Tag Archives: Karen Leibovici

Social Credit introduced recall laws in Alberta in 1936 and repealed them in 1937 when Premier William Aberhart faced a recall challenge in his own riding.

Wildrose Recall Bill would let 20% of voters overturn a fair and democratic election

A private members bill proposed by Chestermere-Rockyview Wildrose Party MLA Leela Aheer would allow 20 percent of eligible voters – a significant minority of eligible voters – the ability to overturn the results of a previously held fair and democratic election.

Leela Aheer Wildrose MLA Chestermere Rockyview

Leela Aheer

Bill 206: Recall Act, which passed first reading on Nov. 26, 2015, would create an MLA recall mechanism that could force a by-election in a provincial constituency if 20 percent of eligible voters from the previous election sign a petition demanding so.

If we were to have recall laws in Alberta, the threshold for overturning the results of a general election should be much higher than the 20 percent of eligible voters proposed in Ms. Aheer’s private members bill. A small minority of eligible voters should not have the power to overturn the results of a fair and democratic election.

The 20 percent requirement proposed in Bill 206 is also much lower compared to any previous recall proposals in Alberta.

Private members bills proposing the creation of recall laws in Alberta’s recent history have all come from opposition MLAs and all called for a significantly higher percentage of voters to sign the recall petition. Three private members bills introduced by Liberal MLAs in the 1990s called for recall to be triggered with the signatures of 40 percent of voters. A private members bill introduced by a Wildrose MLA in 2010 lowered the bar to 33.3 percent.

The only province with recall laws, British Columbia, requires signatures from more than 40 percent of eligible voters. B.C. adopted recall laws after it was approved through a province-wide referendum in 1991.

Even when Alberta briefly had MLA recall laws, from 1936 to 1937, signatures were required from 66.6 percent of voters to trigger a by-election.

One reason behind the low percentage in this bill is that it could make it easier for the conservative opposition to target and trigger by-elections in rural constituencies represented by NDP MLAs. In rural ridings where NDP candidates were elected in tight races, the low 20 percent threshold in Ms. Aheer’s Bill 206 would equal almost the same amount of votes received by Wildrose candidates in the recent election.

  • In Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley, only 3,278 signatures would be needed to trigger a recall by-election under Bill 206. The Wildrose Party candidate earned 3,147 votes in that riding and NDP candidate Marg McCuaig-Boyd earned 3,692 votes.
  • In Lesser Slave Lake, NDP candidate Danielle Larivee was elected with 3,915 votes compared to the Wildrose candidate’s 3,198 votes. Twenty per cent of eligible voters would equal 3,812 votes.

Of course, Wildrose and Progressive Conservative MLAs could also become targets of the recall laws, though it is unlikely the NDP majority – like the previous Conservative majority – would ever support this bill.

In my opinion, Albertans had an opportunity to vote in a general election seven months ago and cast their ballots for candidates with the understanding they would serve as MLAs for the next four to five years. As the results of the 2015 election proved, when we are motivated by tired and arrogant governments, Albertans can be trusted to elect a new government. In 2019, Albertans will once again have an opportunity to cast their ballots and choose who will represent their individual constituencies.

A brief history of recall laws in Alberta

1936: Bill No. 76 of 1936: A Bill Providing for the Recall of Members of the Legislative Assembly was introduced by the Social Credit government and passed after their surprising win in the 1935 election. The bill required 66.6 percent of voters to sign a petition to trigger a recall by-election.

1937: The law was repealed by the Social Credit government after a group of disgruntled Albertans was thought to have collected enough signatures to recall Premier William Aberhart in his Okotoks-High River constituency.

1993: Calgary-Buffalo Liberal MLA Gary Dickson introduced Bill 203: Recall Act, which would have trigged a recall by-election if 40 percent of eligible voters signed a petition demanding one. The bill was defeated in a 42-34 vote in the Legislature.

1995: Edmonton-Meadowlark Liberal MLA Karen Leibovici introduced Bill 224: Parliamentary Reform and Electoral Review Commission Act, which would have created a commission to study a handful of issues, including recall. The bill passed first reading but was never debated.

1996: Lethbridge-East Liberal MLA Ken Nicol introduced Bill 206: Recall Act, which would have trigged a recall by-election if 40 percent of eligible voters signed a petition demanding one. This bill was defeated in a 37-24 vote in the Legislature.

1997Bill 216, Recall Act was introduced by Edmonton-Manning Liberal MLA Ed Gibbons but was never debated in the Legislature. If passed into law, the bill would have trigged a recall by-election if 40 percent of eligible voters signed a petition demanding one

2010Calgary-Glenmore Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman introduced Bill 208: Recall Act, which would have trigged a recall by-election if 33 percent of eligible voters signed a petition demanding one. Reached second reading but was not debated further.

2015: Chestermere-Rockyview Wildrose MLA Leela Aheer introduces Bill 206: Recall Act, which would trigger a recall by-election if 20 percent of eligible voters signed a petition demanding one

Matt Jeneroux, Aaron Paquette, Heather MacKenzie, and Katherine Kowalchuk.

Alberta candidate update: 111 days until Canada’s federal election

With only 111 days left until Canada’s next federal election, parties are scrambling to nominate candidates in Alberta’s thirty-four new electoral ridings. Despite their win in the recent provincial election and a sharp rise in the polls, the federal NDP are still far behind in choosing candidates in Alberta, with only four five of thirty-four candidates nominated. The Conservatives recently lost one incumbent following the surprise announcement by MP James Rajotte that he would not seek re-election. The federal Liberals have nominated at least 23 candidates.

Here are some of the latest additions to the list of candidates nominated and seeking nominations to run in the federal election in Alberta:

Calgary-Forest Lawn: Myra D’Souza is seeking the NDP nomination in this east Calgary riding. Ms. D’Souza was a candidate for the Calgary Catholic School Board elections in 2013 and is currently serving her third term as a member of Calgary’s Co-op.

