Categories
Alberta Politics

UCP backbenchers revolt against mild public health restrictions as COVID third wave hits Alberta

New cases of COVID-19 are on the rise and the third wave of the global pandemic is hitting Alberta, but that did not deter a group of nearly 20 United Conservative Party MLAs from publicly speaking out against the provincial government’s implementation of mild public health restrictions in response.

Like the virus, the group of COVID critics inside the UCP Caucus has grown exponentially from the original six-pack of MLAs who publicly spoke out against public health measures at the beginning of March. The public letter signed by 15 UCP MLAs criticized Premier Jason Kenney for moving back to Step 1 of the province’s mild public health measures in response to the spike in new cases, which is largely a result of a vicious new variant of the deadly virus.

The group of 15 includes Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Nathan Cooper, who made an unusual move for a Speaker of the Assembly to publicly criticize the government, and already open COVID critics Drew Barnes and Angela Pitt, who recently split from the national End the Lockdown Caucus after Ontario MPP Randy Hillier posted a social media meme comparing public health restrictions to the Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. The UCP group also includes Tracy Allard, whose Christmas vacation to Hawaii cost her her job of Municipal Affairs Minister.

The letter signed by the 15 MLAs was soon after endorsed by Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright MLA Garth Rowswell and West Yellowhead MLA Martin Long, who also serves as the parliamentary secretary for small business. Also signalling support for the letter’s intentions was Calgary Member of Parliament Michelle Rempel-Garner, who serves as the Official Opposition Health Critic in Ottawa.

Peace River MLA Dan Williams, a long-time Kenney acolyte from Ottawa, did not endorse the letter but posted a video on social media criticizing the decision by Alberta Health Services to close down the rebel GraceLife Church, which had been holding in-person services in defiance of the government’s public health orders. He was joined in this call by Ontario MP Derek Sloan, who was kicked out of the federal Conservative caucus for his extreme social conservative views.

Active COVID-19 cases in Alberta (chart from @CBCFletch on Twitter)
Active COVID-19 cases in Alberta (chart from @CBCFletch on Twitter)

That the leaders of the UCP caucus mutiny appear to largely be from the former Wildrose caucus, or Wildrose-wing of the party, is not surprising. The former opposition party was notoriously raucous and unwilling to bow to the kind of centralized party leadership that Kenney would have become accustomed to during his many years in Ottawa.

It was also clear during Kenney’s press conference on Tuesday that he expected a negative reaction from his caucus. A significant portion of Kenney’s lecture was dedicated to managing MLAs expectations and acknowledging the differences of opinion in his caucus. Difference of opinion is one thing, but this is something entirely different.

The public health restrictions that Alberta fell back to earlier this week are nothing close to what restrictions have looked like in jurisdictions that have actually implemented lockdowns. Alberta schools are still open for in-person classes, and Albertans can still gather with up to 10 people outside, go shopping for non-essential items, get a haircut or a massage, dine or have drinks on a restaurant patio, and exercise at a gym with a personal trainer.

Jason Kenney
Premier Jason Kenney on April 6, 2021.

There is no doubt a lot of Albertans are frustrated about how the provincial government has handled the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Kenney government has not helped itself by releasing a string of confusing and inconsistent public health measures and messaging to Albertans about the government’s response.

While public opinion polling suggests many Albertans would like the government to impose stronger measures to stop the spread of the deadly virus, there is a loud minority who want to see the current restrictions lifted.

It is yet to be seen whether the revolt will extend beyond this strongly worded letter, but there is little doubt these MLAs are actively undermining the work being done by public health professionals and health care workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The caucus revolt is probably a reflection of deepening regional and partisan divides in Alberta, with most of the COVID Caucus MLAs representing largely rural and small town districts. It is notable that no UCP MLAs from Calgary, so far the hardest hit in the third wave, have publicly joined the revolt.

It also suggests that the United Conservative Party is not as united as its leader would like Albertans to believe.

Kenney’s personal approval ratings and support for his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic plummeted over the past 13 months, and his party has floundered in the polls, finishing behind Rachel Notley’s NDP in a handful of recent voter opinion polls. The rise of the separatist Wildrose Independence Party in rural Alberta has some backbench UCP MLAs nervously looking over their right shoulders.

In some ways, the revolt probably serves as a welcome distraction to some in the UCP from the never ending string of scandals and policy failures, most recently the failure to stop the Carbon Tax at the Supreme Court, the loss of $1.5 billion of public money when the Keystone XL Pipeline was cancelled, the failure to sign a new contract with Alberta doctors, the retreat on open-pit coal mining, and the open rebellion by parents against the draft K-6 curriculum.

