In a statement released on January 15, 2019, Strankman lamented the state of hyper-partisanship in Alberta politics and claimed that the UCP was “not including the grassroots principles of strong conservative Albertan values.”
It is not clear whether Strankman plans to seek re-election as an Independent candidate in 2019.
In 2015, Strankman introduced the Election (Restrictions on Government Advertising) Amendment Act, into the Assembly. The private members’ bill would have restricted the ability of government to make announcements and advertise during of election and by-election periods. The bill died on the order paper when it was referred to the Select Special Ethics and Accountability Committee.
He is perhaps most well-known for being jailed in 2002 after being charged under the Customs Act for taking 756 bushels of wheat across the American border in protest of the Canadian Wheat Board. He was later pardoned by Prime Minster Stephen Harper.
Hinkley was elected in 2015 with 43.7 percent of the vote, defeating two-term Progressive Conservative MLA and Minister of Agriculture Verlyn Olson by 1,578 votes. A nomination meeting has been scheduled in Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin for January 8, 2018.
Morgan Bamford is seeking the NDP nomination in the new Camrose district, which includes the eastern portions of the Wetaskiwin-Camrose district. A nomination meeting in this district is scheduled to take place on February 2, 2019.
Pincott served on Calgary City Council from 2007 to 2017 and was nominated as a the NDP candidate in this district on October 25, 2018 and was seen as a star candidate to replace outgoing NDP MLA Brandy Payne.
– Former St. Albert city councillor Neil Korotash is seeking the Alberta Party nomination in the new Moriville-St. Albert district. Korotash teaches Biology and Urban Agriculture at Morinville Community High School and he sought the PC Party nomination in Spruce Grove-St. Albert ahead of the 2015 election. In 2001, Korotash became the youngest city councillor in St. Albert history when he was elected at age 21 in that year’s municipal elections.
The Alberta Party has scheduled a nomination meeting in Morinville-St. Albert for January 19, 2019.
– Tariq Chaudhry has withdrawn from the United Conservative Party nomination contest in Edmonton-Mill Woods and is claiming in an affidavit that Jason Kenney and the UCP cost him more than $25,000. Chaudhry claims Kenney encouraged him to run and asked him to sign up and pay for the $10-membership fee for 1,200 new members. Chaudhry claims he spent $6,000 on memberships and that Kenney’s campaign asked him to organize Eid Mubarak events in 2017 and 2018, on which he spent $20,000, “so Mr. Kenney could be seen speaking to the Edmonton Muslim Community.” Chaudhry is the owner of the Maharaja Banquet Hall.
– Will Carnegie is seeking the Green Party nomination in Calgary-East. Carnegie is the president of the Forest Lawn Community Association.
– The NDP have now scheduled 20 nomination meetings in January and February, in what is expected to be a flurry of candidacy selection activity ahead of the next election. Along with the 15 meetings mentioned in my previous update, meetings will be held in Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul, Calgary-Edgemont and Calgary-Hays on February 2, 2019, and in Calgary-Beddington and Calgary-Glenmore on Feb. 3, 2019.
– The UCP have nominated candidates in 79 of Alberta’s 87 electoral districts. The eight remaining nomination contests to be held for the UCP will take place in Calgary-North, Edmonton-Ellerslie, Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood, Edmonton-Meadows, Edmonton-Mill Woods, Edmonton-Strathcona, Lethridge-East, and Red Deer-South. Dates for these nomination meetings have not yet been scheduled.
McLean resigns as MLA
Former cabinet minister Stephanie McLean has resigned as the NDP MLA for Calgary-Varsity. McLean resignation takes place less than two months before Alberta’s fixed election period begins on March 1, 2019. McLean was appointed to cabinet as Minister of Service Alberta in February 2016 and removed from cabinet in June 2018 following her announcement that she did would not run for re-election in 2019.
McLean’s resignation comes as no surprise as it has been rumoured for months that she was unhappy about her current status in the NDP caucus and looking for leave politics before the next election. McLean did not attend the session of the Legislative Assembly in fall 2018.
McLean was first elected in 2015, securing 43.9 percent of the vote. Long-time NDP stalwart Anne McGrath has been nominated to run for the in this district when the next election is called.
Photo: Premier Rachel Notley, Janet Hinkley, and Wetaskiwin-Camrose MLA Bruce Hinkley (source: Facebook)
We asked listeners to send us their Alberta politics questions and we dedicated our final episode of 2018 to answering them!
We kicked off this episode with a game of “is it more likely,” where we discuss different potential scenarios in Alberta politics in 2019 and then we dove into the mailbag to answer questions on topics including Alberta separatism, political polarization and public policy, the state of opinion in the mainstream media, and whether Twitter is an effective way to discuss politics.
We really appreciate all of your feedback and and questions and we are looking forward to recording new episodes with some great guests in 2019. With a provincial and federal election expected within the next 10 months, it will be a busy year ahead!
