Tag Archives: Doug Elniski

Hope and Debt

Alison Redford Debt Alberta

“Debt” we can believe in?

The political battle between the Wildrose opposition and long-governing Progressive Conservatives continued today as the Legislative Assembly resumed for the fall sitting. Debt was the biggest issue of the day. Wildrose leader Danielle Smith jumped at the opportunity to make light of comments Premier Alison Redford made that compared the government’s decision to accept debt financing as “hope.”

“Let’s take some of the premier’s other quotes and sub in ‘hope’ for ‘debt’ and see if that makes sense. Alberta does not have hope, and we will not incur hope. We cannot come out the current fiscal situation with hope.”
“So to the premier, if debt is hope, when can we expect to once again be hope free?”
- Danielle Smith

After a decade of worshiping an anti-debt orthodoxy that defined former Premier Ralph Klein‘s era in Alberta politics, the natural governing party changed their tune. Abandoning the culture of “no debt” that they created has undoubtably been difficult for the PCs as they embraced a new faith in capital financing. It makes fiscal sense if you want to plan for the long-term, but in the Alberta context, it symbolizes an awkward culture shift for a political party that defined itself by this rally cry.

Cabinet shuffle rumours

If there is any truth to the cabinet shuffle rumours that have been circulating in political circles, it would not be unexpected for Ms. Redford to hit the reset button after she faces a mandatory leadership review in November (I anticipate PC activists will approve of her leadership). It may surprise Albertans to discover that twenty-seven of fifty-nine PC MLAs currently serve in some ministerial or associate ministerial role (that’s 45% of the government caucus).

Doug Griffiths

Doug Griffiths

Three cabinet ministers who have caused particular difficulty for the government  and should be candidates to be shuffled are Education minister Jeff Johnson, Municipal Affairs minister Doug Griffiths, and Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk.

Mr. Johnson has earned the distain of teachers and schools boards officials for his clumsy handling of the last year’s Alberta Teachers’ Association contract negotiations and the ensuing financial havoc wreaked on the education employers.

Mr. Griffiths has locked horns with Calgary’s popular mayor Naheed Nenshi too many times to be seen as an effective minister. The election of Don Iveson as mayor of Edmonton could help convince the Premier that perhaps she needs a more effective communicators in the increasingly important municipal affairs role.

Ramming through the Redford government’s cuts to post-secondary education, the powerful Mr. Lukaszuk frequently speaks as if he leads the government, leading some conservatives to suggest he has leadership ambitions of his own. Some conservatives have begun noticing similarities between Mr. Lukaszuk and former Deputy Premier Ken Kowalski.

In the first few years of Mr. Klein’s administration, Mr. Kowalski served in a powerhouse role as Deputy Premier and the unofficial “Minister of Everything.” At the time, some Tories suggested that Mr. Kowalski was actually running the government, which raised the ire of Mr. Klein. Perhaps not surprisingly, Mr. Kowalski was unceremoniously booted from the halls of power by Mr. Klein mid-way through his government’s first-term.

The curious case of Doug Elniski

Former Conservative Member of Parliament Brent Rathgeber isn’t the only former Edmonton-Calder PC MLA to go rogue. Former PC MLA Doug Elniski announced days ago that he had joined the Wildrose Party and was attending that party’s policy convention last weekend. Mr. Elniski was the second PC MLAs to endorse Ms. Redford in her bid for the PC leadership and stood at her side when she spoke to the media following her win in that race. He did not seek re-election in 2012.

Showing a surprising lack of class, Ms. Redford’s communications director Stefan Baranski took to Twitter to attack the former PC MLA for controversial comments he made years ago. It appears that many of Ms. Redford’s staff spent their weekend posting juvenile and sarcastic tweets about the opposition party’s gathering. Apparently this is how senior government staff spend their weekends these days.

 

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 election candidate update – january 2012.

As an election approaches, Alberta’s political parties are busy nominating candidates across the province. Listed below are some of the most recent updates made the list of nominated candidates, including recent Progressive Conservative nominees in Calgary-Fish Creek, Calgary-McCall, Calgary-West, Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, and Sherwood Park.

Nominated Alberta Election candidates by region - January 23, 2012

Nominated Alberta Election candidates by region - January 23, 2012

Shiraz Shariff PC Calgary-West

Shiraz Shariff

Calgary-West: Former MLA Shiraz Shariff surprised political watchers by defeating past Alberta Heath Services Chairman and former Member of Parliament Ken Hughes and Calgary Police Officer Mike Ellis to win the Progressive Conservative nomination contest. Mr. Shariff served as the PC MLA for the northeast Calgary-McCall from 1995 until 2008, when he was defeated by Liberal Darshan Kang.

