Tag Archives: Brent Rathgeber

All 32 candidates in the Ward 12 by-election are featured on the front cover of Metro Edmonton on Jan 26, 2016.

How to break from the pack in a 32 candidate by-election race

A map of Edmonton's Ward 12.

A map of Edmonton’s Ward 12.

Thirty-two candidates will be listed on the ballot in the Feb. 22 by-election to fill Edmonton City Council’s Ward 12. With this many candidates on the ballot, it could be challenging for voters to choose who would best represent them on city council. It will also be challenging for those 32 candidates to break from the pack and distinguish themselves with less than a month until election day.

Here are some ways these 32 candidates might break from pack.

Name recognition

Nav Kaur Ward 12 edmonton by election

Nav Kaur

Having voters who already recognize your name will be an advantage for some candidates, as long as that recognition is positive. Because there are no formal political parties at the municipal level, all candidates will be running on their own names.

  • Laura Thibert has been the Catholic School Board Trustee from the area since 2010 and was briefly nominated as a Wildrose Party candidate before the 2015 election.
  • Balraj Manhas has been spokesperson for the United Cabbies during the recent city council debates about allowing Uber to operate in Edmonton. He  was disqualified as a candidate in a Progressive Conservative nomination contest in early 2015.
  • Mohinder Banga was briefly a candidate for the federal Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Mill Woods in 2015 before being disqualified.
  • Don Koziak has run in at least eight municipal and provincial elections since 1995, including the mayoral race in 2007 and briefly in 2010, but he has never run as a candidate in this area of the city. He was the Wildrose Party candidate in Edmonton-Glenora in 2012 and 2015.
  • Mike Butler ran as a Liberal and New Democratic Party candidate in this area in various provincial and federal elections since 2008. In 2014, he wrote an open letter explaining why he was leaving the Liberals to join the Alberta Party.
  • Arundeep Singh Sandhu was until a few months ago the Vice-President of Organization of the Progressive Conservative Party.
  • Andrew Gorman ran for city council in Ward 9 in the 2013 election, as did Dan “Can Man” Johnstone in Ward 10.

Door Knocking/Canvassing

Irfan Chaudhry Edmonton Ward 12 byelection

Irfan Chaudhry

There is no better way to identify your supporters and meet voters than showing up on their doorstep and ringing their doorbell. If you are a voter who lives in Ward 12, there is a very real possibility that you might have 32 different candidates knocking on your door before Feb. 22, 2016. Don’t be surprised to see candidates waving to traffic at busy intersections during rush hour, shaking hands at Tim Horton’s or showing up in droves at any community event before Election Day.

All-Candidate Meetings

There are already numerous all-candidate forums being organized by different community groups and organizations in Ward 12. With 32 candidates in the race, there might be little value in holding traditional question and answer forums, which will be time consuming, lengthy and uninteresting. Other candidate meeting formats, like the speed dating-style events held in the 2013 election, might prove to be more valuable for candidates and voters.

The City of Edmonton is not hosting an official all-candidates forum during this by-election. The Women’s Advocacy Voice of Edmonton is hosting a forum on Feb. 5, 2016 at the Mill Woods Seniors and Multicultural Centre and the Mill Woods Presidents’ Council is hosting a forum on Feb. 17, 2016 at J. Percy Page High School.

Getting ahead of the issues

Preet Toor Ward 12 Edmonton byelection

Preet Toor

It is always difficult to determine what the defining issue of any election campaign will be, but that will not stop candidates from trying to get ahead of issues that are on the radar of voters in Ward 12.

  • A number of candidates, including Nav Kaur, Balraj Manhas, Mohinder Banga, Arundeep Sandhu and Danisha Bhaloo, called on council to delay the vote on the new bylaw to govern vehicle-for-hire businesses that would include Uber until after the by-election. Nav Kaur outlined her position on her campaign blog.
  • Sam Jhajj is hosting an open house at his campaign office to discuss and provide input into developing policies that can prevent domestic violence.
  • Three candidates are calling on the city to delay construction of LRT to southeast Edmonton. Don Koziak told CBC that money going toward LRT would be better spent improving the city’s roads and intersections. Dan Johnston told basketofyegs.com that he would delay all future LRT construction. Kelly Kadla told the Edmonton Journal he wants a moratorium on the Valley LRT Line.

Gimmicks

Arundeep Sandhu Edmonton By-election ward 12

Arundeep Sandhu

Gimmicks might not be the best word, but candidates should be expected to use different tactics to get attention for themselves and the issues they are focusing on during this campaign.

  • Nicole Szymanowka earned media attention for using the dating app Tinder as a campaign tool.
  • Irfan Chaudhry and his supporters are sporting flashy yellow toques with his campaign hashtag #irFANclub.
  • Nav Kaur tweeted her bus trip from her Mill Woods home to City Hall to demonstrate the need for improved public transit service to southeast Edmonton.
  • Nick Chamchuk is pledging not to use campaign signs and is encouraging his supporters to use the #‎YEGnoelectionsigns‬ hashtag on Twitter and Facebook. He wrote on Facebook that this is part of this campaign “to give Mother nature a break, make driving safer and more enjoyable, save resources and my daughter’s education fund…”
  • Stephen Wutzke told the Edmonton Journal that if he is elected he will donate $20,000 of his annual salary to the Edmonton Food Bank.
  • Jason Bale announced on his website that he will only spend $100 on his campaign to make a point about money in politics. In lieu of lawn signs, he is asking supporters to write ‘100’ in the snow in front of their homes and businesses.

Endorsements

Endorsements from prominent community members will not win an election but they can lend credibility to candidates and their campaigns.

