Tag Archives: Penthouse Press Conference

Karen Principe UCP Edmonton Decore Alberta Election 2019

Karen Principe defeats former MLA Janice Sarich to win UCP nomination in Edmonton-Decore, NDP nominate MLA Marlin Schmidt in Edmonton-Gold Bar

Photo: Karen Principe, UCP candidate in Edmonton-Decore (source: Facebook)

Past City Council candidate Karen Principe defeated former Progressive Conservative MLA Janice Sarich and real estate agent Gordon Reekie to secure the United Conservative Party nomination in Edmonton-Decore last night.

Janice Sarich Edmonton-Decore

Janice Sarich

Principe is a dental hygienist who placed a strong third in the October 2017 city council race that saw incumbent councillor Dave Loken unseated by Jon Dzadyk. Her October 2017 bid was most notable because of the money spent by the three major candidate in that contest.

In that municipal contest, a campaign budget of $119,937.69 could not save two-term councillor Dave Loken from defeat in October 2017. Loken placed second to Jon Dziadyk, whose campaign only expensed $9,950.00, and he finished narrowly ahead of third place candidate Principe, whose campaign expensed $4,941.54.

Sarich represented the district from 2008 until 2015 when she was unseated by New Democratic Party candidate Chris Nielsen. Before her time as an MLA she served as a trustee with the Edmonton Catholic School District from 2001 to 2007. She had been an enthusiastic supporter of Jason Kenney since he entered provincial politics in 2016.

Nielsen was first elected in 2015 with 67.9 percent of the vote and is seeking his party’s nomination for re-election. Former NDP candidate Ali Haymour has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.

Marlin Schimdt NDP MLA Edmonton Gold Bar Alberta Election 2019 politics

Marlin Schimdt

Schmidt nominated in Edmonton-Gold Bar

NDP MLA Marlin Schmidt has been nominated as his party’s candidate in Edmonton-Gold Bar.

As noted in a previous article, Schmidt was first elected in 2015, earning 68 percent of the vote in the 2015 election. He now serves as Minister of Advanced Education and will face a rematch against UCP candidate David Dorward, who Schmidt defeated in 2015 and placed a strong second against in 2012.

Lacombe-Ponoka UCP vote today

UCP members in the Lacombe-Ponoka district are selecting their candidate today. Incumbent MLA Ron Orr is facing a challenge from Lacombe City Councillor Thalia Hibbs. The polls close at 5:00 p.m.

Candidate nominations in all 87 of Alberta’s electoral districts are being tracked here.


CEO changes his mind about the NDP

The infamous Penthouse Press Conference on May 1, 2015.

The infamous Penthouse Press Conference of May 1, 2015.

Ashif Mawji appears to have had a change of heart. On May 1, 2015, Mawji was one of six prominent Edmonton CEOs to sign a letter warning Albertans of the dangers of electing an NDP government and one of five of those CEOs to participate in one of the most disastrous press conferences in Alberta’s electoral history.

Flash-forward to another press conference held at the Alberta Legislature yesterday. Mawji was one of four industry leaders to participate in an announcement with Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous about new investment connections to Silicon Valley.

When asked, he told reporters he had changed his mind about Alberta’s NDP government.

“I look for a government that has the same interest that I do, and my interest is Alberta first,” he said, according to a Postmedia report. “I see some really good moves in terms of listening to all of us — whether or not we supported the party. Politics aside, are we after the same thing? To me, it appears we are. We want Alberta to be better, to have good opportunities.”

The infamous Penthouse Press Conference on May 1, 2015.

Five CEOs hold a press conference in a penthouse boardroom

It was a case of political friendly fire.

With only days left before Election Day, the anti-NDP fear campaign was in full-gear but this shot might have been the final nail in the coffin for Alberta’s 44-year old Progressive Conservative Party government.

On May 1, 2015, five prominent Edmonton business leaders and PC Party donors, including then-University of Alberta Board of Governors Chairman Doug Goss, held a press conference in the penthouse boardroom of a downtown office building to warn Albertans against rejecting the Progressive Conservatives in the May 5 election.

The press conference was held the morning after PC leader Jim Prentice spoke to 1,500 guests at a $5,000 per table fundraising dinner at the Shaw Conference Centre. Even as the international price of oil had already started a sharp decline, he warned the dinner guests that a New Democratic Party government would be a blow for the corporations in Alberta.

The businessmen sat united in their opposition to NDP leader Rachel Notley‘s promise to raise taxes on corporations from 10 percent to 12 percent. Before the election was called, the PCs had proposed increases to personal income taxes and the introduction of a health care levy, but refused to touch corporate taxes. [note: Albertans overall still pay the lowest taxes in Canada, even after the NDP implemented increases following their election win].

A public letter released by the businessmen and their prepared statements at the press conference were fairly reasonable from a conservative business perspective, but the moment the men began answering questions from the media the event went off the rails.

One of the men questioned why he was being asked to pay more. “I have someone telling me that I need to pay more tax. Why is it me? Why the corporation?

Another claimed that corporate donations to children’s hospitals and charities would halt if the corporate tax rate was increased.

While I am sure this group of philanthropists and community leaders sincerely believed they were helping their friend, Mr. Prentice, these were very rich statements coming from a group of men who were sitting around a boardroom table that might have been worth as much as my house.

Sometimes your best friends can be your worst enemies. In this case, these PC donors (and soon after, the Postmedia-owned newspapers in Alberta) inflicted a considerable amount of damage on the PC Party campaign during the final week of the election. It was an incredibly tone deaf message to send to an electorate tired of years of Progressive Conservative mismanagement, infighting and scandals.

The penthouse press conference solidified the narrative that as the economy was slowing the PCs were putting the needs of the wealthy and their corporations before the needs of ordinary Albertans. It appeared as though the conservatives had forgotten how to be populists.


This post is the third in a series remembering some key moments from Alberta’s historic 2015 election. May 5, 2016 marks one year since that election. Read the first and second instalments.