Tag Archives: Bill Smith

Judy Kim-Meneen, Searle Turton, Kevin Smook and Devin Dreeshen

Searle Turton nominated in Spruce Grove – Stony Plain, Judy Kim-Meneen leaves Lesser Slave Lake to run in Edmonton-North West

Photo: Judy Kim-Meneen, Searle Turton, Kevin Smook and Devin Dreeshen

Here are a few of the latest updates to the list of candidates nominated and seeking nomination to run in Alberta’s next provincial election:

Calgary-Falconridge – Devinder Toor defeated Pete de Jong and Jesse Minhas to secure the United Conservative Party nomination in this district. Toor was the Wildrose Party candidate in the 2016 by-election and 2015 general election in Calgary-Greenway. He was defeated by then-Progressive Conservative candidate Prab Gill in the 2016 by-election to choose a successor to Manmeet Bhullar, who Toor was defeated by in 2015.

Happy Mann’s candidacy in this contest was rejected by the UCP after he was alleged to have been involved in a incident where a local reporter was assaulted. Mann was the Wildrose Party candidate in Calgary-McCall in the 2015 election and Calgary-Cross in the 2012 election.

Camrose – Kevin Smook defeated Steven Hansen to secure the Alberta Party nomination in this district. Smook is councillor for Division 1 on Beaver County council, where he was first elected in 2013. He served as Reeve of Beaver County from 2014 to 2017.

Edmonton-Manning – Harjinder Grewal defeated Dakota Drouillard, Gurcharan Garcha, and Kulshan Gill to secure the UCP nomination in this northeast Edmonton district. Grewal is a former Edmonton Police Service officer and was the recipient of the Kiwanis 2013 ‘Top Cop’ award.

Edmonton-West HendayLeah McRorie is seeking the Liberal Party nomination in this Edmonton district. McRorie is a certified facilitator with the Alberta Caregivers Association  and prolific tweeter. According to her LinkedIn profile, she provided social media support for Jeanne Lehman in her campaign for the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Manning ahead of the 2015 federal election. 

Innisfail-Sylvan LakeDevin Dreeshen has been acclaimed as the UCP candidate in this district. There had been speculation that Dreeshen would be appointed by the UCP board and there does not appear to be any evidence that an open nomination contest was held before he was acclaimed.

Leduc-BeaumontRobb Connelly is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. His application to run for the Alberta Party nomination in the neighbouring Strathcona-Sherwood Park district was denied by the Party.

Lesser Slave Lake – Judy Kim-Meneen is no longer the nominated Alberta Party candidate in this sprawling northern Alberta district. Kim-Meneen instead now appears to have been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Edmonton-North West. It also appears that former PC Party candidate Emerson Mayers withdrew from the contest in Edmonton-North West and that former Liberal Party candidate Todd Ross is now seeking the Alberta Party nomination in Edmonton-Ellerslie.

Spruce Grove-Stony Plain – Spruce Grove City Councillor Searle Turton defeated Mathew Clarke and Jerry W. Semen to secure the UCP nomination in this urban district west of Edmonton. Turton was first elected to Spruce Grove City Council in 2010.

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!


Here is a preview of the nomination contests being held in the coming days:

December 6, 2018Becca Polak, Caylan Ford and Jeremy Wong are seeking the UCP nomination in Calgary-Mountain View.

Polak is the former Vice-President of Communications for the Wildrose Party and served as a member of the UCP interim board from 2017 to 2018. Ford is an international affairs specialist with a background in China and human rights. She has worked as a senior policy advisor with Global Affairs Canada. Wong is a pastor with the Calgary Chinese Alliance Church and recently completed a Master of Public Administration at the University of Calgary.

Polak has been endorsed by former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean. Ford has been endorsed by Edmonton-area MP Garnett Genuis, former PC MLA Kyle Fawcett, UCP candidates Doug Schweitzer and Tyler Shandro, and past mayoral candidate Bill Smith. Wong has been endorsed by UCP candidate Jeremy Nixon, former PC MLAs Wayne Cao and Gordon Dirks, and University of Calgary economist Jack Mintz.

Former Progressive Conservative MLA Mark Hlady was seeking the nomination but was disqualified last month.

December 6, 2018Kevin Greco, Kaycee Madu and Sohail Quadri are seeking the UCP nomination in Edmonton-South West.

Greco is a certified home inspector, Madu is a lawyer with Tisel Law Office, and Quadri previously served as the PC MLA for Edmonton-Mill Woods from 2008 to 2015. Quadri served as Legislative Secretary to premier Jim Prentice from 2014 to 2015.

Greco is endorsed by former MP and MLA Ian McClelland.

December 8, 2018Nathan Neudorf, Roger Reid, and Thomas Schneider are seeking the UCP nomination in Livingstone-Macleod.

Reid is the owner of Tim Hortons franchises in Nanton and Clareshold and is chair of the Claresholm and District Health Foundation. Schnieder previously worked as an Area Sales Representative with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Reid is endorsed by Foothills MP John Barlow.

December 8, 2018Maureen Gough, Sean Kenny, Len Thom and Jordan Walker are seeking the UCP nomination in Sherwood Park.

Gough was a researcher with the Wildrose and UCP caucuses. Thom is the former president of the PC Party and was the federal Conservative candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona in the 2015 election. And Walker is an Assessment Consultant in the Department of Labour.

Gough is endorsed by UCP MLAs Leela Aheer, Scott Cyr, Grant Hunter, Mark Smith, Rick Strankman, and Wes Taylor. Thom has been endorsed by Brian Jean. Walker has been endorsed by MP Garnett Genuis, former MP Ken Epp, and former UCP constituency president Stephen Burry (who is now Acting Chief of Staff with the Freedom Conservative Party Caucus).

December 9, 2018Parmeet Singh Boparai and Paramjit Singh Mann are seeking the New Democratic Party nomination in Calgary-FalconridgeBoparai is the former president of the Dashmesh Culture Centre. Update: Paramjit Singh Mann’s candidacy has not been accepted by the NDP.

Sarah Hoffman Edmonton Glenora MLA Alberta Election 2019

Sarah Hoffman secures NDP nomination in Edmonton-Glenora, MLA Dave Hanson fends off two challengers in Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul

Minster of Health and Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman has been nominated as the New Democratic Party candidate in Edmonton-Glenora for the next election. Hoffman was first elected as MLA for this district in 2015 with 68 percent of the vote, unseating two-term Progressive Conservative MLA Heather Klimchuk. She previously served two terms on Edmonton’s Public School Board including as chair from 2012 to 2015.