  • Nav Kaur has received the endorsements of Edmonton-Ellerslie MLA Rod Loyola, outspoken Catholic School Trustee Patricia Grell, Public School Board Trustee Michael Janz, former city councillor Michael Phair and recent federal Liberal candidate Beatrice Ghettuba.
  • Danisha Bhaloo has received the endorsement of former Progressive Conservative MLA and former mayor Stephen Mandel, former Edmonton-Glenora PC MLA Heather Klimchuk and former Ward 5 city council candidate Dan St. Pierre, who is serving as her official agent.
  • Laura Thibert has an endorsement from fellow Catholic Trustee Debbie Engel.
  • Don Koziak has the support of former MP and MLA Brent Rathgeber, who is serving as his official agent.

The 32 candidates in Ward 12

Here is the list of candidates who have registered their intentions to run, along with links to their websites and social media accounts. I will be posting any updates to the Ward 12 by-election webpage.

When to vote?
Voting stations will be open in Ward 12 on Feb. 22 from 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Advance polls are open at the Meadows Community Recreation Centre on Feb. 8, 9, 10 and 11 from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Justin Trudeau Edmonton Liberal

Mulcair and Trudeau bring “Change” and “Real Change” to Edmonton this week

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair will visit Edmonton this week to campaign with local candidates and to rally their supporters. The visit by the two leaders follows an earlier stop by Conservative leader Stephen Harper during the second week of the election.

In a competition to own the “change” message, the NDP are holding a “Rally for Change in Edmonton” on September 10 and the Liberals are holding a “Rally for Real Change in Edmonton” on September 9. It is clear that both parties have identified varying degrees “change” as a common theme in this election campaign and that message could resonate in a handful of ridings in Edmonton in this election.

It is expected that popular Premier Rachel Notley might take the stage with Mr. Mulcair on September 10, to give her personal endorsement to the federal leader. With 64 percent of Edmontonians casting their ballots for the NDP in the May 2015 provincial election, the opposition parties have reason to believe that Alberta’s capital city is fertile ground for progressive messages.

Taking notice of the political shift in the city, the Conservatives recently dispatched Ontario candidate Kellie Leitch and Calgary candidate Michelle Rempel to canvass alongside Edmonton candidates who are in tough contests. Liberal MPs Ralph Goodale and Rodger Cuzner have travelled to Alberta in recent weeks and Ontario MP Carolyn Bennett will campaign in Edmonton later this week.

With forty days left in this election, here is a look at a few races in Edmonton and northern Alberta that could have interesting outcomes on October 19, 2015:

Janis Irwin

Janis Irwin

Edmonton-Strathcona: Two-term NDP MP Linda Duncan is expected to be re-elected but a resurgence in Liberal support for candidate Eleanor Olszewski could spoil an easy NDP victory and put Conservative Len Thom in a position to win. Note: The Liberal vote fell to an astonishing 2.82 percent in the 2011 election, down from 9 percent in the 2008 election.

Edmonton-Griesbach: If a second NDP MP is elected in Alberta, it will likely be Janis Irwin in this north east Edmonton riding. Ms. Irwin’s chances are boosted by highly-organized provincial NDP campaigns in the area and helped by the embarrassing antics of retiring Conservative MP Peter Goldring. The Conservatives nominated former city councillor Kerry Diotte as their candidate. Mr. Diotte’s record on city council and lacklustre bid for mayor in 2013 have left some Conservative activists unenthusiastic about their party’s chances of holding the riding. Note: I live in this riding and can attest to the large number of orange lawn signs that have popped up over the past few weeks, including one on my own lawn.

Brent Rathgeber

Brent Rathgeber

St. Albert-Edmonton: Will long-time Conservative Party loyalist Michael Cooper prevail over rebel MP Brent Rathgeber? Mr. Rathgeber is running as an Independent conservative candidate after quitting the Conservative caucus in 2013 to protest the level of control held over MPs by the Prime Minister’s Office. The two-term MP is well-known in the riding, but a deep Conservative establishment in the riding could be difficult for an Independent to uproot. Note: Before being elected as an MP in 2008, Mr. Rathgeber served as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Edmonton-Calder from 2001 to 2004.

Edmonton-Mill Woods: Popular city councillor Amarjeet Sohi surprised many political watchers when he declared his plans to seek the Liberal nomination earlier this year. Mr. Sohi faces former Edmonton-Sherwood Park Conservative MP Tim Uppal and NDP candidate Jasvir Deol in what could be a fascinating three-way race. Note: Mr. Uppal ran against Liberal MP David Kilgour in this riding as a Canadian Alliance candidate in the 2000 election and Conservative in 2004 election.

Amarjeet Sohi Edmonton

Amarjeet Sohi

Edmonton-Centre: Three-term Conservative MP Laurie Hawn is retiring, leaving this central Edmonton riding up for grabs. The Conservatives have nominated former Chamber of Commerce CEO James Cumming as their candidate, while entrepreneur Randy Boissonnault is running for the Liberals and Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan for the NDP. While the demographics of this riding do not suggest chances would be favourable for the Conservatives, Mr. Hawn benefited in the 2011 election from a sharp vote split by the NDP and Liberals. Note: In 2011, Mr. Hawn earned 48 percent of the vote and the combined Liberals and NDP vote in this riding was 47.8 percent.

Edmonton-Manning: Encompassing the area of Edmonton north east of Edmonton-Griesbach, this riding could result in a close race between Conservative Zaid Aboultaif and New Democrat Aaron Paquette. Note: Mr. Paquette is also known as the founder of the clever #Ottawapiskat meme.


 

Justin Trudeau’s event, the “Rally for Real Change in Edmonton,” will be held on Wednesday, September 9th at 5:00 pm at the Radisson Edmonton South, 4440 Gateway Blvd.