Calgary Heritage: Dr. Brendan Miles has been nominated as the Liberal candidate in this southwest Calgary riding. The physician will challenge Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the October 2015 election.

Calgary-Midnapore: Laura Weston has been nominated as the NDP candidate in this south Calgary constituency. Formerly nominated candidate Michael Connolly was elected as the MLA for Calgary-Hawkwood on May 5, 2015.

Calgary Nose Hill: The Liberals have nominated Ala Buzreba as their candidate. Ms. Buzreba currently studies at the University of Calgary and works with the City of Calgary’s Community and Neighbourhood Services.

Calgary Shepherd: Mechanical engineer Jerome James is the nominated Liberal candidate.

Calgary Signal Hill: The Liberals have nominated lawyer Katherine Kowalchuk to challenge former Progressive Conservative Finance Minister Ron Liepert in this west Calgary riding. She is the founder of Law Boutique and has served on the boards of the Association of Women Lawyers, Commercial Real Estate Women, and the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter.

Edmonton-Manning: Artist and advocate Aaron Paquette, community activist Jeanne Lehman, and University of Alberta english instructor Glenda Baker are seeking the NDP nomination in this newly redrawn north east Edmonton riding. Mr. Paquette was one of the creators of the #Ottawapiskat hashtag, that satirized criticisms of the Idle No More protests.

Edmonton Riverbend: With the announcement last week by Mr. Rajotte that he would not seek re-election, former PC MLA Matt Jeneroux has announced plans to seek the Conservative nomination. Mr. Jeneroux was first elected in the 2012 provincial election and was unseated in May 2015 by NDP candidate Thomas Dang.

Edmonton-West: Former Edmonton Public School Board trustee Heather Mackenzie and hotelier Jim Hill are seeking the NDP nomination. The Liberals have nominated former city councillor and mayoral candidate Karen Leibovici as their candidate.

Lethbridge: Michael Pyne has been nominated as the Liberal candidate.

Sherwood Park – Fort Saskatchewan: Joanne Cave and Adam Comartin are seeking the NDP nomination. Mr. Comartin is the son of retiring NDP MP Joe Comartin, who has represented a Windsor-area riding since 2000.

Sturgeon River-ParklandGuy Desforges has announced plans to seek the NDP nomination in this new riding, which includes areas west and north of Edmonton.

Karen Leibovici

Sources say Karen Leibovici to run for federal Liberals in Edmonton-West

Numerous sources report that former Edmonton city councillor Karen Leibovici is preparing a jump into federal politics by seeking the federal Liberal Party nomination in the new Edmonton-West riding.

Kelly McCauley Edmonton-West Conservative

Kelly McCauley

Ms. Leibovici is a long-time local politician who was first elected as a Liberal MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark in 1993 and served on city council from 2001 to 2013. From 2012 to 2013, she was President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. She ran for mayor in 2013, placing a distant second behind Don Iveson.

Speaking at a fundraiser during the mayoral election campaign, Ms. Leibovici is reported to have said that Edmonton “would grind to a halt” if voters did not choose her as mayor. Her mayoral bid was managed by prominent Progressive Conservative insiders Hal Danchilla and Catherine Keill.

At least one other candidate, Greg Springate, is seeking the Liberal nomination in Edmonton-West. Dan Bildhauer had been seeking the nomination but instead ran for the provincial Liberals in Edmonton-Meadowlark in the recent provincial election.

Amarjeet Sohi Edmonton

Amarjeet Sohi

Hotelier Kelly McCauley was acclaimed as the Conservative candidate in Edmonton-West, but not without controversy. During the nomination race, Edmonton-McClung PC MLA David Xiao was disqualified from the contest by the Conservative Party National Council (Mr. Xiao was defeated in this month’s provincial election).

The federal NDP have not yet nominated a candidate but as a result of the May 5 provincial election NDP candidates were elected with large margins in the four constituencies that overlap the federal Edmonton-West riding. Those new NDP MLAs include Jon Carson in Edmonton-Meadowlark, Lorne Dach in Edmonton-McClung, Thomas Dang in Edmonton-South West, and Sarah Hoffman in Edmonton-Glenora.

If Ms. Leibovici does run in Edmonton-West, she will add to a growing trend of municipal politicians running for federal office in the October 2015 federal election. Three-term Edmonton city councillor Amarjeet Sohi is the nominated federal Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Mill Woods, former Edmonton councillor Kerry Diotte is the Conservative candidate in Edmonton-Griesbach, Hinton Town Councillor Ryan Maguhn is running for the Liberals in Yellowhead and City of Brooks Mayor Martin Shields is the Conservative candidate in Bow River.

NDP MLA Deron Bilous and Edmonton Public School Trustee Michelle Draper on the campaign trail.

PCs and NDP seal up full slates, election call expected tomorrow

With Alberta’s provincial election expected to be called tomorrow, both the governing Progressive Conservatives and New Democratic Party are expected to have candidates in place in all 87 constituencies today. If the writ is dropped tomorrow, April 7, then the provincial election will be held 28 days later on Tuesday, May 5, 2015.

Tony Caterina City Councillor PC MLA Candidate

Tony Caterina

The final PC candidate nomination meetings being held today are in Calgary-McCall and Calgary-Fort. There are six candidates seeking the nomination in Calgary-McCall (Rajinder Harika, Issa MosaMuhammad Rasheed, Jagdeep Sahota, Jangbahadur Sidhu and Kuldeep Sidhu) and four in Calgary-Fort (Bev DeSantis, Andy Nguyen, Christopher Primeau and Peter Singh). Ms. DeSantis has received Mr. Prentice’s endorsement in the Fort nomination.

