Tag Archives: Erick Ambtman

what’s next for raj sherman and the alberta liberals?

MLA Raj Sherman's victory speech at Alberta Liberal leadership event September 10, 2011.

Newly elected Alberta Liberal leader Raj Sherman gives his victory speech with his wife Sharon standing to the right. Leadership co-chair Josipa Petrunic and candidates Laurie Blakeman, Hugh MacDonald, and Bruce Payne stand to the left (Bill Harvey did not join the other candidates on stage).

What kind of leader will Raj Sherman be?
This is a tough question to answer. As Edmonton Journal columnist Graham Thomson somewhat dramatically described yesterday:

Sherman – energetic, intelligent, charismatic – could prove to be a political white knight riding to the Liberals’ rescue. Or Sherman – inexperienced, mercurial, impetuous – could yet prove to be one of the horsemen of the apocalypse.

Simply put, Dr. Sherman is a mixed-bag. (Don Braid, David Climenhaga, and Maurice Tougas have all penned opinions on what Dr. Sherman’s acendency to the leadership might mean for Alberta’s Official Opposition party).

The Caucus
Former Tory MLA Dr. Sherman will walk into his new office as the Leader of the Official Opposition this week surrounded by an eight MLA Liberal caucus, which has had a tense relationship with its leaders since the 2008 general election. The caucus includes two of his leadership competitors (Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman and Edmonton-Gold Bar MLA Hugh MacDonald) and two of the party’s former leaders (Calgary-Mountain View MLA David Swann and Edmonton-Riverview MLA Kevin Taft). Of the group of eight, two (Dr. Taft and Calgary-Varsity MLA Harry Chase) are planning to retire at the next election.

The Big Four
It is my experience that the Chief of Staff, Caucus Communications Director, Party President, and Party Executive Director are four key positions that a Liberal party leader needs support from in order to successfully command the leadership of the party. Two of these positions are about to be vacated.

As noted in a recently Globe & Mail article, Erick Ambtman has resigned as President. Corey Hogan, executive director since 2009, has announced his plans to move on to future challenges. Chief of Staff Rick Miller, a former MLA and nominated candidate in Edmonton-Rutherford, may want to focus his energies on his election campaign. In his short time in the job, Communications Director Brian Leadbetter has proven to be an effective communication manager in a position that has turned into a rotating door over the past few years.

The Liberals need a ground game
While only around a paltry 8,600 out of almost 27,000 eligible voters actually participated in the leadership vote, the party is still left with a vast list of almost 30,000 potential volunteers, sign locations, and voters to help them in the next provincial election. One of the areas that Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Payne stressed during the leadership campaign was the need for the Liberals to build their strength on the ground.

Currently, the Liberals do not have functional organizations in most constituencies across the province, including in constituencies that they held up until the 2008 election. The lack of local organization and funds will pose a challenge in finding credible candidates to run in an expected fall 2011 or spring 2012 general election.

Mending fences
A significant number of the party’s staunch loyalists supported Mr. MacDonald’s candidacy and his criticisms of the open voting leadership process. Many of these Liberals were furious at former leader Dr. Swann’s attempts to cooperate with other opposition parties in response to his party’s shrinking political fortunes. Dr. Sherman will need to mend fences with this sometimes unreasonable group of stalwarts while cementing his own activists into the party ranks.

It will also be interesting to see if right-wing leadership candidate Bill Harvey remains in the Liberal Party (it is suspected that he may join the Wildrose Party). The two-time candidate, who was supported by right-wing agitator Craig Chandler, earned 7% of the vote in this contest.

Of interesting note, party Vice-President (Policy) Debbie Cavaliere challenged Dr. Sherman for the PC nomination in 2007 and later ran as the Liberal candidate against him in the 2008 general election.

Other Parties
The Progressive Conservatives will be voting for the first ballot in their leadership contest on September 17. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, then a second ballot with the top three candidates will be held on October 1. The victor of that leadership contest will determine the tone and calendar of the next provincial election, which many political watchers are expecting to be held later this fall or early next spring.

Since 2010, the Wildrose Party led by Danielle Smith have moved into second place in the polls, with the NDP led by Brian Mason are competing with the Liberals for third place. The question is whether Dr. Sherman’s star power can write the Liberals back into the political narrative they have been largely absent from over the past two years.

There is also the question of what effect Dr. Sherman’s victory will have on the new Alberta Party, which continues to organize, but has dropped to a lower-profile since Hinton Mayor Glenn Taylor was chosen as its leader earlier this year.

liberal leadership poll: erick ambtman who?

