Tag Archives: David Yurdiga

Justin Trudeau speaks to a large crowd of Liberal supporters at an 8am rally in Edmonton on Oct. 18, 2015.

Justin Trudeau rallies Alberta Liberals just like Notley did five months ago

While Canadians could be on track to elect the country’s first Liberal Party government since 2004, it looks like Albertans could remain firmly in the Conservative Party camp, even after Stephen Harper‘s decade-long reign in Ottawa. But while most of Alberta’s federal ridings are expected to produce large victories for Tory candidates when the votes are counted tomorrow night, a handful of ridings in Alberta’s two major cities could produce some interesting results.

Attracting crowds of 2,000 in Edmonton and 4,000 in Calgary today, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau spent the final day of the 11-week election campaign in western Canada. The excitement in the crowd was undeniable. It has been a long time since Alberta Liberals have had something to be excited about.

I don’t know what Trudeaumania felt like in 1968, but the energy at today’s rally in Edmonton rivalled the energy at Rachel Notley‘s 2,000 person rally in the final week of this year’s provincial election. And I bet if you polled the people at that Trudeau rally, I would expect that most will have enthusiastically voted for Ms. Notley’s New Democratic Party on May 5, 2015. It was that ability to unite moderate and progressive voters under her party’s banner that led to the NDP’s election victory earlier this year.

While many of those moderate voters may help re-elect the Alberta NDP in 2019, they were excited about the federal Liberals today. And with moderate and progressive voters still divided between the federal Liberals and NDP in Alberta, it remains likely that any gains in the province could be marginal.

But while hopes for an NDP government led by Tom Mulcair in Ottawa may have been dashed, for now, the NDP remain well-positioned to elect two Members of Parliament in Edmonton, the epicentre of Ms. Notley’s orange wave. Two-term NDP MP Linda Duncan is expected to be re-elected in Edmonton-Strathcona. The NDP have also poured plenty of energy and resources in the campaign in Edmonton-Griesbach, where a two-way race has pitted NDP candidate Janis Irwin against former one-term city councillor Kerry Diotte.

Back at the rally, where the crowd of Liberals cheered enthusiastically for the Edmonton area Liberal candidates on stage, the largest cheers were for Trudeau and Amarjeet Sohi, the popular city councillor running for election in Edmonton-Mill Woods (where the rally was held). During his speech, Mr. Trudeau focused on some of the issues that Mr. Sohi has fought hard for on city council – like the much needed expansion of the LRT line to south east Edmonton.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson briefly entered the federal election fray earlier in the campaign when he criticized the federal Conservatives for not proposing new funding for Edmonton’s LRT system, while promising similar funding for projects in other cities. While his criticisms ruffled the delicate feathers of some local Conservatives, Mr. Iveson may find a more cooperative partner in a new federal government willing to invest in urban transportation infrastructure. And that kind of change is exciting.


Here is a list of some other Alberta ridings to watch on Election Night:

Calgary-Centre: Former Liberal MLA Kent Hehr is facing Conservative candidate Joan Crockatt, who was narrowly elected in a 2012 by-election.

Calgary-Confederation: Lawyer Matt Grant, running for the Liberals, faces former Progressive Conservative MLA Len Webber. Well-known former journalist Kirk Heuser is running for the NDP.

Calgary-Skyview: Former Liberal MLA Darshan Kang faces Conservative MP Devinder Shory.

Edmonton-Centre: A three-way race between Liberal Randy Boissonnault, New Democrat Gil McGowan and Conservative James Cumming.

Fort McMurray-Cold Lake: Liberal Kyle Harrietha and Conservative David Yurdiga face each other in a rematch from a closely fought 2014 by-election.


If you find yourself without an election night party tomorrow night, feel free to come down to the Metro Cinema (Garneau Theatre) and watch the coverage on a 30 foot theatre screen. While you watch the results, I will be talking politics on stage with Wab Kinew, Samantha Power, Drew Hayden Taylor and Mike Hudema. The event, part of Litfest, begins at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $10.

A sign in Calgary-Heritage, as part of NDP candidate Matt Masters' sendharperamessage.ca campaign.

