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Who might and might not be invited to the Leaders’ Debate in Alberta’s 2019 election?

Photo: Alberta political party leaders – Rachel Notley, Jason Kenney, Stephen Mandel, David Khan, and Derek Fildebrandt.

We are now somewhere between seven and ten months away from the next provincial general election in Alberta. For the past seven provincial elections, leaders of the main political parties have participated in televised leaders debates, and while a lot of media and political attention is focused on these events, their impact on the outcome of the election varies.

Most readers of this website will remember Progressive Conservative leader Jim Prentice‘s infamous “math is difficult” rebuttal to New Democratic Party leader Rachel Notley during the 2015 debate. The comment was viewed by many as sexist and the embodiment of a 44-year old political dynasty way past it’s best before date.

Which party leaders are invited to participate in the debates, which are typically organized by private news media companies, can sometimes be contentious. Generally, only leaders whose parties have elected MLAs in the previous general election have been invited, but this has not always been the case. Unlike our neighbours to the south, there are no official rules or commission governing who is invited, which has led to inconsistencies since the televised leaders debates began in Alberta in 1993.

Assuming one is held, let’s take a look at who might and might not be invited to participate in a televised leaders debate held in Alberta’s next provincial election, which is expected to be called between March 1 and May 31, 2019.

Rachel Notley and Jason Kenney: Notley and United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney are shoe-ins to participate in the leaders debate. Notley is the current Premier of Alberta and Kenney leads the Official Opposition UCP. Although the UCP did not exist in the last election, the party has won three by-elections since it was formed in 2017.

Stephen Mandel: Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel will almost certainly be invited to join the debate even though he is not currently an MLA. Mandel served as a PC MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud from October 2014 to May 2015 and was defeated by NDP MLA Bob Turner in 2015. The Alberta Party elected one MLA in 2015 – Calgary-Elbow MLA Greg Clark – and now has three MLAs due to floor-crossings by former NDP MLA Karen McPherson and UCP MLA Rick Fraser.

David Khan: Liberal Party leader David Khan is not a sitting MLA and his party’s sole MLA, former leader David Swann, is not seeking re-election. This is the first election since 1986 that the Liberals will not have an incumbent MLA running for re-election. Khan is running for election in Swann’s Calgary-Mountain View district. While the party has had one elected MLA since 2015, the party’s lack of incumbent MLAs and declining relevance in Alberta politics could lead to the Liberals not being invited to join next year’s debate.

The Derek Fildebrandt Question: Derek Fildebrandt is a sitting MLA and most likely will be leader of the Freedom Conservative Party when the next election is called. He was first elected as the Wildrose Party MLA for Strathmore-Brooks in 2015 and joined the FCP in 2018. His party did not elect any MLAs in 2015, but neither did the UCP, which was formed in 2017 by MLAs who were previously members of the PC and Wildrose parties.

Fildebrandt has said his party will not run candidates in all districts, only focusing on districts where the NDP is not considered to be competitive. This means that most viewers tuning in to the televised debate will not have the option of voting for a Freedom Conservative Party candidate on Election Day, but a lack of a full-slate has not stopped leaders from being invited to the debates in the past.

Fildebrandt is a fiery quote-machine and his participation in the debates would undoubtably create some entertainment value for viewers. While I suspect Notley and Mandel would be supportive of Fildebrandt’s involvement in the debate, I expect that Kenney would not be eager to share a stage with Fildebrandt. As I predicted on a recent episode of the Daveberta Podcast, I suspect Kenney could threaten to withhold his participation in the debate if Fildebrandt is invited to join.

As for the format of a leaders debate, as I have written before, my preference would be to hold in front of a live audience, rather than a sterile and controlled television studio. This would allow the party leaders to demonstrate their debating skills and a live audience would add an atmosphere of unpredictability and would force the leaders to speak to both the voters in the room and those watching their television screens.


A History of Leaders Debates in Alberta Elections

Here is a quick history of leaders debates during general elections in Alberta:

1967 election – Four party leaders participated in this debate: Social Credit leader Ernest Manning, PC Party leader Peter Lougheed, NDP leader Neil Reimer and Liberal leader Michael Maccagno. Lougheed had initially challenged Manning to a televised debate, but a public debate was held instead. The meeting was sponsored by the City Centre Church Council and held in downtown Edmonton. The leaders fielded questions from the audience of the packed church.

The Calgary Herald reported that “…Manning was booed by a small contingent of hecklers while the new leader of the Conservatives reportedly “appeared to score heavily and draw the most applause.”

At the time of the debate, only Manning and Maccagno were MLAs. Reimer was not an MLA but there was one incumbent NDP MLA, Garth Turcott, who had been elected in a 1965 by-election in Pincher Creek-Crowsnest. Lougheed was not an MLA and his party had not elected an MLA since the 1959 election.

1971-1989 elections – No leaders debates were held during the 1971, 1975, 1979, 1982, 1986 and 1989 elections. Lougheed was challenged by opposition leaders, including NDP leader Grant Notley and Western Canada Concept leader Gordon Kesler, to participate in a televised debate but were turned down. Don Getty also refused to debate his opponents on television.

1993 election – Three party leaders participated in two televised debates: PC Party leader Ralph Klein, NDP leader Ray Martin, and Liberal Party leader Laurence Decore. The first debate was held in-front of a live studio audience and was broadcast on CFCN in Calgary and CFRN in Edmonton. The second debate was held without a live studio audience and broadcast on Channel 2&7 in Calgary and ITV in Edmonton.

An alternative debate that included leaders of smaller parties was also televised. That debate included the leaders of the Communist Party, Confederation of Regions, Alliance Party and Green Party. Social Credit Party leader Randy Thorsteinson refused to participate, arguing that the Social Credit party should have been included in the main leaders debate.

1997 election – Four party leaders participated in this televised debate organized by the Alberta Chamber of Commerce and broadcast by CBC: PC Party leader Ralph Klein, Liberal Party leader Grant Mitchell, NDP leader Pam Barrett, and Social Credit Party leader Randy Thorsteinson.

Barrett and Thorsteinson were invited to participate despite not being MLAs at the time and neither of their parties having elected any MLAs in the previous election. The NDP and Social Credit Party did not nominate a full slate, with only 77 and 70 candidates running in 83 districts. 

2001 election – Three leaders participated in this televised debate organized by Calgary Herald and Global News: PC Party leader Ralph Klein, Liberal leader Nancy MacBeth and NDP leader Raj Pannu. The three major parties nominated candidates in all 83 districts.

2004 election – Three leaders participated in this televised debate broadcast by Global Television: PC Party leader Ralph Klein, Liberal leader Kevin Taft and NDP leader Brian Mason.

Despite having been invited to join the televised debate in 1997, Alberta Alliance leader Randy Thorsteinson was not allowed to join in 2004 because he was not an MLA and his new party did not elect any members in the previous election. The party had one MLA, former Edmonton-Norwood PC MLA Gary Masyk, who crossed the floor in the months before the election was called.

The PCs, NDP and the Alberta Alliance nominated candidates in all 83 districts in this election. The Liberals nominated candidates in 82 of 83 districts.

2008 election – Four leaders participated in this debate broadcast on Global, CTV and CBC: PC Party leader Ed Stelmach, Liberal Party leader Kevin Taft, NDP leader Brian Mason and Wildrose Alliance leader Paul Hinman. Hinman was the Alberta Alliance Party’s sole elected MLA in the 2004 election before the party changed its name to the Wildrose Alliance (he would be defeated in his bid for re-election in Cardston-Taber-Warner in 2008).

