Tag Archives: Edmonton-Centre

Episode 27: When is Alberta’s next election? And will Don Iveson be the next Prime Minister of Canada?

In this episode of the Daveberta Podcast, we stare deep into our crystal ball to figure out when Premier Rachel Notley will call Alberta’s next election, dissect some of the key messages from the party leaders, discuss how the United Conservative Party reacted to the controversy over Jason Kenney’s residency, and muse about whether Edmonton mayor Don Iveson will be the next Prime Minister of Canada.

Don Iveson Edmonton Mayor Election

Don Iveson

Dave and Ryan also delve into the latest candidate nomination news, including a handful of new NDP contested races.  We also answered a long list of questions sent in by listeners on topics ranging from provincial sales taxes, battleground ridings, municipal infrastructure funding, and more.

The Daveberta Podcast is a member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB Financial.

You can listen and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcher, or wherever you find podcasts online.

We always love to feedback from our listeners, so let us know what you think of this episode and leave a review where you download. You can also comment on the blogFacebook or Twitter or send us an email at podcast@daveberta.ca.

And a huge thanks to our producer, Adam Rozenhart, who keeps us on track and makes each episode of the Daveberta Podcast sound so great.

Thank you for listening!

Recommended reading/watching:

Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky speaks to Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid in the Legislature Rotunda in 2011. MLA Dave Taylor is seen in the background.

Former Speaker Gene Zwozdesky has died at age 70. The “Wizard of Zwoz” started as a Liberal and became the PC Party’s charm machine.

Gene Zwozdesky, the former Speaker of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly, has died of cancer at the age of 70.

Known for being incredibly approachable and having the ability to lay-on the political charm in a grand way, Zwozdesky became known in the latter part of his time in elected office as the “Wizard of Zwoz” for his seeming ability to reverse unpopular decisions made by his cabinet predecessors. But while Zwozdesky is known to many Alberta political watchers from his time in the Progressive Conservative cabinet and later as Speaker of the Assembly, he started his political career in the opposition benches as a Liberal.

Gene Zwozdesky Alberta MLA

Gene Zwozdesky’s official MLA portrait photo in 1997.

A teacher and champion of Alberta’s Ukrainian musical and cultural heritage, Zwozdesky was first elected to the Legislature in 1993 as Liberal in Edmonton-Avonmore.

Zwozdesky defeated five other candidates to win the Liberal Party nomination that year, taking the nomination on the fifth ballot with 660 votes out of 757 votes castLed by former mayor Laurence Decore, Zwozdesky easily unseated two-term New Democratic Party MLA Marie Laing as the Liberals swept the capital city.

He was easily re-elected in the renamed Edmonton-Mill Creek district in 1997, holding his vote share in an election that saw Liberal vote decline from its high-water mark in the previous election.

Respected by his opposition colleagues for his work as treasury critic, community development critic, caucus whip, and co-chair of the party’s outreach committee, Zwozdesky was seen as a contender for the party leadership to succeed Decore in 1994 and Grant Mitchell in 1998, but chose to decline the leadership on both occasions.

In 1997, Zwozdesky was briefly a candidate in the Speaker election following Stan Schumacher‘s retirement but was convinced by his caucus colleagues to withdraw from the contest. It is believed that the 18 Liberal MLA votes in that Speaker election helped secure Barrhead-Westlock MLA Ken Kowalski’s win over Premier Ralph Klein’s preferred choice, Dunvegan MLA Glen Clegg.

In 1998, he left the Liberal caucus and crossed the floor to the PC caucus less than one month later. The official reason for his departure was said to be a disagreement with new party leader Nancy MacBeth over fiscal policy, but it was widely suspected that Klein had been personally trying to recruit Zwozdesky. He was appointed to cabinet as Associate Minister of Health and Wellness in 1999, a shrewd political move to create a foil to counter opposition criticism of the PC government’s Bill 11: Health Care Protection Act, a bill that opponents argued would have increased the privatization of Alberta’s public health care system.

Gene Zwozdesky (second from the left) with PC candidates Carl Benito, TJ Keil and Naresh Bhardwaj, and Premier Ed Stelmach at a Feb. 2008 campaign event at Jackie Parker Park.

Gene Zwozdesky (second from the left) with PC candidates Carl Benito, TJ Keil and Naresh Bhardwaj, and Premier Ed Stelmach at a Feb. 2008 campaign event at Jackie Parker Park.

Zwozdesky was re-elected as a PC candidate in Edmonton-Mill Creek in 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2012. He served as Minister of Community Development from 2001 to 2004, Minister of Education from 2004 to 2006, Associate Minister of Infrastructure from 2007 to 2008, Minister of Aboriginal Relations from 2008 to 2010, and Minister of Health & Wellness from 2010 to 2011. In his roles as Minister of Education and Minster of Health, he was generally seen as a calming force appointed for the purpose of providing stability in the wake of a disruptive predecessor.

As Health & Wellness Minister, Zwozdesky was given the nickname “the Wizard of Zwoz” by the media after he entered the role with a full-court charm offensive. 

Only three weeks into the job he’s the Wizard of Zwoz, a minister who can reverse unpopular health-care policy with a wave of his BlackBerry,” wrote the Calgary Herald’s Don Braid in February 2010.

In this role, Zwozdesky was responsible for mending the fences smashed by his combative predecessor, Ron Liepert. While he was only in the role for a short period and largely continued to support the PC government’s ideological creep towards privatization in health care, he did oversee important labour negotiations and the swift departure of Alberta Health Services CEO Stephen Duckett following the “cookie” controversy.

He was dropped from cabinet when Alison Redford became premier in 2011 and following Kowalski’s retirement in 2012, Zwozdesky was elected Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. His only challenger in that contest was Edmonton-Centre Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman, who was a rookie in the Liberal caucus when Zwozdesky mounted his first campaign for the Speakership in 1997.

While generally seen as a fair Speaker of the Assembly, Zwozdesky had some partisan blindspots, most notably when he ruled that Redford did not mislead the Assembly over the tobacco-gate scandal. He was highly criticized for that decision. 

He served as Speaker until his defeat in the 2015 general election to New Democrat Denise Woollard.

Although it had become clear by the final week of the last election that a giant NDP wave was going to splash through Edmonton, it was difficult to believe that Zwozdesky would lose re-election. But when the votes were counted in Edmonton-Mill Creek, the six-term MLA fell 5,174 votes behind Woollard, ending his 22 year career in Alberta politics.

Following the 2015 election, Zwozdesky helped the new class of NDP and Wildrose Party MLAs transition into the Assembly and then gracefully stepped away from the political spotlight following the election of Medicine Hat MLA Bob Wanner as Speaker. And while a political comeback was unlikely for Zwozdesky after 2015, he continued to stay connected to his political past, being elected as President of the Alberta Association of Former MLAs in 2018.