Thomas Mulcair’s event, the “Rally for Change in Edmonton,” will be held on Thursday, September 10th at 6:30 pm at the Edmonton Shaw Convention Centre, Hall D, 9797 Jasper Ave.

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton MP

Federal Election Digest | Alberta Edition

While most Albertans are enjoying the last few weeks of summer, here are some of the more interesting and bizarre news stories from the federal election campaign trail in our province:

Independent Rathgeber: Conservative leader Stephen Harper’s “only ethical barometer is not getting caught,” according to Independent Member of Parliament Brent Rathgeber. The former Conservative MP and Progressive Conservative MLA tweeted his criticism of Mr. Harper, who is campaigning in the midst of the trial of former Conservative Senator Mike Duffy. In another blog post, Mr. Rathgeber explains why he is running as an Independent candidate in the new St. Albert-Edmonton riding.

Two new riding-level polls: The Lead Now group commissioned Environics to conduct polls in a handful of swing ridings across Canada, including two in Alberta. The poll shows NDP candidate Janis Irwin with 16 point lead over Conservative Kerry Diotte in Edmonton-Griesbach and Conservative Joan Crockatt with a 12 point lead over Liberal Kent Hehr in Calgary-Centre.

Crockatt Drops Out of Pride Parade: Ms. Crockatt will not participate in this year’s Calgary Pride Parade after an online campaign highlighted her opposition to a parliamentary bill that would have protected the rights of transgender Canadians.

NDP Protest: Syed Hyder Ali and his supporters wore “Justice for Syed” stickers to protest his exclusion from the Edmonton-Wetaskiwin NDP nomination contest. Ali’s non-inclusion on the ballot was due to his Facebook posts accusing the State of Israel of committing war crimes, reports the Leduc Representative. He told the Representative that the posts and characterization of Israel’s actions were based on an Amnesty International report about the 2014 invasion of Gaza.

Strong Opinions: An Edmonton activist is protesting the decision by an R.C.M.P officer to issue a traffic fine for having a giant “Fuck Harper” sign in the back window of his vehicle.

Toronto Star columnist comes to Alberta: Toronto Star national affairs columnist Tim Harper wrote a column on NDP chances and the political climate in Alberta.

Social Media claims another victim: Liberal Ala Buzreba withdrew her candidacy in Calgary-Nose Hill after the media reported on controversial tweets published when she was a teenager. Ms. Buzreba’s sister stepped up and explained what no media reported did, the context of these tweets. In other news, it seems that political candidates in Alberta did we not learn much from the media storm around Calgary-Bow MLA Deborah Drever‘s youthful social media indiscretions.

Conservatives approach a full-slate of nominated candidates in Alberta

With the next federal election less than one year away, the Conservative Party of Canada is close to nominating a full slate of candidates in Alberta’s 34 newly redrawn ridings. By my count, Calgary Rocky Ridge, Edmonton-Griesbach, Edmonton-RiverbendLakeland and Peace River-Westlock are the only ridings without nominated Conservative candidates in this province.  The other parties lag behind, with the Liberals only having nominated eleven candidates, the NDP four and the Green Party only two.

Nirmala Naidoo Liberal Calgary Rocky Ridge

Nirmala Naidoo

Calgary-Rocky Ridge
The Liberals rolled out a high-profile nominee in this northwest Calgary constituency. Former CBC News anchor Nirmala Naidoo has announced her plans to seek the Liberal nomination, scheduled for December 16, 2014.

Five candidates are contesting the Conservative nomination in this constituency. Party activist Gord Elliott has collected endorsements from Nova Scotia MP Scott Armstrong and Manitoba Senator Donald Plett. City of Calgary lawyer Paul Frank also ran in Alberta’s 2012 Senator-in-Waiting election. Patrick Kelly is a Conservative Party volunteer and former Real Estate Board member. Teacher and homebuilder Dan Morrison was a third candidate in his party’s painful Calgary-Signal Hill nomination. And Arnie Stephens is a retired oil and gas business executive with the endorsement of former MP Eric Lowther, who had initially announced plans to run in this nomination contest.

Michael Cooper Conservative Edmonton St Albert

Michael Cooper

St. Albert-Edmonton
Long-time partisan activist and lawyer Michael Cooper defeated past Edmonton-Strathcona candidate Ryan Hastman to become the next Conservative candidate in this suburban riding.

Mr. Cooper is known in political circles for his hard-line conservative positions and has been involved in politics since he was a teenaged national director of the Canadian Alliance Party. His previously electoral experience includes running a generously self-financed campaign for St. Albert City Council at the age of 19 (he was unsuccessful in that bid).

Mr. Cooper will face incumbent Independent Member of Parliament Brent Rathgeber. Mr. Rathgeber has been harshly critical of Prime Minister Stephen Harper since he resigned from the Conservative caucus in 2013.

Terry Hogan Conservative Peace River Westlock

Terry Hogan

Peace River – Westlock
Former Member of Parliament Albert Cooper is looking to make a political comeback. The Progressive Conservative MP for the former Peace River riding from 1980 to 1993 faces school principal Terry Hogan for the Conservative nomination.

Calgary-Centre
Popular Calgary-Buffalo Liberal MLA Kent Hehr was nominated as the federal Liberal candidate in this hotly contested riding on Nov. 28. First elected to the provincial assembly in 2008, Mr. Hehr will face off against Conservative incumbent Joan Crockatt. Ms. Crockatt was narrowly elected in a 2012 by-election that saw her party’s share of the vote drop by 18,210 votes. Only a sharp vote split between Liberal Harvey Locke and Green Chris Turner ensured a Conservative win.

Kerry Diotte Edmonton Mayor Election

Kerry Diotte

Edmonton-Griesbach
On Dec. 6, former city councillor Kerry Diotte and party organizer Omar Tarchichi will face off for the Conservative nomination in this redrawn east Edmonton riding.