And as always, we owe a huge thanks to our producer, Adam Rozenhart, who keeps us on track and makes each episode of the Daveberta Podcast sound so great.
Thank you for listening. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Reading the pages of the Postmedia newspapers or the #ableg hashtag on Twitter you might believe that Albertans from roughneck Fort McMurray to trendy Kensington are calling for Independence and rising up in arms against their political overlords in Ottawa.
A flurry of recent opinion-editorials and columns in the pages of Canada’s Postmedia newspapers have been fanning the flames of discontent and frustration in Alberta. The discontent and perennial alienation from Ottawa is mostly a result of the economic slump and a delay in the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, but it is difficult to believe that there is any real appetite for Albertans to leave Canada, and the consequences that would follow.
Three years later, Alberta is not Greece and probably should not be looking to Brexit for inspiration.
The arguments for Alberta’s separation from Canada are so weak and the concept of forming an Alberta Republic is so ridiculous that even the thought of writing this article made me cringe. It is the political equivalent of a toddler’s temper tantrum. But because I am a sucker for punishment, here I go.
Among the many of the disastrous consequences of Alberta leaving Canada would be that it would become virtually impossible to get any new pipelines constructed to the deep water ports that pipeline proponents argue the province’s oil industry needs.
If you believe it has already been acrimonious to get the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion built in two provinces, just imagine how difficult it would be to negotiate a pipeline project with a suddenly hostile foreign government, whether it be the prime minister of Canada in Ottawa or the president of the Pacific Republic of British Columbia in Victoria. Not to mention the inconvenient fact that the Government of Canada actually owns said pipeline and its expansion project.
Some will argue that the United States of America would open its borders to Alberta or even welcome it as the 51st State, but it seems unlikely that the American government would want to antagonize Ottawa by dealing with a landlocked rogue nation and cause trouble on it’s northern borders.
American corporations already dominate our economy, which saves the US government the messy business of having to govern us. And the likelihood that most Albertans would be inclined to vote for the Democratic Party would also make the statehood route less appealing for many in America’s political establishment.
The Canadian Government saved Trans Mountain by purchasing the pipeline and the expansion project just as Texas-based Kinder Morgan Inc. was preparing to withdraw their application for expansion. The government of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid $4.5 billion for the pipeline and project, and it is expected Ottawa could spend another $7 billion on the project after it meets the necessary conditions set by the Federal Court of Appeal.
The Federal Court of Appeal ordered a stop to the project in August 2018 after the National Energy Board and federal government failed to conduct a proper environmental impact assessment of the increase of marine traffic and failed to properly consult First Nations communities along the route in the final phase of the approval process.
While Trudeau clearly sees the pipeline expansion as a national priority worth spending serious political and real financial capital on, it is unlikely to bring him positive electoral returns in Alberta in 2019. Despite purchasing the pipeline, ensuring it will be built, and announcing $1.6 billion in loans and financial support to the oil and gas industry, support for Trudeau in Alberta has dropped like a lead balloon.
“We didn’t ask for the opportunity to go further into debt as a means of addressing this problem,” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said in response to the federal government’s bailout package.
It is unclear what Alberta’s politicians want to be done in the meantime. Many are calling the pipeline the only solution to Alberta’s economic problems. The big problem with that argument, if you believe pipelines are the solution, is that even if the Trans Mountain expansion project meets the conditions set by the Federal Court of Appeal in 2019 it might not actually be finished construction until 2022 or 2023. And even if other failed pipeline projects are resurrected, they might take even longer to complete.
That a Prime Minister named Trudeau is not popular in Alberta is no shock. The ingrained hatred for Trudeau and his father in the minds of many Albertans ensures that no matter what the Liberal government in Ottawa does to support our province, it will be seen as either a failure or a hostile attack.
While separatist sentiments bubble up in Alberta politics every decade or so, the last serious political push happened more than 35 years ago, when Western Canada Concept candidate Gordon Kesler won a February 17, 1982 by-election in the former Social Credit fortress of Olds-Didsbury.
The separatist MLA said at his swearing-in ceremony that he had “a lot of responsibility to those who believe in freedom and free enterprise,” but then spent the next few months in the Assembly railing against the metric system and official bilingualism. He and his party were crushed by Peter Lougheed’s Progressive Conservative juggernaut in the November 1982 general election.
Other separatist parties have come and gone since, but they have all faded in the right-wing fringes of Alberta politics.
Meanwhile, outside of the margins of conservative opinion writers and anonymous twitter accounts, two recent polls show that while Albertans might be a little angrier, support for separation remains consistently low.
A recent poll conducted by the research company Ipsos found that “Albertans are a little angrier at the moment, but across the west there is little interest in separation and most measures of connection to Canada are consistent with prior polls taken conducted as long ago as 1997.”
