Tag Archives: Ernie Isley

A short roundup of municipal election races across Alberta

With a feeling of excitement in the air, Nomination Day came and went today as residents across Alberta officially became candidates in this year’s municipal election. With nearly 120 candidates registered to run in Edmonton’s municipal election, today’s event was busy. I was at Edmonton City Hall at this morning’s event and snapped photos of many candidates.

While it was expected that some Edmonton City Council candidates could be acclaimed, the only two unchallenged incumbents in this year’s vote are Edmonton Public School Trustees Sarah Hoffman and Cheryl Johner. I have updated the list of Edmonton election candidates with their social media links.

After a busy morning and evening of attending election related events, I joined Ryan Hastman and Mack Male for a special Nomination Day #yegvote Google Hangout. You can watch the hangout in the embedded video above and find previous episodes at EdmontonPolitics.com.

Here is a quick look at some of the interesting municipal election news from across Alberta:

– Popular Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is expected to cruise to victory, but still faces eight challengers.

– Former Progressive Conservative MLA and cabinet minister Ray Danyluk is running to become the next Reeve of St. Paul County. Mr. Danyluk served as MLA for Lac La Biche-St. Paul from 2001 until 2012.

– Former PC and Wildrose candidate Guy Boutilier has thrown his name into the election for Wood Buffalo Municipal Council. Mr. Boutilier was MLA from 1997 until 2012 and Mayor of Wood Buffalo from 1995 until 1997.

– Former Wildrose candidate Maryann Chichak is running for Mayor in Whitecourt.

– Well-known political blogger David Climenhaga is running for city council in St. Albert.

– In July he announced his retirement from politics, but according to the Bonnyville Nouvelle, Town of Bonnyville Mayor Ernie Isely is running for re-election. Isley has served as mayor since 2006 and was the PC MLA for the area from 1979 to 1993.

– He may be enjoying retirement from Ottawa, but former Member of Parliament Myron Thompson is once again running for a spot on Sundre Town Council. Mr. Thompson was the MP for Wild Rose from 1993 until 2008, and was Mayor of Sundre from 1974 to 1980.

– Former MLAs Weslyn Mather and Ray Martin have thrown their hats in Edmonton’s public school board election. Ms. Mather was the Liberal MLA for Edmonton-Mill Woods from 2004 until 2008. Mr. Martin was leader of the Official Opposition NDP from 1986 to 1993, and was elected as MLA from 1982 to 1993 and 2004 to 2008.

Robert Wilkinson was convicted of impaired driving, became an internet sensation with his rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and is the only candidate challenging Edson Mayor Greg Pasychny in this year’s election.

– In the Village of Bawlf, only one candidate filed nomination papers to contest the election for the five member village council. According to the Village’s Twitter account, the “Village Office will be open 10-12 weekdays til Sept30, until 5 nominations are received.”

– In Grande Prairie, popular mayor Bill Given is being challenged by former councillor Gladys Blackmore.

Richard Richards has been acclaimed as mayor in the Town of Stettler.

Twenty-four candidates have filed nomination papers to contest five council seats in the flood damaged town of High River.

Please share in the comments section below if there are any interesting races or candidates who I have missed.

Twenty years since Alberta’s epic 1993 election.

Colleen and Ralph Klein (screenshot from CBC news archive)

Colleen and Ralph Klein (screenshot from CBC news archive)

Today marks the 20th anniversary of Alberta’s 1993 election, known in Tory political circles as “the miracle on the Prairies” and to others as the election that interrupted the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals (in which the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Wayne Gretzky-led Los Angeles Kings). This election was Alberta’s most competitive in decades and saw the 22 year governing Progressive Conservatives led by former Calgary Mayor Ralph Klein face-off against the reenergized Liberals led by former Edmonton Mayor Laurence Decore.

The Tories emerged as the victors of the closely fought election, successfully distancing themselves from the unpopular former Premier Don Getty, who Premier Klein had only replaced the year before the election. Significant retirements of long-time Tory MLAs brought a new batch of candidates on “Ralph’s Team” to compete with an impressive and well-funded slate of Liberal candidates.

Hoping to ride the wave of electoral discontent that the Reform Party would ride in the federal election later that year, the Liberals challenged the Tories on many traditional conservative issues and attracted some social conservative candidates who might not find a natural home in the Liberal Party. A few of these successful social conservative Liberal candidates, including Edmonton’s Julius Yankowsky, would later cross the floor to the Tories.

With both the PCs and Liberals campaigning on fiscal conservative platforms geared toward eliminating budget deficits and paying down debts, there may have been less policy difference between the two parties than could normally be expected.

