Tag Archives: Linda Bruce

alberta tories holding a packed nomination week.

I have updated the list of nominated Alberta election candidates to include the following three Progressive Conservative nominees:

Edmonton-Centre: Young lawyer Akash Khokhar defeated Nicole Martel to win the PC nomination. In the next election, Mr. Khokhar will face Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman, who has represented the constituency since 1997.

Edmonton-Gold Bar: Past Mayoral candidate David Dorward defeated past City Council candidate Lori Jeffrey-Heany to become the PC candidate. This is Mr. Dorward’s second attempt at becoming MLA in Gold Bar. In 2008, he placed second to Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald, who will be retiring at the next election.

Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville: Strathcona County Councillor Jacquie Fenske defeated Tofield Mayor Nabil Chehayeb, former Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Jim SheasgreenGene Hrabec, and Adam Kozakiewicz to become the PC candidate. Former Premier Ed Stelmach has represented this region since 1993.


The PCs will be holding a packed week of nomination meetings that will see Alberta’s 40 year governing party nearly fill its entire slate of 87 candidates. Two final nomination meetings are scheduled to be held in February to replace MLAs who recently announced their retirements.

I will be away from my blog for the next week, so to earn forgiveness for my absence, here is a look at the PC nomination meetings that will be happening in the final week of January. I will provide updates when I return.

Calgary-Glenmore (January 26, 2012): Lawyer Byron Nelson and Linda Johnson are seeking the PC nomination.

Bridget Pastoor Lethbridge-East MLA

Bridget Pastoor

Lethbridge-East (January 26, 2012): Former Liberal MLA Bridget Pastoor is facing Lethbridge County Reeve Lorne Hickey for the PC nomination. Ms. Pastoor has represented the constituency since 2004 and cross the floor to join the PC caucus in late 2011. Lethbridge Alderman Jeff Carlson and Lethbridge Senior Citizens Origanization executive director Rob Miyashiro announced this week that they will seek the Liberal nomination (date not scheduled). The constituency has been represented by Liberal MLAs since 1993.

Edmonton-Riverview (January 27, 2012): Edmonton police office Steve Young and businessman Tom Choucair are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency has been represented by Liberal MLA Kevin Taft, who is not seeking re-election.

Edmonton-Strathcona (January 27, 2012): No candidate stepped forward to claim the nomination, though the date is still listed on the PC Party website.

Kelly Hegg Airdrie

Kelly Hegg

Airdrie (January 28, 2012): Former Airdrie Mayor Linda Bruce, Councillor Kelly Hegg, and Michael Crawford are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency is represented by MLA Rob Anderson, who left the PC Party in 2010 to join the Wildrose Alliance.

Banff-Cochrane (January 28, 2012): The PC nomination contest has drawn a crowd to replace retiring MLA Janis Tarchuk. Real Estate broker Jon Bjorgum, Canmore Mayor Ron CaseyRob Seeley, businessman John Fitzsimmons and Cochrane Mayor Truper McBride are seeking the nomination.

Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock (January 28, 2012): The retirement of Speaker Ken Kowalski, who has represented this region since 1979, has attracted five candidates including Morinville Mayor Lloyd Bertschi, Westlock Town Councillor David Truckey, ministerial executive assistant Tim Schultz, and Westlock County Councillors Maureen Kubinec and Bert Seatter.

Brian Holtby Calgary-Currie PC

Brian Holtby

Calgary-Currie (January 28, 2012): Candidates seeking the PC nomination include school principal Christine Cusanelli long-time PC Party organizer Dale Galbraith, lawyer Brian HoltbyStefan Spargo, and former MLA Jon Lord.

Calgary-Hawkwood (January 28, 2012): This newly created constituency has attracted the most candidates of any nomination contest of the 2012 election. Kiron Banik, Farouk Adatia, Sumita AnandJason Luan, Adam Idris, Jerry Mandryk, Chris Roberts, Kumar Sharma, Doug Stevens, and Darryl Wernham are contesting the PC nomination.