Under normal circumstances it would be hard to believe that this kind of caucus revolt would happen on a day when more than 1,300 new cases of COVID were reported and doctors are calling for a circuit breaker response, but in today’s world of Alberta politics, it would be harder to believe this would happen if the UCP were not floundering so deeply in the polls.

The original 15 UCP MLAs who signed the letter

  • Tracy Allard, MLA Grande Prairie
  • Drew Barnes, MLA Cypress-Medicine Hat
  • Nathan Cooper, MLA Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills
  • Michaela Glasgo, MLA Brooks-Medicine Hat
  • Dave Hanson, MLA Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul
  • Nate Horner, MLA Drumheller-Stettler
  • Todd Loewen, MLA Central Peace-Notley
  • Ron Orr, MLA Lacombe-Ponoka
  • Angela Pitt, MLA Airdrie-East
  • Roger Reid, MLA Livingstone-Macleod
  • Miranda Rosin, MLA Banff-Kananaskis
  • RJ Sigurdson, MLA Highwood
  • Mark Smith, Drayton Valley-Devon
  • Jason Stephan, Red Deer-South
  • Glenn van Dijken, Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock
Categories
Alberta Politics

Vote in the Best of Alberta Politics 2019 Survey!

Photo from the Daveberta.ca archives: A young Dave Cournoyer votes in the March 2008 Alberta election.

Back by popular demand, Daveberta.ca is pleased to launch the third annual Best of Alberta Politics 2019 survey. We want to hear from you about the big political players and issues of 2019. Submit your choices in seven categories.

Submissions will close on Dec. 8, 2019 at 6:00 pm and the top three choices in each category will be included in a round of voting starting on Dec. 9, 2019. Voting will be open until Dec. 14, 2019 at 11:59 pm and the winners will be announced on the special year-end edition of the Daveberta Podcast on Dec. 16, 2019.

Vote in seven categories:

  1. Who was the best Alberta MLA of 2019?
  2. Who was the best Alberta cabinet minister of 2019?
  3. Who was the best opposition MLA of 2019?
  4. Who is the up and coming MLA to watch in 2020?
  5. Who was the best candidate who didn’t win in the 2019 Alberta election?
  6. What was the biggest political issue of 2019 in Alberta?
  7. What was the biggest political play of 2019 in Alberta?

Vote early, vote often.

Good luck.


Who won last time?

Take a trip down memory lane and check out the list of winners from the 2017 and 2018 Best of Alberta Politics Surveys.


Alberta MLAs have their own best MLA vote 

Legislative Assembly Speaker Nathan Cooper initiated the first ever Alberta MLA awards to give MLAs an opportunity to vote for their colleagues in a number of categories. MLAs Tracy Allard, David Eggen, Nate Horner, Shane Getson, Janis Irwin, Martin Long, Angela Pitt, Rajan Sawhney, and Travis Toews were recognized by their peers for extraordinary work in service of the people of Alberta. More than half of the 87 MLAs returned the anonymous ballots, according to a report by Canadian Press reporter Dean Bennett.

 

Categories
Alberta Politics

NDP MLA Eric Rosendahl not running for re-election in West Yellowhead, Judge decides Stephen Mandel allowed to run in Edmonton-McClung

New Democratic Party MLA Eric Rosendahl announced this week that he will not be running for re-election when the provincial election is called later this spring. Rosendahl was first elected as the MLA for West Yellowhead in 2015 and had previously announced that he would seek his party’s nomination for re-election in 2019.

Robin Campbell Alberta Finance Yellowhead
Robin Campbell

Rosendahl is the former president of the Hinton Fish & Game Association, Hinton Search and Rescue, and the Yellowhead District Labour Council. He surprised many political watchers when he unseated Progressive Conservative Finance Minister Robin Campbell in the last election. Rosendahl’s campaign spent $748, compared to $25,208 spent by Campbell’s campaign.

While Rosendahl was not initially expected to win in 2015, the NDP does have a traditional voting base in the district, with a significant population of unionized workers employed by the provincial and federal governments, and by private employers at the numerous mills and mines in the region (Campbell had been president of United Mine Workers of America Local 1656 before he was elected in 2008 and is currently President of the Coal Association of Canada). Former Edson mayor Jerry Doyle represented West Yellowhead for the NDP from 1989 to 1993.

Rosendahl gained some negative media attention earlier this year when a former member of his constituency office staff alleged he pressured her to do political work on government time.

