Tag Archives: Kara Barker

Working under the Dome: A look at some political staffers hired to work for Alberta’s new UCP government

One of the results of a change in government is a mass turnover in the political staffers who occupy the offices of the premier, cabinet ministers and caucuses. As a new government enters office in Alberta, there are many dozens of political jobs that need to be filled. Here is a quick glance at some of the political staffers who have been hired to fill key roles since the United Conservative Party formed government in Alberta:

  • As has already been widely reported, former UCP Caucus Chief of Staff Jamie Huckabay is now Chief of Staff in Premier Jason Kenney’s office. Joining him in Kenney’s office are Howard Anglin as Principal Secretary, Katy Merrifield as executive director of communications and planning, and Christine Myatt as press secretary and deputy director of communications. Anglin previously served as executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, deputy chief of staff in the office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Chief of Staff to Kenney while he was the federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Merrifield was communications director to former B.C. premier Christy Clark and senior advisor to the BC Liberal Party.
  • Paul Bunner has been hired as a Speechwriter in the Premier’s Office. Bunner served as a speechwriter and communications advisor in the office of Prime Minster Harper and as editor of the right-wing C2C Journal website, which is part of the Manning Foundation for Democratic Education.
  • Former UCP Caucus communications advisor Harrison Fleming is a special communications advisor in Executive Council.
  • Former Daveberta Podcast co-host Ryan Hastman is Chief of Staff to Minister of Community and Social Services Rajan Sawhney. Natasha Kornak is Sawhney’s press secretary. She is the co-founder of the Story of a Tory blog with Brooks-Medicine Hat UCP MLA Michaela Glasgo. 
  • Recent Daveberta Podcast guest co-host Lianne Bell is now Chief of Staff to Speaker Nathan Cooper. Bell previously worked for the Wildrose and UCP Caucus as director of stakeholder relations.
  • Jamie Mozeson is Chief of Staff to Minister for Service Alberta Nate Glubish. Mozeson was the director of operations at the UCP Caucus and ran for the federal Conservative nomination in the Sturgeon River-Parkland district in 2016. Glubish’s press secretary is Tricia Velthuizen, a former Wildrose and UCP Caucus staffer and candidate for Edmonton City Council in 2017.
  • Jonah Mozeson, who is married to Jamie Mozeson, is the press secretary in the Office of the Minister Justice and Attorney General Doug Schweitzer. His mother, Laurie Mozeson, was the UCP candidate in Edmonton-McClung in the 2019 election.
  • Craig Bellfontaine is Schweitzer’s Chief of Staff. Until recently he was a Toronto-based lawyer at the firm Farken and is a former federal Conservative ministerial staffer. Schweitzer’s Ministerial Assistant Kalyna Kardash is a former Outreach Coordinator for the UCP Caucus and Party during the election campaign.
  • Andrea Smotra is Chief of Staff to Minister of Energy Sonya Savage. Smotra was the director of election readiness for the UCP and previously worked as Regional Affairs Advisor in the office of Prime Minister Harper and deputy director of issues management for Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister.
  • Nicole Williams is Chief of Staff to Education Minster Adriana LaGrange. Williams is a former lobbyist and ministerial assistant who was the UCP candidate in Edmonton-West Henday in the recent election. Colin Aitchison is LaGrange’s press secretary. Until recently he was the Issues Manager for Ontario Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa McLeod.
  • Warren Singh is Chief of Staff to Health Minister Tyler Shandro. Singh previously served as director of government relations with NAIT and vice-president policy and outreach with the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. Before that he served in various chief of staff roles in the old PC government. Steve Buick is Shandro’s press secretary. Buick served as press secretary to former health minister Stephen Mandel and as a policy advisor to health minsters Gene Zwozdesky and Fred Horne. Previous to that he served as Director of Media Relations and Issues Management for Capital Health.
  • Kris Barker recently resigned from the UCP board of directors to start his new job as Chief of Staff to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism Tanya Fir. Barker was elected at the party’s annual general meeting as the Edmonton Regional Director. He is married to Kara Barker, who ran as the UCP candidate in Edmonton-Riverview. Fir’s press secretary Justin Brattinga is a former BC Liberal Caucus staffer.
  • Mark Jacka is Chief of Staff to Transportation Minister Ric McIver. Jacka previously served as UCP Constituency Development Coordinator, as an assistant to Edmonton-West MP Kelly McCauley and as Director of Political Operations for the Wildrose Party. Brooklyn Elhard is McIver’s press secretary. She previously served as Scheduling and Tour Coordinator for the UCP leader. 
  • Tim Schultz is Chief of Staff to Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Devin Dreeshen. Schultz previously served as chief of staff to the Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education and the Minister of Finance in Progressive Conservative governments from 2008 to 2012. 
  • Mandi Johnson is Chief of Staff to Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women Leela Aheer. She previously worked for the PC, Wildrose and UCP Caucus. She is married to James Johnson, the Director of Research at the UCP Caucus. Payman Parseyan is Aheer’s press secretary. He ran for Edmonton City Council in 2017 and was a candidate for the UCP nomination in Edmonton-Whitemud. 
  • TJ Keil is chief of staff to Minster of Red Tape Reduction Grant Hunter. Keil previously worked as a Senior Stakeholder Relations Consultant with Alberta Real Estate Association and ran for the PC Party in Edmonton-Strathcona against first-time NDP candidate Rachel Notley in 2008. 
  • Steven Puhallo is chief of staff to Minister of Children’s Services Rebecca Schulz. He previously as chief of staff to various BC cabinet ministers from 2001 to 2008 and more recently was President and CEO of Cowboy Gaming (Canada), a country and western themed free online bingo and casino. Lauren Armstrong is Schulz’s press secretary. Armstrong worked as Kenney’s press secretary while he served as Minister of National Defence in Ottawa and until recently was chief of staff to Calgary city councillor Jeromy Farkas.
  • Former Wildrose Caucus staffer and Alberta Counsel communications lead Tim Gerwing is the press secretary for Minister of Municipal Affairs Kaycee Madu.
  • Former Hill & Knowlton senior consultant Jessica Goodwin is press secretary to Minister of Finance Travis Toews.
  • Ted Bauer is press secretary to Minister of Indigenous Relations Richard Wilson. Bauer is the former Communications and Media Coordinator for Homeward Trust Edmonton and editor for Global News and CityTV.