Calgary-Varsity (January 28, 2012): Former Nexen Vice-President Donna Kennedy-Glans is facing Ph.D. business student Rhiannon MacDonnell. The constituency has been represented by Liberal MLA Harry Chase since 2004. Mr. Chase is retiring at the next election.

Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo (January 28, 2012): Four candidates have lined up to earn the right to face PC-turned-Wildrose MLA Guy Boutiler as the PC candidate. Candidates include Councillor Mike Allen, teacher Andrew Highfield, Nick Sanders, and School Trustee Jeff Thompson.

Tab Pollock Grande Prairie-Smoky

Tab Pollock

Grande Prairie-Smoky (January 28, 2012): The retirement of former cabinet minister Mel Knight has sparked a three-way nomination contest that has drawn Grande Prairie County Reeve Everett McDonald, Tab Pollock, and Tom Burton.

Highwood (January 28, 2012): Associate publisher at the Okotoks Western Wheel John BarlowJohn Hankins, and Okotoks Town Councillor Ed Sands are seeking the PC nomination. Wildrose leader Danielle Smith is also seeking election in this constituency.

Little Bow (January 28, 2012): Deputy Reeve of the County of Lethbridge Henry Doeve  and former County Councillor John Kolk are seeking the PC nomination.

Medicine Hat (January 28, 2012): Former Alderman Darren Hirsch, retired school district superintendent Linda Rossler, and Investment Advisor Dan Hein are seeking the PC nomination to replace long-time MLA Rob Renner. Mr. Hein is the former campaign manager for Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne

Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood (January 30, 2012): Past City Council candidate Cris Basualdo and Emerson Mayers are the two candidates I have heard are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency has been represented by NDP MLA Brian Mason since 2000.

Edmonton-South West (January 30, 2012): This new constituency has drawn the candidacy of four PC nominees Charles Balenga, Tofael Chowdhury, Matt Jeneroux, and Eva Mah-Borsato.

Calgary-Buffalo (January 30, 2012): Donna Haslam is the only candidate that I am aware of who is seeking the PC nomination. The constituency has been represented by popular Liberal MLA Kent Hehr since 2008.

Edmonton-Mill Woods (January 31, 2012): Despite bizarre nomination shenanigans, the PC nomination contest will still include Ron RandhawaSohail Qadri, and controversy-prone MLA Carl Benito.

St. Albert (January 31, 2012): School Trustee Jacquie Hansen, businessman Stephen Khan, and retired armed forces pilot Jeff Wedman are seeking the PC nomination to replace retiring one-term MLA Ken Allred.

alberta election candidate update – january 2012.

With an election fast approaching, Alberta’s political parties are busy nominating candidates across the province. Here is a regional breakdown showing where candidates have been nominated and some of the recent updates.

Nominated Alberta Election candidates by region (January 16, 2012)

Nominated Alberta Election candidates by region (January 16, 2012)

Airdrie: Former Airdrie Mayor Linda Bruce and current Alderman Kelly Hegg are seeking the Progressive Conservative nomination.

Banff-Cochrane: Real Estate broker Jon Bjorgum, Canmore Mayor Ron Casey have Rob Seeley have joined businessman John Fitzsimmons and Cochrane Mayor Truper McBride in the contest for the PC nomination on January 28, 2012. The Liberal Party nomination is scheduled to take place on January 26, 2012.

Bonnyville-Cold Lake: The Wildrose Party is searching for a candidate to replace Chuck Farrer, who has withdrawn his candidacy. Mr. Farrer was nominated in October 2010.

Norm Kelly Alberta Party candidate Calgary-Currie

Norm Kelly

Calgary-Currie: Lawyer Norm Kelly has been acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate.

Calgary-GlenmoreLinda Johnson will face lawyer Byron Nelson for the PC nomination. The constituency is currently represented by Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman, who was elected in a 2010 by-election.

Calgary-Hawkwood: Sumita Anand has joined declared candidates Farouk AdatiaJason Luan, Chris Roberts, Kumar Sharma, and Doug Stevens in the PC nomination contest.