The Wildrose Alliance nominated 61 candidates in 83 districts. Green Party leader George Read was not invited to participate in the debate, despite his party nominating candidates in 79 of 83 districts (the Greens would earn 4.5 percent of the total province-wide vote, only slightly behind the 6.7 percent earned by the Wildrose Alliance in this election). 

2012 election – Four leaders participated in this debate broadcast by Global and streamed on the internet: PC Party leader Alison Redford, Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith, Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman and NDP leader Brian Mason.

Smith was invited to join the debate despite her party not having elected any MLAs in the previous election. The Wildrose Party was represented in the Assembly by four MLAs when the election was called. Former leader Paul Hinman returned to the Assembly in a 2009 by-election in Calgary-Glenmore and Heather Forsyth, Rob Anderson, and Guy Boutilier were elected as PC candidates in 2008 before crossing the floor to join the Wildrose Party in 2010.

Alberta Party leader Glenn Taylor was not invited to join the leaders debate, despite his party having one MLA in the Legislature. Former Liberal MLA Dave Taylor became the Alberta Party’s first MLA in 2011. The Alberta Party nominated 38 candidates in 87 districts.

2015 election – Four leaders participated in this debate broadcast by Global: PC leader Jim Prentice, NDP leader Rachel Notley, Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean, and Liberal leader David Swann. Despite only narrowly losing a 2014 by-election in Calgary-Elbow, Alberta Party leader Greg Clark was not invited to join the debate. Clark would go on to be elected in Calgary-Elbow in this election.

The NDP and PCs nominated candidates in all 87 districts, while the Wildrose Party nominated 86 candidate and the Liberals nominated 56. The Alberta Party nominated 36 candidates in 87 districts.

Leela Aheer, Shawna Gawreluck, Janet Eremenko, and Elisabeth Hughes

Aheer acclaimed but not in the clear. UCP investigating alleged ballot-stuffing in North East Calgary.

Photo: Nomination candidates Leela Aheer, Shawna Gawreluck, Janet Eremenko, and Elisabeth Hughes.

Despite the drama of restraining orders and alleged death threats, MLA Leela Aheer was acclaimed as the United Conservative Party candidate in the new Chesteremere-Strathmore district after she was the only candidate to officially submit her nomination papers with the party.

But Aheer is not in the clear. Current Strathmore-Brooks MLA Derek Fildebrandt, who now sits as an Independent Conservative and was barred from challenging Aheer in the nomination, is expected to challenge Aheer in the general election.

The drama continues in north east Calgary as the UCP says it is now investigating allegations of ballot-stuffing at the founding meeting of the Calgary-North East constituency association. The allegations were made public through a video posted by a UCP member on YouTube following the meeting. Current MLA Prab Gill, who was elected as a Progressive Conservative in the 2016 Calgary-Greenway by-election, is challenging Anand Chetty and Tariq Khan for the UCP nomination in this district.

Nate Pike has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Calgary-North East.

Mason to “discuss his political future”

Brian Mason

Brian Mason

NDP MLA Brian Mason held a press conference this morning to announce he will not seek re-election in 2019. Next year will mark thirty-years in elected office for Mason, who currently serves as MLA for Edmonton-Highlands Norwood and the Minister of Transportation.

He was elected to Edmonton City Council in 1989 and as the MLA for Edmonton-Highlands in a 2000 by-election. He is the longest serving MLA currently in the Alberta Legislature.

Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running for party nominations ahead of Alberta’s 2019 provincial election:

Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul – Former St. Paul mayor Glenn Anderson has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.

Calgary-Edgemont – Joanne Gui has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.

Calgary-ElbowJanet Eremenko is seeking the New Democratic Party nomination. Eremenko was a candidate for Calgary City Council in Ward 11 in the October 2017 election where she finished third with 20 percent of the vote. Past Ward 8 city council candidate Chris Davis is seeking the UCP nomination in this district.

Drayton Valley-Devon – Kieran Quirke has been nominated as the NDP candidate. He is the Chair of the Leduc-Nisku Economic Development Board and co-chair of the Alberta NDP Rural Caucus.

Chris Nielsen MLA

Chris Nielsen

Edmonton-Decore – MLA Chris Nielsen is seeking the NDP nomination in this north Edmonton district. Nelson was first elected as MLA in 2015, earning 67 percent of the vote.

Edmonton-North West – Todd Ross is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Ross was the Liberal Party candidate in Edmonton-Castle Downs in 2015, earning 4.9 percent of the vote.

Edmonton-Whitemud  Elisabeth Hughes is seeking the UCP nomination. Hughes works as a constituency assistant in the office of Edmonton-Riverbend Member of Parliament Matt Jeneroux.

Leduc-Beaumont – MLA Shaye Anderson will seek the NDP nomination, which has been scheduled for July 18, 2018. Anderson was first elected in 2015 with 38 percent of the vote. Corinne Hubert is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.

Lesser Slave Lake – Judy Kim-Meneen is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.

Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin – LGBTQ activist Chevi Rabbitt is seeking the Alberta Party nomination in this newly redrawn central Alberta district.

Morinville-St. AlbertShawna Gawreluck is seeking the NDP nomination in this new district north of Edmonton. Gawreluck is a lab technologist and a resident of Sturgeon County. She was the federal NDP candidate in the 2017 by-election in the Sturgeon River-Parkland district.


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!

Alberta NDP get their first contested nomination in Calgary-Varsity, more than 3,000 UCPers vote in Cardston-Siksika

Photo: Julia Hayter, Joseph Schow, Kara Levis, and Marg McCuaig-Boyd

The New Democratic Party has its first contested nomination race of this election season, and it is taking place in the newly redrawn Calgary-Varsity district. With current NDP MLA Stephanie Mclean not seeking re-election, MLA Michael Connolly announced he would run for re-election in the new district, which including a significant portion of the current Calgary-Hawkwood district he now represents. Julia Hayter is challenging Connolly for the NDP nomination. Hayter is a Constituency Assistant in Mclean’s office and has received the endorsement of the University of Calgary New Democratic Party Club.

More than 3,000 party members voted in this week’s United Conservative Party nomination contest in the new hour-glass shaped Cardston-Siksika district. The new district includes most of the current Little Bow and part of the current Cardston-Taber-Warner districts and is located in one of the strongest conservative voting areas of Alberta, referred to by many as Alberta’s ‘bible belt.’

The UCP contest in Cardston-Siksika saw Joseph Schow, who led field operations for Jason Kenney’s leadership campaign, defeat Marc Slingerland, the principal of Calvin Christian School in Coalhurst. Schow ran for the federal Conservative Party nomination ahead of the 2016 by-election in Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner and previously worked as chief of staff and campaign manager for Fort Saskatchewan-Sherwood Park MP Garnett Genuis.

The NDP immediately jumped to criticize some of Schow’s social conservative political positions, including his comments about women’s reproductive rights and gay-straight alliances.

Grande Prairie-Smoky MLA Todd Loewen has been nominated as the UCP candidate in the new Central Peace-Notley district. Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley MLA Marg McCuaig-Boyd was chosen as the NDP candidate in Central Peace-Notley at a nomination meeting tonight. This will mark the first time since 1993 that two incumbent MLAs will run against each other in a general election in Alberta.

Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running for party nominations ahead of Alberta’s 2019 provincial election:

Banff-Kananskis – Conservative activist Cory Morgan’s bid to seek the NDP nomination has been denied by the NDP.

Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul – Town of Cold Lake mayor Craig Copeland is running for the UCP nomination in this new district. Copeland was the Progressive Conservative candidate in Bonnyville-Cold Lake in the 2015 election. Glenn Anderson is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Anderson is a former mayor of the town of St. Paul. In 2015, he ran for the PC Party nomination in Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills.

Calgary-Bow – Paul Godard is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.

Calgary-Cross – Jesse Minas is seeking the UCP nomination. Minas ran for the Progressive Conservative nomination in this district ahead of the 2015 election and was the Wildrose Party candidate in Calgary-East in the 2012 election.

Calgary-KleinKara Levis has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Levis ran for the leadership of the Alberta Party in early 2018 and is the former President of the National Women’s Liberal Commission of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Calgary-North East – Gul Khan has become the first Liberal Party candidate nominated for the 2019 election.

Calgary-South East – Lawyer Eva Kiryakos is seeking the UCP nomination.

Drumheller-Stettler – Former Hanna mayor Mark Nikota has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.

Edmonton-Castle Downs – Gennadi Boitchenko is seeking the UCP nomination. He served as Chair of United Way’s Engineering Challenge from 2011 to 2015.

Edmonton-Ellerslie – Yash Sharma has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Sharma is the Publisher of the Asia Tribune and producer of Harmony TV and in 2016 he was one of 32 candidates to run in the Ward 12 by-election.

Edmonton-ManningKulshan Gill is seeking the UCP nomination.

Edmonton-Whitemud – Jonathan Dai has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Dai was the PC Party candidate in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood in the 2015 election and the Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona in the 2000 federal election.

Grande Prairie-Wapiti – Travis Toews is seeking the UCP nomination. toes is the former president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

Sherwood Park – Jason Lafond is seeking the UCP nomination.

West Yellowhead – Paul Chauvet is seeking the UCP nomination. Chauvet is a real estate broker in Whitecourt and was first elected to Whitecourt Town Council in 2013. He was re-elected to a second-term on council in October 2017.


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!

Alberta Candidate Nomination Update: Lisa Davis in Calgary-Bow, Another former PC MLA in with Alberta Party, and more.

Calgary school trustee Lisa Davis announced this week that she will seek the United Conservative Party nomination in the Calgary-Bow district. While Davis’ conservative leanings are well-known, her desire to leave the trustee role she was only first elected to a short 9 months ago came as a surprise and has led to calls for her resignation by some groups.

Davis ran as part of the UCP-connected ‘Students Count’ slate in the October 2017 election. She will face at least three other candidates in the nomination contest, including her former campaign manager, Demetrios Nicolaides.

Heating up in Highwood

MLA Wayne Anderson had some choice words for Carrie Fischer and Richard Sigurdson, who are challenging him for the UCP nomination in the newly redrawn Highwood district:

“My understanding was she still wants to be Mayor of Okotoks, so I’m not clear on what her political intentions are. Whether it’s for name brand recognition or not. And then Mr. Sigurdson was the President of the PC Party here in Highwood. But, was a very inactive board. Didn’t raise any funds. They weren’t really meeting on a formal or regular basis.”

Anderson and Fischer faced each other in the 2015 election as the Wildrose Party and Progressive Conservative candidates in the district.

Another former PC MLA in with Alberta Party

It appears as though former Progressive Conservative MLA Ron Casey is organizing for the Alberta Party in the new Banff-Kananaskis district. Casey was MLA for Banff-Cochrane from 2012 to 2015 and Mayor of Canmore from 1998 to 2001 and 2004 and to 2012. He was unseated in 2015 by New Democrat Cameron Westhead.

Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running for party nominations ahead of Alberta’s 2019 provincial election:

Calgary-KleinJulie Huston is seeking the UCP nomination. She previously worked as a constituency assistant to former Wildrose MLAs Paul Hinman and Jeff Wilson.

Calgary-North West – Lawyer Cyndy Morin is seeking the UCP nomination.

Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview – Jeffery Walters is seeking the UCP nomination.

Edmonton-City CentreStephanie Shostak is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Shostak is the former north Edmonton regional director for the PC Party. Shostak.

Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo – MLA Tany Yao is seeking the UCP nomination. He was first elected as MLA for this district in 2015 as the Wildrose Party candidate.

A number of candidate nomination meetings will be held in the next week:

June 23, 2018 – Kieran Quirke is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate in Drayton Valley-Devon.

June 24, 2018 – Gul Khan is expected to be nominated as the Liberal Party candidate in Calgary-North East.

June 25, 2018 – Todd Loewen is expected to be nominated as the UCP candidate in Central Peace-Notley. The Alberta Party is expected to officially nominate Yash Sharma in Edmonton-Ellerslie, Carla Stolte in Edmonton-Glenora, and Mark Nikota in Drumheller-Stettler.

June 26, 2018 – Jonathan Dai is expected to be nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Edmonton-Whitemud. Dai was the PC Party candidate in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood in the 2015 election and the Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona in the 2000 federal election.

June 27, 2018 – UCP members will select Joseph Schow or Marc Slingerland as their candidate in the new Cardston-Siksika district. Kara Levis is expected to be nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Calgary-Klein.

June 28, 2018 – Marg McCuaig-Boyd is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate in Central Peace-Notley.

June 29, 2018 – Nate Pike is expected to be nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Calgary-North East.


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!

UCP MLAs rush to help Angela Pitt in nomination fight against Sportsnet commentator Roger Millions

Photo: Angela Pitt and Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean during the 2015 election.

It looks like Angela Pitt is in trouble.

The first-term MLA from Airdrie is facing a stiff challenge for the United Conservative Party nomination in the newly redrawn Airdrie-East district.

Roger Millions UCP Airdrie-East

Roger Millions

As first reported on this blog on May 31, 2018, Sportsnet Calgary Flames commentator Roger Millions is challenging Pitt for the nomination. Millions could have run for the UCP nomination in the other Airdrie district – Airdrie-Cochrane – where no incumbent MLA is running, but he is instead challenging Pitt in Airdrie-East.

Having a high-profile nomination challenger like Millions unseat an incumbent in a nomination contest, especially as she is one of two women MLAs in the UCP caucus, would be embarrassing for the UCP.

Pitt’s caucus colleagues are rallying with support. Thirteen UCP MLAs (Nathan Cooper, Tany Yao, Jason Nixon, Mike Ellis, Todd Loewen, Rick Strankman, David Hanson, Scott Cyr, Glenn van Dijken, Prab Gill, Dave Schneider, Mark Smith and Wayne Drysdale) and Calgary Conservative MP Stephanie Kusie have publicly endorsed Pitt’s nomination bid through videos on her Facebook page.

It is unusual for an incumbent to garner so many endorsements in a nomination contest from other MLAs unless that incumbent is in danger of being defeated. It is also not clear if the endorsements will have an impact on the outcome of the nomination contest.

I am told that Pitt is fairly popular among her UCP MLA colleagues, but that she might not have laid the ground work needed in Airidrie to fend off a nomination challenge from someone as high-profile as Millions.

Pitt was acclaimed as the Wildrose Party candidate in 2015 and had already been acclaimed to run as a Wildrose Party candidate for the 2019 election before the UCP was formed.

Controversy arose earlier this month when a member of the local UCP board of directors resigned after disagreeing with the local association’s decision to donate the $16,000 remaining in the bank account of the defunct local Wildrose Party association to the Alberta Fund political action committee.

The Alberta Fund PAC was created to support Brian Jean‘s candidacy in the 2017 UCP leadership race and is run by former Wildrose Party president David Yager. Pitt endorsed Jean in the leadership race.