West Yellowhead will undergo significant changes when the 2019 is called and its boundaries will expand to include the town of Whitecourt.

The NDP have scheduled a nomination meeting for March 9, 2019. Already nominated in this district are United Conservative Party candidate Martin Long, Alberta Party candidate Kirstie Gomuwka, and Liberal Party candidate Zack Seizmagraff.

Here are some of the latest NDP candidate nomination updates:

Kate Andrews NDP Calgary-Acadia Election Alberta 2019
Kate Andrews

Kate Andrews is the NDP candidate in Calgary-Acadia. Andrews is a lawyer with the Kahane Law Office and has experience in civil and commercial litigation. She is the chair of the Board of Directors for Closer to Home Community Services.

– Lynn MacWilliam is the NDP candidate in the southern Alberta district of Brooks-Medicine Hat. MacWilliam serves on Bassano Town Council and ran for the provincial NDP in Strathmore-Brooks in 2015, earning 15 per cent of the vote, and for the federal NDP in Bow River in 2015, earned 5 per cent of the vote. She previously worked in Ottawa for former Burnaby-Douglas MP Bill Siksay. 

– Hafeez Chishti has been nominated as the NDP candidate in Calgary-North West. Dr. Chishti is a Professional Geologist/Geoscientist and is a member of the Board of Governors of the University of Calgary.

The NDP have also nominated Julia Bietz in Calgary-Lougheed and Rebecca Bounsall in Calgary-Fish Creek. Rosa Evelia Baez Zamora will seek the NDP nomination in Airdrie-East on March 13, 2019, and the NDP will hold nomination meetings in Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills on March 11, 2019, and in Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock and Grande Prairie-Wapiti on March 17, 2019.

Alberta Party

Stephen Mandel Edmonton
Stephen Mandel

After being banned from running as a candidate in the next election because his campaign missed a deadline to file financial disclosure papers with Elections Alberta, Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel‘s lawyers convinced a judge to overturn the ban and allow him to run in Edmonton-McClung when the next election is called.

Mandel became leader of the party in 2018 and served as the PC MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud and Health Minister from 2014 to 2015 and mayor of Edmonton from 2004 to 2013.

He was one of 7 Alberta Party candidates hit with this penalty. Six of the candidates, including Mandel, have now had their bans lifted. Edmonton-Meadows candidate Amrit Matharu remains on the banned list.

Jasbir Dhari has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Calgary-Falconridge.

Liberal Party

Michelle Robinson has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate in Calgary-East. Robinson ran for Calgary City Council in 2017, placing fourth with 6.1 per cent of the vote . She was the first First Nations woman to run for city council in Calgary.

The Liberals have nominated Dan Ejumabone in Calgary-West and Amy Yates in Taber-Warner. Clarie Wilde is seeking the Liberal Party nomination in Edmonton-Rutherford.

Rio Aiello is the nominated Freedom Conservative Party candidate in Calgary-West.

If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!

Categories
Alberta Politics

Nomination updates: NDP MLA Cam Westhead selected in Banff-Kananaskis, Eva Kiryakos chosen as UCP candidate in Calgary-South East

Photo: MLA Cam Westhead at his nomination meeting in Banff-Kananaskis (photo source: Alberta NDP on Twitter)

MLA Cam Westhead was nominated as the New Democratic Party candidate in the newly redrawn Banff-Kananaskis district. Westhead is a Registered Nurse and former treasurer of United Nurses of Alberta Local 115 at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. He was first elected 2015 in the current Banff-Cochrane district with 43 percent of the vote.

Banff-Kananaskis
Banff-Kananaskis

Westhead’s nomination was endorsed at a meeting this week by a number of prominent municipal elected officials from the district, including Canmore Mayor John Borrowman and former town councillor Sean Krausert and Banff town councillor Corrie DiManno. Borrowman is reported to have described Westhead as “a very strong representative of the Bow Valley to the legislature in Edmonton.

He’s an excellent listener, but he doesn’t stop there,” the Rocky Mountain Outlook reported Krausert as saying. “He goes back to Edmonton and talks to the person he needs to talk to and gets something done and he does that time and time again with integrity, with honesty and it’s just been a pleasure to see an MLA do what an MLA is suppose to do.”

Brenda Stanton was nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Banff-Kananskis this week. Stanton is the owner of Back to Basics Hospitality Training & Consulting and is the former president of the Canmore/Kananaskis Chamber of Commerce and former vice chair of Tourism Canmore/Kananaskis.