The current Edmonton-East riding is represented by MP body-cam advocate Peter Goldring, who plans to retire after 18 years in Ottawa. Mr. Tarchichi has received Mr. Goldring’s endorsement and both candidates have been endorsed by former premier Ed Stelmach. Mr. Diotte’s former council colleague Tony Caterina has endorsed Mr. Tarchichi.

Sherwood Park – Fort Saskatchewan
Past Wildrose candidate Garnett Genuis defeated three competitors one competitor to win the Conservative nomination in this new riding east of Edmonton. In the 2012 provincial election, Mr. Genuis ran as the Wildrose candidate in the Sherwood Park constituency, placing second behind PC candidate Cathy Olesen.

The Liberals nominated lawyer Rodney Frank on Nov. 25. A Liberal press release describes Mr. Frank has working in the “telecommunications industry” and specializing “in competition and antitrust law.”


I am maintaining a list of candidates who have announced their intentions to seek nominations and run in the next federal election in Alberta ridings. Please contact me at david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com for additions or updates related to candidate nominations in Alberta.

Who wants to be leader of the Alberta NDP?

NDP-Edmonton-Folk-Fest-Ad

The Alberta NDP will hold a leadership vote in October 2014. Photo from the NDP ad in the 2012 Edmonton Folk Music Festival program.

While most political chatter in Alberta is focused on how big Jim Prentice’s victory will be on the first ballot of the Progressive Conservative leadership vote on September 6, there is another race about to begin – the race to become the leader of the Alberta NDP.

Brian Mason

Brian Mason

At his press conference announcing departure, outgoing NDP leader Brian Mason told the media he has asked the NDP provincial executive to hold a leadership vote on or near the weekend of October 19. The party is expected to announce official rules or timelines for the leadership vote in the coming months.

No candidates have declared their plans to enter the race, but if more than one does, it would be the Alberta NDP’s first contested leadership race since 1996, when the feisty Pam Barrett was selected to replace former Member of Parliament Ross Harvey. A contested race would help generate interest and boost their membership numbers across the province.

While there is an opportunity for the NDP to make modest gains in the next election, their next leader will face some serious challenges. One will be to expand their party outside of its traditional base in Edmonton. This will require good candidates, good organization, and, of course, money.

Rachel Notley Edmonton MLA Strathcona NDP

Rachel Notley

The NDP have not won a seat outside of Edmonton since the 1989 election. Some NDP supporters hope the division of conservative voters and the final demise of the drifting Liberal Party led by Raj Sherman could help bolster their chances of expansion.

Perhaps the most thankless part of the job will be to try and convince Albertans that the NDP is not opposed to the province’s energy industry. While federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair‘s ‘Dutch Disease‘ comments were not helpful, observers of Alberta politics will have noticed the NDP softening their language around Alberta’s chief industry in recent years, replacing ‘tarsands’ with ‘oilsands’ and focusing on other big polluters, like the province’s dirty coal industry.

David Eggen

David Eggen

While there are rumours of potential outside candidates, there is a possibility that the party’s three remaining MLAs could throw their hats into the ring.

Deron Bilous
A teacher, he first ran for the NDP in Edmonton-Centre in 2008 and was elected as the MLA for Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview in 2012. Before his election, he taught at Edmonton’s Inner City High School. Considered rising star in the NDP, the 38-year old first-term MLA has proven himself to be a well-spoken and hard-working addition to the opposition benches.

David Eggen
A teacher, he first ran for the NDP in Edmonton-Centre in 2001 and was elected as the MLA for Edmonton-Calder in 2004, unseating PC MLA Brent Rathgeber. He was defeated in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. From 2008 to 2012, he served as executive director of the Friends of Medicare, an advocacy group promoting public health care in Alberta.

Deron Bilous MLA Edmonton Beverly Clareview NDP

Deron Bilous

Mr. Eggen is well-known as a hard-working MLA who is scrappy critic in the Legislature and rarely takes a break from door-knocking in his constituency between elections. Now as the NDP Health critic, he is an outspoken critic of privatization in Alberta’s health care system.

A phone poll conducted in February 2014, and captured on this blog, suggests that Mr. Eggen or his supporters have been preparing for a leadership campaign for months.

Rachel Notley
First elected as the MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona in 2008, Ms. Notley is an outstanding parliamentarian. Her knowledge of Assembly procedure has helped keep the NDP effective at blocking or slowing down PC legislation on more than a few occasions. Educated in law at Toronto’s Osgoode Hall, she worked as a staffer in British Columbia NDP government and was a Labour Relations Officer with the United Nurses of Alberta.

She is also the daughter of Grant Notley, a well-respected NDP leader and northern Alberta MLA from 1971 to 1984. Her supporters have already launched a Ready for Rachel Facebook page, which now has more than 550 Likes.


Aging Long-Shot ‘Blockhead’ candidate knocks off huge Journal Political Team to capture Yeggie Political Category Award

Congratulations to my blogger-in-arms David Climenhaga who walked away with the Best in Political and Current Affairs award at last night’s Yeggies gala in Edmonton. Mr. Climenhaga faced a handful of worthy contenders, including the Edmonton Journal‘s entire political reporting team.

Fair Elections Act would introduce Alberta-style partisan elections officials

A proposed amendment to Canada’s Elections Act would introduce handpicked partisan elections officials into the current non-partisan election process.

The ‘Fair Elections Act,’ a sweeping act introduced by Conservative minister Pierre Poilievre, includes an amendment to Section 124 of the Elections Act which would give the incumbent candidate, riding association or political party the authority to submit a list of names from which that riding’s Central Polling Supervisor will be appointed.