The UCP nomination vote in Airdrie-East will be held on June 20, 2018 from 11:00am to 8:00pm at the Town and Country Centre in Airdrie.

NDP nominate Phillips and Sabir

Shannon Phillips takes a selfie in front of a crowded nomination meeting in Lethbridge-West.

Shannon Phillips takes a selfie in front of a crowded nomination meeting in Lethbridge-West.

Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips has been officially nominated as the New Democratic Party candidate in Lethbridge-West. Phillips was first elected in 2015, earning 59 percent of the vote and unseating Progressive Conservative MLA Greg Weadick. Community and Social Services Minister Irfan Sabir was expected to be nomination as the NDP candidate in Calgary-McCall at a meeting on June 12, 2018.

Former PC MLA runs for Alberta Party nomination

Dave Quest is running for the Alberta Party nomination in Strathcona-Sherwood Park. Quest represented the district from 2008 to 2015 as a PC MLA. He served as Associate Minister for Seniors from 2013 to 2014. He briefly planned to run for municipal office in Strathcona County ahead of the 2017 elections but withdrew before the nomination deadline.

Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running for party nominations ahead of Alberta’s 2019 provincial election:

Athabasca-Barrhead-WestlockMonty Bauer, a grain farmer from Thorhild, is challenging MLA Glenn van Dijken for the UCP nomination. Bauer has been endorsed by former Westlock-St. Paul Conservative MP Brian Storseth.

Brooks-Medicine Hat – Conservative activist S. Todd Beasley is seeking the UCP nomination. Beasley was an organizer for the anti-NDP Alberta Wide Rallies held in 2016 and is the organizer behind the ‘Stop the Shock‘ group, which opposes the closure of dirty coal-fired power plants in Alberta.

Calgary-Edgemont: Prasad Panda was nominated as the UCP candidate in this district. Panda was first elected as the Wildrose Party candidate in the 2015 by-election in Calgary-Foothills.

Calgary-North EastTariq Khan is seeking the UCP nomination. Khan is a real estate agent and general secretary of the Pakistan Canada Association Calgary.

Calgary-Shaw Brad Leishman is seeking the UCP nomination. Leishman was the Wildrose Party candidate in this district in the 2015 election.

Cypress-Medicine Hat – Drew Barnes has been acclaimed in the UCP nomination in this district covering the southeast corner of Alberta. Barnes was first elected as a Wildrose MLA in 2012 and was re-elected in 2015.

Edmonton-Meadows – Sant Sharma is seeking the UCP nomination.

Edmonton-GlenoraCarla Stolte has been acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate. She is the former president of the Westmount Community League.

Edmonton-Manning – Manwar Khan is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.

Edmonton-South – Pramod Kumar is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Atul Ranade is seeking the UCP nomination. Ranade was a declared candidate for Mayor of Edmonton in 2017 but did not enter the race on nomination day.

Edmonton-WhitemudPayman Parseyan has withdrawn from UCP nomination contest in Edmonton-South and is now seeking the UCP nomination in the neighbouring Edmonton-Whitemud district.

Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland – Dale Johnson is seeking the UCP nomination.

Red Deer-NorthAdriana LaGrange has announced plans to seek the UCP nomination. LaGrange has served as a trustee on Red Deer’s Regional Catholic School Board since 2007 and is a past president of the  Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association and former vice-president of the Canadian Catholic School Trustees’ Association. She resigned from her role with the ACSTA in June 2018.

West Yellowhead – Maryann Chichak announced on her Facebook page that she has withdrawn from the UCP concest. Chichak has served as Mayor of the Town of Whitecourt since 2013 and was the Wildrose Party candidate in Whitecourt-Ste. Anne in the 2012 election.

After much deliberation with my family, I will be stepping down from seeking the nomination for the West Yellowhead…

Posted by Maryann Chichak, Nomination Candidate for UCP West Yellowhead on Monday, June 11, 2018

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!

Alberta Candidate Nomination Update: Calgary-Cross to Shaw, Edmonton-Decore to Meadows and more

Here are the latest updates to the list of candidates running for political party candidate nominations ahead of Alberta’s expected spring 2019 provincial election:

Calgary-CrossFarhan Baig is seeking the United Conservative Party nomination.

Calgary-Edgemont – Joanne Gui is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. She will be challenging Beth Barberree in this district, making this the first contested nomination for the Alberta Party (perhaps ever).

Calgary-KleinKara Levis is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Levis was a candidate for the party’s leadership earlier this year and is the President of the National Women’s Liberal Commission of the federal Liberal Party.

Calgary-North East – Gul Khan is seeking the Liberal Party nomination in this new district in north east Calgary.

Calgary-ShawRebecca Schulz is seeking the UCP nomination. Schulz is the director of marketing and communications at the University of Calgary and until 2016 was the director of communications for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education.

Edmonton-Decore – Ali Haymour is seeking the Alberta Party nomination in this north Edmonton district. Haymour recently ran for Edmonton City Council in 2017 and was the New Democratic Party candidate in Edmonton-Castle Downs in 2008 and Edmonton-Decroe in 2012.

Edmonton-MeadowsArundeep Sandhu is seeking the UCP nomination. Sandhu was one of 32 candidates to run in 2016 by-election for Edmonton City Council’s Ward 12. He was vice-president of organization for the Progressive Conservative Party until late 2015. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Edmonton Heritage Council.

Nomination Dates Scheduled

The NDP has scheduled nomination contests in Edmonton-City Centre on June 5, 2018, Lethbridge-West on June 11, 2018, Calgary-Buffalo and Calgary-McCall on June 12, 2018, and Drayton Valley-Devon on June 23, 2018.

The UCP has announced deadlines to enter nomination contests by May 30, 2018 in Airdrie East, Calgary-Lougheed, Calgary-West, Taber-Warner, and Rimbey-Rocky Moutain House-Sundre. A June 4, 2018 entry deadline has been set in Strathcona-Sherwood Park, Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, Cardston-Siksika, Calgary-Hays, Calgary-Edgemont, and Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills. And a June 11, 2018 deadline has been set for Cypress-Medicine Hat.

It is expected that UCP MLA Angela Pitt could face several challengers, including Calgary Sportsnet commentator Roger Millions, in her bid for her party’s nomination in the new Airdrie-East district.

The Alberta Party has scheduled nomination meetings in the following districts: Edmonton-South on June 24, 2018, Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul on June 25, 2018, Edmonton-Glenora on June 25 2018, Edmonton-Ellerslie on June 25, 2018, Edmonton-Whitemud on June 26, 2018, Calgary-Klein on June 27 2018, Calgary-North East on June 29, 2018, Sherwood Park on July 8, 2018, and Edmonton-Rutherford on September 10, 2018.

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!


CBC reports that Edmonton-Rutherford UCP nomination candidate Laine Larson has questioned vaccination science and has suggested parents may be harming their children by vaccinating them against disease. CBC reports that Larson did not respond to interview requests sent by email, voicemail and direct message to both his personal and campaign Facebook accounts.

Thousands of Albertans packed the Legislature Grounds to watch Premier Rachel Notley and the NDP cabinet be sworn-in.

Thursday Candidate Nomination Update: Scott Cyr drops out of Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul UCP contest

Here are the latest updates to the list of nominees running to become candidates in Alberta’s next provincial election:

Scott Cyr MLA Bonnyville-Cold Lake

Scott Cyr MLA Bonnyville-Cold Lake

Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. PaulUnited Conservative Party MLA Scott Cyr has dropped out of the nomination contest in this district. Cyr was first elected to represent Bonnyville-Cold Lake in the 2015 election, and, due to electoral boundary changes, was forced to face off against his UCP caucus-mate David Hanson in the next election. Hanson has represented Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills since 2015.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Cyr said “I am at one of those cross-roads in life and over the next couple of months will pray for direction, sit and discuss my future with my wife and daughters and continue working hard for our constituency of Bonnyville – Cold Lake as I have always done.”

