The Liberals have yet to nominate a candidate in Calgary-Heritage but I am told that past candidate Brendan Miles is considering seeking his party’s nomination once again. Khalid Ahmed is seeking the New Democratic Party nomination. He ran for the NDP in Calgary-Signal Hill during the 2015 election where he earned 5 percent of the vote.
In Calgary-Midnapore, where a by-election must be called no later than March 22, 2017, Haley Brown announced her plans to run for the Liberal nomination. Ms. Brown won a contested nomination in July 2015 to become the party’s candidate in that year’s federal election. She placed second with 22.6 percent of the vote.
Calgary-Shaw: Following a surprising announcement by three-term PC MLA Cindy Ady that she would not seek re-election, lawyer Farouk Adatia has been appointed to replace her at the Progressive Conservative candidate. Mr. Adatia was the Chief Financial Officer for Premier Alison Redford‘s leadership campaign in 2011, and he was an unsuccessful candidate in the hotly contested PC nomination in Calgary-Hawkwood earlier this year. Following the disqualification of former Calgary-McCall MLA Shiraz Shariff as the PC candidate in Calgary-West, it was speculated that Mr. Adatia might be appointed to run as a candidate there.
Calgary-Cross: Susan Stratton will represent the Evergreen Party in this east Calgary constituency. Ms. Stratton ran in this constituency in the 2008 election under the Green Party banner, earning 395 votes. In 2004, she ran for the Green Party in Calgary-North Hill, placing third and earning 1,261 votes.
Calgary-Elbow: Businessman Greg Clark has been nominated as the Alberta Party‘s candidate in the constituency represented by Premier Redford.
Edmonton-Meadowlark: Lawyer and past federal Liberal candidate Neil Mather will run in this west Edmonton constituency under the Alberta Party banner. In the 2004 election, Mr. Mather earned 12,912 in the Edmonton-Spruce Grove riding, which includes parts of Meadowlark. The constituency is currently represented by Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman, who was elected under the PC banner in 2008.
Edmonton-Rutherford: David Tonner, an organizing member of The Zeitgeist Movement, has been nominated as the Evergreen Party candidate.
Lacombe-Ponoka: Rancher and agricultural policy specialist Tony Jeglum has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.
For the past decade, I have had the honour and privilege to serve as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta and to make a difference in the lives of Albertans. I have decided it is time to transition and explore new opportunities. As such, I will not be running in the upcoming provincial election.
I wish to thank the constituents of Calgary-Shaw for their inspiration and energy. Their hopes, vision, and determination have led to remarkable growth in our community. In just 10 short years, we have built schools, new healthcare facilities and better transportation systems that will shape the lives of Calgarians for years to come.
I am well aware that there is more work to be done. The hospital project and the Ring Road are two good examples. Rest assured that I will work closely with the future MLA of Calgary-Shaw to ensure a smooth and effective transition.
I would like to express my appreciation for the excellent leadership and counsel I have received from Premier Redford and my colleagues during my time as MLA. The support provided to me and my family, and the opportunities to serve the people of this province have been life changing.
Hector Goudreau demoted, not running for re-election?
Dunvegan-Central Peace PC MLA Hector Goudreau has resigned as chairman of the Cabinet Policy Committee for Community Development after defending himself from allegations he bullied school board officials in his constituency. CTV News is reporting that Mr. Goudreau has also decided against seeking re-election, though other news outlets have not reported this.
Mental health funding increased
In a pre-election announcement yesterday morning, Health & Wellness Minister Fred Horne told the media that the government has allocated an additional $15 million towards much needed renovations and expansion of services at Alberta Hospital Edmonton. The hospital’s future looked bleak only a few years ago when then-CEO of Alberta Health Services Stephen Duckett canceled previous plans for upgrades, claiming that the site buildings were too old and decrepit.
Sherman accuses government of intimidating U of A
Meanwhile, Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman is accusing the provincial government of intimating the University of Alberta‘s interim Dean of Medicine & Dentistry Verna Yiu. Dr. Sherman tweeted that he could not understand why the interim Dean cancelled his grand rounds and suggested that the decision was caused by “the intimidating arm of the #pcaa.”
Do you think Gary Mar left a draft cabinet list in the Premier’s Office when he was measuring the drapes? Because Premier Alison Redford found it.
We were told to expect big changes, that many “household names” would be dropped from cabinet, but as they enter their new jobs, Premier Alison Redford‘s cabinet looks like one that should have been made by her main leadership opponent Gary Mar.
Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Fred Horne‘s appointment as Minister of Health and Wellness and Ron Liepert‘s appointment as Finance Minister means that there will be no serious judicial inquiry into the intimidation of health care workers. Minister Liepert’s promotion from Energy to Finance is surprising considering that only last week he was openly defying Premier Redford on the need for a health care inquiry. Both Mr. Horne and Mr. Liepert were strong supporters of Mr. Mar in the leadership contest and would have likely ended up in similar positions had he not been defeated on the third ballot vote on October 1.
It has yet to be seen what new powers Minister Liepert will hold as Finance Minister. Remember that in recent cabinets, the President of the Treasury Board has held considerable sway over the province’s purse-strings. This could mean that ‘Liepert the Hound‘ could turn into ‘Liepert the Pup‘ when dealing with the current Treasury Board President and Deputy Premier Doug Horner.
Former Finance Minister Ted Morton is moving into the Energy Minister’s office, an area where he will be comfortable defending the province’s record on oil sands development. New Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk is a cabinet lightweight who will have to be a quick study if he wants to survive in his new job. He and Premier Redford started things off right this afternoon with the announcement adding $100 million into the education budget today. Both Minister Morton and Minister Lukaszuk supported Mr. Mar on the final ballot of the PC leadership contest.
The appointment of Battle River-Wainwright MLA Doug Griffiths as Minister of Municipal Affairs could turn out to be an interesting choice. Minister Griffiths, who was defeated on the first ballot of the PC leadership contest and has never served in cabinet, comes with both inexperience and an open-mind. Despite his rural pedigree, I would not discount his ability to build relationships with the group of young municipal leaders who have been elected in recent years, including Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Edmonton City Councillor Don Iveson.
The appointment of Edmonton-Whitemud MLA and long-time cabinet minister Dave Hancock (also a Mar loyalist) as Minister of the new Human Services super-ministry is a smart choice. Minister Hancock is a seasoned govern0r who may be the only MLA who can help weave and organize this newly formed portfolio, which includes Children and Youth Services, Employment and Immigration (except for immigration), Homelessness, Alberta Supports (from Seniors and Community Supports).
Rewarded for his most (if only) significant political decision is backbench MLA Art Johnston, who was appointed Parliamentary Assistant to Executive Council (which means he gets to carry Premier Redford’s briefing binder in the Assembly). Mr. Johnston was the only MLA to support Ms. Redford on the first ballot of the PC leadership vote.
Some much needed new blood around the cabinet table includes Drayton Valley-Calmar MLA Diana McQueen as Minister of Environment and Water, Calgary-Montrose MLA Manmeet Bhullar as Minister of Service Alberta, Athabasca-Redwater MLA Jeff Johnson as Minister of Infrastructure, and Red Deer-South MLA Cal Dallas as Minister of International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations.
Notable cabinet ministers joining the great unwashed masses in the Tory backbenches include Sherwood Park MLA Iris Evans, Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Lloyd Snelgrove, Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Luke Ouellette, Edmonton-Mill Creek MLA Gene Zwozdesky, Calgary-Cross MLA Yvonne Fritz, Calgary-Shaw MLA Cindy Ady, and Medicine Hat MLA Rob Renner. It would not be surprising to see these now backbench MLAs and others decide to collect their million dollar severance packages and not stand in the next election.
Not to be unexpected, it did not take long for the rumour mill to start suggesting what next steps these former cabinet ministers might take. If he is not retiring, one rumour I heard today suggests that Mr. Zwozdesky may seek re-election and challenge Speaker Ken Kowalski for his position in the Assembly after the next election.
Avoiding one of former Premier Ed Stelmach‘s first mistakes, this cabinet reaches a respectable geographical balance. Four cabinet minister each from Calgary and Edmonton and the remaining twelve spread across the province.
Two more endorsements have been added to the map of MLA support in the 2011 Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership contest.
Three-term Calgary-Shaw MLA and Tourism Minister Cindy Ady has endorsed leadership candidate Gary Mar. Minister Ady is Mr. Mar’s third Calgary MLA endorsements, following support from Calgary-Foothills MLA Len Webber, Calgary-Nose Hill MLA Neil Brown, and Calgary-West MLA Ron Liepert.
Word on the street is that first-term St. Albert MLA Ken Allred has thrown his support behind former Finance Minister Ted Morton. This is Dr. Morton’s tenth MLA endorsement and sixth endorsement from an MLA in the Edmonton region.
Who would have thought that the choice of Edmonton’s PC MLAs would be Dr. Morton?