And looking at the legislative branch:

  • Robyn Henwood is executive director of the UCP Caucus. Henwood will be known by political watchers as the chair of the party’s leadership election committee and as campaign manager for Len Rhodes’ election campaign in Edmonton-Meadows.
  • Brianna Morris is deputy director of the UCP caucus. She previously served as Senior Advisor to the UCP House Leader and as a Legislative and Outreach Assistant in the Wildrose Caucus.
  • Author and one-time Daveberta Podcast guest Jamil Jivani is a Stakeholders Relations Manager for the UCP Caucus. 
  • Tim Uppal is also a Stakeholders Relations Manager for the UCP Caucus. Uppal served as the Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Sherwood Park from 2008 to 2015 and is currently the nominated federal Conservative candidate in Edmonton-Mill Woods.

As has already been noted in a previous post, former UCP campaign director Nick Koolsbergen is now the CEO of the Wellington Advocacy lobbyist company. Matt Wolf, who served as Kenney’s Deputy Chief of Staff and director of the UCP campaign war room, is now a vice-president with public affairs giant Hill & Knowlton. Also with new jobs outside of government are UCP President Erika Barootes and former UCP Caucus director of issues management Peter Csillag have been hired by the Toronto-based public affairs company Enterprise. 

Garth Rowswell wins UCP nomination in Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright, Spruce Grove-Stony Plain vote set for Friday

Garth Rowswell defeated Ben Acquaye, engineer Darrel Howell, past Battle River-Wainwright Progressive Conservative candidate Blake Prior, former mayor of Marwayne Jenelle Saskiw, and Eileen Taylor (who is married to the current MLA for Battle River-Wainwright) to secure the United Conservative Party candidacy in the new Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright district.

Garth Rowswell Vermilion Lloydminster Wainwright United Conservative Party Election Alberta

Garth Rowswell

Rowswell is a Lloydminster-based financial advisor with Edward Jones. He previously served as the secretary of the local UCP association and as campaign manager for Vermilion-Lloydminster Wildrose Party candidate Danny Hozack in the 2015 election.