Edmonton City Councillor Tony Caterina is the PC candidate in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview. Mr. Caterina will face hard-working first-term NDP MLA Deron Bilous. Mr. Caterina is well-known in northeast Edmonton, having represented that area since 2007, and his candidacy will keep this swing riding in play.

Since 2004, the constituency has changed hands three times between the PCs and NDP, with Mr. Bilous defeating PC MLA Tony Vandermeer in 2012 by 245 votes.

Harman Kandola Edmonton Ellerslie

Harman Kandola

This is Mr. Caterina’s second attempt at provincial office. He stood as the Alberta Alliance candidate in Edmonton-Centre in the 2004 provincial election.

According to CBC reports,  when the election is called Mr. Caterina will suspend his City Council salary but he will continue to participate in council meetings during the campaign.

Mr. Caterina replaces Harman Kandola, who was nominated as the PC candidate in that constituency in late March. Mr. Kandola is now the appointed PC candidate in Edmonton-Ellerslie, a spot that was vacated under controversy by former cabinet minister Naresh Bhardwaj.

The PCs appointed Catherine Keill as their candidate to challenge Liberal/Green/Alberta Party candidate Laurie Blakeman in Edmonton-Centre. Ms. Keill is the Director of Community and Caucus Outreach in the Premier’s Office and previously worked for Mr. Prentice when he was a cabinet minister in Ottawa. She also served as Deputy Chief of Staff to former Mayor Stephen Mandel and was campaign manager for former City Councillor Karen Leibovici‘s mayoral election bid in 2013. The last time a PC candidate was elected in this constituency, Peter Lougheed was premier.

I have updated the list of Alberta Election candidates with these and more changes.


Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley NDP Leader Alberta

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley

Mack, Ryan and I are excited to announce that NDP leader Rachel Notley will be our guest on the AbVote Google Hangout at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, 2015. Watch the hangout live at abvote.ca and send us your questions using the #abvote hashtag on Twitter. You can also watch previous hangouts with Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman and the Wildrose leadership candidates.

Where will Jim Prentice run in a by-election?

Premier Jim Prentice Alberta PC leadership race

Alberta’s new Premier Jim Prentice, does not have a seat in the Alberta Legislative Assembly.

Three weeks after being selected as leader of the governing Progressive Conservative Party, Premier Jim Prentice still does not have a seat in the Alberta Legislative Assembly.

Premier Alison Redford

Alison Redford

Although his party has already nominated candidates to run in the impending Calgary-Elbow and Edmonton-Whitemud by-elections, Mr. Prentice remains coy about where, and when, a third by-election will be held.

On August 26, Mr. Prentice told the Edmonton Journal he would call a by-election immediately after he became PC Party leader. He was elected PC Party leader on September 6 and sworn-in as premier on September 15.

It appears likely that Mr. Prentice might announce which constituency he will run in on the day the writ of by-election is signed by Lieutenant Governor Donald Ethell. Using all the advantages of an incumbent government, it appears he is trying to give the opposition parties the least time possible to prepare candidates to run against him.

Neil Brown

Neil Brown

The “announcement-a-day keeps the memory of Alison Redford away” strategy has kept Mr. Prentice’s name in the news headlines, and has allowed him to create a two-week long list of talking points with which to campaign.

It is widely believed that Mr. Prentice will run in Calgary-Nose Hill-Mackay, where current PC MLA Neil Brown has publicly offered to resign.

There is also speculation that he could also choose to run in another north Calgary constituency – like Calgary-Foothills – currently represented by Independent MLA Len Webber. Mr. Webber is seeking the federal Conservative nomination in Calgary-Confederation (he left the PC caucus in May 2014, after describing Ms. Redford as a “bully”).

Update: Len Webber has won the Conservative nomination in Calgary-Confedertation. 

The tight-lipped preparations have led many political watchers to believe that the Tories remain worried that Albertans may choose to punish the new Premier for the misdeeds and broken promises of Ms. Redford and the PC caucus over the past two years.

Under normal circumstances, Mr. Prentice would easily be elected, but by-elections are risky for incumbent parties because they give voters an opportunity to voice their disapproval without changing a government.

Jennifer Burgess Calgary-Prentice NDP by-election

Jennifer Burgess, the NDP candidate in the “Calgary-Prentice” by-election.

But whichever constituency he decides to run in, one party is ready  with a candidate in the wings. Calgary writer Jennifer Burgess has said she will run for the New Democratic Party in any by-election Mr. Prentice chooses to run in. Her website cleverly describes herself as the NDP candidate in the Calgary-Prentice constituency.

Edmonton-Whitemud by-election

The NDP and Wildrose Party announced their candidates in the Edmonton-Whitemud by-election. Dr. Bob Turner, a well-spoken doctor from Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Institute, has decided to run against former Edmonton mayor and newly appointed Health Minister Stephen Mandel.

Flanked by Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and a handful of supporters and Wildrose MLAs, Tim Grover announced his plans to challenge Mr. Mandel. Mr. Grover was already nominated to run for the Wildrose Party in the Edmonton-South West constituency. He was also the ‘Get Out the Vote’ chairman for Karen Leibovici‘s 2013 mayoral campaign.

Alberta Party President William Munsey is running under his party’s banner.

Anglin for a fight (and more nomination updates)

Joe Anglin

Joe Anglin

Alleged death threats, implied bribes, constituency association ambushes and supposed Progressive Conservative Party skulduggery,” is how a Red Deer Advocate report described the unexpectedly interesting Wildrose Party nomination in the Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre constituency.

First-term MLA Joe Anglin is being challenged for his nomination by former local Wildrose president Jason Nixon.