Calgary-McCall: It is a full house in the PC nomination contest on January 21, 2012 with 10 candidates having entered the race. Candidates include Khandaker Alam, Deepshikha Brar, Afzal Hanid, Amtul Khan, Jamie Lall, Aslam Malik, Ravi Prasad, Muhammad Rasheed, Jagdeep Sahota, and Jangbahadur Sidhu.

Calgary-Mountain View: Lawyer Cecilia Low was acclaimed as the PC candidate. This constituency has been represented by Liberal MLA David Swann since 2004.

Calgary-Northwest: First reported on this blog, former cabinet minster Lindsay Blackett will not be seeking re-election. Sandra Jansen announced yesterday that she will be seeking the PC nomination. Ms. Jansen is a former news anchor for Global Television and has served as Communications Manager for Premier Alison Redford‘s Southern Alberta Office since late last year.

Calgary-Shaw: The Alberta Party will be holding a nomination meeting on January 30, 2012. At this time, Brandon Beasley is the only declared candidate.

Calgary-West: Allan Ryan and former Calgary-McCall MLA Shiraz Shariff have joined Calgary Police Sergeant Mike Ellis and Ken Hughes.

Nicole Martel Edmonton-Centre PC nomination candidate

Nicole Martel

Edmonton-Centre: Urban Development Institute executive director Nicole Martel is seeking the PC nomination scheduled for January 24, 2012. Ms. Martel was the federal Liberal candidate in Edmonton-East in the 2006 election and a candidate for the Liberal nomination in Edmonton-Centre in 2008.

Edmonton-Ellerlise: Past Public School Board candidate Tina Jardine has withdrawn her name as the NDP candidate for personal reasons.

Edmonton-Gold Bar: Dennis O’Neill was acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate.

Edmonton-Mill Woods: Despite bizarre nomination shenanigans, the PCs will hold their nomination meeting on January 28, 2012. Candidates include Ron Randhawa, Sohail Qadri, and controversy-prone MLA Carl Benito.

Edmonton-Riverview: Taleb Choucair, Edmonton Police Officer Steve Young, and former Public School Trustee Bev Esslinger are seeking the PC nomination on January 27, 2012.

Edmonton-South WestAllan Hunsperger is the nominated Wildrose candidate. Matt Jeneroux and Tofael Chowdhury are competing in the PC nomination scheduled for January 30, 2012. Mr. Choudhury was a candidate for the federal Liberal nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona in 2008.

Doug Faulkner Fort McMurray-Conklin Wildrose

Doug Faulkner

Fort McMurray-Conklin: Former Wood Buffalo Mayor Doug Faulkner was acclaimed as the Wildrose candidate. Mr. Faulkner was a federal PC candidate in the 2000 election and federal Liberal candidate in the 2004 election. Councillor Don Scott was acclaimed as the PC candidate.

Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo: Andrew Highfield has joined declared candidates Mike Allen, Nick Sanders, and Jeff Thompson in competing for the PC nomination scheduled for January 28, 2012.

Lethbridge-East: Lethbridge County Reeve Lorne Hickey is challenging Liberal-turned-Tory MLA Bridget Pastoor for the PC nomination scheduled for January 26, 2012.

Medicine Hat: Darren Hirsch and Linda Rossler are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency is currently represented by 17-year MLA Rob Renner, who is not seeking re-election.

Red Deer-North: Well-known local historian Michael Dawe is seeking the Liberal nomination scheduled to be held on January 19, 2012.

Sherwood Park: Six candidates are vying for the PC nomination on January 21, 2012 to replace outgoing MLA Iris Evans. Declared candidates include Matthew Bissett, County Councillor Brian Botterill, Helen Calahasen, Murray Hutchinson, former Mayor Cathy Oleson, and local PC organizer Susan Timanson. Ms. Calahasen is the sister of long-time Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pearl Calahasen.

