Tag Archives: Mo Elsalhy

Another PC MLA abandons Redford for the Harper Tories

David Xiao - Edmonton-West Conservative

A pamphlet for MLA David Xiao’s campaign for the Conservative nomination in Edmonton-West.

Another Progressive Conservative MLA is about to jump into the federal arena. Edmonton-McClung PC MLA David Xiao will announce this week that he will seek the Conservative Party nomination in Edmonton-West.

An email circulated to Conservative supporters in Edmonton says that Mr. Xiao will make the announcement at 10 a.m on Tuesday March 4th, 2014 at the Edmonton Glenora Club. The email included a pamphlet with endorsements from former premier Ed Stelmach, former mayor Stephen Mandel, former cabinet minister Ted Morton and current cabinet ministers Jonathan Denis and Manmeet Bhullar.

After failing to secure the Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Centre in advance of the 2004 election, Mr. Xiao unseated Liberal MLA Mo Elsalhy in 2008. He defeated Mr. Elsalhy in a rematch in the 2012 election. Mr. Xiao has been criticized for claiming extravegant travel expenses, which were $35,000 in 2012.

Mr. Xiao is the third MLA to jump into federal politics.

Calgary-Foothills PC MLA Len Webber is seeking the Conservative nomination in Calgary-Confederation.

Liberal MLA Darshan Kang announced he will seek the Liberal Party nomination in the new Calgary-Skyview riding. One of five Liberals in the Assembly, Mr. Kang is currently serving his second term representing Calgary-McCall.

a wildrose government will need a real opposition.

Danielle Smith Alberta Wildrose

Danielle Smith with Wildrose MLA's Paul Hinman, Heather Forsyth, and Rob Anderson in 2010.

Despite questioning climate science and refusing to remove one candidate who railed against a policy to protect sexual minorities in public schools and another who claimed his skin colour as a political advantageDanielle Smith‘s Wildrose Party appears set to form a government after April 23.

If the Wildrose Party does succeed in electing enough MLA’s to form a government next Monday, unseating the 41-year governing Progressive Conservatives, Albertans should be asking themselves about which parties are best positioned to form effective opposition over the next four years? This election is as much about a change of government as it is about a change of opposition parties.

Alison Redford Alberta Election 2012 Conservative leader

Alison Redford

The PCs have governed the province since Peter Lougheed led that party to its first victory in the 1971 election. Behind in the polls for the past three weeks, Alison Redford‘s PCs have begun to quietly urge non-conservative urban voters to cast strategic votes for their party to block the chances of the Wildrose Party forming a government. With six days left in the election campaign, it may be too late for the PCs or urban voters to block a Wildrose government.

After four decades in government, there may be no one left in the PC Party who remembers what it is like to be an opposition party (or may no longer have an interest in supporting that party in opposition). As a conservative opposition party it is also unclear what policy differences it could present to contrast itself with a similarly conservative governing party. As a new website launched today reminds voters, the PC Party also has its share of MLA’s with extremist social conservative views.

The survival and success of the PCs as an opposition party may entirely depend on which Tory MLA’s are elected on April 23.

Voters who want more than two conservative voices in the Assembly should ignore the calls for strategic voting and cast their votes for the candidates and parties who best represent their views.

Raj Sherman Liberal leader 2012 Alberta Election

Raj Sherman

The Alberta Liberals, led by former Tory MLA Raj Sherman, have presented a good platform that focuses on health care, education, municipalities, and touches on controversial issues like tax increases.

From an experience standpoint, the Liberal Party’s slate of candidates includes a number of former MLAs, including Mo Elsalhy, Weslyn Mather, Bruce Miller, and Rick Miller, who served in the opposition benches from 2004 to 2008.

Unfortunately for the Liberals, being the official opposition since 1993 has not translated into their becoming the next government and the ingrained historical hostility felt by many Albertans towards the party suggests its chances of long-term growth are limited.