Calgary-Currie – The New Democratic Party has scheduled a nomination meeting for May 12, 2018. NDP MLA Brian Malkinson is seeking re-election and is expected to be nominated. Malkinson was first elected in 2015, earning 39 percent of the vote.

Calgary-EastMatthew Dirk is seeking the UCP nomination. The district is currently represented by NDP MLA Robyn Luff, who was elected in 2015 with 39 percent of the vote.

Calgary-ElbowChris Davis is the second candidate to join the UCP nomination in this district. Davis is a lawyer and past Calgary municipal election candidate. He placed second in City Council’s Ward 8 in 2017 with 32 percent of the vote behind incumbent Councillor Evan Woolley.

Edmonton-SouthTunde Obasan is seeking the UCP nomination in this new south Edmonton district. Obasan previously announced plans to run in Edmonton-Whitemud but withdrew from that race in January 2018.

Edmonton-Whitemud – Jonathan Dai is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Dai was the Progressive Conservative candidate in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood in the 2015 election and the federal Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona in the 2000 federal election.

Lac Ste. Anne-ParklandLead Wood is seeking the UCP nomination.

Sherwood ParkLen Thom is seeking the UCP nomination. Thom is a lawyer and served as president of the PC Party after Jason Kenney was selected as that party’s leader in 2017. He was the Conservative Party of Canada candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona in 2015 federal election, where he placed second with 31 percent of the vote behind NDP MP Linda Duncan.

Strathcona-Sherwood ParkNate Glubish is seeking the UCP nomination. Glubish is an investment manager and president of the local UCP association.

Red Deer-SouthNorman Wiebe is seeking the UCP nomination. Weibe was the Wildrose Party candidate in this district in the 2015 election, earning 24 percent of the vote behind New Democrat Barb Miller and PC candidate Darcy Mykytyshyn.

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.

In Photo: Jason Luan, Mauri Stiff, Deron Bilous, Thomas Dang, Mark Smith, Marc Slingerland

Monday Night Candidate Nomination Update

Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running for party nominations ahead of Alberta’s expected 2019 provincial general election:

Airdrie-Cochrane: Airdrie realtor Mauri Stiff is seeking the United Conservative Party nomination.

Banff-Kananaskis – Miranda Rosin and restaurant owner Scott Winograd are seeking the UCP nomination.

Calgary-Acadia – NDP MLA Brandy Payne announced last week that she will not be seeking re-election in 2019. Payne was first elected in 2015 when she unseated former Justice Minister Jonathan Denis. She has served as Associate Minister of Health since 2016. David Guenter is seeking the UCP nomination.

Calgary-BeddingtonRandy Kerr is seeking the UCP nomination.

Calgary-Elbow – Lawyer and former UCP leadership candidate Doug Schweitzer is seeking the UCP nomination in Calgary-Elbow. Schweitzer placed third in last year’s UCP leadership contest and if he wins his party’s nomination, he will face off against Alberta Party MLA Greg Clark in the next election.

Calgary-Foothills – Former Progressive Conservative MLA Jason Luan is seeking the UCP nomination. Luan served as MLA for Calgary-Hawkwood from 2012 to 2015, when he was unseated by NDP candidate Michael Connolly. The Foothills district is currently represented by UCP MLA Prasad Panda, who was first elected as a Wildrose candidate in a 2016 by-election to replace former MLA Jim Prentice.

Calgary-Hays – Two-term MLA Ric McIver is seeking re-election as the UCP candidate. McIver was elected in 2012 and 2015 as a Progressive Conservative and sought that party’s leadership in 2014.

Calgary-Klein – Two time Wildrose candidate Jeremy Nixon is seeking the UCP nomination. Nixon ran in this district under the Wildrose banner in 2012 and 2015. He is the brother of Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Jason Nixon.

Calgary-Piegan – Andrew Griffin and Jeevan Mangat are seeking the UCP nomination. Mangat was the Wildrose Party candidate in Calgary-Fort in the 2015 election.

Calgary-West – MLA Mike Ellis is seeking re-election under the UCP banner. Ellis was elected in a 2014 by-election and the 2015 general election as a PC candidate.

Cardston-Siksika – Joseph Schow and Marc Slingerland are challenging MLA Dave Schneider for the UCP nomination in this newly redrawn southern rural district that largely covers the areas included in the current Cardston-Taber-Warner and Little Bow districts. Slingerland was a Christian Heritage Party candidate in the 2006, 2008 and 2011 federal elections and the 2015 federal by-election in Foothills.

Drayton Valley-Devon – MLA Mark Smith is seeking the UCP nomination. Smith was first elected in 2015 as a Wildrose Party candidate.

Drumheller-Stettler – Nathan Horner is seeking the UCP nomination in this district, which is currently represented by UCP MLA Rick Strankman.

Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview – NDP MLA Deron Bilous is seeking his party’s nomination to run for re-election. Bilous was first elected in this district in 2012 and was re-elected in 2015. He was one of four NDP incumbents to run in the 2015 election and currently serves as Minister of Economic Development and Trade.

Edmonton-South – MLA Thomas Dang is running for the NDP nomination in this newly redrawn southwest Edmonton district. Dang was first elected as MLA for Edmonton-Southwest in 2015. Edmonton-South includes most of the east half of the district he currently represents. Running for the UCP nomination in this district is Payman Parseyan. Parseyan ran in the 2017 Edmonton municipal election in Ward 9, placing fourth with 15.3 percent of the vote.

Edmonton-WhitemudNawaz Panhwer is seeking the UCP nomination. Panhwer is Infrastructure Manager for the Town of Redwater and the former VP Finance of the PC Association in the district. His nomination is being endorsed by MPs Matt Jeneoroux, Kerry Diotte, and Michael Cooper, and former PC MLAs Naresh Bhardwaj and Sohail Quadri.

Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville – Campbell Pomeroy is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.

Leduc-Beaumont – Sharon Smith is seeking the UCP nomination. Smith ran for the Wildrose Party in this district in the 2015 election. She placed second with 29 percent of the vote.

Lethbridge-West – George Rigaux and Rick Dempsey are seek the UCP nomination. Rigaux was the chief organizer for the Reform Party in British Columbia ahead of the 1997 federal election. He is reported to have resigned from that position before the election after the media reported him making controversial comments about the role played by the Sikh community in party nominations that year.

Morinville-St. Albert – Gibbons town councillor Amber Harris has announced plans to seek the UCP nomination. Harris made news in November 2017 when she raised concerns on Facebook about the construction of gender-neutral washrooms at the Sturgeon Composite High School.

Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin – Business owner Sandra Kim has announced plans to seek the UCP nomination.

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.

Stephen Mandel Alberta Party Leadership

Stephen Mandel wins Alberta Party leadership. Alberta Advantage Party acclaims Marilyn Burns as leader.

Former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel, 72, is the new leader of the Alberta Party.

Kara Levis Alberta Party

Kara Levis

Mandel was elected on the first ballot with 66 percent of the vote, defeating Calgary lawyer Kara Levis, who placed second with 18 percent, and Calgary-South East MLA Rick Fraser, who placed third with 16 percent. 4,613 of the party’s 6,443 members participated in the vote.