Vermilion-Lloydminster: Dr. Richard Starke was acclaimed as the PC candidate to replace outgoing MLA Lloyd Snelgrove.

Senator-in-Waiting Election 
Former PC Member of Parliament Douglas Fee has joined the PC nomination contest, to be held on February 10 and 11. Mr. Fee served as the MP for Red Deer from 1988 to 1993.

alberta candidate nomination update – september 2011.

I have updated the list of declared and nominated candidates standing in the next provincial election.

Airdrie: The Airdrie City View is reporting that former Airdrie Mayor Linda Bruce is volunteering for Gary Mar‘s PC leadership campaign, adding to the speculation that she may seek the PC nomination to challenge Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson.

Janis Tarchuk, PC MLA Banff-Cochrane, Alberta

Is Janis Tarchuk hanging up her hat?

Banff-Cochrane: Transport worker Jamie Kleinsteuber has been nominated as the Alberta NDP candidate in this mountain constituency. Incumbent PC MLA Janis Tarchuk is being tight lipped about whether she will seek re-election. Ms. Tarchuk was first elected in 1997 and served in cabinet until she was dropped from cabinet in 2010.

Calgary-Currie: Alberta Party MLA Dave Taylor has announced that he will be retiring at the next election. This is not a complete surprise, but it is not good news for the new party, who will lose their only incumbent MLA at the next election. Mr. Taylor was first elected as a Liberal in 2004 and left that party to sit as an Independent in 2010. He joined the Alberta Party in 2011.

Calgary-Mackay-Nose HillCollin Anderson has been nominated as the NDP candidate in this north Calgary constituency. Ms. Anderson ran in the recent federal election as the NDP candidate in Calgary-Nose Hill and in the 2008 provincial election in Calgary-North West. has served in positions with Telecommunications Workers Union and the Calgary & District Labour Council.

Calgary-McCall: Depending on who you believe, the Wildrose either disqualified them for breaking the nomination rules or they quit, but candidates Deepshikha Brar, Khalil Karbani, and Braham Luddu are no longer eligible to run for that party. Candidate Grant Galpin appears to be the only candidate left standing.

Drumheller-Stettler: Hanna Town Councillor Chris Warwick has withdrawn his nomination for the Wildrose candidacy in this constituency. Candidates Dave France, Rick Strankman, and Patrick Turnbull remain declared in the nomination contest,.

Edmonton-Castle Downs: Former pharmaceutical employee John Oplanich is the nominated Wildrose candidate in this north Edmonton constituency. Mr. Oplanich ran for Edmonton City Council in 2010, placing third in Ward 3.

Edmonton-McClung: Varscona Theatre executive director John Hudson has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in this west Edmonton constituency.

Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MLA Rachel Notley

NDP MLA Rachel Notley

Edmonton-Strathcona: NDP MLA Rachel Notley is expected to be acclaimed at a nomination meeting planned for October 11. Vancouver-Kingsway NDP Member of Parliament Don Davies is the guest speaker.

Lethbridge-West: Candidates Shannon Phillips and James Moore will face-off in a contested NDP nomination meeting on September 11.

Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills: The race to replace retiring Progressive Conservative MLA Richard Marz is on. Mountain View County councillor and former reeve Al Kemmere has announced his candidacy to seek the PC nomination. Mr. Kemmere is also a director for the Association of Alberta Rural Municipalities and Districts.

Also seeking the nomination is William Stevenson, who has been endorsed by PC leadership candidate Ted Morton and Wild Rose Member of Parliament Blake Richards.

St. Albert: Former St. Albert alderman James Burrows is the nominated Wildrose candidate. Liberal Party activist Alex Bosse is seeking his party’s nomination.

Sturgeon-St. Albert: Linda Robinson, co-chair of the Indigenous Peoples caucus of the NDP, is seeking her party’s nomination in this constituency. Ms. Robinson works for the Alberta Federation of Labour.

alberta candidate nomination updates – july 2011.

