Tag Archives: Rick Orman

[updated] lee richardson resigns, calgary-centre by-election could be a conservative proxy war.

Lee Richardson MP Calgary-Centre

Recently resigned MP Lee Richardson, soon to be Principal Secretary to Premier Alison Redford. (Photo from 5of7 on Flickr)

After a bitterly fought provincial election campaign drove a deep rift into Alberta’s conservative movement between the moderate institutional Progressive Conservatives and the ideologically-driven Wildrose Party, a federal by-election in Calgary may be the first real test of how united supporters of the federal Conservative Party supporters are in Alberta.

Alison Redford Alberta Election 2012 Conservative leader

Alison Redford

Calgary-Centre Member of Parliament Lee Richardson announced today that he is leaving Ottawa to become Principal Secretary to PC Premier Alison Redford in Edmonton. Mr. Richardson’s decision will boost Premier Redford’s credentials among federal Conservative supporters, many of whom were openly supportive of Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith in the recent election.

As a senior political advisor, Mr. Richardson is an old pro. From 1979 to 1983, Mr. Richardson was Chief of Staff to Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed and later served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. In last year’s PC leadership contest, Mr. Richardson supported candidate Rick Orman, who he worked with at the Legislative Assembly before he was first elected as a PC MP in Calgary-Southeast in 1988. He served until his defeat by Reform Party candidate Jan Brown in 1993. He re-entered federal politics as the Conservative MP for Calgary-Centre in 2004.

Triggering a by-election that will occur in the next six months, the contest for the Conservative Party nomination in this constituency could expose some uncomfortable cleavages between moderate and ideologically conservatives in Alberta.

Ezra Levant

Ezra Levant

A Twitter account supporting the possible candidacy of right-wing talk show host Ezra Levant was created within a hour of Mr. Richardson’s announcement. Many Albertans may remember Mr. Levant as the Wildrose Party’s biggest cheerleader on his cable news program during the recent provincial election. In 2002, he stepped down as the Canadian Alliance candidate in Calgary-Southwest to allow Stephen Harper to win a seat in the House of Commons.

Also rumoured as a potential candidates are Calgary Alderman John Mar, who has close connections to PC Party organizers, and recent Calgary-Klein Wildrose Party candidate Jeremy Nixon. Mr. Nixon placed second with more than 34% of the vote in the recent election. Although unlikely in my mind, one Conservative supporter emailed me this evening to name former Calgary-Glenmore Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman as a potential candidate.

Of course, the Conservatives could avoid a nasty nomination battle and simply acclaim a candidate, as they did to party organizer Michelle Rempel after cabinet minister Jim Prentice resigned as MP for Calgary-Centre North in 2010.

The Liberals earned respectable second-place votes in this constituency under its former boundaries in the 1990s, but have fallen further behind the Conservatives in recent elections.

In the 2011 federal election, Liberal candidate Jennifer Pollock placed second with 17% of the vote, a full 40% behind Mr. Richardson. Edmontonian parachute candidate Donna Montgomery earned 14% for the NDP.

While some sort of centre-left coalition could place a respectable second in the imminent Calgary-Centre by-election, it seems unlikely that anyone other a Conservative would win this vote.

UPDATE: Mr. Levant has declared he will not seek the nomination. Alderman Mar is considering running for the nomination.

gary mar ordered to take unpaid leave pending investigation. alberta pc party releases leadership campaign audited financial reports.

Gary Mar Alberta Representative to Asia

Gary Mar

Premier Alison Redford has ordered former cabinet minister Gary Mar, now the Government of Alberta’s representative in Asia, to take an unpaid leave of absence during an ethics investigation of a recent fundraiser held in Edmonton. Mr. Mar, who placed second in the 2011 PC leadership, hosted a fundraiser to help pay off his campaign debt, which exceeds $226,000.

CBC is reporting that one version of an invitation for the fundraiser mentioned Mr. Mar’s position in Asia and implied that ticket-holders would learn how to do business in Hong Kong.

PC Party releases audited leadership campaign financials
Financial statements from five of the six Progressive Conservative leadership campaigns who participated in the 2011 contest have been published on that party’s website. Former MLA Rick Orman, who now leads a government northern economic strategy group, is the only candidate who’s campaign had not submitted his records at the time the PC Party posted them online yesterday.

