Tag Archives: Neil Korotash

Stephen Mandel’s time as Alberta Party leader ends as a footnote in Alberta’s history

The Alberta Party will soon be seeking applications for a new leader.

The party announced through a press release today that on June 30, 2019 Stephen Mandel will step down as leader 15-months after he was elected into the role. The former three-term Edmonton mayor and Progressive Conservative cabinet minister ran for the leadership in 2018 after MLA Greg Clark was ousted in a successful bid by former PC Party members to take over the Alberta Party.

Jim Prentice Stephen Mandel Health Minister Alberta

Premier Jim Prentice and Health Minister Stephen Mandel in 2014.

This was Mandel’s second attempt at a political comeback.

He surprised many political watchers when he was appointed to Jim Prentice’s cabinet without a seat in the Legislature in 2014, just over a year after he retired as mayor.

The first comeback was short-lived.

Mandel won a by-election in Edmonton-Whitemud in late 2014 but was unseated by popular New Democratic Party candidate Bob Turner in the spring 2015 Orange Wave that swept the province.

Following Jason Kenney’s win in the 2017 PC Party leadership race, a number of moderate conservative partisans left the party over differences with the new leader’s style, history of social conservative activism and drive to merge the party with the Wildrose Party.

Greg Clark Alberta Party MLA

Greg Clark

Prominent Progressive Conservatives like Mandel, Katherine O’Neill, Dave Quest, Sue Timanson, and Stephen Khan hoped to turn the Alberta Party into a home for former PC supporters disenchanted by what became the United Conservative Party.

Policy direction under Mandel shifted further to the economic-right but the party steadfastly refused to describe itself as conservative, sticking instead to the ambiguous “centrist” label. In a province where many eligible voters self-identify as conservatives, it remains puzzling why a political party run by conservatives and presenting a moderate conservative program would actively distance itself from the description.

The Alberta Party under Mandel increased the party’s vote from 2.2% in 2015 to 9.1% in 2019, but failed to win any seats in the Legislative Assembly. Unlike 2015, when the party focused all of its resources to successfully elect Greg Clark in Calgary-Elbow, in 2019 the Alberta Party spread thin its resources by running a province-wide campaign and a full-slate of candidates.

Mandel was able to attract a slate with credible candidates, including former PC MLA Dave Quest, former Liberal MLA Mo Elsalhy, former St. Paul mayor Glenn Andersen, former St. Albert city councillor Neil Korotash, anti-violence advocate Manwar Khan, actor Dakota House and well-known former radio host Angela Kokott.

Lorne Dach Edmonton-McClung NDP MLA

Lorne Dach

But the Alberta Party campaign stumbled out of the starting gate early in the campaign, with Mandel and a handful of candidates and chief financial officers being banned from running in the election by Election Alberta after missing their financial disclosure deadlines. The bans were lifted after court challenges by Mandel and the other candidates but it damaged the party’s chances of being seen as a serious contender in an election dominated by the UCP and NDP.

The party earned significant media coverage but struggled to gain traction and hit a ceiling of 12 percent in polling during the campaign. Mandel’s significant of name recognition in Edmonton was not able to help the Alberta Party break the dominance of Rachel Notley’s NDP in the provincial capital city. The NDP won 19 of 20 seats in Edmonton.

Mandel finished third behind NDP MLA Lorne Dach and UCP challenger Laurie Mozeson in Edmonton-McClung, which includes parts of the area he represented on city council before his time as mayor. The party’s two incumbent MLAs, Clark and Calgary-South East MLA Rick Fraser, were both defeated in their bids for re-election. The party’s third MLA, former NDPer Karen McPherson, declined to run for re-election.

The press release announcing Mandel’s departure states that he is pursuing his role as Chancellor of Concordia University of Edmonton, a role he was installed into on November 30, 2017, just over one month before he launched his campaign to win the Alberta Party leadership.

From the very beginning, Mandel’s second attempt at a political comeback was a strange endeavour. And despite Mandel’s nine-years as a popular big city mayor with a significant list of accomplishments, his final appearance on the political scene will largely be a footnote in Alberta’s history (unless, of course, this was not his final comeback…).


Alberta Party finances…

The Alberta Party’s financial disclosures from the 2019 election have not yet been released, but the 2018 annual financial disclosures paint a picture of a party in financial disarray. The Alberta Party raised $525,430 in 2018 while running a $137,964 deficit.

In a May 25, 2019 email sent to members explaining the financial situation, the party explained that it had cycled through three CFOs in 2018 and that larger than expected expenses related to the creation of the party’s proprietary Customer Relationship Management database and “too large of an AGM” put the party in a deficit position.

