Tag Archives: Rob Renner

alberta tories holding a packed nomination week.

I have updated the list of nominated Alberta election candidates to include the following three Progressive Conservative nominees:

Edmonton-Centre: Young lawyer Akash Khokhar defeated Nicole Martel to win the PC nomination. In the next election, Mr. Khokhar will face Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman, who has represented the constituency since 1997.

Edmonton-Gold Bar: Past Mayoral candidate David Dorward defeated past City Council candidate Lori Jeffrey-Heany to become the PC candidate. This is Mr. Dorward’s second attempt at becoming MLA in Gold Bar. In 2008, he placed second to Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald, who will be retiring at the next election.

Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville: Strathcona County Councillor Jacquie Fenske defeated Tofield Mayor Nabil Chehayeb, former Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Jim SheasgreenGene Hrabec, and Adam Kozakiewicz to become the PC candidate. Former Premier Ed Stelmach has represented this region since 1993.

UPCOMING NOMINATION MEETINGS

The PCs will be holding a packed week of nomination meetings that will see Alberta’s 40 year governing party nearly fill its entire slate of 87 candidates. Two final nomination meetings are scheduled to be held in February to replace MLAs who recently announced their retirements.

I will be away from my blog for the next week, so to earn forgiveness for my absence, here is a look at the PC nomination meetings that will be happening in the final week of January. I will provide updates when I return.

Calgary-Glenmore (January 26, 2012): Lawyer Byron Nelson and Linda Johnson are seeking the PC nomination.

Bridget Pastoor Lethbridge-East MLA

Bridget Pastoor

Lethbridge-East (January 26, 2012): Former Liberal MLA Bridget Pastoor is facing Lethbridge County Reeve Lorne Hickey for the PC nomination. Ms. Pastoor has represented the constituency since 2004 and cross the floor to join the PC caucus in late 2011. Lethbridge Alderman Jeff Carlson and Lethbridge Senior Citizens Origanization executive director Rob Miyashiro announced this week that they will seek the Liberal nomination (date not scheduled). The constituency has been represented by Liberal MLAs since 1993.

Edmonton-Riverview (January 27, 2012): Edmonton police office Steve Young and businessman Tom Choucair are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency has been represented by Liberal MLA Kevin Taft, who is not seeking re-election.

Edmonton-Strathcona (January 27, 2012): No candidate stepped forward to claim the nomination, though the date is still listed on the PC Party website.

Kelly Hegg Airdrie

Kelly Hegg

Airdrie (January 28, 2012): Former Airdrie Mayor Linda Bruce, Councillor Kelly Hegg, and Michael Crawford are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency is represented by MLA Rob Anderson, who left the PC Party in 2010 to join the Wildrose Alliance.

Banff-Cochrane (January 28, 2012): The PC nomination contest has drawn a crowd to replace retiring MLA Janis Tarchuk. Real Estate broker Jon Bjorgum, Canmore Mayor Ron CaseyRob Seeley, businessman John Fitzsimmons and Cochrane Mayor Truper McBride are seeking the nomination.

Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock (January 28, 2012): The retirement of Speaker Ken Kowalski, who has represented this region since 1979, has attracted five candidates including Morinville Mayor Lloyd Bertschi, Westlock Town Councillor David Truckey, ministerial executive assistant Tim Schultz, and Westlock County Councillors Maureen Kubinec and Bert Seatter.

Brian Holtby Calgary-Currie PC

Brian Holtby

Calgary-Currie (January 28, 2012): Candidates seeking the PC nomination include school principal Christine Cusanelli long-time PC Party organizer Dale Galbraith, lawyer Brian HoltbyStefan Spargo, and former MLA Jon Lord.

Calgary-Hawkwood (January 28, 2012): This newly created constituency has attracted the most candidates of any nomination contest of the 2012 election. Kiron Banik, Farouk Adatia, Sumita AnandJason Luan, Adam Idris, Jerry Mandryk, Chris Roberts, Kumar Sharma, Doug Stevens, and Darryl Wernham are contesting the PC nomination.

Calgary-Varsity (January 28, 2012): Former Nexen Vice-President Donna Kennedy-Glans is facing Ph.D. business student Rhiannon MacDonnell. The constituency has been represented by Liberal MLA Harry Chase since 2004. Mr. Chase is retiring at the next election.

Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo (January 28, 2012): Four candidates have lined up to earn the right to face PC-turned-Wildrose MLA Guy Boutiler as the PC candidate. Candidates include Councillor Mike Allen, teacher Andrew Highfield, Nick Sanders, and School Trustee Jeff Thompson.

Tab Pollock Grande Prairie-Smoky

Tab Pollock

Grande Prairie-Smoky (January 28, 2012): The retirement of former cabinet minister Mel Knight has sparked a three-way nomination contest that has drawn Grande Prairie County Reeve Everett McDonald, Tab Pollock, and Tom Burton.

Highwood (January 28, 2012): Associate publisher at the Okotoks Western Wheel John BarlowJohn Hankins, and Okotoks Town Councillor Ed Sands are seeking the PC nomination. Wildrose leader Danielle Smith is also seeking election in this constituency.

Little Bow (January 28, 2012): Deputy Reeve of the County of Lethbridge Henry Doeve  and former County Councillor John Kolk are seeking the PC nomination.