Mandel served as mayor of Edmonton from 2004 to 2013 and as a city councillor from 2001 to 2004. He represented the Edmonton-Whitemud district as a Progressive Conservative MLA from 2014 to 2015 and was Minister of Health until his defeat in 2015 to New Democrat Dr. Bob Turner.

He has said he will run in the next election in the Edmonton-McClung district, currently represented by New Democratic Party MLA Lorne Dach.

The Alberta Party currently has three Calgary MLAs in the 87 MLA Legislative Assembly. It is widely rumoured that lone-PC MLA Richard Starke could cross the floor to join the Alberta Party caucus this spring. Starke was endorsed by Mandel in last year’s PC Party leadership race.

While the Alberta Party has framed itself as a “centrist” alternative to the two main political parties in the province – the NDP and the UCP – the party’s policies reveal it to be a conservative party in a similar vein as the old PC Party.

Alberta Advantage Party acclaims leader

Marilyn Burns Alberta Advantage Party

Marilyn Burns

Meanwhile, much further to the fringe populist right, Edmonton lawyer Marilyn Burns has been acclaimed as leader of the anti-UCP Alberta Advantage Party.

A co-founder of the Wildrose Party and vocal critic of the UCP, Burns was the only candidate in the race. She was a candidate for the leadership of the Alberta Alliance Party in 2005 and was a candidate for that party in Stony Plain in the 2004 election.

The party is in the process of registering but is not yet recognized as an official party by Elections Alberta.

Candidate Nomination Update: Airdrie-Cochrane, Banff-Kananaskis, Cardston-Siksika and Central Peace-Notley

Photo: Dave Schneider, Cameron Westhead, Morgan Nagel, and Todd Loewen

With only about 13 months left until a potential provincial election call, the number of candidates stepping forward to run for party nominations is growing (this is the second time this week that I have written an update on candidate nominations).

Here is today’s candidate nomination update:

Airdrie-Cochrane: Cochrane town councillor Morgan Nagel is seeking the United Conservative Party nomination in this newly redrawn district. Nagel has worked as a organizer for Jason Kenney’s leadership campaign and as the youth director for the Manning Centre.

Banff-KananaskisNew Democratic Party MLA Cameron Westhead confirmed with the Cochrane Eagle that he will seek re-election in the new Banff-Kananaskis district. Westhead was first elected in 2015 in the Banff-Cochrane district, defeating Progressive Conservative MLA Ron Casey by 2,894 votes.

Cardston-Siksika: Little Bow UCP MLA Dave Schneider told the Vauxhall Advance that he will seek re-election as the UCP candidate in the new Cardston-Siksika district. Schneider recently apologized for a statement in which he said ‘these people don’t traditionally vote‘ in reference to his Indigenous constituents. The new district includes the Siksika Nation, the Blood Tribe and the Pikani Nation, which have a combined population of more than 20,000.

The redistribution of electoral boundaries in southern Alberta could lead to incumbent UCP MLAs facing off in nomination contests. Current Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter, whose official residence is listed as Cardston, could also seek re-election in this new district.

Central Peace-Notley: UCP MLA Todd Loewen is seeking re-election in this sprawling redrawn northwestern Alberta district. Loewen was first elected in 2015 as the Wildrose MLA for Grande Prairie-Smoky. Energy Minister and NDP MLA Marg McCuaig-Boyd currently represents the Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley district and would presumably run in the same district if she seeks re-election.

Edmonton-Whitemud: According to Elections Alberta, Tunde Obasan has withdrawn his intention to seek the UCP nomination.

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.


Schweitzer goes for federal nomination instead?

Doug Schweitzer Calgary Alberta Conservative

Doug Schweitzer

According to a report by Postmedia’s James Wood, past UCP leadership candidate and Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer could forgo running in the 2019 provincial election in favour of running for the federal Conservatives in Calgary-Centre in the 2019 federal election. Also considering bids for the Conservative nomination in that district are Dustin Franks and Rick Billington.

Franks previously ran for the PC nomination in Calgary-Currie in 2015 and was campaign manager for Greg McLean in that candidate’s unsuccessful bid for the Conservative nomination in Calgary-Centre in 2012. Billington previously ran for Conservative nominations in Calgary-Centre in 2012 and Calgary-Heritage in 2017.

Stephen Mandel Alberta Party Leadership

It’s an Alberta Party leadership race: Kara Levis, Rick Fraser… Stephen Mandel

Photo: Former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel when he announced his plans to retire from municipal politics in 2013.

The rumours have been circulating for weeks, and they now appear to be confirmed.

Dr Bob Turner NDP Edmonton-Whitemud By-election

Dr. Bob Turner

Stephen Mandel is jumping back into provincial politics by launching a campaign for the leadership of the Alberta Party. The 72-year old former Edmonton mayor and provincial cabinet minister is expected to officially join the race on Jan. 10, 2018 at an “announcement about Alberta’s future” at the Boyle Street Community Hall.

Mandel was a popular mayor from 2004 to 2013 and briefly served as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud and Minister of Health from 2014 to 2015. Despite his largely successful three-terms as mayor, his short and unremarkable time in the provincial cabinet was ended when New Democratic Party candidate and Cross Cancer Institute oncologist Bob Turner unseated Mandel in the 2015 election.

He was rumoured to have considered a run for the PC Party leadership in 2017, but instead made a last-minute endorsement of Richard Starke. Since then, Mandel has been seen as a driving force behind Alberta Together, the political action committee led by former PC Party president Katherine O’Neill. AT is believed to have been influential in pushing former leader Greg Clark to step down as leader ahead of the party’s annual general meeting in November 2017.

Both Mandel and O’Neill were seen as star candidates for the PC Party in the 2015 election and were featured in online and television ads produced for the campaign.

Mandel’s installation as Chancellor of Concordia University of Edmonton on Nov. 30, 2017 makes the timing of his reentry into political life confusing, but his well-known dislike for the Wildrose Party and his cool relationship with former prime minister Stephen Harper’s Ottawa Conservatives – which would extend to Jason Kenney – could be what is driving him. He will certainly add some interest to the Alberta Party leadership race.

Former UCP MLA enters the Alberta Party race

Rick Fraser Alberta Party

Rick Fraser

The news of Mandel’s entry into the race broke on the same day it was reported that Calgary-South East MLA Rick Fraser will join the Alberta Party and enter the leadership race. Fraser’s candidacy means he will join party MLAs Greg Clark and Karen McPherson to form a caucus of three. McPherson joined the party shortly after she left the NDP caucus in Oct. 2017.

Fraser was elected as MLA for Calgary-South East in 2012 and 2015 as a Progressive Conservative and left the United Conservative Party Caucus in July 2017 citing concerns about the party’s positions on climate change and social issues.

He served as Associate Minister of Recovery and Reconstruction of High River following the floods that devastated southern Alberta in 2013. And he is the former president of CUPE Local 3421, which until April 2009 represented two-thirds of the province’s paramedics.

Kara Levis was the first candidate in the race

The two men joined the contest almost one month after Kara Levis, a Calgary-based commercial lawyer and President of the National Women’s Liberal Commission, became the first candidate to enter the leadership race. Levis is a co-founder of Ask Her, an organization dedicated to encouraging more women candidates to run in the 2017 Calgary Municipal Election.


Huffman is back

Jacob Huffman Alberta Liberal Leadership

Jacob Huffman

Also declared as a candidate in the race is jokester Jacob Huffman, whose previous attempt to run for the leadership of the Alberta Liberal Party was rebuffed.

