Tag Archives: Don Koziak

Edmonton Election Results – A big Iveson landslide and few City Council surprises

Photo: Don Iveson celebrates his re-election victory with his family (photo: Twitter)

As expected, Don Iveson was re-elected Mayor of Edmonton in a huge landslide with 141,182 votes – 72 percent of the total votes cast in that race – increasing his total vote count from the 2013 election. Placing a very, very distant second was perennial candidate and pro-smoker advocate Don Koziak, who earned 6.7 percent.

Jon Dziadyk Edmonton City Council Ward 3

Jon Dziadyk

Of the City Council races, the most notable ended up being the surprise defeat of incumbent councillor Dave Loken in Ward 3, who was unseated by Jon Dziadyk by 464 votes. Karen Principe placed a strong third-place in this race. Loken, who was running for his third-term on council, becomes the first incumbent councillor to lose re-election since Don Iveson defeated Mike Nickel in 2007.

In neighbouring Ward 7, Kris Andreychuk ran an incredible first-time campaign placing 165 votes behind three-term councillor Tony Caterina. Caterina saw his share of the vote drop from 42 percent in 2013 to 33 percent in this year’s election.

Three new councillors were elected in Wards without incumbents. In Ward 4, Aaron Paquette finished first in a twelve-person race with 23 percent of the vote. Sarah Hamilton earned 35 percent of the vote in a nine-person race in Ward 5 to succeed retiring one-term councillor Michael Oshry. And in Ward 9, Tim Cartmell was elected with 41 percent of the vote over four challengers.

Sarah Hamilton Ward 5 Edmonton

Sarah Hamilton

Running what appeared to be a stealth re-election campaign in Ward 8, three-term Councillor Ben Henderson was re-elected with 36 percent of the vote. This is a 38 percent drop in support from 2013, when he was re-elected with 74 percent of the vote. Challengers Kirsten Goa placed second with 22 percent, James Kosowan with 19 percent and Eli Schrader with 11 percent.

In the Public School Board races, Michael Janz was re-elected in a landslide in Ward F. With 15,671 votes and 71.4 percent of the total vote, Janz earned the most votes of any trustee and council candidate and the highest percentage of any candidate in this election except Don Iveson.

In Ward C, Shelagh Dunn earned 45 percent of the vote, unseating incumbent Orville Chubb, who earned 18 percent of the vote. In Ward D, former CBC broadcaster Trisha Estabrooks was elected with 44 percent.

In Ward G, Bridget Stirling appeared to be in a tough race for re-election, but she defeated conservative activist Tyler Duce by a 33 percent margin. Duce’s campaign had broadcast a robocall endorsement from former Edmonton-Gold Bar MLA David Dorward in the final weekend of the campaign.

And in Calgary, Naheed Nenshi appears to have been re-elected as mayor, despite recent polls that showed him 13-points behind challenger Bill Smith.

I will have more analysis of the results and what they could mean for the next four years tomorrow (after I get some sleep).

Cast of fringe candidates line up to challenge Don Iveson for the mayor’s chair

Photo: Don Iveson (standing centre-right) with mayoral challengers Fahad Mughal, Bob Ligertwood, Don Koziak and Carla Frost (sitting left to right). Photo source: screenshot of CBC online video

Any illusions that we could see a mayoral horserace in 2017 were extinguished at yesterday’s lunch-hour mayoral all-candidates forum.

Delivering their four minute introductory speeches in front of a group of roughly 120 people in the cavernous Shaw Conference Centre, it became fairly clear, fairly quickly, that none of the 12 candidate challenging Don Iveson in next month’s election have the skills, experience or even temperament to be a successful mayor.

For the most part, the challengers delivered incoherent remarks, with many focusing on fringe issues that may have an audience on the internet, but don’t appear to have much traction off-screen. While some of them are earnest in their bids, the lack of experience and familiarity on municipal issues among the challengers was apparent.

Iveson’s most high-profile challenger, perennial candidate Don Koziak, was unable to deliver a coherent speech in the four minutes made available to him. Instead, Koziak clumsily reminisced about the issues from his previous unsuccessful campaigns for city council without touching on his thoughts on the issues in this election, aside from bizarrely musing that “there will always be homeless people because there will always be people lining up for free homes.”

Two of the candidates, Carla Frost and Bob Ligertwood, had a weird confrontation on stage. An official from the Elections office apparently gave them a talking-to off stage before the speeches began.

Fahad Mughal, who was the first candidate to enter the race against Iveson, was likely the best prepared of the challengers, though his campaign promises and criticisms of the incumbent do little to actually differentiate himself from the pack. I feel that Mughal could have a future in municipal politics, perhaps as a City Council candidate in 2021.

If first impressions matter the most, the 12 candidates challenging Iveson should be thankful there were only 120 people in the room watching the speeches, because there was little to be impressed about.

For his part, Iveson does not appear to be taking the lack of serious challengers for granted. He and his team are campaigning and have released a series of policies dealing with energy transition and climate change, building design and transportation infrastructure, and transparency at City Hall.

Unless something major changes between now and October 16, 2017, Iveson should cruise to a sizeable re-election.

That said, if politics has been characterized by one thing in the last 5 years, it is that an even a very unlikely outcome is still always possible.


Mayoral candidates will take the stage again and be given a chance to answer questions at two upcoming forums sponsored by Elections Edmonton:

City-wide Mayoral Forum
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
6:30-9:30pm
Harry Ainlay Composite High School
4350-111 Street NW

City-wide Mayoral Forum
Wednesday, October, 11, 2017
6:30-9:30pm
Italian Cultural Center
14230-133 Avenue NW

Note: I am a supporter of Don Iveson and played an active volunteer role in his election campaigns for city council in 2007 and 2010 and his successful bid for mayor in 2013. I do not have an active role in his re-election campaign this year.


Edmonton Elections is organzing all-candidate forums in each of the city’s twelve wards and for the mayoral election and Edmonton’s Next Gen committee is organizing socials for young Edmontonians in advance of each of the council forums.

Nomination Day kicks off Edmonton’s 2017 Municipal Elections

Photo: Sarah Chan (left) and her husband, Mayor Don Iveson (right), at Nomination Day at Edmonton City Hall.