Laurence Decore (screenshot from CBC news archive)

Laurence Decore (screenshot from CBC news archive)

Similar to last year’s provincial election, where a “Lake of Fire” helped cost Danielle Smith‘s Wildrose Party more than a few votes in  closely fought campaign, a controversial social issue played a defining role in the 1993 election. Political scientist Peter McCormick wrote in the Canadian Annual Review of Politics and Public Affairs, 1995, “…it was generally agreed the Liberal leader Laurence Decore’s causal raising of the abortion issue was one of the reasons his party lost the 1993 provincial election.”

On June 15, 1993, Premier Klein’s PC Party was re-elected with 51 seats out of 83 and 44% of the provincial vote. Premier Klein would lead his party through three more election victories before he retired in 2006. Winning every seat in Edmonton and a handful in rural Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge, the Liberals elected 32 MLAs and earned 39% of the provincial vote.

A number of Tory stalwarts, including Bonnyville‘s Ernie Isley, Leduc‘s Donald Sparrow and St. Albert’s Dick Fowler were unseated by Liberal candidates. A Liberal candidate was even successful in capturing Calgary-West, the coveted constituency represented by Premier Peter Lougheed from 1967 to 1986. The Liberals have never again come this close to forming government in Alberta.

Ray Martin (screenshot from CBC news archive)

Ray Martin (screenshot from CBC news archive)

Led by Edmonton-Norwood MLA Ray Martin, the official opposition New Democrats lost the 16 seats they had won in the previous election. Electoral boundary redistribution, retiring incumbents, and the defection of Stony Plain NDP MLA Stan Woloshyn to the Tories did not help. With a rise of support for the Liberals in Edmonton and the Tory’s new popular leader Premier Klein, the NDP were abandoned by many of their traditional supporters in this election.

Watch this archived CBC news report on the 1993 election (points to anyone who can name the journalist narrating the CBC report).

is edmonton’s former capital health board being targeted by a calgary-led witch-hunt?

Witch Trial Alberta Health Services

The Alberta Health Services investigation into former Capital Health executives.

Are executives of the former Calgary Health Region, now comfortably occupying senior positions at Alberta Health Services, campaigning to discredit the work done by executives of Edmonton’s now-defunct Capital Health Region?

AHS President and CEO Chris Eagle announced earlier this week that, following the Allaudin Merali expense-claims scandal, an Ernst and Young audit would expand to include expense-claims from all former executives of Edmonton’s Capital Region Heath Authority. This expenses audit could include investigations into former Capital Health President and CEO Sheila Weatherhill, who recently resigned from the AHS Board of Directors, and potentially Ethics Commissioner Neil Wilkinson, who served as Capital Health’s board chairman until 2008.

Despite calls from critics to expand the expenses audit, it will not investigate former executives from Alberta’s other now-defunct regional health authorities.

Before it was dissolved, Capital Health was widely seen as an example of innovative regional health care in Alberta for its pioneering of Health Link and creation of the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute and the Edmonton Clinic at the University of Alberta. The targeting of only Capital Health officials in this expense-audit could be seen as a campaign to discredit their many successes of Capital Health by officials from the former Calgary Health Region, which was mired in a financial deficit.

Some current Alberta Health Services senior executives who were employed or connected with the former Calgary Health Region include President & CEO Mr. Eagle, Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer Bill Trafford, Chief Operations Officer Chris Marzukowich, Chief Medical Officer David Megran, and Senior Vice President (Communications) Roman Cooney. Even the AHS senior vice-president in charge of the Edmonton zone, Mike Conroy, held several senior management positions with the Calgary Health Region.

For many years, the Calgary Health Region benefited from political proximity to both Premier Ralph Klein, and former Provincial Treasurer Jim Dinning, who later served as chairman of the health region’s board of directors. Prominent politically connected directors appointed to serve on the Calgary Health board included Premier Klein’s constituency president Skip MacDonald and Progressive Conservative Party vice-president Scobey Hartley.

In some circles, it is suspected that the creation of the provincial health superboard was a reaction to the political brazenness of former Calgary Health Region CEO Jack Davis, who was known to use media attention to leverage increased funding from the provincial government. As CEO of Capital Health, Ms. Weatherill used considerably more tact than her Calgary counterpart, relying on official channels to lobby the government.

In its final year of existence, the Calgary Health Region recorded a $85 million deficit and Mr. Davis went public to get more money from Premier Ed Stelmach’s government before the 2008 election, which threatened to make it an campaign issue. Shortly after the Tories were re-elected in 2008, the regional health authorities were dissolved and Health Minister Ron Liepert created Alberta Health Services. The dissolution of the Calgary Health Region led to Mr. Davis receiving a $4 million retirement package (Ms. Weatherill was paid about $2 million under her supplemental executive retirement plan).

