Tag Archives: Maureen Kubinec

Rejection of Gay-Straight Alliances motion shows some Alberta MLAs need a reality check

Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly urge the Government to introduce legislation, like Manitoba’s and Ontario’s, requiring all school boards to develop policies to support students who want to lead and establish gay-straight alliance activities and organizations, using any name that is consistent with the promotion of a positive school environment that is inclusive, welcoming, and respectful for all students regardless of sexuality, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

It was a simple motion introduced on the floor of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly on April 7, 2014 that would help create safer environments for students in schools. Nineteen Liberal, New Democrat, and Progressive Conservative MLAs voted in favour of the motion, but it failed after 31 PC and Wildrose MLAs stood up and voted against it.

Kent Hehr MLA Calgary-Buffalo
Kent Hehr

Motion 503, introduced by Calgary-Buffalo MLA Kent Hehr, was not a piece of binding legislation, it was a symbolic message of that all students, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, can be welcomed and accepted in Alberta’s education system.

Creating safe and supportive environments for all students, including LGBTQ youth who may face discrimination in and outside of school, should be something that is encouraged by MLAs.

Mr. Hehr’s motion undoubtably would have made some social conservatives uncomfortable, but it would have ultimately helped drag some of Alberta’s more stodgy school boards into the 21st century. The motion would not have forced any school board to form student-led gay-straight alliances, but it would have compelled the elected boards to accept the existence of the groups if students in their schools chose to organize them.

Alberta MLA Vote Gay Straight Alliances Vote Motion 503
A map showing the constituencies represented by MLAs who voted in favour (blue) and against (red) Motion 503. White indicates MLAs who were not present for the vote. (Click to enlarge)

Passage of this motion would have sent a strong message that tolerance and acceptance are priorities Alberta’s provincial legislators.

Anti-bullying minister Sandra Jansen voted in favour but Education minister Jeff Johnson voted against it.

Missing from the vote were Premier Dave Hancock and NDP leader Brian Mason, who both later said they would have voted in favour had they been in the Assembly. Wildrose opposition leader Danielle Smith was not present for the vote and it is not clear if she would have voted differently than her party’s MLAs.

The divided PC government caucus also missed an opportunity to send a clear message that they embrace 21st century values by singling out the opposition Wildrose as the only party to unanimously vote against the motion – and remind Albertans of the infamous Lake of Fire.  And for the Wildrose, a vote for the motion, even by one or two of that party’s MLAs, would have done a lot of demonstrate the party is more moderate on social issues than its opponents claim.

In total, 36 MLAs were absent from the vote (minus the Speaker, who abstains from votes of the Assembly).

Voted in Favour: 19
Deron Bilous (NDP)
Laurie Blakeman (LIB)
Neil Brown (PC)
Pearl Calahasen (PC)
Cal Dallas (PC)
Alana DeLong (PC)
David Eggen (NDP)
Kyle Fawcett (PC)
Kent Hehr (LIB)
Ken Hughes (PC)
Sandra Jansen (PC)
Heather Klimchuk (PC)
Jason Luan (PC)
Thomas Luksazuk (PC)
Rachel Notley (NDP)
Don Scott (PC)
Raj Sherman (LIB)
David Swann (LIB)
Teresa Woo-Paw (PC)
Voted against: 31
Moe Amery (PC)
Rob Anderson (WR)
Drew Barnes (WR)
Gary Bikman (WR)
Robin Campbell (PC)
Ron Casey (PC)
Christine Cusanelli (PC)
Ian Donovan (WR)
David Dorward (PC)
Wayne Drysdale (PC)
Jacquie Fenske (PC)
Rick Fraser (PC)
Yvonne Fritz (PC)
Hector Goudreau (PC)
Jeff Johnson (PC)
Linda Johnson (PC)
Maureen Kubinec (PC)
Genia Leskiw (PC)
Bruce McAllister (WR)
Everett McDonald (PC)
Diana McQueen (PC)
Frank Oberle (PC)
Bridget Pastoor (PC)
Dave Rodney (PC)
Bruce Rowe (WR)
Shayne Saskiw (WR)
Richard Starke (PC)
Rick Strankman (WR)
Kerry Towle (WR)
George VanderBurg (PC)
Greg Weadick (PC)

Redford’s Christmas cabinet shuffle

Premier Alison Redford Cabinet Alberta
Premier Alison Redford announced a new cabinet late this afternoon.