“The level of support for the idea of an independent Alberta is roughly the same as it was in surveys conducted in 2014 and 2016,” said Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Four years ago, with a Progressive Conservative government in Edmonton and a Conservative government in Ottawa, the findings were similar to what is observed in 2018.”
The vast majority of Albertans remain proud Canadians regardless of which party has been elected to run the government in Ottawa. The frustration felt by many Albertans towards Ottawa over pipelines construction delays and the low international price of oil should not be ignored, but let’s not pretend that separating from Canada is a viable solution to our economic problems, because it’s not.
With more than 2,100 votes cast in two rounds of voting, we are proud to announce the results of the Daveberta Best of Alberta Politics 2018 Survey. Over the past two weeks, more than 2,100 readers of this website and listeners of the Daveberta Podcast submitted their choices for the survey and voted for the top submissions in each category.
Here are the winners in the Daveberta Best of Alberta Politics 2018 Survey:
Best Alberta MLA of 2018: Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta and NDP MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona
Best Cabinet Minister of 2018: Shaye Anderson, Minister of Municipal Affairs
In a four-way contest, Shaye Anderson edged ahead with 31.8 percent. Health Minister and Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman earned 26.4 percent, Children’s Services Minister Danielle Larivee earned 21.5 percent, and Education Minister David Eggen, last year’s winner, earned 20.1 percent of the total votes cast.
Best Opposition MLA of 2018: Greg Clark, Alberta Party MLA for Calgary-Elbow
For a second year in a row, Greg Clark has been voted Alberta’s Best Opposition MLA. With 54.1 percent of the vote, Clark placed ahead of Freedom Conservative Party leader and Strathmore-BrooksMLA Derek Fildebrandt, with 34.4 percent, and United Conservative Party leader and Calgary-Lougheed MLA Jason Kenney, with 11.4 percent.
Up and coming MLA to watch in 2019: Jessica Littlewood, NDP MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville
New candidate to watch in the 2019 election: Janis Irwin, NDP candidate in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
This was a new category we introduced this year to recognize some of the new candidates running in next year’s expected provincial general election. Janis Irwin, the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Highlands Norwood, won in this category with 45.9 percent of the vote. Irwin was followed by Calgary-Elbow NDP candidate Janet Eremenko with 29.6 percent and Calgary-Varsity NDP candidate Anne McGrath with 24.4 percent.
Congratulations to the winners and thank you to everyone who submitted your choices and who voted in this year’s Best of Alberta Politics 2018 Survey.
Daveberta Podcast back on Christmas Eve
Tune in on December 24, 2018 for a special episode of the Daveberta Podcast where we answer questions we have collected from listeners over the past few weeks. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or wherever you find podcasts online.
We’d love to hear what you think of the Daveberta 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
In our most recent episode of The Daveberta Podcast, Dave and Ryan asked you to vote in the Best of Alberta Politics 2018 Survey.
More than 500 of you responded to the survey over the last week with your choices for the biggest political players and defining political issues of 2018. We tallied all the responses from that survey and we are now asking you to vote on the top 3 choices in each category.
The top three choices in each category are now open for you to vote on until 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 and the winners will be announced on Thursday, December 20, 2018.
Premier Rachel Notley, NDP MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona
Greg Clark, Alberta Party MLA for Calgary-Elbow
Shaye Anderson, NDP MLA for Leduc-Beaumont
An honourable mention to Danielle Larivee, NDP MLA for Lesser Slave Lake, and Jason Kenney, UCP leader and MLA for Calgary-Lougheed, who placed a strong fourth and fifth in total submissions. Notley was last year’s winner in this category.
Who was the best Alberta cabinet minister of 2018? – Vote
Sarah Hoffman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Seniors
Shaye Anderson, Minister of Municipal Affairs
David Eggen, Minister of Education
Danielle Larivee, Minister of Children’s Services and Minster of Status of Women
Ministers David Eggen and Danielle Larivee were tied for third place, so they are both included in the voting round in this category. Eggen was last year’s winner in this category.
Jason Kenney, UCP leader and MLA for Calgary-Lougheed
Derek Fildebrandt, Freedom Conservative Party MLA for Strathmore-Brooks
Honourable mentions to Richard Starke, the Independent PC MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster, and David Swann, the Liberal MLA for Calgary-Mountain View, who placed a strong fourth and fifth place.Clark was last year’s winner in this category.
Jessica Littlewood, NDP MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville
Laila Goodridge, UCP MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin
David Shepherd, NDP MLA for Edmonton-Centre
An honourable mention to Nathan Cooper, UCP MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, who placed a strong fourth in the first round of voting. Shepherd was last year’s winner in this category.
Who is the new candidate to watch in the 2019 election? – Vote
Janis Irwin, NDP candidate in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
Janet Eremenko, NDP candidate in Calgary-Elbow
Anne McGrath, NDP candidate in Calgary-Varsity
What was the biggest political issue in 2018 in Alberta politics? – Voting Closed
Not surprisingly, pipelines, oil, and the economy were by far the biggest political issue identified in this survey. More than 85 percent of you chose these as the biggest political issue in 2018 in Alberta.