Mr. Anglin is long-time rabble-rouser who set the political landscape on fire by organizing mass opposition to the construction of electrical transmission lines through vast swaths of central Alberta. Briefly the leader of Alberta’s Greens, he grabbed the Wildrose nomination before the 2012 election and unseated six-term PC MLA Ty Lund, who was first elected to political office in the region in 1980.

The story was  first reported by AlbertaDiary.ca and the Rimbey Review.

Twelve of the Wildrose Party’s seventeen MLAs have been nominated as candidates in the next election and a handful of 2012 Wildrose candidates were also nominated: Richard Jones in Calgary-Acadia, Jeremy Nixon in Calgary-Klein, Wayne Anderson in Calgary-Hays, and Kelly Hudson in Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley.

Jackie Lovely Wildrose Leduc Beaumnot

Jackie Lovely

Leduc-Beaumont
The Wildrose nomination in the riding immediately south of Edmonton is shaping up to be a race. The contest already has attracted three candidates and more are expected to enter the race.

First to enter the race is Patrick Kobly, son of former Beaumont mayor Ken Kobly and fiancee of Nicky Walker, chief of staff to Independent MLAs Mike Allen and Len Webber.

Jackie Lovely, a former Wildrose Caucus staffer and past president of the Summerside Community League, is also seeking the nomination in Leduc-Beaumont. Ms. Lovely ran for the Wildrose Party in Edmonton-Ellerslie in the 2012 election, placing second behind PC MLA Naresh Bhardwaj, earning 3,249 votes (24% of the vote).

Ironworker Joel Hamilton is running for the Wildrose nomination in Leduc-Beaumont and has declared on his Facebook page that he “will fight Edmonton’s Annexation of Nisku, the Airport and of the Beaumont expansion area.”

Rod Loyola Edmonton Ellerslie NDP

Rod Loyola

Calgary-Elbow
Retired Colonel John Fletcher is seeking the Wildrose nomination in Calgary-Elbow. It is expected that current Progressive Conservative MLA and former Premier Alison Redford could resign to allow Jim Prentice to run in a by-election shortly after he wins the PC leadership race in September.

Drayton Valley-Devon
Daniel Walton, owner of the Easyford meat packing company, is seeking the Wildrose nomination. This was one of the few rural constituencies where the PC candidate earned a majority of the votes cast in the 2012 election. PC MLA Diana McQueen was elected for a second term with 51.6% of the vote.

Edmonton-Ellerslie
Rod Loyola was nominated as the NDP candidate in this southeast Edmonton constituency. Mr. Loyola is the president of the University of Alberta Non-Academic Staff Association and was the 2012 NDP candidate in this riding. He earned 2,115 votes (16%) in that election.

Laura Thibert Wildrose Edmonton Mill Woods

Laura Thibert

Edmonton-Mill Woods
Laura Thibert, Edmonton Catholic School District trustee announced on Twitter that she will seek the Wildrose nomination in Edmonton-Mill Woods. Ms. Thibert was first elected in 2010 and was re-elected in 2013 with 47% of the vote.

Edmonton-South West
Tim Grover is seeking the Wildrose nomination. A business consultant, Mr. Grover was the Get Out The Vote chairman for Karen Leibovici’s mayoral campaign in 2013.

Lethbridge-West
The NDP nominated researcher Shannon Phillips as their candidate in Lethbridge-West. The NDP hope that with some hard work Ms. Phillips can build on her 2012 results, when she boosted her party’s support to 29%, up from 10% in the 2008 election. Those 2012 results placed Ms. Phillips ahead of the Wildrose candidate and just over 1,000 votes behind PC MLA Greg Weadick.

Sherwood Park
Former Strathcona County mayor Linda Osinchuk was nominated as the Wildrose candidate in Sherwood Park. Ms. Osinchuk was first elected mayor in 2010, defeating incumbent mayor Cathy Oleson, who is now the PC MLA for Sherwood Park.

I am maintaining an updated list of candidates seeking party nominations to stand in Alberta’s next provincial election. Please email david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com if there are additions to the list.

Big Money in Edmonton Municipal Election

Don Iveson Karen Leibovici Kerry Diotte Edmonton Election 2013

Edmonton’s 2013 mayoral candidates Don Iveson, Karen Leibovici and Kerry Diotte.

$4.35, $19.75, and $5.45 are how much Don Iveson, Karen Leibovici and Kerry Diotte‘s campaigns spent for each vote received in Edmonton’s October 21, 2013  mayoral election.  With the most efficient dollar-to-vote ratio is Mr. Iveson, who won the election with a landslide 132,162 votes (62% of the total votes cast).

With a less efficient dollar-to-vote ratio was Ms. Leibovici, who earned 41,182 votes (19% of the total vote) while outspending Mr. Iveson by more than $237,500 and declaring a steep $142,415.27 campaign deficit.

Released last week, the financial disclosures for Edmonton’s 2013 Mayoral and City Council elections  detail how much each mayoral and councillor candidate raised and expensed during the campaign. Below is the breakdown for the top three mayoral candidates.

Edmonton Mayoral Election 2013, Financial Disclosure
Candidate Total Revenue Total Expenses Surplus/(Deficit)
Iveson $618,501.63 $576,059.79 $42,441.84
Leibovici $671,171.34 $813,586.61 ($142,415.27)
Diotte $179.912.11 $179,852.76 $59.35

Mayoral candidates Josh Semotiuk and Gordon Ward self-financed their campaigns and did not declare any donations. Candidate Kristine Acielo did not file a financial disclosure.

Here are the financial breakdowns submitted from elected city council candidates competing in Edmonton’s 12 wards.