Two-time Wildrose candidate Hozack was seeking the UCP nomination in this new district, but was deemed ineligible to run by the UCP. A letter to Hozack from UCP executive director Janice Harrington stated “a background review of your social media accounts and other online statements has been completed and upon review of this research, the Nominations Committee has deemed you ineligible.

“…there was a significant number of posts and statements that you have made or shared that would harm the reputation of the UCP and cause great offence to a large number of Albertans if they were made public by our opponents,” wrote Harrington, who then listed examples of the offending material, which she states included a post that shares a request to “Save Europe, the West, the World from Islam” and the republishing of statements and writings of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Incumbents from both districts, UCP MLA Wes Taylor and lone-Progressive Conservative Richard Starke, have announced their plans to not seek re-election in 2019.

Searle Turton Spruce Grove Stony Plain United Conservative Party Alberta Election

Searle Turton

UCP members in Spruce Grove-Stony Plain will select a candidate on November 30, 2018. CLAC representative Mathew Clark, Jerry Semen, and Spruce Grove City Councillor Searle Turton are seeking the UCP nomination in this district. Semen has been endorsed by UCP MLA Tany Yao, Conservative Member of Parliament Garnett Genuis and former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean.

Members of the New Democratic Party have nominated MLA David Eggen in Edmonton-North West and MLA Richard Feehan in Edmonton-Rutherford.


Here are a few of the latest updates to the list of candidates nominated and seeking nomination to run in Alberta’s next provincial election:

Airdrie-CochraneSteven Durrell is seeking the NDP nomination in this district north of Calgary. Durrell is a Telus dispatcher and trustee for the Telus Corporation pension plan. He has been a shop steward for the United Steel Workers. “My priorities lie in ensuring that our social services, like healthcare, education, or programs for people with disabilities, continue to receive the funding they require to be effective,” Durrell said in a press release from his campaign.

Airdrie-EastAlex Luterbach has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Luterbach has worked as a Retail Development Regional Analyst with Nestlé.

Calgary-Glenmore: Scott Appleby has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in this district. He is the owner of Appleby Painting and co-founder of GrayApple Inc.

Calgary-Peigan – Herjinder Seran is no longer seeking the Alberta Party candidate in this district.

Camrose – Former Edmonton-Ellerslie Wildrose candidate Jackie Lovely defeated former Strathcona-Sherwood Park Wildrose candidate Rob Johnson, former Calgary-South East Wildrose candidate Brandon Lunty, and former Wetaskiwin-Camrose Wildrose candidate Trevor Miller will face casino manager Dawn Anderson to secure the UCP nomination.

Edmonton-EllerslieSherry Adams is seeking the UCP nomination. Adams is currently serving her second term representing Ward I on the Edmonton Public School Board.

Edmonton-RiverviewKara Barker was acclaimed as the UCP candidate after her challenger, Shawn McLeod, withdrew from the contest. Barker is a crown prosecutor with Alberta’s Department of Justice.

Lac Ste. Anne-ParklandLeah Wood is once again is seeking the UCP nomination in this district. Wood ran in the UCP nomination contest held in August 2018 before Dale Johnson was removed as a candidateWood was a member of the UCP interim board and was widely considered to be the favourite of the party establishment in the first nomination contest. Shane Getson is also seeking the UCP nomination in this district.

Lesser Slave Lake: Pat Rehn defeated Brenda Derkoch, John Middelkoop, and Juliette Noskey to secure the UCP nomination in this rural northern Alberta district. Jim Sparks candidacy was not accepted by the UCP and Garrett Tomlinson withdrawn and endorsed Rehn. Rehn is the owner of AAA Precision Industries and Precision Crane and Rentals.

Lesser Slave Lake is one of two electoral districts that have been given special status under Section 15(2) of Electoral Boundaries Commission Act, which permits a geographic size that yields a population between 25% and 50% below the average electoral division.

Livingstone-Macleod – Allen Maclennan and Justin Murphy have withdrawn from the UCP nomination contest.

St. Albert – Cameron Jefferies has been nominated as the Green Party candidate. Jefferies is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law and the University of Alberta where he researches environmental law, natural resource law, ocean law and animal law and sustainability law.