As reported yesterday on this blog, rumours that Ms. Redford would shuffle her cabinet before the Christmas break began to intensify this week. Today, those rumours proved to be true.

Built around the government’s “Building Alberta” slogan, today’s Government of Alberta press release boasts a new cabinet that will focus on “innovation and economic growth.” And it signals a growth in numbers of Ms. Redford’s cabinet as well. The size of the cabinet will now be 30 MLAs, up from 27 MLAs in the previous cabinet. There are a total of 59 MLAs in the Progressive Conservative caucus.

Here is a description of some major changes in Alberta’s provincial cabinet:

Dave Hancock MLA Edmonton-Whitemud
Dave Hancock

Dave Hancock: Appointed Deputy Premier and moved from Human Services to Innovation and Advanced Education. Moving Mr. Hancock back to the Advanced Education portfolio he filled from 2004 to 2006 likely signals that Ms. Redford recognizes the need to repair the damage done to Alberta’s colleges and universities under its previous minister. The deep budget cuts imposed by Ms. Redford’s government in 2012 damaged both the post-secondary education system and the government’s relationship the leaders in that system. A well-known policy wonk and party loyalist, Mr. Hancock will be tasked with smoothing over those hard feelings.

Thomas Lukaszuk: The bull-dog of the Progressive Conservative caucus lost his Deputy Premier title and is moved from Enterprise & Advanced Education to a new Jobs, Skills, Training, and Labour portfolio. As Ms. Redford’s ‘heavy-hand’ in cabinet, it is likely that Mr. Lukaszuk will be tasked with imposing controversial new laws on Alberta’s public sector unions.

Manmeet Bhullar
Manmeet Bhullar

Manmeet Bhullar: Moved from Service Alberta to Human Services. This is a big promotion, as Human Services is a large ministry that represents a multitude of components of government services. Mr. Bhullar performed well as Minister of Service Alberta, but this portfolio will present a significant challenge to the new minister.

Diana McQueen: Moved from Environment & Sustainable Resource Development to Energy. With an increased focus on the government’s agenda to support the Keystone XL, Enbridge Northern Gateway and Energy East pipelines, the capable Ms. McQueen is well-armed with arguments to use in advocating for these projects in Canada and the United States.

Robin Campbell: Moved from Aboriginal Relations to Environment & Sustainable Resource Development, a high-profile position which is closely linked with the Energy portfolio. He is also now the Government House leader, a role that has been filled by Mr. Hancock for quite some time.

Doug Griffiths
Doug Griffiths

Doug Griffiths: Demoted from Municipal Affairs to Service Alberta. As Municipal Affairs Minister, Mr. Griffiths stumbled through the high profile items in his portfolio, making his demotion almost inevitable. As minister of the tiny Service Alberta department, Mr. Griffiths will have less chance to embarrass the government and an opportunity to redeem himself in cabinet.

Ken Hughes: Moved from Energy to Municipal Affairs. While this move could easily be seen as a demotion, Mr. Hughes, a trusted confident of Ms. Redford’s, will have an important role in repairing the provincial government’s strained relationship with its municipal leaders – both in the large cities and rural municipalities.

Frank Oberle: Promoted from Associate Minister of Services for Persons with Disabilities to a full-cabinet position as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. Mr. Oberle previously served as Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security and Minister of Sustainable Resource Development.

Wayne Drysdale: Moved from Infrastructure to Transportation, replacing Ric McIver.

Ric McIver: Moved from Transportation to Infrastructure, replacing Wayne Drysdale.

Steve Young: Left his position as Government Whip to become Associate Minister of Public Safety, a new position.

Donna Kennedy-Glans: Departed the backbenchers to become Associate Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, a new position.

George VanderBurg: Appointed the Government Whip. Lost his position as Associate Minister of Seniors. Mr. VanderBurg had previously served as Minister of Government Services, Minister of Seniors, and Acting Minister of Innovation and Science.

A curious addition to the list of cabinet positions in the press release included the Progressive Conservative Caucus Chair, Maureen Kubinec. This appears to be a new addition to the cabinet, though the release was unclear what role this MLA will have at the cabinet table, as there now only remain 29 PC MLAs not included in the list of cabinet positions.