Dedicated citizens across Alberta gathered this morning in town halls and community centres to submit their nomination forms to become official candidates in this year’s municipal elections. In Edmonton, 132 candidates and their supporters stood in a line stretching through City Hall’s grand atrium in order to file their papers and officially start their bids for election.

For Edmonton, this represents a record number of candidates running for Mayor, City Council and the city’s two school boards.

Over the past year, I have maintained a list of declared nomination candidates for Council and the Public and Catholic school boards. This list is now updated to reflect the names of the candidates approved to run in the October 16, 2017 municipal elections.

On this year’s ballots, Edmontonians will see a few familiar faces and the names of many first time candidates. Three long-time local politicians will not be on the ballot this year. Longtime councillors Bryan Anderson and Ed Gibbons, and one-term councillor Michael Oshry, have decided to not seek re-election.

I will delve deeper into the candidates and the issues facing voters in this election in the weeks ahead, but here are a few initial observations about Nomination Day:

  • By my count, 48 of the 132 candidates running in Edmonton’s municipal elections are women. 13 of the 20 candidates running for the Edmonton Catholic School District are women. 11 of 28 candidates running for the Edmonton Public School Board are women. 24 of 84 Mayoral and City Council candidates are women. Equal Voice has an excellent analysis of the gender balance in this election on their website, yegparity.ca.
  • Mayor Don Iveson is being challenged by 12 candidates. Most recognizable among the challengers is perennial candidate Don Koziak. Koziak has run in at least nine municipal and provincial elections since 1995, including the mayoral race in 2007 and briefly in 2010, and as the Wildrose Party candidate in Edmonton-Glenora in 2012 and 2015.
  • Edmonton Public School Trustee Michelle Draper was acclaimed in Ward B. She is the only candidate in Edmonton to be acclaimed in this election.
  • The most crowded City Council race is in Ward 4, where 13 candidates are running to replace retiring Councillor Ed Gibbons. The least crowded City Council race is in Ward 2, where incumbent Councillor Bev Esslinger is facing 2 challengers in her bid for re-election.

Here are a few of the photos from Nomination Day that I have posted on Flickr under Creative Commons licensing:

Aaron Paquette, candidate for Edmonton City Council in Ward 4.

Aaron Paquette, candidate for Edmonton City Council in Ward 4.

Bridget Stirling, candidate for Edmonton Public School Board in Ward G.

Bridget Stirling, candidate for Edmonton Public School Board in Ward G.

Kris Andreychuk (right) and his family. Kris is running for Edmonton City Council in Ward 7.

Kris Andreychuk (right) and his family. Kris is running for Edmonton City Council in Ward 7.

Michael Janz, candidate for Edmonton Public School Board in Ward F.

Michael Janz, candidate for Edmonton Public School Board in Ward F.

Laura Thibert, candidate for the Edmonton Catholic School Board in Ward 77.

Laura Thibert, candidate for the Edmonton Catholic School Board in Ward 77.

Ahmed Knowmadic Ali, candidate for Edmonton Public School Board in Ward A.

Ahmed Knowmadic Ali, candidate for Edmonton Public School Board in Ward A.

Edmonton City Councillor Michael Oshry

Let’s end the myth of partisan-free city council elections

We need to keep politics out of elections: That sums up recent comments made by Edmonton City Councillor Michael Oshry. The west Edmonton councillor has waded into the 32-candidate by-election race in southeast Edmonton’s Ward 12, questioning the decision of some MLAs to endorse candidates in the municipal contest.

Mr. Oshry’s comments have sparked a resurgence of the popular and misinformed myth that “there is no partisan politics in municipal elections.”

It is natural for politically engaged people to be involved in elections for different levels of government. In fact, the most successful campaigns I have been involved in at a municipal level have attracted organizers and volunteers from a variety of partisan loyalties. It is also not uncommon for municipal politicians to have party connections or the support of politicians from other levels of government. Despite this, no one is proposing to bring political parties back to city council, as existed in Edmonton until the late 1980s.

Like all municipal elections in Edmonton, a number of candidates running in the Ward 12 by-election have party affiliations or are being supported by individuals involved in party politics at the provincial and federal levels.

If partisan affiliations in provincial and federal elections or endorsements from provincial or federal politicians precluded citizens from running for political office, then a number of current city councillors, including Mr. Oshry, would be ineligible to serve.

  • Mr. Oshry was endorsed by St. Albert PC MLA Stephen Khan during the 2013 municipal election.
  • Councillor Tony Caterina ran as a PC candidate in the 2015 election and ran as an Alberta Alliance candidate in the 2004 provincial election.
  • Councillor Bev Esslinger was a PC candidate in 2012 election.
  • Councillor Ed Gibbons was a Liberal MLA from 1997 to 2001. In 2015, he donated $375.00 to the Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville PC Association and in 2007 and 2011 he donated $850 and $1,100 to the PC Party.
  • Mayor Don Iveson donated $250 to Linda Duncan’s election campaign in 2008, while he was city councillor.
  • Councillor Dave Loken campaigned for NDP candidate Janis Irwin in the 2015 federal election and donated more than $2,000 to the Alberta NDP between 2011 and 2014.
  • Councillor Mike Nickel is a former PC Party constituency director. In 2014, he donated $318.25 to the Leduc-Beaumont Wildrose Association and in 2005 he donated $600 to the PC Party.
  • Councillor Michael Walters was an Alberta Party candidate in the 2012 election and endorsed a PC candidate in the 2015 election. He also ran for an NDP nomination in 2000.