Under the current Elections Act, the Central Polling Supervisors are appointed by the local returning officer, a non-partisan elections official.

It is unclear why this amendment is necessary, as it would give new powers to incumbent politicians and their political parties to hold over the election process.

In Alberta, a similar practice was stopped in 2010 by then-Justice minister Alison Redford after it was revealed that local returning officers had been appointed from a list submitted by the Progressive Conservative Party. Many of those appointed were PC constituency officers, past nomination candidates and supporters of the governing party. Nearly half of the returning officers appointed in the 2008 provincial election had ties to the PC Party.

This specific amendment to the Elections Act is particularly problematic for incumbent Members of Parliament who plan to seek re-election under a different party banner or as an independent candidate.

Reached via email, Edmonton-St. Albert MP Brent Rathgeber explained that these amendments will create advantages for parties at the expense of fairness. “These are paid positions; it is blatant patronage for local volunteers,” Rathgeber wrote.

Elected as a Conservative in 2011, Mr. Rathgeber left the governing Conservative Party to sit as an Independent MP in 2013 because of what he described as a “lack of commitment to transparency and open government.”

If this law passes and Mr. Rathgeber seeks re-election as an independent candidate, his Conservative opponent will be allowed to submit a list of Central Polling Supervisors who will supervise the election.

The amendment to Section 124 of the Elections Act is unnecessary and would undermine and introduce doubt into a process that is currently fair and non-partisan.

CURRENT Section 124 of the Elections ActCentral poll supervisor

(2) When a returning officer establishes a central polling place that contains four or more polling stations, the returning officer may appoint a central poll supervisor to attend at the central polling place on polling day to supervise proceedings and keep the returning officer informed of any matter that adversely affects, or is likely to adversely affect, the proceedings.

Proposed by the ‘Fair Elections Act’44. Section 124 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (2):

(3) Each of the central poll supervisors for an electoral district shall be appointed from lists of names of suitable persons provided by the candidate of the registered party whose candidate finished first in the electoral district in the last election or by the registered association of that registered party or, if there is no registered association, by that registered party.

(4) A returning officer shall proceed to appoint central poll supervisors from other sources if, by the 24th day before polling day, none of the candidate, the registered association and the registered party has made a recommendation or all three have not, as a group, recommended a sufficient number of suitable persons.

(5) A returning officer may, on reasonable grounds, refuse to appoint a central poll supervisor that is recommended by a candidate, a registered association or a registered party and shall immediately advise the candidate, registered association or registered party of the refusal.

(6) If as a result of the refusal a position is not filled, the candidate, registered association or registered party may, within 24 hours after being advised of the refusal, recommend another person and, if no one is recommended, the returning officer shall proceed to appoint another person whose name is solicited from another source.

Nomination races begin for federal election 2015

There are 705 days until Monday, October 19, 2015, when the next Canadian federal election is scheduled to be held. With less than two years until Canadians choose who will serve as Members of Parliament and with new electoral boundaries coming into effect at the next election, candidates across Alberta are preparing to seek party nominations, a first step to becoming a candidate.

Edmonton's 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.

Edmonton’s 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.

Last week’s resignation announcement by Conservative MP Ted Menzies opens the door for a by-election to be held in southwest Alberta’s Macleod riding. When the next election is called, Macleod will be dissolved and the new Foothills riding will be created. Rumours circulated soon after Mr. Menzies announcement that Wildrose official opposition leader Danielle Smith could seek the Conservative nomination were quickly quashed when he announced she would remain as MLA for Highwood. According to the Okotoks Western Wheel, three local residents, businessman Scott Wagner, rancher Phil Rowland and former Parliament Hill staffer Melissa Mathieson, have expressed interest in seeking the Conservative nomination.

With former Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber confirming he will run as an Independent in the new St. Albert-Edmonton riding in the next election, aspirants are already lining up to contest Conservative Party nomination.

Expected to enter the race in St. Albert-Edmonton is businessman and former political organizer Ryan Hastman, who is currently employed as a Regional Director in the University of Alberta‘s Office of Advancement. Readers of his blog will recognize Mr. Hastman as a co-host of the #yegvote Google Hangout and as the 2011 Conservative candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona. He has previously worked in Prime Minister Stephen Harper‘s Office and for the Wildrose Party.

Lawyer and conservative activist Michael Cooper has already announced his candidacy in the St. Albert-Edmonton Conservative nomination and has the support of the provincial Progressive Conservative establishment, including endorsements from Finance Minister Doug Horner, Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk, and St. Albert MLA Stephen Khan. Also in the race is Kevin Tam, a Conservative Party activist who is currently employed as a researcher with the provincial Liberal Opposition.

Lethbridge and southern Alberta 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.

Lethbridge and southern Alberta 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.

Changing boundaries in southern Alberta mean that Lethbridge Conservative MP Jim Hillyer will soon find himself living inside the redrawn Medicine Hat riding, currently represented by Conservative MP LeVar Payne. While a nomination race between the two incumbents could easily be averted if Mr. Hillyer runs in the newly redrawn Lethbridge, he may still face a tough nomination contest now that his large base of support in the southern half of the old riding will now living in a new riding.

After a narrow win in last year’s by-election, Conservative MP Joan Crockatt can expect a strong challenge from a newly revitalized Liberal Party organization in Calgary-Centre.

Conservatives have still yet to resolve who will run in the handful of new ridings created in south Edmonton. Similar to the situation in southern Alberta, Conservatives are hopeful that nomination battles between MPs Mike Lake, James Rajotte, and Blaine Calkins can be averted. This may be even further complicated if current Edmonton-Sherwood Park MP Tim Uppal decides to seek a nomination in the newly redrawn Edmonton-Mill Woods riding. Mr. Uppal was the Canadian Alliance and Conservative candidate in south east Edmonton in the 2000 and 2004 federal elections and lost his party nomination to Mr. Lake before the 2006 election.