Hoffman has managed to navigate her role as Health Minister, a large and challenging department, and continue to serve as Premier Rachel Notley’s chief political lieutenant. As I have written before, she is a contender for strongest member of cabinet, and is on my list of cabinet ministers who I believe are future Premier material.

Dave Hanson MLA UCP Bonnyville Cold Lake St Paul

Dave Hanson

MLA Dave Hanson fended off two challengers to secure the United Conservative Party nomination in the new Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul district today. City of Cold Lake mayor Craig Copeland, who also ran for the PC Party in Bonnyville-Cold Lake in the 2015 election, and private school administrator Glenn Spiess, were unable to unseat Hanson in this contest.

Hanson was endorsed by former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean, who served as the MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin until resigning earlier this year. Copeland had the endorsement of Fort McMurray-Cold Lake Conservative Member of Parliament David Yurdiga.

At a candidate forum held before the vote, all three candidates, including Hanson, expressed their support for the further privatization of health care in Alberta.

The nomination contest in this district initially looked as if it would be a contest between Hanson and Bonnyville-Cold Lake MLA Scott Cyr, but Cyr dropped out of the contest in April 2018.

Hanson was first elected in 2015 as the Wildrose MLA for Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills. He currently serves as UCP Indigenous Relations critic.

Upcoming Nomination Meetings

On September 13, 2018, UCP members in Calgary-Elbow will choose either past city council candidate Chris Davis or former party leadership candidate Doug Schweitzer as their candidate in the next election. Schweitzer is a lawyer who briefly considered running for the PC Party leadership in 2017 before dropping out and later running for the UCP leadership, where he placed third with 7.3 percent of the vote. He served as CEO of the Manitoba PC Party from 2008 to 2009 and was manager of Jim Prentice’s campaign for the leadership of the PC Party in 2014.

Doug Schweitzer Calgary Alberta Conservative

Doug Schweitzer

Schweitzer is endorsed by Chestermere-Rockyview UCP MLA Leela Aheer, former PC MLA and cabinet minister Jim Dinning, and former Calgary mayoral candidate Bill Smith. And Davis is endorsed by retired oil company executive Allan Markin and Kudatah leader George Clark.

Whoever wins this nomination will face Alberta Party MLA Greg Clark, who was first elected as MLA for Calgary-Elbow in 2015.

UCP members in Grande Prairie-Wapiti will choose their next candidate on September 14, 2018. With incumbent UCP MLA Wayne Drysdale not seeking re-election in 2019, party members will choose between Sexsmith town councillor, family literacy coordinator and former bible school registrar Kate Potter and former president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association Travis Toews.

Toews is being endorsed by Walter Paszkowski (MLA for Smoky River from 1989 to 1993, and MLA for Grande Prairie-Smoky from 1993 to 2001),Everett McDonald (MLA for Grande Prairie-Smoky from 2012 to 2015), and County of Grande Prairie councillor Peter Harris.

Former Liberal Party MLA Mo Elsalhy is expected to be nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Edmonton-South West on September 15, 2018. Elsalhy was the MLA for Edmonton-McClung from 2004 and 2008 and ran for the party leadership in 2008. He attempted a comeback in 2012 but was unable unseat PC MLA David Xiao. During his time as MLA he served in various critic roles, including as Official Opposition critic for Justice and Public Safety, and Innovation and Science.

Danielle Larivee

Danielle Larivee

UCP members in Edmonton-Rutherford will select their next candidate on September 15, 2018.  Four candidates are seeking the nomination: MacEwan University assistant professor Rafat Alam, Shaun Collicott, Laine Larson, and Hannah Presakarchuk.

CBC reported in May 2018 that Larson has questioned vaccination science and has suggested parents may be harming their children by vaccinating them against disease. Larson is an independent contractor and the step-son of former Reform Party Member of Parliament Deborah Grey.

NDP MLA Danielle Larivee is expected to be nominated as her party’s candidate in Lesser Slave Lake on September 16, 2018. Larivee was first elected in 2015, unseating seven-term PC MLA Pearl Calahasen. Larivee currently serves as Minister of Children’s Services and Minister for the Status of Women.

Marvin Olsen expected to be chosen as the Alberta Party candidate in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville on September 16, 2018. Olsen is the owner of Grim’s Contracting Ltd. Previously declared nomination candidate Campbell Pomeroy withdrew his name from the contest.

Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running for party nominations ahead of the 2019 Alberta provincial general election:

Calgary-Klein – Julie Huston has withdrawn from the UCP nomination contest.

Calgary-LougheedRachel Timmermans has been selected as the Alberta Party candidate in this southwest Calgary district. Timmermans, a Mount Royal University policy studies student, will face UCP leader Jason Kenney in the next election.

Calgary-NorthTommy Low is seeking the UCP nomination.

Calgary-North EastGurbachan Brar is seeking the NDP nomination in this new north east Calgary district. Brar is a former President of the Punjabi Likhari Sabha and a former broadcaster at RED FM 106.7.

CamroseKevin Smook is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Smook is councillor for Division 1 on Beaver County council, where he was first elected in 2013. He served as Reeve of Beaver County from 2014 to 2017.

Edmonton-Rutherford – Aisha Rauf defeated Arnold D’Souza to secure the Alberta Party nomination. She is an instructor and according to her website biography is waiting for her PhD Linguistics thesis defence. She was interviewed in a September 2017 episode of the Broadcast.

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!


Former NDP leader, school trustee Ray Martin releasing new book

Ray Martin NDP MLA School Trustee Edmonton Alberta

Ray Martin

Former MLA Ray Martin is releasing his memoir, “Made in Alberta: The Ray Martin Story” on September 27, 2018.

Martin is the former leader of the Alberta NDP and served as leader of the Official Opposition in the Legislative Assembly from 1984 to 1993. He was elected as the MLA for Edmonton-Norwood from 1982 to 1993 and Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview from 2004 to 2008, and ran for the provincial NDP in 9 separate elections between 1975 and 2012. He most recently served as a trustee on the Edmonton Public School Board representing Ward D from 2013 to 2017.

Martin’s decades worth of experiences in Alberta politics will certainly mean he has many interesting stories to tell. I am definitely adding this new book to my Fall 2018 reading list.

Peter Lougheed Alberta Premier Now

Week 1 Update from the Calgary-Lougheed by-election

Photo: Former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed. The Calgary-Lougheed electoral district is named after Lougheed.

It has been one week since the Calgary-Lougheed by-election was called. The by-election is being held on Dec. 14, 2017, but voters in this district also have the option of voting in advance polls on Dec. 6, 7, 8 and 9, 2017.