Tuesday Morning Federal Election Updates from Alberta

Some of the latest from the federal election campaign trail in Alberta:

  • NDP leader Tom Mulcair will visit the Lethbridge riding this week to campaign alongside candidate Cheryl Meheden during his visit to Alberta. He will also speak at a rally in Calgary tonight. Mr. Mulcair is back in Alberta this week to participate in a Globe and Mail debate on Sept. 17.
  • Introduced by Health Minister Sarah Hoffman, Mr. Mulcair spoke to an estimated crowd of 1,700 supporters in Edmonton on Sept. 10.
  • Liberal leader Justin Trudeau made a campaign stop in Edmonton on Sept. 9 to rally a crowd of 1,500 supporters. During his visit, Mr. Trudeau promised additional funding for the southeast LRT to Mill Woods if the Liberals form government on Oct. 19.
  • Both Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Trudeau met briefly with Edmonton mayor Don Iveson during their visits.
  • For a $50.00 donation to Calgary-Heritage NDP candidate Matt Masters Burgener, anyone can place a custom message on a campaign-style lawn sign that will be placed near one of Conservative leader Stephen Harper‘s election signs.
  • The federal Liberals have chosen their final candidate in Alberta by nominating businessman Robert Prcic in Calgary-Nose Hill. Mr. Prcic earned 3.8 percent of the vote as the provincial Liberal candidate in the October 2014 Calgary-Foothills by-election.
  • The Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy has released projections of ten ridings that the NDP need to win to get the most seats and ten ridings the Liberals need to win to get out of third place. For the NDP, the list includes the Alberta riding of Edmonton-Manning, and for the Liberals, the list includes the ridings of Calgary-Centre and Edmonton-Centre.
  • ThreeHundredandEight.com is maintaining riding levels projections that show a handful of Alberta ridings in play during this federal election. As of Sept. 13, 2015, the projections show potential NDP wins in Edmonton-Griesbach, Edmonton-Manning, Edmonton-Strathcona and Lethbridge. The Liberals are projected to do well in Calgary-Centre, Calgary-Confederation, Calgary-Skyview and Edmonton-Centre.
  • A poll conducted by Mainstreet Technologies suggests the election in the new Fort McMurray-Cold Lake could be closer than last year’s by-election results in the old riding of Fort McMurray-Athabasca. The poll showed Conservative David Yurdiga with the support of 35 percent and Liberal Kyle Harrietha with 27 percent support. In the June 2014 by-election, Mr. Yurdiga only finished 11 points ahead of Mr. Harreitha in what was considered a very close race for this riding (in the 2011 election, former Conservative MP Brian Jean was re-elected with a margin of 58.6 percent).
Conservative MP David Yurdiga and Wildrose leader Brian Jean pose with volunteers.

Conservative MP backs Wildrose leader in Fort McMurray

Provincial Tories in northern Alberta are not pleased with Fort McMurray-Athabasca Conservative Member of Parliament David Yurdiga after he appeared in a photo on social media this weekend helping Wildrose leader Brian Jean and party volunteers assemble election signs [see photo above].

Don Scott MLA Fort McMurray Conklin

Don Scott

Mr. Jean is the former MP for the area and is currently running against PC MLA and Innovation and Advanced Education Minister Don Scott in the Fort McMurray-Conklin constituency.

Facing a strong challenge from federal Liberal candidate Kyle Harreitha in the 2014 by-election, Mr. Yurdiga’s campaign received a last minute endorsement from PC leadership candidate, and now Premier, Jim Prentice. Mr. Yurdiga’s support for Mr. Jean is sure to have raised the ire of Mr. Prentice’s inner circle.

Mr. Harreitha will once again challenge Mr. Yurdiga in the October 2015 federal election in the newly redrawn Fort McMurray-Cold Lake constituency.

Kyle Harrietha Liberal Fort McMurray alberta

Kyle Harrietha

Mr. Yurdiga’s by-election campaign manager, Kim Farwell also tweeted a photo of volunteers helping Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater Wildrose candidate Travis Olson build campaign signs. Mr. Olson is running against PC MLA Jeff Johnson, who also endorsed Mr. Yurdiga in the 2014 by-election.

According to Elections Alberta financial disclosures, Mr. Yurdiga also made a $900 donation to the Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater Wildrose constituency association in 2014.

A deep divide between the federal Conservatives and provincial PCs emerged during the 2012 provincial election when a number of Conservative MPs actively campaigned for Wildrose candidates in their areas of the province. The ascension of former Ottawa cabinet minister Mr. Prentice to the PC leadership and mass floor-crossing of Wildrose MLAs was expected to erase the divide.

Mr. Yurdiga later tweeted that he also planned to help out PC candidates in his riding.

Top 10 moments in Alberta Politics in 2014

In my nearly ten years writing about politics in Alberta on this blog, 2014 was easily the most exciting. The sheer number of scandals, controversies, fumbles and resignations made for new content on a daily basis. If I had the time and resources, I could have easily written three or four posts a day for most of the year. As this year comes to an end, I took a look through this year’s posts and compiled a list of the top ten political moments in Alberta of 2014. Thank you for reading and enjoy the list.