What was the biggest political play of 2018 in Alberta politics? – Voting Closed
This category was a dog’s breakfast. Around 90 percent of the submissions were related in some way to pipelines and the oil industry, but most were difficult to group. Around 30 percent of you chose Premier Notley’s decision to curtail the production of oil as the Best Political Play of 2018, which was the clearest single choice in this category. The wide variety of submissions makes it difficult to choose any top three choices for this round of voting, so I am calling it a draw.
Photo: Greg Clark, Sarah Hoffman, Laila Goodridge, and Shaye Anderson.
The First Minister’s Meeting, oil prices, and Premier Rachel Notley’s performance on the national stage are where we started the discussion in this episode. Dave and Ryan also delved into the latest nomination news and what 2019 holds for Alberta politics, including when the next provincial and federal elections could be called.
We also discuss our choices for theDaveberta Best of Alberta Politics 2018 Survey. Submissions will close on December 12, 2018 at 12:00pm and the top three choices in each category will be included in a round of voting starting on December 13, 2018. Voting will be open until December 19 and the winners will be announced on December 20, 2018.
Thanks to everyone who sent us questions for this episode. We had so many great questions that we have recorded a special episode dedicated to answering your questions that will be published for your listening pleasure on December 24, 2018.
And a huge thanks to our producer, Adam Rozenhart, who keeps us on track and makes each episode of the Daveberta Podcast sound so great.
This nomination contest was contentious, with questions about the eligibility of Fordand former MLAMark Hlady in the contest. Ford’s candidacy was ultimately accepted and Hlady, who represented his district as a Progressive Conservative MLA from 1993 to 2004 and as the PC Party candidate in 2015, was not approved by the UCP to run.
According to Postmedia, one woman in Calgary-East “said she was solicited by Singh at his auto shop while getting her vehicle repaired last July, and soon after discovered her credit card number had been used to purchase a party membership.”
Calgary-Falconridge – Parmeet Singh Boparai was nominated as the NDP candidate in this northeast Calgary district.
Edmonton-South West – Kaycee Madu defeated Kevin Greco and former PC MLA Sohail Quadri to secure the UCP nomination on December 6, 2018.
Livingstone-Macleod – Roger Reid defeated Nathan Neudorf and Thomas Schneider to win the UCP nomination on December 8, 2018. Reid is the owner of Tim Hortons franchises in Nanton and Claresholm. He is the second Tim Horton’s franchaise owner to win a UCP nomination, along with Grande Prairie UCP candidate Tracy Allard.
Sherwood Park – Jordan Walker defeated Maureen Gough, Sean Kenny, and Len Thom to secure the UCP nomination in Sherwood Park. Walker is a conservative party activist and an Assessment Consultant in the Alberta Department of Labour.
Upcoming nomination meetings
With the end of the year approaching, Alberta’s political parties have begun winding down nomination meetings scheduled for this year. By the end of 2018, the UCP will have nominated candidates in 77 of Alberta’s 87 districts, the NDP will have nominated candidates in 33 districts, and the Alberta Party in around 50 districts. Here are the remaining nomination meetings being held in 2018:
December 12, 2018 – Richard Dempsey, Karri Flatla, and George Rigaux are seeking the UCP nomination in Lethbridge-West.
December 12, 2018 – Two NDP MLAs are challenging each other for their party’s nomination in the newly redrawn St. Albert district. Current Spruce Grove-St. Albert MLA Trevor Horne and current St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud are seeking the NDP candidacy. Both MLAs were first elected in 2015.
Renaud has been endorsed by eleven of her caucus colleagues, including Stony Plain MLA Erin Babcock, Calgary-Hawkwood MLA Michael Connolly, Calgary-Klein MLA Craig Coolahan, Calgary-Bow MLA Deborah Drever, Lethbridge-East MLA Maria Fitzpatrick, Edmonton-Castle Downs MLA Nicole Goehring, Edmonton-Ellerslie MLA Rod Loyola, Sherwood Park MLA Annie McKitrick, Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA Colin Piquette, Edmonton-Centre MLA David Shepherd, and Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Bob Turner.
December 13, 2018 – NDP MLA Thomas Dang is expected to be nominated as his party’s candidate in Edmonton-South. Dang was first elected in 2015 in Edmonton-South West, where he earned 53 percent of the vote and unseated PC MLA Matt Jeneroux.
December 15, 2018 – Manwar Khan and Keli Tamaklo are seeking the Alberta Party nomination in Edmonton-Manning. Tamaklo is a former member of Edmonton Police Commission, Vice-Chair of the Africa Centre, and former Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of High Prairie. Khan is a Business Coordinator in the provincial Department of Community and Social Services and founded Do Not Be a Bystander, after witnessing and attempting to intervene to prevent a murder on Edmonton’s LRT.