Brian Mason Alberta NDP leader 2012 Election

Brian Mason

During this election campaign the NDP led by Brian Mason has focused on skyrocketing utility costs, taking a friendlier position towards resource development, and expanding and protecting public medicare. The NDP are in a good position to make gains in Edmonton. A number of NDP Members of Parliament, including Olivia Chow, Jack Harris, Niki Ashton, and Peter Julian are making campaign stops in the province during the final week of the election.

As an opposition party, the NDP would certainly provide Albertans with clear policy differences from both the PC’s and the Wildrose Party.

Sue Huff Alberta Party Edmonton-Glenora

Sue Huff

Over the next four years, the Alberta Party may be in the best position to help build a real centrist-progressive alternative to a Wildrose Party government. Despite having never elected an MLA, the party has been punching above its weight during this campaign in terms of organization and media coverage. The question will be whether the party can survive as a political movement if it does not succeed in electing an MLA.

Candidates like community organizer Michael Walters in Edmonton-Rutherford and former school trustee Sue Huff in Edmonton-Glenora have been running strong local campaigns, which could produce some surprising results on election day.

Last weekend, more than 100 Alberta Party volunteers delivered flyers to 5,500 homes in Edmonton-Rutherford in less than an hour.

in alberta politics, what once was old is new again.

Premier Alison Redford is expected to introduce new fixed-election date legislation in the postponed fall sitting of the Assembly, expected to sit in late November. In 2009, I wrote:

“In April 2008, St. Albert PC MLA Ken Allred introduced a Private Member’s Bill, Bill 203: Election Statutes (Fixed Election Dates), in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta that would have created fixed-election dates in our province. The Bill received very little public debate in the Legislature and was opposed by MLAs in the PC caucus, including Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Richard Marz, who argued to the media that fixed-election dates would allow public sector unions to strike in conjunction with elections.

In May 2008, Marz introduced a motion that “Bill 203, the Election Statutes (Fixed Election Dates) Amendment Act, 2008, be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence.” Marz’s motion was passed when 36 PC MLAs (including Allred) out-voted 5 opposition MLAs.”

Now it is November 2011, the Progressive Conservatives are still in office, Premier Ed Stelmach is gone, Premier Redford is in, Mr. Marz is retiring, Mr. Allred is being challenged for the PC nomination (and may retire), and Alberta might get fixed-election dates.

The Alberta Liberals announced with a gleeful media release this week that Alex MacDonald would be joining their caucus staff as a part-time strategist. Political watchers may remember Mr. MacDonald as the Chief of Staff to former Edmonton Mayor and Liberal Party leader Laurence Decore in the 1980s and early 1990s.

A seasoned strategist, Mr. MacDonald is said to be the man behind Mr. Decore’s infamous ‘debt clock’ that helped launch the Liberals into Official Opposition status in the 1993 election (and their best showing since the 1917 election). While the addition of Mr. MacDonald may boost their roster, it eats into the narrative that Tory MLA-turned-Liberal leader Dr. Raj Sherman is promoting about the birth (or re-birth) of the “new Liberals.”

Also biting into Dr. Sherman’s “new Liberals” narrative is the nomination of five former one-term MLAs as his party’s candidates in five potentially winnable constituencies – Mo Elsalhy in Edmonton-McClung, Bharat Agnihotri in Edmonton-Ellerslie, Weslyn Mather in Edmonton-Mill Woods, Rick Miller in Edmonton-Rutherford, and Bruce Miller in Edmonton-Glenora. Some of these are good candidates, but certainly not new.

A new face in the next election, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith has floated in conservative political circles since the 1990s and two of her party’s four MLAs have been in the Assembly for more than a decade. The “nascent” or “rookie” Alberta Party has existed in various forms since the 1980s and their leader Glenn Taylor ran for the NDP in the 1997 election.

Refusing to believe that new will ever be old or old will ever be new, the New Democrats have put a fresh face on an veteran politician. NDP leader Brian Mason has a fresh face – at least for the short-term – as he has shaved his mustache for Movember to raise awareness about prostate cancer. Mr. Mason has told the media that his trademark cookie-duster will return, meaning that once again, old will be new again.