Photo: Gene Zwozdesky speaks to Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid in the Legislature Rotunda in 2011. MLA Dave Taylor is seen in the background. (Photo source: Dave Cournoyer)

Daveberta Best of Alberta Politics 2018 Survey Winners: Rachel Notley, Greg Clark, Shaye Anderson, Jessica Littlewood, and Janis Irwin

The Winners of the Best of Alberta Politics 2018 Survey

With more than 2,100 votes cast in two rounds of voting, we are proud to announce the results of the Daveberta Best of Alberta Politics 2018 Survey. Over the past two weeks, more than 2,100 readers of this website and listeners of the Daveberta Podcast submitted their choices for the survey and voted for the top submissions in each category.

Here are the winners in the Daveberta Best of Alberta Politics 2018 Survey:

Best Alberta MLA of 2018: Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta and NDP MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona

For a second year in a row, Rachel Notley was vote Best Alberta MLA. Notley earned 50.7% of the total votes cast, placing her ahead of Leduc-Beaumont NDP MLA Shaye Anderson, with 25.5 percent, and Calgary-Elbow Alberta Party MLA Greg Clark, with 23.7 percent.

Best Cabinet Minister of 2018: Shaye Anderson, Minister of Municipal Affairs

In a four-way contest, Shaye Anderson edged ahead with 31.8 percent. Health Minister and Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman earned 26.4 percent, Children’s Services Minister Danielle Larivee earned 21.5 percent, and Education Minister David Eggen, last year’s winner, earned 20.1 percent of the total votes cast.

Best Opposition MLA of 2018: Greg Clark, Alberta Party MLA for Calgary-Elbow

For a second year in a row, Greg Clark has been voted Alberta’s Best Opposition MLA. With 54.1 percent of the vote, Clark placed ahead of Freedom Conservative Party leader and Strathmore-BrooksMLA Derek Fildebrandt, with 34.4 percent, and United Conservative Party leader and Calgary-Lougheed MLA Jason Kenney, with 11.4 percent.

Up and coming MLA to watch in 2019: Jessica Littlewood, NDP MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville

Jessica Littlewood, the NDP MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, won with category with 42.3 percent of the vote. Littlewood beat out last year’s winner, Edmonton-Centre NDP MLA David Shepherd, with 37.1 percent, and Fort McMurray-Conklin UCP MLA Laila Goodridge with 20.5 percent.

New candidate to watch in the 2019 election: Janis Irwin, NDP candidate in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood

This was a new category we introduced this year to recognize some of the new candidates running in next year’s expected provincial general election. Janis Irwin, the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Highlands Norwood, won in this category with 45.9 percent of the vote. Irwin was followed by Calgary-Elbow NDP candidate Janet Eremenko with 29.6 percent and Calgary-Varsity NDP candidate Anne McGrath with 24.4 percent.

Congratulations to the winners and thank you to everyone who submitted your choices and who voted in this year’s Best of Alberta Politics 2018 Survey.


Daveberta Podcast back on Christmas Eve

Tune in on December 24, 2018 for a special episode of the Daveberta Podcast where we answer questions we have collected from listeners over the past few weeks. Listen and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, or wherever you find podcasts online.

We’d love to hear what you think of the Daveberta Podcast, so feel free to leave a positive review and share the podcast with your friends and family. Also feel free to leave a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter or send us an email at podcast@daveberta.ca.

Photo: Rachel Notley, Greg Clark, Shaye Anderson, Jessica Littlewood, and Janis Irwin

Best of Alberta Politics 2018 Greg Clark Sarah Hoffman Laila Goodridge Shaye Anderson

Daveberta Best of Alberta Politics 2018 – Vote for the Top 3

In our most recent episode of The Daveberta Podcast, Dave and Ryan asked you to vote in the Best of Alberta Politics 2018 Survey.

More than 500 of you responded to the survey over the last week with your choices for the biggest political players and defining political issues of 2018. We tallied all the responses from that survey and we are now asking you to vote on the top 3 choices in each category.

The top three choices in each category are now open for you to vote on until 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 and the winners will be announced on Thursday, December 20, 2018.

Here are the top 3 contenders who you can vote for in Round 2 of the Best of Alberta Politics 2018 Survey:

Who was the best Alberta MLA of 2018? –Vote

  • Premier Rachel Notley, NDP MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona
  • Greg Clark, Alberta Party MLA for Calgary-Elbow
  • Shaye Anderson, NDP MLA for Leduc-Beaumont

An honourable mention to Danielle Larivee, NDP MLA for Lesser Slave Lake, and Jason Kenney, UCP leader and MLA for Calgary-Lougheed, who placed a strong fourth and fifth in total submissions. Notley was last year’s winner in this category.

Who was the best Alberta cabinet minister of 2018? – Vote

  • Sarah Hoffman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Seniors
  • Shaye Anderson, Minister of Municipal Affairs
  • David Eggen, Minister of Education
  • Danielle Larivee, Minister of Children’s Services and Minster of Status of Women 

Ministers David Eggen and Danielle Larivee were tied for third place, so they are both included in the voting round in this category. Eggen was last year’s winner in this category.

Who was the Best Opposition MLA for 2018? – Vote

  • Greg Clark, Alberta Party MLA for Calgary-Elbow
  • Jason Kenney, UCP leader and MLA for Calgary-Lougheed
  • Derek Fildebrandt, Freedom Conservative Party MLA for Strathmore-Brooks

Honourable mentions to Richard Starke, the Independent PC MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster, and David Swann, the Liberal MLA for Calgary-Mountain View, who placed a strong fourth and fifth place. Clark was last year’s winner in this category.

Who is the up and coming MLA in 2019? – Vote

  • Jessica Littlewood, NDP MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville
  • Laila Goodridge, UCP MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin
  • David Shepherd, NDP MLA for Edmonton-Centre

An honourable mention to Nathan Cooper, UCP MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, who placed a strong fourth in the first round of voting. Shepherd was last year’s winner in this category.

Who is the new candidate to watch in the 2019 election? – Vote

  • Janis Irwin, NDP candidate in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
  • Janet Eremenko, NDP candidate in Calgary-Elbow
  • Anne McGrath, NDP candidate in Calgary-Varsity

What was the biggest political issue in 2018 in Alberta politics? – Voting Closed

Not surprisingly, pipelines, oil, and the economy were by far the biggest political issue identified in this survey. More than 85 percent of you chose these as the biggest political issue in 2018 in Alberta.

What was the biggest political play of 2018 in Alberta politics? – Voting Closed

This category was a dog’s breakfast. Around 90 percent of the submissions were related in some way to pipelines and the oil industry, but most were difficult to group. Around 30 percent of you chose Premier Notley’s decision to curtail the production of oil as the Best Political Play of 2018, which was the clearest single choice in this category. The wide variety of submissions makes it difficult to choose any top three choices for this round of voting, so I am calling it a draw.