Rob Anders Bow River Conservative MP

Rob Anders

10. Take a hike, Rob Anders
After 17 years as one of the most hyper-conservative politicians in Ottawa, Member of Parliament Rob Anders was finally shown the door by Conservative Party members. In April 2014, Mr. Anders lost a hotly contested Conservative Party nomination race in Calgary-Signal Hill to former Progressive Conservative MLA Ron Liepert. His second attempt at a nomination was in the rural riding of Bow River outside Calgary, where Mr. Anders was defeated by Brooks Mayor Martin Shields.

Merwan Saher

Merwan Saher

9. Auditor General on Climate Change
A July 2014 report from Auditor General Merwan Saher found no evidence that the Department of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development properly monitored the performance of the PC Government’s climate change strategy, which was first implemented in 2008. The report uncovered serious problems with the province’s expensive Carbon Capture and Storage strategy. Mr. Saher’s report found that the total emissions reductions from the CCS program was expected to be less than 10% of what was originally anticipated. The Auditor General also reported that Alberta was unlikely to meet its 2020 targets to reduce carbon emissions.

Laurie Blakeman MLA Edmonton Centre Liberal

Laurie Blakeman

8. Gay-Straight Alliances debate
What if politicians could stop school kids from starting clubs? A motion supporting Gay-Straight Alliances introduced by Liberal Party MLA Kent Hehr was defeated in April 2014 and a private members’ bill introduced by Liberal Laurie Blakeman in November 2014 derailed the PC agenda for the fall sitting. The debate showed rifts in the PC and Wildrose caucus and Jim Prentice’s ill conceived Bill 10 in response to Ms. Blakeman’s Bill 202 led to his first big fumble as Premier.

Dave Hancock MLA Edmonton-Whitemud

Dave Hancock

7. Dave Hancock appointed Premier
Long-time PC cabinet minister Dave Hancock was appointed Premier and interim leader of the PC Party following the resignation of Alison Redford in March 2014. A self-described policy-wonk, Mr. Hancock may have flourished under more agreeable circumstances, but most of his short time as premier was focused on undoing the damage inflicted by his predecessor. During his six months in office, Mr. Hancock’s government oversaw major collective agreement settlements with the United Nurses of Alberta and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and invited the R.C.M.P. to investigate Ms. Redford’s travel habits. A surprising amount of his time in office was overshadowed by a silly and politically motivated plan to remove the “Wild Rose Country” slogan from Alberta’s license plate.

Rachel Notley Edmonton MLA Strathcona NDP

Rachel Notley

6. Ready for Rachel
After ten years as leader of Alberta’s New Democratic Party, Edmonton MLA Brian Mason announced he would step down from the party’s top job. A leadership race ensued and MLA Rachel Notley won a decisive victory over fellow MLA David Eggen and labour activist Rod Loyola. Expectations are high for the new NDP leader, as polls show her party’s support has surged in Edmonton in recent months.

Kyle Harrietha Liberal Fort McMurray alberta

Kyle Harrietha

5. Liberal near win in Fort McMurray-Athabasca
What should have been a sleepy federal by-election in the heart of Alberta’s Oil Belt turned into a race when Liberal Kyle Harrietha challenged Conservative David Yurdiga for the June 30, 2014 vote to replace retiring MP Brian Jean. Running an energetic campaign, Mr. Harrietha increased his party’s support from 10% in 2011 to 35.3%, placing less than 1,500 votes behind Mr. Yurdiga. The Liberal also defeated his Tory challenger in Fort McMurray, no small feat in the land of the oil sands. The two candidates will face off once again in the new Fort McMurray-Cold Lake riding when the next federal election is held in 2015.

Stephen Mandel Edmonton

Stephen Mandel

4. The October mini-election
Four by-elections on October 27, 2014 provided Albertans with a mini-election less than two months after Mr. Prentice became premier. Triggered by the resignations of former premiers Ms. Redford and Mr. Hancock and PC MLAs Ken Hughes and Len Webber, the votes allowed Mr. Prentice to win a seat in the Assembly along with PC candidates Stephen Mandel, Gordon Dirks and Mike Ellis. The opposition Wildrose had hoped to win at least two of the by-elections, but were upstaged by the NDP in Edmonton-Whitemud and an insurgent Alberta Party in Calgary-Elbow.

