Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives officially kicked off their leadership race on October 1, 2016 at a party event in Lethbridge. The PC Party formed government in Alberta from 1971 until 2015, when it was reduced to third-place in the Legislative Assembly behind the governing New Democratic Party and Official Opposition Wildrose Party.
As party officials celebrated the start of this leadership race, the event marked the fifth anniversary of the party’s 2011 leadership race, which resulted in first-term MLA and justice minister Alison Redford defeating former cabinet minister and establishment favourite Gary Mar. Ms. Redford defeated Mr. Mar in a third-ballot vote 37,104 to 35,491.
At the time, there was plenty of hope and optimism that the election of Ms. Redford, Alberta’s first woman premier and a lawyer with international experience, would signal the start of a new urban and progressive agenda for Alberta. The ensuing years were instead better defined by arrogance, entitlement and abuses of power. This would end up spelling the end of the PC Party’s 44 years of uninterrupted power in Alberta.
Seventeen months after Alberta’s 2015 election, this PC leadership race represents the first time since 1965 that the winner of a PC leadership race will not also immediately step into the Premier’s office.
While the defining narrative of this race until this point has been whether or not the party should merge with the further-right-wing rural-based Wildrose Party, there appears to be little discussion about why Albertans chose to replace the old PCs with Rachel Notley’s moderate NDP.
PC Leadership Candidates
Candidates have until November 10, 2016 to join the race and party delegates will choose a new leader on March 18, 2017.
“It is, in a sense, the low-effort method of getting rid of the NDP. It is the method of taking two parties whose visions were resoundingly rejected in the last election, and hoping/assuming that there were enough people clinging to those rejected visions to beat the NDP and form government.
It involves no new vision for Alberta, as has been repeatedly seen by the comments and responses of those who tout it. It merely answers that it will govern in a “conservative manner”. Surely we can all understand and agree, based on the elections of the past 15 months, that simply trying to unite a large group, and promising to govern in a “conservative manner” is a roadmap to electoral defeat. Voters need to be inspired by a vision and a plan. When you don’t have a vision and a plan, you will not get people to vote for you.
The fact that he “unite the right” option for the PC party is countered by the “rebuilding the party” option, is an interesting study in sharp contrasts. The former involves no effort, just a suggestion that we can duct-tape two parties together and win. The latter involves maximum effort by many people. The former offers no vision for the future other than a bland promise of governing conservatively. The latter produces a specific vision and a plan.”
Mr. Nelson joins Mr. Kenney and former Calgary-Varsity MLA Donna Kennedy-Glans as the third candidate in the PC leadership race, which officially kicks off on October 1, 2016. Another Calgary lawyer, Doug Schweitzer, announced his was not entering the race last week. The party will host an all-candidates forum during its policy meeting in Red Deer on November 4 to 6, 2016.
Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer announced in an email to his supporters today that he will not seek the leadership of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party. Mr. Schweitzer is the former CEO of the Manitoba PC Party and was involved in Jim Prentice‘s campaign for the Alberta PC Party leadership in 2014. He was widely seen as a potential flag bearer for centrist conservatives in the party and rumours of his candidacy had generated excitement among some party activists.
Here’s the text of the email, in which he also takes a swing at the PC Party and its leadership selection process:
This is a note that will disappoint some of my friends and supporters. I have made the decision not to pursue the Leadership of PC Alberta at this time.
My desire to be part of a significant political change in Alberta started a year ago in a coffee shop in Calgary – I just didn’t know it at the time.
At first, I was just meeting with friends to talk about how we could improve our province. Then I travelled across Alberta and met with people and listened to their concerns. People were frustrated and worried. Some had lost their jobs, others their homes and some had even lost hope. What was also very clear from these conversations was a deep sense of pride in the resilience of Albertans. Even in frustration, there was still a strong belief that Alberta could get back on its feet.
I gathered a group to talk about the future of Alberta. It led to some exciting meetings where we brought together hundreds of people to talk constructively about what our future could be. It was in these conversations that I was encouraged by many to seek the leadership of PC Alberta. I was humbled and flattered.
