Tag Archives: Calgary-Centre North

A closer look at 20 years of by-elections in Alberta

Traditionally safe for incumbent parties, the latest by-elections have been risky business for the Tories
Jim Prentice Alberta Premier

Jim Prentice was selected as leader of Alberta’s PC Party and the next Premier of Alberta on September 6, 2014.

As newly selected Progressive Conservative leader Jim Prentice begins his transition into the Premier’s Office (having just named his transition team), attention will soon turn to a provincial by-election that will allow the new premier an opportunity to be elected as an MLA.

In advance of the impending by-election (or by-elections), I have taken a look at the nine provincial by-elections that have been held over the past twenty-years in Alberta.

Alberta Provincial By-Elections Results 1995 - 2009

Only two of the nine by-elections have resulted in constituencies changing hands between different political parties. Those two by-elections, Calgary-Elbow in 2007 (won by Liberal Craig Cheffins) and Calgary-Glenmore in 2009 (won by the Wildroser Paul Hinman), were followed by general elections which resulted in PC candidates recapturing the seats for their party.

With the exception of Edmonton-Highlands, which elected current NDP leader Brian Mason in a 2000 by-election, PC candidates were elected in each of the other eight constituencies in the following general election.

In the six by-elections where there had previously been a PC MLA, the governing party saw its percentage of the vote decline. This occurred most drastically in the 2009 Calgary-Glenmore by-election, where the PC candidate support dropped by 24.7% compared to the previous general election (the Wildrose saw its share of support increase by 28.8% in that by-election).

Voter turnout ranged from a low of 20.4% in the 2000 Red Deer-North by-election, held to replace PC MLA Stockwell Day who resigned to run for the leadership of the Canadian Alliance, to 45.5% in the 1996 Redwater by-election, held to replace Liberal MLA Nick Taylor who had been appointed to the Canadian Senate.

Mr. Prentice has publicly said that he plans to run in a by-election in his home city of Calgary, but not in former Premier Alison Redford‘s now unrepresented Calgary-Elbow constituency. Third-term PC MLA Neil Brown has said that he would resign to allow the new premier to run in a by-election in the Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill constituency.

There has also been some speculation that Calgary-Klein MLA Kyle Fawcett could resign to allow Mr. Prentice to run in a constituency overlapped by his former federal riding of Calgary-Centre North.

And then there were three (white men)

2014 PC Leadership Race Alberta Thomas Lukaszuk Jim Prentice Ric McIver

Alberta PC Party leadership candidates Thomas Luksazuk, Ric McIver and Jim Prentice.

As the deadline for candidates to enter their names (and $50,000 fee) in the contest to become the next leader of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Association came to a close yesterday, three politicians have put forward their names – bank vice-president and former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice and former provincial cabinet ministers Ric McIver and Thomas Lukaszuk.

A quick glance at the names of the three candidates confirms that no women or visible minorities have entered the race to fill the position vacated by Alberta’s first woman premier, Alison Redford, who was pushed out of office only a few short months ago. A few woman candidates were rumoured to be interested, but the most high profile of those rumoured, Energy minister Diana McQueen, declined to run, choosing instead to endorse Mr. Prentice.

While Canada reached a high-water mark in recent years, with women occupying the premiers office in six provinces and territories, the number has plummeted after recent elections. Today, only British Columbia and Ontario have women premiers (and Ontario voters will decide the fate of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals on June 12, 2014).

Alberta could once again enter this category if Official Opposition leader Danielle Smith leads her Wildrose Party to win the next election. Edmonton MLA Rachel Notley is said to be considering a run for the Alberta NDP leadership and some say she would become an instant front-runner if she enters the race.

All three PC leadership candidates have cut their political teeth in Alberta’s largest cities. Mr. Prentice was the Member of Parliament for Calgary-Centre North from 2004 to 2010, Mr. McIver as a Calgary MLA, former Alderman and mayoral candidate, and Mr. Lukaszuk as the MLA for Edmonton-Castle Downs since 2001.

The presence of three urban candidates signals both the growing political importance of the province’s two largest cities (and the urban agenda’s put forward by popular mayors Don Iveson and Naheed Nenshi) and the PC Party’s weakness in rural Alberta.

Not having a candidate from rural Alberta is embarrassing for the 43-year governing party. Once almost universally dominated by PC MLAs, the Tories have seen their support plummet in rural and small-town Alberta over the past four years. In the last election, many PC MLAs, including a some senior cabinet ministers, were handily defeated by Wildrose candidates in rural constituencies that had voted enmasse for the PC Party for more than three decades.

This is also the smallest number of candidates to participate in a PC leadership race since the party chose Don Getty as leader in 1985. In 1992, there were 9 candidates; in 2006 there were 8 and the 2011 leadership race attracted 6 candidates.

The small-number of candidates is a testament of the internal turmoil in the PC Party following the coup d’etat that caused Ms. Redford’s departure and the strength of Mr. Prentice’s campaign. Whether it is perceived or real, the ‘Team Prentice’ brand quickly drew the support of more than twenty PC MLAs and an army of party insiders and political consultants.