Photo: Greg Clark, Sarah Hoffman, Laila Goodridge, and Shaye Anderson.

Alberta Election Candidates Caylan Ford, Peter Singh, Parmeet Singh Boparai, and Kaycee Madu

Caylan Ford wins UCP nomination in Calgary-Mountain View. Calgary-East UCP nomination blows-up with allegations of fraud, forgery and bribery.

Photo: Caylan Ford, Peter Singh, Parmeet Singh, and Kaycee Madu

Former Global Affairs Canada senior policy advisor Caylan Ford defeated Becca Polak and Jeremy Wong to win the United Conservative Party nomination in Calgary-Mountain View.

This nomination contest was contentious, with questions about the eligibility of Ford and former MLA Mark Hlady in the contest. Ford’s candidacy was ultimately accepted and Hlady, who represented his district as a Progressive Conservative MLA from 1993 to 2004 and as the PC Party candidate in 2015, was not approved by the UCP to run. 

Liberal Party MLA David Swann has represented this district since 2004 and announced he will not seek re-election when the next provincial election is called. With Swann out of the race, Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley, who currently represents Calgary-Buffalo as a New Democratic Party MLA, is seeking re-election in this neighbouring district (where she lives). Also running is Swann’s successor in the Liberal Party leadership, David Khan, who ran against Ganley in Calgary-Buffalo in the 2015 election, and Green Party candidate Thana Boonlert

Trouble in Calgary-East

Defeated UCP nomination contestants in Calgary-East have levelled allegations of fraud, forgery, improper inducement and bribery in the race won by Peter Singh on November 3, 2018. A letter signed by Andre Chabot, Jamie Lall, Issa Moussa and Matthew Dirk sent to UCP Leader Jason Kenney and deputy leader Leela Aheer have asked for the results of the contest to be overturned.

According to Postmedia, one woman in Calgary-East “said she was solicited by Singh at his auto shop while getting her vehicle repaired last July, and soon after discovered her credit card number had been used to purchase a party membership.”

Singh is the past president of the Fiji Canada Association of Calgary and he ran for the PC nomination in Calgary-Fort ahead of the 2015 election.

The district is currently represented by Independent MLA Robyn Luff, who was first elected in 2015 and was removed from the NDP caucus in November 2018.


Here are some more of the latest updates to this list of candidates nominated to run in Alberta’s next provincial election:

Calgary-Falconridge – Parmeet Singh was nominated as the NDP candidate in this northeast Calgary district.

Edmonton-South West – Kaycee Madu defeated Kevin Greco and former PC MLA Sohail Quadri to secure the UCP nomination on December 6, 2018.

Livingstone-MacleodRoger Reid defeated Nathan Neudorf and Thomas Schneider to win the UCP nomination on December 8, 2018. Reid is the owner of Tim Hortons franchises in Nanton and Claresholm. He is the second Tim Horton’s franchaise owner to win a UCP nomination, along with Grande Prairie UCP candidate Tracy Allard

Sherwood ParkJordan Walker defeated Maureen Gough, Sean Kenny, and Len Thom to secure the UCP nomination in Sherwood Park. Walker is a conservative party activist and an Assessment Consultant in the Alberta Department of Labour. 


Upcoming nomination meetings

With the end of the year approaching, Alberta’s political parties have begun winding down nomination meetings scheduled for this year. By the end of 2018, the UCP will have nominated candidates in 77 of Alberta’s 87 districts, the NDP will have nominated candidates in 33 districts, and the Alberta Party in around 50 districts. Here are the remaining nomination meetings being held in 2018:

December 12, 2018 – Richard Dempsey, Karri Flatla, and George Rigaux are seeking the UCP nomination in Lethbridge-West.

December 12, 2018 – Two NDP MLAs are challenging each other for their party’s nomination in the newly redrawn St. Albert district. Current Spruce Grove-St. Albert MLA Trevor Horne and current St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud are seeking the NDP candidacy. Both MLAs were first elected in 2015.

Renaud has been endorsed by eleven of her caucus colleagues, including Stony Plain MLA Erin Babcock, Calgary-Hawkwood MLA Michael Connolly, Calgary-Klein MLA Craig Coolahan, Calgary-Bow MLA Deborah Drever, Lethbridge-East MLA Maria Fitzpatrick, Edmonton-Castle Downs MLA Nicole Goehring, Edmonton-Ellerslie MLA Rod Loyola, Sherwood Park MLA Annie McKitrick, Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA Colin Piquette, Edmonton-Centre MLA David Shepherd, and Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Bob Turner. 

December 13, 2018 – NDP MLA Thomas Dang is expected to be nominated as his party’s candidate in Edmonton-South. Dang was first elected in 2015 in Edmonton-South West, where he earned 53 percent of the vote and unseated PC MLA Matt Jeneroux

December 15, 2018 – Manwar Khan and Keli Tamaklo are seeking the Alberta Party nomination in Edmonton-Manning. Tamaklo is a former member of Edmonton Police Commission, Vice-Chair of the Africa Centre, and former Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of High Prairie. Khan is a Business Coordinator in the provincial Department of Community and Social Services and founded Do Not Be a Bystander, after witnessing and attempting to intervene to prevent a murder on Edmonton’s LRT.

December 15, 2018 – “Mulligan!Shane Getson and Leah Wood are facing off in the second UCP nomination contest in Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland. A previous nomination contest held in August 2018 resulted in a win for Onoway business owner Dale Johnson, who was later disqualified after the UCP discovered he was alleged to have paid $5,584.60 to an employee he fired with whom he was in a romantic relationship. A former member of the UCP interim board of directors, Wood was widely seen as the establishment favourite in the first contest and is in a similar position in this second nomination contest. 

December 16, 2018Gurbachan Brar and Roop Rai are seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-North East. Brar is the former President of the Punjabi Likhari Sabha and is a former Broadcaster at RED FM 106.7. Rai is a constituency assistant to Calgary-McCall NDP MLA Irfan Sabir and was her party’s candidate in the 2016 by-election in Calgary-Greenway. In that contest she earned 20.17 percent of the vote in a competitive four-way race that saw PC candidate Prab Gill win with 27.7 percent.

If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!

Premier Rachel Notley rallies her NDP Caucus MLAs before the start of the fall legislative sitting on Oct. 30, 2017. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta Flickr)

When is Alberta Election 2019? What We Know versus Speculation

What we know:

The last provincial General Election was held 3 years, 7 months, 2 days ago on May 5, 2015.

According to Section 38.1(2) of the Elections Act, a general election should be held between March 1 and May 31, and in the same three-month period in the fourth calendar year thereafter. This means that the next general election will likely be held between March 1 and May 31, 2019. This fixed election period was introduced in the Election Amendment Act passed on December 6, 2011.