The email told members that “[t]he Party is not broke but will be operating on a tight budget for the foreseeable future.”

Big Nomination Update: Estefania Cortes-Vargas and Sandra Jansen not seeking re-election, and much, much more.

Today’s big nomination news is the announcements by two New Democratic Party MLAs, Strathcona-Sherwood Park MLA Estefania Cortes-Vargas and Calgary-North West MLA Sandra Jansen, that they will not seek re-election when the next general election is called.

Cortes-Vargas was first elected in 2015 and is one of the three first openly LGBTQ MLAs in the Alberta history. Cortes-Vargas is the current NDP caucus whip and announced on Facebook post an endorsement of crown prosecutor Moira Vane as the NDP candidate in the next election. 

“Our government has a strong record, I am proud to have worked alongside Premier Rachel Notley, someone I consider to have been an incredible mentor to me. It was her encouragement that brought me into politics, then saw me become one of the first of three openly LGBTQ+ MLAs, first of three Latin-American Canadians and the youngest government whip in Alberta’s history. I am appreciative of the work our government has done to continue to break the glass ceiling. It has always been my hope that it paves the way for more diverse voices to enter our political landscape.” – Estefania Cortes-Vargas, MLA for Strathcona-Sherwood Park

Jansen, who was previously elected as a Progressive Conservative MLA in 2012 and 2015, had announced in August 2018 that she would seek re-election in Calgary-North West as an NDP candidate. Jansen left the PC Party in 2016 and soon after joined the NDP caucus. She was appointed Minister of Infrastructure in October 2017. 

Cortes-Vargas and Jansen are the seventeenth and eighteenth Alberta MLAs to announce they will not seek re-election in 2019. As I have noted in the past, the number of MLA retirements during this election cycle is fairly average, with 19 MLAs not seeking re-election in 2015, 23 MLAs choosing to not run for re-election in 2012, and 20 MLAs not seeking re-election in 2008.

Alberta MLAs not seeking re-election in 2019

I was away for most of last week teaching at the Jasper Labour School organized by the Alberta Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress, so I was not able to publish a detailed update last week. Upon my return I was not surprised to discover the list of nomination updates has grown considerably.

I am planning to provide more frequent updates in the few months left before the next election is called in order to avoid these novel-length articles. So without further ado, here is the long-list of nomination updates:

Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul – Kari Whan is seeking the NDP nomination. Whan is a Grade 2 teacher at Cold Lake Elementary School.

Calgary-Acadia – Liberal Lorissa Good was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate on January 21, 2019. She is the Salon Coordinator with Swish Salon.

Calgary-Beddington – Heather Erlen will challenge Amanda Chapman for the NDP nomination in this north Calgary district.Erlen is the Alberta regional representative for the Canadian Labour Congress and is the former Team Lead for the Calgary Dream Centre Women’s Initiative. A candidate selection meeting is scheduled to take place on February 3, 2019.

Calgary-Cross – Ricardo Miranda was nominated as the NDP candidate. Miranda was first elected in 2015 and has served as Alberta’s Minister of Culture and Tourism since February 2016. Naser Al-Kukhun was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate on January 21, 2019.

Calgary-Foothills – Sameena Arif is seeking the NDP nomination. Arif is active with the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association.

Calgary-Glenmore – Jordan Stein is seeking the NDP nomination in this southwest Calgary district. Glenmore is currently represented by NDP Anam Kazim. A candidate selection meeting is scheduled to take place on February 3, 2019.

Calgary-Hays – Tory Tomblin is seeking the NDP nomination. Tomblin is a primary care paramedic with Alberta Health Services and was a candidate for the Calgary Board of Education in Wards 12 & 14 in the 2017 election. A candidate selection meeting is scheduled to take place on February 2, 2019.

Calgary-North – Salima Haq was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate on January 7, 2019. Gary Arora was nominated as the Alberta Party candidate on January 13, 2019. Arora replaces previously nominated Alberta Party candidate Melanie Wen, who withdrew her candidacy in late 2018.

Calgary-Peigan – Joe Pimlott has been nominated as the NDP candidate in this east Calgary district. Pimlott is a community liaison with Metis Calgary Family Services and the former executive director of the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary and provincial vice-president of the Metis Nation of Alberta. 

Ron Reinhold has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Reinhold was the Liberal Party candidate in Calgary-Cross in the 2008 provincial election, where he earned 22.2 percent of the vote. He endorsed Dave Taylor in the Liberal Party’s 2008 leadership contest. 