In exploring whether to run, the question that comes up across Alberta is, “How do we defeat the NDP?” The easy answer is to fuel anger and fear by spreading half-truths and representing them as facts for partisan benefit.
Our generation is tired of excessive partisanship. We want leaders that unite and empower us. We need to create the most competitive business environment in North America without sacrificing the environment. We want equality of opportunity, fairness and inclusion.
We need an Alberta for tomorrow, today.
The big question is can we do this through PC Alberta? I believe the Party needs to re-establish trust with voters, bring forward new ideas, a new plan and a new team. I was hopeful this could happen now.
In exploring this campaign, we have hosted hundreds of meetings across Alberta, attracted a talented team, and developed campaign infrastructure that is unrivalled. We are ready to launch what we believe is a winning campaign.
However, I am concerned about the Party’s commitment to a fair leadership process. In particular, the rules that have been established have raised some serious concerns that go to the legitimacy of the process.
This process has made me realize that if we stay focused on the past and established parties, we will lose the real opportunity that lies before us. That is the chance to define what it means to be a conservative for the next generation. We need a “New Blue”.
My team and I believe this opportunity cannot be realized while defending the status quo – we have to reach higher.
What I am interested in is participating in a larger debate that includes all Albertans who are seeking a strong alternative to the NDP. This is the inclusive debate Albertans deserve and one I will work to make happen.
To the volunteers that have been working with us, I’ll do my best to reach out to each of you over the coming weeks. It took me months to meet all of you, so please be patient. I truly appreciate everything you’ve done. I hope many of you choose to join us as we discuss next steps.
The PC Party will select a new leader in March 2017. Federal politician Jason Kenneyand former MLA Donna Kennedy-Glans have officially announced their plans to run. Political strategist Stephen Carter announced this week that he will be supporting Calgary-North West MLA Sandra Jansen‘s bid for the leadership, which has yet to be officially announced.
A federal by-election will be held in the Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner riding on October 24, 2016. Voters in the riding are choosing a successor to Conservative Member of Parliament Jim Hillyer, who died in March 2016.
Lawyer Richard Billington is the third candidate to enter the Conservative nomination race in Calgary-Heritage to replace former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who resigned earlier this month. Mr. Billington joins party activist Bob Benzen and city prosecutor Paul Frank. As noted in a previous post, Mr. Billington ran for the Conservative nomination in Calgary-Centre in 2012 and has served as the President of the Conservative association in Calgary-Heritage for the past three years.
The Conservative nomination meeting in Calgary-Heritage is scheduled to take place on October 22, 2016, but could be pushed ahead if a by-election is called earlier. An open forum is expected to be held with the nomination candidates on October 12 or 13, 2016.
Kenny to resign this week
After spending the summer campaigning for the leadership of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party, Jason Kenney is expected to resign as MP for Calgary-Midnapore on September 23, 2016. Mr. Kenney had announced earlier this summer that he would resign on October 1, 2016, when the PC leadership race officially begins, but he announced last week at a campaign stop in St. Albert that he would resign one week earlier. A by-election must be called within six months of his resignation, which would be March 23, 2017.
Following former prime minister Stephen Harper’s resignation last week, a by-election must be called in the Calgary-Heritage riding by February 25, 2017. Two candidates have already entered the Conservative nomination race to succeed Mr. Harper in Calgary-Heritage.
Local Conservative Party activist Bob Benzen was the first to announce his candidacy for the nomination. His website states that he is the co-founder of the Decade of Excellence Committee, which paid for large billboards thanking Mr. Harper for his service in office after the Liberal Party’s victory in the October 2015 election.
Calgary lawyer Paul Frank is the second candidate to join the nomination contest. He previously ran in the 2012 Senator-in-Waiting election and as a candidate for the Conservative Party nomination in Calgary-Rocky Ridge in 2014.
Local Liberals have been actively campaigning in Calgary-Heritage in anticipation of Mr. Harper’s resignation (and the neighbouring Calgary-Midnapore in anticipation of Jason Kenney’s resignation on October 1, 2016).
