Tag Archives: Jason Kenney

Notley NDP set to roll out their next legislative agenda. Brian Jean departs Alberta politics.

With the next provincial election expected to be a little more than one year away, Alberta’s MLAs will return to the Legislative Assembly for the new session on Thursday.

This session will mark the first time that Premier Rachel Notley and Official Opposition leader Jason Kenney will publicly face each other in debate. Expectations are high. But while both leaders are talented debaters and skilled politicians, don’t expect high-minded debate. Thick partisan rhetoric and talking points will continue to dominate the discourse in this Legislative session.

And with one year left until the next election, much attention will be paid to the provincial budget.

With the province’s economic fortunes improving, expect pipeline-champion Notley to boast about her government’s decision to weather the recession without making the deep funding cuts to health care and education that the opposition conservatives have called for.

The decision not to impose deep budget cuts was smart, but the government still faces a significant revenue shortfall. A decades long over dependence on revenue from natural resource royalties to pay for the day to day operations of public services needs to be addressed to provide long-term financial stability for Alberta.

While it is unlikely that this issue will be addressed in this Legislative session, Albertans deserve an honest discussion about our low levels of taxation and the role taxes play in funding the public services Albertans depend on each day.

The final year before the writ is dropped is typically seen as a period where governments conduct house-keeping and tie up loose ends as they prepare to enter full re-election mode. Here is a look at some of the legislation that the NDP government is expected to introduce in this spring session of the Legislature:

  • The NDP are expected to lead their legislative agenda with an act that will implement some of the initiatives recommended by the Energy Diversification Advisory Committee last month.
  • The government will introduce supports for economic diversification initiatives including the renewal of existing tax credits and the creation of new tax incentives, including an Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit.
  • With the federal government planning to implement the legalization of marijuana this year, the Alberta government is also expected to introduce two bills creating a regulatory framework and rules around the creation of a tax structure for the cannabis industry.
  • The government is also expected to introduce legislation addressing some of the recommendations from the Standing Committee on Resource Stewardship review of the Lobbyists Act. The all-party committee reviewed the act last year and submitted recommendations in July 2017.
  • Following the introduction of a private members’ bill related to Henson Trusts by Calgary-Currie MLA Brian Malkinson last year, the government is expected to introduce a bill related to discretionary and non-discretionary trusts as assets when determining individual eligibility for the AISH program.
  • Recognizing the role of Alberta grown food, the government is expected to proclaim an annual Local Food Week.
  • And after numerous recent natural disasters, the government is expected to introduce a bill expanding the authority of the enforcement of evacuation orders and creating a Municipal Emergency Management regulation to define the responsibilities of municipalities under the Act.

Goodbye, Brian JeanBrian Jean United Conservative Party Leadership Wildrose

Less than three years since Brian Jean jumped into provincial politics, the former Leader of the Official Opposition announced today that he has resigned as the MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin.

Jean’s departure is not a surprise. His lack of critic role in the United Conservative Party caucus after his defeat to Kenney in the party’s 2017 leadership race signalled that Jean was likely looking to depart the provincial scene.

A former Member of Parliament, Jean took over the thankless role of leader of the Wildrose Party as his party was teetering on the brink of the abyss following the mass floor crossing of most of the party’s MLAs in late 2014. To most people’s surprise, he led his party to win 21 seats in the 2015 election.

A by-election will be called in Fort McMurray-Conklin within the next six months.

Download and listen to the latest episode of The Daveberta Podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, or wherever you find podcasts online.

Premier Rachel Notley met with steel workers during a tour of the Tenaris Prudential welded pipe mill in Calgary on Feb. 8, 2018. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Notley opens the Quails’ Gate and lets the BC wine flow into Alberta once again.

Did Alberta win the pipeline war against British Columbia? No, but the great BC wine boycott of 2018 appears to be over.

John Horgan BC NDP Leader Premier

John Horgan

The interprovincial dispute over the Kinder Morgan Inc. Trans Mountain Pipeline is likely far from over, but Premier Rachel Notley announced today that the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission would lift its weeks-long boycott of British Columbia wine.