December 15, 2018 – “Mulligan!” Shane Getson and Leah Wood are facing off in the second UCP nomination contest in Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland. A previous nomination contest held in August 2018 resulted in a win for Onoway business owner Dale Johnson, who was later disqualified after the UCP discovered he was alleged to have paid $5,584.60 to an employee he fired with whom he was in a romantic relationship. A former member of the UCP interim board of directors, Wood was widely seen as the establishment favourite in the first contest and is in a similar position in this second nomination contest.
December 16, 2018 – Gurbachan Brar and Roop Rai are seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-North East. Brar is the former President of the Punjabi Likhari Sabha and is a former Broadcaster at RED FM 106.7. Rai is a constituency assistant to Calgary-McCall NDP MLA Irfan Sabir and was her party’s candidate in the 2016 by-election in Calgary-Greenway. In that contest she earned 20.17 percent of the vote in a competitive four-way race that saw PC candidate Prab Gill win with 27.7 percent.
If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at email@example.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!
The last provincial General Election was held 3 years, 7 months, 2 days ago on May 5, 2015.
According to Section 38.1(2) of the Elections Act, a general election should be held between March 1 and May 31, and in the same three-month period in the fourth calendar year thereafter. This means that the next general election will likely be held between March 1 and May 31, 2019. This fixed election period was introduced in the Election Amendment Act passed on December 6, 2011.
Election campaign periods in Alberta last 28 days. Section 39 (d) of the Election Act states: “the 28th day after the date of the writ is the day on which voting is to take place, or if the 28th day is a holiday, the next following day not being a holiday.” There are a number of statutory and religious holidays that fall in this fixed election period when an election day would not be held: Good Friday is April 19, Easter Monday is April 22, and Victoria Day is May 20.
In accordance with our parliamentary system of government, the Elections Act also states that nothing in the law “affects the powers of the Lieutenant Governor, including the power to dissolve the Legislature, in Her Majesty’s name, when the Lieutenant Governor sees fit.” This means that Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell could issue a writ of election and dissolve the Legislative Assembly whenever she is asked to do so by Premier Rachel Notley. It would be highly irregular for a Lieutenant Governor to deny a Premier’s wish to issue a writ of election.
There are a number of factors that could impact when exactly the election is called.
One major indicator of a party’s readiness for an election is the number of candidates they have nominated. As of today, the New Democratic Party has nominated 31 candidates in 87 districts, meaning that party will need to nominate a majority of its candidates in the first few months of 2019 in order to be prepared for a spring election. The United Conservative Party currently has nominated 74 candidates in 87 districts and will have almost an entire slate of candidates nominated by the end of 2018.
Whether the NDP will recall the Legislative Assembly in the spring of 2019 to present a Throne Speech and introduce a budget before calling an election is unknown at this point. The recent session of the Assembly, which ended on Thursday, December 6, 2018, is widely considered to be the last session in which a serious legislative agenda would be implemented. But it is not uncommon for governments to call an election immediately after tabling or passing a budget, and then using that budget as a de-facto campaign platform.
In 2015, Premier Jim Prentice called an election twelve days after a 16 days session which ended with the tabling of a provincial budget. And Premier Alison Redford called the election five days after the MLAs voted to approve that year’s provincial budget.
Tabling a provincial budget before calling an election could be a double-edge sword for the NDP in 2019.
Using a budget as its re-election platform would allow the Notley government to highlight its continued investments in health care, education, and public transportation like Calgary’s Green Line and Edmonton’s west LRT expansion, and contrast its plan with the expected slash and burn budgets that would be introduced under a UCP government led by Jason Kenney. But unless there is a big change in Alberta’s economic situation (and the international price of oil), any budget presented by the NDP in 2019 would likely have a significant deficit. While both the NDP and UCP have said they would plan to run budget deficits for the next few years, it would draw unwanted attention to an issue that is not seen as the NDP’s strength.
But whether or not a budget is tabled before the election, Finance Minister Joe Ceci is still required by the Fiscal Planning and Transparency Act to publicly release a Fiscal Update and Economic Statement on or before February 28, 2019.
Elections Alberta will release the first quarter financial disclosures of fundraising by Alberta’s political parties in mid-April 2019. And if the UCP continues dominating in the fundraising field, the NDP may want to avoid a round of news coverage about how they have been out-fundraised by its main conservative opponent.
A shrewd calculation related to when the election is held could be related to when voters of certain demographics are likely to be in Alberta and have easy access of voting stations. Calling an early election could limit the ability of vacationing snowbirds to cast their ballots in the election. Polls have suggested that the UCP has a considerable lead over the NDP among voters over the age of 65.
On the other end of the demographic spectrum, calling an early election in 2019 would ensure that university and college campuses are in session when the election is held. Polls suggest that the NDP have stronger support among younger and university educated voters. Mobilizing the student vote could make a difference in a number of electoral districts currently represented by the NDP, including Calgary-Currie, Calgary-Mountain View, Calgary-Varsity, Edmonton-Centre, Edmonton-Riverview, and Lethbridge-West.