Election campaign periods in Alberta last 28 days. Section 39 (d) of the Election Act states: “the 28th day after the date of the writ is the day on which voting is to take place, or if the 28th day is a holiday, the next following day not being a holiday.” There are a number of statutory and religious holidays that fall in this fixed election period when an election day would not be held: Good Friday is April 19, Easter Monday is April 22, and Victoria Day is May 20.

In accordance with our parliamentary system of government, the Elections Act also states that nothing in the law “affects the powers of the Lieutenant Governor, including the power to dissolve the Legislature, in Her Majesty’s name, when the Lieutenant Governor sees fit.” This means that Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell could issue a writ of election and dissolve the Legislative Assembly whenever she is asked to do so by Premier Rachel Notley. It would be highly irregular for a Lieutenant Governor to deny a Premier’s wish to issue a writ of election.

Speculation:

There are a number of factors that could impact when exactly the election is called.

One major indicator of a party’s readiness for an election is the number of candidates they have nominated. As of today, the New Democratic Party has nominated 31 candidates in 87 districts, meaning that party will need to nominate a majority of its candidates in the first few months of 2019 in order to be prepared for a spring election. The United Conservative Party currently has nominated 74 candidates in 87 districts and will have almost an entire slate of candidates nominated by the end of 2018.

Whether the NDP will recall the Legislative Assembly in the spring of 2019 to present a Throne Speech and introduce a budget before calling an election is unknown at this point. The recent session of the Assembly, which ended on Thursday, December 6, 2018, is widely considered to be the last session in which a serious legislative agenda would be implemented. But it is not uncommon for governments to call an election immediately after tabling or passing a budget, and then using that budget as a de-facto campaign platform. 

In 2015, Premier Jim Prentice called an election twelve days after a 16 days session which ended with the tabling of a provincial budget. And Premier Alison Redford called the election five days after the MLAs voted to approve that year’s provincial budget.

Tabling a provincial budget before calling an election could be a double-edge sword for the NDP in 2019.

Using a budget as its re-election platform would allow the Notley government to highlight its continued investments in health care, education, and public transportation like Calgary’s Green Line and Edmonton’s west LRT expansion, and contrast its plan with the expected slash and burn budgets that would be introduced under a UCP government led by Jason Kenney. But unless there is a big change in Alberta’s economic situation (and the international price of oil), any budget presented by the NDP in 2019 would likely have a significant deficit. While both the NDP and UCP have said they would plan to run budget deficits for the next few years, it would draw unwanted attention to an issue that is not seen as the NDP’s strength.

But whether or not a budget is tabled before the election, Finance Minister Joe Ceci is still required by the Fiscal Planning and Transparency Act to publicly release a Fiscal Update and Economic Statement on or before February 28, 2019.

Elections Alberta will release the first quarter financial disclosures of fundraising by Alberta’s political parties in mid-April 2019. And if the UCP continues dominating in the fundraising field, the NDP may want to avoid a round of news coverage about how they have been out-fundraised by its main conservative opponent.

A shrewd calculation related to when the election is held could be related to when voters of certain demographics are likely to be in Alberta and have easy access of voting stations. Calling an early election could limit the ability of vacationing snowbirds to cast their ballots in the election. Polls have suggested that the UCP has a considerable lead over the NDP among voters over the age of 65. 

On the other end of the demographic spectrum, calling an early election in 2019 would ensure that university and college campuses are in session when the election is held. Polls suggest that the NDP have stronger support among younger and university educated voters. Mobilizing the student vote could make a difference in a number of electoral districts currently represented by the NDP, including Calgary-Currie, Calgary-Mountain View, Calgary-Varsity, Edmonton-Centre, Edmonton-Riverview, and Lethbridge-West.

Delay the election to late 2019 or early 2020?

Notley said publicly in 2017 that she intends to follow both the spirit and letter of Alberta’s fixed-election-date legislation. But as we all know, circumstances sometimes change in politics. 

There might be a backlash of public opinion, like the Progressive Conservative government faced when it called an election one year early in 2015, but the NDP do have the ability to wait until Spring 2020 to call the next provincial election. Alberta’s Election Act fixes the period to every four years, but the Charter of Rights and Freedoms says otherwise. 

According to Section 4. (1) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, “No House of Commons and no legislative assembly shall continue for longer than five years from the date fixed for the return of the writs at a general election of its members.

The decision to delay the next general election beyond Spring 2019 could have drastic electoral consequences for the NDP, but if the party already sees its chances of re-election as slim, as most polls suggest, it might be convinced to take the gamble. Waiting until late 2019 or early 2020 could mean the election could be held after the start of construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion and as the economy continues to recover from the drop in the international price of oil in 2014.

Delaying until 2020 would also give Notley an opportunity to campaign against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the expected October 2019 federal election. This would give Notley an opportunity to create some distance between herself and Trudeau, who had allies on the climate change file before their political relationship broke down over the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion delays.

Delaying the election would have unclear consequences for Third Party Election Advertisers.

The Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act currently states these groups, commonly known as Political Action Committees, are limited to spending $150,000 province-wide on election-related advertising between December 1 in the year before an election and election day. This legislation was passed under the assumption that the fixed-election period would be honoured. If the election is delayed until past spring 2019 and the post-December 1 limits continue to be implemented, the ability of PACs to advertise during the election would be severely limited.


Today on 630CHED I joined Ryan Jespersen, Catherine Griwkowsky, and John Brennan to talk about the latest news in Alberta politics, including when the next election might be held.

Goodridge challenged in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, last-PC MLA Starke could run again in 2019, Alberta Party AGM this weekend, and kd lang named to the Alberta Order of Excellence

Photo: Laila Goodridge was sworn-in as MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin on October 11, 2018 (source: Facebook)

Could an MLA first elected in a July 2018 by-election be at risk losing her nomination to run in the next election before the Legislature meets at the end of October? Fort McMurray-Conklin MLA Laila Goodridge is said to be facing a strong challenge from former Lac La Biche County councillor Gail Broadbent-Ludwig and former Wood Buffalo mayoral candidate Allan Grandson for the United Conservative Party nomination in the new Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche district.

Voting for the UCP nomination will take place on October 25 and 26, 2018, only days before the fall session of the Legislative Assembly begins on October 29, 2018. This will mark first time Goodridge, and fellow rookie MLA Devin Dreeshen of Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, will sit in the Assembly as MLAs.

The electoral boundary changes in northeast Alberta are significant. When the election is called, Fort McMurray-Conklin will be dissolved and Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche will be created, increasing the population of the district from around 26,000 to 44,166.

UCP MLAs Wayne Anderson and Rick Strankman, have recently faced defeat in their bids to seek their party’s nomination to run in the next election. We discussed this nomination contest on the latest episode of the Daveberta Podcast.