Tories tighten their grip over powerless school boards.

Jeff Johnson Alberta Education Minister MLA
Jeff Johnson

Provincial politicians like school boards.

When popular decisions are made, like opening new schools or announcing new funding, the provincial government takes the credit.

When unpopular decisions need to be made, like closing schools or cancelling programs, then the provincial politicians are more than happy to let the school board trustees take the blame.

As was demonstrated yesterday, provincial politicians also like school boards because they can tell them what to do. When the Calgary Board of Education voted to reject the new province-wide collective agreement negotiated by the Government of Alberta and the Alberta Teachers’ Association, Education Minister Jeff Johnson tabled a bill in the Assembly to force the agreement on all school boards in the province (Premier Alison Redford was unsurprisingly absent during the resulting commotion).

It is important to note that the vast majority of school boards and Locals representing the Alberta Teachers’ Association voted to approve the agreement. Minister Johnson’s bill simply forces the agreement on the few that refused, which happen to include Calgary, the largest school board in Alberta.

Normally, the Calgary Board of Education would have had the opportunity to sit down with the ATA and negotiate a separate local agreement. This is how, until very recently, teachers’ contracts were negotiated.

As the provincial government tightens its grip on the reins of locally elected school boards, locally negotiated teachers’ contracts may become a thing of the past, as could school boards if they ever become inconvenient for their masters in the provincial government.

———

By my count, five of the 87 members of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly previously served as school board trustees: Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Maureen Kubinec, Calgary-Klein MLA Kyle Fawcett, and Edmonton-Decore MLA Janice Sarich, as well as Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and PC MLA Teresa Woo-Paw, who served on the ill-fated Calgary Board of Education from 1998 until the dysfunctional board was fired by the provincial government in 1999.

by-elections replace new mla’s in canmore, fort mcmurray, strathcona, and westlock.

As I wrote about weeks ago, a number of municipal by-elections were held across Alberta this and last week to replace municipal officials who were elected in the April 23 provincial election.

John Borrowman Mayor Canmore
John Borrowman

Canmore By-Election

On June 19, Vi Sanford and Sean Krausert were elected to Canmore Town Council in a by-election held to replace two councillors running in the Mayoral by-election. The Mayoral by-election was called when Mayor Ron Casey was elected as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Banff-Cochrane.

Former Councillor John Borrowman was elected Mayor of Canmore, defeating former councillors Pam Hilstad and Ed Russell.

Stirling By-Election

On June 25, Jonathan Bikman was elected in a Village of Stirling by-election to replace former Mayor Gary Bikman, who is now the Wildrose MLA for Cardston-Taber-Warner. Mr. Bikman received 78 votes, runner-up Coralee Leeson received 60 votes, and Ron Bore received 23 votes.

Strathcona County By-Election

On June 25, Clinton Alexander was elected in a Strathcona County by-election to replace Jacquie Fenske, who is now the PC MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville. Mr. Alexander is the treasurer for the Strathcona-Sherwood Park PC Association.

Mr. Alexander finished with 304 votes, defeating Jen Heaton with 187 votes, Bev Williamson with 94 votes, and Alec Babich with 40 votes.

Westlock County By-Election

On June 25, Jim Wiese was elected in a Westlock County by-election to replace newly elected Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock PC MLA Maureen Kubinec. Mr. Wiese won with 134 votes. The runner-up was Herb Smerychynski, who took 40 votes. Cal Busby came in third with 23 votes.

Wood Buffalo By-Election

On June 25, Colleen Tatum and Christine Burton were elected in the by-elections to replace former Wood Buffalo councillors Don Scott and Mike Allen, who were both elected to represent Fort McMurray in the recent provincial election. Keith McGrath, who resigned as a trustee on the Catholic School Board, placed a close third. Voter turnout was estimated to be around 9%.

local by-elections heating up across alberta.

Alberta Municipal By-Elections 2012
Municipal by-elections are heating up across Alberta.

As I first mentioned in a previous post, the election of municipal politicians as Members of the Legislative Assembly in the recent provincial election has triggered a handful of municipal by-elections across Alberta. Most of these municipalities have now set dates for by-elections to fill these vacant positions.

