Tag Archives: Mack Male

City Councillor Amarjeet Sohi speaks at a rally during the 2015 federal election.

Who will run to succeed Amarjeet Sohi in the Ward 12 by-election?

On Oct. 19, City Councillor Amarjeet Sohi was elected as a Member of Parliament in the federal riding of Edmonton-Mill Woods. With Mr. Sohi’s resignation from city council in order to take his seat in the House of Commons, and his new post as Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, a by-election will be held in order to fill the vacancy in Ward 12.

Ward 12 Edmonton by-election map

A map of Ward 12.

The Municipal Government Act states that a by-election must take place within 90 days of a council seat being vacated, which means the by-election would need to be held before the end of January 2016, depending on the exact date that Mr. Sohi resigned from city council.

At the council meeting on Nov. 3, 2015, councillors Tony Caterina and Andrew Knack introduced a motion requesting the city administration to prepare a report with recommendations for a date for the Ward 12 by-election. The motion was passed and the report is due at the next council meeting on Nov. 17, 2015 .

Mack Male has published an excellent blog post outlining many of the rules governing municipal by-elections in Edmonton.

Four candidates have already publicly declared their plans to become candidates in the Ward 12 by-election:

  • Danisha Bhaloo – Manager of Fund Development, Boys and Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton and Area. Named by Avenue Magazine as one of Edmonton’s Top 40 under 40 in 2013. (Reported in Metro Edmonton)
  • Irfan Chaudhry – Project Manager in the City of Edmonton’s Multicultural Relations Office and sessional criminology instructor at MacEwan University. Named by Avenue Magazine as one of Edmonton’s Top 40 under 40 in 2013. (Announced on Twitter)
  • Arundeep Singh – Vice-President Outreach of the Progressive Conservative Party and employee of his family’s gravel trucking business. (Reported in Metro Edmonton)
  • Damien Austin – announced on his Facebook page that he will be a candidate in Ward 12.

In the realm of speculation and rumours, here are some names of potential candidates who could enter the Ward 12 by-election:

  • Balraj Manhas – The president of the United Cabbies Association has been an outspoken advocate for the taxi industry against incursions by private driving company Uber. He ran for the PC nomination in Edmonton-Ellerslie but was disqualified by the central party.
  • Laura Thibert Serving her second term as a trustee of the Edmonton Catholic School District. Ms. Thibert was briefly nominated as the Wildrose Party candidate in Edmonton-Mill Woods in 2014 before declining to run in the provincial election.
  • Naresh Bhardwaj – Now cleared of bribery allegations, the former PC MLA from Edmonton-Ellerslie could seek a return to political office after serving two terms in the Alberta Legislature.
  • Tim Uppal – Former three-term Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Sherwood Park who was defeated by Mr. Sohi in this election in Edmonton-Mill Woods. Previously ran for parliament in the former Edmonton-Southeast riding in 2000 and served as Minister of State for Multiculturalism in the Conservative government.
  • Harpreet Singh Gill – Founder of Asian Vision magazine and 2015 provincial Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Mill Creek.
  • Carl Benito – The PC MLA for Edmonton-Mill Woods from 2008 to 2012. After facing controversy and media attention in his first term he was defeated in the PC nomination contest ahead of the 2012 election. He ran as an Independent candidate, placing fifth with 3.9 percent of the vote.

City council by-elections are uncommon in Edmonton, with the last one being held in 1994 to replace councillor Judy Bethel who had been elected as the Liberal MP for the Edmonton-East riding. Eighteen candidates ran in that by-election which resulted in Sherry McKibben being elected with 20 percent of the vote.

#yegvote hangout – post-election “after hours” edition

Last night we hosted the final #yegvote Edmonton election Google Hangout. Not surprisingly, we had a lot of topics to discuss in our post-election “after hours” edition, ranging from school board races, new city councillors, and, of course, the mayoral election.