Notley’s announcement comes as BC Premier John Horgan confirmed his government will not restrict increases in bitumen shipments until further spill studies are conducted, a move he initially announced after last week’s Throne Speech in Victoria. But this does not mean Horgan’s government is ending its opposition to the pipeline. It will be seeking the opinion of the courts to confirm its “constitutional rights to defend against a bitumen spill.’

The pipeline issue has allowed Notley to drape herself in the Alberta flag while highlighting her government’s action on climate change, most notably the phase-out of dirty coal-fired power plants that were generating a significant amount of Alberta’s carbon emissions. 

The Alberta-BC dispute was also the first time United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney filled the role traditionally reserved for official opposition leaders in our province: Irrelevance. As Notley led the defence of Alberta’s oil industry, Kenney was left on the sidelines, jumping up and down and waving his hands, while pleading ‘pay attention to me!

This has been a good issue for Notley. She has been able to solidify herself as a champion of an issue that has near unanimous support in Alberta. While it may not be her New Democratic Party‘s golden ticket to re-election in 2019, it certainly won’t hurt her chances (as slim as they might look).

While public support is divided, opposition to the pipeline in BC remains strong and opponents of the pipeline are planning to converge on Burnaby Mountain for a rally on March 10, 2018, the location of Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Burnaby Terminal.

It is still unclear how this will end, but at least we can enjoy an honest glass of BC wine on both sides of the provincial boundary again.

Meanwhile, hundreds of climate scientists and policy makers will meet in Edmonton from March 5 to 7, 2018 at the first annual CitiesIPCC Cities and Climate Change Science conference, hosted by the City of Edmonton.

Hosting the 2018 Cities and Climate Change Science conference gives us the opportunity to share knowledge with other municipalities, while learning, advancing ideas and forming partnerships that will help the world’s cities make progress on climate change,” Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said in a statement when the conference was announced in 2017.

Photo: Jason Kenney (centre) and Devon Dreeshen (right). (Photo source: Twitter)

Son of Conservative MP Earl Dreeshen running for UCP nomination in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake by-election

Photo: Jason Kenney (centre) and Devin Dreeshen (right). (Photo source: Twitter)

Facing charges of sexual assault and sexual interference, United Conservative Party MLA Don MacIntyre resigned from his party’s caucus on Feb. 2 and then from the Legislative Assembly on Feb. 5. A by-election in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake will be called within the next six months, allowing voters in this rural central Alberta district to choose a new MLA.

Earl Dreeshen MP Red Deer Mountain View

Earl Dreeshen

Devin Dreeshen, the son of Red Deer-Mountain View Conservative MP Earl Dreeshen, is seeking the UCP nomination. Dreeshen is a director with the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association and worked as an advisor to former federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz from 2009 to 2015.

According to rdnewsNow.com, Dreeshen is being endorsed by former Progressive Conservative MLA and cabinet minister Luke Ouellette, who represented the district from 2001 to 2012.

The elder Dreeshen’s federal district includes most of the Innisfail-Sylvan Lake provincial district (excluding the town of Sylvan Lake, which is located in the Red Deer-Lacombe federal district). He has represented the district since 2008.

The junior Dreeshen is not the first relative of a federal politician to recently attempt a jump into provincial politics. In 2016, Robin Martin, son-in-law of Calgary-Forest Lawn Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai, ran for the Wildrose nomination ahead of the Calgary-Greenway by-election.

Penhold town councillor Mike Walsh was already planning to challenge MacIntyre for the UCP nomination ahead of the next provincial election. He is now running for UCP nomination to stand in the by-election.

Reform Party of Alberta leader Randy Thorsteinson has also declared his intentions to run under his party’s banner in the by-election. Thorsteinson ran in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake as leader of the Alberta Alliance in the 2004 election.

Elsewhere in Alberta, three other candidates have put their names forward for UCP nominations in other districts:

Janice Sarich Edmonton-Decore

Janice Sarich

Calgary-Fish Creek
Cindy Ross is seeking the United Conservative Party nomination in Calgary-Fish Creek. Ross is a math teacher with the Calgary Catholic School District. She will likely be challenging incumbent UCP MLA Richard Gotfried, who was first elected as a PC candidate in 2015.