NDP leader Brian Mason sans mustache

The new face of Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason (sans mustache).

alberta politics notes 3/04/2011

Three years later.
What a change three years can make. On March 3, 2008, Premier Ed Stelmach led the PCs to a massive majority, winning 72 of 83 seats in the Assembly. The sweep saw the Kevin Taft led Liberals halved from 16 MLAs to 9 MLAs and that party’s stronghold in Edmonton wither to three seats, Brian Mason‘s NDP were reduced from 4 to 2 MLAs, and the Wildrose Alliance‘s leader and only MLA Paul Hinman was defeated in Cardston-Taber-Warner (he would later be elected in the 2009 Calgary-Glenmore by-election). The election also marked the lowest voter-turnout in Alberta’s history as almost 60% of Albertans did not exercise the vote.

Alberta MPs caught in campaign scandal
A staffer in Calgary-Southeast Conservative MP and Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney‘s office in Ottawa has resigned after being caught using ministerial letterhead to solicit donations for the Conservative Party.

The letter was discovered when it was accidentally delivered to Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MP Linda Duncan‘s Ottawa office. Unfortunately for Ms. Duncan, her office does not have much moral authority on this issue. In February 2010, a conservative blogger discovered that Ms. Duncan’s Constituency Assistant and Campaign Manager Erica Bullwinkle had used her Parliamentary email account for campaign purposes.

More Tories join Wildrose
Former Finance Minister Lyle Oberg is not the only former Tory member to join the Wildrose Alliance. Perennial Edmonton PC nomination candidate Ian Crawford has also signed up for a Wildrose membership. Mr. Crawford, who last ran unsuccessfully for the PC nomination in Edmonton-Meadowlark against Raj Sherman and (now-Liberal Party executive) Debbie Cavaliere in 2007, is the son of former PC cabinet minister Neil Crawford.

Liberals tackle health care
The Liberals are without a long-term leader, but that has not stopped them from focusing on health care – an issue I believe could be their ticket back to relevance before the next election, especially while the Wildrose continues to push for increased privatization inside the health care system.

Gary Mar
Alberta’s representative in Washington DC, former cabinet minister Gary Mar, has been expected to announce his entry into the PC leadership contest for the past few weeks. Mr. Mar’s website domain name was registered by a supporter in January and he recently popped up on Facebook with a brand new profile page (I have sent in a friend request).

 

Gary Mar has joined Facebook (and Ted Morton ads).

AHS Chair joining PC contest?
Alberta Health Services Chairman Ken Hughes‘ name has been bandied around as a potential candidate for the PC leadership contest. The former PC MP and insurance industry executive has reportedly been testing the waters through phone polls over the past few weeks.

Immunity challenge
Raj Sherman, serious allegations, wants immunity.

Deputy Pastoor
Lethbridge-East MLA Bridget Pastoor replaced Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman as Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition this week. Ms. Blakeman, who is seeking the Liberal leadership, will continue in her other critic roles.

Nominations
I have updated the list of nominated and declared election candidates to include two PC MLAs who were nominated this week, PC leadership candidate and former Justice Minister Allison Redford was chosen as her party’s candidate in Calgary-Elbow at a nomination meeting this week. Ms. Redford was first elected in 2008, unseating Liberal MLA Craig Cheffins in a close-fought campaign. Elbow was represented by Ralph Klein from 1989 until his resignation in 2007, when Mr. Cheffins was elected in a by-election.

Red Deer-South PC MLA Cal Dallas won his party’s nomination in the constituency he was first elected to represent in 2008.

YouTube
The Calgary Herald has been posting a number of YouTube video interviews on their website. In this one, pollster Janet Brown offers some thoughts on the PC leadership contest:

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.

liberal leadership poll: erick ambtman who?