Starke could run for re-election, for who?

Richard Starke Vermilion Lloydminster Independent MLA Alberta

Richard Starke

Richard Starke is considering running for re-election, but it is not clear whether the Independent MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster would run as an Independent candidate or join a political party before the election was called. Starke was elected as a Progressive Conservative in the 2012 and 2015, and would be expected to run for re-election in the new Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright district.

I have not decided yet whether I will seek a third term as MLA,” Starke wrote when contacted. “If I run, it could be as an independent or I may seek a nomination for one of the partiesThat decision will be made in due course; I have no timeline for any announcement.”

Starke is recognized by Legislative Assembly Speaker Bob Wanner as a Progressive Conservative MLA, but that recognition does not mean much outside the Legislative Grounds in Edmonton. He declined to join the UCP Caucus when the remaining PC Party MLAs joined the Wildrose Official Opposition Caucus to form the new party in July 2017.

The remnant of the PC Party, which governed Alberta from 1971 to 2015, is now legally controlled by the UCP board of directors. This means, if he does decide to run for re-election, there is little to no chance Starke will be listed as a PC Party candidate on the ballot in the next election.

There has been speculation since 2017 that Starke would join the Alberta Party, which has become a refuge for many of his former PC Party colleagues, including many who endorsed him in that party’s March 2017 leadership contest.

Starke would face at least seven challengers for the UCP nomination in Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright, including his Wildrose Party challenger from the previous two elections, the wife of a retiring UCP MLA, and another past PC Party candidate. It seems unlikely that he would cross to the NDP, but stranger things have happened

Independent MLAs are rarely re-elected in Alberta. The last time an Independent candidate was elected to Alberta’s Legislative Assembly was in 1982, when former Social Credit MLAs Raymond Speaker and Walt Buck were re-elected. They would form the Representative Party of Alberta in 1984 and were both re-elected under that party’s banner in 1986. 

Alberta Party AGM

Lynn Mandel, Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel, and MLA Karen McPherson.

Lynn Mandel, Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel, and MLA Karen McPherson.

One of Starke’s former colleagues, Doug Grittiths, will be delivering the keynote speech at the Alberta Party annual general meeting, being held on October 19 and 20, 2018 at the Edmonton Expo Centre.

Griffiths served as PC MLA for Wainwight from 2002 to 2004 and Battle River-Wainwright from 2004 to 2015, and served in cabinet with Starke as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Minister of Service Alberta. Griffiths endorsed Starke in the March 2017 PC Party leadership contest, as did former PC cabinet minister and current Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel.

The Alberta Party has seen its legislative caucus expand from 1 to 3 MLAs over the past year with the addition of former NDP MLA Karen McPherson and former UCP MLA Rick Fraser, but the party has struggled to generate excitement among voters. Four public opinion polls released since April 2018 show support for the Alberta Party ranging from 5.1 percent to 11 percent province-wide.

Mandel has had a bit of a rough few weeks ahead of this annual meeting, first scrambling to explain to his party’s membership why he agreed to meet with the right-wing Parents for Choice in Education group, disqualifying Yash Sharma as the party’s nominated candidate in Edmonton-Ellerslie, and defending a poorly delivered and tone-deaf comment about women in politics.

kd lang named to the Alberta Order of Excellence

Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Notley's husband Lou Arab, and kd lang.

Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Notley’s husband Lou Arab, and kd lang. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Singer and song-writer kd lang has finally received the recognition she deserved this week as she was awarded to the Alberta Order of Excellence. The honour granted to to lang was praised by Premier Rachel Notley, who tweeted that she is “a trailblazer, opening doors and bravely championing many causes, including LGBTQ2S+ rights.” Notley’s congratulatory comments are a far cry from the backwards attitudes and actions of some Alberta MLAs twenty-five years ago.  

In January 1993, Alberta PC MLAs blocked a motion to congratulate lang on her musical awards and achievements. Some rural PC MLAs were said to be annoyed at anti-beef comments she had made a few years before, but that was not the only reason. The Globe & Mail reported in January 1993 that some backbench PC MLAs said they did not support sending a message of congratulations to the singer because she had openly declared she is a lesbian.

Frankly, it makes them look very bad,” said William Roberts, the Edmonton-Centre NDP MLA who introduced the motion to congratulate lang. “I think people would say there are a lot of narrow-minded people in Alberta.”

lang had only a short, cryptic message for her detractors at the time: “Free your mind and the rest will follow.”

Liberal Party MP Randy Boissonnault was acclaimed as his party’s candidate in Edmonton-Centre

Who wants to go to Ottawa? Federal nominations underway in Alberta.

Photo: Liberal Party MP Randy Boissonnault has been nominated as his party’s candidate in Edmonton-Centre. (Source: Twitter)

With so much nomination activity ahead of next year’s provincial election, it has been easy to overlook the preparation underway in Alberta for next year’s expected federal election.

Jagdeep Sahota Calgary Skyview Conservative

Jagdeep Sahota

Most Conservative Party Members of Parliament from Alberta, who represent most of the province’s contingent in Ottawa, were acclaimed as their party’s candidates for the next election, with the exception of Mike Lake, who fended off a nomination challenge in Edmonton-Wetaskiwin.

Former Progressive Conservative MLA Moe Amery briefly launched a challenge against Deepak Obhrai for the federal Conservative nomination in Calgary-Forest Lawn but withdrew from the contest months later. Obhrai was then acclaimed.

Non-incumbent Conservatives acclaimed for their nominations include Jagdeep Sahota in Calgary-Skyview, James Cumming in Edmonton-Centre, and Tim Uppal in Edmonton-Mill Woods. Sam Lilly is seeking the Conservative Party nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona.

If Lilly is nominated in Edmonton-Strathcona, then all eleven Conservative Party candidates in Edmonton and the surrounding area will be men.

Liberal Party MP Randy Boissonnault was acclaimed as his party’s candidate in Edmonton-Centre, making him the governing party’s first nominated candidate in Alberta during this election cycle. Liberal MP Kent Hehr is expected to be nominated as his party’s candidate in Calgary-Centre on October 21, 2018 and Edmonton-Mill Woods Liberal MP Amarjeet Sohi has yet to be nominated. Sohi currently serves as Minister of Natural Resources with special responsibilities related to the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona

Heather McPherson

The New Democratic Party is seeking a new candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona, which has been represented by MP Linda Duncan since 2008. Duncan announced recently that she plans to not seek re-election in 2019. Heather McPherson launched her campaign for the NDP nomination in this district last night. McPherson is the executive director of the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation.

Former Liberal MP Darshan Kang, who now sits as an Independent MP, has not announced whether he will seek re-election in Calgary-Skyview in 2019. The all-party board of internal economy ordered Kang to go to sexual harassment prevention and awareness training after an investigation found allegations against him constituted sexual harassment.

