Tag Archives: Lorna Wolodko

Greg Clark Alberta Party Calgary-Elbow

Will the Alberta Together takeover turn the Alberta Party into PC 2.0?

Photo: Alberta Party leader Greg Clark on the campaign trail in Calgary-Elbow in 2014. Source: Twitter.

In the latest shakeup in Alberta politics, Greg Clark announced last Friday that he would resign as leader of the Alberta Party at the party’s upcoming annual general meeting on November 18, 2017. Clark has served as party leader since 2013 and became the party’s first elected MLA in 2015 when he unseated Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Gordon Dirks in Calgary-Elbow.

Karen McPherson Alberta Party MLA Calgary Mackay Nose HIll

Karen McPherson

With the floor-crossing of former New Democratic Party MLA Karen McPherson earlier this month, Clark had succeeded in helping double his party’s caucus. But despite generating an impressive share of media attention, Clark has been unable to raise the amounts of money the Alberta Party would need to be competitive in the next election. And even though there has been increased interest in the party’s membership since the PC Party became defunct under Jason Kenney’s leadership, the Alberta Party has not seen growth in the public opinion polls.

With the increasing influence of the Alberta Together political action committee, formed by former PC Party officials including Stephen Mandel, rumours had been circulating for months that Clark’s leadership could come to an end before the party’s annual meeting.

Over the course of its three decades in existence, the Alberta Party has become sort of a rotating door for politcos without a home, starting with western separatists in the early 1980s and disaffected Greens, Liberals, New Democrats and moderate Tories in the late 2000s. Clark was a former Liberal, having worked as a staffer at the Legislature during Laurence Decore‘s time as party leader (Clark’s father, Gilbert Clark, was 823 votes away from ending Ralph Klein‘s political career when the former mayor first ran for provincial office in Calgary-Elbow in 1989).

Now it appears the party is a new home for moderate Tories unhappy with the hard right-ward turn of the UCP under Kenney’s leadership.

Katherine O'Neill

Katherine O’Neill

As I wrote in June 2017, the Alberta Party is a blank slate with a great name, but whether or not this latest group to wander over will translate that name into electoral success is yet to be determined.

The party has the support of well-known political operatives Susan Elliott and Stephen Carter, who worked together as the top campaign strategists for Alison Redford in the 2012 provincial election – the last successful Hail Mary campaign of the PC Party.

According to the Globe & Mail, the party could lean on the Alberta Together PAC for fundraising support to help offset the costs of the leadership race. This is concerning because PACs like Alberta Together fall outside of the province’s Election Finances and. Contributions Disclosure Act, which raises legitimate concerns about transparency and accountability of political fundraising and spending.

With less than 15 months until a potential election call, the urgency surrounding the leadership and the role of Alberta Together could be a reaction to signals from Premier Rachel Notley that the NDP government plans to tighten rules governing PACs before the next election.

Now that Clark has made his announcement, it is unclear if he or the Alberta Together group have a chosen candidate waiting in the wings to run for the party leadership.

Doug Griffiths

Doug Griffiths

McPherson has said she does not intend to run and neither does Alberta Together CEO Katherine O’Neill. It is also unclear whether Clark will re-contest the leadership he is about to resign from.

Had Clark resigned four months ago, it might not be surprising to see municipal politicians like Nenshi, Edmonton mayor Don Iveson and Grande Prairie mayor Bill Given consider throwing their name in the race. But with the municipal elections having only been held on October 16, it would be difficult politically for any current municipal mayor or councillor to justify running for the leadership.

Former Morinville mayor and past Alberta Urban Municipalities Association president Lisa Holmes has been rumoured as a potential candidate, as has Nenshi’s chief of staff Chima Nkemdirim.

Former PC MLAs Thomas Lukaszuk, Doug Griffiths, Teresa Woo-Paw, and Stephen Khan and current Independent PC MLA Richard Starke have been mentioned as potential candidates, though bringing in former politicians associated with an unpopular old government might not be the best strategy for the newly rebranded party.

Ryan Jespersen 630 CHED Alberta Party

Ryan Jespersen

Popular 630CHED radio host Ryan Jespersen is a compelling name on the list of rumoured leadership candidates named by Postmedia columnist Don Braid. Jespersen is well-known in Edmonton and northern Alberta, well-spoken on a wide-range of issues and is not a former PC MLA – which would be an asset if he did decide to run. (He would not be the first of his family to enter Alberta politics. His great-uncle, Ralph Jespersen, served as the Social Credit MLA for Stony Plain from 1967 to 1971).