His top campaign promises include returning “Redford supporters to positions of power and influence” and stimulating “economic growth by building the greatest Sky Place ever.”

It is unclear if the Alberta Party is prepared to allow such bold ideas in their leadership race.


The Alberta Party leadership race will take place on Feb. 27, 2018. The deadline for candidates to join the race is January 15, 2018.

Who is running in Alberta’s 2019 Election?

A handful of aspiring elected officials have already put their names forward to run in Alberta’s next provincial general election, which, due to our odd-ball fixed-election period, is expected to be called between March 1, 2019 and May 31, 2019.

Omar Masood ALberta Party Calgary Buffalo

Omar Masood

One candidate has already been nominated. Omar Masood was acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate in Calgary-Buffalo in December 2016.

Six incumbent MLAs were acclaimed to run as Wildrose Party candidates in February and March 2017, before the formation of the United Conservative Party and the redistribution of electoral boundaries for the next election. Those six MLAs were Angela Pitt in Airdrie, Glenn van Dijken in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock, Leela Aheer in Chestermere-Rockyview, Todd Loewen in Grande Prairie-Smoky, Dave Hanson in Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills and Ron Orr in Lacombe-Ponoka. It is expected that, due to the creation of a new party and a new electoral map, those MLAs will have to run for their new party’s nominations.

Here is a list of candidates who have announced their intentions to seek party nominations:

Aidrie-Cochrane: Peter Guthrie is seeking the UCP nomination in this new district. Guthrie is a former owner of a Mr. Lube franchise in north east Calgary and a former co-owner of a ranch near Castor. He has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alberta.

Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul: Glenn Spiess is seeking the UCP nomination in this newly redistributed district. Spiess was the Assistant Director of Development for the Living Water College of the Arts in Derwent and is a homeschooling facilitator with WISDOM, the home schooling administration of Trinity Christian School in Cold Lake.

Philip Schuman United Conservative Party Calgary Glenmore

Philip Schuman

Calgary-Beddington: Videographer and editor Daniel Kostek is seeking the UCP nomination in this new northwest Calgary district. The new district will be created from areas of the current Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill, Calgary-Northern Hills and Calgary-Foothills districts.

Calgary-Glenmore: Philip Schuman is seeking the UCP nomination in this southwest Calgary district. Schuman is an MBA student, insurance company account executive and the Vice President of the Braeside Community Association. Until July 2017, Schuman was listed as the Media Coordinator for United Liberty, the political action committee created by now-former UCP MLA Derek Fildebrandt.

Calgary-Mountain View: Thana Boonlert is seeking the Green Party  nomination, which is scheduled to take place on  February 28, 2018. Boonlert previously ran in the 2016 Calgary-Greenway by-election and 2015 federal election in Calgary-Centre. The district is currently represented by fourth-term Liberal MLA David Swann.

Calgary-South East: Matthew Jones is seeking the UCP nomination.

Edmonton-Gold Bar: New Democratic Party MLA Marlin Schmidt is seeking re-election. Schmidt is currently serving as Minister of Advanced Education and Acting Minister of Justice and Solicitor General. Schmidt was elected in 2015 with 68.9 percent of the vote and his crushing 11,205 vote margin of victory, the largest in any district in that election, earned him the nickname “Hurricane Marlin.”

Christina Gray Edmonton Mill Woods MLA

Christina Gray

Edmonton-Mill Woods: Christina Gray will seek re-election as the NDP candidate. She was elected in 2015 with 64.8 percent of the vote and currently serves as Minister of Labour and Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal.

Edmonton-Whitemud: Tunde Obasan is seeking the UCP nomination. He is an accounting and finance professional and was an organizer for Andrew Scheer‘s federal Conservative leadership campaign and Jason Kenney‘s UCP leadership campaign in 2017.

Leduc-Beaumont: Former Edmonton police officer Brad Rutherford is seeking the UCP nomination. Rutherford previously ran for the federal Conservative Party nomination in Edmonton-West ahead of the 2015 election. He is the president of the Leduc-Beaumont UCP and the federal Edmonton-Wetaskiwin Conservative association.

Red Deer-North: Cole Kander is seeking the UCP nomination. He is a former political assistant who publicly attacked former Wildrose leader Brian Jean after he lost his job at the UCP caucus due to budget cutbacks in September 2017.

St. Albert: Marie Renaud plans to seek re-election as the NDP candidate. Renaud was first elected in 2015 with 53.9 percent of the vote.

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.

NDP MLAs stood behind by-election candidate Bob Turner at a campaign event in Sept. 2014. Left to right: David Eggen, Rachel Notley, Bob Turner, and Brian Mason.

Misericordia versus Royal Alex: A legacy of poor long-term planning by the old PC government

Campaigns to rebuild two Edmonton area hospitals now competing for scarce funds to fix crumbling infrastructure are being run by organizations that include former Tory insiders who sat at the budget table when the decisions were made that led to the two facilities’ current dilapidated condition.

Alex the Spokes-puppet

Alex the Spokes-puppet

Political jockeying for funding for the Alberta Health Services-run Royal Alexandra Hospital in north-central Edmonton and Covenant Health‘s Misericordia Hospital in southwest Edmonton is intensifying as provincial budget deliberations heat up.

The Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation recently launched a public campaign to lobby the provincial government to provide additional funding for the hospital. The campaign’s message isn’t wrong. As the campaign’s memorable spokes-puppet points out, the Royal Alex has been on “top of the list for infrastructure redevelopment for more than 20 years.

New Mis Now” was a campaign slogan used by the New Democratic Party opposition during a 2014 by-election in the Edmonton-Whitemud constituency. NDP candidate Bob Turner criticized then-unelected health minister Stephen Mandel for a lack of funding from the Progressive Conservative government to build a new Misericordia Hospital in booming southwest Edmonton. Covenant Health is continuing to put pressure on the now-NDP government to invest in a new Misericordia Hospital.

They are both right. Both aging facilities are in need of major investment.

Iris Evans

Iris Evans

But how did we get to this point?

Poor long-term planning and a legacy of political meddling in the administration of the regional health authorities is likely the real reason why two aging Edmonton hospitals are in their current condition.

The blame lies with the old PC government, which sat in power from 1971 until 2015. During some of the province’s biggest economic booms, when resource royalties from oil and natural gas flooded into government coffers, the PCs could have chosen to invest in our aging public infrastructure. But through many of the boom years that took place during their final two decades in power, the PCs were more focused on giving out tax breaks or vanity cheques than investing in public infrastructure or saving for future generations.

There is some irony that three people who were sitting at the table when the lack of long-term planning occurred over the past twenty to twenty-five years are now personally connected with the organizations lobbying the NDP government for hospital funding.

Shirley McClellan

Shirley McClellan

Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation board member Iris Evans served in the PC government from 1997 to 2012, including as minister of health and finance. Sitting on the Covenant Health Board of Directors are Ed Stelmach, a former premier and cabinet minister from 1997 until 2011, and Shirley McClellan, another former minister of health and minister of finance. McClellan served as Minister of Health from 1992 to 1996, when deep funding cuts were made to Alberta’s health care system, and later as Minister of Finance from 2004 to 2006.

So now, Albertans, and an NDP government faced with limited funds and low international oil prices, have to deal with the previous government’s lack of foresight.

As government, the NDP is now responsible for figuring out how to fix the infrastructure problems created by the old PC government while living up to the promises they made while in opposition. Some real long-term planning would be a good place to start.