There are two contested nomination races currently underway:

Calgary-Centre: Five candidates are seeking the Conservative Party nomination in Calgary-Centre: T. Lee Humphrey, Karim Jivraj, Greg McLean, Tamara Loiselle, and Hugh Thompson.

Yellowhead: With Conservative MP Jim Eglinski not seeking re-election, five candidates have stepped up to seek the party nomination in Yellowhead, including Christian private school principal Robert Duiker, former Drayton Valley mayor Glenn McLean, Yellowhead County Planning and Subdivision Officer Kelly Jensen, past Wildrose Party candidate Kathy Rondeau, and Yellohwead County Mayor Gerald Soroka. Two other candidates, Ryan Ouderkirk and Carolyne Mackellar, withdrew from the contest.

Conservative Party members in Yellowhead will be voting to select their candidate in Grande Cache, Hinton, Rocky Mountain House, Drayton Valley, Wabamum and Edson between October 11 and 13, 2018.

I expect to soon be tracking federal nominations in Alberta, so stay tuned. If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for federal party nomination, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!

Vue Weekly Best of Edmonton 2018

Thank you to the readers of Vue Weekly for voting daveberta.ca as one of the city’s Best Local Affairs Blogs in the annual Best of Edmonton list for 2018.

I’m thrilled this website was tied for first place with Mack Male’s excellent mastermaq.ca blog, which has long been a solid standard source of information in Edmonton’s online media community. And congratulations to the wonderful Linda Hoang for placing as the first runner-up in this category. I encourage readers of this blog to check out both of these sites.

The annual Best of Edmonton list also includes categories for local politicians, including some who are running for re-election in next year’s provincial elections.

Premier Rachel Notley was voted Best Politician and Best MLA, with Mayor Don Iveson as the first runner-up in the Best Politician category. Edmonton-Centre MLA David Shepherd and Edmonton-Gold Bar MLA Marlin Schmidt were runner-ups in the Best MLA category.

Edmonton Public School Board’s Bridget Stirling was voted Best School Trustee, with Michael Janz and Trisha Estabrooks as runners up.

Once again, thanks to everyone who voted and who continue to read daveberta.ca each day.

David Shepherd accepts the NDP nomination in Edmonton-City Centre (source: David Shepherd on Twitter)

David Shepherd secures NDP candidacy in Edmonton-City Centre, Laurie Mozeson beats Steve Thompson in Edmonton-McClung UCP contest

Photo: David Shepherd accepts the NDP nomination in Edmonton-City Centre (source: David Shepherd on Twitter)

Edmonton-Centre MLA David Shepherd secured the New Democratic Party nomination in the newly redrawn and slightly renamed Edmonton-City Centre district at a packed nomination meeting last night in downtown Edmonton. Shepherd was first elected in 2015 after unseating five-term Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman, and in 2017 he was voted “MLA to watch in 2018” in the Best of Alberta Politics survey.

Laurie Mozeson UCP Edmonton McClung Alberta Election 2019

Laurie Mozeson

Laurie Mozeson defeated past-Wildrose Party candidate Steve Thompson to win the United Conservative Party nomination in the southwest district of Edmonton-McClung yesterday. Mozeson is a long-time prosecutor with the federal and provincial governments and was appointed as a citizenship judge in 2012 by then federal immigration minister Jason Kenney.

A November 2012 report by the Hill Times noted Mozeson’s daughter, Marlee, had worked in Kenney’s office as an intern and special assistant, and later worked as assistant to Chungsen Leung, Kenney’s parliamentary secretary for multiculturalism. Her son, Jonah, had previously worked as communications director for Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose.

Her daughter-in-law, Jamie Mozeson, is now the director of operations at the UCP caucus and ran for the federal Conservative nomination in the Sturgeon River-Parkland district in 2016.

Mozeson will face Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel in the next election. Mandel is his party’s nominated candidate, lives in the district, and represented it as City Councillor from 2001 to 2004, and then as Mayor of Edmonton from 2004 to 2013. Incumbent NDP MLA Lorne Dach has not yet announced he plans for re-election.

UCP vote in Calgary-Fish Creek today

UCP members living in Calgary-Fish Creek will choose their next candidate today. Incumbent MLA Richard Gotfried is facing a challenge from Cindy Ross. Gotfried was first elected in 2015 as a Progressive Conservative, stealing the seat away from the Wildrose Party. This race has been contentious to say the least.

Richard Gotfried MLA UCP Calgary Fish Creek Alberta Election 2019

Richard Gotfried

Lawyer Cyndy Morin withdrew from the contest in mid-August and endorsed Ross over Gotfried. Morin accused Gotfried of attacking her on social media and stated on her Facebook page that “Mr. Gotfried is not the kind of leader that I would want to continue to represent the party or Albertans.”

The NDP released a screenshot of a Facebook Post showing Ross making derogatory statements against Muslims in regards to the construction of a new Mosque in Fort McMurray. What a better place to have a mosque. Right in the middle of our greatest asset,” the screenshot showed Ross saying in 2015. “This is a bit of like jailing the bank robber in the bank vault.”

Ross has since apologized for the statement.

Meanwhile, Gotfried is the kind of MLA who stands on the floor of the Alberta Legislature and attacks the NDP by comparing people leaving Alberta to refugees fleeing Bolshevik Russia and Moaist China. As I wrote in May 2017, it takes a special amount of partisan and ideological gymnastics to draw connections between brutal and tyrannical dictatorships and a freely elected democratic government in Alberta, but Gotfried did it.

So, good luck with this, Calgary-Fish Creek Conservatives.

Wilson wins UCP nod in Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin

Richard Wilson Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin UCP Alberta Election 2019

Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson defeated business owner Sandra Kim and former Wetaskiwin City Councillor Donna Andres to secure the UCP nomination in the newly redrawn Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin district in central Alberta. Wilson served as a Wetaskiwin County Councillor from 1992 to 2007, a Trustee with the Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools from 1993 to 1998, and as chairman of Crossroads Regional Health Authority from 1996 to 2003.

According to a CBC report, Wilson earned 335 votes, Andres earned 267 votes, and Kim earned 191 votes. Kim found herself in the centre of controversy when it was revealed she had shared Facebook posts denouncing same-sex marriage.

Leduc-Beaumont UCP vote set for September 8

UCP members in Leduc-Beaumont will choose from three candidates at a nomination vote being held on Saturday, September 8, 2018. Sharon Smith, Brad Rutherford and Scott Wickland. Smith ran for the Wildrose Party in this district in the 2015 election, placing second with 29 percent of the vote. Rutherford is a former Edmonton police officer and previously ran for the federal Conservative Party nomination in Edmonton-West ahead of the 2015 election. He was president of the Leduc-Beaumont UCP and the federal Edmonton-Wetaskiwin Conservative association.