Jim Prentice Premier Alberta

Jim Prentice

3. Jim Prentice becomes Premier
After a first-ballot victory in a lack-lustre and uninspiring leadership contest, Jim Prentice started his time in office with a bang. After being sworn-in, Mr. Prentice implemented a swift de-Redfordization agenda, with daily announcements undoing some of his predecessors more unpopular policies and decisions. Purging Redford era cabinet ministers, selling the government’s fleet of aircraft, keeping the Michener Centre open, backing down from controversial changes to public sector pension plans and cancelling the botched license plate redesign were all no-brainers, but they projected an image of the new premier as a competent chief executive in command. Arguably, Mr. Prentice’s only missteps in his first few months in office were his aborted Gay-Straight Alliances bill and the unease caused after he tactfully dismantled the Official Opposition (see #2 below). Despite his success in distancing himself from Ms. Redford, the main thrust of Mr. Prentice’s government – promoting pipelines and the oil sands abroad – remains the same as hers.

Danielle Smith Wildrose PC MLA

Danielle Smith

2. Wildrose floor crossings
For four years, PCs told Albertans not to trust those kooky and scary Wildrosers. At the same time, the Wildrosers told Albertans not to trust those crooked and corrupt PCs. But in November and December 2014, Mr. Prentice’s PC Caucus accepted 11 Wildrose MLAs into their ranks, including Official Opposition leader Danielle Smith. The caucus merger, which was either in negotiations for months or sparked by the Wildrose by-election loss (depending on which story you believe), was encouraged by Conservative Godfather Preston Manning (Mr. Manning later apologized for his role). The floor crossing gutted the Official Opposition, left with 5 MLAs and enraged Wildrose supporters, who started a “Recall Danielle” campaign in her Highwood constituency. Five-term Calgary MLA Heather Forsyth stepped in as interim leader until a permanent leader can be chosen in 2015.

Alison Redford Premier of Alberta resigns 1

Alison Redford resigned as Premier of Alberta on March 23, 2014.

1. The spectacular fall of Alison Redford
Mistakes were made” were some of the last public words Albertans heard from premier Alison Redford before she resigned as MLA for Calgary-Elbow in August 2014. Albertans have never seen a political career crash and burn this badly. A $45,000 flight to South Africa, use of the government plane to return from Palm Springs, alleged fake passenger bookings to ensure her and her staff had the planes to themselves, a secretly constructed private penthouse known as the Skypalace, and long trips to exotic destinations overseas are just some of the allegations of misuse of power she faced prior to her resignation. Months after her resignation, the Auditor General reported the existence of an “aura of power around Premier Redford and her office.”

Alberta’s first woman premier started her time in office with great promise and many Albertans believed she signalled the beginning of a new, more progressive, era in our province. Ms. Redford quickly proved those believers wrong with deep funding cuts to colleges and universities and attacks on public sector workers and their collective bargaining rights.

In the end, plummeting fundraising returns, bad polling numbers, MLA defections, and a caucus and party on the verge of revolt forced Ms. Redford to step down as Premier of Alberta and Leader of the PC Party on March 23, 2014.

Have I missed any of your top 10 moments in Alberta politics? Please share what made your list in the comment section.

Parties gear up for federal election 2015 – Alberta nominations update

Prime Minister Stephen Harper poses with some of the Conservative Party's newly acclaimed Alberta candidates (disclaimer: Candidates might actually be humans dressed in horse costumes).

Prime Minister Stephen Harper poses with recently acclaimed Conservative Party candidates (disclaimer: Candidates may actually be humans dressed in horse costumes).

Aside from recent updates about Kent Hehr running in Calgary-Centre and Darshan Kang running in Calgary-Skyview, it has been a while since I have published an update to accompany the list of candidate nominations for the next federal election, expected to be held in 2015. So, without further ado, let me present you the latest update:

Jim Hillyer Conservative Lethbridge Medicine Hat

Jim Hillyer

The Lethbridge -> Medicine Hat Shuffle
Almost as soon as Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne announced that he will retire at the next election, neighbouring MP Jim Hillyer jumped into the nomination race to replace him. The controversial Mr. Hillyer, who has represented the Lethbridge riding since 2011, had initially announced he would run against Mr. Payne for the Conservative nomination in the redrawn Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner, but  was then sternly directed by his Ottawa bosses not to challenge a fellow MP. But once Mr. Payne announced his retirement, Mr. Hillyer jumped back into the Medicine Hat race.

As a nomination challenger, he faces Dan Hein, the former president of the local Conservative association and former the campaign manager for Mr. Payne in 2011.

Meanwhile, the NDP have nominated Cheryl Meheden in Lethbridge. That party did particularly well in the last election as the NDP candidate in 2011 earned 13,097 votes (27% of the total votes cast). Ms. Meheden is a former University of Lethbridge management instructor and former board chair for Economic Development Lethbridge. 