Calgary-Shaw – John Daly was nominated as the Green Party candidate in this district on January 21, 2019.

Calgary-West – Frank Penkala has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Penkala previously sought the party’s nomination in the neighbouring Calgary-Bow district but was defeated by Paul Goddard in the nomination contest.

Drayton Valley-Devon – Ronald Brochu was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate on January 18, 2019. Brochu was the Liberal Party candidate in Edmonton-Gold Bar in the 2015 election, earning 3.1 percent of the vote.

Edmonton-Ellerlsie – Faton Bislimi is seeking the United Conservative Party nomination in this southeast Edmonton district. Bislimi is an Albanian activist and author from present-day Kosovo. According to his entry on Wikipedia, in 2007 he ran for mayor of Gnjilane, a city of 54,239 in southeast Kosovo. He is currently completing his PhD in Political Science at the University of Alberta. He received a master’s degree in public administration and international development from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in 2007 and he worked as a lecturer of public policy and governance at the American University in Kosovo.

Chuck McKenna has withdrawn from the Alberta Party nomination in this southeast Edmonton district. Richard Corbin and former Liberal Party candidate Todd Ross will contest the nomination set for January 26, 2019. A candidate selection meeting has been scheduled for January 26, 2019.

Edmonton-Meadows – Chand Gul and MLA Denise Woollard are seeking the NDP nomination in this redrawn and renamed district in southeast Edmonton. Woollard was first elected in 2015 in the Edmonton-Mill Creek district.

Gul is the president of the Alberta Pashtoon Association and previously worked for the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers through the organization’s Community Connector Immigrant Women’s Integration network. She is the former chair of the women’s wing of the Pakistan-Canada Association of Edmonton. She was previously the South Edmonton Regional director for the Alberta Liberal Party and a member of the federal Liberal Party’s board of directors in Edmonton-Mill Woods, but she appears to have recently joined the NDP and attended the party’s convention in October 2018.

Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville – Jessica Littlewood was nominated as the NDP candidate in this district on January 20, 2019. Littlewood was first elected in 2015, earning 45 percent of the vote and unseating one-term Progressive Conservative MLA Jacquie Fenske. She has served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Trade since October 2017 and was recently voted Up and Coming MLA to Watch in 2019 in the Daveberta Best of Alberta Politics 2018 Survey. 

Leduc-Beaumont – Robb Connelly was acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate in this district following the withdrawal of Jan Becker and the party not accepting the candidacies of Tauras Pawluk and Coreina Hubert. Connelly previously sought the Alberta Party nomination in the neighbouring Strathcona-Sherwood Park district. 

Gil Poitras is the first candidate nominated by the Alberta Advantage Party in this election cycle. Poitras served as interim leader of new right-wing party in 2017, and previously served as Chief Financial Officer for the Alberta Party in 2013 and 2014, and as the president of the Alberta Party association in Leduc-Beaumont in 2015. He served on Beaumont town council from 2001 to 2004 and ran for mayor in in 2013 and 2017.

Lethbridge-West – Patricia Chizek was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate on January 7, 2019. 

Morinville-St. Albert – Neil Korotash defeated Wayne Rufiange to secure the Alberta Party nomination on January 19, 2019. Korotash teaches Biology and Urban Agriculture at Morinville Community High School and he sought the PC Party nomination in Spruce Grove-St. Albert ahead of the 2015 election. In 2001, Korotash became the youngest city councillor in St. Albert history when he was elected at age 21 in that year’s municipal elections.

Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills – Chase Brown has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in this central Alberta district. Brown studied business economics at the University of Alberta and has coached special Olympians in softball, curling, and floor hockey programs.

West Yellowhead – Zack Seizmagraff is seeking the Liberal Party nomination, which is scheduled to take place on January 25, 2019. Seizmagraff was the federal Liberal Party candidate in Yellowhead in the 2011 election, earning 2.87 percent of the vote. A candidate selection meeting has been scheduled for January 26, 2019.

The NDP have scheduled nomination meetings to be held in Calgary-West on February 6, 2019, Calgary-East on February 16, 2019, and in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche and Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo on February 17, 2019. The UCP have scheduled a nomination meeting in Lethbridge-East for February 9, 2019.

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!