Eva Kiryakos UCP Calgary South East
Eva Kiryakos

In Calgary-South East, Eva Kiryakos was nominated as the United Conservative Party candidate after Cameron Davies and Matt Jones withdrew from the contest. According to her online biography, Kiryakos has practiced law for 11 years and one of her main campaign promises is to modify or repeal the Protecting Choice for Women Accessing Health Care Act, which seeks to limits protest and harassment of health care workers and patients accessing facilities that offer abortion services in Alberta.

MLA Jon Carson has been nominated as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-West Henday. Carson was first elected as MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark in the 2015 election while earning 57 percent of the vote.

Kristie Gomuwka has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in West Yellowhead. Gomuwka is a director of the Edson Friendship Centre and was a candidate for trustee with the Grande Yellowhead Public School District in October 2017. She is married to Town of Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara.

Martin Long defeated Whitecourt town councillors Paul Chauvet and Ray Hilts, and two-time Wildrose Party candidate and former Hinton town councillor Stuart Taylor to secure the UCP nomination in West Yellowhead today. Long works at the Alberta Newsprint Company paper mill in Whitecourt, is the chairperson of the Tennille’s Hope Soup Kitchen and is a former director of the Whitecourt-Ste. Anne Wildrose Party association.

NDP MLAs duel for nomination in St. Albert

MLAs Trevor Horne and Marie Renaud (photo from St. Albert Public Library on Facebook)
MLAs Trevor Horne and Marie Renaud (photo from St. Albert Public Library on Facebook)

Two NDP MLAs will challenge each other for their party’s nomination in the newly redrawn St. Albert district. In what will be the first contested NDP nomination contest of this cycle, current Spruce Grove-St. Albert MLA Trevor Horne and current St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud will seek the NDP candidacy at a December 12, 2018 nomination meeting.

Renaud had already announced her intentions to seek the nomination months ago, but Horne’s intentions had been unclear. Because of a significant change in the electoral boundaries, Horne’s Spruce Grove-St. Albert district is being split between the new Spruce Grove-Stony Plain, Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland and St. Albert districts, leaving this incumbent without a clear place to seek re-election without challenging fellow NDP MLAs Renaud, Oneil Carlier or Erin Babcock.


UPCOMING NOMINATION MEETINGS

November 17, 2018David Egan, Roger Fodjo, and Ruby Malik are seeking the UCP nomination in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview. Jeffery Walters has withdrawn from the contest. The district is currently represented by NDP MLA Deron Bilous, who was elected with 73.8 percent of the vote.

November 18, 2018 – MLA Oneil Carlier is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate in the new district of Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland. Carlier has represented Whitecourt-Ste. Anne and has served as Minister of Agriculture and Forestry since 2015.


Here are some of the latest updates to this list of candidates running for nominations ahead of Alberta’s 2019 provincial election:

Calgary-Bow – Frank Penkala is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.

Calgary-Falconridge – Gurjinder Dhillon and Raman Gill have withdrawn from the UCP nomination contest.

Sherwood Park – MLA Annie McKitrick has officially filed her intention to seek the NDP nomination for re-election in 2019. McKitrick was first elected in 2015 with 52 percent of the vote and has served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Education since 2017.

If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!

Categories
Alberta Politics

Alberta Candidate Nomination Updates: 3 NDP MLAs nominated and another UCP MLA announces retirement.

New Democratic Party MLAs nominated: Three New Democratic Party MLAs were chosen as their party’s candidates for the next election at meetings held on May 6 and May 12, 2018. MLA Maria Fitzpatrick was nominated in Lethbridge-East and MLA Christina Gray was nominated in Edmonton-Mill Woods on May 6 and MLA Brian Malkinson was nominated in Calgary-Currie at a meeting on May 12, 2018. Gray currently serves as Minister of Labour and Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal.

The NDP have scheduled nomination meetings in Calgary-McCall on June 9, 2018 and June 11, 2018 in Lethbridge-West, where NDP MLA Shannon Phillips has already announced her plans to run for re-election.

Another UCP MLA retiring from politics: United Conservative Party MLA Wes Taylor announced in a note on his Facebook page that he would not seek re-election in 2019. Taylor is recovering from having recently undergone open heart surgery. The Battle River-Wainwright district he has represented since 2015 will be significantly redistributed in the next election into the redrawn CamroseDrumheller-Stettler, and Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright districts.

It’s truly been and honor and a privilege to serve the constituents of Battle River-Wainwright over the past 3 years as…

Posted by Wes Taylor on Monday, May 14, 2018

Taylor is the fifth UCP MLA to announce he will not seek re-election in 2019 (and the sixth if you include former Wildrose leader Brian Jean, who resigned as MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin in March 2018).