Incumbent MLA Shaye Anderson was nominated as the NDP candidate in his district on July 18, 2018. Anderson was first elected in 2015 and currently serves as Minister of Municipal Affairs.

If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!


Former UCP Chief of Staff now working for the Alberta Party Caucus

Kevin Weidlich Alberta Party UCP Chief of Staff

Kevin Weidlich

It appears that Kevin Weidlich is now serving as Chief of Staff to the Alberta Party Caucus. From 2015 to 2017, Weidlich worked as Chief of Staff at the Progressive Conservative Caucus and then the consolidated UCP Caucus.

Weidlich was replaced by Garry Keller as CoS of the UCP Caucus on an interim basis in August 2017, but then appeared to be replaced permanently by Nick Koolsbergen when Kenney imported a group of political staffers from Ottawa in January 2018.

Weidlich served as campaign manager in Doug Horner‘s bid for the PC Party leadership in 2011Weidlich is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Armed Forced Reserves and served as commander of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment for three years until 2017.

Green Party candidate drops out and endorses Liberal candidate in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake by-election

Green Party of Alberta candidate Marco Reid has dropped out of the Innisfail-Sylvan Lake by-election and tweeted his endorsement of Liberal Party candidate Nick Jansen.

Reid is the president of the Green Party of Alberta.

Nick Jansen Liberal Innisfail Sylvan Lake

Nick Jansen

Jansen is the Liberal Party’s former vice-president of policy and a current policy advisor to party leader Dave Khan. Both Reid and Jansen live in Calgary.

While this may seem like an odd move, a Green Party endorsement of a Liberal candidate is not unprecedented.

In 2015, the Green Party endorsed Liberal candidate Michael Dawe in Red Deer-North and Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman in Edmonton-Centre. The Alberta Party also endorsed Blakeman in that election.

‘Fly in, Fly out candidate’

At her campaign launch last week, Fort McMurray-Conklin New Democratic Party by-election candidate Jane Stroud accused United Cosnervative Party candidate Laila Goodridge of being a “fly in, fly out” candidate. Stroud, a Wood Buffalo municipal councillor, took aim at Goodridge for her career as a political staffer in Edmonton and Ottawa and comments made when she ran for the Wildrose Party in Grande Prairie-Wapiti in the 2015 election.

Goodridge was born and raised in Fort McMurray and has worked as a political staffer in Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa, including as a constituency assistant for former Calgary-Centre MP Joan Crockatt. She was director of field operations for former Fort McMurray-Conklin MLA Brian Jean’s campaign for the leadership of the UCP in 2017.

Former NDP MLA on the campaign trail

Service Alberta Minister Brian Malkinson, NDP candidate Nicole Mooney and former NDP MLA John Younie.

Service Alberta Minister Brian Malkinson, NDP candidate Nicole Mooney and former NDP MLA John Younie.

Photos of former NDP MLA John Younie have been featured prominently in tweets posted by Innisfail-Sylvan Lake NDP candidate Nicole Mooney.

Younie served as MLA for Edmonton-Glengarry from 1986 to 1989. While in the Assembly, he served as Official Opposition critic for Forestry, Lands and Wildlife, the Environment, and Public Works. He was unseated by Liberal leader and former Edmonton mayor Laurence Decore in the 1989 election.

He was the NDP candidate in Rocky Mountain House in 1979, which at that time included the Town of Sylvan Lake.

Independent Alberta Advantage candidate

David Inscho is running as an Independent candidate in the Innisfail-Sylvan Lake by-election. Inscho is president of the Alberta Advantage Party and the former president of the Wildrose Party association in Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills. The AAP is in the process of becoming an officially recognized political party.

The UCP candidates are expected to win both by-elections on July 12, 2018.

Ryan Hastman, Rachel Notley and Dave Cournoyer (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Best of Alberta Politics 2017: Rachel Notley, MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona (and Premier of Alberta)

Photo: Ryan Hastman, Rachel Notley and Dave Cournoyer (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

With more than 1,200 votes cast, Premier Rachel Notley was chosen as the Best Alberta MLA of 2017 in the Best of Alberta Politics 2017 survey.

(photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Daveberta Podcast co-hosts Dave Cournoyer and Ryan Hastman were thrilled to have the opportunity to present Notley with her award in-person in the Premier’s Office at the Legislature Building. We are grateful to Notley for making some time in her busy schedule to sit down with us for a short interview that will be included in the next episode of the Daveberta Podcast (which will be online on April 9, 2018).

Notley became Premier of Alberta in 2015 after her New Democratic Party’s swept the 44-year old Progressive Conservative Party out of office in a remarkable and historic election. First elected to the Legislature in 2008, Notley was re-elected as the MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona in 2012 and 2015. She was elected leader of Alberta’s NDP in 2014, one year before leading her party into government.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at the University of Alberta, and a law degree at Osgoode Hall Law School. Immediately before entering politics, Notley worked as a Labour Relations Officer with United Nurses of Alberta.

Notley is the daughter of Grant Notley, who led the NDP from 1968 to 1984 and served as the MLA for the northern Alberta district of Spirit River-Fairview from 1971 until 1984.

We would like to send our sincere thanks to everyone who voted in this survey and to the other award winners – David Shepherd, David Eggen, Greg Clark, and Jason Kenney – for making time to meet with us over the past few months.

The Best of Alberta Politics 2018 Survey will launch in December 2018.

Listen and subscribe to the Daveberta Podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, or wherever you find podcasts online.

Ryan Hastman, David Shepherd and Dave Cournoyer.

Best of Alberta Politics 2017: David Shepherd, MLA for Edmonton-Centre

After the dust settled and more than 1,200 votes were tallied, Ryan Hastman and I were delighted to present David Shepherd with the Up and Comer in 2018 Award from the Best of Alberta 2017 survey.

Shepherd was first elected as the New Democratic Party MLA for Edmonton-Centre in the May 2015 election. Since his election he has been an advocate for Edmonton’s music scene, pushing for later curfews for music venues, and for creating more condo living spaces for families in Edmonton’s downtown core.

He is the Chair of the Legislature’s Standing Committee on Legislative Offices and the Select Special Auditor General Search Committee. He is also a member of the Standing Committee on Families and Communities.

Listen and subscribe to the Daveberta Podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, or wherever you find podcasts online.

Alberta MLAs to watch in 2018: Leela Aheer, Shaye Anderson, Deron Bilous, Joe Ceci, Rick Fraser, Sandra Jansen, Brian Jean, Danielle Larivee, Jessica Littlewood, Shannon Phillips, David Shepherd and Richard Starke.