Here is a look back at some municipal politicians from the recent past who have had partisan affiliations:

  • Former mayor Stephen Mandel was a PC MLA from 2014 to 2015. He donated $3,000 to the PC Party between 2010 and 2012, while he was Mayor of Edmonton.
  • Former councillor Kim Krushell was a local PC Party constituency association president before being elected as a city councillor. In 2008, she donated $425 to the PC Party. She now serves as a regional director for the PC Party.
  • Former councillor Karen Leibovici was a Liberal MLA from 1993 to 2001 and a federal Liberal candidate in 2015. During her mayoral bid in 2013, she was endorsed by a handful of PC MLAs, including then-deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk and PC MLA David Xiao.
  • Former councillor Linda Sloan was a Liberal MLA from 1997 to 2001. She ran for the Liberal Party leadership in 1998.
  • Former councillor Jane Batty donated $425 to the PC Party in 2010.
  • Former councillor Wendy Kinsella ran as a PC candidate in the 2001 election, while she was still a sitting city councillor.
  • Former councillor Brian Mason was elected as an NDP MLA in a 2000 by-election. He is now Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation.
  • Perhaps the strangest example of partisan involvement in municipal politics was in 2007, when the Wildrose Party donated $250 to Kerry Diotte‘s city council campaign. This is the only example I have found of a political party actually donating money to a municipal election candidate.

These lists demonstrate that after more than four decades of PC governments in Alberta, support for the governing party became engrained in all levels of politics to the point where support for the PCs from municipal politicians was not seen as partisanship, just the way the business of politics was done.

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.

Wildrose leader Brian Jean (right) and Strathmore-Brooks candidate Derek Fildebrandt use a comically large arrow to point out tax increases to alcohol included in the PC Party's recent provincial budget.

Alberta Election Week 1: The Economy and Corporate Tax confusion

Recent polls show a three-way split in support between the Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic and Wildrose Parties have generated some interest in Alberta’s provincial election campaign but with 24 days left until voting day we can expect a lot to change. Here is a quick review of what the politicians were saying and political parties were spinning in the first week of this election campaign.

Progressive Conservatives
PC leader Jim Prentice launched his party's election campaign in Edmonton.

PC leader Jim Prentice launched his party’s election campaign in Edmonton.

Campaigning on issues related to the March 2015 provincial budget, Progressive Conservative leader Jim Prentice spent most of his week travelling around rural Alberta in his party’s campaign bus.

Mr. Prentice targeted his opponents as extremists while moderating his own tone around Alberta’s economy. Before the election was called, Mr. Prentice’s repeated doom-and-gloom messages led opposition critics to name him “Grim Jim.” The PCs are attempting to present Mr. Prentice as the balanced (a.k.a. safe) candidate, as opposed to the extremist (a.k.a. dangerous) leaders of the opposition.

The PCs promised to double the $17.4 billion Heritage Fund as part of a ‘ten year plan’ and Mr. Prentice repeated his pre-election statement that he would remove the provincial government’s dependence on natural resources revenues.

PC Social Media blitz

PC Social Media blitz

The recent provincial budget included almost sixty tax and fee increases, including increases to personal taxes but no increases to corporate taxes, which appears to have been a political miscalculation on the part of the PCs. The government’s own budget survey results showed 69% of Albertans support a corporate tax increase, a point the NDP has stressed.

PC MLAs and candidates took to social media to post different variations of a message that 8,900 jobs would be lost if corporate taxes were increased by 1%. It is unclear what study the 8,900 jobs number originates from.

Creating more confusion around corporate tax increases, a PC press release from April 9 stated ‘Prentice pointed out that more than 95% in Alberta are small businesses, employing fewer than 50 people, and questioned those who would put those jobs at risk with a corporate tax increase.” This is a good talking point, if not for the issue that small businesses do not pay corporate tax rates.

According to the Department of Finance website, small businesses earning $500,000 of less profit each year pay a separate 3% small business tax, not the 10% corporate tax applied to companies earning more than $500,000 in profit annually. The PCs dropped the corporate tax rate in Alberta from 15% in 2001 to the current 10% in 2006.

Edmonton Police are investigating bribery allegations made during the Edmonton-Ellerslie PC nomination contest and disqualified Edmonton-Decore PC nomination candidate Don Martin is suing the PC Party for $124,000 over bribery allegations. Dismissed nomination candidate Jamie Lall declared that he is running as an Independent candidate against PC MLA Bruce McAllister in Chestermere-Rockyview.

New Democratic Party
NDP leader Rachel Notley with Calgary candidates on April 8, 2015.

NDP leader Rachel Notley with Calgary candidates on April 8, 2015.

NDP leader Rachel Notley launched her party’s election campaign in Edmonton and travelled to Calgary and Lethbridge to campaign with candidates in those cities. It is notable that the NDP are focusing resources on candidates outside of Edmonton, where the party has traditionally been weak. Calgary-Fort candidate Joe CeciCalgary-Varsity candidate Stephanie McLean and Lethbridge-West candidate Shannon Phillips were prominently placed at Ms. Notley’s side during photo-ops at these stops

NDP messaging in the first week of the campaign focused on the economy. Ms. Notley announced the creation of a Job Creation Tax Credit for businesses as the first NDP election promise, providing balance from their calls for corporate tax increases. The credit sounds reasonable, but much like the PC Party’s 8,900 job loss argument, I am skeptical about this credit creating 27,000 new jobs. The NDP also announced that in-province refining and upgrading is also a top priority. Before the election was called, Ms. Notley’s unveiled her party’s plans to create a Resource Owners’ Rights Commission.

The NDP responded to Mr. Prentice’s “extremist” claims with an “extremist of the week” press release quoting former Premier Peter Lougheed’s support of increased corporate taxes and former Deputy Premier (and current PC candidate) Thomas Lukaszuk support for in-province refining and upgrading.

Ms. Notley was also a guest on this week’s #abvote Google Hangout.

Wildrose Party
Wildrose leader Brian Jean

Wildrose leader Brian Jean

Focusing on rural Alberta, Wildrose leader Brian Jean campaigned in southern Alberta and his Fort McMurray constituency this week. While the campaign trail in Strathmore-Brooks, Mr. Jean and candidate Derek Fildebrandt cleverly walked around town with a giant arrow in hand pointing out services and commodities, like alcohol and gas, which became more expensive due to tax increases in the recent provincial budget.

Mr. Jean released his party’s “Five Priorities” that include positions on taxes, health care, education, democracy and rural Alberta. Part of the Wildrose plan to balance the budget by 2017 without raising taxes includes cutting 3,200 management jobs, including 1,600 in Alberta Health Services and 1,600 in the Government public service.