Premier Rachel Notley and Wetaskiwin-Camrose MLA Bruce Hinkley and his wife Janet (source: Facebook)

MLA Bruce Hinkley seeks re-election in Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin, Brian Pincott withdraws NDP candidacy in Calgary-Acadia

Here are the latest updates to the list of nomination candidates running in Alberta’s next provincial election, which is expected to be held between March 1, 2019 and May 31, 2019:

Wetaskiwin-Camrose MLA Bruce Hinkley is seeking the New Democratic Party nomination in the new Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin district. A retired teacher, Hinkley was first elected in 2015 and is a veteran NDP candidate, having run for the party in Wetaskiwin-Leduc in 1989, and his current district in 1993, 2012 and 2015, and for the party leadership in 1994. He was a candidate for the short-lived Forum Party of Alberta in Wetaskiwin-Camrose in the 1997 election.

Hinkley was elected in 2015 with 43.7 percent of the vote, defeating two-term Progressive Conservative MLA and Minister of Agriculture Verlyn Olson by 1,578 votes. A nomination meeting has been scheduled in Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin for January 8, 2018.

Morgan Bamford is seeking the NDP nomination in the new Camrose district, which includes the eastern portions of the Wetaskiwin-Camrose district. A nomination meeting in this district is scheduled to take place on February 2, 2019.

Brian Pincott NDP Calgary Acadia

Brian Pincott

– Former city councillor Brian Pincott has withdrawn his candidacy for the NDP in Calgary-Acadia. Pincott wrote on Facebook that he is withdrawing because of his struggles with depression and concerns with his own mental health in the upcoming campaign.

Pincott served on Calgary City Council from 2007 to 2017 and was nominated as a the NDP candidate in this district on October 25, 2018 and was seen as a star candidate to replace outgoing NDP MLA Brandy Payne.

He ran as the NDP candidate against Jason Kenney in Calgary-Southeast in the 2004 federal election and against Lee Richardson in Calgary-Centre in the 2006 federal election.

– Former St. Albert city councillor Neil Korotash is seeking the Alberta Party nomination in the new Moriville-St. Albert district. Korotash teaches Biology and Urban Agriculture at Morinville Community High School and he sought the PC Party nomination in Spruce Grove-St. Albert ahead of the 2015 election. In 2001, Korotash became the youngest city councillor in St. Albert history when he was elected at age 21 in that year’s municipal elections.

Korotash will be challenged for the Alberta Party nomination by Wayne Rufiange, the principal of R.F. Staples Secondary School in Westlock. Rufiange is the former principal of the Morinville Public School and previously worked as a vice-principal at various schools in the Sturgeon Public School Division.

The Alberta Party has scheduled a nomination meeting in Morinville-St. Albert for January 19, 2019.

– Tariq Chaudhry has withdrawn from the United Conservative Party nomination contest in Edmonton-Mill Woods and is claiming in an affidavit that Jason Kenney and the UCP cost him more than $25,000. Chaudhry claims Kenney encouraged him to run and asked him to sign up and pay for the $10-membership fee for 1,200 new members. Chaudhry claims he spent $6,000 on memberships and that Kenney’s campaign asked him to organize Eid Mubarak events in 2017 and 2018, on which he spent $20,000, “so Mr. Kenney could be seen speaking to the Edmonton Muslim Community.” Chaudhry is the owner of the Maharaja Banquet Hall.

Chris Alders has been nominated as the Green Party candidate in Edmonton-City Centre. Alders is a long-time Green Party organizer and ran for the Nova Scotia Green Party in the 2006 and 2009 provincial elections in that province.

Will Carnegie is seeking the Green Party nomination in Calgary-East. Carnegie is the president of the Forest Lawn Community Association.

– The NDP have now scheduled 20 nomination meetings in January and February, in what is expected to be a flurry of candidacy selection activity ahead of the next election. Along with the 15 meetings mentioned in my previous update, meetings will be held in Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul, Calgary-Edgemont and Calgary-Hays on February 2, 2019, and in Calgary-Beddington and Calgary-Glenmore on Feb. 3, 2019.

– The UCP have nominated candidates in 79 of Alberta’s 87 electoral districts. The eight remaining nomination contests to be held for the UCP will take place in Calgary-North, Edmonton-Ellerslie, Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood, Edmonton-Meadows, Edmonton-Mill Woods, Edmonton-Strathcona, Lethridge-East, and Red Deer-South. Dates for these nomination meetings have not yet been scheduled.


McLean resigns as MLA 

Stephanie McLean

Stephanie McLean

Former cabinet minister Stephanie McLean has resigned as the NDP MLA for Calgary-Varsity. McLean resignation takes place less than two months before Alberta’s fixed election period begins on March 1, 2019. McLean was appointed to cabinet as Minister of Service Alberta in February 2016 and removed from cabinet in June 2018 following her announcement that she did would not run for re-election in 2019.