Liberal Party President Erick Ambtman edged out Calgary-Buffalo MLA Kent Hehr in the latest blog poll asking readers of this blog who they thought should replace Calgary-Mountain View MLA David Swann as leader of his party. In close third is former Edmonton Member of Parliament Anne McLellan, a high-profile name in Alberta politics.

In a distant fourth is the only candidate to have actually declared interest in seeking the job, Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman.

Mr. Ambtman is a virtual unknown to most people outside Liberal Party and some other political circles, but his performance at a media conference following Dr. Swann’s resignation announcement gave him an opportunity to show off some of his respectable speaking skills to the media. If he does not seek his party’s leadership, he could be a strong candidate in the next election.

nominations update – edmonton.

As the contests to replace the leaders of the governing Progressive Conservative Party and the Opposition Liberal Party and new Alberta Party grab the media spotlight, political parties have been quietly nominating candidates for the next election. I have been keeping track of the nominated and declared candidates across the province and this post focuses on the candidates stepping up to stand for election in Edmonton.

There is little reason to believe that constituencies in Edmonton will be any less competitive than they have been over the past 25 years and the rise of the Wildrose Alliance in public opinion polls will certainly effect the electoral environment in ways that we have not seen in previous elections.

Edmonton ridings with nominated NDP candidates (as of March 1, 2011).

Edmonton-Calder
Former MLA David Eggen has secured the NDP nomination and will attempt to win back the constituency that he represented from 2004 to 2008. The boundary changes presented in the interim report of the Electoral Boundaries Committee convinced Mr. Eggen to initially seek his party’s nomination in neighboring Edmonton-Glenora, but the final report’s boundaries shifted key neighbourhoods back to his former constituency.

The incumbent MLA, PC backbencher Doug Elniski, defeated Mr. Eggen by 201 votes in 2008. An amiable guy, Mr. Elniski has suffered from a few unfortunate public mis-speaks in his first term. Calder may be the truest “swing-riding” in Alberta, as it has been represented by PCs, New Democrats, and Liberals since 1986 and in the same time only twice re-elected an incumbent to a second term.

Edmonton-Clareview
Incumbent backbench PC MLA Tony Vandermeer was elected in 2008 by defeating NDP MLA Ray Martin by 337 votes (Mr. Martin is now the federal NDP candidate in Edmonton-East). Mr. Vandermeer also served as the PC MLA for Edmonton-Manning between 2001 and 2004. The NDP have nominated teacher Deron Bilous, who was his party’s candidate in Edmonton-Centre in the 2008 election.

Edmonton-Decore
First-term PC backbencher Janice Sarich made the transition from Catholic School District Trustee to MLA in 2008, snatching this seat from Liberal MLA Bill Bonko by 682 votes. Mrs. Sarich’s victory marked the first time that the PCs elected an MLA in this area since 1982. The Liberals have yet to officially nominate their candidate, but Zack Siezmagraff has started his campaign to reclaim the constituency for his party. The NDP have nominated Sheriff Ali Haymour as their candidate. Mr. Haymour was his party’s 2008 candidate in the neighboring Edmonton-Castle Downs, where he earned 9.6% against incumbent MLA Thomas Lukaszuk.

Edmonton ridings with nominated Liberal candidates (as of March 1, 2011).

Edmonton-Gold Bar
Incumbent Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald is expected to seek re-election in the constituency he has represented since 1997. The only nominated challenger is New Democrat Marlin Schmidt, who is also President of his party’s electoral district association in the federal riding of Edmonton-Strathcona. Mr. MacDonald could face another dog-fight with his 2008 PC challenger David Dorward, who built a substantial amount of name recognition after his unsuccessful Mayoral bid in 2010.

Edmonton-McClung
Another swing-riding, first-term PC backbencher David Xiao could face of against nominated former Liberal MLA Mo Elsalhy, who represented the constituency from 2004 until 2008. Mr. Elsalhy sought the Liberal leadership in 2008, placing third and has announced that he will stay out of the current contest.