Airdrie – Former City of Airdrie Mayor Linda Bruce told the Airdrie Echo that she has been approached to run for the Progressive Conservative nomination. Ms. Bruce served two-terms as Mayor before being unseated by Peter Brown in October 2010. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Creative Airdrie. The constituency is currently represented by Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson.

Banff-Cochrane: Former Rockyview School District Trustee Trudy Hauser was acclaimed as as Wildrose candidate, which is not sitting well among some Wildrose supporters in the constituency. The group, including interested candidate Paul Rugglestold the Cochrane Eagle that they felt the nomination selection was ‘closed-door process.’

Lee Easton Calgary Buffalo Alberta Party candidate

Lee Easton

Calgary-Buffalo: Mount Royal University Professor and recent Alberta Party leadership candidate Lee Easton is seeking his party’s nomination in this downtown Calgary riding. Seeking the Wildrose nomination is the former host of 770AMs Calgary Today Mike Blanchard.

Calgary-Klein: Jeremy Nixon defeated former separatist leader Cory Morgan for the Wildrose nomination.

Calgary-Mountain View: Outgoing Liberal Party leader David Swann was nominated as his party’s candidate. Dr. Swann was first elected to represent the constituency in 2004 and was handily re-elected in 2008.

Edmonton-Manning: Catholic School District Trustee Cindy Olsen was nominated as the NDP candidate.

Lethbridge-East: Kent Prestage was nominated as the Wildrose candidate. Mr. Prestage was the campaign manager for former Lethbridge MP Rick Casson and made an unsuccessful run for the Conservative Party nomination when Mr. Casson retired earlier this year.

Innisfail-Sylvan LakeKerry Towle defeated Rod English to become the Wildrose candidate. Penhold Town Councilllor Danielle Klooster has been acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate.

Ken Lemke Stony Plain PC candidate Election

Ken Lemke

Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills: Carstairs-based accountant William Stevenson is the first candidate to enter the nomination contest to replace retiring PC MLA Richard Marz. The PC nomination contest is expected to attract a crowded field.

Stony Plain: Two candidates have stepped up to retiring PC MLA Fred Lindsay. Town of Stony Plain Mayor Ken Lemke was the first to enter the nomination contest to replace Mr. Lindsay, who has represented the constituency since 2004. Constituency Manager Lorna Wolodko entered this week. Arlin Biffert is the nominated Liberal candidate.

Wetaskiwin-Camrose: Camrose County Councillor Trevor Miller defeated Tim Essington and Orest Werezak to become the Wildrose candidate. Mr. Werezak was the Wildrose Alliance candidate in Battle River-Wainwright in 2004 election and was the Federal Liberal candidate Crowfoot in the 2000 federal election.

Click here for a full list of nominated and declared Alberta provincial election candidates.

alberta politics inside and outside the dome.

Alberta’s Legislative Assembly resumes for Fall Sitting in a constantly changing political environment.

As the leaves fall and winter approaches, so does the resumption of the venerable institution known as the Alberta Legislative Assembly. Much has changed since last year’s Fall Sitting in Edmonton.

When MLAs return to the Assembly next Monday, they will have a few unfinished business to continue. The summer months have been far from quiet on Alberta’s political landscape. Premier Ed Stelmach has focused on promoting the oilsands to both audiences internationally and at home, including a tour with Hollywood Film Director James Cameron.

Premier Ed Stelmach at his Summer BBQ at the Alberta Legislature.

There were three pieces of legislation that were left undealt with at the end of the Spring sitting. The Traffic Safety (Distracted Driving) Amendment Act, 2010 (Bill 16) which will ban the use of handheld mobile telephones while driving is back up and two private members Bills that may have little chance of reaching third reading. The Municipal Government (Local Access and Franchise Fees) Amendment Act, 2010 (Bill 203) and the Fiscal Responsibility (Spending Limit) Amendment Act, 2010 (Bill 204) are two private members bills that may have very little chance of reaching third reading. Bill 203 was introduced by Calgary-North Hill PC backbencher Kyle Fawcett, who recently had his knuckles rapped for boneheaded comments made over Twitter. Bill 204 was introduced by Airdrie-Chestermere Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson and may be blocked from ever reaching third reading by the Tory majority in the Assembly.

