Mandel became leader of the centre-right Alberta Party in February 2018. He previously served as Mayor of Edmonton from 2004 to 2013 and as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud and Minister of Health from 2014 to 2015.
The ban also applies to Mandel’s CFO, Brian Heidecker, who previously served as CFO for numerous PC Party candidates and for Doug Griffiths’ campaign during his 2011 bid for that party’s leadership.
Sources in the party tell me this decision was a result of missed deadlines or improperly submitted paperwork filed by the candidates and their CFOs with Elections Alberta following their nomination meetings.
If the court overturns the Elections Alberta decision, this is still a pretty embarrassing situation. But if the court does not overturn the ban, the Alberta Party may be scrambling to find a new leader with only a few weeks before an election call.
NDP CFO on the banned list
Also recently included on the list is the New Democratic Party‘s Director of Operations Will Gammon, who serves as Chief Financial Officer for 9 of the party’s nominated or soon-to-be nominated candidates and 18 of the party’s registered constituency associations. Gammon’s appearance on the list appears to a result of his role a CFO for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake by-election candidate Nicole Mooney, who is also now ineligible to run as a candidate for the next 5 years.
Former party leader Greg Clark succeeded in generating significant media attention for the Alberta Party after the last election but the party struggled to raise money under Clark’s leadership. The party raised just over $50,400 in 2016 and $171,411 in 2017, compared to $1.7 million raised by the NDP in 2017.
As a well-known politician with strong ties to Edmonton’s business community, fundraising is not likely to be one of Mandel’s weaknesses. In his bid re-election as the PC MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud in 2015, Mandel’s campaign raised $268,965. And, if one upcoming fundraising event suggests, his network of supporters includes some big fundraising names from the old PC Party network.
Former PC Party fundraisers John Chomiak and Brian Heidecker, along with multi-party donor Marc de La Bruyère are the names included in a recent fundraising email soliciting the sale of $200 tickets to a reception with Mandel on April 11 in Edmonton.
Chomiak is an experienced fundraiser with deep ties to the now-defunct PC Party and past leadership candidates Ed Stelmach and Gary Mar. Heidecker served as a PC Party Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer for Doug Griffiths’ 2011 campaign for the PC Party leadership. de La Bruyère has made significant contributions to multiple parties in the past. According to Elections Alberta records, de La Bruyère donated $6,000 to the PC Party in 2015, $1,500 to the Liberal Party in 2016, and $4,000 to the Alberta Party in the final quarter of 2017.
The results of the first quarter of fundraising for 2018 should be released by Elections Alberta before the end of April.
Photo: Alberta Party leader Greg Clark on the campaign trail in Calgary-Elbow in 2014. Source: Twitter.
In the latest shakeup in Alberta politics, Greg Clark announced last Friday that he would resign as leader of the Alberta Party at the party’s upcoming annual general meeting on November 18, 2017. Clark has served as party leader since 2013 and became the party’s first elected MLA in 2015 when he unseated Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Gordon Dirks in Calgary-Elbow.
With the floor-crossing of former New Democratic Party MLA Karen McPherson earlier this month, Clark had succeeded in helping double his party’s caucus. But despite generating an impressive share of media attention, Clark has been unable to raise the amounts of money the Alberta Party would need to be competitive in the next election. And even though there has been increased interest in the party’s membership since the PC Party became defunct under Jason Kenney’s leadership, the Alberta Party has not seen growth in the public opinion polls.
With the increasing influence of the Alberta Together political action committee, formed by former PC Party officials including Stephen Mandel, rumours had been circulating for months that Clark’s leadership could come to an end before the party’s annual meeting.
Now it appears the party is a new home for moderate Tories unhappy with the hard right-ward turn of the UCP under Kenney’s leadership.
As I wrote in June 2017, the Alberta Party is a blank slate with a great name, but whether or not this latest group to wander over will translate that name into electoral success is yet to be determined.
According to the Globe & Mail, the party could lean on the Alberta Together PAC for fundraising support to help offset the costs of the leadership race. This is concerning because PACs like Alberta Together fall outside of the province’s Election Finances and. Contributions Disclosure Act, which raises legitimate concerns about transparency and accountability of political fundraising and spending.
With less than 15 months until a potential election call, the urgency surrounding the leadership and the role of Alberta Together could be a reaction to signals from Premier Rachel Notley that the NDP government plans to tighten rules governing PACs before the next election.