Mr. Harper was re-elected in October 2015 with 63 percent of the vote, ahead of Liberal Dr. Miles with 25 percent, New Democrat Matt Masters with 8 percent and Green Kelly Christie with 2 percent.
Before the 2015 election, the riding was known as Calgary-Southwest and had been represented by Mr. Harper since 2002. The riding was previously represented by Reform Party leader Preston Manning from 1993 to 2002.
September 8, 2016: Electoral Reform town hall with Edmonton-Strathcona MP Linda Duncan, 7:00 p.m. at the Westbury Theatre, ATB Financial Arts Barns at 10330 84 Ave NW in Edmonton.
September 8, 2016: Electoral Reform town hall with Calgary-Centre MP Kent Hehr, 6:00 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. at the Knox United Church – Theatre on 506 – 4th Street SW in Calgary.
September 9, 2016: Electoral Reform town hall with Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan MP Garnett Genuisat Suite 214, 2018 Sherwood Drive in Sherwood Park (the notice asks that interested participants contact his office to register to attend the meeting ).
The Minister of Democratic Institutions, Maryam Monsef, will be hosting a town hall forum in Edmonton on September 10 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Sutton Place Hotel at 10235-101 Street.
Edmonton-Centre MP Randy Boissonnault hosted a town hall on electoral reform on August 18, 2016.
I keep hearing from my friends involved in the PC Party that a social conservative like Mr. Kenney cannot be allowed to win this race.
The third-place PC Party, which formed government in Alberta from 1971 until 2015, have abandoned its former one-member one-vote system that threw open the doors to any Albertan who wanted to participate. The party’s next leader will be chosen by locally elected delegates – 15 from each of the province’s 87 constituencies.
The PC Party committee drawing up the rules for the leadership race has decided that of each group of 15 elected delegates, ten which will be open to any local party member wishing to become a delegate and five reserved for local party officials. This is somewhat similar to the Superdelegate system used by the Democratic Party in the United States.
The adoption of this Superdelegate system means the thousands of Wildrose Party supporters who may purchase PC Party memberships to support Mr. Kenney may have a smaller impact than if all 15 delegate spots were wide open. It will likely make it more difficult for Mr. Kenney to succeed in his hostile take over the Alberta’s PC Party.
But stopping Mr. Kenney would mean someone would actually have to run against him.
We have heard rumours of that Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzeris aiming to run, with the support from the party’s monied Calgary establishment. He is the former CEO of the Manitoba PC Party and was connected to Jim Prentice‘s 2014 leadership campaign. Also said be considering a run is Byron Nelson, another Calgary lawyer and a past PC election candidate.
I am told that more than a few moderate Tories are warming up to the idea of supporting soft-spoken veterinarian Richard Starke, one of two remaining rural PC MLAs. Sandra Jansen has also been talked about as a voice of the party’s ‘progressive’ wing. She is despised by federal Conservative activists for throwing her support behind two Calgary Liberal Party candidates in the last federal election.
Will there be a candidate from Edmonton? The NDP remain popular and ahead in the polls in the capital city, which elected New Democrats in every constituency in the 2015 election.
Former Edmonton-Castle Downs MLA Thomas Lukaszuk has been rumoured but his support of funding cuts to the University of Alberta, his close association with former premier Alison Redford and his strange $20,000 cell phone bill are significant political impediments. According to a recent ThinkHQ poll, his disapproval rating in Edmonton sits around 50 percent.
City Councillor Michael Oshry has mused about running but his real goal might actually be to secure his spot as a PC candidate in Edmonton-McClung in the next election, a seat that the PCs might be able to pick up. Lawyer Harman Kandola, who was the PC candidate in Edmonton-Ellerslie in 2015 is also said to be testing the waters for a run.
I have heard some PC Party members wish party president Katherine O’Neill would join the leadership race. The former Globe & Mail reporter and past PC candidate has been criss-crossing the province at the same speed as Mr. Kenney and his big blue truck, though it is probably too late for the party president to shift gears into a leadership vote this close to the official start of the campaign.