This is the third by-election since the general election of 2017 that swept the New Democratic Party into government. And like the previous two by-elections, this one will be held in a district where voters elected a Progressive Conservative MLA in 2015.

Four candidates have so far been nominated to stand in the by-election:

Phillip van der Merwe, New Democratic Party

Premier Rachel Notley was on-hand with Alberta NDP candidate Phillip van der Merwe at tonight’s opening of the party’s campaign office in Calgary-Lougheed. Having just returned from speaking engagements in Vancouver and Toronto, where she pitched the benefits of oil pipelines, Notley returned to Calgary days after the Conference Board of Canada projected Alberta’s economy could grow by 6.7 percent in 2018.

But do not expect the NDP to spend much time focusing on economic issues. They are doing their utmost to make sure Jason Kenney’s opposition to the recent Gay-Straight Alliance law and his support from anti-abortion groups remains a topic of discussion.

This will be a tough election for the NDP, as this area of southwest Calgary is considered bedrock conservative territory. In the recent Calgary mayoral election, voters in this part of Calgary supported conservative Bill Smith over progressive Naheed Nenshi.

Jason Kenney, United Conservative Party

UCP candidate Jason Kenney drew a big crowd of supporters when he opened his campaign office on Nov 19, 2017. The recently elected UCP leader is almost universally considered the favourite to win this by-election.

Kenney and his supporters have started to claim that Albertans’ home heating bills will increase by 75 percent because of the province’s Carbon Levy. Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips denied Kenney’s claims, describing them as ‘patently false,’ but the UCP has capitalized on confusion about the provincial and federal carbon taxes in order to draw connections between the Notley NDP and the Trudeau Liberals.

The claims are reminiscent of Kenney’s rhetoric and photo-op from December 31, 2016, when he insinuated the same Carbon Levy would lead to a spike in automobile gas prices. That didn’t happen. With constant predictions that the sky is falling on the issue of a carbon tax and rampant truthiness on other issues, Kenney is sounding more and more like Chicken Little.

David Khan, Liberal Party

David Khan Alberta Liberal Party Leader

David Khan

Liberal Party leader David Khan announced he will stand as his party’s candidate in this by-election. The Liberals currently hold only one seat in the Legislature, Calgary-Mountain View represented by former leader and fourth-term MLA David Swann.

This will be Khan’s third election attempt since 2014 and his first since becoming leader earlier this year.

He first ran as his party’s candidate the 2014 Calgary-West by-election, where he placed 3rd with 8.5 percent of the vote. In the 2015 general election he ran in Calgary-Buffalo, where he placed 3rd with 24.7 percent of the vote (the constituency was represented by Kent Hehr from 2008 to 2015).

The Liberals will host an “Ugly Christmas Sweater & Karaoke Party” fundraiser at Khan’s campaign office on December 9, 2017.

Romy Tittel, Green Party

Romy Tittel Alberta Green Party Leader

Romy Tittel

Recently elected Green Party leader Romy Tittel will run as her party’s candidate in the by-election. An online statement said she plans to champion “Doughnut Economics” based on Kate Raworth’s 21st century vision for future economic health and prosperity.

Tittel was selected as the party’s leader at a November 5, 2017 meeting in Red Deer. She previously ran for the federal Green Party in the 2015 general election in Foothills, where she placed 4th with 3.25 percent of the vote.

No candidate, Alberta Party

The Alberta Party announced this week that it will not be running a candidate in the by-election. Party leader Greg Clark, who is stepping down as party leader next year, called the results of the by-election “a foregone conclusion,” suggesting that the party would have no chance of defeating Kenney.

This is the second consecutive by-election in which the party’s has declined to run a candidate. In a Feb. 29, 2016 media release about the Calgary-Greenway by-election, party leader Greg Clark said “Running in this byelection is not the best use of our resources as we build towards 2019.”

Sitting out this by-election presents a missed opportunity for the Alberta Party to debut itself following its revival last weekend in Red Deer. But having their candidate get clobbered by Kenney would take a bite out of their narrative that they are a growing home for moderate conservative voters. By not running a candidate, the Alberta Party saves themselves the embarrassment of placing third, fourth or fifth in this by-election.

Edmonton Election Results – A big Iveson landslide and few City Council surprises

Photo: Don Iveson celebrates his re-election victory with his family (photo: Twitter)

As expected, Don Iveson was re-elected Mayor of Edmonton in a huge landslide with 141,182 votes – 72 percent of the total votes cast in that race – increasing his total vote count from the 2013 election. Placing a very, very distant second was perennial candidate and pro-smoker advocate Don Koziak, who earned 6.7 percent.

Jon Dziadyk Edmonton City Council Ward 3

Jon Dziadyk

Of the City Council races, the most notable ended up being the surprise defeat of incumbent councillor Dave Loken in Ward 3, who was unseated by Jon Dziadyk by 464 votes. Karen Principe placed a strong third-place in this race. Loken, who was running for his third-term on council, becomes the first incumbent councillor to lose re-election since Don Iveson defeated Mike Nickel in 2007.

In neighbouring Ward 7, Kris Andreychuk ran an incredible first-time campaign placing 165 votes behind three-term councillor Tony Caterina. Caterina saw his share of the vote drop from 42 percent in 2013 to 33 percent in this year’s election.

Three new councillors were elected in Wards without incumbents. In Ward 4, Aaron Paquette finished first in a twelve-person race with 23 percent of the vote. Sarah Hamilton earned 35 percent of the vote in a nine-person race in Ward 5 to succeed retiring one-term councillor Michael Oshry. And in Ward 9, Tim Cartmell was elected with 41 percent of the vote over four challengers.

Sarah Hamilton Ward 5 Edmonton

Sarah Hamilton

Running what appeared to be a stealth re-election campaign in Ward 8, three-term Councillor Ben Henderson was re-elected with 36 percent of the vote. This is a 38 percent drop in support from 2013, when he was re-elected with 74 percent of the vote. Challengers Kirsten Goa placed second with 22 percent, James Kosowan with 19 percent and Eli Schrader with 11 percent.

In the Public School Board races, Michael Janz was re-elected in a landslide in Ward F. With 15,671 votes and 71.4 percent of the total vote, Janz earned the most votes of any trustee and council candidate and the highest percentage of any candidate in this election except Don Iveson.

In Ward C, Shelagh Dunn earned 45 percent of the vote, unseating incumbent Orville Chubb, who earned 18 percent of the vote. In Ward D, former CBC broadcaster Trisha Estabrooks was elected with 44 percent.