When we started recording these hangouts in June 2013, I don’t believe many of us would have predicted the 62% landslide victory that Don Iveson earned on October 21. While most media embraced the narrative of a three- or two-candidate horserace, the results would suggest that it was neither. According to unofficial poll-by-poll results, Mr. Iveson won every poll across Edmonton except eight (four where he placed second and four where he was tied).

Our new mayor was a guest on this hangout in August, and we were joined by his opponent Kerry Diotte in early October. We were also happy to have Steven Dollansky, Kathleen Smith, Aliza Dadani, the Local Good, and Chris Labossiere and Patricia Misutka join us as guests on the hangout.

Thanks to my co-hosts Mack Make and Ryan Hastman for helping make the #yegvote hangout a success. And thank you to everyone who has tuned in to watch us live or our archived videos (which will remain online for the time-being). We have enjoyed hosting these hangouts and may continue to record new versions of the hangout on EdmontonPolitics.com in the future. Stay tuned.

#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.

Edmonton election Substance and Style #2

Having focused on Edmonton’s mayoral contest in last week’s edition, I decided that this week’s ‘Substance and Style’ review should focus on the City Council and School Board campaigns across the city.

Aboriginal issues
Ward 6 candidate Kyle Brown wants to bring Aboriginal issues to the civic discussion. This is important, because by 2017 Edmonton is expected to have the largest urban aboriginal population in Canada.

Michael Walters Edmonton Ward 10 election

Michael Walters

Ward issues
CBC reporter Steve Finkelman reports on a day spent doorknocking with Ward 11 candidate Sonia Bitar. Ward 10 candidate Michael Walters focused on arts and culture in a blog post this week. And with 15 candidates in the running, urban sprawl was a hot topic at last night’s forum in Ward 6.

In Ward 3, incumbent councillor Dave Loken was endorsed by retiring Ward 2 councillor Kim Krushell.

Surveys
A significant part of a candidate’s time during an election is spent answering surveys from community organizations and advocacy groups. The Local Good has published responses to their candidate surveys, as has the Professional Arts Coalition of Edmonton and the Edmonton Public Library.

Donor transparency
A number of city council candidates have publicly released the names of campaign donors, including David Dodge in Ward 3 (list here), Heather Mackenzie (list here) and Scott McKeen in Ward 6 (link here) and Dave Colburn in Ward 7 (list here). Mr. Colburn has taken the unusual step of refusing to accept donations from developers or unions as a matter of principle. If I have missed any others, please post in the comments section below.

Covering the media
Mack Male has published a round-up of how Edmonton’s media companies are offering civic election coverage.

School board candidates
The Edmonton Public School Board has posted video interviews with candidates competing in the nine wards across the city. Here are the two candidates contesting the election in my area, Ward D:

Elizabeth Johannson:

Ray Martin:

Election forums online
Archived video from mayoral and city council candidate forums can be found on the City of Edmonton website.

Advanced voting
Election Day is October 21, but advanced voting locations are now open in five locations across Edmonton. Three special post-secondary advanced voting locations will be open next week at NAIT, MacEwan University and the University of Alberta.

You are eligible to vote if: you present authorized identification, you are at least 18 years of age, you are a Canadian citizen, you are a resident of a ward within the city of Edmonton on Election Day, you have lived in Alberta since April 23, 2013, and you have not already voted in the current election.

Who is your candidate?
Not sure who the candidates are? Browse through this list of candidates and their social media links.

#yegvote Google Hangout with Kerry Diotte

Last night on the #yegvote Google Hangout, Ryan Hastman, Mack Male and I were joined by mayoral candidate Kerry Diotte. We faced some minor technical difficulties, but overall I feel we had a good conversation with Mr. Diotte about his campaign for mayor and some of the key issues he has been focusing on.

While the other two main candidates for mayor are releasing more broad platforms, Mr. Diotte remains focused on four key issues – roads, debt, taxes and the arena deal. It is an interesting strategy, as I have little doubt that these are four issues he is hearing at the doors and will resonate with a significant number of voters in Edmonton.