The Alberta Health Act will likely be the most contentious piece of legislation introduced in this sitting of the Assembly. Originally framed as a replacement for already existing pieces of health care legislation, the PC Government has since backed off after receiving an earful from Albertans in province-wide consultation meetings. The previously expected Alberta Health Act may be a shell of what it was envisioned to be when it is introduced in the next few weeks, but it could leave the door open for further legislative reforms (after the next election?).

At a media conference yesterday, Minister Gene Zwozdesky accepted recommendations from the Minister’s Advisory Committee on Health, led by Edmonton-Rutherford PC MLA Fred Horne, but used his time to take a defensive stance against his critics. Minister Zwozdesky and Mr. Horne were also unable to fully explain the purpose of their proposed non-legally-binding Health Charter when questioned by reporters. The purpose of the new Alberta Health Act was challenged by Edmonton-Riverview MLA and Liberal Health Critic Kevin Taft, who labelled the Health Charter idea as “vacant” and predicted that the new Act “will be filled with platitudes that have no legal standing and have no recourse.”

Wildrose Alliance MLAs Paul Hinman, Heather Forsyth, and Rob Anderson with their party leader Danielle Smith.

I fully expect a continuation of the blood fued between the Wildrose Caucus and Assembly Speaker Ken Kowalski to continue over the next session. Since the Wildrose Caucus grew to three MLAs with the floor-crossing of Mr. Anderson and Calgary-Fish Creek MLA Heather Forsyth in January 2010, Speaker Kowalski has used his power on the Members’ Services Committee to block any further increases in funding to the now third party caucus (the two MLA NDP Caucus still receives more funding that the 3 MLA Wildrose Caucus) and even demand that Danielle Smith‘s name be removed from media releases. Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Guy Boutilier joined the Wildrose Alliance Party in June 2010, but has remained as an Independent MLA in order to secure more research and communications funding (when he officially joins the Wildrose Caucus next week, their combined funding will decrease).

Since last session, the Wildrose have declared war on Speaker Kowalski outside the Assembly by nominating Senator-in-Waiting Link Byfield as their candidate in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock. Speaker Kowalski has represented variations of that constituency since 1979. Mr. Byfield has been endorsed by former Conservative Members of Parliament John Williams and David Chatters.

Not to be outdone by the insurgent Wildrosers, the PC Party will be holding their Annual Convention in Calgary on October 29 and 30. I am told by a number of sources that the Convention will also serve as the kickoff for a series of “discussion sessions” with PC Party members billed as Speak Easies which will attempt to reconnect the party leadership with an increasingly disillusioned voter-base in the year before the party celebrates its fortieth year in government.

Liberal leader David Swann.

After a brutal Spring sitting that included the high-profile departure of Calgary-Currie MLA Dave Taylor from the Official Opposition Caucus, Liberal Opposition leader David Swann is looking to improve his party’s position this Fall. Dr. Swann is attempting to hitch his horse close to the Reboot Alberta group, which has attracted many partisan and non-partisan activists to its ranks during its two previous gatherings. In an email sent out today from his Calgary-Mountain View constituency office email, Dr. Swann implored his supporters to join him in attending the next Reboot Alberta meeting in Edmonton on November 5 and 6.

The NDP Caucus is probably feeling rightfully jubilant for the election of their Director of Research, Sarah Hoffman, to the Edmonton Public School Board, but those feeling of excitement may be tempered as they enter the Fall Sitting short-staffed. In early October, Communications Director Brookes Merritt left the NDP Caucus to accept a job with the Government of Alberta’s Public Affairs Bureau. Until they find a replacement, Chief of Staff Jim Gurnett is covering the Communications portfolio.