In Ward G, Bridget Stirling appeared to be in a tough race for re-election, but she defeated conservative activist Tyler Duce by a 33 percent margin. Duce’s campaign had broadcast a robocall endorsement from former Edmonton-Gold Bar MLA David Dorward in the final weekend of the campaign.

And in Calgary, Naheed Nenshi appears to have been re-elected as mayor, despite recent polls that showed him 13-points behind challenger Bill Smith.

I will have more analysis of the results and what they could mean for the next four years tomorrow (after I get some sleep).

Photo: Diana McQueen, Don Iveson, Jim Prentice and Naheed Nenshi sign the Framework Agreement that paved the way for the development of city charters on Oct. 7, 2014 (Photo source: Government of Alberta on Flickr)

Nenshi in a tight race while Iveson coasts to victory

Photo: Diana McQueen, Don Iveson, Jim Prentice and Naheed Nenshi sign the Framework Agreement that paved the way for the development of city charters on Oct. 7, 2014 (Photo source: Government of Alberta on Flickr)

With six days left until municipal election day in Alberta, the mayors in the province’s two largest cities are facing very different election campaigns.

In Edmonton, Mayor Don Iveson is expected to coast to victory, with none of his twelve challenger mounting the kind of campaign needed to unseat a popular incumbent mayor.

As I told Global News, “the two most high-profile competitors have been one candidate who talked about bringing back smoking in public places and another candidate who became notable for simply not showing up to election forums.”

The lack of challengers is not a surprise when considering Iveson’s high approval ratings through most of his first term as mayor. Not taking the lack of competition for granted, Iveson has kept up a healthy pace of campaigning and policy announcements, and has been spotted lending his support to a handful of incumbent City Councillors running for re-election – Andrew Knack in Ward 1, Dave Loken in Ward 3, Michael Walters in Ward 10 and Moe Banga in Ward 12.

Meanwhile, looking south to Alberta’s largest city, incumbent Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi appears to be in the fight of his political life. The campaign began with a showdown between Nenshi and Calgary Flames President and CEO Ken King over funding for a new hockey arena (sound familiar, Edmonton?), but the narrative shifted into a referendum on Nenshi himself.

Nenshi, who took pride in winning two previous elections by campaigning “in full sentences,” now faces a conservative establishment candidate who has forgone any deep policy proposals. Bill Smith appears to be running almost purely on an “I’m not Nenshi” platform, which appears to be satisfactory for a significant portion of the electorate unhappy with the current Mayor.

He can sometimes be brash and over-confiendent, but Nenshi has done a lot over the past seven years to help reshape more than a few preconceived notions about Calgary and Alberta into a more modern, progressive and urban place.

While I am told by Calgarians that the race is expected be close, I am very skeptical of a recent poll showing Smith with a huge lead over Nenshi. Recent news that bailiffs were recently poised to seize the property of Smith’s law firm over a defaulted loan worth nearly $25,000 could dampen the challenger’s momentum in the final week of the campaign.

Unlike Iveson, who is expected to coast to victory on October 16, Nenshi and his team will need to work overtime for the next six days to secure his third term in office.


Nenshi and Iveson shared the stage to deliver the 10th Annual Hurtig Lecture on the Future of Canada held at the University of Alberta in 2015.

Karen Leibovici launches Mandel 2013 campaign

Karen Leibovici Edmonton

Karen Leibovici

Councillor Karen Leibovici launched her campaign for mayor of Edmonton at a press conference this morning at the CKUA building in downtown Edmonton. The four-term city councillor kicked-off her campaign by delivering a speech that sounded as if it should have been delivered by outgoing Mayor Stephen Mandel, had he decided to seek re-election in this October’s election.

She echoed Mayor Mandel’s oft-heard comment that Edmontonians should not settle for “good-enough” and spent much of her speech praising his progress on infrastructure, transportation and arts issues over the past nine-years.

While Councillor Leibovici spoke about continuing along the current path laid by the mayor, she gave little explanation as to what she would do to build upon the ambitious past nine years. She did talk about the need to return to “bread and butter issues,” and was overly cautious not to criticize the outgoing mayor, vaguely responding that she only wanted to do better on some issues.

It is no surprise that Councillor Leibovici is trying to position herself as the heir to the current mayor. She is expected to have the backing of a swath of Edmonton’s political establishment, including the mayor’s former deputy chief of staff Catherine Keill, now an employee of Hill & Knowlton, and veteran Progressive Conservative Party campaign manager Hal Danchilla, who is rumoured to be a key strategist. Her campaign is also sending a message that it is well-financed, as demonstrated by the slick branding and glossy media kits handed out at her press conference.

Karen Leibovici GQ

Slick branding: The Three Leibovici’s.

She also used her remarks to target one of her competitors. “Edmonton needs a mayor with experience, one who doesn’t reduce significant issues to one-liners,” she told reporters, taking an obvious direct shot at Councillor Kerry Diotte.

Councillor Leibovici will be a formidable contender for the mayor’s chair, bringing with her 27 years of election campaign experience at the provincial and municipal levels.

After two unsuccessful runs as a Liberal Party candidate in the 1986 and 1989 provincial elections, Leibovici was first elected as the MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark in the 1993 provincial election. She was re-elected as MLA in 1997 and in 1998 she placed third in the Liberal Party’s leadership contest, behind former Tory cabinet minister Nancy MacBeth and Lethbridge MLA Ken Nicol. She was elected to City Council less than a year after the Liberal Party’s rout in the 2001 provincial election, of which she was a surprising casualty. She was re-elected to City Council in 2004, 2007, and 2010.

Edmonton’s last mayor with any lengthy amount of prior elected experience was Jan Reimer, who served three-terms on City Council before being elected as mayor in 1989. Mayor Bill Smith had only run for elected office once before his win and Mayor Mandel served only one-term on Council before being elected as mayor in 2004.

More council candidates enter the fray

Past provincial Liberal Party candidate Arif Khan is expected to run in Councillor Leibovici’s soon-to-be-incumbentless Ward 5. The Edmonton-based consultant placed second to Tory Steven Young in Edmonton-Riverview in the 2012 vote.

Citizenship judge Sonia Bitar and former Edmonton City Councillor Mike Nickel announced their candidacies in southeast Edmonton’s Ward 11. Edmontonians may remember Mr. Nickel from his unsuccessful mayoral bids in 1998 and 2001, and his one-term on city council from 2004 to 2007. In 2007, Mr. Nickel was unseated by Don Iveson in southwest Edmonton’s sprawling former Ward 5.

Councillor Iveson is expected to enter the mayoral race before the end of the month.

See an updated list of declared election candidates here.