Photo: NDP MLAs stood behind by-election candidate Bob Turner at a campaign event outside the Misericordia Hospital in Sept. 2014. Left to right: David Eggen, Rachel Notley, Bob Turner, and Brian Mason.

PC Alberta Tammany Hall

NDP Bill aims to take Big Money out of Alberta politics

The Alberta NDP are pushing forward with their plans to reform Alberta’s outdated election finance laws.

Christina Gray Edmonton Mill Woods MLA

Christina Gray

Labour Minister Christina Gray, who also serves as Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal, introduced the NDP’s latest election finance reforms in the Legislature today in Bill 35: Fair Elections Finances Act. This follows in the footsteps of the first bill championed by Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP after the party formed government in 2015, banning corporate and union donations to political parties.

The bill introduced today includes a handful of the reform ideas that were debated by the now-defunct Special Select Committee for Ethics and Accountability, which was created during the euphoria that followed the election of the NDP. The political mood soured quickly after the election and the committee quickly succumbed to a year of partisan wrangling and procedural brinksmanship until the Legislature allowed the committee to disband in September 2016.

David Swann Liberal MLA Calgary-Mountain View

David Swann

The new bill has already received the support of committee member and Liberal Party leader David Swann. Dr. Swann, who is believed to be quite sympathetic to the NDP on many issues, was quoted in a government press released praising the changes.

The bill picks up where the committee left off, but does not include some of the more controversial ideas, such as per-vote financial subsidies for political parties.

Bill 35 would lower the limit that individuals can contribute annually to political parties to $4,000, which is a positive move, and is a reform that NDP and Wildrose MLAs on the all-party committee found room to agree on. The current annual contribution limits are $15,000 outside election periods and $30,000 during election periods.

Eric Rosendahl

Eric Rosendahl

The bill imposes a spending limit of $50,000 for each individual candidate’s campaigns and a $2 million limit for political parties (the Progressive Conservatives were the only party to spend more than $2 million in the last election). I am in favour of spending limits but I do believe that a $50,000 limit for constituency campaigns could be too low. I expect this could lead to some candidate campaigns spending additional funds in advance of the election being called in order to circumvent the low limit.

There are currently no spending limits in Alberta and our province is currently the only province in Canada without spending limits. The lack of spending limits has led to some significant disparities in what is spent in elections campaigns. For example, Edmonton-Whitemud PC candidate Stephen Mandel‘s campaign spent $132,991 in 2015, while candidates like West Yellowhead New Democrat Eric Rosendahl spent $748. Generally, the rule is that the candidate who spends the most money is likely to win, but 2015 was an exception to that rule (Mr. Mandel was defeated and Mr. Rosendahl was elected).

Rob Anderson MLA Airdrie PC WIldrose

Rob Anderson

The NDP have allowed a handful of costs to be exempted from the limit, including travel costs, parking and gas, childcare expenses, expenses related to a candidate living with a disability, and financial audits required by law. I suspect the exemption of travel and gas costs are meant to address some concerns that MLAs on the committee raised about additional expenses incurred when campaigning in geographically large rural constituencies. This issue was raised by Wildrose MLAs on the committee who represent some of these large rural areas.

The bill also proposes limiting spending by candidates running in party nomination contests, which currently does not exist in Alberta. Nomination candidates would now have to register their candidacy with Elections Alberta, which is similar to a system that already exists for federal political parties.

Rick Strankman

Rick Strankman

Perhaps most controversially, Bill 35 seeks to limit the total amount of money that third-party advertisers can spend during elections campaigns. The proposed limit of $150,000, of which no more than $3,000 could used in an individual constituency, is severely limiting. The high costs associated with advertising campaigns would mean that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for any third-party group to run an effective province-wide campaign during an election period in Alberta.

The province’s original third party advertising laws were introduced in 2009 by first term Progressive Conservative MLA Rob Anderson, who later crossed the floor to the Wildrose Party in 2010 before crossing back to the PCs in 2014. Mr. Anderson is now supporting Jason Kenney‘s campaign to merge the two parties and penned an apology to Wildrose supporters on his blog.

Perhaps somewhat ironically, considering the vastly different political environment in 2016, the third-party advertising laws passed by the PCs in 2009 were seen as a reaction to the Albertans for Change advertising campaign targeted then-premier Ed Stelmach. The ads, which became infamous for the spooky “Noooo Plaaan” tagline, were sponsored by a handful of Alberta labour unions.

It was during the 2009 debate in the Legislative Assembly over Mr. Anderson’s bill that the rookie MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona, Rachel Notley, foreshadowed what seven years later would become her government’s reforms to Alberta’s elections finance system:

…in Alberta we should have a much more comprehensive set of rules around our own election financing as candidates, as members of political parties, we should have much more substantial limits on how much we can spend as political parties, and we should have much more substantial rules on the maximum donation that we can receive, all of that designed to ensure it is the individual voter whose activity and whose engagement ultimately makes the day one way or the other at the end of the process and that it’s not one person or a group of 20 people with $15,000 each who can decide a particular campaign in a particular riding.


Where is Strankman’s bill?

Post media columnist Graham Thomson raises an important point in his latest column. Earlier this year Wlidrose MLA Rick Strankman introduced a Private Members’ Bill calling for a blackout of government announcements during election period in order to prevent a governing party from using public funds to influence the election.

The bill was introduced in the Assembly but then referred to the Special Select Committee for Ethics and Accountability, which never had the opportunity to debate it before it was disbanded. It is unclear whether Mr. Strankman’s bill will ever resurface in a future sitting.

NDP MLA Graham Sucha (left) with MLAs Joe Ceci, Shannon Phillips and Kathleen Ganley.

Spending limits for election candidates? Yes, Please.

Calgary-Shaw NDP MLA Graham Sucha is proposing there be a limit to how much money provincial candidates and parties can spend on election campaigns.

At a recent meeting of the Special Select Ethics and Accountability Committee, Mr. Sucha proposed local candidate campaign spending be limited to $40,000 for most constituencies and $50,000 for larger northern constituencies and provincial campaigns limited to $1.6 million per party. There are currently no spending limits in Alberta and our province is currently the only province in Canada without spending limits.

Alberta voters swept out cash-flush Progressive Conservative candidates in favour of the cash-strapped New Democrats in 2015, but it has generally been the case in Alberta elections that the richest campaigns win on election day. The absence of spending limits has allowed PC candidates to wildly outspend their opposition during that party’s 44 years as government from 1971 to 2015.

In the 2015 election, a handful of PC candidates spent incredibly large sums of money on local campaigns – Edmonton-Whitemud candidate Stephen Mandel‘s campaign spent $132,991 and ended the campaign with a $135,974 surplus. Lowering the spending limits would prevent parties from using these large funds held in trust following the last election in that constituency in the next election (I would expect they would be transferred to other targeted constituencies).

Federal candidates in Alberta are limited to spending between $200,000 and $270,000 depending on the riding they are running for election in. As provincial constituencies in Alberta are considerably smaller than federal ridings, it is expected that any limits would be lower.

Back in February I proposed ten ways that the election process in Alberta could be improved, and spending limits was my third recommendation. While I do believe the spending limits Mr. Sucha has proposed may be too low, especially for the provincial parties, I do believe he is on the right track. There should be spending limits in Alberta elections.


The committee also debated a motion introduced by Edmonton-Decore NDP MLA Chris Nielsen and amended by Bonnyville-Cold Lake Wildrose MLA Scott Cyr that would lower financial contribution limits to $4,000 during election periods and $2,300 outside election periods. Albertans can currently donate $30,000 to political parties during election and by-election periods and $15,000 outside election and by-election periods.