The Wildrose announced they would sell the Kananaskis Golf Course, a publicly owned and privately-operated golf course that the provincial government had paid millions of dollars to repair after it was damaged by floods in 2013.

Mr. Jean backtracked on comments made about Mr. Prentice undermining Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The Wildrose Party also nominated new candidates this week including City Councillor Buck Buchanan in Red Deer-North, past mayoral candidate Shelley Biermanski in St. Albert, Don Koziak in Edmonton-Glenora and Ian Crawford in Edmonton-Riverview.

Liberals
Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman, interim leader David Swann and Edmonton Liberal candidates unveil the party's pay equity proposal.

Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman, interim leader David Swann and Edmonton Liberal candidates unveil the party’s pay equity proposal.

The Liberal Party announced they would introduce pay equity legislation, increase funding to Family and Community Support Services and reinstate the Charitable Donation Tax Credit, which was decreased in the recent budget. Interim leader David Swann , who is running for re-election in Calgary-Mountain View, received an endorsement from Senator and retired Lieuteant General Romeo Dallaire. Receiving the 2015 Calgary Peace Prize this week, Mr. Dallaire called Mr. Swann a “true humanitarian.”

Edmonton Journal columnist Graham Thomson wrote that the Liberal Party might need “a ballot box miracle” in order to save themselves from political oblivion.

Alberta Party 

Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark released his party’s policy platform and Economic Recovery Plan. Most of the party’s focus is on electing Mr. Clark in Calgary-Elbow, where he placed a strong second to PC MLA Gordon Dirks in a 2014 by-election. Mr. Clark’s campaign is using DirksRecord.ca to target Mr. Dirks’ record.

The party also grabbed media attention for scooping up the domain names choosealbertasfuture.ca and .com after the PC campaign slogan was unveiled earlier this week.

Green Party 

The Green Party published a media release criticizing the PC Government’s record on environmental regulation, describing it as a “fake, not authentic, regulation and thus an insult to the intelligence, dignity and trusting nature of Albertans.”  The release takes issue with the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan and calls on the government to create a regulator that understands the impact of proposed activity and puts rules in place to prevent any unacceptable impacts.

Other Groups

The Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) launched a campaign to increase voter turnout among university students in this election. “We are going to sign up thousands of students and make sure they turn out on Election Day,” CAUS chairperson Navneet Khinda said in a press release.

The Parkland Institute released a new report looking at political values of Albertans. Public Interest Alberta released its “Priorities for Change” report as a resource for political candidates in this election And Change Alberta has returned to rank the progressive candidates most likely to win in constituencies across Alberta.

7 City Council races to watch in Edmonton

With most attention focused on Edmonton’s mayoral election, it is important to remember there are a number of contest for City Council that could produce interesting results on election day. There are seven Wards that I will be keeping a close watch on when voting ends on October 21.

Andrew Knack Edmonton Ward 1

Andrew Knack

Ward 1
After three-terms, councillor Linda Sloan  announced only weeks before the nomination day that she would not seek re-election. This must have been a big surprise to her lone-challenger Andrew Knack, who had already been campaigning for months. This is Mr. Knack’s third attempt at winning a city council seat and he is not unchallenged. Health economist Bryan Sandilands, community activist Jamie Post, past-Wildrose Alliance candidate Sharon Maclise, and former CTV reporter Sean Amato have also entered the race. I suspect Mr. Knack’s head-start could be hard to overcome.

Ward 2
With three-term councillor Kim Krushell choosing not to seek re-election, there is an open race in north Edmonton’s Ward 2 . Both Don Koziak and Bev Esslinger will have name recognition from their previous political adventures. A perennial election candidate, Mr. Koziak placed a close second behind Ms. Krushell in 2010 and has run for office many times in the past, including as the Edmonton-Glenora Wildrose candidate in the 2012 provincial election and the mayoral election in 2007. Ms. Esslinger is known from her time as a public school trustee and as last year’s unsuccessful Progressive Conservative candidate in Edmonton-Calder. Candidate Nita Jalkanen could also play a factor in this race as a vocal opponent of the downtown arena project.

David Dodge Edmonton Ward 3

David Dodge

Ward 3
Is first-term councillor Dave Loken politically vulnerable? Challenger David Dodge hopes so. The low-profile Mr. Loken is facing a strong challenge from Mr. Dodge, the former president of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues. Mr. Loken has an incumbent advantage, but it could be a close race.

Ward 5
The race to replace four-term councillor Karen Leibovici has drawn a crowd. Businessman Michael Oshry, former City Hall insider Terry Demers, transit worker Allan Santos, community league president Rob Hennigar, beer man Jim Gibbon, and former Catholic schools trustee Rudy Arcilla are among the nine candidates. My money is on the cool and confident Mr. Oshry.

Heather Mackenzie Edmonton Ward 6

Heather Mackenzie

Ward 6
Sixteen candidates have entered this race to represent north central Edmonton’s core neighbourhoods. Public school trustee Heather Mackenzie, former Edmonton Journal columnist Scott McKeen, police offcer Dexx Williams and community league president Derrick Forsythe are who I would pick as leaders of the pack. But leading the pack might not be enough. Many of the candidates in this race can expect to receive a few hundred votes each by simply being on the ballot, which could siphon votes away from the front-runners.

Ward 10
Filling Don Iveson‘s shoes in Ward 10 will be a tall order (both literally and figuratively). Community organizer Michael Walters has been pounding the pavement and waging a well-financed campaign for months. As a past provincial election candidate, Mr. Walters also has name recognition in the area. He is facing challenges from university instructor Richard Feehan and businessman Hafis Devji, but they may have a difficult time catching up. My prediction: Mr. Walters’ sweeps Ward 10 on October 21.

Ward 11
Who will replace Kerry Diotte in Ward 11? Hoping to leverage his name recognition and local outrage over potholes, two-time mayoral candidate and former city councillor Mike Nickel is attempting to stage a political comeback, but he is not alone. Mixed martial arts company owner Harvey Panesar (watch his video below), retired citizenship judge Sonia Bitar, and Mujahid Chak could be the biggest obstacles to Mr. Nickel’s return to politics.