Edmonton City Council Election 2013, Financial Disclosure
Candidate Total Revenue Total Expenses Surplus/(Deficit)
Andrew Knack $43,143.06 $43,143.06 $0
Bev Esslinger $34,044.28 $33,220.88 $823.40
Dave Loken $97,054.50 $96,906.55 $147.95
Ed Gibbons $93,461.44 $93,254.44 $207.00
Michael Oshry $82,587.85 $82,929.85 $295.00
Scott McKeen $105,862.81 $103,585.54 $2,277.27
Tony Caterina $87,950.00 $87,603.00 $347.00
Ben Henderson $59,335.06 $31,640.26 $27,714.80
Bryan Anderson $68,836.47 $43,783.69 $25,052.78
Michael Walters $107,198.85 $106,744.60 $454.25
Mike Nickel $65,199.00 $64,793.81 $405.19
Amarjeet Sohi $130,840.99 $85,105.30 $45,735.69

According to the Local Authorities Elections Act, donations to municipal election candidates are limited to a maximum of $5,000 for individuals, corporations and trade unions during an election year.

Kerry Diotte to run for federal Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Griesbach

Kelly Diotte

Former city councillor and mayor candidate Kerry Diotte announced on his Facebook page today that will seek the nomination to run as a a Conservative Party of Canada candidate in the new Edmonton-Griesbach riding in the 2015 election.

Kerry Diotte Edmonton Mayor Election

Kerry Diotte

Mr. Diotte represented Ward 11 on Edmonton City Council from 2010 until 2013. He was a candidate for mayor in the 2013 election, running on a platform that focused almost entirely on potholes, snow removal, spending and debt. When the votes were counted, he was swept aside by the young and dynamic Don Iveson, placing third with 15% of the vote.

The current Edmonton-East riding is represented by Conservative Member of Parliament Peter Goldring. It is unclear whether Mr. Goldring, now serving his sixth-term in the House of Commons, will seek re-election in 2015. Edmonton-Decore PC MLA Janice Sarich announced last month that she would not seek the nomination.

The new riding is considered a battle ground, with the New Democratic Party hoping to build on past growth in the current Edmonton-East riding. Between 2004 and 2011, the NDP vote in the riding grew from 14% to 37%.

Karen Leibovici Edmonton Mayor Election

Karen Leibovici

As reported earlier this week, five candidates have stepped up to run for the NDP nomination in this riding. NDP nomination candidates include Canadian Labour Congress representative Amanda Freistadt, educator Janis IrwinCam McCormickNamrata Gill and Zane Smith.

Since the conclusion of the mayoral election in October 2013, rumours have circulated that Mr. Diotte and his second place competitor, former councillor Karen Leibovici, are eyeing ridings with open Conservative Party nominations in Edmonton.

For up-to-date nomination news, follow the list of Alberta Federal Election candidates.

Don Iveson asks: Do you support LRT expansion?

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson took the the streets, and then to YouTube, to ask Edmontonians if they support expansion of Edmonton’s Light Rail Transit system. The campaign is part of Mr. Iveson’s bid to convince provincial and federal politicians to support the expansion of Edmonton’s light rail transit system, a key part of the city’s transportation infrastructure and a top priority for city council.

Facing enormous population and economic growth, and afforded limited resources as a municipal government, the City is struggling to fund LRT expansion to Mill Woods and west Edmonton (also known as the Valley Line). According to the City of Edmonton, daily ridership of Edmonton’s current north-south LRT Capital Line has grown from an estimated 42,160 in 2004 to 100,760 in 2013.

Edmonton LRT Ridership 2004-2013

Estimated Edmonton LRT ridership from 2004 to 2013 (graph from City of Edmonton 2013 LRT Passenger Count Report)

Hoping that the upcoming provincial budget could include funding for the capital city’s LRT, the mayor and city council are asking Edmontonians to put pressure on their MLA and MP by voicing support for LRT expansion. A second phase of this campaign is expected to be launched next week.

Don Iveson LRT Edmonton Expansion

A popular ad used on the LRT during last year’s mayoral election in Edmonton.

Although Mr. Iveson earned 63% of the vote in the October 2013 election, many provincial Conservatives, including Edmonton PC MLAs Thomas Lukaszuk, Naresh Bhardwaj and David Xiao, publicly endorsed his opponent, Karen Leibovici. Some political watchers suspect the results of the election did not sweeten the already sour relationship between the city and province. And while Premier Alison Redford has been cold towards the idea of granting cities more financial power, saying she’s “satisfied with the way things are,” her party should not forget that city voters are who they owe for their narrow re-election to government in 2012.

Earlier this month, while speaking to the all-party MLA Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future, Mr. Iveson explained  that expansion of Edmonton’s light rail transit system is critical for future growth of the capital city. While the committee was looking for feedback on the creation of high speed rail system through the Red Deer corridor from Edmonton to Calgary, Mr. Iveson argued that the inter-city project would only succeed if effective urban transit systems are already in place.

Mr. Iveson explained to the MLA committee that future expansion of Edmonton’s LRT network depends almost entirely on the availability of funding from the provincial and federal governments.

A short history of LRT expansion in Edmonton
Edmonton’s LRT line began regular service in 1978 and was extended to downtown and the University of Alberta in the 1980s and early 1990s. Expansion was then halted until the mid-2000s, when a new line to south Edmonton was constructed. New stations in north central Edmonton are expected to open in June 2014. The City of Edmonton’s population has grown from 461,361 in 1976 to 817,498 in 2012.

Alberta politics 2013: Big City Mayors

Don Iveson Edmonton Mayor Election

Don Iveson

A generational shift in Edmonton

Framed as a lacklustre and uneventful campaign, local media and many mainstream pundits missed one of the most important stories of this year’s mayoral election in Edmonton.

The city’s crusty local establishment has lamented for years about the constant stream of locally-raised young talent choosing to build their careers and start their families in other cities like Calgary, Vancouver or Toronto.