July 21: All-Candidates Forum in Vermillion July 28: All-Candidates Forum in Grande Prairie August 11: All-Candidates Forum in Fort McMurray August 18: All-Candidates Forum in Medicine Hat August 25: All-Candidates Forum in Lethbridge September 1: All-Candidates Forum in Red Deer September 7: All-Candidates Forum in Calgary September 15: All-Candidates Forum in Edmonton
Advanced voting for the first-ballot will commence on September 13 and regular voting on September 17. If no candidate receives 50%+1 on the first-ballot, then the three candidates with the most votes will contest a preferential second-ballot vote October 1. If no candidate earns 50%+1 on the second-ballot, the second choice votes from the third place candidate will be redistributed among the final two candidates.
The list of MLA endorsements of PC leadership candidates is being continually updated. Recent changes include the addition of Rocky Mountain House MLA Ty Lund and Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Richard Marz, and Whitecourt-Ste. Anne MLA George VanderBurg, who have endorsed Mr. Mar. I have also removed Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Broyce Jacobs‘ endorsement of Dr. Morton, after receiving conflicting reports that he was also supporting Mr. Mar. It is also expected that Calgary-Shaw MLA Cindy Ady may soon endorse Mr. Mar.
Over the next few weeks, I will be taking a closer look at what MLA endorsements actually mean for the leadership candidates and how deep the PC Party membership has been in many of the constituencies these MLAs represent.
After two days of voting, the results have been tallied in the first poll asking readers of this blog who they thought should replace Premier Ed Stelmach as leader of Alberta’s PC Party. Thank you to the 813 readers who voted in this online poll.
Some people might be surprised by the strength of Battle River-Wainwright MLA Doug Griffiths in this poll, but as the PC MLA with the highest personal online profile it is not surprising that online political watchers would support the idea of him as the next PC leader (or as a friend said this week, “he would be the first PC leader who actually understands 21st century communications”). As a moderate Tory, Justice Minister Alison Redford would have some natural appeal to readers of this blog. As for Edmonton-Mill Woods MLA Carl Benito‘s support, I imagine that it was his unique position on tuition and property taxes that earned him those 76 votes.
Here is the breakdown of the results.
Who should PC Party members vote to replace Premier Ed Stelmach in their upcoming leadership contest?
Raj Sherman (Independent Edmonton-Meadowlark)
The Emergency Room Doctor turned MLA shook the Tory establishment when he went public with his concerns about how the PC government has handled health care. Dr. Sherman saved special criticism for former Health Minister Ron Liepert, who was responsible for the creation of Alberta Health Services. An over-night folk hero to many, Dr. Sherman was suspended from the PC caucus and became the target of a whisper campaign to undermine his credibility, which started with a phone call placed by MLA Fred Horne. Dr Sherman has said he may take legal action against those involved in the smear campaign. In three weeks, Dr. Sherman’s public criticisms of the PCs health care record made him the de-facto leader of the opposition in the last two months of 2010.
Dr. Sherman made this list in 2008, when I described him as “one of the brighter stars in the vast expanse of dim lights in the Alberta Legislature.”
Doug Griffiths (PC Battle River-Wainwright)
Thinking out of the box has kept this perennial Parliamentary Assistant away from the cabinet table, where he would likely excel. Doug Griffiths’ appointment as the Parliamentary Assistant for Finance and Enterprise is the latest in a series of lateral moves from his previous roles as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Solicitor General. After trying to start a public discussion about how a provincial sales tax could reduce government dependency on natural resource revenue, Mr. Griffiths became the target of his own colleagues who shot down his idea at the 2010 PC Party convention and by the Wildrose Alliance, who used Mr. Griffiths’ comments as a fundraising-focused attack campaign. He also hit the road this year as the author of a new book, 13 Ways to Kill your Community.
In last year’s list, I wrote of Mr. Griffiths: “With alternatives to the near 40 year governing PCs gaining support, independent-minded Griffiths may be in a position to decide whether he wants to stay in the backbenches or join something new.”
Rob Anderson (Wildrose Airdrie-Chestermere)
First-term PC MLA Rob Anderson‘s floor-crossing from the PCs to the Wildrose in January 2010, along with fellow PC MLA Heather Forsyth, set the tone for Alberta politics in 2010. He may have less political experience than his three fellow Wildrose MLAs (two of which are former PC cabinet ministers), but what he does not have in age or years of experience he makes up in political tenacity. If leader Danielle Smith is unable to win a seat in the next provincial election, Mr. Anderson is in a good position to take over the role.
Kent Hehr (Liberal Calgary-Buffalo)
What started as a tongue-in-cheek campaign by Liberal caucus staffers became reality when first-term Liberal MLA Kent Hehr launched his candidacy for Mayor of Calgary. Although he was a popular candidate in a crowded field, Mr. Hehr was unable to create the kind of momentum that launched Naheed Nenshi into contention. Mr. Hehr dropped out of the Mayoral contest when his poll numbers showed he was far behind, but that did not hurt his political credibility as he returned to the Assembly as the Official Opposition Justice Critic.