Scott McKeen, Bev Esslinger enter open city council races

With three of Edmonton’s City Councillors in the mayoral election and two councillors retiring, there are now five open Wards in this year’s municipal election. With five out of twelve city councillors not running for re-election, the open races are attracting a handful of eager candidates.

Scott McKeen Edmonton Ward 6

Scott McKeen

As first reported on this blog, former Edmonton Journal columnist Scott McKeen is seeking election in the downtown Ward 6. Mr. McKeen announced his candidacy to a crowd of supporters at the Westmount Community League hall this afternoon. Also recently announced their candidacies in Ward 6 are Kyle Brown and past-candidate Bryan Kapitza.

Twitter diva Kathleen Smith is rumoured to be preparing to launch her candidacy in southwest Edmonton’s Ward 5. Known on Twitter as @kikkiplanet, the feisty Mrs. Smith has developed a loyal following online. Can she translate her social media capital into a real world campaign?

With three-term City Councillor Kim Krushell not seeking re-election, two candidates have stepped up in Ward 2. Past candidate Shelley Tupper and former trustee Bev Esslinger announced their entries into the Ward 2 City Council race this week. Ms. Esslinger served on the public school board, representing north Edmonton’s Ward A from 2004 until 2010. In 2012, she was the Progressive Conservative candidate in the provincial constituency of Edmonton-Calder, where she placed second to New Democrat David Eggen.

Past candidate Don Koziak is rumoured to be interested in running in Ward 2. In 2010, Mr. Koziak earned a close second place finish behind Councillor Krushell.

Click here for the latest list of Edmonton municipal election candidates

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.

predicting alberta’s election results.

We have received more than 100 entries for the joint Daveberta and CalgaryGrit Great Alberta Election pool and have entered these predictions into a state of the art spreadsheet to discover some interesting predictions for tomorrow’s vote.

Alberta Election Pool Seat Count Prediction Averages

Alberta election pool seat count prediction: Averages (from CalgaryGrit.ca)

The average of the seat count predictions would see Danielle Smith’s Wildrose Party form a minority government with 42 of the 87 seats in the Assembly. The Progressive Conservatives would hold on to 37 (down from 72 in the 2008 election), the NDP would become the third largest party in the Assembly with 4 MLAs, and the Liberals would drop from 9 to 3 MLAs.

The average seat count prediction shows the Alberta Party electing one MLA, but the averages response to the question predicting that party’s best results in a constituency is 22%.

Who will be re-elected?

Most entrants predict that PC MLA Ted Morton will be defeated in Chestermere-Rockyview and that Premier Alison Redford will be re-elected in Calgary-Elbow. The entires were split on predicting whether Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman would be re-elected in Edmonton-Meadowlark.

MLA Hunsperger and Leech?

The entries also showed a signifiant split in predicting whether controversial Wildrose Party candidates Allan Hunsperger and Ron Leech would be elected tomorrow.

Edmonton-Glenora

More than 50% of entries predict that PC MLA Heather Klimchuk will be re-elected in hotly contested Edmonton-Glenora campaign. Predicting her opponents chances of winning, 21% chose NDP candidate Ray Martin, 17% chose Alberta Party candidate Sue Huff, 8% chose former Liberal MLA Bruce Miller, and 3% chose Wildrose candidate Don Koziak.

Highest Tory votes

Battle River-Wainwright (represented by PC MLA Doug Griffiths), Edmonton-Whitemud (represented by PC MLA Dave Hancock), Edmonton-South West, Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills (represented by PC MLA Ray Danyluk), Spruce Grove-St. Albert (represented by PC MLA Doug Horner), and Strathcona-Sherwood Park (represented by PC MLA Dave Quest) were the constituencies predicted to have the highest PC vote on election day.

The pool is still open for new participants until the polls open at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.

the great alberta election pool.

Alberta Legislative Assembly

Who will run the show after April 23?

On Monday, Albertans will go to the polls in what is already being dubbed a “historic” election. The outcome is uncertain, so why not gaze into your crystal ball and enter the Daveberta and CalgaryGrit election pool. It is simple enough – predict the seat totals for each party and answer 10 bonus questions. Everyone gets 87 points minus one point for each seat you are off per party, plus two points per correct bonus question.

Robert Vollman has generously donated the following political book prize packs (shipping extra, unless we can arrange a pick-up in Calgary, Edmonton, or Toronto):

1. The Bill of Rights package: One Canada (Diefenbaker), Memoirs (Trudeau)
2. The Preston Manning package: Thinking Big, The New Canada and Roots of Reform
3. The Jean Chretien package: The Friendly Dictatorship, Straight From the Heart
4. The Federalists package: A Nation Too Good to Lose (Joe Clark), Fighting for Canada (Diane Francis)
5. The Obscure Package: The Betrayal of Canada (Mel Hurtig), Navigating a New World (Lloyd Axworthy)

First choice goes to the overall winner, with the winners of the seat prediction portion and the bonus question portion also winning a book pack. So even if you are an Ontarian, like my friend Dan, with no clue what a “Ted Morton” is, never mind if he’ll win his seat, you can skip the bonus questions and still be eligible for the prizes, based on a shot-in-dark seat prediction.

Contest will close as soon as the polls open Monday. Please paste your entry in the comments here or at CalgaryGrit, or e-mail your picks in to david.cournoyer@gmail.com.