But Alberta’s booming economy and a growing sense of optimism in Edmonton has led to an increasing number of young folks choosing to stay in our city, build their careers and plan to raise their families here. This important shift is a key part of what Don Iveson represented on the campaign trail this fall.

Supported by a diverse army of young Edmontonians who want to claim this city for the next generation, Mr. Iveson proved that substance and a positive campaign – or “politics in full-sentences” – can win elections.

And despite nearly all the local media and opinion page pundits predicting a horserace until the moment the polls closed, Mr. Iveson earned a stunning 63% of the votes counted on October 21. His closest challengers, councillors Karen Leibovici and Kerry Diotte, earned 19% and 15% of the vote.

Nenshi versus Manning

Naheed Nenshi

Naheed Nenshi

In Calgary, a weird proxy-war between popular mayor Naheed Nenshi and conservative godfather Preston Manning dominated this year’s election campaign.

The conflict was sparked by a leaked video recording of high-powered wealthy developers – the Sprawl Cabal – explaining their plans to take over city council by funding Mr. Manning’s conservative political training centre.

Mr. Manning’s group wants to bring a libertarian brand of conservative politics to municipal government in Canada. The “Municipal Governance Project” plans to grant private-sector developers increased powers while limiting the ability of city governments to implement long-term growth plans. This directly contradicts Mr. Nenshi’s plans to address the challenges caused by Calgary’s suburban sprawl problems.

Mr. Nenshi quickly shot back at the sprawl cabal, describing their actions as “shadowy, weird and unpleasant.” The developers attack quickly turned into an election issue, with Mr. Nenshi taking aim at the subsidies granted to suburban developers. Mr. Nenshi says his long-term goal remains to eliminate the subsidy completely.

The developers howled in protest.

Preston Manning (photo from AlbertaDiary.ca)

Preston Manning (photo from AlbertaDiary.ca)

Mr. Nenshi was re-elected with the support of 73% of Calgary voters on October 21, 2013.

Soon after the election, Cal Wenzel, the star of the leaked video, filed a lawsuit against Mr. Nenshi, claiming he defamed the businessman for political gain.

Big City challenges in 2014

Funding for infrastructure like light rail transit remains a priority for Alberta’s big city mayors, as does the promise by the provincial government to create big city charters.

The charters could give Alberta’s two largest cities new fiscal powers and responsibilities to address the growth challenges created by the province’s booming economy.

In June 2012, then-Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths signed a memorandum of understanding with Mayor Stephen Mandel of Edmonton and Mayor Nenshi to formalize their commitment to develop a big city charter.

“This charter will position our two largest cities for the future,” Premier Alison Redford said on June 18, 2012. A year and a half later, the city charters have yet to be released.

New Municipal Affairs Minister Ken Hughes said on December 12, 2013 that the city charters are one of his priorities, which is promising indicator.

While the Redford government enjoys its focus on promoting the oilsands and pipeline projects on the international stage, the two mayors may have to remind the provincial government that it cannot ignore the growth challenges facing our two largest cities.

Don Iveson’s win a vote for optimism and smart planning in Edmonton

Don Iveson Karen Leibovici Kerry Diotte Edmonton Election 2013

Mayor-elect Don Iveson, and mayoral candidates Karen Leibovici and Kerry Diotte.

There will be plenty of analysis about what last night’s election means for the city of Edmonton. With 132,162 votes – 62% of the vote – Don Iveson earned a commanding victory in the mayoral election over his two main opponents, Karen Leibovici and Kerry Diotte.

This is a win for the positive campaign and a stunning rebuke of the traditional negative campaign. While his main opponents strayed into negative tactics, Mr. Iveson’s campaign avoided the taunts by focusing on remaining positive and optimistic. And it worked. This should send a strong message to voters and politicians across the land that you do not need to go negative to win.

This is a vote for the future. I spoke with many people over the past month who weren’t sure what this election was about. While “the future” and “long-term planning” aren’t sexy wedge issues like the closure of an airport or the construction of a new hockey arena, they are so much more important. Campaigns can be delivered in full-sentences. Mr. Iveson’s comprehensive platform and its focus on long-term planning differentiated him from the other candidates.

Edmontonians have given Mr. Iveson a clear mandate to move forward with an agenda to renew public infrastructure, kickstart innovation, expand LRT, and change the way we fund our city.

There are challenges ahead. As mayor, Mr. Iveson will have to build a team on a city council with six new faces. Any successful mayor understands that they are only one vote of thirteen on council. Balancing progressive voices like re-elected councillors Ben Henderson and Amarjeet Sohi and newly-elected Michael Walters and Scott McKeen, along with moderate conservatives like Michael Oshry and fiscal hawks like Mike Nickel could be a challenge.

Building a strong region will be critical to moving Edmonton forward and new opportunities exist for the Capital Region Board with new mayors Tom Flynn in Sturgeon County, Lisa Holmes in Morinville, and Roxanne Carr in Strathcona County. Regional cooperation on planning and development, as well as service delivery, are areas where the capital region could see progress over the next four years.

Solving the fiscal challenges facing Alberta’s cities will also be difficult. The provincial government needs to be convinced that Alberta’s cities require additional resources and responsibilities to address the tremendous pressures associated with fast growing populations. The introduction of City Charters could be a significant step to helping cities deal with this issue.

With the province’s most dynamic political leaders now leading our large urban municipalities, Naheed Nenshi in Calgary, Don Iveson in Edmonton, Melissa Blake in Wood Buffalo, Bill Given in Grande Prairie, and newly elected Tara Veer in Red Deer have an opportunity to pursue a strong urban agenda that the provincial government cannot ignore.