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. Thank you!

Joe Anglin Freedom Conservative Party

Fightin’ Joe Anglin joins the Freedom Conservative Party, Brian Pincott to run for NDP in Calgary-Acadia, and the UCP-Soldiers of Odin Saga continues in Edmonton-West Henday

Photo: Joe Anglin, speaking on the steps of the Alberta Legislature in his heyday as the Wildrose Party MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre (Photo credit: David Climenhaga)

Former Wildrose Party MLA Joe Anglin announced plans to seek the Freedom Conservative Party nomination to run in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre in the next provincial election. Anglin represented the district from 2012 to 2015, first as a Wildrose Party MLA and then as an Independent MLA.

Derek Fildebrandt Alberta Wildrose MLA

Derek Fildebrandt

Known for his taste for a political fight, Anglin is one of the more fascinating and colourful characters to have entered Alberta politics over the past decade.

He burst on to the political stage in the mid-2000s by leading a landowners revolt against the construction of giant electrical transmission lines through rural central Alberta and soon after took over the leadership of the Alberta Greens. He earned the best result ever for a provincial Green Party candidate in Alberta in 2008, when he garnered 22 percent of the vote in Lacombe-Ponoka. He left the Greens soon after the election and the party dissolved. He was known to float in numerous political circles over the next few years before joining the Wildrose Party and being elected MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre in 2012. 

Anglin lost the Wildrose Party nomination in 2014 and left the Wildrose Caucus shortly afterward. He attempted to mount a campaign for the Progressive Conservative Party nomination in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre in early 2015 but was denied entry into the race. He then ran as an Independent and earned 11.3 percent of the vote in the 2015 election. 

Rick Strankman Alberta United Conservative Drumheller Stettler MLA

Rick Strankman

Since 2015, Anglin has been on a legal crusade as he pursues a civil lawsuit against Alberta’s Chief Electoral Officer and others, alleging abuse of process. As reported on David Climenhaga’s AlbertaPolitics.ca, Anglin’s statement of claim alleges Elections Alberta “carried out unfounded investigations of Mr. Anglin’s activities in the election and prosecuted him improperly for violations of election laws, in the process damaging his reputation and destroying his chances of election, causing loss of future employment.”

A separate case that Anglin pursued against Elections Alberta over a $250 penalty imposed by the chief electoral officer related to the small font on his campaign signs during the 2015 election was dismissed by the Alberta Court of Appeal in September 2018.

When nominated, Anglin will face United Conservative Party MLA Jason Nixon, who defeated Anglin for the Wildrose Party nomination in 2014 and then again in the 2015 general election. 

Strathmore-Brooks MLA Derek Fildebrandt, who also is a former Wildrose MLA, is expected to be acclaimed as leader of the Freedom Conservative Party at a leadership vote event on October 20, 2018 at the Watchman’s Pub in Calgary. Fildebrandt became the FCP’s first MLA in July 2018 after he was not allowed to rejoin the UCP following a string of embarrassing scandals.

Meanwhile, speculation continues about whether Drumheller-Stettler MLA Rick Strankman, who recently lost the UCP nomination to Nate Horner, will also join the Freedom Conservative Party.

Pincott jumps into provincial politics 

Brian Pincott NDP Calgary Acadia

Brian Pincott

Former City Councillor Brian Pincott announced last week that he is seeking the New Democratic Party nomination in Calgary-Acadia, which overlaps part of the Ward 11 he represented on City Council from 2007 to 2017.

Pincott had previously expressed interest in running for the NDP in Calgary-Mountain View, which is now represented by retiring Liberal Party MLA David Swann. but with the retirement of MLA Brandy Payne, Calgary-Acadia opened up.

Before entering municipal politics, Pincott ran as the NDP candidate in Calgary-Southeast in the 2004 federal election and the NDP candidate in Calgary-Centre in 2006 federal election.

A nomination meeting will be held on October 25, 2018.

Dach nominated in McClung: NDP MLA Lorne Dach has been nominated as his party’s candidate in the southwest district of Edmonton-McClung. Dach was elected in 2015 in his fourth time as the NDP candidate in this affluent southwest Edmonton district. He will face Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel and UCP candidate Laurie Mozeson in the next election.