John Volponi is seeking the UCP nomination. Volponi is the general manager of ‎West Air CCM. The district is currently represented by cabinet minister and New Democratic Party MLA Stephanie McLean, who has announced her plans to seek re-election in 2019.

This district was represented by Liberal MLA Harry Chase from 2004 to 2012.

Former PC MLA Janice Sarich is seeking the UCP nomination in this north Edmonton district which she represented from 2008 until she was defeated by New Democrat Chris Neilsen in 2015. Sarich briefly considered running for the federal Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Griesbach until Jan. 2014.

This district is named after former Edmonton mayor and Liberal Party leader Laurence Decore. He represented the district under its former name, Edmonton-Glengarry, from 1989 to 1997.

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.

BC refuses to open the Quails’ Gate for Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline. Is Alberta up the CedarCreek without a paddle?

It has been one week since the Alberta Government began its great BC wine boycott and supplies of Okanagan wine are closer to running dry in Alberta’s privately owned liquor stores.

While Premier Rachel Notley has succeeded in draping herself Alberta’s blue and gold flag, the Kinder Morgan corporation’s Trans Mountain Pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby looks to be no closer to expansion than it was before we began to deprive ourselves of BC wine.

Wine was an easy industry for the Alberta government to boycott, as there is no shortage of wines from other destinations on liquor store shelves, and Notley had to be seen to take some sort of action in retaliation. But with our integrated and interdependent economies there might not be much more the Alberta Government could boycott to convince the BC government of Premier John Horgan to stop their environmental study and stalling of transport of dilluted bitumen through BC.

Both politicians are in need of a big political wins and both sides of this debate have continued to dig in their heels.

Premier Rachel Notley met with steel workers during a tour of the Tenaris Prudential welded pipe mill in Calgary on Feb. 8, 2018. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Premier Rachel Notley met with steel workers during a tour of the Tenaris Prudential welded pipe mill in Calgary on Feb. 8, 2018. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Notley announced the appointment of a high-profile task force of former politicians (including former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna and former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan), government bureaucrats and economists to help determine Alberta’s next actions. She also reiterated this week that the federal government should help resolve the situation.

Alberta’s Premier has found herself allied with Chambers of Commerce, federal Conservative MPs and United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney in demanding that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take decisive action to force the BC government to not stall the expansion of the oil pipeline, but it remains unclear what “decisive action” actually means.

Kenney called for an emergency session of the Legislature, which under the current circumstances would be not much more than four pro-pipeline parties professing their undying devotion and love for the oil pipeline to Burnaby (just in time for Valentine’s Day). Mixed with a large serving of BC-bashing, it would be unlikely to help warm relations with our neighbours to the west.

While the sabre rattling and economic boycotts are very visible actions, behind the scenes discussions between cooler heads will likely be what leads to a politically palitable resolution, if that is even possible at this point.

Notley will not be attending this weekend’s federal NDP convention in Ottawa, which will likely save federal leader Jagmeet Singh from being forced to join the dispute between the only two NDP governments in Canada. It has not been announced whether Horgan will be attending either.

With the Alberta flag firmly draped over her shoulders and not a bottle of BC wine to be found, Notley should take the political fight out of Edmonton’s government district. Notley should take her pipeline sales pitch on the road and tour Alberta.

She should speak out against the climate change denial rampant in opposition circles and talk about the benefits of the carbon tax, the transition to renewable energy and her government’s investments in public services and infrastructure. She can help empower Albertans with the tools they need to be active citizens and engage British Columbians and other Canadians in the pipeline debate.

Holding town hall meetings, talking one-on-one with Albertans in coffee shops, spending more time on radio call-in shows – and maybe while Notley is doing this, her actions might remind Albertans what inspired them to vote for her party in 2015.

Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt joined Jason Kenney on the eve of his victory in the PC Party leadership race. (Photo credit: @pcyouthalberta on Twitter)

Derek Fildebrandt and Don MacIntyre out of the UCP caucus. Alberta Advantage Party picks a new leader on Feb. 24, 2018.