With just more than two weeks left in the election campaign, we plan to host a few more #yegvote Google Hangouts with some more special guests. Watch EdmontonPolitics.com for details.

Watch our archived episodes on EdmontonPolitics.com or follow the links below
September 26 – Special guests from The Local Good
September 23 – Nomination Day hangout
September 12 – Special guest Steven Dollansky
September 5 – Special guest Kathleen Smith (aka @Kikkiplanet)
August 29 – Special guest mayoral candidate Don Iveson
August 15 – Special guest Aliza Dadani from ActivatED
July 18 – Second #yegvote Google Hangout
June 27 – First #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.

A short roundup of municipal election races across Alberta

With a feeling of excitement in the air, Nomination Day came and went today as residents across Alberta officially became candidates in this year’s municipal election. With nearly 120 candidates registered to run in Edmonton’s municipal election, today’s event was busy. I was at Edmonton City Hall at this morning’s event and snapped photos of many candidates.

While it was expected that some Edmonton City Council candidates could be acclaimed, the only two unchallenged incumbents in this year’s vote are Edmonton Public School Trustees Sarah Hoffman and Cheryl Johner. I have updated the list of Edmonton election candidates with their social media links.

After a busy morning and evening of attending election related events, I joined Ryan Hastman and Mack Male for a special Nomination Day #yegvote Google Hangout. You can watch the hangout in the embedded video above and find previous episodes at EdmontonPolitics.com.

Here is a quick look at some of the interesting municipal election news from across Alberta:

– Popular Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is expected to cruise to victory, but still faces eight challengers.

– Former Progressive Conservative MLA and cabinet minister Ray Danyluk is running to become the next Reeve of St. Paul County. Mr. Danyluk served as MLA for Lac La Biche-St. Paul from 2001 until 2012.

– Former PC and Wildrose candidate Guy Boutilier has thrown his name into the election for Wood Buffalo Municipal Council. Mr. Boutilier was MLA from 1997 until 2012 and Mayor of Wood Buffalo from 1995 until 1997.

– Former Wildrose candidate Maryann Chichak is running for Mayor in Whitecourt.

– Well-known political blogger David Climenhaga is running for city council in St. Albert.

– In July he announced his retirement from politics, but according to the Bonnyville Nouvelle, Town of Bonnyville Mayor Ernie Isely is running for re-election. Isley has served as mayor since 2006 and was the PC MLA for the area from 1979 to 1993.

– He may be enjoying retirement from Ottawa, but former Member of Parliament Myron Thompson is once again running for a spot on Sundre Town Council. Mr. Thompson was the MP for Wild Rose from 1993 until 2008, and was Mayor of Sundre from 1974 to 1980.

– Former MLAs Weslyn Mather and Ray Martin have thrown their hats in Edmonton’s public school board election. Ms. Mather was the Liberal MLA for Edmonton-Mill Woods from 2004 until 2008. Mr. Martin was leader of the Official Opposition NDP from 1986 to 1993, and was elected as MLA from 1982 to 1993 and 2004 to 2008.

Robert Wilkinson was convicted of impaired driving, became an internet sensation with his rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and is the only candidate challenging Edson Mayor Greg Pasychny in this year’s election.

– In the Village of Bawlf, only one candidate filed nomination papers to contest the election for the five member village council. According to the Village’s Twitter account, the “Village Office will be open 10-12 weekdays til Sept30, until 5 nominations are received.”

– In Grande Prairie, popular mayor Bill Given is being challenged by former councillor Gladys Blackmore.

Richard Richards has been acclaimed as mayor in the Town of Stettler.

Twenty-four candidates have filed nomination papers to contest five council seats in the flood damaged town of High River.

Please share in the comments section below if there are any interesting races or candidates who I have missed.