Harold Bulford
Harold Bulford

June 11 - A by-election in Division 1 of the County of Grande Prairie has attracted five candidates. Alvin McEwen, Andrew Muise, DJ Golden, Greg Moody, and Harold Bulford have put their names forward to replace new Grande Prairie-Smoky Progressive Conservative MLA Everett McDonald. As an Independent candidate in the recent provincial election, Mr. Muise earned 209 votes.

June 19 – The election of Town of Canmore Mayor Ron Casey as the PC MLA for Banff-Cochrane has triggered a mayoral by-election, and subsequently a by-election to replace two councillors who are candidates in the mayoral contest. Councillors John Borrowman and Ed Russell, and former Councillor Pam Hilstad are seeking the mayor’s chair.

Sean Krausert Canmore
Sean Krausert

Contesting the two vacant council positions in the Town of Canmore are Jason BestKaren Greene, Brian Hyland, former Canadian Rockies School Trustee Shirley Ketterer, Sean Krausert, Occupy Calgary participant James Louden, current Canadian Rockies School Trustee Vi Sandford, recent PC nomination candidate Rob Seeley, and Victor Zablotni. The candidate in this contest with the most unique background may be Mr. Krausert, an improv actor and former lawyer who also worked as an educator in Sierra Leone, where he helped rehabilitate former child soldiers through a theatre program.

June 25 is the super Monday of municipal by-elections with five separate votes happening across the province.

In Strathcona County, Bev Williamson, Clinton Alexander, Jen Heaton, and Alec Babich will contest the by-election in Ward 5 to replace new Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville MLA Jacquie Fenske. A man by the name of Alec Babich was arrested and charged with mischief by RCMP last year after a suspicious package was left on a reception desk at Strathcona County’s main office last year.

Christine Burton Fort McMurray
Christine Burton

June 25 – The two vacancies in District 1 of Wood Buffalo’s municipal council were the result of two councillors, Mike Allen and Don Scott, having been elected as MLA’s in Fort McMurray’s two constituencies. An extraordinary fourteen candidates have stepped forward to run in the by-election. Candidates include Chris Alton, local radio host James Anthony, Tyran Ault, past council candidate Byron Bailey, Christine Burton, Valance Howard, Shafique Khan, former Catholic School Board Trustee Keith McGrath, John Mulhall, Bill Nahirney, past mayoral candidate Joe “The Plumber” Nebesny, local pastor Robert Parmenter, Colleen Tatum, and Matt Youens.

Earlier this year, Mr. McGrath considered seeking for the Wildrose Party nomination in Fort McMurray-Conklin, but eventually declined to seek the nomination.

Stephen Drover Fort McMurray
Stephen Drover

A by-election to fill a vacancy on the Fort McMurray Public School Board will be held on the same day. Trustee Stephanie Blackler, who was first elected in 2010, has decided to move home to Newfoundland to pursue business opportunities. Three candidates have entered the race, including former trustee Glenn Doonanco, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union Local vice-president Stephen Drover, and school council activist Munira Manji.

June 25 – In the Village of Sterling, candidates Jonathan Bikman, Ronald Bore, and Coralee Leeson have stepped forward to seek the mayoralty, which was made vacant when Wildrose candidate Gary Bikman was elected as the MLA for Cardston-Taber-Warner. Jonathan Bikman is presumably a relative of Gary Bikman, and is listed as Vice-President Operations of Chopstix (Gary Bikman is President).

June 25Cal BusbyHerb Smerychynski, and Jim Wiese are standing to replace former Westlock County councillor Maureen Kubinec, who was elected as the PC MLA for Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock.

The Town of Rimbey may hold a by-election in July to replace former councillor Joe Anglin, who is now the Wildrose MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre.

[updated] election of rookie mla’s kicks off municipal by-elections across alberta.

The results of the April 23 provincial general election in Alberta will cause a series of municipal by-elections as some successful candidates move from the previously held municipal roles into their new jobs as Members of the Legislative Assembly.

William Choy Mayor Stony Plain Alberta
New Stony Plain Mayor William Choy

In the Town of Stony Plain, newly elected Stony Plain Progressive Conservative MLA Ken Lemke has been replaced as Mayor by William Choy, who was chosen in a May 1 by-election. Mr. Lemke resigned as Mayor in February 2012.