Photo: Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt in happier days as he joined Jason Kenney on the eve of his victory in the 2017 PC Party leadership race. (Photo credit: @pcyouthalberta on Twitter)

Derek Fildebrandt is out of the United Conservative Party Caucus for good, according to a statement issued by party leader Jason Kenney last week.

Leela Aheer Wildrose MLA Chestermere Rockyview

Leela Aheer

Fildebrandt pleaded guilty in a Didsbury court house last week to illegally shooting a deer on private property and he was fined $3,000.

The former official opposition finance critic was a rising star in Conservative partisan circles until his political career crashed in August 2017 when he was forced to leave the UCP Caucus after a series of embarrassing scandals.

Fildebrandt arrived in Alberta in 2012 to work as a Canadian Taxpayers Federation spokesperson and he was elected to the Legislative Assembly as the Wildrose Party MLA for Strathmore-Brooks in 2015.

As an Independent MLA for Strathmore-Brooks, Fildebrandt now must decide what is next for his political career. A significant redistribution of the electoral boundaries divides his current district into the new Brooks-Medicine Hat, Chestermere-Strathmore and Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills districts.

If he had been allow to rejoin the UCP caucus, he would have faced an uphill battle to win the nomination against popular incumbent Leela Aheer, who currently represents Chestermere-Rockyview and has declared her intentions to seek the UCP nomination in Chesteremere-Strathmore. Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills is currently represented by UCP MLA Nathan Cooper, who is also expected to seek re-election.

Don MacIntyre MLA

Don MacIntyre

Also departing the UCP caucus last Friday afternoon was Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Don MacIntyre, who announced on Twitter that he was “Resigning from politics today to focus on our family.” Mainstream media outlets published a flurry of reports explaining the reason for the MLA’s unexpected departure soon after his announcement, but those stories were quickly removed.

I expect we will learn more about the nature of MacIntyre’s departure soon.

It was also unclear whether MacIntyre, a member of his party’s Rural Crime Task Force and one of his caucus’ fiercest climate change deniers, has just resigned from the UCP Caucus or whether he has also resigned as the MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake. If he has resigned as MLA, a by-election would required to be called in this heavily conservative voting rural central Alberta district by August 2018.

Penhold town councillor and local constituency association co-president Mike Walsh has already registered his intentions to seek the Innisfail-Sylvan Lake UCP nomination for the expected 2019 general election.

Alberta Advantage Party leadership vote on Feb. 24, 2018

Marilyn Burns Alberta Advantage Party

Marilyn Burns

They are not even officially registered as a political party, but members of the group calling themselves the Alberta Advantage Party are electing their first permanent leader on Feb. 24, 2018.

Information on the party’s website is vague, but posts on their Facebook page suggest that Marilyn Burns, a co-founder of the Wildrose Party and critic of the UCP, is the only candidate in the race. Burns 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.

Gil Poitras, who served as Chief Financial Officer for the Alberta Party in 2013 and 2014, has been serving as interim leader of the Alberta Advantage Party.

(hat tip to @edwinmundt for bringing this to my attention)

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.

Daveberta Podcast - Ryan Hastman Adam Rozenhart Dave Cournoyer

Episode 4: The Alberta Party (again), leaked UCP policy, and predictions for 2018

Daveberta Podcast Alberta PoliticsThe Alberta Party leadership race (it’s finally a race!), the United Conservative Party’s leaked policy document, predictions for 2018, and hot gossip from the Alberta Legislature are just some of the topics covered in the latest episode of The Daveberta Podcast with Dave Cournoyer and Ryan Hastman (recorded in the Harry Strom Memorial Studios on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018).

Dave also talks about the 10 year anniversary of the edstelmach.ca incident.

Listen and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, and wherever you find podcasts online.

We’d love to hear what you think of the podcast, so feel free to leave a review where you download it and share the podcast with a friend. Also feel free to leave a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter or send us an email at podcast@daveberta.ca.

We’d also like to send a huge thanks to our producer, Adam Rozenhart, for his help in making this podcast a reality.


Colleen and Ralph Klein (screenshot from CBC news archive)

The Dream of the 90s is Alive in the UCP

Jason: Do you remember the 90’s? Y’know. People were talking about flat-taxes and buying paisley neckties. And people were singing about budget deficits and debt and reforming the Senate?