Dave Taylor (Independent Calgary-Currie)
After an unsuccessful run for the Liberal leadership in 2009, Dave Taylor was not satisfied with the leadership of his rival David Swann and left the Liberal Opposition to sit as an Independent in April 2010. As one of the more effective opposition critics in the Liberal caucus, losing Mr. Taylor likely cost the Official Opposition in media attention and also an MLA who held the support of many of his former talk radio hosts at the popular AM770 and 630CHED stations.
Cindy Ady (PC Calgary-Shaw)
Alberta’s Minister of Parks and Tourism rode the Alberta train as our province’s ambassador to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. While handing out White Cowboy hats and iPod Touches, Minister Ady made sure that Alberta was the topic of discussion for the international media and tourists traveling to the Olympic events in Whistler.
Gene Zwozdesky (PC Edmonton-Mill Creek)
Crowned as the “the Wizard of Zwoz” by the media, Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky was responsible for fixing the mess created and mend the fences destroyed by previous Minister Ron Liepert. Minister Zwozdesky has been more open and accessible than his predecessor, but the real challenge will be for him to actually deliver real improvements to a health care system that has been seen constant political interference and restructuring over the past twenty years.
Kyle Fawcett (PC Calgary-North Hill)
On the night of the October municipal election, the backbench Tory MLA who once described Premier Ed Stelmach as “a man of extraordinary vision,” also had a loose twitter finger. As the Purple Revolution swept his city, Mr. Fawcett tweeted that Calgarians had made a “Big Mistake” by electing Naheed Nenshi as Mayor.
Carl Benito (PC Edmonton-Mill Woods)
Where do I start? A broken promise to donate his entire salary to a scholarship fund for students in his constituency and blaming his wife for forgetting to pay his municipal property taxes. Mill Woods, your MLA is a real winner.
As far as international events go, it is hard to beat the size of the Olympic Games. Over 80 countries from across the world will be participating in the Winter sports event that kicked off in Vancouver last night.
With hundreds of millions of dollars likely being spent on wining and dining, it might feel like a drop in the bucket for the Province of Alberta to spend nearly $15 million dollars to promote the province to attendees, including the sponsorship of six Rocky Mountaineer train cars and the Alberta Pavilion.
Unparalleled comfort in the premier business networking venue at the Games.
The Rocky Mountaineer expense is billed by the Government of Alberta website as an opportunity to “provide the premier business networking venue at the Games” for only $499 for a round-trip ticket from Vancouver to Whistler. Who will be networking with the elite business Olympians of the world? Premier Ed Stelmach and eleven cabinet ministers will be there to wine, dine, and “offer guests unparalleled comfort” during their stay on the Alberta train! While experiencing this luxury, most passengers on the Alberta train this week would probably have a hard time believing that Alberta is in the midst of “tough economic times” and that just four short days ago, these 12 elected officials tabled a provincial budget that included the largest deficit in Alberta’s history.
Sending Premier Stelmach, Tourism Minister Cindy Ady, and Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett makes sense, but what of the other nine cabinet ministers? Are Albertans well served by covering the costs of sending eleven cabinet ministers to the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games? What business could Agriculture Minister Jack Hayden, Justice Minister Alison Redford, Housing Minister Jonathan Denis, or Finance Minster Ted Morton have at the Winter Olympic Games? I am sure the “unparalleled comfort” of the posh train cars will live up to its reputation, but is it really necessary to have half of Premier Stelmach’s cabinet on site?
As Graham Thomson pointed out in his Edmonton Journal column this morning, other PC MLAs will joining them, but “nobody in government seems to know exactly how many backbenchers are going.” I do not oppose Alberta having a presence at these games, but modesty is virtue our elected officials should not forget.
“I would rather have seen any kind of travel budget being spent in Alberta,” Smith said. “They’re communicating to the wrong people.”
When was the last time Alberta had a Premier who spent this kind of money to sincerely communicate with Albertans? I am not talking about fancy videos commercials, visits to the Rutherford Show, or hiring expensive advertising companies to brand new messages. I am talking about actually travelling across this province and holding open town hall meetings outside of a highly managed and artificial election environment.
This feeds the perception that our elected officials are only accessible to those with political power or business interests. When was the last time Alberta had a Premier who allowed himself to be publicly accessible to any Albertan, regardless of political persuasion or income-bracket? When was the last time a Premier of Alberta hopped aboard a train filled with ordinary people of Alberta?