Expanding the expense-claims audit beyond the Capital Health Region could reveal similarities and contrasts in expense-claims, but more dangerously for some, it could dive into the annals of PC Party patronage. The regional health boards across the province were notoriously stacked with appointees who also happened to be card-carrying members of the PC Party.

Among the prominent Tories appointed as chairman of the former regional health authorities included cabinet minister and PC election campaign manager Marvin Moore in the Peace Country Health Authority and former cabinet minister, Ernie Isley, who served as chairman of the Lakeland Health Authority, which posted a $4 million deficit in 2002.

genia leskiw posts anti-wildrose rant on her mla website.

It has been fascinating to observe how Alberta’s long-governing Progressive Conservatives have reacted to the challenge created by the Wildrose Alliance‘s rise in the polls. In most circumstances, the PCs appear to have kept a level head and tacted their policies to the centre to compete with Danielle Smith’s party’s more right-wing conservative policies, but there are exceptions.

Even though she was elected with 75% of the vote in 2008, Bonnyville-Cold Lake PC MLA Genia Leskiw appears to be feeling the pressure of the Wildrose within her own constituency. Ms. Smith recently toured the area and former PC MLA and current Bonnyville Mayor Ernie Isley is now supporting the Wildrosers. On her website, Ms. Leskiw recently published a long rant on her website about the dangers of the Wildrose Alliance in which she invokes union-busting, George W. Bush, and the fear of southern Alberta domination.

Be wary of the Wild Rose Alliance!

Very often the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence.  When one looks deeper at the quality of grass that actually exists there, the extra greenness is usually an illusion.  Politics is no different, as many Conservatives look at the Wildrose Alliance.  Another old saying fits this situation is “Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing!”

All this attention to this new party is a result of their leader.  A former broadcaster, she is articulate, and a master of the quick soundbite that the media eats up.  As a result she has given her party much more publicity than it deserves.  Her normalcy masks some of the lunacy of the platform of her upstart party.  Her biggest challenge will be to try and hide some of the ridiculous promises in her party platform before critical Albertans see them for what they are.  The party’s strength is in its timing.  During harsh economic times, when tough decisions are being made, it is much easier to be a critic than a builder.  We are in such a time now.

The platform of the party follows a shotgun approach to political planning.  Promise everything to everybody, and hope no-one actually reads the whole platform.  Some of their promises, like ending all homelessness in Alberta during their first term in office are naively simplistic.  Some are dangerous, like striking down parts of our Human Rights and Multicultural Act that prevent discrimination.  Other policies of the party are openly contradictory.  They promise the oil companies they will slash our royalty system, other sectors they will slash taxes that affect input costs, yet promise Albertans they will keep a balanced budget.

Putting an end to public education by using ‘Alberta Opportunity Scholarships’ instead of per pupil student grants to public schools will set off alarm bells for those concerned about the future of public education.  They promise standardized annual testing of students and teacher quality.  This comes straight from George Bush’s American plans for school improvement.  We all know how well that worked.  During a time of labour peace, when all teachers are in a long term contract, this party wants to pick a fight and limit teacher’s labour rights.  The only MLA in the party speaks of limiting teacher’s right to strike to weekends and holidays.  A well thought out platform indeed.  They also intend to punish teachers if their students do not perform to Wildrose standards.  Pity the poor teacher of disadvantaged kids.  It is critical that teachers everywhere have a close look at this platform before they remove the controversial parts until after they are elected!  Most of the sane parts of their platform merely reflect what the current government is doing in education, such as enhancing online educational initiatives for students, or funding arts, music, and physical education.  I analyze education first, because that was my career for thirty six years, and I know it well.  I challenge every constituent in Bonnyville-Cold Lake to zero in on the area you are most familiar with, and read their platform carefully and critically.  The problem with an all encompassing platform is that it may seem reasonable in areas you are unfamiliar with, but alarm bells should go off when you analyze your area of specialization.  Beware of this party!

Teachers aren’t the only group they want to pick a fight with though.  The Wildrose aim is to strip unions of any influence they currently have by setting up a situation that would ‘allow individual workers the choice to determine their membership in labour organizations’.  It is difficult to imagine a union jobsite with workers who choose not to be union members!

Read the platform with a wary eye.  Remember that this is a Calgary based, southern Alberta party.  We can’t be certain if promises to ‘Develop and implement an on and off-stream fresh water storage plan.’ is code for inter-basin transfers of water from northern Alberta to southern Alberta.  Scientists have told us this would be environmentally catastrophic.  But we shouldn’t let science get in the way of sugar beet irrigation.  Maybe Cold Lake water should be shipped to southern Alberta farms before Bonnyville.

alberta politics notes 9/27/2010

James Cameron & the Avatarsands.
Premier Ed Stelmach is facing criticism for acting like a “starstruck teenager” after receiving an invitation to take film director James Cameron on a tour of Alberta’s oil sands. While I doubt that the Ed “Hollywood” Stelmach label will stick, the Premier’s response does show how eager the PCs have become in taking any opportunity to challenge the international criticism of Alberta’s energy beach. (Will fish be on the lunch menu?)

