Tag Archives: Don MacDonald

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.

alberta politics notes 6/17/2011

Marz and Lindsay retiring
Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills PC MLA Richard Marz announced that he will retire when the next provincial election is held. Mr. Marz was first elected in 1997, defeating Liberal MLA turned Social Credit candidate Don MacDonald with a 19% margin of victory.

Stony Plain PC MLA Fred Lindsay also announced that he will be retiring at the next election. An MLA since 2004, Mr. Lindsay was rewarded for his early support of Premier Ed Stelmach‘s leadership candidacy with an appointment to cabinet as Solicitor General in 2006. His loyalty only took him far until January 2010, when he was shuffled out of cabinet to the Tory backbenches. He soon after publicly mused that he might run for the Wildrose Alliance in the next election.

PC leadership contest
Alison Redford released her social policy strategy. Gary Mar has a new ride. Ted Morton was wooing potential supporters at the Conservative Party of Canada convention in Ottawa.

Opposition Parties take a Municipal Focus
Alberta Party leader Glenn Taylor released his party’s municipal policy brief this week in the wake of Mayor Naheed Nenshi‘s call for a Charter for the Cities of Calgary and Edmonton. Outgoing Liberal leader David Swann reaffirmed his party’s position endorsing the municipal charter.

RCMP respond to NDP letter
The RCMP have responded to a letter from NDP MLA Brian Mason asking for an investigation into accusations of politically influenced queue-jumping for medical procedures. According to Sergeant Tim Taniguchi: “It has been reviewed and the matter has been referred to our Edmonton commercial crime section which is going to look into it further to see what further steps are needed.

Kowalski going to pasture?
Calgary politico David Heyman wrote about rumours that Assembly Speaker and Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock PC MLA Ken Kowalski may retire after a very long (long, long, long) 32 years in politics.

Heyman goes Wildrose
Speaking of Mr. Heyman, it appears that he is now working as a campaign advisor to Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith. Mr. Heyman was until recently working in Communications roles in Premier Stelmach’s Calgary Office and for Energy Minister and Calgary-West MLA Ron Liepert. The former Calgary Herald Reporter was also a supporter of Calgary-Buffalo Liberal MLA Kent Hehr‘s early-aborted Mayoral campaign in 2010.

Alexander beats Blanchard
Roy Alexander defeated popular QR77 Radio Host Mike Blanchard for the Wildrose Alliance nomination in the new constituency of Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill. The Wildrose Alliance are expected to announce high-profile candidates in Banff-Cochrane and Lethbridge-East within the next few weeks.

What polls are good for
A new poll showing the Wildrose Alliance catching up to the PCs? Take a closer look a the source.

testing conservative unity.

Calgary-Centre North by-election could be a test of conservative unity in alberta.

As the first major political event on the federal stage in Alberta since the Wildrose Alliance jumped from insignificance to contender in the polls over the past year, the Calgary-Centre North by-election could be a symbolic test of the Conservative Party’s strength in tolerating the provincial split in the conservative movement in Alberta. The resignation of Environment Minister Jim Prentice could open the door for a contested race for the Conservative Party nomination that could highlight some of these cleavages. Could that riding’s Conservative nomination contest become a proxy war in the battle between moderate and ideological conservatives that has exploded on the provincial level?

I have had an number of interesting and frank conversations with federal Conservative Party organizers who are acutely aware of their delicate balancing act. In most provinces, many members of the federal Conservative Party are also members of the equivalent “conservative” party in the provincial level (ie: BC Liberals, Saskatchewan Party, PC Party in Ontario and the maritimes). Alberta’s conservatives are in a different situation.

Many active members of the Conservative Party of Canada remain active members of the four decade-long governing Progressive Conservatives, but many have become active with the Wildrose Alliance over the past year (including Wildrose candidates Andrew Constantinidis in Calgary-West and Rod Fox in Lacombe-Ponoka who are former Conservative Party Electoral District Association Presidents). Two of the Wildroses main political staffers are also products of the federal Conservative school of politics. Executive Director Vitor Marciano and Communications Director William McBeath both left positions in the federal Conservative establishment to join the insurgent Wildrosers since Danielle Smith became leader.