Now that Clark has made his announcement, it is unclear if he or the Alberta Together group have a chosen candidate waiting in the wings to run for the party leadership.
McPherson has said she does not intend to run and neither does Alberta Together CEO Katherine O’Neill. It is also unclear whether Clark will re-contest the leadership he is about to resign from.
Had Clark resigned four months ago, it might not be surprising to see municipal politicians like Nenshi, Edmonton mayor Don Iveson and Grande Prairie mayor Bill Given consider throwing their name in the race. But with the municipal elections having only been held on October 16, it would be difficult politically for any current municipal mayor or councillor to justify running for the leadership.
Popular 630CHED radio host Ryan Jespersen is a compelling name on the list of rumoured leadership candidates named by Postmedia columnist Don Braid. Jespersen is well-known in Edmonton and northern Alberta, well-spoken on a wide-range of issues and is not a former PC MLA – which would be an asset if he did decide to run. (He would not be the first of his family to enter Alberta politics. His great-uncle, Ralph Jespersen, served as the Social Credit MLA for Stony Plain from 1967 to 1971).
As some conservatives will meet under Preston Manning’s banner at Red Deer College, former PC supporters and the Alberta Together group will meet across town at the Radisson Hotel to consolidate their position inside the Alberta Party. A dozen notable former PC officials are running to fill the 12 positions on the party’s board of directors:
Sumita Anand served as the PC Party’s west Calgary regional director until she resigned on May 24, 2017. She had served as president of the PC association in Calgary-Foothills during and immediately following Jim Prentice’s tenure as party leader.
Denise Brunner served as the PC Party’s vice president organization. She stepped down in January 2017 after being accused of bias by Kenney’s supporters during the PC leadership race. According to Elections Alberta financial disclosures, she was Chief Financial Officer for the Edmonton-Castle Downs PC association in 2006 and currently serves as the president of Alberta Party association in Edmonton-Castle Downs.
Cole Harbin served as Executive Vice President of the PC Youth of Alberta until 2016 and as a Vice President of the PC constituency association in Lethbridge-West until 2017. He previously worked as a constituency assistant for former MLAs Doug Griffiths and former Lethbridge-West PC MLA Greg Weadick.
Jackie Clayton was recently re-elected to serve a second term on Grande Prairie City Council and is the former Peace Country regional director for the PC Party.
Shawn Pickett served as president of the PC association in Red Deer-North and Central North regional director until resigning in July 2017, referring to Kenney’s leadership bid as a “hostile takeover” of the PC Party.
Stephanie Shostak is the former north Edmonton regional director for the PC Party. Shostak now serves as the president of the Alberta Party association in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview.
Patty Wickstrom served as the PC Party’s Board Secretary until she resigned in July 2017. According to Elections Alberta financial disclosures, she previously served as president of the PC association in Calgary-Currie from 2008 to 2010.
As expected, yesterday morning Battle River-Wainwright MLA Doug Griffiths entered the contest to replace Premier Ed Stelmach as leader of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party. As I posted yesterday, I believe that Mr. Griffiths will be an interesting addition to a leadership contest that has so far been less than exciting.
At his campaign announcement, Mr. Griffiths highlighted five areas that his leadership campaign will focus on, including K-12 education, land stewardship and environmental issues, government reform, developing solutions for healthcare, and reinvigorating the PC Party.
His opponents will likely use his age (38) and lack of cabinet experience to downplay the seriousness of his candidacy, but his position as an underdog and outsider may be easily disputed by support from a big-name Tory insider.
A quick reverse address search on Whitepages.ca reveals that the mailing address listed for the “Doug Griffiths 2011 Campaign Fund“, 220 Wolf Willow Road, is also listed as a home address B. Heidecker.
Brian Heidecker is a big name in the PC Party establishment. As the current Chair of University of Alberta Board of Governors, a unapologetic former political appointee to the Alberta Treasury Branches Board and Alberta Securities Commission, and a former PC Party Vice-President, his support will establish credibility for Mr. Griffiths’ campaign among PC insiders. Not coincidentally, Mr. Heidecker is a retired rancher and owns a 16,000-acre ranch near Coronation, which is also Mr. Griffiths’ hometown.
The suggestion that Mr. Heidecker is a fundraiser on this leadership campaign might be a subtle signal to the PC establishment that Mr. Griffiths is a more credible candidate than his opponents may want that party’s members to believe.