Delay the election to late 2019 or early 2020?
Notley said publicly in 2017 that she intends to follow both the spirit and letter of Alberta’s fixed-election-date legislation. But as we all know, circumstances sometimes change in politics.
There might be a backlash of public opinion, like the Progressive Conservative government faced when it called an election one year early in 2015, but the NDP do have the ability to wait until Spring 2020 to call the next provincial election. Alberta’s Election Act fixes the period to every four years, but the Charter of Rights and Freedoms says otherwise.
According to Section 4. (1) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, “No House of Commons and no legislative assembly shall continue for longer than five years from the date fixed for the return of the writs at a general election of its members.”
The decision to delay the next general election beyond Spring 2019 could have drastic electoral consequences for the NDP, but if the party already sees its chances of re-election as slim, as most polls suggest, it might be convinced to take the gamble. Waiting until late 2019 or early 2020 could mean the election could be held after the start of construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion and as the economy continues to recover from the drop in the international price of oil in 2014.
Delaying until 2020 would also give Notley an opportunity to campaign against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the expected October 2019 federal election. This would give Notley an opportunity to create some distance between herself and Trudeau, who had allies on the climate change file before their political relationship broke down over the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion delays.
Delaying the election would have unclear consequences for Third Party Election Advertisers.
The Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act currently states these groups, commonly known as Political Action Committees, are limited to spending $150,000 province-wide on election-related advertising between December 1 in the year before an election and election day. This legislation was passed under the assumption that the fixed-election period would be honoured. If the election is delayed until past spring 2019 and the post-December 1 limits continue to be implemented, the ability of PACs to advertise during the election would be severely limited.
For the past ten years, Edmonton-Strathcona has been an orange island in a sea of blue. Now with three-term Member of Parliament Linda Duncan choosing to retire when the next federal election is called, members of the New Democratic Party in Edmonton-Strathcona will be gathering on November 26, 2018 to select a new candidate to carry their party’s banner in the only district held by the federal NDP in Alberta.
Two candidates have stepped forward to seek the party’s nomination.
Paige Gorsak, a 26-year old community organizer, University of Alberta graduate student and library assistant with Edmonton’s Public Library, is McPherson’s only challenger. Gorsak is running a unabashedly democratic socialist campaign that focuses on social justice issues that push beyond the centre-leftish territory many NDP politicians have staked out in recent years.
Gorsak has been featured in a series of powerful videos on social media and is advocating for change on a wide-range of issues including transition to a 100% renewable energy economy, the elimination of post-secondary tuition and student debt, the creation of free universal childcare and a universal single-payer pharmacare program, and full Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination for First Nations, including a guarantee of treaty rights to education, the full implementation of UNDRIP and the full implementation of Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. The list goes on.
Despite the federal district overlapping an area represented by five NDP MLAs, including Premier Rachel Notley, Transportation Minister Brian Mason, Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt, and Housing Minister Lori Sigurdson, Duncan’s provincial counterparts have been publicly quiet about the selection of her successor. But their silence should not be taken as an indication they do not have strong feelings about who should win.
The tension between the federal and provincial NDP in Alberta, especially over the issue of oil development and pipeline construction, has been palpable. Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has taken a position against the expansion of the federal government-owned Trans Mountain Pipeline, a project Notley had spent an incredible amount of political capital trying to get done.
Gorsak’s call for a transition away from non-renewable energy economy has also made her a target of United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney on social media. But her campaign has responded to Kenney’s attacks with ease and humour, demonstrating that when it comes to issues like climate change, she is not afraid to stake ground outside the provincial NDP’s comfort zone.
Holding on to Edmonton-Strathcona in 2019 will be a tough battle for the NDP, but if the 2015 federal election is any indication, the federal NDP will not find success by tacking to the political centre and mirroring the path traditionally taken by the Liberal Party. The federal NDP should push the limits and provide an exciting and compelling argument for progressive social change. If there is anywhere in Alberta where that kind of message will resonate, it will be in Edmonton-Strathcona.
And Paige Gorsak looks like she could be up to that challenge.
Other parties yet to nominate in Edmonton-Strathcona
Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview – David Egan (not to be confused with David Eggen) defeated Roger Fodjo and Ruby Malik to secure the United Conservative Party nomination in this east Edmonton district. Egan was a campaign volunteer for and was endorsed by Edmonton-Griesbach Member of ParliamentKerry Diotte.
Real estate agent Jeff Waltersrecently dropped out of the UCP nomination contest in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview and has now been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Walters released a statement on his Facebook page explaining the switch:
“As I knocked doors, I really got to know the concerns, issues, and fears of my constituents. At the same time, I learned about the inner workings of the United Conservative Party and it became clear I could not continue my candidacy without compromising myself and my values.”