It is somewhat reminiscent of the split that happened among conservative voters in the 1990s with the rise of the Reform Party of Canada and the decline of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Although they did not form a functional provincial-wing, the split between the Reformers and the federal PC Party in Alberta also happened during a time of flux on the provincial level. Many Reform Party supporters were drawn to the policies of fiscal conservative provincial Liberal leader Laurence Decore. A few Reformers such as Don MacDonald and Donna Graham ran as Liberal Party candidates. Mr. MacDonald stunned many political watchers when he handily won a 1992 by-election in the Three Hills riding in the conservative heartland. The Liberals also won support in the Little Bow constituency where candidate Ms. Graham came within 262 votes of defeating Tory Barry McFarland. It was a different time.

Following the 1993 re-election of the PC Party led by Premier Ralph Klein, many of these tensions disappeared as many Reformers made amends with Alberta’s natural governing party. Some of these tensions re-emerged under a resurgent Social Credit in 1997, but that year’s election proved to bare no fruit for the antiquated political movement. By 2001, when Reform MP Ian McClelland moved into provincial politics it appeared that all was beautiful, calm, and quiet on the conservative front. What a difference nine years can make.

Back to my original point, it will be very interesting to watch how the Conservative Party of Canada will try to mitigate any migration of the conservative conflict into its ranks in Alberta.

staging a political comeback in alberta.

With a number of former MLAs having declared their intentions to seek their party candidacies in the next election (David Eggen, Rick Miller, Weslyn Mather, and Mo Elsalhy), I thought it would be interesting to take a look at other former MLAs who launched successful and not so successful comeback attempts. By my count, thirteen former MLAs have attempted a comeback since the 1997 General Election, meaning that most former MLAs stay former. Of this group only  six have successfully returned to the Assembly.

Former MLAs attempting a return to the Legislature
Candidate Party Constituency Vote Result Previous Office
1997 General Election
Albert Ludwig Liberal Calgary-Foothills 29.7% Defeated Social Credit MLA Calgary-North East (1959-1963), Calgary-East  (1963-1971), Calgary-Mountain View (1971-1975)
Alex McEachern NDP Edmonton-Calder 27.3% Defeated NDP MLA Edmonton-Kingsway (1986-1993)
Pam Barrett NDP Edmonton-Highlands 50.6% Elected NDP MLA Edmonton-Highlands (1986-1993)
Don MacDonald Social Credit Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills 28.1% Defeated Liberal MLA Three Hills (1992-1993)
1998 By-Election
Nancy MacBeth Liberal Edmonton-McClung 53.6% Elected PC MLA Edmonton-Glenora (1986-1993)
2000 By-Election
Terry Kirkland Liberal Edmonton-Highlands 18.3% Defeated Liberal MLA Leduc (1993-1997)
2001 General Election
Andrew Beniuk PC Edmonton-Glengarry 44.9% Defeated Liberal/PC MLA Edmonton-Norwood (1993-1997)
Len Bracko Liberal St. Albert 41.2% Defeated Liberal MLA St. Albert (1993-1997)
2004 General Election
Ray Martin NDP Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview 50.8% Elected NDP MLA Edmonton-Norwood (1982-1993)
Walter Szwender PC Edmonton-Decore 30.4% Defeated PC MLA Edmonton-Belmont (1982-1986)
2008 General Election
Broyce Jacobs PC Cardston-Taber-Warner 46.2% Elected PC MLA Cardston-Taber-Warner (2001-2004)
Tony Vandermeer PC Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview 39.6% Elected PC MLA Edmonton-Manning (2001-2004)
Andrew Beniuk PC Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood 31.9% Defeated Liberal/PC MLA Edmonton-Norwood (1993-1997)
2009 By-Election
Paul Hinman Wildrose Calgary-Glenmore 36.8% Elected Wildrose MLA Carston-Taber-Warner (2004-2008)