NDP MLA Rachel Notley

The NDP will be reporting tomorrow on the results of their province-wide “Earning your trust” tour that saw Edmonton-Strathcona MLA Rachel Notley and Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Brian Mason make summer policy announcements in a handful of cities across the province. The NDP will also be holding their annual convention in Red Deer on November 4, which will include British Columbia NDP leader Carole James as the keynote speaker (assuming that she is still leader on November 4).

Outside the dome of the Assembly Building, there are some very real political changes happening. The new Alberta Party held its Annual General Meeting in Red Deer at the beginning of October and after months of touring the province holding Big Listen events, that party will hold their first policy convention in the same city on November 13.

The Alberta Party Annual General Meeting.

The new Alberta Party has also moved forward with the hiring of their provincial organizer Michael Walters. The party will also undoubtedly benefit from having many of its members involved in recent municipal election campaigns, including Alberta Party Vice-President Chima Nkemdirim, who was the Campaign Director for Naheed Nenshi’s successful Mayoral campaign in Calgary. Mr. Walters was also heavily involved in the Election Day get out the vote organization that helped get Mayor Stephen Mandel re-elected in Edmonton.

Also not to be ignored is the role that the Wildrose Alliance played in recent municipal elections in the province’s two largest cities. The party has already hired organizers and been nominating candidates for the next provincial election, but leader Danielle Smith’s foray into the City Centre Airport issue in Edmonton and the Airport Tunnel issue in Calgary should not be ignored. Many Wildrose organizers active in the campaigns of Calgary Mayor candidate Ric McIver and Edmonton Mayor candidate David Dorward. While they may not walk away with voters lists, it is clear that they are taking advantage of any opportunity to get an organizational edge over the Progressive Conservatives in the next provincial election.

A lot of attention has been paid to Mayor-elect Nenshi’s victory in the Calgary Mayoral contest (and rightfully so), but he was not the only new Mayor elected on October 18. Seven of Alberta’s medium sized municipalities also elected new Mayor’s this week. In the north west city of Grande Prairie, Bill Given unseated Mayor Dwight Logan. East of Edmonton, Linda Osinchuk unseated Mayor Cathy Olesen to become Mayor of Strathcona County, Rajko Dodic was elected as the new Mayor of Lethbridge. Along the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary, Jeff Mulligan defeated incumbent Mayor Ken Baker in the City of Lloydminster. In the City of Wetaskiwin, Bill Elliot defeated incumbent Mayor Don Montgomery. In Airdrie, Peter Brown defeated incumbent Mayor Linda Bruce. In Alberta’s newest City, Steve Christie was elected Mayor of Lacombe, replacing the retiring Mayor Judy Gordon (who also served as the PC MLA for Lacombe-Stettler from 1993 to 2004). There was a lot of political change happening across Alberta on October 18, 2010. Of course, it is too soon to tell whether this will foreshadow a provincial election expected in March 2012.

The Fall Sitting of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly will likely open with a low level of substantive legislation and legislative debate, but outside the Dome there will be no shortage of new characters and exciting politics.

green trip taking baby steps.

Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette is scheduled to announce details and funding for the provincial Green Trip Fund at 10am this morning at Government House in Edmonton. Minister Ouellette is expected to be joined by Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier and Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel.

This announcement will come days after Airdrie Mayor Linda Bruce told the Calgary Herald that “[n]obody has heard anything” about when or if the funds would be distributed. The fund was originally announced two years ago and was meant to support local, regional and intermunicipal public transit, but the criteria for municipalities to apply for funding was never announced. It is expect that Minister Ouellette may announce the criteria today.

Update: Here is a link to the media release. The fund will provide a one-time capital expenditure of $800 million in funding will be available to the Capital region; $800 million to Calgary and surrounding area; and $400 million to other municipalities throughout Alberta.

The program is available to owner/operators of public transit services, which may include municipalities, regional entities, non-profit organizations, Metis settlements and the private sector. Submissions for GreenTRIP funding must include a business case that describes the sustainability of the project. GreenTRIP will provide only capital funding assistance for public transit infrastructure and technology, not operating funding for transit service.

dinosaur politics in alberta.