Mr. Kenney has spent the summer travelling around the province preaching his gospel of merging the PCs and Wildrose Party to defeat the risky, dangerous and scary socialists in Edmonton. But it might not necessarily a bad thing that Mr. Kenney has sucked up all the PC leadership oxygen this summer. In doing so he has defined the narrative of this part of the campaign – merging the PCs with the Wildrose – an idea that 1,000 PC Party members, including many who will now vote as Superdelegates, loudly rejected at their annual general meeting earlier this spring.
The full court press against the Alberta government’s Climate Leadership Plan continued today as Postmedia business columnists Gary Lamphier and Claudia Cattaneo dutifully and uncritically weighed in on the latest report from the right-wing Fraser Institute. The report claims the emissions cap included in Alberta government’s climate change plan will cost Canada’s oil sands industry $250 billion and is the latest in a concerted effort by conservative opponents of the NDP to undermine its flagship policy.
Both columnists unquestioningly quoted in length the dire warnings of the Fraser Institute report, with Ms. Cattaneo giving the closing word in her column to Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean, who surprised no one by describing the emissions cap as “damaging.” Focused on attacking the government’s policy, neither columnist bothered to provide any actual analysis of the report or delve into what a Wildrose government would do, if anything, to reduce carbon emissions.
Offering their support for the Climate Leadership Plan at the November 2015 press conference were industry heavy hitters like Canadian Natural Resources Limited chair Murray Edwards, who said: “The framework announced will allow ongoing innovation and technology investment in the oil and natural gas sector. In this way, we will do our part to address climate change while protecting jobs and industry competitiveness in Alberta. (Ms. Catteneo actually interviewed Mr. Edwards a few days after this announcement)
And Brian Ferguson, President & Chief Executive Officer of Cenovus Energy, who said: “We fully support the Government’s new climate policy direction. It enables Alberta to be a leader, not only in climate policy, but also in technology, innovation, collaborative solutions and energy development.”
And Steve Williams, President and Chief Executive Officer of Suncor, who said: “Today we reach a milestone in ensuring Alberta’s valuable resource is accompanied by leading carbon policy. It’s time that Alberta is seen as a climate, energy and innovation leader.”
And Lorraine Mitchelmore, President and Country Chair of Shell Canada and EVP Heavy Oil for Shell, who said: “Today’s announcement sets Canadian oil on the path to becoming the most environmentally and economically competitive in the world.”
And finally, Tim McMillan, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, who said: “…the province’s climate strategy may allow our sector to invest more aggressively in technologies to further reduce per barrel emissions in our sector and do our part to tackle climate change. That’s what the public expects, and that’s’ what we expect of ourselves.”
It is not to say that these energy executives will agree with every policy the Alberta government will implement over the next three years, but these two Postmedia business columnists owe it to their readers not to omit these important facts from their columns.
Note: The results of the Fraser Institute report are disputed by the Pembina Institute‘s Simon Dyer, who told the CBC that the report “is based on unreasonable production levels that don’t consider the world making progress on climate change.” University of Alberta economist Andrew Leach, who chaired the Climate Change Review Panel, told the CBC that “given what I can tell, the study does not assume any progress in oilsands emissions per barrel and no ability to reduce emissions other than shutting in production.”
It has been a long time since Alberta’s Social Credit Party played a central role in mainstream politics in our province. This could be why little attention was paid to the Socred’s annual general meeting in January 2016, where it appears that a group of anti-abortion activists staged a takeover the party leadership.
Len Skowronski, who served as leader from 2007 until the leadership change at the AGM, described it as an “invalid takeover” executed by a group of pro-lifers. “We true Socreds hope to rectify the situation at the next AGM,” Mr. Skowronski wrote in an email to this blogger.