Unlike the deflated front-runners in previous PC leadership campaigns – Jim Dinning and Gary Mar – Mr. Prentice has succeeded in scaring away most of his credible potential challengers. Whether he suffers the same fate as these former ‘front-runners’, who were later defeated by underdogs, is yet to be seen.

The challenge for the three candidates will be to generate interest in a campaign that already feels like it is a forgone conclusion (a victory by Mr. Prentice). A big question is whether the any of the candidates in this race will be compelling enough to convince those thousands of ‘two-minute Tories‘ to lend them their votes.

Conservatives spar for safe Alberta ridings

While the epic battle between Rob Anders and Ron Liepert in Calgary-Signal Hill was entertaining to watch, preparation for the next federal election has sparked nomination contests in ridings across the province. And with two  by-elections expected to be called within weeks, federal political parties are lining up their candidates for the vote.

By-Election nominations

Justin Trudeau and Kyle Harrietha on the front page of Fort McMurray Today.

Justin Trudeau and Kyle Harrietha on the front page of Fort McMurray Today.

Fort McMurray-Athabasca
On March 30, Liberal Party members chose Kyle Harrietha as their candidate. Mr. Harrietha faced Chris Flett in the nomination contest.

The Liberals are expected to run a strong campaign in the sprawling northeast Alberta riding. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau recently visited the riding, drawing a crowd of hundreds to a meet-and-greet event in Fort McMurray.

The Conservative Party will hold its nomination votes on April 24 in High Prairie and Slave Lake, April 25 in Athabasca and Lac La Biche, and April 26 in Fort McMurray. The results will be announced following the Fort McMurray vote. Fort McMurray lawyer Arlan Delisle and Athabasca County councillor David Yurdiga are the only two candidates seeking the nomination.

Oilsands worker Lori McDaniel will run for the New Democrats and firefighter Tim Moen is the Libertarian Party candidate.

John Barlow George Canyon Conservative Macleod By-Election

John Barlow and George Canyon

Macleod
On April 6, Dustin Fuller was nominated as the federal Liberal candidate in the upcoming by-election. Mr. Fuller will face Conservative John Barlow when the by-election is called. There has so far been no sign of any NDP or Green Party candidates.

General Election nominations

Meanwhile, nominations for the general election are also underway. As most of Alberta are largely considered safe territory for the Conservatives, competitive races have emerged in newly redrawn ridings across Alberta. Here are some ridings with recent updates:

Bow River
Country music crooner George Canyon has withdrawn his name from the Conservative nomination contest in southern Alberta’s Bow River. Christian television talk show host Paul Arthur has since announced he will seek the nomination.

Calgary-Nose Hill
Michelle Rempel was acclaimed as the Conservative candidate in this newly redrawn north Calgary riding. Ms. Rempel has represented the Calgary-Centre North riding since 2011.

Calgary-Rocky Ridge
Recent defeated in the Calgary-Signal Hill nomination contest, Mr. Anders may seek the Conservative nomination in this neighbouring riding. The Conservative nomination is already being sought by former MP Eric Lowther and party organizer Gord Elliott.

Mr. Lowther represented Calgary-Centre as the Reform Party/Canadian Alliance MP from 1997 until 2000, when he was defeated by former Prime Minister Joe Clark, who had returned to politics to lead the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.

Edmonton-Mill Woods
Edmonton-Sherwood Park MP Tim Uppal has decided to jump across the city to seek the Conservative nomination in the new Edmonton-Mill Woods riding. Mr. Uppal was the Canadian Alliance/Conservative candidate in that area in 2000 and 2004 but was defeated by Mike Lake for the Conservative nomination in 2006.

Varinder Bhullar is seeking the Liberal nomination and Deep Hundal has announced that he plans to run for the NDP nomination.

Edmonton-Riverbend
Will James Rajotte run for the Alberta PC Party leadership? It seems unlikely, but rumours persistTofael Chowdhury is challenging Mr. Rajotte for the Conservative nomination in this new south Edmonton riding.

This is not Mr. Chowdhury’s first attempt at a party nomination. In 2011, he challenged Matt Jeneroux for the Progressive Conservative nomination in the provincial riding of Edmonton-South West and in 2008 he unsuccessfully sought the federal Liberal Party nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona.

Edmonton-West
Edmonton Police Constable Brad Rutherford has entered the Conservative nomination race in this new riding. He will face Edmonton-McClung PC MLA David Xiao, who announced his candidacy in March.

Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan
Recent municipal election candidate Nicole van Kuppeveld has announced she will seek the Conservative nomination in this new riding east of Edmonton. Ms.  van Kuppeveld, the former president of the Sherwood Park provincial PC Party, will face off against Garnett Genuis, the 2012 Wildrose candidate in Sherwood Park.

If there are any additions to the list of nomination candidates for the 2015 federal election, please contact me through the comment section below or by email at david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com.