Wendelin Fraser PC Calgary-Fish Creek

Wendelin Fraser

 

Calgary-Fish Creek: Mount Royal University’s former Dean of Business Wendelin Fraser defeated political blogger Joey Oberhoffner to win the PC nomination. Ms. Fraser will face off against Wildrose MLA Heather Forsyth, who crossed to the Wildrose in 2010 after serving as a PC MLA since 1993. The election contest in Fish Creek will be a gauge of both PC and Wildrose popularity in the next election.

Mohammad Rasheed PC Calgary-McCall

Mohammad Rasheed

 

Calgary-McCall: Engineer Mohammad Rasheed defeated a crowded field in the PC nomination contest that included candidates Khandaker Alam, Deepshikha Brar, Afzal Hanid, Amtul Khan, Jamie Lall, Aslam Malik, Ravi Prasad, Jagdeep Sahota, and Jangbahadur Sidhu. Mr. Rasheed will face Liberal Mr. Kang in the upcoming election.

Ty Lund PC Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre

Ty Lund

 

Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: Six-term PC MLA Ty Lund defeated challenger Jimmy Clark to win his party’s nomination. Mr. Lund was first elected in 1989 and served in a number of cabinet portfolios during Ralph Klein‘s Premiership. He began his occupation of the Tory backbenches when Ed Stelmach because Premier in 2006. His main competition in the upcoming election is expected to be landowners rights advocate and former Green Party leader Joe Anglin, who is now running for the Wildrose Party.

Cathy Olesen PC Sherwood Park

Cathy Olesen

Sherwood Park: Former Strathcona County Mayor Cathy Olesen narrowly won the PC nomination against Matthew Bissett, Brian Botterill, Helen Calahasen, Murray Hutchinson, and Susan Timanson. Ms. Oleson served as Mayor from 2004 until 2010, when she was defeated by Councillor Linda Osinchuk. Ms. Olesen will be the second former municipal official to serve as this constituency’s MLA. Retiring MLA Iris Evans served as Reeve until she was elected as an MLA in 1997.

Calgary-Glenmore: Former MLA Craig Cheffins is expected to seek the Liberal nomination. Mr. Cheffins’ briefly served as the MLA for Calgary-Elbow after winning a by-election, which was triggered by Premier Klein’s resignation in 2007. Under the new electoral boundaries, his neighbourhood of Lakeview will now be located within the boundaries of Calgary-Glenmore. Mr. Cheffins’ entry into the election will add an interesting mix to a contest which will include Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman (himself elected in a 2009 by-election) and the eventual PC nominee. Lawyer Byron Nelson and Linda Johnson are seeking the PC nomination, scheduled for January 26, 2012.

Edmonton-Calder: First reported on this blog, former Public School Trustee Bev Esslinger and current Trustee Cheryl Johner are seeking the PC nomination in this constituency following the surprise announcement by MLA Doug Elniski that he will not seek re-election. Wendy Rodgers, former Executive Assistant to Hector Goudreau, is also expected to enter the contest.

Edmonton-Castle Downs: Jeff Funnell has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.

Edmonton-Glenora: Perennial City Council candidate Don Koziak is the nominated Wildrose candidate. Mr. Koziak most recently ran in the 2010 Edmonton municipal election, placing second in a close race against Councillor Kim Krushell.

Edmonton-Mill Creek: Mike Butler has been confirmed as the Liberal candidate. This will be Mr. Butler’s fourth attempt at political office. In 2008 he was provincial NDP candidate in Edmonton-Rutherford and federal NDP candidate in Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont. In 2010, he was the federal Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont.

Edmonton-Strathcona: At the recent deadline for candidates to enter the PC nomination contest, no qualified candidates had entered the contest. The constituency is currently represented by NDP MLA Rachel Notley.

Peace River: High Level town councillor Al Forsyth has been nominated as the Wildrose candidate.

bev esslinger abandons riverview run and seeks pc nomination in calder. [updated]

Former Public School Trustee Bev Esslinger announced via email today that she will be seeking the Progressive Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Calder. The former north-end trustee announced only weeks ago that she was running for the PC nomination in Edmonton-Riverview. Calder PC MLA Doug Elniski announced his retirement yesterday.

Here is Ms. Esslinger’s announcement:

Effective immediately I have chosen to run for the PC Nomination in Edmonton Calder due to the recent announcement by the current MLA Doug Elniski not to seek re-election.   I am a resident of Edmonton Calder, former Trustee and Board Chair of Edmonton Public Schools, and current President of Cumberland Oxford Community League.