Rod Loyola announced his intentions to seek the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Mill Woods last year. Mr. Loyola was the 2012 provincial NDP candidate in Edmonton-Ellerslie and is currently the president of the Non-Academic Staff Association at the University of Alberta.

Calgary's 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.

Calgary’s 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.

With the retirement of Calgary-Nose Hill MP Diane Ablonczy, who was first elected under the Reform Party banner in 1993, Calgarians can expect a hotly contested nomination race in this riding that is considered a Conservative stronghold. One candidate rumoured to be considering a run for a nomination is Calgary-Foothills PC MLA Len Webber, who served as a cabinet minister in Premier Ed Stelmach‘s government but was shuffled to the backbenches after Alison Redford became Premier in 2011.

In the always contested Edmonton-Centre, aboriginal activist and educator Lewis Cardinal, announced earlier this year that he would once again seek the NDP nomination. In 2011, Mr. Cardinal increased his party’s support in that riding by 11%, placing second to Conservative incumbent Laurie Hawn. The central Edmonton riding was represented by Liberal MP Anne McLellan from 1993 until 2006. Hoping for a revival of Liberal support in the next election, a number of candidates are said to be preparing to contest the Liberal nomination, including entrepreneur and Rhodes Scholar Randy Boissonnault, and  2011 candidate and lawyer Mary MacDonald.

Two-term Edmonton-Decore PC MLA Janice Sarich is rumoured to be mounting a challenge against current Edmonton-East Conservative MP Peter Goldring in the new Edmonton-Griesbach riding. With Mr. Goldring back in the Conservative fold after sitting as an independent, he is expected to seek his party’s nomination in the new riding. The NDP are searching for a star candidate in this riding, after seeing their support steadily increase since the past four federal elections. The new riding also significantly overlaps the areas represented by NDP MLA Brian Mason, David Eggen, and Deron Bilous in the provincial Legislature. The NDP’s 2008 and 2012 candidate, former MLA Ray Martin, was elected to serve on Edmonton’s Public School Board on October 21, 2013.

Update (November 14, 2013): Educator Janis Irwin has announced her intention to seek the NDP nomination in the new Edmonton-Griesbach riding.

Because lists are something that this writer tends to do well, I will soon start a list tracking declared and nominated candidates planning to run in the 2015 federal election in Edmonton. If I have missed anyone in this round-up, please post a comment below or send me an email at davidcournoyer@gmail.com.

Hope and Debt

Alison Redford Debt Alberta

“Debt” we can believe in?

The political battle between the Wildrose opposition and long-governing Progressive Conservatives continued today as the Legislative Assembly resumed for the fall sitting. Debt was the biggest issue of the day. Wildrose leader Danielle Smith jumped at the opportunity to make light of comments Premier Alison Redford made that compared the government’s decision to accept debt financing as “hope.”

“Let’s take some of the premier’s other quotes and sub in ‘hope’ for ‘debt’ and see if that makes sense. Alberta does not have hope, and we will not incur hope. We cannot come out the current fiscal situation with hope.”
“So to the premier, if debt is hope, when can we expect to once again be hope free?”
– Danielle Smith

After a decade of worshiping an anti-debt orthodoxy that defined former Premier Ralph Klein‘s era in Alberta politics, the natural governing party changed their tune. Abandoning the culture of “no debt” that they created has undoubtably been difficult for the PCs as they embraced a new faith in capital financing. It makes fiscal sense if you want to plan for the long-term, but in the Alberta context, it symbolizes an awkward culture shift for a political party that defined itself by this rally cry.

Cabinet shuffle rumours

If there is any truth to the cabinet shuffle rumours that have been circulating in political circles, it would not be unexpected for Ms. Redford to hit the reset button after she faces a mandatory leadership review in November (I anticipate PC activists will approve of her leadership). It may surprise Albertans to discover that twenty-seven of fifty-nine PC MLAs currently serve in some ministerial or associate ministerial role (that’s 45% of the government caucus).

Doug Griffiths

Doug Griffiths

Three cabinet ministers who have caused particular difficulty for the government  and should be candidates to be shuffled are Education minister Jeff Johnson, Municipal Affairs minister Doug Griffiths, and Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk.

Mr. Johnson has earned the distain of teachers and schools boards officials for his clumsy handling of the last year’s Alberta Teachers’ Association contract negotiations and the ensuing financial havoc wreaked on the education employers.

Mr. Griffiths has locked horns with Calgary’s popular mayor Naheed Nenshi too many times to be seen as an effective minister. The election of Don Iveson as mayor of Edmonton could help convince the Premier that perhaps she needs a more effective communicators in the increasingly important municipal affairs role.

Ramming through the Redford government’s cuts to post-secondary education, the powerful Mr. Lukaszuk frequently speaks as if he leads the government, leading some conservatives to suggest he has leadership ambitions of his own. Some conservatives have begun noticing similarities between Mr. Lukaszuk and former Deputy Premier Ken Kowalski.

In the first few years of Mr. Klein’s administration, Mr. Kowalski served in a powerhouse role as Deputy Premier and the unofficial “Minister of Everything.” At the time, some Tories suggested that Mr. Kowalski was actually running the government, which raised the ire of Mr. Klein. Perhaps not surprisingly, Mr. Kowalski was unceremoniously booted from the halls of power by Mr. Klein mid-way through his government’s first-term.

The curious case of Doug Elniski

Former Conservative Member of Parliament Brent Rathgeber isn’t the only former Edmonton-Calder PC MLA to go rogue. Former PC MLA Doug Elniski announced days ago that he had joined the Wildrose Party and was attending that party’s policy convention last weekend. Mr. Elniski was the second PC MLAs to endorse Ms. Redford in her bid for the PC leadership and stood at her side when she spoke to the media following her win in that race. He did not seek re-election in 2012.