Audited documents
Doug Griffiths
Doug Horner
Gary Mar
Ted Morton
Alison Redford

Much of the financial contributions information in these audited documents is already known, as the candidates released some of their donation records during the course of the leadership campaign. It is sometimes interesting to see which businesses and lobby groups contribute to all campaigns, and the broad number of groups that participate in the governing party’s leadership campaigns.

Many of Alberta’s well-known corporations, like Telus and TransAlta, donated large sums of money to each candidate. Demonstrating just how wide the big blue tent is in Alberta, the Merit Contractors Association, an association of anti-union construction industry employers, is listed as having donated more than $71,000 to various leadership candidates, while Local 488 of the United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters donated $5,000 each to the campaigns of the top three placing candidates.

These audited documents also gives Albertans a closer look at the financial outcomes and expenses of the campaigns.

The campaign of second place Mr. Mar reported $2,687,155 in expenditures and a $262,099 deficit when the campaign period ended. This is a monumental amount of money and may be the first time that an unsuccessful Canadian provincial party leadership candidate has spent this much. Having watched Mr. Mar’s campaign, which included all the bells and whistles (from an Obama-style campaign bus to a mock cooking show), I am not shocked to discover that the expenses piled up. As noted at the beginning of this post, Mr. Mar is still trying to pay off his campaign debt.

Doug Griffiths‘ campaign spent $164,400 and retained a surplus of $10,068. The financial report notes that surplus funds will be used to create a post-secondary bursary for residents in Mr. Griffiths’ Battle River-Wainwright constituency.

Ted Morton‘s campaign reported $977,238 in expenses and $115,732 revenue in excess of expenditures. The surplus funds will be donated to the Glenbow Ranch Foundation and the University of Calgary Political Science department.

The campaign of now-Deputy Premier Doug Horner recorded $1,231,383 in expenses and recorded an $8,059 surplus. His financial disclosure form does not make note of where the surplus funds were allocated.

Premier Redford’s campaign spent $1,290,575 and was left with a $20,846 surplus when the campaign ended. The statement does not indicate what was done with the surplus funds.

Audited statements from three of the campaigns provided a breakdown in expenditures (Redford, Mar, and Morton). Mr. Morton and Premier Redford’s documents breakdown expenditures into a number of identifiable categories, while the majority of Mr. Mar’s expenses are lumped into the vague and all-encompassing “advertising and other campaign expenses” category.

Alison Redford PC leaderhship campaign 2011, Expenses

Alison Redford PC leadership campaign 2011, Expenses

Gary Mar PC leaderhship campaign 2011, Expenses

Gary Mar PC leadership campaign 2011, Expenses

Ted Morton PC leaderhship campaign 2011, Expenses

Ted Morton PC leadership campaign 2011, Expenses

redford’s ‘change from within’ is a nice slogan, but when you take a closer look…

Alison Redford Ed Stelmach Change

"Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss ..." Was Pete Townshend on to something?

Despite the narrative of “change from within” that was made popular after the October 1 leadership vote, the wave of change has not spilled far into the Progressive Conservative ranks since Alison Redford was elected into her new role one month ago.

- The Globe & Mail is reporting that the controversial Kelley Charlebois is expected to be appointed as the next Executive Director of the Alberta PC Party this week. Albertans may remember Mr. Charlebois as the owner of the company that was awarded $390,000 worth of controversial contracts to consult with with then-Health Minister Gary Mar between 2002 and 2004. During the recent PC leadership contest, Mr. Charlebois claimed that he was being unfairly targeted by the media.

- Long-time Tory strategist Susan Elliott has been appointed as the Progressive Conservative Party campaign manager for the next election. Along with 2008 campaign manager Randy Dawson, Ms. Elliott played a central role in Premier Ed Stelmach‘s election campaign.

- While Premier Redford did make a showing of dumping long-time Tory stalwarts from the provincial cabinet, many of the key ministers in her first cabinet are politicians played a central role in Premier Stelmach’s administration. Energy Minister Ted Morton, Human Services Minister Dave Hancock, Finance Minister Ron Liepert, Transportation Minister Ray Danyluk, Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk, and Deputy Premier Doug Horner were all key players in Premier Stelmach’s final cabinet.