Nomination Day: Edmonton civic election official starts today

Edmonton City Council

Edmonton City Council

Dedicated citizens across Alberta will gather this morning in town halls and community centres to submit their nomination forms to become official candidates in this year’s municipal elections.

In the capital city, the excitement is taking place at Edmonton’s downtown City Hall. With three-term Mayor Stephen Mandel not seeking re-election, three Councillors and a handful of other Edmontonians have stepped forward to fill the spot. While Don Iveson, Kerry Diotte and Karen Leibovici are the front-runners in the race, there is always the possibility of a dark-horse candidate stepping out of the shadows and jumping into the mayoral contest today.

UPDATE: The Edmonton Journal is reporting on the results of a Leger survey which shows Don Iveson with 47% of decided voters, Kerry Diotte with 28%, and Karen Leibovici with the support of 25% of decided voters. When taking undecided voters into account, the support is 20% for Councillor Iveson, 12% for Councillor Diotte, and 11% for Councillor Leibovici. While this is only one poll, and I look at all polls with skepticism, I am very surprised at how low Councillor Leibovici’s support is, considering her 20 year career as a politician in Edmonton.

Since early this year, I have maintained a list of declared nomination candidates for Council and the Public and Catholic school boards. I will have the list updated later today when the official list is released by Edmonton Elections.

There will be a few familiar faces missing from the ballot on the October 21 voting day. Six Councillors are not seeking re-election in their Wards. While this is a large turnover, it is not uncommon in recent elections. The last time Council faced such a significant turnover was in 2001, when six Councillors did not seek re-election.

Until this weekend it appeared as if Councillors Ben Henderson in Ward 8 and Amarjeet Sohi in Ward 12 would be acclaimed, but last-minute candidates have announced their intentions to challenges these incumbents. In Ward 9, Councillor Bryan Anderson remains unchallenged. If he remains unchallenged today, it will be the first time in recent memory that a City Councillor in Edmonton has been acclaimed.

#yegvote Google Hangout

Tune in to a special Nomination Day #yegvote Google Hangout tonight at 8:00 p.m. at EdmontonPolitics.com. Mack Male, Ryan Hastman and I will run down the list of candidates and give our analysis of the first official day of the election campaign.

Municipal elections in Alberta are being held on October 21, 2013.

#yegvote Google Hangout with Steven Dollansky

After a week-long break from the world of political writing and social media, I was happy to return just in time for yesterday’s sixth edition of the #yegvote Google Hangout. This week, Ryan Hastman and I were joined by guest Steven Dollansky, who sat in for Mack Male, who could not make it this week.

In this week’s hangout, we focused on the three-main mayoral candidates – Kerry Diotte, Don Iveson, and Karen Leibovici – and how they are positioning themselves in the hotly contested race to replace outgoing Mayor Stephen Mandel.

With the election less than two months away, and nomination day on September 23, we are expecting the election to quickly heat up as candidates try to gain attention and differentiate themselves from the large pack of political hopefuls that are crowding this year’s municipal election ballots in Edmonton.

As noted by Mack in his weekly Edmonton Election round up, there are currently 6 mayoral candidates and 53 candidates for Council. Councillors Ben Henderson in Ward 8, Bryan Anderson in Ward 9, and Amarjeet Sohi in Ward 12 all remain uncontested.

To watch previous editions of the #yegvote Google Hangout, including last week’s edition with guest Kathleen Smith, visit EdmontonPolitics.com.

#yegvote Google Hangout with Don Iveson

Last night, we had the pleasure of having Edmonton mayoral candidate Don Iveson as our special guest on the fourth #yegvote Google Hangout. Over the course of the hangout, Ryan Hastman, Mack Male, and I questioned Don on some of the hottest issues of the election campaign.

The conversation topics coverted potholes, the downtown arena project, LRT, spending and debt, the Terwillegar housing first proposal, and a few other pressing issues (like the state of the Oilers and Eskimos, and whether he prefers Star Trek or Star Wars…).