Edmonton-Meadowlark
Elected as a PC in 2008, Dr. Raj Sherman became an Independent MLA after being kicked out of the PC caucus in November 2010. Dr. Sherman has used his position as a vocal critic of the PC government’s record on health care to become a sort of political folk hero for Albertans, but recent comments have rubbed off some of his political shine. The constituency has been represented for most of the past 20 years by Liberal MLAs, most recently Maurice Tougas until 2008. Notwithstanding that party’s long history in the constituency, it has yet to nominate a candidate for the next election. Local Wildrose constituency President Rick Newcombe has expressed an interest in being his party’s candidate, but has yet to official declare his intentions.

Edmonton-Mill Woods
Former Liberal MLA Weslyn Mather will attempt to reclaim the constituency she lost to PC Carl Benito in 2008. Since being elected, Mr. Benito has become the source of amusement/ridicule for his strident support of Alberta’s official mushroom, his broken promise to donate his entire MLA salary to a scholarship fund, and his publicly blaming his wife for not filing his property taxes for two years. The NDP have nominated AUPE Vice-President Sandra Azocar as their candidate and are hoping that former Liberal-represented middle-class constituencies like Mill Woods are places that they can grow.

Edmonton ridings with nominated Wildrose candidates (as of March 1, 2011).

Edmonton-Riverview
The retirement of three-term Liberal MLA Kevin Taft will leave big shoes for candidates in this constituency to fill. I spoke with 2008 PC candidate Wendy Andrews at last week’s Speech from the Throne and she told me that she was still undecided about whether she wanted to run again. The Liberals have yet to hold a nomination meeting and the only candidate to publicly declare interest is consultant and Rotarian Arif Khan. I have heard rumors that former Public School Board Trustee Don Fleming may be interested in seeking the nomination. The NDP will nominate College of Social Workers coordinator Lori Sigurdson and are hoping that the votes MP Linda Duncan received in this area can be translated provincially. The Wildrose Alliance have nominated John Corie.

Edmonton-Rutherford
With three challengers already nominated, first-term PC backbencher Fred Horne has his work cut out for him. His main challenger at this point is former Liberal MLA Rick Miller, who represented the constituency from 2004 until 2008 when he was unexpectedly unseated by Mr. Horne. Mr. Miller has stayed involved in politics since 2008 as the Chief of Staff for the Liberal Official Opposition. The NDP have nominated Melanie Samaroden as their candidate and the Wildrose have re-nominated their 2008 candidate Kyle McLeod.

An overview of nominations in Calgary constituencies will be posted later this week.

scott mckeen running for liberal party leader?

Scott McKeen talks to reporters at Edmonton City Hall on the first day of the 2010 municipal elections.

Is former Edmonton Journal columnist Scott McKeen preparing to seek the leadership of the Liberal Party of Alberta?

Mr. McKeen has been coy about his political future following his unsuccessful City Council bid against Councillor Tony Caterina in October 2010 and sources tell me that Mr. McKeen may be the first candidate to enter the Liberal Party’s yet to begin leadership contest.

Coincidental to these rumours is the new job of Mr. McKeen’s Council campaign manager Brian Leadbetter, who will become the Director of Communications for the Liberal Caucus this week.

Contributing to some intrigue online, Mr. McKeen’s near dormant Twitter account has recently attracted two notable followers, Liberal Chief of Staff Rick Miller and former MLA Mo Elsalhy.

As a seasoned civic affairs columnist and long-time journalist, I thought that he would have been a good City Councillor, but Leader of the Official Opposition in Alberta is a completely different ballgame. That party desperately needs new blood and Mr. McKeen would be an interesting choice if these rumours end up being true.

Almost two weeks after leader David Swann announced that the would not lead his party into the next election, the contest to replace him remains quiet with only speculation about who may stand. Despite its dysfunctionalities, there are a few political perks to becoming leader of the Liberal Party in Alberta. That party’s new leader will be, at least until the next election or massive round of floor-crossings, the Leader of the Official Opposition.

MLA Hugh MacDonald at the December 2010 healthcare rally at the Legislature.