“It has become increasingly obvious to me that the UCP does not actually care about the grassroots and operates a centrally controlled party and caucus that would be no better for Albertans than the NDP has been. This is counter to what I’m hearing Albertans want and expect, as I have knocked on nearly 5000 doors in the Beverly-Clareview riding.”
Edmonton-Ellerslie – Chuck McKenna is seeking the Alberta Party nomination in this southeast Edmonton district. McKenna was a candidate in the 2007 municipal election in Ward 6 and in the 2010 municipal election in Ward 12, during which time he was also Kerry Diotte’s campaign manager in the neighbouring Ward 11. In 2001, he was acting president of the Canadian Alliance association in Edmonton Southeast.
Yash Sharma had been previously nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in this district and was disqualified after participating in a protest held in response to an Indian Supreme Court decision to allow women of menstruating age to attend an ancient temple.
Before entering politics, O’Neill was a journalist with the Globe & Mail.
Both O’Neill and current Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel were considered star candidates for the PC Party in the 2015 election and were featured in online and television ads produced during the campaign.
Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland – Oneil Carlier was nominated as the NDP candidate in this new district west of Edmonton. Carlier has represented Whitecourt-Ste. Anne and has served as Minister of Agriculture and Forestry since 2015.
Red Deer-South – Bruce Buruma is seeking the UCP nomination. Buruma is Director of Community Relations forRed Deer Public School District and Executive Director of the Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools.
If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will add them to the list. Thank you!
Last weekend, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms president John Carpay told a crowd at a gathering of conservative activists in Calgary:“How do we defeat today’s totalitarianism? Again, you’ve got to think about the common characteristics. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a hammer and sickle for communism, or whether it’s the swastika for Nazi Germany or whether it’s a rainbow flag, the underlying thing is a hostility towards individual freedoms.”
Carpay quickly apologized for the comments, but drawing the connection between the rainbow pride flag, a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride and LGBTQ social movements, and the hammer and sickle and swastika flags, symbols of oppressive and totalitarian regimes, was a step too far.
Postmedia columnist Don Braid wrote in the Calgary Herald that Carpay’s comments were “disgusting, demeaning and dangerous.”
This is notthe first bozo-eruption to dog the UCP leader, but it appears to be the first made by someone with strong political ties to Kenney. The UCP leader spoke at a JCCF event in 2017 where he is reported to have compared Carpay’s work to that of civil-rights activist Rosa Parks.
Carpay and Kenney are social conservative activists from Calgary and have been in the same political circles for decades. Carpay is known for staking out controversial positions popular among social conservatives, whether it be in opposition to abortion or gay rights or, more recently, to student-led anti-bullying clubs known as Gay-Straight Alliances in Alberta schools.
As a delegate at the UCP’s policy conference earlier this year he spoke in support of a policy that would allow teachers to inform parents when students participate in GSAs, a policy that would out some students to their parents. “This is about parental rights. The only societies and governments that trample on parental rights are totalitarian ones,” Carpay was reported to have said at the May 2018 UCP policy meeting.
Kenney was quick to pounce on Strashok, declaring that he had ordered party officials to cancel his membership. But Kenney appears to be less eager to dish out a similar fate to Carpay.
The UCP leader’s soft-peddling in response to Carpay is puzzling to many UCP supporters, including some who attended today’s sold-out Edmonton Chamber of Commerce luncheon, where Kenney spoke to a packed ballroom. Speaking to attendees before and after Kenney’s speech, I have the impression that while the UCP’s economic message resonated with the crowd there was an unease and discomfort with Kenney’s social conservative baggage.
Attendees to today’s luncheon may not be alone in their unease. A recent survey released by Abacus Data shows Kenney’s approval ratings are far below support for the party he leads, suggesting that many Albertans like the idea of a UCP government much more than they like the idea of Premier Jason Kenney.
Kenney’s slow response to the most recent bozo-eruption is likely because social conservative activists, like those who support anti-abortion groups Right Now and the Wilberforce Project, anti-GSA Parents for Choice in Education, and Carpay’s JCCF, are key players in the political coalition that Kenney has built during his almost three decades in politics.
Kenney has never hesitated to take hard-line stances against opponents like Premier Rachel Notley, Prime Minster Justin Trudeau, environmentalists Tzeporah Berman and David Suzuki, and even actor Jane Fonda. It is now time for Kenney to prove to Albertans that he can also take an equally hard-line against the social conservative forces that are embarrassing his own party.
We had such a good conversation with Jamil that we didn’t get to our mailbag this week. Thank you to everyone who sent us questions, we will answer them in an extra long mailbag segment in our next episode.
Alberta’s New Democratic Party has focused a lot of energy attacking Jason Kenney and honing in on United Conservative Partynominationcandidatebozo-eruptions in hopes of building a narrative that casts the UCP as having a big problem with its social conservative elements. But while Kenney and the UCP were frequently mentioned at the NDP convention at the Westin Hotel in downtown Edmonton today, the governing party put a lot more focus on what might become the positive narrative of their campaign for re-election.