Kyle Harrietha Liberal Fort McMurray alberta

Kyle Harrietha

Fort McMurray-Cold Lake
Fresh off the by-election campaign trail in Fort McMurray-Athabasca, the Liberals are expected to nominate Kyle Harrietha as their candidate in their candidate in Fort McMurray-Cold Lake on July 26 (the current riding boundaries will change when the next federal election is called). Conservative Member of Parliament David Yurdiga is expected to be automatically acclaimed as his party’s candidate because of the recent by-election.

Bow River
City of Brooks mayor Martin Shields is seeking the Conservative nomination in this new southern Alberta riding. Evangelical talk-radio host Paul Arthur is also running for the nomination.

Edmonton-Centre
The Liberals will hold a nomination meeting on August 7, 2014 where party members will have their choice of three candidates – entrepreneur Randy Boissonnault and lawyers Don Padget and Harold Robinson.

Randy-Boissonnault Edmonton Centre Liberals

Randy Boissonnault

On July 15, Conservatives gathered for what was described as a “soft launch” event for James Cumming, President and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, in support of his potential campaign for the Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Centre. Current MP Laurie Hawn has announced his plans to retire at the next election.

Edmonton-Strathcona
 Liberal activist Wendy Butler, artist Heather Workman (aka Lady Dolphin), and lawyer Eleanor Olszewski are running for the Liberal nomination in this south central Edmonton riding. Lawyer and Edmonton-Gold Bar Progressive Conservative association president Len Thom is seeking the Conservative nomination. The riding has been represented by NDP MP Linda Duncan since 2008.

Edmonton-Riverbend
On May 5, Valerie Kennedy was acclaimed as the Green Party candidate in Edmonton-Riverbend. Ms. Kennedy was the Green Party candidate in Edmonton-Leduc in 2011. where she earned 2,896 votes (4.87% of the votes cast).

Nicole Van Kuppenveld Conservative Fort Saskatchewan Sherwood Park Election

Nicole van Kuppenveld

Edmonton-West
Local hotel manager Kelly McCauley has jumped into the Conservative contest in this new west Edmonton riding. Before moving to Edmonton, Mr. McCauley was the president of the Victoria Conservative association. He now faces Edmonton-McClung PC MLA David Xiao and Edmonton Police Constable Brad Rutherford for the nomination.

Edmonton-Wetaskiwin
MP Mike Lake defeated Leduc County mayor John Whaley for the Conservative nomination in this new mostly-south of Edmonton riding. A third candidate, Mohinder Banga was disqualified shortly before the nomination vote was held.

Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan
Four candidates are contesting the Conservative nomination in this new east-of-Edmonton riding. Past Wildrose candidate Garnett Genuis Bee Clean Building Maintenance vice president Randy Moore, Telus employee and retired Canadian Forces Major Joe Theberge, and 2013 Strathcona County municipal candidate Nicole van Kuppeveld.

And a whole swath of Alberta Conservative MPs have been acclaimed as candidates in the next election: Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Calgary-Heritage, Devinder Shory in Calgary-Skyview, Chris Warkentin in Grande Prairie,  Kevin Sorenson in Battle River-Crowfoot, Earl Dreeshen in Red Deer-Mountain View, Blaine Calkins in Red Deer-Wolf Creek, Rona Ambrose in Sturgeon River, and Jason Kenney in Calgary-Midnapore.

NEP what? Trudeau Liberals dominate Oil Capital Fort McMurray

Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was once despised in Alberta. This doesn't appear to be the case for this son, Justin.

Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was once despised in Alberta. This doesn’t appear to be the case for this son, Justin.

Preliminary results from last week’s Fort McMurray-Athabasca by-election show that federal Liberal candidate Kyle Harrietha dominated in the industrial capital of Canada’s oil economy.

According to an initial breakdown of the results by polling station, Mr. Harrietha earned 46% of the votes cast (2,560 votes) in the northern region the riding on June 30, 2014, which includes the Municipal District of Wood Buffalo, Fort McMurray, Fort Chipewyan and Wabasca.

Kyle Harrietha Liberal Fort McMurray alberta

Kyle Harrietha

The winner of the by-election, Conservative David Yurdiga, earned 36% (2,012 votes) in the same area and NDP candidate Lori McDaniel garnered 11% (660 votes). Mr. Yurdiga solidified his win across the riding in the southern reaches, where he won 57% of the vote in the more traditionally Conservative voting Athabasca, Slave Lake, High Prairie and Lac La Biche. In the south, Mr. Harrietha trailed with 23% of the votes cast on election day and Ms. McDaniel earned 12%.