In the Town of Canmore, three candidates have declared their candidacy in the June 19 by-election to replace former Mayor and newly elected Banff-Cochrane PC MLA Ron Casey. In the race are former Councillor Pam Hilstad, as well as recent Councillors Ed Russell and John Borrowman, who were required to resign their council positions to seek the Mayor’s job (creating two vacancies on Town Council which will be filled in a by-election also held on June 19).

Everett McDonald MLA Grande Prairie-Smoky
New MLA Everett McDonald

On June 25, the Municipal District of Wood Buffalo will hold a by-election to fill two vacancies created when PC candidate Don Scott was elected in Fort McMurray-Conklin and PC candidate Mike Allen was elected in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. So far, Christine Burton is the only candidatelisted in the media as have declared her intention to run.

A June 11 by-election in the County of Grande Prairie will be held to replace former District 1 Councillor and Reeve Everett McDonald, who was elected as the PC MLA for Grande Prairie-Smoky. Mr. McDonald was first elected to the County Council in 1992. Bezanson District Fire Captain Harold Bulford and realtor D.J. Golden have entered the contest.

A by-election in Strathcona County will be held on June 25 to fill the vacancy created by former Councillor Jacquie Fenske, who was elected to succeed retiring Premier Ed Stelmach as the PC MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville.

Jacquie Fenske MLA Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville
New MLA Jacquie Fenske

Westlock County Reeve Charles Navratil told the Westlock News on April 23 that the County will likely hold a by-election to replace newly elected Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock PC MLA Maureen Kubinec.

By-elections are also expected to be held in the Town of Rimbey to replace newly elected Sundre-Rocky Mountain House-Rimbey Wildrose MLA Joe Anglin and in Vulcan County to replace Little Bow Wildrose MLA Ian Donovan.

Other municipal politicians making the jump to provincial politics after April 23 are Village of Beiseker Mayor Bruce Rowe, who was elected as Wildrose MLA for Olds-Disbury-Three Hills, and Village of Stirling Deputy Mayor Gary Bikman, who was elected as the Wildrose MLA for Cardston-Taber-Warner.

According to Section 162 of the Municipal Government Act, a council must hold a by-election to fill a vacancy on council unless (a) the vacancy occurs in the 6 months before a general election, or (b) the council consists of 6 or more councillors and the vacancy occurs (i) in the 18 months before a general election and there is only one vacancy, or (ii) in the 12 months before a general election and the number of councillors remaining is at least one more than the majority of the number of councillors compromising the council. The next municipal general election will be held in October 2013.

UPDATE (May 21, 2012): The County of Westlock will hold a by-election to replace Ms. Kubinec on June 25. The County of Vulcan will not be holding a by-election to replace Mr. Donovan.

return to the dome and inside baseball politics.

Alberta Legislative Assembly Building
Alberta's Legislative Assembly Building

With election withdrawal setting in like a bad hangover, much of the media attention this week focused on the 38 rookie MLA’s attending outgoing Speaker Ken Kowalski‘s Legislature 101 course and the resumption of inside baseball politics under the Dome.

Bridget Pastoor Alison Redford
Bridget Pastoor and Premier Alison Redford (photo from PremierofAlberta Flickr account)

Cabinet Speculation
Rumours abound about who might end up in Premier Redford’s new cabinet, which is expected to be appointed next week. While Tory stalwarts such as Dave Hancock, Doug Horner, Thomas Lukaszuk, and Doug Griffiths are almost certainly in line to keep a spot at the cabinet table, the retirement and defeat of a number of Tory MLAs and cabinet minister may have opened spots for new faces at the table.

I will be watching to see if newly elected MLA’s Donna Kennedy-Glans, Ken Hughes, Ron Casey, Don Scott, and Maureen Kubinec, and former Liberal MLA Bridget Pastoor (who crossed the floor to the Tories in 2011) are appointed to the new cabinet.

MLA Pay Recommendations
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Major released his recommendations to reform how MLA’s are paid. Regardless of which recommendations are adopted, this is the type of issue that will never really go away (someone will always be displeased with how much or how little our elected officials are paid).

We ask (nay, demand) our public office holders to do their very best 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. A $134,000 base salary does not seem unreasonable to me.

Gene Zwozdesky
Gene Zwozdesky

Electing a new Speaker
The first order of business when the Assembly convenes this Spring will be the election of a new Speaker for the first time since 1997. Candidates in the running include Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman and Tory MLA’s Gene ZwozdeskyWayne Cao, and Mary Anne Jablonski.