McLean’s resignation comes as no surprise as it has been rumoured for months that  she was unhappy about her current status in the NDP caucus and looking for leave politics before the next election. McLean did not attend the session of the Legislative Assembly in fall 2018.

McLean was first elected in 2015, securing 43.9 percent of the vote. Long-time NDP stalwart Anne McGrath has been nominated to run for the in this district when the next election is called.

Photo: Premier Rachel Notley, Janet Hinkley, and Wetaskiwin-Camrose MLA Bruce Hinkley (source: Facebook)

Thursday morning candidate nomination updates in Alberta

Alberta PC Nomination Spruce Grove St AlbertOn February 21, Rus Matichuk celebrated his victory over former city councillor Neil Korotash and government spokesperson Kathleen Range in the Progressive Conservative nomination contest in Spruce Grove-St. Albert. But yesterday, the PC Party announced that due to “errors” in the voting process a second vote will need to be held on March 14, 2015.

“It has been found that 4 ballots were cast by individuals ineligible to vote.  The riding has been directed by PC Alberta to have this vote redone as the votes for the candidates was very close,” PC nominations committee chairperson Carol Stewart told the St. Albert Leader.

Here are the latest updates to the growing list of candidates running in Alberta’s next provincial election:

Calgary-Klein: Noel Keough, professor in the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary, is running for the Green Party.

Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill: Ako Ufodike, PhD Management student in Accounting at the University of Calgary, is challenging MLA Neil Brown for the PC nomination.

Calgary-Varsity: University of Calgary Students’ Union Vice-President Academic Hana Kadri  has announced plans to seek the PC nomination. Also rumoured to be eyeing the PC nomination is Sam Shaw, former President of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton and current vice-president of the right-wing Manning Centre.

Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley: Former Member of Parliament Albert Cooper, school principal Nigel McCarthy, Donnelly-area farmer Rhonda Clarke-Gauthier, and Edmonton-base lawyer Gordon Andreiuk have entered the PC nomination contest to replace retiring MLA Hector Goudreau. Mr. Cooper, who served as the PC MP for Peace River from 1980 to 1993, was previously seeking the federal Conservative nomination in the new Peace River-Westlock constituency, but has now switched his focus to provincial politics.

Edmonton Beverly-Clareview: Articling law student Harman Kandola is seeking the PC nomination. Mr. Kandola is also the Executive Director of the Punjabi Sports Association Summer Soccer Camps.

Edmonton-Castle DownsNicole Goehring was acclaimed as the New Democratic Party candidate in this northwest Edmonton constituency.

Edmonton-Centre: Five-term Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman has been acclaimed as her party’s candidate for the next election. Ms. Blakeman made headlines last fall for leading the debate in favour of allowing student-created Gay-Straight Alliances in Alberta schools.

Edmonton-Manning: Second-term PC MLA Peter Sandhu is seeking his party’s nomination for re-election. Mr. Sandhu sat as an Independent MLA from May to December 2013 during an Ethics Commissioner investigation into potential conflicts of interest.

Edmonton-Meadowlark: Former school trustee Debbie Cavaliere will face Dan Bildhauer in the Liberal Party’s March 3 nomination contest. Mr. Bildhauer is also seeking the federal Liberal nomination in Edmonton-West. Businessman Tom Choucair has joined the PC nomination contest. Mr. Choucair unsuccessfully sought the PC nomination in Edmonton-Riverview before the 2012 election.

Edmonton-Mill Creek: Liberal organizer Harpreet Gill is seeking the Liberal nomination. Mr. Gill is the co-founder of the Asianvision news magazine and sits on the boards of the provincial and federal Liberal Parties in Alberta.

HighwoodWayne Anderson has been acclaimed as the Wildrose candidate in this constituency currently represented by former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith. Mr. Anderson ran as his party’s candidate in Calgary-Hays in the 2012 election.

Livingstone-Macleod: Former Evan Berger was acclaimed as the PC candidate. Mr. Berger faced criticism after he landed a plum job in the public service after he was defeated in the 2012 election.

Lethbridge-East: William West defeated former Green candidate Helen McMenamin in this week’s Liberal nomination contest. Mr. West is a Peace Officer with Alberta’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement.

Peace RiverSherry Hilton, the manager at River City Cinema, has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.

Red Deer North : City Councillor Buck Buchanan, former city councillor Jeff Dawson, former city council candidate Matt Chapin and Red Deer County councillor Christine Moore are seeking the PC nomination. Current PC MLA Mary Anne Jablonski is not seeking re-election.


I have added these updates to the list of nominees and nomination candidates planning to run in Alberta’s next general election. Please email david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com if there are additions to the list. Thank you.