Meanwhile, three of the province’s eight Liberal MLAs are also said to be testing the waters for their own leadership bids – Edmonton-Gold Bar MLA Hugh MacDonald, Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman, and Calgary-Buffalo MLA Kent Hehr.

UPDATE: Mr. McKeen sent me a kind email this morning stating that “No, I’m not running for Liberal leadership. Not considering it. Nor will I.”

the wildrose’s new hired gun.

The Wildrose Alliance is bolstering their staff in preparation for the next provincial election.

Recent hire William McBeath left his position as Director of Operations for Minister Diane Finley in Ottawa to become the Director of Candidate Operations and Party Communications for the Wildrose Alliance. Although he spent some time in Ottawa, political watchers will remember Mr. McBeath from his time as Alberta Regional Organizer for the Conservative Party of Canada, as researcher for former Edmonton City Councillor Mike Nickel, and as an organizer for Ted Morton‘s PC leadership campaign in 2006. Mr. McBeath joins long-time Conservative Party organizer Vitor Marciano, who was hired as the Wildrose Executive Director in March 2010.

The Wildrose Alliance has also attracted the support of two former Conservative Members of Parliament. Retired Edmonton-St. Albert MP John Williams and Westlock-St. Paul MP David Chatters are supporting Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock Wildrose nomination candidate Link Byfield in his campaign against PC MLA Speaker Ken Kowalski.

“The issue is not the MLA; it is the party and the government. The government has been around too long.” – Former Conservative MP John Williams

The Wildrosers will be holding a contested nomination meeting in the Liberal-stronghold of Edmonton-Riverview. Candidates John Corie and Chris Ozdoba will duke it out on October 21 for the chance to hold their party’s flag in the constituency represented by MLA Kevin Taft since 2001 (who is not seeking re-election).

The Liberals have yet to announce a nomination date in Riverview, but rumours are circulating that retiring Public School Board Trustee Don Fleming is interested in seeking the Liberal nomination. Before Dr. Taft, the Riverview constituency was represented by current City Councillor Linda Sloan from 1997 to 2001.

The Wildrosers have a head start in candidate nominations, but are not the only party holding nomination meetings.

The Liberal Party nominated former MLA Weslyn Mather in Edmonton-Mill Woods last weekend and will be holding a nomination meeting in Edmonton-McClung on October 23. Former MLA Mo Elsalhy is expected to be acclaimed at the nomination meeting.

The NDP have a contested nomination meeting in Grande Prairie-Wapiti scheduled for next week. Contestants Paula Anderson and John Friesen are probably participating in the first contested candidate nomination for the Grande Prairie NDP in recent memory.

staging a political comeback in alberta.

With a number of former MLAs having declared their intentions to seek their party candidacies in the next election (David Eggen, Rick Miller, Weslyn Mather, and Mo Elsalhy), I thought it would be interesting to take a look at other former MLAs who launched successful and not so successful comeback attempts. By my count, thirteen former MLAs have attempted a comeback since the 1997 General Election, meaning that most former MLAs stay former. Of this group only  six have successfully returned to the Assembly.