(Note: I have been happy to volunteer my personal time during the election campaign to help Don Iveson become the next mayor of Edmonton. I am ecstatic that Edmontonians have entrusted him with their votes)

#yegvote hangout with Patricia Misutka and Chris Labossiere

With only 4 days left until the conclusion of Edmonton’s 2013 municipal election, Mack Male and I were happy to welcome guests Patricia Misutka and Chris Labossiere to our latest #yegvote Google Hangout. Over the course of the hour-long hangout, we had a great discussion that touched on some of the biggest issues of the election campaign and what happens after the October 21 vote. Thank you to Patricia and Chris for joining us.

Tune in next week for our post-election #yegvote hangout, where we will dissect what happened on October 21 and what’s next.

In related news: The latest polls show Don Iveson in the lead with 53% support among decided voters, but everything will depend on who gets out to vote on October 21. The polls show the other candidates in a distant second and third, but don’t expect Karen Leibovici or Kerry Diotte to take their feet off the gas in the final weekend.

In other interesting news, one candidate is looking for help in distant places. The Edmonton Journal is reporting that two weeks ago Ms. Leibovici’s campaign imported a political organizer from Toronto who worked on mayor Rob Ford‘s 2010 campaign.

7 City Council races to watch in Edmonton

With most attention focused on Edmonton’s mayoral election, it is important to remember there are a number of contest for City Council that could produce interesting results on election day. There are seven Wards that I will be keeping a close watch on when voting ends on October 21.

Andrew Knack Edmonton Ward 1

Andrew Knack

Ward 1
After three-terms, councillor Linda Sloan  announced only weeks before the nomination day that she would not seek re-election. This must have been a big surprise to her lone-challenger Andrew Knack, who had already been campaigning for months. This is Mr. Knack’s third attempt at winning a city council seat and he is not unchallenged. Health economist Bryan Sandilands, community activist Jamie Post, past-Wildrose Alliance candidate Sharon Maclise, and former CTV reporter Sean Amato have also entered the race. I suspect Mr. Knack’s head-start could be hard to overcome.

Ward 2
With three-term councillor Kim Krushell choosing not to seek re-election, there is an open race in north Edmonton’s Ward 2 . Both Don Koziak and Bev Esslinger will have name recognition from their previous political adventures. A perennial election candidate, Mr. Koziak placed a close second behind Ms. Krushell in 2010 and has run for office many times in the past, including as the Edmonton-Glenora Wildrose candidate in the 2012 provincial election and the mayoral election in 2007. Ms. Esslinger is known from her time as a public school trustee and as last year’s unsuccessful Progressive Conservative candidate in Edmonton-Calder. Candidate Nita Jalkanen could also play a factor in this race as a vocal opponent of the downtown arena project.

David Dodge Edmonton Ward 3

David Dodge

Ward 3
Is first-term councillor Dave Loken politically vulnerable? Challenger David Dodge hopes so. The low-profile Mr. Loken is facing a strong challenge from Mr. Dodge, the former president of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues. Mr. Loken has an incumbent advantage, but it could be a close race.

Ward 5
The race to replace four-term councillor Karen Leibovici has drawn a crowd. Businessman Michael Oshry, former City Hall insider Terry Demers, transit worker Allan Santos, community league president Rob Hennigar, beer man Jim Gibbon, and former Catholic schools trustee Rudy Arcilla are among the nine candidates. My money is on the cool and confident Mr. Oshry.

Heather Mackenzie Edmonton Ward 6

Heather Mackenzie

Ward 6
Sixteen candidates have entered this race to represent north central Edmonton’s core neighbourhoods. Public school trustee Heather Mackenzie, former Edmonton Journal columnist Scott McKeen, police offcer Dexx Williams and community league president Derrick Forsythe are who I would pick as leaders of the pack. But leading the pack might not be enough. Many of the candidates in this race can expect to receive a few hundred votes each by simply being on the ballot, which could siphon votes away from the front-runners.

Ward 10
Filling Don Iveson‘s shoes in Ward 10 will be a tall order (both literally and figuratively). Community organizer Michael Walters has been pounding the pavement and waging a well-financed campaign for months. As a past provincial election candidate, Mr. Walters also has name recognition in the area. He is facing challenges from university instructor Richard Feehan and businessman Hafis Devji, but they may have a difficult time catching up. My prediction: Mr. Walters’ sweeps Ward 10 on October 21.

Ward 11
Who will replace Kerry Diotte in Ward 11? Hoping to leverage his name recognition and local outrage over potholes, two-time mayoral candidate and former city councillor Mike Nickel is attempting to stage a political comeback, but he is not alone. Mixed martial arts company owner Harvey Panesar (watch his video below), retired citizenship judge Sonia Bitar, and Mujahid Chak could be the biggest obstacles to Mr. Nickel’s return to politics.

Mayoral election a race between Don Iveson and Kerry Diotte

It has become clear to this political watcher that Edmonton’s mayoral election has become a race between two candidates with distinct competing visions for Edmonton. And those two candidates are Don Iveson and Kerry Diotte.

Don Iveson Edmonton Mayor Election

Don Iveson

Don Iveson has positioned himself as the candidate who is looking beyond the status-quo and planning for Edmonton’s future. His thoughtful and forward-looking approaches to innovation, housing choice and infill development, light-rail transit, partnerships with capital region partners and critical infrastructure issues are the most comprehensive policies released by any mayoral candidate.

Mr. Iveson’s growing campaign is built on a foundation of solid ideas and driven a feeling of excitement about the  opportunities available to Edmonton in the future. And with less than two weeks remaining in the election campaign, he needs to continue building positive momentum and avoid being distracted by attacks from his opponents.

Kerry Diotte Edmonton Mayor Election

Kerry Diotte

Kerry Diotte’s four key issues – potholes, snow removal, spending and debt – have been the consistent focus of his campaign since the summer. The well-known former journalist’s message is appealing to a significant number of Edmontonians who feel disenchanted and disconnected from the city’s establishment and the decisions made at City Hall over the past nine years.