Election Results Questions

Number of MLAs elected by each party (total: 87 MLAs)

Alberta Party:
Liberal:
NDP:
PC:
Wildrose:
Other:

Bonus Question

1. The constituency where the PC candidate will earn their highest percentage of the popular vote:
(2008 results here; candidate list here; top ridings last time: Vermilion-Lloydminster (Lloyd Snelgrove – not running), Battle River-Wainwright (Doug Griffiths), Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville (Ed Stelmach – not running), Bonnyville-Cold Lake (Genia Leskiw), Strathmore-Brooks (Arno Doerksen), Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills (Ray Danyluk))

2. Will PC MLA Ted Morton be re-elected in Chestermere-Rockyview?
(Morton won with 57% of the vote last time, but 308.com projects 22-point Wildrose win)

3. Will Premier Alison Redford be re-elected in Calgary-Elbow?
(Redford beat the Liberals by 3% last election, and 308.com projects her to beat the Wildrose by 3%)

4. Will Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman be re-elected in Edmonton-Meadowlark?
(As a PC, Sherman defeated the Liberals 54% to 30% in 2008)

5. What will the highest vote percentage for the Alberta Party be in a riding? (points if you’re within +/- 5%)
(Polls show them under 5% province-wide, but they’ve targeted a pair of Edmonton constituencies, including the one in Q7)

6. Will either Allan Hunsperger (“gays burn in hell”) or Ron Leech (“being white is an advantage”) win their seat?
(308.com projects Hunsberger to lose, but has Leech in a virtual dead heat)

7. Who will be elected in Edmonton-Glenora?
(Candidates: Sue Huff AP, Bruce Miller Lib, Ray Martin NDP, Heather Klimchuk PC, Don Koziak WR; 2008 vote: PC 40%, Lib 39%, NDP 15%, WR 2%)

8. Which party leaders will announce plans to resign within 48 hours of the vote?
(Alison Redford PC, Danielle Smith WR, Raj Sherman Lib, Brian Mason NDP, Glenn Taylor AP)

9. How many of the 3 senate positions will the Wildrose Party win?
(They’re running 3 candidates, the PCs are running 3 candidates, the Greens have 1 candidate, and there are 6 independents; full list here)

10. Who will get more votes – Liberals or NDP?
(current polls have them effectively tied)

thorny candidates could be the wildrose party’s biggest liability.

Danielle Smith Wildrose Alberta

Danielle Smith (photo from Wildrose Facebook page)

As the face of the campaign, Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith is her party’s biggest asset. She is media savvy, personable and, despite her limited governance experience (one year as a trustee on the dysfunctional Calgary Board of Education), she talks about becoming Premier with more confidence than any opposition leader in a long time.

But looking beyond the high-profile face of the Wildrose Party, which polls from the first week of the campaign suggest could be poised to form government, Albertans should be asking important questions about who would serve as cabinet ministers in a Wildrose Party government? The Premier is only one person at the table. Which Wildrose candidate would serve as Minister of Justice, Minister of Education, Minister of Finance, and Minister of Health?

Ask most Albertans to name a Wildrose candidate outside their own riding, and they will probably respond with a puzzled face. The lack of “star-candidates” is likely a product of timing. The Wildrose Party began to hold its candidate nominations in 2010 during a time when the party was seen to have peaked and was sitting in the mid-teens in the polls. What the party ended up with were plenty of well meaning candidates, but not many who would be defined as “star candidates.”

The recent success of the federal NDP in Quebec provides a textbook example of why any party should take seriously the candidates it nominates to run under its banner, even if it does not look like they might form government at the time.

If the Wildrose Party are to form the next government in Alberta, an important question needs to be asked about whether their candidates are the kind of politicians that Albertans want running the show. Here is a look at some of the Wildrose candidates who could end up serving as a cabinet minister under Premier Danielle Smith:

Link Byfield Wildrose Barrhead Morinville Westlock

Link Byfield

Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock candidate Link Byfield is the former publisher of the right-wing Alberta Report magazine. As has been noted elsewhere, Mr. Byfield was the president of the Society to Explore and Record Christian History and the founder of the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy, which stands, among other things, “against expanding influence of the Charter of Rights.”

John Carpay Wildrose Calgary Lougheed

John Carpay

Calgary-Lougheed candidate John Carpay penned an opinion-editorial in the National Post in 1994 which criticized Premier Ralph Klein for not invoking the Notwithstanding Clause to block the Supreme Court decision forcing Alberta to include protection of homosexuals from discrimination.

More recently, Mr. Carpay defended the University of Calgary Campus Pro-Life Club and was part of the legal team which defended anti-gay activist Bill Whatcott against charges in Saskatchewan. (Mr. Whatcott was recently detained by the police for distributing anti-gay hate literature to homes in northwest Calgary).

Ron Leech Wildrose Calgary Greenway

Ron Leech

Calgary-Greenway Wildrose candidate and evangelical pastor Ron Leech penned an article in the Calgary Herald in 2004 which argued “to affirm homosexuality is to distort the image of God, to insult the nature and being of God.” Perhaps this fits with Ms. Smith’s ideas on conscience rights (which has angered at least one now former Wildrose supporter).

Edmonton-South West candidate Allan Hunsperger is the self-described pioneer in the establishment of Alberta’s private schools in the late seventies and founder of Heritage Christian Schools.

Don Koziak Wildrose Edmonton Glenora

Don Koziak

Edmonton-Glenora candidate Don Koziak‘s short-lived mayoral bid in 2010 was kicked off by a promise to halt LRT expansion, calling the public transit “enormously environmentally unfriendly.” When asked what he would do differently, Mr. Koziak trumpeted the construction of more “interchanges and wider roads.” Toronto Mayor Rob Ford would be proud.

Edmonton-Castle Downs candidate John Oplanich, kicked off his campaign by offering to raffle a free big screen televisionto voters who would support him.

Andrew Constantinidis Wildrose Calgary-West

Andrew Constantinidis

– A number of Wildrose candidates running in Edmonton constituencies have indicated over the past year that they would re-open the acrimonious City Centre Airport debate, even though elected City Councillors have already made the decision to phase out operations of the tiny downtown airport.

– As I have already written, a few Wildrose candidates from Calgary have strong connections with controversial Conservative MP Rob Anders. This includes Calgary-West candidate Andrew Constantinidis, who served as Mr. Anders’ local constituency president and media coordinator during the 2011 federal election.

These are the highest profile stories around these candidates, the truth is that outside of Ms. Smith and the four established Wildrose MLA’s running for re-election, surprisingly little is known about the party’s candidates. And the Wildrose Party has done a superb job of focusing the media’s and voters attention on what they want, namely Ms. Smith and ensuring that she, rather than their candidates are the ones making headlines.

redford orders mla’s to return pay, cancels transition allowance, and sherman crashes her party.

Premier Alison Redford has announced that Tory MLA’s will repay all the money they received from the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections (aka the “no-work” committee) and that MLA’s who retire or are defeated in future elections may not received a generous severance package.