Showing a surprising lack of class, Ms. Redford’s communications director Stefan Baranski took to Twitter to attack the former PC MLA for controversial comments he made years ago. It appears that many of Ms. Redford’s staff spent their weekend posting juvenile and sarcastic tweets about the opposition party’s gathering. Apparently this is how senior government staff spend their weekends these days.

 

How Brent Rathgeber changed Edmonton’s political map and why the Tories might like it

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton MP

Brent Rathgeber

Edmonton-St. Albert MP Brent Rathgeber unleashed a political storm last night when he announced on Twitter that he is leaving the Conservative Party of Canada caucus. Initially citing a “a lack of commitment to transparency and open government,” he expanded his criticisms to the control Prime Minister Stephen Harper‘s office exercises over backbench MPs as interfering with the ability to represent his representing his constituents.

“When you have a PMO that tightly scripts its backbenches like this one attempts to do, MPs don’t represent their constituents in Ottawa, they represent the government to their constituents,” Mr. Rathgeber told reporters at an afternoon press conference in Edmonton.

First elected to Parliament in 2008, Mr. Rathgeber has built a case for leaving the Tories by earning a reputation as being one of the only Conservative politicians in Ottawa to purposely deviate from the party discipline enforced by Prime Minister Harper. This is certainly embarrassing for Prime Minister Harper’s government, which has been scandal plagued for the past few months, but it is yet to be seen how damaging the departure will be for the Tory government in Ottawa.

His positions have not always been consistent with one ideology. For example, he is a Conservative who opposes the government’s anti-union legislation yet has introduced a private members bill that could undermine the independence of crown corporations like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (which was amended by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson). Perhaps he was just bored with being one of the only contrarians in the Ottawa Tory backbenches?

Thomas Lukaszuk

Thomas Lukaszuk

Starting his political career at the provincial level in 2001, Mr. Rathgeber became an unlikely politician when he stepped in as a last minute candidate after the already nominated PC candidate, Don Koziak, decided against challenging popular Liberal MLA Lance White (Mr. Rathgeber won the election). He served one term as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Edmonton-Calder until 2004, when he was defeated by New Democrat David Eggen. This means Mr. Rathgeber holds the dubious honour of being the only Alberta Conservative to have unseated an incumbent Liberal and been defeated by a New Democrat.

Rumours are already circulating that he could be eyeing a return to provincial politics, perhaps using his new-found fame to propel him as the Wildrose Party‘s challenger to Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk in Edmonton-Castle Downs.

Before he makes his decision, Mr. Rathgeber could learn a lesson from former Edmonton Tory MLA Raj Sherman. Dr. Sherman was treated as a saint when he split with the provincial Tories to sit as an Independent, he fell from grace just as quickly as had risen when he decided to join the Liberal Party.

Rathgeber’s departure could help Tories

Unexpectedly, Mr. Rathgeber’s departure from the Tory caucus may have helped save his former party from an even more devastating political storm. With electoral boundary changes being imposed in the next federal election, local Tories were not looking forward to the prospect of some incumbent MPs having to challenge each other for riding nominations.

South Edmonton ridings

The Edmonton Shuffle

In south Edmonton, new boundaries have forced Tory MPs Mike Lake, James Rajotte, and Blaine Calkins to uncomfortably position themselves for the prospect of nomination fights in new ridings. Making the shuffle more complicated are rumours that north Edmonton MP Tim Uppal may seek a nomination in a south Edmonton riding, as his Edmonton-Sherwood Park riding is being dissolved. Add to this the rumours that Minister Rona Ambrose may opt to retire instead of seeking a fifth-term in the new Edmonton-West riding.

Peter Goldring

Peter Goldring

If the nomination contest tension reaches the point of fisticuffs, the Tories could offer one of these MPs an easy nomination race in the now non-Conservative Edmonton-St. Albert. This is similar to when Mr. Uppal was offered an easy nomination win in Edmonton-Sherwood Park after Mr. Lake him for the Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont nomination in 2006 (Mr. Uppal was that riding’s Conservative candidate in 2000 and 2004).

Edmonton-East MP Peter Goldring said recently he would like to seek a Conservative (or even a Liberal) nomination in the next election. Mr. Goldring was welcomed back into the Conservative caucus today after he was suspended in 2011 for refusing to give a breath sample to police. Today he was found not guilty.

Mr. Goldring’s departure from the Conservative caucus a year and a half ago sparked interest among prospective Conservative nominees. Lawyer Michael Cooper, who is seeking the Conservative nomination in the new Edmonton-Griesbach riding, and PC MLA Janice Sarich, who is rumoured to be eyeing a federal candidacy, could see Mr. Rathgeber’s departure as an opening to run instead in Edmonton-St. Albert now that Mr. Goldring has been readmitted to the Tory caucus in Ottawa.

roundtable discussion with edmonton members of parliament.

At the invitation of Edmonton-Mill-Woods-Beaumont MP Mike Lake, I participated in a roundtable discussion yesterday morning with some local Conservative MPs and a group of eight Edmontonians from diverse backgrounds. Along with Mr. Lake, the local MPs in attendance were Edmonton-Sherwood Park MP Tim Uppal, Edmonton-East MP Peter Goldring, Edmonton-St. Albert MP Brent Rathgeber, and Edmonton-Centre MP Laurie Hawn (who unfortunately had to step out for part of the meeting).

As the start of the meeting, each participant was asked to name a few issues that were important to them and that they wanted to discuss. The three issues that I raised, and were discussed, were:

Urban Growth: The growth of safe and healthy urban communities and investment in LRT and public transit.