Dear Pro-Life Social Credit Party Members and Supporters,
I want to thank you for all your support of the Social Credit Party over the past year! We have made great progress in building the Pro-Life political movement in Alberta. From recruiting many emerging Pro-Life leaders who have gained valuable knowledge and skills in political leadership on our provincial board to activating lifelong Pro-Life supporters at the grassroots level, helping them engage effectively in our last provincial election.
It hasn’t always been easy, but we have made great strides in promoting Pro-Life public policy and working for a Culture of Life! Thank you!
This Saturday is our Party’s Annual General Meeting. This is a very important opportunity to forward the Pro-Life cause politically in Alberta!
We will be voting to elect a strong team of Pro-Life leaders to the Provincial Executive and Board of Directors. Registration will take place from 1:00-1:30 PM at the Capitol Hill Community Hall, 1531 21 Ave NW, Calgary from 1-4. You can register at the door, $10/person 14yrs or older. Families are welcome to bring their younger children as there will be plenty of room.
This year’s AGM will be critical. We will be voting on the current leadership of the party which could result in the election of a new Leader of the Alberta Social Credit Party. It is vital that we ensure that we vote for a Leader who stands strongly for Pro-Life principles and shares our focus on promoting them openly.
Speaking to the High River Times in April 2015, Mr. Fraser was quoted as saying “I will emphasize the Pro-Life values of Albertans, making constituents and other candidates aware of the issues surrounding abortion and how they are directly relevant to provincial policy… We should de-fund abortion and fund the life affirming alternatives of crisis pregnancy support, parental support, and adoption.”
Elections Alberta released the results of this year’s second quarter of fundraising for provincial political parties this week. Following the release of the disclosures I took a closer look at last quarter’s results and what they could mean for the parties.
New Democratic Party
The Alberta NDP raised ten percent less than they did in the first quarter of 2016, which marks the third best full quarter fundraising results since the party formed government in May 2015. The NDP have never led party fundraising but they appear to have developed a healthy and significant base of individual donors. Note: The NDP do not register donations to individual constituency associations, so all funds raised are disclosed through the central party.
The Wildrose Party maintained its fundraising lead over the NDP by raising the most funds of any party the second quarter. This is a good sign for leader Brian Jean, who’s position as leader of Alberta’s conservatives is being challenged by federal Conservative Member of Parliament Jason Kenneythrough a hostile take-over bid of the PC Party. Not counted in the chart above is the funds raised by constituency associations in the second quarter, including Highwood which raised $17,545, Strathmore-Brooks which raised $8,350 and Calgary-Foothills which raised $8,100.
Drumheller-Stettler Wildrose MLA Rick Strankman and his wife Diane Strankman donated $1,500 to the Vermilion-Lloydminster Wildrose Association, that constituency association’s largest donors in the second quarter. The constituency is represented in the Legislative Assembly by PC MLA Richard Starke.
Gary Bikman, an MLA who crossed the floor from the Wildrose to the PCs in December 2014, donated $500 to the Wildrose association in Cardston-Taber-Warner. He represented the constituency from 2012 to 2015 and was defeated in his bid to become the PC candidate in 2015.
Progressive Conservative Party
Long gone are the days of secret trust funds and overflowing campaign war-chests. This was a dismal second quarter for the former governing Progressive Conservative Party, which raised only $27,376. This was the party’s second worst quarterly fundraising result in recent memory, which is not a good sign as the PCs are set to begin a leadership race on October 1, 2016. But the poor showing by the central party is somewhat deceiving as some local PC constituency associations raised a significant amount of funds in the second quarter: $11,090 in Calgary-Hays, $10,166 in Vermilion-Lloydminster, $10,100 in Calgary-West, $9,386 in Calgary-Northern Hills and $8,277 in Grande Prairie-Wapiti.
For the Alberta Liberals, the good news is they increased the quarterly fundraising by 97 percent, the bad news is that they only raised $57,561.04, which is less than their highest quarter last year (they raised more than $110,000 in the first quarter of 2015). Worth noting is a fundraising reception the Liberals are holding on July 21 at the Mayfair Golf Club that will be hosted by Marc de La Bruyere, chairperson of MacLab Enterprises and a well-connected businessman (he also donated $5,000 to the PC Party during the 2015 election).