Barb Miller MLA Red Deer South

Barb Miller

Miller goes for re-election in Red Deer: NDP MLA Barb Miller plans to seek her party’s nomination for re-election in Red Deer-South. Miller was elected in 2015 by earning 35.9 percent of the vote in a three-way split with PC Party candidate Darcy Mykytyshyn and Wildrose Party candidate Norman Wiebe. A nomination meeting has been scheduled for November 8, 2018.

Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running for party nominations ahead of the 2019 Alberta provincial general election:

Calgary-Cross – Jesse Minhas has withdrawn from the UCP contest. Minas ran for the Progressive Conservative nomination in this district ahead of the 2015 election and was the Wildrose Party candidate in Calgary-East in the 2012 election.

Calgary-Currie – Lindsay Luhnau is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Luhnau currently work as a business strategist with the City of Calgary and previously worked as a constituent assistant in the office of Ward 9 City Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra.

Calgary-North – Melanie Wen has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Wen is a member of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Board.  

Calgary-North West – Andrew Bradley has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.

Edmonton-City Centre – Lily Le was acclaimed as the UCP candidate in Edmonton-City Centre after three other candidates withdrew from the contest. Le is the Co-Chair of the Vietnam Pavilion for Edmonton Heritage Festival and President of the Edmonton Viets Association.

Edmonton-Glenora – Glen Tickner has been selected as the Alberta Party candidate. 

Edmonton-Riverview – Karamarie Barker is seeking the UCP nomination. Barker is a Crown Prosecutor with the Department of Justice and Solicitor General.

Lacombe-Ponoka – Myles Chykerda is seeking the Alberta Party nomination in this central Alberta district. Chykerda is a resident of the City of Lacombe and is completing his the final stages of a PhD in Classical Archaeology from the University of California in Los Angeles.

Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland – Following Dale Johnson’s removal as a candidate the UCP announced a second nomination vote would be held. Shane Getson is the first candidate to enter the contest. He is a manager of a pipeline construction and maintenance company.

Lesser Slave Lake – Pat Rehn is seeking the UCP nomination. Rehn is the owner of AAA Precision Industries and Precision Crane and Rentals. Meanwhile, Darryl Boisson has withdrawn from the UCP nomination contest in this district. Boisson was the Wildrose Party candidate in Lesser Slave Lake in the 2012 and 2015 elections.

Red Deer-North – Reg Warkentin has withdrawn from the UCP nomination contest. Warkentin is the policy and advocacy manager with the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce.

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. Thank you!


UCP-Soldiers of Odin saga continues

Lance Coulter Edmonton West Henday United Conservative Party UCP

Lance Coulter

Edmonton-West Henday UCP nomination candidate Lance Coulter told Postmedia he thought he would give the Soldiers of Odinthe benefit of the doubt and have a conversation with them” before he took a photo with a member of the anti-immigration, white nationalist organization at a UCP event on October 5, 2018.

Nomination candidates Nicole Williams and Leila Houle, as well as the party leader have denounced the vigilante organization and its members.

Despite being vetted by the UCP’s supposedly “rigorous screening process,” Press Progress reported yesterday that Coulter has a history interacting with white nationalist and alt-right content on social media, including support for a Muslim ban in public schools. Press Progress reported that this activity took place while Coulter was employed as an assistant to Edmonton-Griesbach Member of Parliament Kerry Diotte.

When asked by The Star Edmonton about these allegations, Coulter replied that “I wish I knew I was a white-nationalist, otherwise I would have worn the 1930s Hugo Boss, but it’s utterly ridiculous. I mean, calling somebody a racist, a white-nationalist without any kind of substantial evidence in any way shape or form, it’s defamation of character.”

UCP members in Edmonton-West Henday vote to select their candidate on October 22, 2018. It is not clear whether UCP leader Jason Kenney will allow Coulter’s name to remain on the ballot.

UPDATE: Lance Coulter has been disqualifed as a UCP nomination candidate in Edmonton-West Henday. Here is the letter from UCP executive director Janice Harrington informing Coulter of his disqualification.

Lance Coulter Janice Harrington United Conservative Party Edmonton-West Henday RacismLance Coulter Janice Harrington United Conservative Party Edmonton-West Henday Racism