Ordering Tory MLAs to pay back all the money and admitting that she made a mistake by not doing so sooner was a wise move, and also demonstrates how worried the Tories have become after recent polls have put them in a dead heat with the Wildrose Party.

Premier Alison Redford campaign election Edmonton 2012

Premier Alison Redford arrives at her campaign stop on 124th Street in Edmonton.

Following the announcement, Premier Redford joined Edmonton-Glenora PC MLA Heather Klimchuk for some “main-streeting” down Edmonton’s 124th Street area in the Westmount neighbourhood. The area has gone through an incredible revival over the past few years, transitioning from a seedy pawn-shop infested street to a vibrant cafe and specialty shop destination in the city.

This was Premier Redford’s second campaign stop in Edmonton-Glenora in the first week of the election. Ms. Klimchuk is in a hotly contested race with former public school trustee and Alberta Party candidate Sue Huff, former Liberal MLA Bruce Miller, former NDP MLA Ray Martin, and past mayoral candidate and Wildrose candidate Don Koziak.

Alison Redford campaign election Edmonton 2012

Liberal candidate Bruce Miller drops in on Edmonton-Glenora PC MLA Heather Klimchuk and Premier Redford at a campaign stop at Cafe Tiramisu.

In what I can only describe as a strange attempt to garner media attention, Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman, local candidate Mr. Miller, and an entourage of Liberal candidates and handlers made two “coincidental” appearances on the Premier’s campaign stop, crashing her visits at two cafes on the same block. Here are some photos of the stop and of Dr. Sherman’s visit:

Premier Alison Redford Alberta Election 2012

Premier Redford with Edmonton-Glenora PC MLA Heather Klimchuk and business owner Dawit Isaac.

Premier Alison Redford Election 2012 Greenpeace

A Greenpeace activist at Premier Redford's campaign stop.

Premier Alison Redford Election 2012

Premier Redford at the Duchess Bake Shop on 124th Street.

Local candidate Bruce Miller makes a second appearance along with Liberal leader Raj Sherman at Premier Redford's campaign stop at the Duchess Bake Shop.

Local candidate Bruce Miller makes a second appearance along with Liberal leader Raj Sherman at Premier Redford's campaign stop at the Duchess Bake Shop.

I have posted more photos from the lunch-hour campaign stop on Flickr.

alberta election day 1: campaign kick-offs and legalizing prostitution.

With hours of the election being called yesterday, Premier Alison Redford kicked-off the Progressive Conservative campaign at the campaign office of Edmonton-Glenora MLA Heather Klimchuk.

First-term MLA Ms. Klimchuk is facing one of the most hotly contested races in the province, with strong challenges by former public school trustee and Alberta Party candidate Sue Huff, former Liberal MLA Bruce Miller, former NDP MLA Ray Martin, and past mayoral candidate and Wildrose candidate Don Koziak. The central Edmonton constituency has become a swing-riding in recent elections, but it was once held by Tory MLA’s Lou Hyndman and Nancy Betkowski.

After the campaign launch, Twitter reported her having visited a Tim Horton’s on the way to visit the campaign of new candidate Steve Christie in Lacombe-Ponoka. Last week, Mr. Christie replaced two-term MLA Ray Prins, who resigned after it was revealed he was being paid to chair a legislative committee that had not met in four years.

Eager to grab a scoop, two major television networks released the results of polls they commissioned in recent days. An Ipsos Reid online poll commissioned by Global News reports that the PC and Wildrose Party are tied at 38% support. The online poll surveyed 890 Albertans participating in Ipsos Reid’s online household panel (I am unclear how big the pool of Albertans in this online panel is). A CTV News commissioned ThinkHQ survey shows 44% of Albertans surveyed say the PCs don’t deserve to be reelected. No details of how these results were collected, sample size, or margin of error were included in the online news report. Poor reporting of these polls aside, these results could represent a shift in attitudes over the past month.

Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman will kickoff his party’s southern Alberta campaign at MLA Kent Hehr‘s Calgary-Buffalo campaign office this morning. Continuing to focus on health care and Premier Redford’s decision not to hold an independent judicial inquiry into health care issues, Dr. Sherman will be joined by a guest speaker who will talk about the issue of bullying and intimidation.

The Liberals are quickly filling their slate of nominations and I will update my list as I become aware of the new candidates.

Alberta Party Election 2012 Kickoff Calgary

The Alberta Party kicked off their election campaign in Calgary (photo from the Alberta Party Facebook Page).

Fresh from launching their election platform, the Alberta Party held campaign launches in Calgary and Edmonton. Leader Glenn Taylor, who is running in the West Yellowhead constituency, joined candidates at Ms. Huff’s campaign office in Edmonton-Glenora.

NDP leader Brian Mason is visiting the campaigns of Edmonton-Calder candidate David Eggen and Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview candidate Deron Bilous today, and will make an announcement about his party’s health care platform.

Danielle Smith Wildrose Alberta Election 2012 Day 1

Danielle Smith, with Link Byfield by her side (photo taken from screenshot of video).

Danielle Smith kicked off the first day of the campaign surrounded by Edmonton area candidates, and with Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock candidate Link Byfield by her side (Watch the video here).

Perhaps a sign of things to come in this election campaign, the PC’s launched their first salvo against Ms. Smith yesterday afternoon on an issue that no one would have predicted. Following the Ontario Appeal Court’s decision saying that prostitutes’ rights are violated by some criminal law, the PC’s released quotes from a Calgary Herald column penned by Ms. Smith in 2003 where she advocated legalizing the sex trade.

Some of Ms. Smith’s libertarian views may pose a threat to the conservative coalition of like-minded libertarians and social conservatives that she has worked hard to build. I have little doubt the Tories will take every opportunity to expose these types of cleavages in Ms. Smith’s record, with the purpose of breaking her coalition, as well as pushing wavering moderate conservatives back into the Tory camp.

Opinions that politicians have put out into the public sphere are fair game for use by opponents and are a cautionary tale for columnists, bloggers, or even tweeters with electoral ambitions. Loose tweets sink fleets and columns supporting the legalization of prostitution will be used against you.