An advocate for smart growth, Don Iveson was first elected to City Council in 2007 and was re-elected in 2010. He chairs City Council’s Utility Committee and the Capital Region Board‘s Transit Committee. Don and his wife Sarah Chan, a music teacher, have a 4-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter.

We hope to have mayoral candidates Kerry Diotte and Karen Leibovici join us as guests in future #yegvote Google Hangouts.

#yegvote Google Hangout #3 with ActivatED

On last night’s #yegvote Google Hangout, the third in our series, Ryan Hastman, Mack Male, and I were joined by Aliza Dadani from the group ActivatED. According to their website, “ActivatED is committed to electing forward-thinking progressive councillors in the 2013 Edmonton Municipal Election.” Endorsing candidates can be a messy business and ActivatED is already ruffling some feathers in Edmonton’s 2013 election season. The group has already endorsed Linda Sloan in Ward 1, David Dodge in Ward 3, Dave Colburn in Ward 7, Ben Henderson in Ward 8, and Amarjeet Sohi in Ward 12.

Thank you to Ms. Dadani for joining us on the hangout and articulately explaining her group’s raison-d’être and decision making process. You can watch the hangout in the embed above and at EdmontonPolitics.com.

There are numerous additions to the unofficial list of Edmonton election candidates. Many of the additions are in Downtown Edmonton’s Ward 6, where 12 candidates have now declared their intention to run in the ward being vacated by Councillor Jane Batty, the most of any race in the city.

New mayoral candidate Kristine Acielo thinks the proposed downtown arena is not big enough and 2012 Evergreen Party Senate candidate Elizabeth Johannson is challenging former New Democrat MLA Ray Martin in the Public School Board’s Ward D.

If you have any additions to the unofficial list of declared candidates, please let me know.

So you want to be an Edmonton election candidate?

The City of Edmonton’s Elections Office is hosting an information session tomorrow for residents planning or interested in standing for office in the October 21, 2013 municipal election.

According to the Edmonton Elections website, the session will help answer any questions candidates may have about nominations, election legislation and bylaws, campaigning, contributions, expenses and disclosure, and signs.

Date: Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Time: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Location: Elections and Census Office, 16304-114 Avenue, Edmonton

The session will be facilitated by Returning Officer Alayne Sinclair, Director of Elections and Census Laura Kennedy, and Director of Community Standards John Simmons. All interested residents are welcome to attend. No RSVP is required.

Although the official nomination deadline is September 23, there are already more than 70 candidates declared as standing for Mayor, City Council, and Public and Catholic school boards in Edmonton. Election day is October 21, 2013.

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Mark your calendars for the next #yegvote Google Hangout this Thursday at 8:00 p.m. Mack Male, Ryan Hastman and I are hoping to be joined by a special guest who will share their thoughts on the election and the candidates who are stepping forward to run. If you are feeling behind in Edmonton’s election news, you can catch up by watching our first and second hangouts.

#yegvote Google Hangout #2

Following out successful first #yegvote Google Hangout a few weeks ago, Mack Male, Ryan Hastman, and I gathered online for the second #yegvote Google Hangout focusing on this October’s municipal elections in Edmonton. In this week’s hangout, we chatted about everything from the strategies of the three main mayoral candidates, the fluoride debate sparked by a fourth mayoral candidate, and some of the competitive city council races.

You can watch the archived hangout below or at EdmontonPolitics.com.

As the campaign period approaches, we are planning to have more frequent weekly #yegvote Google Hangouts and hope to have some special guests join us along the way.

The first #yegvote Google Hangout

Tonight, I joined Ryan Hastman and Mack Male on Edmonton’s first #yegvote Google Hangout on the topic of this October’s municipal election. Over the course of 50 minutes, we discussed the hotly contested mayoral race, some of the interesting open city council races, and issues that could define this year’s election campaign.

If you missed the live hangout, you can watch the archived video below or on EdmontonPolitics.com.

I feel our first hangout was a success and, with much more municipal election news to talk about, we are planning to host more in the near future. Stay tuned!