It should be earth-shattering that a Liberal candidate could win more votes in Fort McMurray than the Conservatives, especially considering Mr. Harrietha’s campaign was bolstered by multiple visits from Justin TRUDEAU.

Justin Trudeau Alberta

Justin Trudeau

A diverse population, a strong Liberal candidate, grievances with the federal government’s lack of investment in public infrastructure and an unknown Conservative candidate certainly contributed to the results. But perhaps we have finally reached a point in our history when the long-cancelled National Energy Program and deceased boogyman Pierre Trudeau, vilified by Conservatives for decades, are now part of an antiquated national mythology, like the log driver or the Social Credit Party.

Regardless of the low voter turnout, which is a concern for anyone interested in a healthy democracy, it cannot be ignored that droves of Conservative voters chose to stay home rather than vote for their party’s candidate.

Perhaps realizing that the Conservative’s tiresome fear ads targeting the likeable younger Mr. Trudeau have not had their desired effect, the Ottawa Tories are now claiming Canada is “Better with Harper” as Prime Minister. After eight years in government, the Tories have become arrogant and too comfortable in Ottawa.

Mr. Harper likes to brag about his party’s support of the oil sands and the energy industry, but perhaps that Fort McMurrayites turned to a Trudeau in this by-election will also convince him to also support the community of people who call the region home.

A closer look at the Fort McMurray-Athabasca and Macleod by-elections

Conservative candidates were elected in two federal by-elections yesterday in Alberta. This is an event which would normally not be a source for much commentary, but there are some interesting points to be made from the outcome of these two by-elections.

Fort McMurray Athabasca Federal By-Election Results 2014

Unofficial results of the 2014 federal by-election in Fort McMurray-Athabasca.

Conservatives hold, but support shrinks
In Fort McMurray-Athabasca, Conservative David Yurdiga was elected with 5,945 votes (47% of the vote), significantly lower than the landslide 21,988 votes (71.8% of the vote) earned by former MP Brian Jean in the 2011 general election. The regional breakdown of the votes could provide some interesting insight into this by-election, as Mr. Yurdiga hails from the voter-rich southern limits of this large rural riding.

In Macleod, John Barlow was elected with 12,394 votes (68%), only slightly lower than the 77% earned by MP Ted Menzies in 2011.

Liberals back in second place
The Liberals dislodged the official opposition New Democratic Party as the main challenger to the Conservatives in both ridings. Strong local campaigns as well as a boost from Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who visited the ridings numerous times during the by-elections, likely contributed to these results.

Fort McMurray-Athabasca Liberal Kyle Harrietha placed a strong second with 35.3% of the vote (4,491 votes), up from his party’s 10% in the 2011 general election. While the Liberals were not able to pull off a win, they should not be disappointed with their level of support. Percentage wise, this is the strongest a non-conservative candidate has placed in this riding since 1980.

In Macleod, Liberal Dustin Fuller earned 17% of the vote (3,062 votes), up from his party’s distant 3.6% fourth place finish in the 2011 general election.

Macleod federal by-election results 2014

Unofficial results from the 2014 federal by-election in Macleod.

Low voter turnout
Voter turnout was abysmally low. Only 15.19% of registered voters cast a ballot in Fort McMurray-Athabasca and 19.59% voted in Macleod. Although by-elections traditionally attract low voter turnout, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s choice to schedule the voting day between a weekend and Canada Day likely contributed to the low participation.

On Canada Day, we should reflect on how voter participation strengthens our democracy and the consequences of ignoring our country’s political and electoral process.

A Liberal win in Fort McMurray-Athabasca would send shockwaves to Ottawa

Kyle Harrietha Justin Trudeau Fort McMurray Athabasca Liberal

Fort McMurray-Athabasca Liberal candidate Kyle Harrietha with Justin Trudeau.

On Monday, June 30, voters in four federal ridings across Canada, including Alberta’s Fort McMurray-Athabasca and Macleod, have an opportunity to choose their next Member of Parliament. Paying close attention to a by-election campaign may not be the most thrilling activity to occupy your time during the summer months, but it is an important one.

Voters in southern Alberta’s Macleod riding are expected to march into the ballot box and elect Conservative John Barlow as their next MP, but the race in the vast northern riding of Fort McMurray-Athabasca could produce much more interesting results after the polls close at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow.