- Shortly after being sworn-in office, Premier Redford appointed leadership opponent Mr. Mar as Alberta’s representative in Hong Kong. Mr. Mar’s leadership campaign manager Elan McDonald soon found her way back into the Premier’s office as Advisor to the Premier and Legislative Affairs. She had previously worked in Premier Stelmach’s office.

- It is unclear what his official title will be, but leadership opponent and former cabinet minister Rick Orman is expected to be appointed by Premier Redford to work on a northern Alberta development strategy.

- When entering office, Premier Redford’s transition team also included some old-time Tory connectors, including current Alberta Health Services Chairman Ken Hughes, who was a Tory Member of Parliament under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Nearly all incumbent PC MLA’s who have already been nominated for the next election have been acclaimed and of those who faced nomination challenges only one was defeated (and he is now seeking a nomination in a neighbouring constituency).

City of Leduc Alderman Dominic Mishio unsuccessfully challenged two-term backbencher George Rogers in Leduc-Beaumont, Lars Lehmann unsuccessfully challenged three-term backbencher Alana DeLong in Calgary-Bow, and Rick Fraser defeated three-term backbencher Art Johnston in Calgary-South East. Now the Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier, Mr. Johnston recently announced that he will be seeking nomination in a different constituency (his current constituency is being redistributed in the next election). Jeff Wedman is standing for the PC nomination in St. Albert, though there is some talk that current PC MLA Ken Allred will retire before the next election.

‘Change from within’ is a nice slogan, but when you take a closer look, it looks awfully close to what things look liked before.

blue man group plans to unite the right in alberta.

 

    The original blue man group united the right in Ottawa: Ted Morton, Stephen Harper, and Ken Boessenkool.

The original blue man group united the right in Ottawa: Ted Morton, Stephen Harper, and Ken Boessenkool.

Aiming to ‘unite the right’ in Alberta by mending fences in Alberta’s conservative political camps, a new “Alberta Blue Committee” has been formed by long-time conservative strategist Ken Boessenkool.

From the Edmonton Journal:

He has promised its members will reveal themselves next week and that Albertans will see them as “politically active, smart, young people,” mostly between the ages of 35 and 45, whom either the Tories or Wildrose Party would see as attractive candidates for cabinet posts depending on which party wins the next provincial election.

Despite claims by Journal columnist Lorne Gunter that the forty-year governing Progressive Conservatives sit in the “centre-left” or by Danielle Smith‘s Wildrose Party that leadership candidates Doug Horner, Gary Mar, and Alison Redford are too “progressive” for the average Alberta, anyone with basic understanding of these concepts will see that the labels do not fit. (See Robert Remington’s recent column in the Calgary Herald for more on this topic).

Mr. Boessenkool’s new initiative appears to be based on a perceived threat of a vote split between the two main conservative parties in the next provincial general election.

The province’s only traditional “left” political party, the New Democrats, are vocal, but their support has been electorally limited to a handful of urban pockets across the province (mostly in Edmonton). The Alberta Party, a new centrist alternative led by Hinton Mayor Glenn Taylor, are slowly organizing and still need to prove that they can elect an MLA.

Even the official opposition Alberta Liberals, now led by former Conservative MLA Raj Sherman, need to figure out what they stand for before they can be seen as challenging the two dominant conservative parties (and decide if they want to be the third).

second-ballot math: alberta tory caucus splits between redford, mar, horner.

Map-of-MLA-support-in-the-2011-Alberta-PC-leadership-contest-September-21-2011

Map of MLA support in the 2011 Alberta PC leadership contest (September 21, 2011)

The three candidates eliminated on the first-ballot vote to choose the next leader of Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives have all announced their support for front-runner Gary Mar. Carrying 40% of the vote on the first-ballot, it is understandable why the three would endorse the front-runner in terms of both personal political calculation and party unity.

Scattering a little differently, the group of MLAs who supported the three eliminated candidates have begun to throw their support among the remaining candidates.