While Mr. Diotte would like to return Edmonton to where it was before Stephen Mandel became mayor, he has shown little evidence that he has the ability to build a coalition on city council in order to achieve his goals.

In the closing days of the campaign, expect Mr. Diotte to focus on wedge issues that will fire up his base of supporters (read: government spending and bike lanes). I would not be surprised if he tries to channel Rob Ford, who rocketed to office in Toronto by focusing on the issues that appealed to disenchanted voters in that city’s suburban communities.

Karen Leibovici Edmonton Mayor Election

Karen Leibovici

Once perceived as the frontrunner in this race, Karen Leibovici has adopted a thick negative tone since a poll commissioned by the Edmonton Journal showed her in a distant third-place behind Mr. Iveson and Mr. Diotte. While the career politician has released decent position statements, these ideas have been overshadowed by her continued attacks on Mr. Iveson.

Ms. Leibovici’s declaration that Edmonton will “grind to a halt” if she is not elected mayor is comical and insulting. Edmontonians have enough common sense to know that the fate of civilization is not tied to the success of Karen Leibovici’s political career.

Ms. Leibovici’s uninspiring campaign is disappointing, because I do think she would be a competent administrator. Unfortunately, with her campaign showing little sign of upward momentum, it has become clear that Ms. Leibovici’s has decided that her only path to victory is by demonizing her opponents.

Edmontonians have two clear choices when they visit the polls on October 21: we can either move forward as a city with Don Iveson or move backward by focusing on the bare basics with Kerry Diotte.

Editor’s note

Thanks for all the comments and responses. Not surprisingly, this post has sparked some interest in the campaign and has become one of the most well-read during this election.

I took a little heat on twitter from supporters of some mayoral candidates and from Edmonton Journal blogger David Staples, who, in a blog post implied that this website is an extension of Don Iveson’s campaign.

I want to be clear: there is no conspiracy. I wrote this post on my own accord. My blog includes my opinion and does not have any input from any political campaign. I have been publishing daveberta.ca for eight years and, similar to the role of columnist working at the Edmonton Journal, I use this space as an opportunity to publish opinions and observations that are my own.

But when it comes to my support in the October 21 election, Don Iveson is the clear choice in my mind and I am happy to lend my support to his campaign. I have publicly stated my support on this blog and during the #yegvote Google Hangout.

Edmonton Election Substance and Style #1

With Edmonton’s election campaign in full-swing, it is easy for this political watcher to miss a moment or campaign announcement over the course of a week. At the beginning or end of each week, I plan to compile ‘Substance and Style’, a summary of some the week’s events that I may have missed. Please share a comment below if you believe I missed any important stories.

Substance

Don Iveson Edmonton Mayor Election

Don Iveson

Mayoral candidate Don Iveson released some thoughtful positions supporting entrepreneurs and small businessesrenewing roads and infrastructure, and taking a fresh look at how Edmonton is fundedKerry Diotte stayed away from the fray, mostly attending forums and campaign events. As for policy, he continues to focus on his four key issues – roads, debt, taxes and the arena deal. Meanwhile, Karen Leibovici released statements on transit smart cards, fast-tracking a small and medium sized business review, and clearing snow from city sidewalks for seniors.

Ward 10 council candidate Michael Walters released his eight priorities at City Hall. Ward 5 candidate Michael Oshry wrote a thoughtful blog post on municipal debt.

Kerry Diotte Edmonton Mayor Election

Kerry Diotte

#yegvote Google Hangout
Mr. Diotte will be joining Mack Male, Ryan Hastman and I for a conversation on our next #yegvote Google Hangout on Thursday, October 3 at 8:00 p.m. Visit EdmontonPolitics.com to watch the hangout and use the #yegvote hashtag on Twitter to pose questions that we can ask Mr. Diotte during the hangout.

Donor Lists Released
Ms. Leibovici released her list of donors, which showed $365,000 in donations. Mr. Iveson released his list of donors, totalling $318,772. Mr. Diotte has said that he will not release the list of his financial backers until he is legally obligated to after the election.

Style

Karen Leibovici Edmonton Mayor Election

Karen Leibovici

Leibovici goes negative
Ms. Leibovici’s campaign launched a negative attack on Mr. Iveson over the weekend. In a campaign press release, Ms. Leibovici attacked both Mr. Iveson and popular Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, claiming they are conspiring to increase the federal Goods & Services Tax by 1%. There is not any evidence that Mr. Iveson plans to raise the GST, nor is that a power any mayor actually has.

Ironically, Ms. Leibovici spoke out against the 1% cut to GST in 2007, accusing the federal government of being unfair to municipalities by refusing to give them more money to fix sidewalks and sewers.

More gutter politics
A email account operating under the fake name “Henry Frendman” is circulating copies of a a satirical column that Mr. Iveson wrote fifteen years ago for the student newspaper at the University of Alberta. The fake email quotes the obviously satirical column, titled “Workers of the World: Repose!“, and accuses Mr. Iveson of being a Marxist. “That was clearly written as a joke when I was 20 and that is what you do in campus newspapers. You write silly things to get a rise out of people,” Mr. Iveson told Metro Edmonton.

As the mayoral election gets closer and some campaigns get desperate, expect more negative campaigning.

Debt Misinformation
Disappointingly, misinformation about Edmonton’s debt levels continues to penetrate the mainstream media. In a recent Edmonton Journal column, former city councillor Mike Nickel, now running in Ward 11, was referenced as claiming the city is near the top of its borrowing limit. This is simply untrue. As of 2012, the City of Edmonton has reached 52% of its borrowing as limited by the provincial government.