Candidates already running in Calder include former NDP MLA David Eggen and Wildrose candidate Rich Neumann. The Liberals have not yet chosen a candidate, but Alex Bosse has announced his intention to seek the nomination.

UPDATE: Tory sources tell me that current Edmonton Public School Board Trustee Cheryl Johner may announce soon that she will compete with Ms. Esslinger for the PC nomination in Edmonton-Calder. Ms. Johner was elected to replace Ms. Esslinger in October 2010.

UPDATE [January  20, 2012]: Tory sources say that Ms. Johner will enter the PC nomination contest today.

mla doug elniski not seeking re-election.

Edmonton MLA Doug Elniski

Doug Elniski

Edmonton-Calder Progressive Conservative MLA Doug Elniski announced on his website todaythat he will not be seeking re-election. Mr. Elniski was first elected in 2008. While anyone who has met him will admit that he is likeable guy (including myself), he has had the unfortunate ability to say the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong time.

MLA Doug Elniski announces he is not seeking re-election.
(Media Release January 19th, 2012)

The greatest honour of my life was to be elected by my neighbours to serve as the MLA for the Edmonton-Calder constituency.

Since March 2008, I have attempted to honestly and diligently represent the issues of my constituents and to work to improve their quality of life. In doing so, I was enriched by the wonderful relationships that developed for which I will always be grateful.

I am especially proud to have helped my friend and colleague, the Honourable Alison Redford become Alberta’s first woman Premier. Her pragmatic approach to governance is exactly what we need in a province as prosperous as Alberta. Her stewardship will ensure that equity exists between service to Albertans and fiscal responsibility.

We have the resources most in demand in the world; food, fuel and fibre. Alberta is the economic engine of Canada and Canada, in turn, is the safest most robust economy in the world.

After considerable internal debate, I have decided I will not be seeking re-election in 2012 to pursue other opportunities.

Thank you to all my friends, supporters and constituents for the opportunity to serve you as the MLA for Edmonton-Calder. I wish you all success in whatever endeavours you pursue and never forget… “It’s all in Calder”.

God bless,

Doug Elniski

Mr. Elniski’s departure could be good news for former NDP MLA David Eggen, who is campaigning for a comeback after his narrow defeat in 2008.

election in edmonton-riverview heating up.

Edmonton-Riverview

Former Edmonton Public School Trustee Bev Esslinger announced today in an email (pdf) that she is seeking the Progressive Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Riverview. The constituency is currently represented by three-term Liberal MLA Kevin Taft, who will not be seeking re-election.

As a trustee, Ms. Esslinger represented Ward A in north Edmonton from 2004 until 2010. She is the current President of the Cumberland/Oxford Community League, which is located in the constituency of Edmonton-Castle Downs. When she declined to seek re-election to the Public School Board in October 2010, some observers suspected that she was preparing to challenge MLA Doug Elniski for the PC nomination in Edmonton-Calder.

Riverview will be one of the constituencies that I will be watching closely when the next election is called. The Liberals hope to hold the constituency that they have held since 1997 and have nominated businessman Arif Khan.

Unlike most constituencies in Alberta, the Liberals have a strong-base of support and solid-organization in this constituency, no doubt cultivated by Dr. Taft’s high-profile as his party’s leader from 2004 to 2010. Mr. Khan has been busy campaigning over the past year, but the Liberals will face a strong challenge from the yet to be nominated Tory and the already nominated New Democrat.

Excited by high levels of support in the area during the May 2010 federal election, the NDP are putting their hopes in social worker Lori Sigurdson. The portion of Edmonton-Riverview east of the North Saskatchewan River includes some of the strongest areas of support for Edmonton-Strathcona Member of Parliament Linda Duncan. Electing an MLA in Riverview would be a victory trophy for the NDP.

The Wildrose Party has nominated consultant John Corie.

Past election results in Edmonton-Riverview

2008 Election
Kevin Taft, Lib – 7,471
Wendy Andrews, PC – 5,171
Erica Bullwinkle, NDP – 1,284
Cameron Wakefield, Grn – 506
Kyle Van Hauwaert, Wildrose – 329

2004 Election
Kevin Taft, Lib – 10,280
Fred Horne, PC – 3,575
Donna Martyn, NDP – 1,058
John Lackey, Green – 357
David Edgar, Alliance – 313
David Power, SC – 116

UPDATE: Edmonton Police Officer Steve Young is expected to enter the PC nomination contest next week.