Maggie: Yeah?

Jason: There’s a place where that idea still exists as a reality and I’m leading it

Maggie: What is it?

Jason: The United Conservative Party.

Jason: Remember when kids at private schools dreamed of growing up to be Preston Manning? Everyone listened to compact discs and wore Doc Martens? When we’d stay up until 11pm eating take-out pizza and admiring Ronald Reagan?

Maggie: Right. I thought that died out a long time ago.

Jason: Not in the UCP.

Maggie: So from what I can surmise from what you’re positing, it’s like the UCP is almost an alternative universe. It’s like Ralph Klein never stopped blowing up hospitals and closing schools. The Notley government never happened.

Jason: Exactly!

Maggie: In the UCP it’s almost like government doesn’t exist, right? People drive big trucks. They drive double decker trucks! There is no carbon tax!*

Jason: Welcome to the UCP!

*Except there totally is a carbon tax.

(this post is inspired by The Dream of the 90s is Alive in Portland)

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.

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

12 Alberta MLAs to watch in 2018

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

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

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

Here are the MLAs I will be watching in 2018:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winners of the Best of Alberta Politics 2017 Survey: David Eggen, David Shepherd, Rachel Notley and Greg Clark.

Episode 3: Best of Alberta Politics 2017

In the latest episode of The Daveberta Podcast, Ryan and I discuss Kara Levis‘ entry into the Alberta Party leadership race, the results of the Calgary-Lougheed by-election, Conservative MPs being challenged for their nominations, and we reveal the winners of the Best of Alberta Politics 2017 Survey.

With more than 1,200 votes cast in two rounds of voting, we were proud to announce and discuss the results of the Best of Alberta Politics 2017 Survey on this episode:

  • Biggest Issue of 2017: The economy and jobs
  • Best political play of 2017: The formation of the United Conservative Party
  • Best Opposition MLA of 2017: Greg Clark, Alberta Party MLA for Calgary-Elbow
  • Best Cabinet Minister of 2017: David Eggen, Minister of Education
  • Up and comer to watch in 2018: David Shepherd, NDP MLA for Edmonton-Centre
  • Best Alberta MLA of 2017: Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta and NDP MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona

Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and wherever you find podcasts online.

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

We’d also like to send a big thanks to our producer, Adam Rozenhart, for his help in making this podcast a reality.

We will be back in January 2018!

Merry Christmas!

Best of Alberta Politics 2017 Survey Photo: Jessica Littlewood, Greg Clark, Shannon Phillips, Nathan Cooper, and Sarah Hoffman.

Vote in the Best of Alberta Politics 2017 Survey (Round 2!)

In our most recent episode of The Daveberta Podcast, Ryan and I asked you to help us shape our final episode of 2017 by voting in the Best of Alberta Politics 2017 Survey.

More than 300 of you responded to the survey last week with your choices for the biggest political players and defining political issues of 2017. We tallied all the responses from that survey and we are now asking you to vote on the top 3 choices in each category.

Voting will be open until 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 21, 2017 and we will reveal and discuss the results in the final podcast episode of 2017, which we will be recording on the same day.

Here are the top 3 contenders who you can vote for in Round 2 of the Best of Alberta Politics 2017 Survey:

Who was the best Alberta MLA of 2017? – Vote

  • Premier Rachel Notley, NDP MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona
  • Greg Clark, Alberta Party MLA for Calgary-Elbow
  • David Shepherd, NDP MLA for Edmonton-Centre

An honourable mention to Sandra Jansen, the NDP MLA for Calgary-North West, who placed a strong fourth in the first round of voting.

What was the biggest political issue in 2017 in Alberta politics? – Vote

  • Gay-Straight Alliances
  • The Economy and Jobs
  • Oil Pipelines

Who was the best Alberta cabinet minister of 2017? – Vote

  • Sarah Hoffman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Seniors
  • David Eggen, Minister of Education
  • Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks

Honourable mentions to Danielle Larivee, Minister of Children’s Services, and Deron Bilous, Minister of Trade and Economic Development, who placed a strong fourth and fifth in the first round of voting.