Former MLAs attempting a return to the Legislature
Candidate Party Constituency Vote Result Previous Office
1997 General Election
Albert Ludwig Liberal Calgary-Foothills 29.7% Defeated Social Credit MLA Calgary-North East (1959-1963), Calgary-East  (1963-1971), Calgary-Mountain View (1971-1975)
Alex McEachern NDP Edmonton-Calder 27.3% Defeated NDP MLA Edmonton-Kingsway (1986-1993)
Pam Barrett NDP Edmonton-Highlands 50.6% Elected NDP MLA Edmonton-Highlands (1986-1993)
Don MacDonald Social Credit Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills 28.1% Defeated Liberal MLA Three Hills (1992-1993)
1998 By-Election
Nancy MacBeth Liberal Edmonton-McClung 53.6% Elected PC MLA Edmonton-Glenora (1986-1993)
2000 By-Election
Terry Kirkland Liberal Edmonton-Highlands 18.3% Defeated Liberal MLA Leduc (1993-1997)
2001 General Election
Andrew Beniuk PC Edmonton-Glengarry 44.9% Defeated Liberal/PC MLA Edmonton-Norwood (1993-1997)
Len Bracko Liberal St. Albert 41.2% Defeated Liberal MLA St. Albert (1993-1997)
2004 General Election
Ray Martin NDP Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview 50.8% Elected NDP MLA Edmonton-Norwood (1982-1993)
Walter Szwender PC Edmonton-Decore 30.4% Defeated PC MLA Edmonton-Belmont (1982-1986)
2008 General Election
Broyce Jacobs PC Cardston-Taber-Warner 46.2% Elected PC MLA Cardston-Taber-Warner (2001-2004)
Tony Vandermeer PC Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview 39.6% Elected PC MLA Edmonton-Manning (2001-2004)
Andrew Beniuk PC Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood 31.9% Defeated Liberal/PC MLA Edmonton-Norwood (1993-1997)
2009 By-Election
Paul Hinman Wildrose Calgary-Glenmore 36.8% Elected Wildrose MLA Carston-Taber-Warner (2004-2008)

final report of the electoral boundaries commission.

Enilghtened Savage may have beat me to the punch with the link to the report, but posted below are the Alberta, Calgary, and Edmonton maps from the Final Report of Alberta’s Electoral Boundaries Commission (pdf). It appears the sleuthing author of the aforementioned blog discovered the link to the report which had been loaded online before it has been officially posted on the Boundaries Commission website. You can download the full report here (pdf). Score 1 point for the citizen media.

UPDATE: The EBC appears to have removed the original link to the report, so I have replaced the above links with new ones provided by Enlightened Savage. You should be able to download the final report now.

COMMENTARY
Overall, I believe that the members of the Electoral Boundaries Commission have presented a fair report given the guidelines and political environment in which they were operating. I would have liked to see the commission merge some of the larger sparcely populated rural constituencies in the north of the province, but I understand the arguments for allowing exceptions in special circumstances.

Airdrie/Foothills-Chestermere: Large areas of Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson‘s former Airdrie-Chestermere constituency have been merged with Fiance Minister Ted Morton‘s Foothills-Rockyview riding to create Rockyview-Chestermere. It is unlikely that Mr. Anderson will challenge Minister Morton in the next election, so he may opt to run in the new Airdrie constituency.

North Calgary: There is a significant amount of shuffling in this area of Calgary. I’m not familiar enough with the area to say if it reflects communities of interest. I imagine that there will be an ample amount of confusion created when anyone talks about either Calgary-North Hill (singular) and Calgary-Northern Hills (plural). Anyone?

Edmonton-Centre: I was pleased to see that my riding remains intact. The boundaries make sense for Edmonton’s downtown constituency.

Edmonton-Glenora: Glenora has been shifted further west than was proposed in the interim report, moving more Tory polls into the constituency. They new boundaries also remove the NDP-voting polls north of downtown that were included in the interim boundaries report and cut out the Liberal-voting polls west of Mayfield road that were included in Glenora during the 2008 election. It could create a more favourable electoral situation for PC MLA Heather Klimchuk, who will face strong challenges from the Liberals and former NDP MLA David Eggen.

Edmonton-McClung: McClung has been split in two. I believe that the northern half is where former Liberal MLA Mo Elsalhy‘s stronger polls were located, so David Xiao might run for re-election in the new Edmonton-Southwest constituency in 2011. Elsalhy is planning on running again, so these changes could be good news for him.

Edmonton-Riverview: There was speculation that Liberal MLA Kevin Taft‘s constituency could be on the chopping block. It remains largely intact.

Fort McMurray-Conklin/Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo: Independent MLA Guy Boutilier will have the choice of running in one of these two constituencies in the next election. Mr. Boutilier is widely expected to join the Wildrose Alliance at this weekend’s policy convention in Red Deer. Mr. Boutilier was elected as the PC MLA for Fort McMurray in 1997, 2001, 2004, and 2008.