Telecommunications: CRTC, User Based Billing, and the lack of competitiveness in the telecommunications sector in Canada (Internet service providers and Mobile Phone service providers).

Public Health Care: The need to provide stability in the public health care system. A big part of the Federal Government’s role in this could be ensuring the funding for the 2014 Canada Health Transfer.

I am not going to go into detail about the discussions that took place around the table over the next two hours, as they touched on a wide range of topics related to housing, immigration, temporary foreign workers, economic competitiveness, budget deficit, government debt, student finance, mental health, to urban growth and more.

I was actually surprised at how quickly the two hours passed  and how smoothly the discussions flowed. The roundtable format of the small group discussion certainly gave the meeting a more intimate feel. It also allowed for more flowing conversations and exchanges between participants and topics than a traditional town hall meeting would allow.

I appreciated the opportunity to talk with local MPs about some of the important issues close to my heart and listen to the issues raised by the other participants.

danielle smith walks into an air hangar…

Tell me if you’ve heard this one… Danielle Smith, Hugh MacDonald, Brian Mason, and Doug Elniski walk into an air hangar…

The silliness of summer has reached a new height this week. Mayor Stephen Mandel had some tough words for Wildrose leader Ms. Smith yesterday as she declared her four… err… three MLA caucus support for the group collecting signatures for the City Centre Airport petition. Mayor Mandel made it clear that he did not appreciate the Wildroses intrusion into a debate that has become highly passionate among a disgruntled section of Edmonton’s business community. One Calgary columnist accused the Mayor of Calgary-bashing, but it is much more nuanced than that.

Why would Ms. Smith wade into this issue? Might it be a genuine desire to see Edmontonians vote on the airport issue? With no local MLAs and second or third place support in the City of Edmonton (according to most polls), it could also be a political power play. With all but one PC MLA silent on the issue, Ms. Smith could be looking to draw in the support of that disgruntled (and largely conservative) crowd who might not be happy that their newly elected PC MLAs are silently enjoying their summer vacations.

While Ms. Smith’s endorsement made headlines, barely anyone has noticed the motley crew of three local MLAs who have peeped up with opinions on the issue. First-term backbencher Mr. Elniski, anti-establishment hound Liberal MLA Mr. MacDonald, and NDP leader Mr. Mason are the only MLAs to speak publicly in favour of the airport petition. I have heard from a number of sources that PC MLAs have been told to steer clear from this potentially dangerous debate, with the exception of Mr. Elniski whose Edmonton-Calder constituency encompasses the airport.

In 2004, a group of PC MLAs became entangled in a nasty quarrel with City Council over the move of scheduled 10-seat flights from Calgary and Lethbridge to the International Airport. That quarel is considered by many people to be one of the factors that led to a Liberal sweep of Edmonton in the November 2004 election.

During that quarrel, then-Councillor Mandel had some harsh words when now former PC MLAs Mark Norris and Brent Rathegeber sided against the City:

“Enough is enough. There gets to be a point where you have to ask, ‘Can Edmonton make a decision without someone interfering in it?’ ” Mandel said.

“Because another city complains, we have to change things. Let’s hear Calgary complaining, and then I’m sure will have to reinstitute those flights. I think it’s absolutely unacceptable that the city of Edmonton has to play second fiddle to anyone.”

SOURCE: Stay out of it, mayor tells the province, Keith Gerein and Kelly Cryderman. Edmonton Journal. Edmonton, Alta.: Jul 27, 2004. pg. B.1

Less than three months after making this statement, Councillor Mandel was elected Mayor.

electoral battleground: edmonton-glenora.

The new Edmonton-Glenora under the proposed electoral boundaries.

Former MLA David Eggen has declared his intention to seek the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Glenora for the next provincial election. Mr. Eggen was first elected as the MLA for Edmonton-Calder in 2004 and served as the NDPs environment critic. In 2008, he was narrowly defeated in a close race with PC candidate Doug Elniski. Since then, he has served as Executive Director of the Friends of Medicare.

Mr. Eggen will likely face off with Service Alberta Minister Heather Klimchuk (if she seeks re-election). Minister Klimchuk was elected in 2008 when she defeated Liberal MLA Reverend Bruce Miller in a hotly contested race. The Liberals have yet to announce their Glenora candidate, but have elected MLAs in the riding from 1993 to 2001 and 2004 to 2008.

Since 2001, each election in Glenora and Calder has been decided by less than 500 votes. Here are the combined results for the new Glenora boundaries from the past two provincial elections (see the picture above for the new boundaries with the poll-by-poll results from 2008):

2008 Election
PC: 4,738
Lib 4,405
ND: 2,677
Grn: 477
WR: 219

2004 Election
Lib: 4,875
NDP: 4,521
PC: 3,989
AA: 371
Grn: 231
SC: 88

In 2008, the vote turnout in the two constituencies were 40% in Calder and 42% in Glenora. Both the Liberals and PCs have held solid bases of support in Glenora for decades and the NDP had been less of a factor until the two recent elections.

In 2004, the NDP focused their resources behind Mr. Eggen in Calder and former Alberta Teachers’ Association President Larry Booi in Glenora. While Mr. Eggen was elected in a close race with PC MLA Brent Rathgeber, Mr. Booi placed second in a tight three-way race between PC MLA Drew Hutton and Reverend Miller. In 2008, the NDP focused less resources on Glenora in 2008 and fell to third place.

With a strong candidate like Mr. Eggen and two years to campaign before the next election, the NDP could be back in contention for this riding in the next election. In a province-wide election that could be dominated by the PCs and Wildrose Alliance, this riding could be only one of the handful that the NDP are seriously in competition for.

Welcome to battleground Edmonton-Glenora.