Mandel’s retirement kicks-off Edmonton’s first open mayoral race in 45 years.

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel‘s announcement yesterday that he will not seek re-election in the October 21, 2013 election has made way for our city’s first real open mayoral contest in 45 years.

Over those 45 years, Mandel is only the second Edmonton Mayor to leave on his own terms. In 1988, Mayor Laurence Decore stepped down to become leader of Alberta’s Liberal Party. Mayor William Hawrelak died in office in 1975. All other Mayors or interim Mayors were defeated in an election.

Here’s a short history lesson about Edmonton’s mayoral elections:

When Mayor Vincent Dantzer retired from municipal politics in 1968, he was succeeded by Mayor Ivor Dent. Dent was defeated by former Mayor Hawrelak in the 1974 election. When Mayor Hawrelak died in office in 1975, Alderman Terry Cavanagh became interim Mayor. Interim Mayor Cavanaugh contested the 1977 election and was defeated by Cec Purves. Mayor Purves was then defeated by Mr. Decore in 1983. When Mayor Decore resigned in 1988, Alderman Cavanaugh once again filled the role of interim Mayor and was defeated in the 1989 election by Councillor Jan Reimer. Mayor Reimer was later defeated by businessman Bill Smith in the 1995 election. Councillor Mandel unseated Mayor Smith in 2004.

Who can Edmontonians expect to run in our first real open mayoral election in a generation?

Councillor Kerry Diotte launched his campaign last week and Councillors Don IvesonKaren Leibovici, and Amarjeet Sohi are suspected to be interested in running. The absence of an incumbent candidate might also draw candidates from outside City Council or traditional political circles.

More on this soon.

Inside Baseball: Alberta’s conservative parties hold executive elections.

Alberta PC MLA Ray Danyluk

Ray Danyluk

Former cabinet minister Ray Danyluk dropped out of race for the presidency of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party this week, prompting a few political insiders to ask the question “why was he running in the first place?

The recently defeated three-term Tory MLA from Lac La Biche-St. Paul joined the race to replace outgoing president Bill Smith less than a month ago. After throwing his considerable political weight behind Doug Horner‘s PC leadership campaign in 2011, he was appointed to Premier Alison Redford‘s first cabinet and was unseated by Wildrose candidate Shayne Saskiw in the 2012 election.

The race to replace the outgoing PC Party president is now narrowed between Calgary Tory Jim McCormick and Lac Ste. Anne County Councillor Lorne Olsvik. The vote will take place at the Alberta PC’s annual meeting on November 9 and 10, 2012 at the Telus Convention Centre in Calgary.

Troy Wason

Troy Wason

While most of the positions on the PC executive board have been acclaimed, the race to replace Mr. McCormick as ‘VP Calgary’ could be interesting. Social media maven Troy Wason is facing winery owner Leslie LeQuelenec and long-time Tory volunteer Gary Millan in that race.

Mr. Millan’s online biography lists him as “born in Montreal” and having “witnessed the FLQ crisis first hand and experienced the “War Measures Act.“” I am unclear what this actually means and with no contact information made available on the PC Party website, I was unable to clarify this.

Delegates to the PC Party annual meeting will also debate changes to their party constitution that could change the system used to select its leader. The current system, which includes a run-off second ballot vote, has been criticized for allowing second place candidates from the first ballot to win on the second-ballot (as Premier Redford did in 2011).

Meanwhile, the official opposition Wildrose Party is holding their own annual meeting on November 23 and 24, 2012, in Edmonton at the Mayfield Inn. While leader Danielle Smith had probably hoped she would be addressing this convention as her party’s first Premier, she will instead rise to the podium as leader of a 17-MLA official opposition party.

Paul Hinman Wildrose Calgary

Paul Hinman

Among the crowd running in some of the hotly contested Wildrose Party executive committee elections are former Social Credit Party leader James Albers, former Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman, former Canadian Alliance MP Eric Lowther (defeated by Joe Clark in the 2000 federal election), and former party president Jeff Callaway. Also running for positions are recent election candidates Dave Yager, Wayde Lever, Prasad Panda, Chris Challis, Nathan Stephan, Maryann Chichak, Travis Olson, Rob Solinger, and Mike Blanchard.

One of the most interesting candidates is Broderyck “Broddy” Olson, a Wildrose Party activist and Violinist of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. He is President of the union representing musicians in Edmonton’s Symphony Orchestra and played with the ESO during its legendary performance and recording in 1971 with Procol Harum:

calgary-centre conservatives and liberals choosing their by-election candidates.

On Saturday, August 25, Conservative Party members in the riding of Calgary-Centre will choose a candidate to carry their party’s banner in an upcoming and yet-to-be called by-election. Six candidates are contesting the nomination. The Conservative candidate is widely expected to win the by-election in this moderate conservative voting downtown Calgary riding. Here is a quick look at the Conservative Party nomination candidates:

Rick Billington: Lawyer and Conservative Party insider. Endorsed by Alberta Progressive Conservative Party president Bill Smith, Manitoba Senator Don Plett, Manitoba MP Joy Smith and former PC MP for Calgary-Centre Harvie Andre, former Calgary-Southwest PC MP Bobbie Sparrow.

Joan Crockatt Stephen Harper Calgary Centre

Joan Crockatt and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Joan Crockatt: Political commentator and former managing editor of the Calgary Herald. Ms. Crockatt was spokesperson for candidate Barb Higgins during the 2010 mayoral election. She has been endorsed by Prince Edward Island Senator Mike Duffy.

Jon Lord Calgary Centre Conservative

Jon Lord

Jon Lord: Former PC MLA for Calgary-Currie (2001-2004) and Alderman (1995-2001). Owner of Casablanca Video and active in the Marda Loop community. Mr. Lord ran unsuccessfully to become mayor of Calgary in 2010 and for the PC nomination in Calgary-Currie in 2012. In the past, Mr. Lord has been connected to the socially conservative Progressive Group for Independent Business and its leader Craig Chandler. He has been endorsed by Calgary Alderman Peter Demong. In a message on his Facebook Page, Mr. Lord recently accused his opponents of vandalizing his Wikipedia biography.

Greg McLean: Former president of the Calgary-Centre Conservative District Association. Campaign manager for former MP Lee Richardson, who endorsed Mr. McLean last week. Mr. McLean is also said to have the support of Calgary-Currie PC MLA and Tourism Minister Christine Cusanelli. On twitter, former Wildrose president Jeff Calloway called Mr. McLean “a strong conservative”.