Premier’s new Chief of Staff
Premier Alison Redford appointed Calgary lawyer Farouk Adatia as her Chief of Staff. Mr. Adatia replaces Stephen Carter, who was temporarily replaced by Elan McDonald in March 2012 (Mr. Carter took a leave of absence to work on the PC Party campaign). Mr. Adatia was the unsuccessful PC candidate in Calgary-Shaw in the recent election and had previously attempted to win the PC nomination in Calgary-Hawkwood.

Wildrose Critics
The new Wildrose Official Opposition Caucus captured some earned media this week by releasing their list of critic positions. Leader Danielle Smith will take personal responsibility for “Cities” (i.e.: Calgary and Edmonton), where her party faired poorly during the recent election.

Mandel to Smith: Pick up the Phone
In the most bizarre story of the week, Ms. Smith told the media that she had asked Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi to “broker a peace summit” between herself and Mayor Stephen Mandel. Over the past three years, the Calgary-based Ms. Smith has publicly opposed some high-profile decisions made by Edmonton City Council.

Mayor Mandel quite correctly responded to Ms. Smith’s “peace summit” comment by saying if she wanted to talk with him she could pick up the phone. One can only imagine how this relationship would have started if Ms. Smith had actually been elected Premier last week.

communications problems.

2012-04-10 Maureen Kubinec Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock PC Election Candidate 2012
A half-page advertisement promoting PC candidate Maureen Kubinec in the St. Albert Gazette.

One of the most interesting features of the first two weeks of Alberta’s election campaign has been just how different the messaging of the two main campaigns have been.

The challenging Wildrose Party has presented a campaign with clear messaging with their five pledges to Albertans, consistent branding, and leader Danielle Smith has had much better photo-ops than her opponents. From the very beginning of the campaign, the Wildrose campaign was able to put the 41-year governing Progressive Conservatives on the defensive, a position that the big blue party is not used to playing.

Alison Redford Not Your Father's PC Party
Not your father's PC Party (via @hatrockscave)

It has been difficult to dissect what exactly is the message that the 41-year governing Progressive Conservative Party is trying to communicate to Albertans. While Premier Alison Redford has made numerous policy announcements in the first two weeks campaign, including investments in education and health care, but the committee pay fiasco and scuffles with voters seem to have been the dominant stories coming from their campaign.

The half-page advertisement (above) from the campaign of Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock PC candidate Maureen Kubinec may be an indication of the difficulty that some campaigns are having in communicating with voters. In many rural constituencies, like the one that Ms. Kubinec is standing in, it has been decades since the Tories have faced a real challenge.

With still two weeks left in the campaign and a hotly anticipated Leaders’ Debate later this week, there is still time for the Tories to catch up. They may have to pull out all the stops, but I would not count them out yet.

15 races to watch in alberta’s 2012 election.

In the lead up to the Alberta’s 2012 election, I have identified fifteen constituencies across the province that could produce interesting contests and results when the election is called.

15 races to watch in Alberta's 2012 election.
15 races to watch in Alberta's 2012 election.

1) Highwood
The Wildrose Party has staked their future in the success of leader Danielle Smith and I expect that party will pull out all the stops to ensure she is elected. The PCs have nominated newspaper editor John Barlow to replace retiring PC MLA George Groeneveld.

2) Edmonton-Meadowlark
This area has deep Liberal roots, having first elected MLA Grant Mitchell in 1986, but since 2001 it has become a swing-riding electing both Liberals and PCs. Currently held by former PC MLA and now Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman, the next vote will be a test of his personal popularity as he runs under his new party’s banner. He will face former PC MLA Bob Maskell, who served from 2001 until 2004.

3) Edmonton-Calder
Voters in this constituency are notorious swing-voters. No incumbent has been re-elected here since 1997. Current PC MLA Doug Elniski made a last minute announcement that he would not seek re-election, leaving former school trustee and newly nominated candidate Bev Esslinger not a lot of time to catch up. Former MLA David Eggen has been campaigning in Calder for the past three years and is expected to launch a well-organized campaign. Wildrose candidate Rich Neumann may play kingmaker if he is able to attract enough past PC voters.