With “Fighting for You,” “Fighting for Jobs,” “Fighting for Healthcare,” “Fighting for Public Education,” and “Fighting for Public Services” projected on the large bright screen at the front of the convention hall, NDP officials and cabinet ministers took to the microphones to test talking points and remind delegates about the changes the party has implemented on childcare, climate change, education, health care, and workplace safety since the 2015 election.
The convention feels like it was designed avoid the kind of controversy that was generated at the recent UCP policy convention or the last time there was a big NDP gathering in Edmonton. And unlike previous conventions, there were no contentious debates about halting pipelines, disaffiliating from the federal NDP, or merging with other political parties. Delegates instead reaffirmed their support for Notley’s fight for oil pipelines and a range of progressive policies that included expanding broadband internet in rural Alberta, eliminating racism, expanding affordable childcare, and opposing education vouchers.
Premier Rachel Notley and Finance Minister Joe Ceci took part in a panel discussion moderated by Edmonton-Manning MLA Heather Sweet. The discussion was very friendly, allowing Notley and Ceci to highlight their familiar narrative that investment in public infrastructure and public services was a better choice for Albertans than cutting frontline public services when the price of oil dropped in 2014.
The second day of the NDP convention also featured guest speakers. Chief Billy Joe Laboucan spoke about the historic agreement signed with the Lubicon Lake Band this week. Former Calgary Board of Education chairperson Joy Bowen-Eyre spoke about the need to protect funding for public education. And University of Alberta professor Russell Cobb spoke about how austerity and tax cuts in once-oil rich Oklahoma has led that state down the road to massive public service cuts.
Overall, the second day of the convention was a very well-stage managed event.
But despite a lack of controversy on the convention floor today, the group of more than 1,200 delegates appeared upbeat, energized and ready to hit the doors to campaign in 2019.
“Rachel’s Team” coming to a billboard near you
We can expect a larger focus on Premier Rachel Notley going into Alberta’s next provincial general election. The NDP has already begun to quietly exchange its party logo in many of its public documents in favour of Rachel Notley’s name. It has been clear since 2015 that Notley is her party’s greatest asset, so it is not surprising that she will play the central role in her party’s 2019 re-election campaign.
When next spring arrives, I would not be surprised to see “Rachel’s Team” billboards popping up across the province.
Notley is scheduled to deliver her keynote speech to delegates on the second day of the convention at 11:15 a.m. on Sunday, October 28, 2018.
Ceci criticizes feds for “moving the goal posts” on Olympic funding
Joe Ceci scrums with reporters at the NDP convention.
The news from Ottawa gave Ceci an opportunity to criticize Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, something that is rarely a negative in Alberta politics. Expect NDP cabinet ministers to continue to distance themselves from their former federal allies in the coming months.
Tribute to former leader Brian Mason
NDP MLAs gather on stage during the tribute to former party leader Brian Mason.
The lunch break featured a tribute to Brian Mason, the retiring cabinet minister and MLA from Edmonton-Highlands-Nowood who led the NDP through the muddy trenches of Alberta politics from 2004 to 2014. Mason was introduced by Notley and joined on stage by former party leaders Raj Pannu and Ray Martin, and dozens of his fellow NDP MLAs.
Mason has been a fixture in Edmonton and Alberta politics for decades, first as a prominent activist and student leader at the University of Alberta in the 1970s, then as an transit driver turned Edmonton City Councillor in the 1980s and 1990s before jumping into provincial politics in 2000.
Respected community advocate and educator Janis Irwin has been nominated as Mason’s NDP successor in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood.
Big difference from the last NDP convention I attended
It was September 2009, in a dim-lit windowless ballroom in a downtown Edmonton hotel, the most contentious topic of debate was a proposal from a small group of New Democrat founders of the Democratic Renewal Project.
The DRP advocated the creation of an electoral arrangement or cooperation agreement between the NDP and the Liberal Party to prevent vote splitting by progressive voters. Both opposition parties had major loses in the previous year’s election, with the NDP dropping from four to two MLAs.
The ideas put forward by the DRP sounded sensible to me at the time but were soundly rejected by conference delegates.
Nine years later, the NDP are no longer debating vote splitting or electoral coalitions. They are holding their final convention before going to the polls to ask Albertans to grant them a second-term as government.
Vegreville Ford breaks from MDA support for Jason Kenney’s PAC
“Although we are a member of the MDA, we have chosen not to contribute to the “Shaping Alberta’s Future” 3rd party marketing campaign. Our position is that we do not feel that this action supports what we feel the MDA’s or our purpose should be. Vegford is nonpartisan and it neither endorses nor supports financially any politician or political party. Our job is to take great care of our customers and our staff. We care about Albertans and we vote, but in a world that is already too divided, we feel no need to engage in controversy.”