Mr. McLean’s campaign manager is Dustin Franks, who served as Mr. Richardson’s executive assistant until his recent resignation. Mr. Franks was also campaign manager to Aldermanic candidate Sean Chu during the 2010 municipal election and has worked for PC MLAs Doug Griffiths and Manmeet Bhullar.

 

Joe Soares Thomas Mulcair

Joe Soares attacks Thomas Mulcair.

Joe Soares (aka “Calgary Joe”): Quebec political organizer and Conservative Party activist. Has accused NDP leader Thomas Mulcair of wanting to destroy Alberta’s economy and has criticized his opponent Ms. Crockatt for political columns she penned in the Calgary Herald. Endorsed by Ontario’s Senator Doug Finley and Manitoba MP Rod Bruinooge.

Stefan Spargo Stephen Harper Calgary Centre

Stefan Spargo and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Stefan Spargo: Former campaign manager for MP Mr. Richardson and Conservative official in Calgary-Centre. Mr. Spargo made an unsuccessful bid for the PC nomination in Calgary-Currie before the 2012 provincial election.

The Liberal Party is unlikely to place any higher than their traditional second place in this downtown Calgary constituency. In 2011, candidate Jennifer Pollock earned 17% of the vote to Mr. Richardson’s 57%. Privately, one Liberal organizer suggested to this blogger that 35% may be the optimistic ceiling for Liberal candidate in this by-election (note, optimistic). There are two officially approved candidates seeking the Liberal Party nomination on September 15. A third candidate is said to have entered the race, but has yet to be approved by the central party. Here is a look at the Liberal Party candidates:

Harvey Locke: Lawyer, well-known conservationist, and former president of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. Mr. Locke ran as a Liberal candidate in the 1989 provincial election in Calgary-Foothills. Word on the street is that he has the support of popular Calgary-Mountain View MLA David Swann (who, at one point, was suspected to be eying the NDP nomination).

Rahim Sajan: Educator and organizer of TEDxCalgary. Mr. Sajan’s supporters include Zain Velji, who was 2012 campaign manager for Calgary-Varsity PC MLA Donna Kennedy-Glans.

Steve Turner: A former supporter of Manitoba Conservative MP Mr. Bruinooge. A Liberal insider told this blogger that Mr. Turner is seeking the Liberal nomination because he “decided that the conservatives are not progressive on social issues.” His nomination papers have yet to be approved by the Liberal Party.

Meanwhile, a poll of Calgary-Centre voters conducted by Forum Research for the Huffington Post showed the Conservatives with 44% support, the Liberals with 21%, the New Democrats with 14% and the Green Party with 12%.

pc party shoots the [shiraz] shariff. premier redford to appoint a new candidate in calgary-west.

As I first wrote about in yesterday’s post, former Calgary-McCall MLA Shiraz Shariff has been disqualified as the Progressive Conservative candidate in Calgary-West after complaints of voting irregularities at the recent nomination meeting.

Shiraz Shariff Calgary-West PC nominee

Shiraz Shariff

Mr. Shariff narrowly defeated former Alberta Health Services chairman Ken Hughes, who sits in Premier Alison Redford‘s inner circle and was widely seen as the front-runner in the contest. Both Mr. Shariff and Mr. Hughes entered the contest only weeks before the nomination meeting. Mr. Shariff had been seeking the nomination in Calgary-Hawkwood until late 2011, when he switched constituencies.

Posting a statement on his Facebook profile, Mr. Shariff maintained that his campaign was run fairly and was aware “a potential bias from the onset of my candidacy and during my campaign for nomination… ran even as deep as within the PC Board of Calgary West.” He called on the PC Party to begin an arbitration process to address the complaints.

“I have not been made aware of specific issues, have not been consulted in this decision, and have not been offered an arbitration process, as stated in the PC Party constitution. If there were irregularities, I request that the PC Party will make them known and address how the security of the day, guided by the leadership of the Board, could not have protected the process against these irregularities.”

In a media release yesterday quoting President Bill Smith and Executive Director Kelley Charlebois , the PC Party announced that they would ask the local board of directors in Calgary-West to submit the names of three replacement candidates for Premier Redford to select.

Farouk Adatia Calgary-Hawkwood PC candidate

Farouk Adatia

Mr. Hughes may seem like the obvious choice for the appointed candidacy, but Tory sources say that lawyer Farouk Adatia may end up being Premier Redford’s choice. Mr. Adita served as Chief Financial Officer for Premier Redford’s leadership campaign and he was recently defeated in the crowded PC nomination contest in Calgary-Hawkwood.

It may be another month before the PCs actually drop the Writ and time to hold another open nomination meeting is cut short by that party’s public deadline to nominate candidates before February 10. This weekend, the PCs are holding a pre-election campaign training school in Edmonton, which will be a pep rally to energize their activist base. At these schools, the PCs will also select three candidates to stand in the upcoming Senator-in-Waiting election, which will be held along with the general election.

The PCs also appointed candidates in two other constituencies. Emerson Mayers, who was defeated in the Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood nomination contest will run against NDP MLA Rachel Notley in Edmonton-Strathcona. Jamie Lall, who was defeated in the Calgary-McCall nomination contest will challenge Liberal MLA Kent Hehr in Calgary-Buffalo.

when you really want to win. alberta progressive conservative first ballot vote on september 17.

With three days left until the results of the first ballot voting in Alberta’s Progressive Conservative leadership contest are tallied, some candidates are being accused of breaking campaign rules.

Perceived front-runner Gary Mar is facing accusations that his campaign was selling memberships outside an advanced polling station set up in Edmonton, something that is no allowed under PC Party rules. Mr. Mar’s campaign is also being criticized for their use of buses to transport PC Party members from seniors centres to advanced voting stations.

Continuing a trend in the campaign, Mr. Mar was universally criticized by his rival candidates, leading me to question how a recent poll could have reached the conclusion that he is considered “consensus candidate” in this contest.

Meanwhile, questions are being raised about a recent Environics poll gauging support among PC Party members. The poll found that Mr. Mar and fellow Calgarian Alison Redford as the leading competitors in the contest. The main question being asked by some political watchers is who provided Environics the list of 22,000 PC Party members and was the list accurate?

UPDATE: PC Party President Bill Smith says which ever campaign leaked the membership list to Environics broke a confidentiality agreement.

As voting day approaches, the PC leadership candidates are pressing the flesh and doing their best to get their message out to eleventh hour supporters. Ms. Redford released ideas about Family Care Clinics. Rick Orman proposed a development strategy for Northern Alberta. Doug Horner has held a series of question and answer times on Twitter using the hashtag #askdoughorner. And Doug Griffiths released another high production quality video, this one about reforming government:

tories to celebrate 40 years as government with new leader.