12 Alberta MLAs to watch in 2018

Photo: Alberta MLAs to watch in 2018: Leela Aheer, Shaye Anderson, Deron Bilous, Joe Ceci, Rick Fraser, Sandra Jansen, Brian Jean, Danielle Larivee, Jessica Littlewood, Shannon Phillips, David Shepherd and Richard Starke.

Despite its past reputation, Alberta politics has become extraordinarily unpredictable over the past twelve years. This makes forecasting the future a very tricky business for political pundits.

As is tradition on this blog, each year I publish a list of Alberta MLAs that I will be watching closely in the new year. Beyond the obvious choices, like Premier Rachel Notley or United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney, I try to look into the government and opposition benches to see who could make the news next year.

Here are the MLAs I will be watching in 2018:

Leela Aheer (UCP – Chestermere-Rockyview): Aheer was a staunch supporter of former Wildrose leader Brian Jean during the 2017 UCP leadership race, but when the dust settled, a victorious Kenney appointed her as Deputy Leader of the UCP caucus. Her private members’ bill, Bill 206: the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement (Adoption Advertising) Amendment Act, which aimed to bring the process of adoption into the digital age by allowing prospective adoptive parents to go online through licensed adoption agencies, was passed after a remarkably civil debate in 2017.

Shaye Anderson (NDP – Leduc-Beaumont): Anderson is charming and has just the kind of average working-man appeal that the NDP government needs. Appointed to cabinet in 2017, the Municipal Affairs Minister will oversee the implementation of the new City Charters and a reformed Municipal Government Act in 2018. With talk of the AUMA and AAMDC merging and increasing pressure on the NDP to reform municipal election finance laws, Anderson’s role at the cabinet table could become more important in 2018.

Deron Bilous (NDP – Edmonton-Beverly Clareview): As Economic Development and Trade Minister, Bilous has led successful trade missions to China, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. With the province’s economy growing but unemployment rates remaining unchanged, he faces the challenge of proving the government’s job creation plan is working as the provincial economy recovers from the sharp decline of international oil prices.

Joe Ceci (NDP – Calgary-Fort): With Alberta’s economy projected to have grown between 3.9 percent and 6.7 percent in 2017, the Finance Minister will implement what Notley describes as “compassionate belt-tightening.” The NDP need to present a more defined budget plan, but it should not just focus on spending. Alberta has a revenue problem and if we should have learned anything since the international price of oil collapsed in 2014, it is that we should not depend on royalty revenues from oil and gas to fund the day to day operations of our public services. And did I mention he is a champion of Alberta’s booming craft brewing industry?

Rick Fraser (Independent – Calgary-South East): The former PC MLA left the UCP caucus in September 2017, citing concerns about the party’s position on climate change and social issues. There were strong rumours that Fraser would join the Alberta Party caucus in 2017, but the resignation of Greg Clark as party leader may have put any floor-crossing plans on hold.

Sandra Jansen (NDP – Calgary-North West): Appointed to cabinet in 2017, the former PC MLA plays a big role in Notley’s charm offensive in Calgary. As Minister of Infrastructure, Jansen has a powerful spot at the cabinet table, allowing her to champion the construction of big capital projects like the new Calgary Cancer Centre and the completion of the city’s ring road. She should spend less time arguing with Conservative partisans on Twitter and more time trying to boost her government’s fortunes in Calgary.

Brian Jean (UCP – Fort McMurray-Conklin): The former leader of the Wildrose Party disappeared from public sight after losing the UCP leadership to Kenney. As the only Official Opposition MLA without a critic role, there were questions raised about whether Jean will stick around until the 2019 election or whether Albertans can expect a by-election to be held in Fort McMurray-Conklin in 2018. But in a year-end interview with Fort McMurray Today, Jean says he is not planning on leaving politics in 2018.

Danielle Larivee (NDP – Lesser Slave Lake): A rising star in the Alberta cabinet, Larivee was shuffled from Municipal Affairs to Children’s Services in 2017 to quell a political scandal, which she appears to have successfully done. She launched and expanded Alberta’s $25 per day child care program, which will have a real positive impact on a lot of Alberta families.

Jessica Littlewood (NDP – Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville): Appointed as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Trade with responsibilities for small business, Littlewood is another rising star in the NDP caucus. With a potential cabinet shuffle ahead in 2018, I would not be surprised if she is appointed to a full cabinet position.

Shannon Phillips (NDP – Lethbridge-West): The Environment and Parks Minister continues to champion the Alberta government’s high-profile Climate Leadership Plan. The plan has led to the creation of Canada’s lowest renewable electricity rates, but a focused opposition campaign by its Conservative critics has led to mass confusion about the goal of the carbon levy. Phillips will have a big challenge ahead of her in 2018 to explain how the NDP’s plan to combat climate change will have a positive impact on individual Albertans ahead of the 2019 election.

David Shepherd (NDP – Edmonton-Centre): With 1,200 votes counted, Shepherd was chosen as the Up and Comer to Watch in 2018 in the Best of Alberta Politics 2017 Survey. He is a hard-working, well-spoken and passionate MLA who has excelled at communicating online, in-person and on the floor of the Assembly.

Richard Starke (Progressive Conservative – Vermilion-Lloydminster): The former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister and leadership candidate opted not to join his fellow PC MLAs when they joined the Wildrose-heavy UCP caucus in July 2017. He instead decided to remain a PC MLA in the Assembly. Like his former PC colleague Rick Fraser, there were strong rumours in 2017 that Starke could join the Alberta Party caucus.

Compare this list of Alberta MLAs to watch to previous lists from 201720162015 and 2014.

Alberta's Legislature Building (photo licensed by University of Alberta Libraries under the Attribution - Non-Commercial - Creative Commons license)

From the Depths of Hansard: Highways, Hemlock and Marmalade

Gordon Miniely Alberta MLA

Gordon Miniely

Combing through Hansard, I frequently come across amusing, witty and interesting transcripts of debates that have occurred in the Alberta Legislature since the record keeping service began 45 years ago.

Over the weekend I came across an amusing exchange between two MLAs on May 16, 1972.

Gordon Miniely, the Progressive Conservative MLA for Edmonton-Centre, interrupted Charles Drain, the Social Credit MLA for Pincher Creek-Crowsnest, during the latter MLA’s lengthly contribution a debate over highway right of way, speed limits and and rules of the road.

May 16, 1972:

Charles Drain Alberta MLA

Charles Drain

MR. MINIELY: Mr. Chairman, just a short announcement. The members of the press gallery — as a matter of interest to all members — have undertaken to purchase poppy tea laced with hemlock for all members still in attendance at 1:00 a.m.

MR. DRAIN: Mr. Chairman, this is very encouraging and I am just hoping that they include marmalade. I am now impelled to make a 40-minute speech. With the encouragement that I have received from the hon. members of the press, I will just proceed with this. So brace yourselves.