And on the topic of radio personalities turned politicians, the political action committee named for the son of one such politician, the Manning Centre, will also hold its first Alberta Networking Conference in Red Deer on November 18. Attendees will hear from Kenny and UCP MLAs, Conservative MPs, and representatives of likeminded groups including the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation and the Canadian Constitution Foundation who will “chart the course for the future” of conservative politics in Alberta.

As some conservatives will meet under Preston Manning’s banner at Red Deer College, former PC supporters and the Alberta Together group will meet across town at the Radisson Hotel to consolidate their position inside the Alberta Party. A dozen notable former PC officials are running to fill the 12 positions on the party’s board of directors:

  • Sumita Anand served as the PC Party’s west Calgary regional director until she resigned on May 24, 2017. She had served as president of the PC association in Calgary-Foothills during and immediately following Jim Prentice’s tenure as party leader.
  • Denise Brunner served as the PC Party’s vice president organization. She stepped down in January 2017 after being accused of bias by Kenney’s supporters during the PC leadership race. According to Elections Alberta financial disclosures, she was Chief Financial Officer for the Edmonton-Castle Downs PC association in 2006 and currently serves as the president of Alberta Party association in Edmonton-Castle Downs.
  • Cole Harbin served as Executive Vice President of the PC Youth of Alberta until 2016 and as a Vice President of the PC constituency association in Lethbridge-West until 2017. He previously worked as a constituency assistant for former MLAs Doug Griffiths and former Lethbridge-West PC MLA Greg Weadick.
  • Jackie Clayton was recently re-elected to serve a second term on Grande Prairie City Council and is the former Peace Country regional director for the PC Party.
  • Kerry Cundal is a former PC Party activist and federal Liberal candidate who ran for the provincial Liberal leadership earlier this year on a platform of working closer with the Alberta Party.
  • Brian Heidecker is a big name in the former PC Party establishment. He served as Chair of University of Alberta Board of Governors, and was appointed to the boards of the Alberta Treasury Branches Board and the Alberta Securities Commission. He served as a PC Party Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer for Doug Griffiths’ 2011 campaign for the PC Party leadership.
  • Blake Pedersen was elected in 2012 as the Wildrose Party MLA for Medicine Hat and crossed the floor to the PC caucus in 2014. He was defeated by NDP candidate Bob Wanner in 2015 and currently serves as president of the Alberta Party association in Cypress-Medicine Hat.
  • Shawn Pickett served as president of the PC association in Red Deer-North and Central North regional director until resigning in July 2017, referring to Kenney’s leadership bid as a “hostile takeover” of the PC Party.
  • Stephanie Shostak is the former north Edmonton regional director for the PC Party. Shostak now serves as the president of the Alberta Party association in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview.
  • Marcel Van Hecke was the PC Party’s Northern Vice President and appears to have started attending Alberta Together meetings in July 2017.
  • Patty Wickstrom served as the PC Party’s Board Secretary until she resigned in July 2017. According to Elections Alberta financial disclosures, she previously served as president of the PC association in Calgary-Currie from 2008 to 2010.
  • Lorna Wolodko previously served as St. Albert regional director with the PC Party and worked as a constituency manager for Stony Plain PC MLAs Fred Lindsey and Ken Lemke before working in the Office of the Premier. Wolodko ran for the PC Party nomination in Stony Plain ahead of the 2015 election.

Alberta Conservatives now appear less united than they have in years

Progressive Conservative leader Jason Kenney took aim at the New Democratic Party and Alberta’s teachers this week, claiming that both groups are planning to hijack the July 22 vote to fold his party and the Wildrose Party into a new United Conservative Party. Kenney’s claims are unsubstantiated and are likely a distraction from the unity crisis happening in his own party.

After having served the party for approximately fifteen years in various capacities, I am not in support of the direction the party is currently taking under the new leader,” wrote Sumita Anand in an email May 24, 2017 email announcing her resignation as west Calgary regional director on the Progressive Conservative Party board of directors.

At the board level there is no opportunity for positive participation and there seems to be a staged place for only those board members who agree with the leader on all suggestions even if they are far from being either socially progressive or inclusive,” wrote Anand, who was president of the Calgary-Foothills PC association from 2014 to 2016.