A late evening tweet from Progressive Conservative Party President Bill Smith was the first official announcement that Premier Ed Stelmach would formally resign as leader of his party in September 2011. The Premier announced his intentions to resign last week, but did not specify an exact date.

September 2011 is a milestone year for the PCs. On September 10, 1971, Peter Lougheed was sworn in as his party’s first Premier in Alberta and the PC has kept that line partisan-pure ever since. I imagine that party members has mixed feelings about the date. On one hand, forty years of majority governments is an impressive achievement for any political party. On the other hand, it is also risky to draw too much attention to this kind of longevity when a thirst for political change is in the air.

I am sure that many PCs wish their fortieth anniversary as government to be an occasion to celebrate a fresh new face as the leader. Some PC members have started an online campaign to recruit the outspoken 30-something MLA Doug Griffiths, but so far the only candidate to officially announce he is running for that party’s leadership is 61-year old former Finance Minister Ted Morton. Current Deputy Premier Doug Horner, son of Premier Lougheed’s Deputy Premier Hugh Horner, is expected to enter the PC leadership contest in the next few days.

The Tories are not the only party seeking a new leader. With both the Alberta Party and Liberal Party also looking for new leaders in 2011, there is a lot of opportunity for the PCs fortieth anniversary to be much more interesting than anyone could have imagined.

UPDATE: The Edmonton Journal’s Paula Simons is reporting that Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman is weighing her options at running for either the Alberta Party or Liberal Party leadership.

quotes in response to ed stelmach’s resignation.

On his decision to not run in the next election:

Premier Ed Stelmach told the Fort Saskatchewan Record: “I got to thinking when I was interviewing the MLAs coming in and asking them for a five year commitment,” he said. “Another five years would put me close to 65 and I know there’s many politicians older than that and doing well, but that would have been 30 years of public service.

“Having served the constituency for many years. I feel good in terms of what we’ve been able to accomplish, in terms of improved infrastructure, whether it be Fort Saskatchewan, Vegreville or the communities in between.

“I know it’s time for a change and politics is demanding, and will be increasingly demanding, and that’s why I made the decision.”

Party insiders on the next leadership contest:

PC Party Executive Director Pat Godkin told Sun Media that “there is no timeline whatsoever” in place for a leadership contest.

PC Party President Bill Smith told iNews880 that “I think more along the lines we’re looking at spring and summer.”

Ralph Klein’s former Chief of Staff Rod Love told Global News: “You know there’s 68 members in the caucus, a lot of the names are well known about who might be in, who might be out.”

Potential candidates::

Deputy Premier Doug Horner told the St. Albert Gazette: “I was asked the question whether or not I would consider it and my response honestly is, well yeah, you’re going to consider it but it doesn’t mean I’m going to do it just yet.”

Former Finance Minister and current University of Calgary Chancellor Jim Dinning on CKNW Radio in Vancouver: “While I still have the passion and the interest, I do not want to run for that job.”

Finance Minister Ted Morton told the Calgary Herald: I have not made that decision. It is still, as I said (Tuesday), inappropriate for you guys to ask those questions and inappropriate for me to answer.”

Justice Minister Alison Redford told the Calgary Herald: “It might be something in the future that I’ll consider. Whether that is imminent or not I just don’t know at this time. That’s my honest answer.”

Culture and Community Spirit Minister Lindsay Blackett told the Calgary Herald: You always have to consider it,” he said shortly after hearing of Stelmach’s decision, “and see what level of support there is for you to try to do something like that. But I’m also mindful I’ve only been on the game for three years.”

Alberta Mayors:

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel told CTV Edmonton: “I was a huge fan of the premier. He was a fine, fine man who was I think a great representative of the Province of Alberta. I wish him and his wife the best.”

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi told the Calgary Herald: “Right now I think it’s not time to think about politics. It is time to think about Premier Stelmach’s legacy as a really decent human being and a really dedicated public servant.”

Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling told the Red Deer Advocate: “This government and Mr. Stelmach have done a good job of recognizing that municipalities are the engines of the economy. Stelmach came from municipal politics so he understood the revenue sharing and imbalance of revenue for municipalities.”

Opposition Parties comment:

Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith told the Edmonton Journal: “Make no mistake, the reason I ran for leadership of the Wildrose party was to replace Ed Stelmach as premier of this province… “I think it’s too late at this point for the PCs to recover any of their former glory. … We think the next election will be a time for Albertans to turn the page on this Tory dynasty. It’s been in power for 40 years and it’s a new chapter.”

Liberal leader David Swann told the Edmonton Journal: “Everything will be on a holding pattern in the ministries to wait until direction comes from the party leader. Without clear leadership — in fact, division at the top — for what really needs to happen in terms of fixing health care, there will be a polarizing from those who want to see more private services provided to pick up the gap and those who feel that the primary problem is in leadership and management.”

Alberta Party acting leader Sue Huff told the Edmonton Journal: “I think it’s time for Albertans to really decide what it is they want for the future, for their children, for their grandchildren, and decide if we really want extreme right-wing politics to decide the day.”

NDP leader Brian Mason told the Edmonton Journal: “The Alberta Tories can’t be trusted to protect public health care. They have repeatedly sought to bring in more private care under various leaders, and leaked documents show they are planning it again. They run the least competent government in Canada. That’s the real problem.”

transparency rules.

The cover of this week's SEE Magazine in Edmonton.

While announcing the dates of their upcoming leadership contest last week, the Alberta Party also released the contest rules, which include some interesting and encouraging requirements for candidates to release and make public a list of financial donors to their campaign.

A condition of candidacy is that a candidate for election as Leader shall consent to full disclosure of all donations, receipts and expenses related to the campaign, including:

(i) an interim report on the same, in the form adopted by the convention rules committee which shall be filed by the Official Agent of the candidates with the Convention Rules Committee 14 days in advance of Voting Day; and
(ii) a final report on the same, which shall be filed by the Official Agent of the candidate with the Convention Rules Committee within 30 days after voting day

The donor information contained in both the interim and final reports referred to in (5) above will be posted by the Alberta Party to its website (Candidates are urged to post donor information, for the knowledge of the public, on a real time basis).

There are no laws governing political party leadership contest in Alberta and each party has the opportunity to be as transparent or closed-door as they decide when it comes to financial contributions and making public the names of campaign donors.

Progressive Conservative
There were no rules requiring candidates in the 2006 PC leadership contest to release the names of their financial donors, but this did not stop some from making their donor lists public.