After the election of their first elected MLA in 2015, the Alberta Party appears to still be struggling to develop a sustainable base of donors. Unlike the other parties, the newish party is without an already established fundraising network, which takes significant time and resources to develop.
Here is a list of the top donors for each of the five parties, including donations to constituency associations, in the first two quarters of 2016:
New Democratic Party
Harinder Rai: $15,000
Pavan Kumar Elapavuluri: $5,000
Tim Foster: $5,000
Jamie Kleinsteuber: $3,653.75
Jason Rockwell: $3,407.50
Trevor Horne: $3,051.25
Darshan Brar: $3,000
David Eggen: $2,773.75
Mary Williams: $2,730
Alayne Sinclair: $2,643.75
Arnell Gordon: $29,000
Tom Goodchild: $15,000
Maurice Swertz: $15,000
Arlene Goodchild: $7,000
Robert Such: $6,050.00
Iris Kirschner: $7,587.50
James Brown: $5,000
Ryan Crawford: $5,000
Alexander Soutzo: $5,000
Frances Jean: $3,962.33
Progressive Conservative Party
Marcel Van Hecke: $15,957.50
Dave Bissett: $15,000
Scott Burns: $15,000
Stanley Milner: $15,000
Bradley Shaw: $15,000
Celine Belanger: $5,000
Ric McIver: $2,940
Chris Warren: $1,020
Elizabeth Henuset: $1,000
Franklin Kernick: $1,000
Grant Dunlop: $5,600
Karen Sevcik: $5,300
Ian Cartwright: $3,306
Peter Poole: $3,000
Raj Sherman: $2,000
Dan MacLennan: $1,520
Dan Hays: $1,500
Rowland Nichol: $1,500
Catherine Ryan: $1,260
David Swann: $1,000
The group of 18 includes representatives from municipal governments, First Nations, Metis communities, the energy industry, and environmental groups who will “advise government on the oil sands aspects of the Climate Leadership Plan and ensure that its initiatives are effective and widely supported.”
Almost immediately after the advisory group was announced, the Wildrose Party attacked Ms. Berman’s appointment, claiming she was a radical by citing her comments that the Oil Sands reminded her of “Mordor” from the fictional Lord of the Rings books. A vocal critic of the oil industry in the past, Ms. Berman posted a response on her Facebook page yesterday afternoon, saying she regretted the comments.
Ms. Berman wrote: “Though I have been a vocal critic of “business as usual” in the oil sands, I recognize that change doesn’t happen over night. It is a tremendous step forward that the Alberta government has decided to extend our earlier industry-environment work and enlist the help of more industry participants and the wisdom of non-Indigenous and Indigenous community leaders. I am committed to working in good faith with the rest of the advisory group to develop advice that ensures a strong economy and a leadership position for Alberta on environmental issues.”
The NDP have put forward the most comprehensive plan to fight Climate Change that Alberta has ever seen, something that the Progressive Conservatives were unable to do in the final decade of their 44 years in government and the Wildrose Party has been unable to do in its four years as official opposition.
But with critics and climate change deniers ready to pounce at a moment’s notice, it is clear that the NDP government needs to do a better job clearly communicating why their much-lauded Climate Leadership Plan is important. Anticipating opposition criticisms and preparing to actively counter them is a critically important element for the success of the Climate Change plan.
The irony of the criticism in response to Ms. Berman’s appointment is that, only a few years ago, opposition NDP MLAs would have roasted the old PC government for appointing a former CEO of CAPP to co-chair an advisory group like this one. In fact, they did.
In 2013, the NDP called on the PCs to reverse their appointment of Gerry Protti as the chair of Alberta’s energy regulator. Mr. Protti is the founding President of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and at that time was a registered lobbyist for the Energy Policy Institute of Canada, an energy industry lobby group.