Brian Mason’s “Just trust me” tour.
NDP MLA Brian Mason made two announcements this week in his and MLA Rachel Notley‘s “Earning your trust” tour across Alberta. In Calgary Edmonton last week, the NDP leader announced a fiscal plan, pledging that an NDP government would balance Alberta’s budget in one year. The NDP leader also announced support for the construction of a post-secondary institution in the Town of Hinton. The NDP are not going to form government or gain wide-spread support in Alberta anytime soon but I have to give that party’s two MLAs credit for being the only party on their side of the political spectrum to be making policy announcements.

Envision Bonnyville/Edson/etc.
Ethical questions have been raised since it was made public that the lobby group opposing the redevelopment of Edmonton’s City Centre Airport lands were asking for financial contributions from northern Alberta municipalities to help fund its campaign. According to news reports, Envision Edmonton asked a number of municipalities for funds, including the Town of Edson, which turned down their request for $10,000 in public funds. The Town of Bonnyville initially said yes, but needs to ratify the decision once again since the lobby group’s plebiscite petition was ruled invalid. (Kudos to Paula Simons who wrote an excellent column on this subject).

Envision Wildrose
There is an important political question about how much the Wildrose Alliance, which has endorsed the Envision Edmonton lobby group, is using this issue to promote their own political agenda. Bonnyville Mayor Ernie Isley told the Bonnyville Nouvelle in a recent interview that ‘his goal in life is to do everything possible in the next two years to elect a Wildrose government next election.’ ‘everything possible.’

Legislature Staffers standing in the municipal election.
Two political staffers at the Alberta Legislature are trying to make the jump to municipal politics this fall. NDP Caucus Research Director Sarah Hoffman is challenging Edmonton Public School Board Trustee George Rice in Ward G. Wildrose Caucus staffer James Johnson is running against City Councillor Jane Batty in Edmonton’s downtown Ward 6. Calgary-Buffalo Liberal MLA Kent Hehr dropped out of the Calgary Mayoral contest last week.

Next Provincial Election.
I have started a list of candidate nominated to stand in the next provincial election (I have also created a link to the list in the bar above). By my count, the Wildrosers have nominated 9 candidates, the NDP 2, and the Liberals will nominate their first candidate on October 2. I will try to keep the list up to date, so please email daveberta.ca@gmail.com if there are additions to the list.

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.

alberta politics notes 9/03/2010

– Dr. David Schindler‘s oilsands toxins report stirred the pot this week and United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is coming to Canada to talk oilsands.
– Remember the Gap boycott of the oilsands? It turns out it was all made up.
– The Calgary Herald has called for Speaker Ken Kowalski‘s resignation over politically-motivated attempts to censor the Wildrose Alliance.
– The Legislative Assembly is set to reconvene this fall. The official calendar has the sitting scheduled for October 25, but I have heard talk of the Assembly reconvening as early as the second or third week of September.
– The ongoing saga of the financially insolvent Health Resource Centre continues. David Climenhaga has written some excellent blog posts on this topic. The Calgary Chapter of the Friends of Medicare are organizing a rally at HRC on September 10 at 10am.
Edmonton-Centre Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman has released a new video encouraging Albertans to get involved in the discussion about land use and conservation in the Athabasca region.
Ernie Isley is seeking a third-term as Mayor of Bonnyville. Mr. Isley was first elected Mayor in 2004 and previously served as a provincial Cabinet Minister and PC MLA for Bonnyville from 1979 until 1993 when he was unseated by Liberal Leo Vasseur.
Vulcan County Councillor Ian Donovan is seeking the Wildrose nomination in Little Bow to run against long-time PC MLA Barry McFarland. Mr. McFarland was first elected in a 1992 by-election.
Melissa Blake is standing for re-election as Mayor of Wood Buffalo.
– The Social Credit Party has lost their website.
– Former Premier’s Office staffer and current Assistant to the Energy Minister David Heyman is working on Calgary-Buffalo Liberal MLA Kent Hehr‘s bid for Mayor of Calgary. Former Liberal strategist Donn Lovett is in candidate Barb Higgins‘ camp. Mr. Hehr’s 2008 campaign manager Chima Nkemdirim is the campaign director for Naheed Nenshi‘s Mayoral campaign (Mr. Nkemdirim is also the President of the new Alberta Party).
– The Alberta Party recently hired former Greater Edmonton Alliance lead organizer Michael Walters as their Provincial Organizer and released a video as part of their announcement:

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.