Meanwhile, Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao is running for the UCP nomination in the district he has represented since 2015.

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake by-election: Devin Dreeshen defeated five other candidates to win the as the United Conservative Party nomination to run in the upcoming Innisfail-Sylvan Lake by-election. He is son of Red Deer-Mountain View Member of Parliament Earl Dreeshen.

The NDP have scheduled a nomination meeting in that district on May 25, 2018 and are expected to select Nicole Mooney as their candidate. Mooney is an English teacher at St. Joseph’s High School in Red Deer and the Communications and Political Engagement Officer with Alberta Teachers’ Association Local 80.

It appears that Reform Party of Alberta leader Randy Thorsteinson has withdrawn his name from the by-election ballot. He declared his candidacy in February 2018.

A by-election will be called in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake by August 5, 2018 following the resignation of UCP MLA Don MacIntyre in February 2018 after he was charged with sexual assault and sexual interference.

Here are some other updates to the list of candidates running for party nominations across Alberta:

Airdrie-Cochrane Ian Chitwood and Laura Talsma are seeking the UCP nomination. Chitwood is director of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission. Talsma is a Registered Nurse at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre and Bethany Cochrane Long Term Care facility in Calgary.

Brooks-Medicine Hat – Jim Black is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Black ran for the Alberta Party in the Medicine Hat district in the 2015 election, earning 5.7 percent of the vote.

Calgary-McCall – Jasraj Singh Hallan is seeking the UCP nomination.

Calgary-North – Jun Lin is seeking the UCP nomination. He ran in the 2017 Calgary municipal election in Ward 3, placing third with 25 percent of the vote.

Calgary-Varsity – Michael Kim is seeking the UCP nomination. Kim is the president of MKMK Education and MKMK Insurance.

Camrose – Dawn Anderson is seeking the UCP nomination. Anderson is the general manager of the Camrose Resort Casino.

Drumheller-Stettler – Mark Nikota is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Nikota was Mayor of Hanna from 2010 to 2013 and currently works as the Chief Administrative Officer of the Village of Delia. 

Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview – David Egan (not to be confused with David Eggen) is seeking the UCP nomination. He is listed as the Chief Financial Officer of the UCP association in the neighbouring Edmonton-Manning district.

Edmonton-Castle Downs – Gordon Reekie and Ed Ammar are seeking the UCP nomination. Both candidates are Real Estate agents. Ammar served as chair of the UCP interim board until the recent founding convention and was Liberal Party candidate in the neighbouring Edmonton-Decore district in the 2012 election.

Edmonton-Glenora – Immigration consultant Marjorie Newman is seeking the UCP nomination. Carla Stolte is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.

Edmonton-Manning – Jitender Sahni is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.

Edmonton-MeadowsJoel Mullan is seeking the UCP nomination.

Edmonton-North West – Ali Eltayeb is seeking the UCP nomination. He is the owner and manager of Liberty Tax franchises in Edmonton.

Edmonton-Rutherford – Aisha Rauf is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. She is an instructor and according to her website biography is waiting for her PhD Linguistics thesis defence. She was interviewed in a September 2017 episode of the Broadcast.

Edmonton-SouthDan Johnstone, known to some by his nickname “Can Man Dan,” is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Johnston was a candidate for Edmonton City Council in Ward 10 in the 2013 election, placing fourth with 4.9 percent of the vote. He more recently ran in the 2016 by-election for Edmonton City Council’s Ward 12 where he finished with 3.2 percent of the vote.

Edmonton-West HendayWinston Leung is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.

Lesser Slave Lake Garrett Tomlinson is seeking the UCP nomination. Tomlinson served as a councillor in Northern Sunrise County from 2013 to 2017 and country reeve from 2014 to 2017. He is listed online as a communications coordinator for the Lubicon Lake First Nation.

Livingstone-Macleod – Justin Murphy is seeking the UCP nomination. He was a candidate for High River town council in the 2017 municipal election.

Morinville-St. Albert: Joe Gosselin is seeking the UCP nomination. Gosselin is a former Morinville town councillor and was the Wildrose Party candidate in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville in the 2015 election. He originally sought the Wildrose nomination in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock ahead of the last election but was defeated by Glenn van Dijken.

Red Deer-South – Ryan Mcdougal is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.

West Yellowhead – Martin Long is seeking the UCP nomination.

If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them to the list.


Listen to the latest episode of the Daveberta Podcast to hear Dave and Ryan talk about some of the latest nomination news, including tips and advice for candidates fundraising for the next election.