The then-NDP opposition Environment critic Rachel Notley said in a press release that “the Redford government isn’t doing itself any favours with this embarrassing post—it unravels the entire yarn they’ve been trying to sell the world about their commitment to responsible resource development and environmental protection. If we continue to act like a banana republic, we shouldn’t be surprised when we’re treated like one by the international community.”
Three years later, the NDP has appointed a former CAPP President and CEO to co-chair a group that will advise the implementation of the government’s flagship Climate Change policy. Partnering Mr. Collyer, Ms. Berman and Ms. Lepine as co-chairs was a bold move that reinforces the government’s message that the NDP are able and willing to work with a broad group of Oil Sands stakeholders.
One of the most admirable strengths of Ms. Notley’s government has been its ability to build broad and pragmatic coalitions that include champions from outside of the NDP’s traditional sphere.
Unlike the previous government, the NDP has intentionally sought to bring together a group of people with diverse and differing political views and expertise to advise on the implementation of Alberta’s Climate Change plans. This was very evident when Ms. Notley released the government’s Climate Leadership Plan in December 2015 surrounded by energy and environmental leaders, when Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips tabled the Carbon Levy legislation in May 2016 and yesterday when this Oil Sands Advisory group was announced.
Here is list of the other members of the Alberta Oil Sands Advisory Group:
Veronica Bliska – Reeve of the Municipal District of Peace
Bill Clapperton is Vice President – Regulatory, Stakeholder and Environmental Affairs of Canadian Natural Resource Ltd
Anne Downey is Vice President of Operations for Statoil Canada and responsible for resource development and continuous operations for the Leismer Asset
Simon Dyer is Pembina Institute’s associate regional director for Alberta and former director of the Institute’s oilsands program.
Tim Gray is Executive Director of Environmental Defence.
Chief Isaac Laboucan-Avirom is Chief of the Woodland Cree First Nation, with a population of 1,300 people, 700 of whom live on the Reserve at Cadotte Lake.
Bill Loutitt is Vice President, Fort McMurray Métis Local 1935. He is also President of Nistawoyou Friendship Centre and former President of Metis Nation of Alberta Region One
Karen Mahon is the Canadian Director of STAND (formerly ForestEthics Advocacy)
Jon Mitchell is Vice-President, Environment & Sustainability at Cenovus Energy
Alison Ronson is Executive Director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s Northern Alberta Chapter
Kevin Scoble is the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
Christa Seaman is Emerging Regulatory Policy Issue Advisor at Shell Canada
Richard Sendall has been Senior Vice President of Strategy and Government Relations at MEG Energy Corporation
Arlene Strom is the Vice President Sustainability & Communications at Suncor Energy Inc.
Lloyd Visser is Vice President, Environment and Sustainable Development at ConocoPhillips Canada
Jason Kenney said last week that he will resign as the Member of Parliament for Calgary-Midnapore when the Progressive Conservative Party leadership campaign officially starts on October 1, 2016. He is expected to spend the summer months campaigning for the party leadership while presumably continuing to have access to MP resources and collecting his Ottawa salary and pension.
If Mr. Kenney does go on to win the leadership of the PC Party in March 2017, he may look for an opportunity to quickly become an MLA. If interim party leader Ric McIver were to resign as MLA for Calgary-Hays, he would create an opening for Mr. Kenney to enter the Legislature.
In return, Mr. McIver could potentially seek the federal Conservative nomination to run in the by-election to replace Mr. Kenney in Calgary-Midnapore. The Calgary-Hays constituency is inside the boundaries of the Calgary-Sheperd federal riding but was until 2015 partially in Calgary-Southeast, a federal riding represented by Mr. Kenney from 1997 until 2015.
Mr. McIver represented southeast Calgary as an Alderman from 2000 to 2012 and as an MLA since 2012. A jump into federal politics would be a natural fit. He would become one of the few Canadian politicians to have been elected at three orders of government and it would also give Mr. McIver an honourable path to bow out of provincial politics without seeking the party leadership for a second time.