While the opposition parties have written off the area in the past, it is hard to make that argument in 2014. Kyle Harrietha has run the strongest Liberal campaign the riding has seen in a generation, and has been boosted by leader Justin Trudeau, who has visited the riding three times since Conservative MP Brian Jean resigned in January 2014.

Lori McDaniel Linda Duncan NDP Fort McMurray Athabasca

NDP candidate Lori McDaniel with Edmonton NDP MP Linda Duncan

New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair had been scheduled to visit the riding and campaign alongside Lori McDaniel during the by-election but cancelled his planned trip to attend the funeral of the three murdered R.C.M.P. officers in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, still leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, was nowhere to be seen during this by-election.

While national issues like the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, the Temporary Foreign Workers Program and the ongoing environmental debates about climate change and the impact of Oil Sands development, are sure the play a role in how voters decide to cast their ballots, Tip O’Neill‘s well-known saying “all politics is local” will certainly be a factor in this by-election.

Fort McMurray is a booming community where there are serious concerns about the lagging pace of infrastructure investment from the provincial and federal governments. The pace of economic growth sparked a huge influx of diverse migrants from across Canada and the globe.

While the region is an economic engine for the country, residents I have spoken with feel their community has been forgotten, or just plain ignored, by the higher levels of government.

Federal cabinet minister Kellie Leitch campaigned with Conservative candidate David Yurdiga in Fort McMurray this week.

Federal cabinet minister Kellie Leitch campaigned with Conservative candidate David Yurdiga in Fort McMurray in May 2014.

Conservative candidate David Yurdiga has played a peekaboo campaign, skipping all-candidates debates and not engaging with voters on social media (he has been accused of “blocking” local voters who have criticized him on Twitter). He hails from the voter-rich southern reaches of the riding in Athabasca County, which faces some similar and many different issues than the industrial oil capital to the north.

In the south, Mr. Yurdiga has received the endorsements of Wildrose MLA Shayne Saskiw and embattled provincial Education Minister Jeff Johnson.

As Canadians have witnessed many times in the past, by-elections pose a risk to incumbent governments, as they give voters an opportunity to send a strong message of approval or disapproval to Ottawa without changing who is in power.

Former Conservative MP Mr. Jean was re-elected in 2011 with a 17,935 vote margin of victory over his closest challenger. If Mr. Yurdiga is elected with even a significantly smaller margin, voters will send a message that will quickly be forgotten in Ottawa. If voters in this riding elect Mr. Harrietha tomorrow, they will send shockwaves through the comfortable Conservative establishment in the nation’s capital.

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.

Harper endorses Rob Anders and more nomination updates

With Dave Hancock being sworn-in as the 15th Premier of Alberta and speculation running rampant about who will replace him in four to six months, I thought now would be a good opportunity to provide a quick update about nominations for federal election candidates in Alberta.

Calgary-Signal Hill

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and MP Rob Anders.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and MP Rob Anders.

In what could be a deciding factor in one of Calgary most hotly contested Conservative Party nomination races, Member of Parliament Rob Anders has posted on his website an endorsement from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Here is the audio from a robocall placed by Mr. Anders’ campaign to Conservative Party members in Calgary-Signal Hill announcing Mr. Harper’s endorsement:

One of Canada’s most offensive hyper-Conservatives, Mr. Anders is facing a stiff nomination challenge in the new Calgary-Signal Hill from former Calgary MLA and provincial cabinet minister Ron Liepert.

Mr. Harper’s endorsement is sure to inflame supporters of Mr. Liepert, who will be quick to point out how unusual it is for leader of a party to openly endorse a candidate in a contested nomination race.

Moderate Tories have tried for 17 years to grab the nomination from Mr. Anders, sending high-profile candidates like Alison Redford, Jocelyn Burgener and Donna Kennedy-Glans to run against him, to no avail.

Fort McMurray-Athabasca
Unlike the raucous Conservative by-election nomination race in Macleod, the contest to choose the next Conservative candidate in northeastern Alberta’s Fort McMurray-Athabasca is a sleepy affair. As of this morning, only Fort McMurray lawyer Arlan Delisle and Athabasca County councillor David Yurdiga have entered the Conservative nomination race.

Today, March 24, is the deadline for candidates to enter the Conservative Party nomination contest and the cutoff for membership sales is March 31, 2014.

Lewis Cardinal Edmonton NDP

Lewis Cardinal

Edmonton-Centre
On March 26, Edmonton-Centre’s Lewis Cardinal is expected to be acclaimed as the first New Democratic Party candidate nominated for the 2015 federal general election. The nomination meeting will take place in the lobby of the Winspear Centre and will leader Thomas Mulcair and a handful of NDP MPs from across the country. The lobby of the Winspear is a memorable place for many local New Democrats, who remember when Jack Layton used the venue to host a large and energy-filled election campaign rally in 2008.

