the current reeve, Everett McDonald) have been acclaimed.

The issues? Well, of course, Grande Prairie isn’t Edmonton. For one thing, we only have one airport :-); and it’s within city limits. More seriously, foremost among the issues would have to be the cost of living, such as city taxes; quality of life; and relations with the province, including the effectiveness of city lobbying for the province to meet its responsibilities.

The way I see it, there are two kinds of voters, and two kinds of municipal politicians, in this city (and most other smaller cities as well, I expect). There are those whose view of the city’s role is limited to paving the streets and paying for fire fighters, cops, etc. Then there are others who feel that a city must provide services and resources to increase the quality of life for its residents, especially if it is going to attract qualified professionals to teach in the schools and at the college, to work in the health care system, and generally to support the local economy. The first group wants taxes and spending held and even reduced; the second feels that revenue must be generated, and dollars expended, for the city to provide those resources and services. Here in the City of Grande Prairie, one of the complicating factors is that much of the most lucrative tax base is actually from industrial assessments outside its borders, in the County (full disclosure time: this writer has just moved into the County from the city, with the side benefit of lower property taxes than I would pay for the same home in the city), while much of the demand for services is located within city limits.

Mayor
Dwight Logan (incumbent)
⁃ former teacher; born in Edmonton, raised in GP; educated in GP and at the U of A (BA History & English, 1969; teaching certificate, 1970)
⁃ long-time fixture on Grande Prairie city council, having served three terms as alderman and two previous terms as mayor (1986-1992)
⁃ stood as Liberal candidate in the provincial constituency of Grande Prairie-Wapiti in 1993
⁃ along with family, former owner of soon-to-be demolished York Hotel

Ald. Gladys Blackmore
⁃ born in Beaverlodge (west of GP), where she completed high school
⁃ listed as having attended arts programmes at U of A & Athabasca Univ. (not clear whether she earned a degree)
⁃ current President & Executive Director, United Way of Grande Prairie & Region
⁃ alderman since 2001

Ald. Bill Given
⁃ self-employed marketing & communications consultant
⁃ born & raised in GP, attended Medicine Hat College (visual communications)
⁃ first elected to city council in 2001 (youngest ever in GP history), has served three consecutive terms on council
⁃ stood as federal Independent candidate for riding of Peace River in Jan 2006 (finished 2nd behind Conservative Chris Warkentin, with 20.3% of the vote, and ahead of 3rd-place Susan Thompson of the NDP)

Nasim Khan
⁃ among some of the planks on his platform are a passenger rail link between GP and Edmonton (actually not a bad idea, but I don’t think it will ever happen) and elevating the status of GP Regional College to a university
⁃ no website, but has a Facebook page (I haven’t joined, so I don’t have much more information on him, such as a bio)

Dale Robertson
⁃ I cannot find any information on this unknown candidate

If I were allowed to vote in this election, Given would have my vote for Mayor. Logan has just been around too long, and as for Blackmore … well, some months ago, my youngest daughter (then 19) was taking a course at the college, and had to attend a city council meeting for an assignment. She asked me to come along so she’d know what was going on. During the meeting, I was well-placed to see the computer screens of several of the aldermen, including Blackmore’s. She spent the entire evening playing solitaire! Now, maybe she is quite good at mental multi-tasking, and gave the matters being considered by council her full attention, but as a taxpayer, I was offended (my daughter was appalled). I was paying this woman $28,000 a year to play solitaire? I could play it myself for free.

Councillor
Note: City Council recently passed a motion to rename its members from ‘Alderman’ to ‘Councillor’, to take effect after this year’s elections
IMHO, the most interesting feature of this year’s elections for city council is who is not running: two first-term aldermen have announced that they will not be running again: local businessman Yad Minhas (Minhas Bros. trucking), the first South Asian to be elected to GP city council; and GPRC English Instructor and author (and prominent local NDP activist and sometime candidate) Dr. Elroy Deimert, who has also announced his retirement from GPRC, intending to focus on his writing
⁃ incumbents that are running again are engineer and businessman Dan Wong , retired school superintendent Lorne Radbourne , businessman Alex Gustafson, and perennial alderman (& perpetual smokestack) Helen Rice (BTW, she voted against the motion to change ‘alderman’ to ‘councillor’), who has sat on council since a 1979 by-election; Rice is a former radio talk-show host and mall manager, and is now manager of the Downtown Association and a member of the board of directors of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association
⁃ some of the other candidates include John Croken, who was previously on council but was voted off in 2007; Kevin McLean, a 3rd-time candidate (he ran in ’04 & ’07) who had his in-your-face election signs out six months ago (and thereby lost this citizen’s vote even before I knew I would be moving out of the city); and Justin Munroe , a businessman who owns both Pizza Hut locations in the city

County of Grande Prairie No. 1
Out in the county, one potential issue arose too late to have an influence on this year’s campaign, and that is the decision by county council to terminate its fire service agreement with the city at the end of next year, and create its own composite (mixed volunteer and professional) fire service, effective Jan 2012, for the rural Grande Prairie area. This is of particular import for those residents (myself included) who live very close tho the city limits and within a scant 3-5 minutes from a city fire hall, and wonder about the response times and quality of service from a composite service. But the decision was announced a scant week and a half before Nomination Day, and so had little or no effect on whether potential council candidates stepped forward.

Jerry MacDonald has been a Registered Nurse for 25 years and was educated in Halifax. Moved to Fort Vermilion, Alberta in 1985, and to Grande Prairie in 1988. Former UNA activist and local president at QEII Hospital (2003-2006). NDP candidate in 2004 provincial election (Grande Prairie-Wapiti); also worked on several other campaigns at both provincial and federal levels. Married to Nancy; three adult children. BSc in Nursing, post-RN (U of A 2010).