On another  topic, I will soon publish a post with some thoughts on this week’s devastating floods in southern Alberta and some of the party and personal politics occurring behind the scenes.

making cities matter in alberta’s election.

Alberta is the most urbanized province in Canada (81% of the population living in urban areas) and the Edmonton-Calgary corridor is one of the most urbanized regions in Canada.

Looking to put cities on the provincial election agenda, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is using the CitiesMatter.ca website to weigh in on why it is important that Albertans know where the provincial parties and their leaders stand on the future of our urban centres. Mayor Nenshi has sent surveys to each of the parties asking them about their positions on urban issues. The surveys responses are expected to be posted on the CitiesMatter.ca website when they are returned.

University of Alberta professor Ian Urquhart, who is standing as an Independent candidate in Alberta’s Senate Nominee election has written about the role the Senate and the federal government could play in supporting our municipalities and the inequity that exists between the orders of government.

Dr. Urquhart correctly points out that even after the federal and provincial governments have downloaded more services and responsibilities to our municipalities, our cities receive a pittance of the revenue collected from Alberta taxpayers (just 8% in Alberta):

“From this small pot of money our cities must try to finance more than half of the infrastructure we use every day.”

Enthusiast of everything Edmonton, Mack Male, has joined a group of under-40 Albertans who are trying to put some important issues on the provincial agenda, like the expansion of Light Rail Transit in our major cities:

Edmonton and Calgary are often thought of as “car cities” but the desire to change is strong. Both cities have transportation plans that call for the expansion of light rail transit. Edmontonians consistently rank public transportation as the most important issue that the City should address. Most recently, a Leger Marketing poll showed that two thirds of Edmontonians would like to see the province fast-track its share of the LRT expansion to Mill Woods. In Calgary, Mayor Naheed Nenshi himself has been leading the charge to convince the province to provide long term and predictable funding for transit infrastructure in Alberta’s large cities.

Edmonton Journal columnist David Staples has suggested that the Wildrose Party’s proposed fiscal plan would axe the much needed transit funding, something that supporters of Danielle Smith has disputed (having an anti-LRT former mayoral candidate on her slate of candidates surely does not help reassure their critics). The Wildrose Party would cancel the existing Green Trip funding for future projects, but slot 10% of provincial tax revenues and 10% of surplus money for municipalities, which I understand could actually be less than the amount currently received through regular funding and special funds like GreenTrip (please correct me if I am mistaken).

Alison Redford‘s Progressive Conservatives have not released any strong policies on municipal funding during this election, but they have committed to increasing funding for libraries, which play an important role in communities, and continuing the successful safe communities initiative.

In their “Yes!” platform, Dr. Raj Sherman‘s Alberta Liberals have called for the drafting of City Charters, the creation of a Municipal Heritage Fund (which would include direct funding for community associations), and the reinstatement of Community Lottery Boards. As a former Edmonton City Councillor, NDP leader Brian Mason, supports an increased in funding for the GreenTrip fund. Mr. Mason was also one of the only MLA’s who spoke out against provincial funding for Daryl Katz‘s new Downtown Arena.

Led by former Hinton Mayor Glenn Taylor, the Alberta Party‘s municipal plan focuses on both urban and rural municipalities, Mr. Taylor also draws some strength from his past role as the chairman of the Rural Alberta Development Fund (whose board of directors includes former Tory MLA David Coutts and former Liberal leader Ken Nicol):

Some people will suggest that future Wildrose Party government heavy with conservative rural MLA’s would not understand the needs of our big cities. Although there is certainly a geographical divide in our politics (urban and rural, Calgary and Edmonton, small city and big city), fanning these flames will not move our province forward.

Urban enthusiasts worried about rural decision makers should remember that only a short time ago, it was a rural conservative leader, Ed Stelmach, whose government made some of the most important urban infrastructure investments of the past decade, including the creation of the GreenTrip fund.