Liberal Party President Erick Ambtman edged out Calgary-Buffalo MLA Kent Hehr in the latest blog poll asking readers of this blog who they thought should replace Calgary-Mountain View MLA David Swann as leader of his party. In close third is former Edmonton Member of Parliament Anne McLellan, a high-profile name in Alberta politics.

In a distant fourth is the only candidate to have actually declared interest in seeking the job, Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman.

Mr. Ambtman is a virtual unknown to most people outside Liberal Party and some other political circles, but his performance at a media conference following Dr. Swann’s resignation announcement gave him an opportunity to show off some of his respectable speaking skills to the media. If he does not seek his party’s leadership, he could be a strong candidate in the next election.

alberta politics notes 12/12/2010

Don Martin goes to Ottawa
After 32-years writing for the Calgary Herald, Don Martin wrote his final column last week titled “ My last words on Alberta politics.” Mr. Martin will soon take over as the host of CTV’s Ottawa-based Power Play.

Budget
The City of Edmonton approved their 2011 budget with a 3.85% tax increase. Read Councillor Don Iveson‘s blog post on the budget debates and results. The City of Calgary also recently passed their 2011 budget with a 5% tax increase.

Urban municipalities conference
The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association held their annual general meeting at the end of November where they debated and adopted a series of new policies. Conference delegates also acclaimed Village of Breton Councillor Darren Aldous as their President for a second-term.

Lethbridge By-Election
The sudden death of Alderman-elect Bob Babki in October has triggered a by-election for Lethbridge City Council scheduled for February 1, 2011. Jeff Coffman, Kevin Layton, George McCrea, Wade Galloway are standing in the by-election.

Canadian Wheat Board elections
Allen Oberg of Forrestburg, Alberta, Stewart Wells of Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Kyle Korneychuk of Pelly, Saskatchewan, John Sandborn of Benito, Manitoba, and Henry Vos of Fairview, Alberta were elected or re-elected to the Canadian Wheat Board. All Board Members with the exception of Mr. Vos are supporters of a single desk seller. Just over 41 per cent of the eligible 28,481 eligible farmers returned their mail-in ballots.

Alberta Party releases MLA Guidelines
The Alberta Party has released a series of guidelines for MLAs and a process for sitting MLAs who want to join that party, which has generated some interesting debate on Facebook. The Edmonton Journal’s Sheila Pratt has wrote about a recent chat with the Alberta Party’s Acting-Leader Sue Huff, as did Angela Brunschot in SEE Magazine.

New Alberta Liberal Executive
The Alberta Liberals elected a new President at their recent annual general meeting. Erick Ambtman was acclaimed to the position as were VP Policy Debbie Cavaliere and Secretary Nancy Cavanaugh. Two other board positions appear to be vacant as VP Communications Jody MacPherson resigned for personal reasons at the AGM and the VP Fundraising position is listed as vacant on the party website.

Mar blocked Maryland global warming Bill
Alberta’s representative in Washington DC Gary Mar helped stop a piece of global warming legislation in the State of Maryland in 2009. According to The Tyee, Mr. Mar travelled to Maryland to speak against the Oil Sands Responsibility Act introduced by Representative Roger Manno. The Bill would have prohibited State agencies from purchasing high-carbon fuel, including fuel derived from Alberta’s oil sands.

Ted Morton running against Danielle Smith?
Probably not, but that has not stopped the speculation that the PCs would take advantage of changes in the electoral boundaries to put their top fiscal mallard Ted Morton on the ballot against Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith.

Social Credit AGM
The elusive Social Credit Party held its annual general meeting on November 20, 2010 in in Innisfail where its members reaffirmed the leadership of Len Skowronski and heard what I am sure was a fascinating a speech from Paul Kennett, President and CEO of the Alberta Credit Union Deposit Corporation. The party also elected a new board of directors, consisting of President Gordon Barrett, Vice-Presidents Helge Nome and Garnet Medicraft, Area Directors Myrna Kissick, Gordon Musgrove, Tom Stad, Raj Sinha, Charles Relland, and Bob Whyte. Both Mr. Relland and Mr. Whyte are former members of the Alberta Party, which they both left after the party’s renewal attracted in an influx of new members over the past year.

Election earlier than 2012?
Liberal leader David Swann and Wildrose Alliance leader Ms. Smith are predicting an election in early 2011. Although I have heard similar rumours as they have, I still believe that as long as Premier Ed Stelmach is the leader of his party the next election will be in March 2012, as he has consistently said.

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.

alberta politics notes 11/19/2010

After a week-long break, MLAs returned to the Assembly for a week that started with three-sided tailing ponds and ended with an emergency debate on health care.

Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Raj Sherman at 2010 Premier's Pancake Breakfast.

Emergency Debate on Health Care
Edmonton-Meadowlark PC MLA and parliamentary assistant for Health & Wellness Raj Sherman got the attention he was looking for when he wrote a blunt email to the Premier, and several MLAs, cabinet ministers, and medical colleagues. The letter continued a month long media firestorm on the state of emergency room wait times in Alberta.

As Question Period ended yesterday, Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman succeeded in her bid to hold an emergency debate, which lasted for just over an hour and showcased some of the most passionate debate I have seen in the Assembly this year. This was the second attempt by the opposition during this session to initiate an emergency debate on this topic. A motion to extend the debate during the afternoon was defeated when a number of PC MLAs who did not want to extend their four day week on the Assembly floor (Ron Liepert, Jeff Johnson, and Barry McFarland as tweeted by Liberal caucus Chief of Staff Rick Miller). UPDATE: Mr. Miller has commented below that his tweet was naming the three PC MLAs for not standing in support of the initial vote to have an emergency debate, not to vote against extending the debate past 4:30pm.

MLA Laurie Blakeman initiated the emergency debate.

For Dr. Sherman, the big question is what does his political future hold? After embarrassing the Premier and his caucus on this sensitive file, it is questionable how much longer his colleagues will tolerate an independence streak. With three former PC MLAs having crossed to the Wildrose Alliance in the past year, the Tories need to balance maintaining caucus unity without being too disciplinary with their more independent-minded MLAs. This is a balancing act that has proved difficult in the 68 MLA PC caucus.

New Rural Municipalities Leader
The AAMDC Annual Conference was held this weekend and Bob Barss was elected as their new President. Mr. Barss is the Reeve for the Municipal District of Wainwright No. 61. He was first elected in to Council in 1995 and became Reeve in 1997. Mr. Barss replaces Municipal District of Taber Reeve Don Johnson, who has served in the position since 2004. The conference included speeches from provincial cabinet ministers Hector Goudreau, Rob Renner, Ray Danyluk, Heather Klimchuk, Jack Hayden, Luke Ouellette, and Premier Ed Stelmach.

Liberal Party AGM
The Liberal Party is holding its annual general meeting on November 27 and will elect three of its executive committee members, President, Vice-President (Policy), and Secretary. Edmonton Regional Director Erick Ambtman has declared his intentions to run for President. Current President, Debbie Cavaliere, was appointed on an interim basis after former President Tony Sansotta resigned in July. Ms. Cavaliere will be seeking election as VP (Policy) and current Secretary Nancy Cavanaugh will be seeking re-election for her position.

New NDP Communications Guy
Richard Liebrecht started his new job as the Communications Director for the NDP Caucus this week. Mr. Liebrecht is a former reporter for the Edmonton Sun and editor at the Hinton Parklander. Mr. Liebrecht replaces another former Sun reporter Brookes Merritt, who recently left the NDP Caucus for a job at the Public Affairs Bureau.

The former Libertarian leader wants to carry the Wildrose flag in Calgary-Hays.

Libertarian leader goes Wildrose
Dennis Young is seeking the Wildrose Alliance nomination in Calgary-Hays. The former leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada, Mr. Young earned  265 votes in his 2008 campaign in Calgary-Southwest, which was won by Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Note: Mr. Young is still listed as leader on the Libertarian Party website, but lists himself as the former leader on his campaign website). View the updated list of declared and nominated provincial election candidates.

Distracted drivers
Alberta has a new distracted driving law that will prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.

Alberta Party (new) media coverage
If you missed the coverage of last weekend’s Alberta Party policy conference, there is no shortage of online news stories and blog posts. Here is a run-down from media and participants of the policy convention and recent Big Listens.

Todd Babiak: Alberta Party hopes to gain foothold with “post-partisan politics”
Dave Berry: Political Crowdsourcing
Samantha Power: Party of the Young
The Unknown Studio Podcast: The Brierley Patch
Mack Male: The Alberta Party’s Big Listen
Edwin Erickson: Moving right along then…
Gerard McLellan: Sunday morning at the Alberta Party policy convention
The Roundhouse: Alberta Party Policy Convention – Part 1
Alberta Party policy convention – Aftermath
Chris Labossiere: Tired and yet inspired
David King: Carpe Diem
Ken Chapman: The Alberta Party is on the Move and Making Waves
Max Fawcett: Mission Impossible?
Duncan Kinney: Feed-in Tariffs, Geothermal and Carbon Disclosure – My experience at the Alberta Party Policy Convention
Jeremy Barretto: Why the Alberta Party is a game changer, not late to the game

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.