15 races to watch in alberta’s 2012 election.

In the lead up to the Alberta’s 2012 election, I have identified fifteen constituencies across the province that could produce interesting contests and results when the election is called.

15 races to watch in Alberta's 2012 election.

15 races to watch in Alberta's 2012 election.

1) Highwood
The Wildrose Party has staked their future in the success of leader Danielle Smith and I expect that party will pull out all the stops to ensure she is elected. The PCs have nominated newspaper editor John Barlow to replace retiring PC MLA George Groeneveld.

2) Edmonton-Meadowlark
This area has deep Liberal roots, having first elected MLA Grant Mitchell in 1986, but since 2001 it has become a swing-riding electing both Liberals and PCs. Currently held by former PC MLA and now Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman, the next vote will be a test of his personal popularity as he runs under his new party’s banner. He will face former PC MLA Bob Maskell, who served from 2001 until 2004.

3) Edmonton-Calder
Voters in this constituency are notorious swing-voters. No incumbent has been re-elected here since 1997. Current PC MLA Doug Elniski made a last minute announcement that he would not seek re-election, leaving former school trustee and newly nominated candidate Bev Esslinger not a lot of time to catch up. Former MLA David Eggen has been campaigning in Calder for the past three years and is expected to launch a well-organized campaign. Wildrose candidate Rich Neumann may play kingmaker if he is able to attract enough past PC voters.

4) Calgary-Glenmore
In 2009, outgoing Wildrose leader Paul Hinman narrowly won a hotly contested by-election that was seen as a referendum on then-Premier Ed Stelmach‘s popularity in Calgary (which was low). With new Premier Alison Redford representing the neighboring constituency, PC candidate Linda Johnson may receive a warmer reception at the doors. Throw into the mix former Mount Royal College instructor Craig Cheffins, who served as the Liberal MLA for Calgary-Elbow from 2007 to 2008, and the outcome of this race could be difficult to predict.

5) Edmonton-Glenora
Represented by both PC and Liberal MLAs over the past twenty years, this constituency could be a key battleground for five opposition parties in the next election. Former Liberal MLA Bruce Miller is challenging PC cabinet minister Heather Klimchuk, who unseated him by 136 votes in 2008. Rev. Miller is not the only challenger in this election. The Alberta Party is pinning their hopes on former school trustee Sue Huff, the NDP have nominated former MLA and leader Ray Martin, and the Wildrose have chosen past Mayoral candidate Don Koziak.

6) Calgary-Varsity
With the retirement of popular two-term Liberal MLA Harry Chase, the Liberals have nominated former carpenters’ union official Bruce Payne, who ran for that party’s leadership in 2011. The PCs have chosen former Nexen vice-president Donna Kennedy-Glans. The results of this race will be a critical indicator of whether the Liberals can hold on to, and build on, important gains made in Calgary during the past two elections.

7) Chestermere-Rockyview
Energy Minister Ted Morton will face off against former Global Calgary news anchor and Wildrose candidate Bruce McAllister. The Wildrose attacked Minister Morton’s credentials as a “fiscal mallard” while he was Finance Minister and by nominating Mr. McAllister they are showing that they will not give him a pass in the next election.

8 ) Airdrie
When first-term PC MLA Rob Anderson joined the Wildrose in 2010, he automatically became a target of his former party, who have nominated Alderman Kelly Hegg as their candidate. The Airdrie area has typically voted for the PCs, but voters in this region have been known to elect opposition candidates in the past (Western Canadian Concept MLA Gordon Kesler was elected in 1982 and Liberal MLA Don MacDonald was elected in 1992).

9) Cardston-Taber-Warner
After being unseated by Wildorse MLA Mr. Hinman in 2004, PC MLA Broyce Jacobs won a narrow victory in 2008. Fast forward to 2012, Mr. Jacobs has lost his party’s nomination to Pat Shimbashi and the Wildrose has nominated Sterling Deputy Mayor Gary Bikman. If the Wildrose are to pick up seats in the election, this will likely be one.

10) Edmonton-Rutherford
In a rematch of the closest race of the 2008 election, PC MLA Fred Horne will face former Liberal MLA Rick Miller. While 2008 a two-way contest, the 2012 contest is more interesting with the presence of community organizer and Alberta Party candidate Michael Walters and Wildrose candidate Kyle McLeod.

11) Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo
After winning four elections as this constituency’s PC candidate, late-blooming Wildrose MLA Guy Boutilier will face Wood Buffalo deputy mayor Mike Allen in the upcoming vote. After decades as a municipal and provincial politician, this election may be more a test of Mr. Boutilier’s personal support than that of his new party.

12) Edmonton-Gold Bar
A Liberal Party stronghold since 1986, the retirement of MLA Hugh MacDonald and the redistribution of electoral boundaries south encompassing Tory-voting neighbourhoods may give second-time PC candidate David Dorward a boost. Liberal candidate Josipa Petrunic is a well-spoken and passionate partisan who hopes to hold the constituency for her party. The NDP have nominated Marlin Schmidt and hope to capitalize on local support for NDP MP Linda Duncan.

13) Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview
A close contest in 2008 saw former PC MLA Tony Vandermeer defeat NDP MLA Ray Martin. In 2012, Mr. Vandermeer will face a strong challenge from NDP candidate Deron Bilous.

14) Lethbridge-West
After twenty years of close races, voters in this constituency have proven themselves to be deeply divided between the PCs and Liberals. This election, first-term PC MLA Greg Weadick and second-time Liberal candidate Bal Boora will be joined by NDP candidate Shannon Phillips, who has launched a spirited campaign, and Wildrose candidate Kevin Kinahan. Even if Mr. Weadick is re-elected, the real story may be who places second in this politically moderate southern Alberta constituency.

15) Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock
After more than three decades in the Assembly, the departure of PC MLA Ken Kowalski has created a large void to fill in this constituency north of Edmonton. The PCs have nominated Westlock County Councillor Maureen Kubinec, who will face off against her main opponent Wildrose candidate Link Byfield. Mr. Byfield has been campaigning for more than a year and could make gains if he is able to tap into the base of social conservative voters in this constituency.