Tag Archives: Jane Anderson

The new (and old) faces of municipal elections in Alberta

Tomorrow is election day and in counties, municipal districts, villages, towns, and cities across the province, Albertans will cast their votes for mayors, reeves, councillors, aldermen, and school trustees.

Naheed Nenshi

Naheed Nenshi

In Calgary, uber-popular mayor Naheed Nenshi is expected to crush his opponents, including former Progressive Conservative MLA Jon Lord and a cast of challengers from the political fringe. This election also marks a change of title for Calgary city council members, from “Alderman” to “Councillor.”

With voters in Alberta’s second, third, and fourth largest cities – Edmonton, Red Deer, and Lethbridge – selecting new mayors, there could be a shift in how municipalities interact with the provincial government. With the ongoing war of words between Mayor Nenshi and Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths, a cast of new mayors could create a new dynamic in municipal-provincial relations in Alberta.

Don Iveson Edmonton Mayor Election

Don Iveson

In Edmonton, I am supporting for Don Iveson for Mayor. But don’t take my word for it. Check out Don Iveson’s ideas for our city and be sure to take a look at what the other candidates are offering. With 6 city councillors not seeking re-election and at least one incumbent in a vulnerable position, there will be some new faces on Edmonton City Council.

While there will be many new faces on municipal councils after the votes are counted, there could be some familiar characters returning to the fray. Observers of provincial politics in Alberta will recognize some of these candidates.

Fallen Tory titan Ray Danyluk is challenging incumbent Steve Upham to become the next Reeve of the County of St. Paul.  Since the former cabinet minister was unseated by Wildroser Shayne Saskiw in the 2012 election, he has become the unofficial government representative in northeast Alberta, hosting traveling cabinet ministers at events and town hall meetings.

Alberta PC MLA Ray Danyluk

Ray Danyluk

In Fort McMurray, former PC-turned-Wildrose MLA Guy Boutilier is running for a councillor position on Wood Buffalo’s municipal council, a place where he served as mayor before entering provincial politics in 1997. In Edmonton, former MLA Edmonton-Mill Woods Liberal MLA Weslyn Mather and former Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview MLA Ray Martin could be elected as trustees on Edmonton’s Public School Board.

In St. Albert, where anonymous smear groups run rampant, former Alberta Liberal Party leader Bob Russell is aiming for a political comeback. While he was never elected to the Assembly, Mr. Russell served as Liberal Party leader from 1971 to 1974. He later served as an alderman in St. Albert from 1989 to 1992 and 1995 to 2001.

In the Village of Wabamum, former Stony Plain Tory MLA Fred Lindsay is running as part of a 3-candidate slate. Running for re-election to Wabamum village council, but not on Mr. Lindsay’s slate, is Bill Purdy, who served as the PC MLA for Stony Plain from 1971 to 1986.

Familial relations also cross municipal-provincial lines. Judy Hehr, mother of Calgary-Buffalo Liberal MLA Kent Hehr is running for a spot on the Calgary Board of Education. Strathcona-Sherwood Park PC MLA Dave Quest‘s wife, Fiona Beland-Quest, is running to become a councillor in Strathcona County. Lethbridge mayoral candidate Bridget Mearns is the daughter of Lethbridge-East‘s Liberal-turned-PC MLA Bridget Pastoor. And in Edmonton, Ward 8 councillor Ben Henderson is running for re-election. Mr. Henderson is married to Edmonton-Centre Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman.

In the City of Airdrie, Jane Anderson, the mother of Airdrie Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson is running for a spot on city council as part of the Airdrie United slate. Mr. Anderson’s brother, Nathan Anderson, is running for re-election as mayor of the town of Crossfield.

The appearance of municipal slates in Airdrie and Red Deer could signal the return of partisan style politics in municipal government (slates were common in Alberta’s larger cities until the 1970s and 1980s).

Wildrose MLA accused of slate-building in Airdrie civic election

Rob Anderson MLA Wildrose

Rob Anderson

Outgoing mayor of Cochrane Truper McBride has raised questions about the involvement of Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson in the ‘Team Airdrie United’ slate of candidates running in the October municipal elections. Mayor McBride alleged that Mr. Anderson’s involvement stems from his opposition to density requirements for new development bring implemented by the Calgary Regional Partnership. Mayor McBride is the chairperson of the CRP.

Responding quickly to the accusations, four Calgary-area Wildrose MLAs, Mr. Anderson of Airdrie, Bruce Rowe of Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, Pat Stier of Livingstone-MacLeod and Jason Hale of Strathmore-Brooks, were quoted in a press release dening the allegations and condemned Mayor McBride as “a failed PC nomination candidate.”

Mayor McBride contested the Progressive Conservative nomination in Banff-Cochrane before the 2012 election. The nomination was won by Canmore Mayor Ron Casey and is the only rural constituency in southern Alberta that elected a PC MLA in last year’s election.

Whether Mr. Anderson is involved or not, it appears there could  be a deeper level of personality politics influencing this quarrel (one of the candidates in the Team Airdrie United slate is Jane Anderson, Mr. Anderson’s mother). But there is also an undeniable push by some conservatives to have a concerted influence in this year’s municipal elections by organizing slates of candidates.

While Conservatives of varying stripes dominate the federal and provincial levels of government in Alberta, voters have been friendlier to moderate centrist and centre-left inclined candidates in the municipal sphere. Many politicians identified with the Liberal and New Democratic Parties have had successful political careers at the municipal level in Alberta.

One conservative-slate, Red Deer First has emerged in central Alberta’s largest city. Sources tell this blogger that many of the key figures behind this group have ties to the Wildrose Party.

The new lobby group Common Sense Calgary, funded by the conservative Manning Centre, emerged on Calgary’s political scene last week. While it is no surprise that the Manning Centre is aiming to influence municipal politics, the lobby group had a rough start when it was forced to remove Calgary Real Estate Board as a supporter after the board’s CEO was surprised to find his name attached to a group that decried housing affordability in the city.

In April 2013, a video leaked to Global Calgary showing a large group of prominent wealthy developers – known to some as the Sprawl Cabal – plotting to stack Calgary City Council with sympathetic candidates made waves in Alberta’s largest city. The video showed a prominent developer presenting a plan to defeat certain members of City Council who he perceived to be anti-urban sprawl.