Leadership candidate Doug Horner held a media conference yesterday to announce that Ted Morton supporter Edmonton-Mill Woods MLA Carl Benito was joining his campaign.

Other supporters of Dr. Morton, Calgary-Lougheed MLA Dave Rodney, Edmonton-Calder MLA Doug Elniski, and Edmonton-McClung MLA David Xiao, are backing second place candidate Alison Redford.

The only MLA to follow Dr. Morton’s lead into Mr. Mar’s camp is St. Albert MLA Ken Allred. It has been speculated that Housing Minister and Calgary-Egmont MLA Jonathan Denis may endorse Mr. Mar this week. (UPDATE: Minister Denis has endorsed Mar).

Including Minister Denis, there remain five MLA supporters of Dr. Morton who have yet to throw their support behind any of the top three candidates (as far as I am aware). Those remaining MLAs are Livingstone-Macleod MLA Evan Berger, Highwood MLA George Groeneveld, Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview MLA Tony Vandermeer, and Edmonton-Manning MLA Peter Sandhu.

Doug Griffiths‘ only caucus supporter, Calgary-North Hill MLA Kyle Fawcett, is also backing Alison Redford.

Meanwhile, Dr. Morton’s campaign manager Sam Armstrong, remained critical of Mr. Mar’s candidacy. Mr. Armstrong told the Calgary Herald in an interview that:

“It’s the same old, Old Boys’ Club around Gary that’s been there forever”

Mr. Orman’s endorsement of Mr. Mar was also not enough to convince his campaign manager Patrick Walsh to come along. Mr. Walsh is now supporting Ms. Redford’s campaign.

Check out the Alberta PC Leadership page on this blog to track MLA support for candidates on the second ballot.

doing second-ballot math: ted morton and rick orman endorse gary mar.

Ted Morton Gary Mar Alberta Conservatives
Ted Morton has endorsed Gary Mar

Ted Morton and Rick Orman have endorsed Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership front-runner Gary Mar.

It is unclear how many of Dr. Morton’s supporters may show up to support Mr. Mar on the second-ballot vote on October 1, but it may have saved his political career, which appeared to be close to an end when the former Finance Minister placed a distant fourth with 11% of the vote on September 17.

Mr. Orman placed fifth with 10% of the vote. One Tory insider emailed me this morning suggesting that Mr. Orman’s endorsement could lead to his appointment as Alberta’s envoy in Washington D.C., a job Mr. Mar held until earlier this year.

Two days ago it was difficult to see anyone defeating Mr. Mar on the second ballot. It feels even less likely now.

Conservative versus Progressive?

Since the first-ballot vote eliminated Dr. Morton and Mr. Orman, the hard-edged conservatives of the group, the Wildrose and their friends at the Toronto National Post have been spinning the narrative that the progressives (or “soft-centrists”) have defeated the conservatives in this contest. While the endorsement of the two more “conservative” candidates will aid Mr. Mar in dispelling this attack, I am not sure that I would put a “progressive” label or Mr. Mar, or either of the other two remaining candidates.

Like Dr. Morton, front-runner Mr. Mar has expressed solid support for privatized health care. Mr. Mar’s comments put him in the unfortunate position of appearing more supportive of the Americanization than even Wildrose leader Danielle Smith, who supports the introduction of private facilities, but sticks to finely-tuned talking points when talking about full-privatization. Of course, spin alley is in a near traffic jam trying to explain away Mr. Mar’s feelings towards having Albertans pay out of pocket for health care.

While the remaining three candidates may not espouse hard edged conservatism like Dr. Morton or Mr. Orman, the three candidates have received financial support from not-so-progressive groups, like the Merit Contractors Association, which is an anti-union lobby group in the construction industry.

All three candidates have received support from across the center and right of the political spectrum. Like Mr. Mar, Ms. Redford has received the support of Liberals and Red Tories alike, including former federal candidate Kevin Taron, former provincial candidate Beth Gignac, and former Prime Minister Joe Clark. Mr. Horner is certainly a moderate conservative and has received the support of longtime MLA and Assembly Speaker Ken Kowalski, who’s campaign once published an election ad stating that “While human beings can create laws, the laws of God must take precedence.”