Anand is one of a handful of high profile Conservatives to resign from the PC Party board since Kenney became leader on March 18, 2017.

Among the individuals who have left the PC Party board since the change in leadership include president Katherine O’Neill, northern finance committee chair Stephen Mandel, budget director Kim Krushell, southern Alberta vice-president Jordan Lien, south Calgary regional director Connor Turner, St. Albert regional director Lorna Wolodko, north Edmonton regional director Stephanie Shostak, central north east regional director Bud James and vice president organization Denise Brunner. Janice Harrington resigned as vice president outreach to become the party’s interim executive director.

Kenney’s public statements on Gay-Straight Alliances and his party’s recent political maneuvering around Edmonton’s Pride Parade suggest he is willing to appeal to the loud vocal minority of social conservatives at the expense of moderate conservatives already in his party.

Shostak announced on her Facebook page that she had joined the Alberta Party, and Brunner has emerged as the Edmonton regional organizer for the Alberta Party. Brunner recently sent an email to Alberta Party members announcing a series of annual general meetings to be held in the Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview, Edmonton-Castle Downs, Edmonton-Decore, and Edmonton-Manning constituencies.

The Alberta Party’s recruitment of former PC Party executive director Troy Wason, and his extensive list of contacts across the province, will surely help the party, but it needs organization on the ground and money in the bank. The Alberta Party raised only $14,070.49 in the first four months of 2017, which was only three percent of total amount that was fundraised by the governing New Democratic Party in the same period.

The Alberta Party is not the only recipient of political refugees from the PC Party. Former PC Party member Kerry Cundal recently ran for the Liberal Party leadership and some PCs unhappy with the direction of the party have even joined Rachel Notley‘s NDP.

The most high-profile Tory to join the NDP recently has been Calgary-North West MLA Sandra Jansen, who crossed the floor in November 2016 after dropping out of the PC leadership race. More recently, Thomas Ockley, a former PC caucus and party staffer who served as Richard Starke’s scrutineer in the 2017 PC leadership race, is now listed on the Alberta government website as being employed as a researcher for the NDP caucus at the Legislature.

Support for the new party is not unanimous in the Wildrose Party either. Leader Brian Jean faced pushback from party president Jeff Calloway this week. Sharon Maclise, the party’s president in Edmonton-Glenora, described abandoning the Wildrose Party to create a new party as an “idiotic idea” in a letter to the editor in one of Edmonton’s Postmedia newspapers last month.

Unlike Kenney, who only needs the support of 50 percent plus one to fold the PC Party, Jean requires a steep 75 percent approval from the Wildrose Party membership.

While Kenney’s hostile takeover of the PC Party earlier this year may lead to the creation of a United Conservative Party (at least on paper), conservatives in Alberta now appear less united than they have in years.


Here is the full email from Sumita Anand:

Dear President and fellow board members,

Regretfully, I submit my resignation from the board of Directors. 

After having served the party for approximately fifteen years in various capacities, I am not in support of the direction the party is currently taking under the new leader. 

During my tenure as a volunteer with the party, I have always observed and recognized the leader as being the pillar on which the progressive and conservative values stood firm and grounded, leading the party’s initiatives to form government without any selfish objectives. Those principals seem to have been lost under the current leadership.

At the board level there is no opportunity for positive participation and there seems to be a staged place for only those board members who agree with the leader on all suggestions even if they are far from being either socially progressive or inclusive. 

A party leader’s actions are a reflection of the direction for not only its members but for Albertans at large. Currently the party reflects being resourceful but not compassionate, responsible, open or practical.  I would like to contribute my capabilities to a party that is humble yet remarkable and according to me, those values are not aligned with the direction this party is taking. 

While working with the party, I have found great friends and take back with me very fond memories.  I appreciate the opportunity given to me through the years for contributing to community at large. 

I wish the current board success through its endeavors. 

Sincerely 

Sumita Anand 
Board member 
 Dated: 24th May 2017

alberta candidate nomination update – november 2011 (part 2).

With a fixed election “period” expected to be set for sometime between March 1 and May 31, 2012, Alberta’s political parties are still in the process of nominating candidates in the 87 new constituencies that will be contested in the next provincial election.