4) Calgary-Glenmore
In 2009, outgoing Wildrose leader Paul Hinman narrowly won a hotly contested by-election that was seen as a referendum on then-Premier Ed Stelmach‘s popularity in Calgary (which was low). With new Premier Alison Redford representing the neighboring constituency, PC candidate Linda Johnson may receive a warmer reception at the doors. Throw into the mix former Mount Royal College instructor Craig Cheffins, who served as the Liberal MLA for Calgary-Elbow from 2007 to 2008, and the outcome of this race could be difficult to predict.

5) Edmonton-Glenora
Represented by both PC and Liberal MLAs over the past twenty years, this constituency could be a key battleground for five opposition parties in the next election. Former Liberal MLA Bruce Miller is challenging PC cabinet minister Heather Klimchuk, who unseated him by 136 votes in 2008. Rev. Miller is not the only challenger in this election. The Alberta Party is pinning their hopes on former school trustee Sue Huff, the NDP have nominated former MLA and leader Ray Martin, and the Wildrose have chosen past Mayoral candidate Don Koziak.

6) Calgary-Varsity
With the retirement of popular two-term Liberal MLA Harry Chase, the Liberals have nominated former carpenters’ union official Bruce Payne, who ran for that party’s leadership in 2011. The PCs have chosen former Nexen vice-president Donna Kennedy-Glans. The results of this race will be a critical indicator of whether the Liberals can hold on to, and build on, important gains made in Calgary during the past two elections.

7) Chestermere-Rockyview
Energy Minister Ted Morton will face off against former Global Calgary news anchor and Wildrose candidate Bruce McAllister. The Wildrose attacked Minister Morton’s credentials as a “fiscal mallard” while he was Finance Minister and by nominating Mr. McAllister they are showing that they will not give him a pass in the next election.

8 ) Airdrie
When first-term PC MLA Rob Anderson joined the Wildrose in 2010, he automatically became a target of his former party, who have nominated Alderman Kelly Hegg as their candidate. The Airdrie area has typically voted for the PCs, but voters in this region have been known to elect opposition candidates in the past (Western Canadian Concept MLA Gordon Kesler was elected in 1982 and Liberal MLA Don MacDonald was elected in 1992).

9) Cardston-Taber-Warner
After being unseated by Wildorse MLA Mr. Hinman in 2004, PC MLA Broyce Jacobs won a narrow victory in 2008. Fast forward to 2012, Mr. Jacobs has lost his party’s nomination to Pat Shimbashi and the Wildrose has nominated Sterling Deputy Mayor Gary Bikman. If the Wildrose are to pick up seats in the election, this will likely be one.

10) Edmonton-Rutherford
In a rematch of the closest race of the 2008 election, PC MLA Fred Horne will face former Liberal MLA Rick Miller. While 2008 a two-way contest, the 2012 contest is more interesting with the presence of community organizer and Alberta Party candidate Michael Walters and Wildrose candidate Kyle McLeod.

11) Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo
After winning four elections as this constituency’s PC candidate, late-blooming Wildrose MLA Guy Boutilier will face Wood Buffalo deputy mayor Mike Allen in the upcoming vote. After decades as a municipal and provincial politician, this election may be more a test of Mr. Boutilier’s personal support than that of his new party.

12) Edmonton-Gold Bar
A Liberal Party stronghold since 1986, the retirement of MLA Hugh MacDonald and the redistribution of electoral boundaries south encompassing Tory-voting neighbourhoods may give second-time PC candidate David Dorward a boost. Liberal candidate Josipa Petrunic is a well-spoken and passionate partisan who hopes to hold the constituency for her party. The NDP have nominated Marlin Schmidt and hope to capitalize on local support for NDP MP Linda Duncan.

13) Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview
A close contest in 2008 saw former PC MLA Tony Vandermeer defeat NDP MLA Ray Martin. In 2012, Mr. Vandermeer will face a strong challenge from NDP candidate Deron Bilous.

14) Lethbridge-West
After twenty years of close races, voters in this constituency have proven themselves to be deeply divided between the PCs and Liberals. This election, first-term PC MLA Greg Weadick and second-time Liberal candidate Bal Boora will be joined by NDP candidate Shannon Phillips, who has launched a spirited campaign, and Wildrose candidate Kevin Kinahan. Even if Mr. Weadick is re-elected, the real story may be who places second in this politically moderate southern Alberta constituency.

15) Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock
After more than three decades in the Assembly, the departure of PC MLA Ken Kowalski has created a large void to fill in this constituency north of Edmonton. The PCs have nominated Westlock County Councillor Maureen Kubinec, who will face off against her main opponent Wildrose candidate Link Byfield. Mr. Byfield has been campaigning for more than a year and could make gains if he is able to tap into the base of social conservative voters in this constituency.

tories nearing a full-slate of candidates, opposition parties all over the map in election preparation.

After a week away from the blogging world, I spent some time this weekend catching up with plenty of election nomination candidate updates. Alberta’s political parties are all in varying degrees of preparation for the upcoming election and for the next session of the Legislative Assembly. The Spring sitting of the Assembly begins this week and the provincial budget is expected to be tabled by Finance Minister Ron Liepert by the end of the week.

NOMINATION UPDATES

Following a busy few days of more than 20 nomination meetings across Alberta, the Progressive Conservatives now have nominated 85 candidates in 87 constituencies.

Recently nominated PC candidates include Linda Johnson in Calgary-Glenmore, Bridget Pastoor in Lethbridge-East, Steve Young in Edmonton-Riverview, Kelly Hegg in Airdrie, Ron Casey in Banff-Cochrane, Maureen Kubinec in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock, Christine Cusanelli in Calgary-Currie, Jason Luan in Calgary-Hawkwood, Donna Kennedy-Glans in Calgary-Varsity, Mike Allen in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, Everett McDonald in Grande Prairie-Smoky, John Barlow in Highwood, John Kolk in Little Bow, Cris Basualdo in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood, Matt Jeneroux in Edmonton-South West, Stephen Khan in St. AlbertSandra Jansen in Calgary-North West, and Bev Esslinger in Edmonton-Calder.

In Edmonton-Mill WoodsSohail Qadri defeated controversy-prone one-term MLA Carl Benito to win the PC nomination. Mr. Benito is the third PC MLA to lose a nomination contest in the run up to the next provincial election. The PCs have been unable to find candidates to run in Calgary-Buffalo and Edmonton-Strathcona.

The NDP, with more than 70 nominated candidates, acclaimed University of Alberta student Aditya Rao as a candidate in Drumheller-Stettler last weekend.

The Liberal Party, with only 29 candidates nominated, recently chose Pete Helfrich in Banff-CochraneWilson McCutchan in Calgary-WestLes Vidok in Innifail-Sylvan Lake and Jason Chilibeck in Red Deer-South. Liberal leader Raj Sherman is expected to release key parts of his party’s election platform in Calgary and Edmonton today.

By my estimate, the Wildrose Party has 81 candidates chosen across the province, including recently nominated Tim Dyck in Calgary-Bow and Tim Copithorne in Banff-Cochrane. The party held a campaign school in Red Deer last weekend, drawing candidates and campaign workers from across the province. The Wildrose Party has been accused of launching another round of negative push polls aimed at Premier Alison Redford.

The Alberta Party recently nominated Brandon Beasley in Calgary-Shaw and will soon nominate candidates Midge Lambert in Battle River-Wainwright. On March 4, Alberta Party members in Lacombe-Ponoka will choose either Tony Jeglum or Brent Chalmers as their candidate in a contested nomination.

EVERGREEN PARTY

Celebrating two years since reforming their organization, the Alberta Party is no longer the newest kid on the political block. Rising from the ashes of the financially-mangled and now-defunct Alberta Green Party is the new EverGreen Party. Leader Larry Ashmore is carrying his party’s banner in Livingstone-Macleod. Mr. Ashmore earned 937 votes as the Green Party candidate in Foothills-Rockyview in the 2008 election.

THE RETURN OF JAMES FORD

In the electoral realm beyond political parties, Sherwood Park Independent owner James Ford announced that he will run as an Independent candidate in Sherwood Park. Mr. Ford is better known as the Independent candidate who placed a strong second to Conservative Tim Uppal in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. Mr. Ford’s candidacy in the federal elections were in response to Mr. Uppal’s nomination win over Strathcona County Councillor Jacquie Fenske, which many in the local Conservative establishment believed to be unfair. Ms. Fenske is now the nominated PC candidate in the neighbouring Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville constituency.