If a week in politics is an eternity, then Alberta's Progressive Conservatives have been in office since the Jurassic Era.

The Alberta PCs are struggling to shake off the emerging political narrative that they are next Social Credit dynasty. After 36 years in office, Social Credit collapsed under the weight of its own Byzantine-antiquity when its era came to an end in 1971. The apparent rise of the Wildrose Alliance since last Fall has become a dominant theme in the media and there has been continuous speculation that the current political establishment may be facing its strongest challenge in decades.

It will take more than just a change of characters to change politics in Alberta. Supporters of the current political establishment will praise the government for holding traveling consultation meetings and online surveys, but a top-down style of governance is engrained in the current political culture.

Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette told Alberta’s municipalities two years ago that a $2 billion Green Trip fund would be created to support urban public transportation projects. Two years later, Minister Ouellette told the municipalities that they will still not get access to the Green Trip funds until they come up with something “innovative.” City of Airdrie Mayor Linda Bruce told the Calgary Herald that “[n]obody has heard anything” about when or if the funds will be distributed. Alberta’s cities need build the kind of transportation infrastructure necessary to deal with the realities of urban growth.

In June 2008, then-Infrastructure Minister Jack Hayden announced the construction of a 650-car parkade near the Alberta Legislature (along with around $200 million to renovate the long-empty federal building). Instead of encouraging more single-occupant vehicle traffic into the already congested downtown core, it would have been much more “innovative” for the province to have worked closer with the City of Edmonton to develop of better strategy in fitting the Government Centre buildings into the city-wide public transportation plans.

Edmonton-Rutherford PC MLA Fred Horne has spent the past few weeks traveling across Alberta promoting the proposed Alberta Health Act. The value of these “stakeholder consultations meetings” is being questioned by participants, including Town of Redwater Mayor Mel Smith:

He came away confused, saying the workshop heard from such differing points of view that the discussion became meaningless, suffering from such a “lack of substance” that it didn’t address anything. “To be honest, I’m just not sure how much I did get out of it,” said Smith who considers himself a Progressive Conservative supporter but who for a moment sounded a tad skeptical if not downright cynical: “I’m not sure this wasn’t one of their steps to say that we’ve had consultations and then they’ll do what they like.”

As the Tory ‘Political Minister for Edmonton‘, Education Minister Dave Hancock is playing defence on teacher layoffs in Calgary and Edmonton. In a recent blog post, Minister Hancock called on the Public School Boards in the province’s two largest cities to stop the layoffs, claiming that they do not need to happen. This is a symptom of the dysfunctional relationship that has evolved between the Provincial Government and the elected School Boards. Every three years, School Board Trustees are elected under a more specific mandate than a provincial government, which has its own political agenda (and controls the purse-strings). Crying “tough economic times,” as Minister Hancock did in his blog post, is a tired argument for a Cabinet that can afford to easily drop $200,000 on an oilsands public relations campaign.

It is one thing to send Cabinet Ministers across the province to meet with pre-selected groups, but it is something completely different to change the culture of politics and prove that these meetings were more than just political lip-service. It is likely not intentional or malicious. It just might not be reasonable to expect actual open governance from political leaders who have become accustomed to wielding their large majority in the Assembly like a giant stick.

At the New Kids on the Politics Block event earlier this month, I had the chance to speak with Danielle Smith for about half-an-hour. I am not sure if she has what it takes to change Alberta’s political culture, but I was thoroughly impressed with how engaged and interested she was during our conversation. In a political discussion she can speak confidently and in full sentences.

It is impossible to predict the results of the next election or when Albertans will elect a new party to office. It is becoming more evident that a growing number of Albertans are becoming cynical of the same old-style political culture. It might be in 2011, or maybe in 2015, but it is only a matter of time before a big meteor smashes through. Who knows what will survive when the dust settles?

The theme of this post was inspired by Jurassic Forest, which is currently under construction near Gibbons, Alberta.