Who was the Best Opposition MLA for 2017? – Vote

  • Greg Clark, Alberta Party MLA for Calgary-Elbow
  • Nathan Cooper, UCP MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills
  • David Swann, Liberal MLA for Calgary-Mountain View

Honourable mentions to Richard Starke, the Independent PC MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster, and Brian Jean, the UCP MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin, who placed a strong fourth and fifth in the first round of voting.

Who is the up and comer for 2018? – Vote

  • Jessica Littlewood, NDP MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville
  • Jason Kenney, UPC MLA for Calgary-Lougheed and Leader of the Official Opposition
  • David Shepherd, NDP MLA for Edmonton-Centre

An honourable mention to Brian Malkinson, the NDP MLA for Calgary-Currie, who placed a strong fourth in the first round of voting.

What was the biggest political play of 2017 in Alberta politics? – Voting Closed

In the first round of voting, 59 percent of you chose the creation of the United Conservative Party as the biggest political play of 2017. Because of this was the choice of a clear majority, we have declared this result as the winner in this category. Congrats, UCP.

Other notable choices in his category were Premier Rachel Notley’s pipeline tour, Greg Clark’s being forced out of the Alberta Party leadership and the NDP government’s Bill 24: An Act to Support Gay-Straight Alliances in Schools.

Photo: Jessica Littlewood, Greg Clark, Shannon Phillips, Nathan Cooper, and Sarah Hoffman.

Jason Kenney Calgary-Lougheed by-election

NDP should recalibrate their line of attack after Kenney’s crushing landslide in Calgary-Lougheed

Attempts by Jason Kenney’s opponents to paint him as an extremist social conservative failed to stop the United Conservative Party leader from winning a crushing landslide victory today in Calgary-Lougheed.

Phillip van der Merwe NDP Calgary Lougheed

Phillip van der Merwe

With 22 of 22 polls reporting, Kenney had earned 7,760 votes, 71.51 percent of the total votes cast in the by-election. The UCP had a strong candidate, a strong organization and solid base of voter support in the district. And like the previous two by-elections held since the last election, this district avoided the New Democratic Party’s Orange Wave when voters re-elected Progressive Conservative Dave Rodney in 2015.

NDP candidate Phillip van der Merwe placed second with 1,822 votes, 16.79 percent of the votes cast. van der Merwe was a high quality candidate for the party in Calgary, but his chances of upsetting Kenney were always slim to none.

The NDP were spared the embarrassment of placing third, a spot that fell to newly elected Liberal Party leader David Khan, who earned 1,009 votes, 9.3 percent of the total vote. Khan’s showing was only a small improvement on the party’s showing in 2015, but it should be enough to concern the NDP that even a Liberal Party on life-support can eat into their vote share.

Despite support on the campaign trail from Premier Rachel Notley and a handful of high-profile cabinet ministers, NDP support was cut in half from the 2015 election, which is not a good sign for the governing party.

David Khan Alberta Liberal Party Leader

David Khan

The NDP should use the Calgary-Lougheed by-election as an opportunity to recalibrate their line of attack against the UCP leader. Kenney is a professional political networker unlike we have ever seen in Alberta politics, and he should not be underestimated.

While the NDP have been racking up easy wins against fumbling and confused UCP MLAs on the floor of the Legislative Assembly, Kenney has been activating a network of conservative political activists and supporters he has built over the past twenty-five years.

Two months ago, I wrote that the NDP were betting Albertans would forgive their more unpopular policies when reminded of the Kenney’s more bizarre social conservative views. On the flip-side, Kenney was betting Albertans would forgive his social conservative views when reminded of the NDP’s more unpopular policies.

The NDP painted Kenney as an extremist during the recent debate over Gay-Straight Alliances, and while his social views are probably out of step with most Albertans in 2017, that does not appear to have had an impact on him or the UCP in this by-election. Kenney’s relentless attacks on the NDP’s fiscal and economic agenda appear to be resonating in Calgary, where NDP MLAs are expected to face a very steep uphill battle in their bids for re-election.