St. Albert/Sturgeon: I am surprised that St. Albert has not reached the size to have two constituencies of its own. I was not surprised to see that the towns of Morinville and Legal are still included in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock, though it would make much more sense for those communities to be included in a Sturgeon Valley riding that lumped in with a constituency that stretches all the way to Swan Hills.

Minority Report: Commissioner Allyson Jeffs wrote a minority report arguing for Edmonton and Calgary to receive more than the three additional constituencies awarded in this Final Report. The politically uncomfortable necessity of removing large numbers of rural seats in favor of new urban ones was solved when Justice Minister Alison Redford introduced legislation that increased the number of MLAs from 83 to 87. In 2003, Commissioner Bauni Mackay
penned a minority report opposing Edmonton’s loss of one-seat in that Final Report.

Political Responses:
Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman (media release):

“The Stelmach administration’s sticky fingerprints are all over this report,” Blakeman says. “There’s been major tinkering with boundaries in Edmonton to reflect personal requests from Tory MLAs. Edmonton-Southwest, for example, is a mess.”

Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman (media release):

“…once again they displayed their disrespect for democracy in Alberta and fear of losing the next election by pressuring the Commission to make the changes that they believe will favour the PC Party.”

NDP MLA Brian Mason (media release):

“Generally the boundaries make sense. The NDP has a solid chance in several Edmonton ridings, and we plan to run a full slate of candidates in the next election.”

alberta politics notes 6/03/2010

– The Inspiring Education report was released by Education Minister Dave Hancock yesterday. I wrote about it earlier and the Public School Board Association of Alberta has a list of links to related articles on their Legislature Watch Blog.
Calgary Herald editorialist Licia Corbella reflects on Finance Minister Ted Morton‘s new role as the default-Premier of Alberta.
– The Edmonton Journal’s Graham Thomson has written an interesting column on the synergizing happening at the Competitiveness Review.
– Sustainable Resource Development Minister Mel Knight has declared Grizzly Bears as a threatened species in Alberta. This decision follows a public campaign calling for increased protection for Grizzly Bears in Alberta.
– Armed guards will be removed from public hearings being held by the Energy Resources Conservation Board northeast of Edmonton.
– An abundance of witnesses may further delay the trial involving Greenpeace‘s oil sands protest at a Fort Saskatchewan upgraded last summer.
– The Friends of Medicare have begun their province-wide public consultations on the proposed Alberta Health Act, including recent meetings in Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.
– Trustee Sue Huff has blogged about her experience at a Big Listen hosted by the Alberta Party.
– Federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff will in Edmonton on June 19 to hold a policy discussion meeting at the University of Alberta.
– Former Liberal MLA Mo Elsalhy is already gearing up for the next election and has launched a website promoting his nomination campaign. Mr. Elsalhy served as the MLA for Edmonton-McClung from 2004 to 2008 and ran for the Liberal Party leadership in 2008. I have been told that he is likely to seek the nomination in the new Edmonton-Collingwood pending the final report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission expected to be released this summer.
Elections Alberta has started the search for 87 Returning Officers and Election Clerks for the next provincial election expected in 2011 or 2012. This is a very early start compared to the 2008 election, where a last minute scramble to hire elections officials and organize riding offices put Elections Alberta in the embarrassing position of having hired an estimated over 50 staff who had direct connections to the PC Party (including candidate nominees and constituency organizers).
Today in Alberta Politics History on June 3, 1920 a by-election was held in Athabasca following the death of the Honourable Alexander Grant MacKay. Mr. MacKay served as Leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario from 1907 to 1911 and as an Alberta MLA from 1913 to 1920. Mr. MacKay died of pneumonia in the Edmonton General Hospital in 1920 while serving as the provincial Minister of Health. The by-election was contested by Liberal G. Mills and Independent J.K. Cornwall. Mr. Mills was elected 640 votes to Mr. Cornwall’s 286 votes.

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.