Candidates Jim Dinning, Dave Hancock, and Mark Norris released varying versions of donors lists, some which included specific donation amounts for each donor and some listing donors in categories between donation sizes. Current Finance Minister Ted Morton refused to make public a list of donors who supported his bid to become Leader of the PC Party.

The contest winner, now-Premier Ed Stelmach released a partial list of financial contributors to his leadership campaign, keeping secret the names of 80 donors whose contributions made up 15% of the $1.1 million raised by his leadership campaign. The partially released list allowed the media and opposition parties to later point out fairly obvious conflict-of-interests, but the remaining eighty donors remain secret.

While not committing to implement any changes in the short-term, PC Party President Bill Smith has publicly committed to have a system in place to monitor and make public who donates cash to their leadership campaigns for his party’s next leadership campaign.

Liberal Party
Candidates in the December 2008 Liberal leadership contest were required to provide the Party with a list of donors who had contributed to their campaign. The donors lists were then posted on the Liberal Party website. The section of the Liberal Party website that had listed these donors was removed when that Party relaunched their website late last year.

New Democratic Party
I was not able to find any current information on whether candidates for the leadership of Alberta’s NDP would be required to release a list of financial contributions. The last time the Alberta NDP held a contested leadership race was in 1996, so it is possible that in the absence of a campaign over the past 15 year that these rules do not exist.

Wildrose Alliance
Leadership candidates in the 2009 contest were not required to release a list of their financial contributors. Leadership contest winner and current Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith claims to have raised $250,000 for her leadership campaign, but has refused to release the names of her donors. Ms. Smith told the Edmonton Journal after her election in 2009 that she would not make public a list of her donors because they “are afraid of repercussions by this government.”

Alberta’s former Chief Elections Officer, Lorne Gibson, proposed in 2009 that the Elections Finances Act be amended to include a section governing political party leadership finances. Mr. Gibson’s contract was not renewed by a PC MLA dominated legislative committee soon after the recommendations were made.

According to a report released by Public Interest Alberta, there are currently three Provinces that require party leadership contestants to release names of their financial backers. In Ontario, leadership candidates are required to report from the time of the official call of the contest until two months after the vote and then within six months of the contest’s completion. In Manitoba and British Columbia, leadership contestants are required to report a list of their financial contributions and donors thirty days after the end of the contest.

edmonton election 2010: why mayor stephen mandel gets my vote.

Mayor Stephen Mandel standing in front of his downtown campaign office.

Last Saturday morning, I woke up extra early (for me) and trekked over to Stephen Mandel‘s campaign office on 111th Street and 102nd Avenue for a sit down with the Mayor. Joined by Jeff and Mack in a sort of ‘bloggers editorial board’ we engaged Mayor Mandel is a good question and answer session about his six years as Mayor, the campaign, and his plans for the next three years if he is re-elected on Monday, October 18.

Over the course of an hour, we peppered the Mayor with a series of questions ranging from Open Data to cooperation in the capital region to homelessness to plans for making the urban core neighbourhoods more friendly for young families.

Sitting down and talking with Mayor Mandel reminded me what a different place Edmonton has become over the past six years. Looking outwards, our City is no longer fighting with our neighbours. Edmonton is now sitting down at the table and cooperating with the other over twenty municipalities in the region through the Capital Region Board. While the municipalities were somewhat strong-armed by the Provincial Government to make the process work, it has had positive results for regional cooperation.

Looking inside our City limits, we have seen serious investment in our crumbling infrastructure and public spaces for the first time in decades. Although some people will raise a red flag about increasing debt levels, Edmonton only has about half the debt level of Calgary and a repayment plan was in place before any funds were borrowed (a requirement under provincial law. See: Section 251(1) of the Municipal Government Act).

The creation of the Universal Bus Pass for students at the University of Alberta and Grant MacEwan University and the expansion of the LRT to Century Park has proven to be excellent investments that are paying off. While these advancements have been somewhat besmirched by the construction of the expensive and questionable 23rd Avenue interchange, they are important steps for our City.

Our downtown core neighbourhoods are about to blossom. When I first moved to Edmonton in the early 2000s, my apartment was located in a decrepit area of Oliver. I soon moved south across the North Saskatchewan River into the University enclave of Garneau. When I moved back into the Grandin area of Oliver two years ago, I was pleasantly surprised at how different the area had become. New condo and apartment buildings that had been constructed over the past five years had lead to new businesses and restaurants in the area. I was shocked to see people actually walking down Jasper Avenue at night!

While this new life has been breathed into the area between 109th Street and 124th Street and 104th Avenue, spill-over can be seen deeper into the downtown core. What was a decrepit and sketchy area down 104th Street even five years ago has transformed into a vibrant area of the downtown core. The City Market regularly draws over 10,000 people to 104th Street each Saturday and the construction of new condo towers on that street is starting the essential element to neighbourhood vitalization: people living there.

There are still challenges to bringing young people to the core. When I posed this question to Mayor Mandel, he replied that “the City needs to be far more creative” in facilitating the development of housing in the core neighbourhoods that will be friendly for young families. “We need to create a policy between the school board and the city to build attainable housing for young people in the core,” said Mayor Mandel. The City is already working in cooperation with the School Boards to set up first-time home buyers housing on surplus school sites around Edmonton, but with little surplus school land in the core, they need to look at other options.

As I wrote in my blog post about the first Mayoral candidates forum in September, I generally believe that Mayor Mandel has done a good job over the past six years, but it is not without reservation that I will give him my vote on October 18, 2010. I am skeptical about the Mayor’s support for the Expo 2017 bid and am weary of his close relationship with the Katz Group in light of their bid to build downtown area complex, but there has been too much positive movement forward over the past six years to stop now.

Under Mandel’s Mayorship, Edmonton has moved forward on a number of levels. After years of hum-drum leadership under his predecessor, Mayor Bill Smith, our City is now starting to feel like it is coming out of the doldrums of a decades-long inferiority complex. While I have respect for a number of his challengers, especially Dan Dromarsky and Daryl Bonar, I do not yet have confidence in their ability to keep Edmonton moving in the positive direction we are now on track towards.

The City of Edmonton will never be a “world-class” city like New York or even Toronto or Vancouver, but why should we aspire for that? As a medium-sized North American city, we have the opportunity to look at and learn from similar cities like Austin, Texas and Portland, Oregon, who decided that their size compared to the bigger cities was a strength and not a weakness. Edmontonians should be proud of what our City could be, not in relation to Calgary or Toronto, but in terms of the quality of life and creative and smart ways that we can shape our City’s future growth.

At least for the next three years, I trust Mayor Stephen Mandel to help us get closer to that reality.