Total Nominated Candidates
APAlberta Party 8/87
LIBLiberal 20/87
NDPNew Democratic Party 60/87
PCProgressive Conservative 50/87
WRWildrose 58/87

Here are some of the updates I have made to my growing list of nominated and declared candidates:

Battle River-Wainwright: Four candidates are seeking the Wildrose Party nomination being held on November 18. Dave Nelson is a Buffalo Trail Public School trustee and a founding member of the Responsible Firearm Owners of Alberta, Sean Maciborski is the Mayor of the Village of Heisler, Rob Johnson is a farmer and Masters Student living near Daysland, and Tom Jackson is a farmer and anti-Wheat Board activist living near Killam.

Bonnyville-Cold Lake: Bonnyville Town Councillor Gene Sobolewski is challenging first-term MLA Genia Leskiw at the PC candidate nomination meeting on November 19, 2011.

Calgary-East: The Wildrose has announced that Jesse Minhas is their nominated candidate in this constituency.

A photo of Joey Oberhoffner, Calgary-Fish Creek PC Nomination candidate (November 2011)

Joey Oberhoffner

Calgary-Fish Creek: Blogger and public servant Joey Oberhoffner has announced his intentions to seek the PC nomination in this south Calgary constituency. The constituency has been represented by Heather Forsyth since 1993. In 2010, Ms. Forsyth left the PC caucus and joined the Wildrose Party. A high profile candidate from Mount Royal University is expected to join the PC nomination contest.

Calgary-Klein: Christopher Tahn is expected the seek the Liberal Party nomination on November 22.

Calgary-McCall:  Jamie Lall appears to be the only candidate have officially declared their interest in the PC nomination in this north east Calgary constituency, but there is expected to be up to ten other candidates to join the contest. Two candidates said to be interested in seeking the PC nomination withdrew or were disqualified from the Wildrose nomination contest in that constituency –  Deepshikha Brar and Brahm Luddu.

Calgary-North West: Chris Challis has been nominated as the Wildrose candidate. Quietly moved away from the nomination is Russell Hillier, assistant to Conservative MP Rob Anders and founder of the Canadian Culture and Integration Society (which was dedicated to reducing mass-immigration and eliminating official multiculturalism in Canada).

Cardston-Taber-Warner: Agriculture consultant Pat Shimbashi is challenging MLA Broyce Jacobs at the PC nomination meeting scheduled for November 26. Mr. Shimbashi was narrowly defeated by Mr. Jacobs in the 2008 PC nomination. Mr. Jacobs served as this constituency’s MLA from 2001 to 2004 and 2008 to the present.

Edmonton-Ellerslie: The Wildrose Party has nominated Jackie Lovely as their candidate. She is the Past President for the Summerside Community League.

Edmonton-Gold BarAs covered in a blog post earlier this weekJosipa Petrunic is planning to seek the Liberal Party nomination in this long-held constituency.

Richard Coleman Ed Stelmach

Richard Coleman and Ed Stelmach

Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville: Vegreville Mayor Richard Coleman has joined the race for the PC nomination that already includes Strathcona County Councillor Jacquie Fenski and former Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Jim Sheasgreen.

Grande Prairie-Smoky: Bret McNally is the third candidate to enter the Wildrose Party nomination race. Mr. McNally is facing off against Duane Stevenson and Todd Loewen.

Lac La Biche-St. Paul: Lac La Biche County Councillor John Nowak has declared his intention to seek the Liberal Party nomination in this north east Alberta constituency.

Lethbridge-West: Dave Wright has declared his intentions to seek the Wildrose Party nomination. Mr. Wright was briefly nominated as his party’s candidate in Cardston-Taber-Warner earlier this year.

A photo of Michael Dawe, Alberta Liberal Nomination Candidate Red Deer North (November 2011)

Michael Dawe

Red Deer-North: Historian and former Red Deer Hospital Board Chairman Michael Dawe used the daveberta.ca Facebook Page to declare his intentions to seek the Liberal Party nomination.

Stony Plain: Four candidates are seeking the PC nomination in this constituency being vacated by retiring MLA Fred Lindsay. Vern Hardman is an Edmonton lawyer who had sought the Wildrose Party nomination in Edmonton-Calder last year. Mr. Hardman told the Stony Plain Reporter that “I joined the Wild Rose as a means of contributing to change in the province, but I started to see that the Wild Rose Party was not the answer.” The other three candidates include David Cymbaluk, Stony Plain Mayor Ken Lemke, and Mr. Lindsay’s Constituency Assistant Lorna Wolodko.

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.