Of note, Calgary-Hawkwood NDP MLA Michael Connolly was briefly nominated as the federal NDP candidate in Calgary-Midnapore before he decided to instead throw his hat into provincial politics before the 2015 election, which turned out to be a good choice. Mr. Connolly was elected as MLA in May 2015 and Mr. Kenney was re-elected in October 2015 with 70 percent of the vote.
A federal by-eleciton is expected to be called soon in the Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner federal riding and another will be held in the Calgary-Heritage riding after former Prime Minister Stephen Harper resigns as MP, which he is expected to do this summer.
In anticipation of the three by-elections, I am maintaining a special page to keep track of the three potential federal by-elections in Alberta.
There remain many unanswered questions about his plan, first being whether PC Party members agree with it, second, whether Wildrose Party members are even interested in joining with the PCs, and third, whether they can get organized in time to challenge Rachel Notley‘s New Democratic Party before the 2019 provincial election.
Mr. Kenney has not shied away from embracing viewsoutsideof the mainstream, but he is likely one of the most skilled political organizers and networkers in Canada’s conservative movement. He will charm conservatives in every corner of this province, from Cardston to Mill Woods to Fort McMurray, and many of them will purchase PC memberships to support his leadership bid.
While he is expected to face a number of potential challengers, it is unclear whether any of them have the appeal and organization to mount a serious province-wide challenge to Mr. Kenney and his network of Wildrose and federal Conservative supporters. By announcing his candidacy early, he could intimidate some potential rivals and have the advantage of an entire summer of town festivals and rodeos to campaign.
Announcing his candidacy before the PC leadership race has actually begun also gives Mr. Kenney a serious fundraising advantage. Because the leadership race has not officially started and the PC Party has not sent notice to Elections Alberta, which it will on October 1, 2016, there are currently no limits to the size of corporate and individual donations Mr. Kenney’s campaign can accept. There is also no obligation for his organization to disclose the names or amounts of donations received before the campaign period officially begins. There are no rules.
Mr. Kenney recently purchased a membership in the PC Party, despite being widely seen as a supporter and ideological ally of the Official Opposition Wildrose Party, currently led by former MP Brian Jean.
Perhaps anticipating a threat of takeover, the PC Party recently abandoned its one-member one-vote system of choosing its leader in favour of a closed-delegate system, which forces candidates to campaign and organize in all 87 constituencies across the province.
It is unclear whether Mr. Kenney would resign as the MP for Calgary-Midnapore immediately or if he would keep one foot in federal politics until he secures a leadership position in a provincial party. Under provincial elections law, he does not need to resign his federal seat until he is a registered candidate in a provincial election.
Because of his track-record as a social conservative and Wildrose supporter, Mr. Kenney might not find a great deal of support among existing PC Party members, including the 1,001 who attended the party’s annual general meeting earlier this year. But two unite-the-right groups could provide him with a base with which to organize his PC leadership bid.
The two groups are part of a burgeoning cottage industry of anti-NDP groups, including the infamous and less polished Kudatah, that have popped up since the May 2015 election. Both the Wildrose and PC Parties have publicly rejected their overtures.
Alberta’s elections laws bar political parties from merging financial assets, meaning any actual merger between conservative parties is highly unlikely. Making things more complicated was the formation of a sixth conservative party last month – the Reform Party of Alberta. It may be a more likely scenario that a PC Party led by Mr. Kenney would apply to Elections Alberta to change its name to the Conservative Party of Alberta and urge Wildrose MLAs to run under its banner in the 2019 general election.
Cast into the opposition for the first time in 44 years, Conservatives in Alberta will need to define what their vision is for the future of our province. After decades of fiscal mismanagement, much of Alberta’s current economic situation is a result of decisions made by PC Party governments. Conservatives cannot simply expect that Albertans will forgive, forget and restore the natural governing party in 2019. Those days are gone.
Aside from his politically charged rhetoric about “free enterprise” and the bogeyman ‘bohemian Marxism‘ it remains completely unclear what Mr. Kenney’s vision for Alberta would be, besides just returning Conservatives to power. I expect we will find out more in the next few days.