While I am sure the NDP’s strategists in Edmonton are hard at work preparing for the next election, it may be time to rethink how they approach the UCP leader as he enters the Assembly.

This may have only been one by-election in a district already held by the UCP, but it should be a wake-up call for the NDP. The next general election is only a short 14 months away.

Results of the Calgary-Lougheed by-election (December 14, 2017)

Jason Kenney, UCP – 7,760 (71.51%)
Phillip van der Merwe, NDP – 1,822 (16.79%)
David Khan, Liberal – 1,009 (9.3%)
Lauren Thorsteinson, Reform – 137 (1.26%)

Romy Tittel, Green – 60 (0.55%)
Wayne Leslie, Independent – 42 (0.39%)
Larry Heather, Independent 22 (0.22%)

Vote in the Best of Alberta Politics 2017 Survey

Make sure to vote in the Best of Alberta Politics 2017 Survey. The first round of voting will close at 11:59pm on Friday, December 15, 2017. Voting for the top 3 results in each category will begin on Sunday, December 17, 2017. We will reveal the results of the survey on the next episode of the Daveberta Podcast, which you can listen and subscribe to on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and wherever you find podcasts online.

UCP MLA Jason Nixon endorsing Jason Kenney's bid for the leadership of the United Conservative Party.

Sexual harassment firing is a gloomy cloud over Jason Kenney’s by-election victory parade

Photo: UCP MLA Jason Nixon endorsing Jason Kenney’s bid for the leadership of the United Conservative Party.

United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney is expected to slide to an easy victory in Thursday’s by-election in Calgary-Lougheed. But the skies over Kenney’s victory parade will be gloomy thanks to an Edmonton Journal investigation which uncovered UCP Legislative Assembly leader Jason Nixon fired a female employee after she complained about sexual harassment on a construction site.

In 2009, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal awarded more than $30,000 to the female safety officer who was terminated by Nixon four days before Christmas in 2005.

Nixon was first elected as the Wildrose Party MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre in 2015.

Nixon’s role in terminating the employee came to light as the Legislative Assembly continues to debate Bill 30: An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans. The bill modernizes Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation Board laws, many of which have not been updated since the 1970s. Important components of Bill 30 expand the responsibility of employers in preventing violence and harassment in the workplace.

The UCP opposes Bill 30 and, as its leader in the Assembly, Nixon has lead the Official Opposition’s charge against it.

While Kenney issued a written statement in an attempt to blame the firing on Nixon’s age (he was 25-year old at the time) and criticize the NDP for attacking the UCP MLA’s “personal integrity,” Premier Rachel Notley responded directly to the issue of sexual harassment:

Text of Notley’s statement:

As I’m sure will come as no surprise to all of you, in my view, this is a very, very serious issue. We are at an important time right now, where courageous women across North America are coming forward to talk about the problem of sexual harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace. It’s a very difficult problem. We know it proliferates everywhere, and it’s not easy to address. What we do know, though, what’s going to keep women safe, what’s going to help deal with this problem, is assuring as a first step is assuring that they know they have the right to speak up, and that people will support them when they speak up. Mr. Nixon’s response when someone spoke up was to fire her. That is not the right response. Moreover, since that time, Mr. Nixon has gone into the House and fought against a bill that would have protected someone in Alberta in the very same situation as the woman that Mr. Nixon chose to fire. Mr. Kenney is actually the person that needs to answer questions about this now. This is his hand-picked lieutenant. His hand-picked political lieutenant who is leading the caucus in this House, who fired a woman for speaking up against sexual harassment which was found to have happened, who is now fighting against a bill that would protect women in Alberta from the very same sexual harassment in the workplace. This is very, very serious. I think when women wake up this morning and read this article and hear more about what’s happened, they’re going to wonder where their government stands, and I want them to know that their government stands with them, and that is why we’re working so hard to get this bill through the House today.

Kenney gave no indication in his written statement if he plans to remove Nixon from his role as the UCP’s leader in the Legislative Assembly and critic for Democracy and Accountability before MLA’s adjourn for the Christmas break – and voters go to the polls in Calgary-Lougheed – on Thursday.