No candidates have yet to step forward for the Conservative nomination since MP Laurie Hawn announced his resignation on March 9, 2014. Three candidates – Randy BoissonnaultHarold Robinson and Don Padget – are seeking the Liberal Party nomination.

Edmonton-Mill Woods
Varinder Bhullar 
has announced that he will seek the Liberal Party nomination in the new Edmonton-Mill Woods riding.

Edmonton-Wetaskiwin
When Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont MP Mike Lake decided to seek the Conservative nomination in the new Edmonton-Wetaskiwin riding, he was taking a gamble. Mr. Lake, who lives a south Edmonton neighbourhood included in the new riding now facing the challenge of winning a nomination in a riding where 75% of the new territory is new ground. Well-respected in Edmonton, he is now facing a challenge from Leduc County mayor John Whaley and Edmonton police officer Mohinder Banga.

Lethbridge
First-term MP Jim Hillyer is facing two challengers for the Conservative nomination in the new Lethbridge riding. With Mr. Hillyer cut-off from his base of support in the southern half of the former Lethbridge riding, Doug McArthur and Alex Hann hope to replace him as the Tory candidate.

Red Deer-Mountain View
MP Earl Dreeshen has announced his plans to seek the Conservative nomination in the new Red Deer-Mountain View riding. Mr. Dreeshen has represented the current Red Deer riding since 2008.

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.

Interesting federal nomination races emerging across Alberta

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.

Interesting nomination races are emerging across Alberta as parties prepare to choose candidates to run in the next federal election, slated for October 2015. Below are some of the most recent updates from ridings across the province, where candidates are seeking nominations to run in two by-elections and the general election.

By-elections

Macleod
Conservative Party members will choose their candidate at nomination meetings in Pincher Creek on March 6, Claresholm on March 7 and Okotoks on March 8. Five candidates remain in the contest after Rick Waljamaa withdrew from the race. The remaining candidates include John Barlow, Melissa Mathieson, Phil Rowland, and Scott Wagner. Firearms lobby groups and conservative media pundits have intervened to ensure that guns have become the dominant issue of the campaign.

Fort McMurray-Athabasca
First out of the gate, Kyle Harrietha announced that he is seeking the Liberal nomination to run in the impending by-election. Mr. Harrietha is a former Ottawa staffer and worked in Fort McMurray as the program manager of the Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA). He now works as General Manager of Fort McMurray Métis Local 1935.

The NDP have recruited their first nomination candidate in Lori McDaniel, a Suncor employee and health and safety representative for Unifor Local 707A. Ms. McDaniel announced her plans as NDP leader Thomas Mulcair visited Fort McMurray last week.

Three-term councillor and former Athabasca County reeve David Yurdiga is the first candidate to enter the Conservative Party nomination contest. Mr. Yurdiga currently represents the Grasslands area, which will become part of the new Lakeland riding when the next general election is called and the new Fort McMurray-Cold Lake riding is created. The current boundaries will remain the same when the by-election is held.

General Election 2015

Banff-Airdrie
Incumbent Conservative MP Blake Richards will seek his party’s nomination in the new Banff-Airdrie riding. Mr. Richards has represented the current Wild Rose riding since 2006.

iPolitics.ca
is reporting that Marlo Raynolds is seeking the Liberal Party nomination in the new Banff-Airdrie riding. Mr. Raynolds is the former executive director of the Pembina Institute and spoke at last weekend’s federal Liberal Party convention in Montreal on the topic of cities and infrastructure investment. He currently serves Vice-President of Market Development for BluEarth Renewables.

Edmonton-Greisbach
Six Five candidates have stepped up to run for the NDP nomination in this east central Edmonton riding. Candidates include Canadian Labour Congress representative Amanda Freistadt, educator Janis Irwin, Cam McCormick, Namrata Gill, Bashir Mohamed and Zane Smith.

Edmonton-Riverbend
Five-term Conservative Member of Parliament James Rajotte plans to seek his party’s nomination in the new Edmonton-Riverbend riding. He has represented southwest Edmonton since 2000.

Edmonton-Wetaskiwin
Three-term Conservative MP Mike Lake has announced his plans to seek the Conservative nomination in the new Edmonton-Wetaskiwin riding. Mr. Lake has represented Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont since 2006 and lives in the south portion of Edmonton that will be included in the new riding. He will face Mohinder Banga for the Conservative nomination.

For up-to-date nomination news, follow the list of Alberta Federal Election candidates.