Medicine Hat (January 28, 2012): Former Alderman Darren Hirsch, retired school district superintendent Linda Rossler, and Investment Advisor Dan Hein are seeking the PC nomination to replace long-time MLA Rob Renner. Mr. Hein is the former campaign manager for Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne

Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood (January 30, 2012): Past City Council candidate Cris Basualdo and Emerson Mayers are the two candidates I have heard are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency has been represented by NDP MLA Brian Mason since 2000.

Edmonton-South West (January 30, 2012): This new constituency has drawn the candidacy of four PC nominees Charles Balenga, Tofael Chowdhury, Matt Jeneroux, and Eva Mah-Borsato.

Calgary-Buffalo (January 30, 2012): Donna Haslam is the only candidate that I am aware of who is seeking the PC nomination. The constituency has been represented by popular Liberal MLA Kent Hehr since 2008.

Edmonton-Mill Woods (January 31, 2012): Despite bizarre nomination shenanigans, the PC nomination contest will still include Ron RandhawaSohail Qadri, and controversy-prone MLA Carl Benito.

St. Albert (January 31, 2012): School Trustee Jacquie Hansen, businessman Stephen Khan, and retired armed forces pilot Jeff Wedman are seeking the PC nomination to replace retiring one-term MLA Ken Allred.

alberta election candidate update – january 2012.

With an election fast approaching, Alberta’s political parties are busy nominating candidates across the province. Here is a regional breakdown showing where candidates have been nominated and some of the recent updates.

Nominated Alberta Election candidates by region (January 16, 2012)

Nominated Alberta Election candidates by region (January 16, 2012)

Airdrie: Former Airdrie Mayor Linda Bruce and current Alderman Kelly Hegg are seeking the Progressive Conservative nomination.

Banff-Cochrane: Real Estate broker Jon Bjorgum, Canmore Mayor Ron Casey have Rob Seeley have joined businessman John Fitzsimmons and Cochrane Mayor Truper McBride in the contest for the PC nomination on January 28, 2012. The Liberal Party nomination is scheduled to take place on January 26, 2012.

Bonnyville-Cold Lake: The Wildrose Party is searching for a candidate to replace Chuck Farrer, who has withdrawn his candidacy. Mr. Farrer was nominated in October 2010.

Norm Kelly Alberta Party candidate Calgary-Currie

Norm Kelly

Calgary-Currie: Lawyer Norm Kelly has been acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate.

Calgary-GlenmoreLinda Johnson will face lawyer Byron Nelson for the PC nomination. The constituency is currently represented by Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman, who was elected in a 2010 by-election.

Calgary-Hawkwood: Sumita Anand has joined declared candidates Farouk AdatiaJason Luan, Chris Roberts, Kumar Sharma, and Doug Stevens in the PC nomination contest.

Calgary-McCall: It is a full house in the PC nomination contest on January 21, 2012 with 10 candidates having entered the race. Candidates include Khandaker Alam, Deepshikha Brar, Afzal Hanid, Amtul Khan, Jamie Lall, Aslam Malik, Ravi Prasad, Muhammad Rasheed, Jagdeep Sahota, and Jangbahadur Sidhu.

Calgary-Mountain View: Lawyer Cecilia Low was acclaimed as the PC candidate. This constituency has been represented by Liberal MLA David Swann since 2004.

Calgary-Northwest: First reported on this blog, former cabinet minster Lindsay Blackett will not be seeking re-election. Sandra Jansen announced yesterday that she will be seeking the PC nomination. Ms. Jansen is a former news anchor for Global Television and has served as Communications Manager for Premier Alison Redford‘s Southern Alberta Office since late last year.

Calgary-Shaw: The Alberta Party will be holding a nomination meeting on January 30, 2012. At this time, Brandon Beasley is the only declared candidate.

Calgary-West: Allan Ryan and former Calgary-McCall MLA Shiraz Shariff have joined Calgary Police Sergeant Mike Ellis and Ken Hughes.

Nicole Martel Edmonton-Centre PC nomination candidate

Nicole Martel

Edmonton-Centre: Urban Development Institute executive director Nicole Martel is seeking the PC nomination scheduled for January 24, 2012. Ms. Martel was the federal Liberal candidate in Edmonton-East in the 2006 election and a candidate for the Liberal nomination in Edmonton-Centre in 2008.

Edmonton-Ellerlise: Past Public School Board candidate Tina Jardine has withdrawn her name as the NDP candidate for personal reasons.

Edmonton-Gold Bar: Dennis O’Neill was acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate.

Edmonton-Mill Woods: Despite bizarre nomination shenanigans, the PCs will hold their nomination meeting on January 28, 2012. Candidates include Ron Randhawa, Sohail Qadri, and controversy-prone MLA Carl Benito.

Edmonton-Riverview: Taleb Choucair, Edmonton Police Officer Steve Young, and former Public School Trustee Bev Esslinger are seeking the PC nomination on January 27, 2012.

Edmonton-South WestAllan Hunsperger is the nominated Wildrose candidate. Matt Jeneroux and Tofael Chowdhury are competing in the PC nomination scheduled for January 30, 2012. Mr. Choudhury was a candidate for the federal Liberal nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona in 2008.

Doug Faulkner Fort McMurray-Conklin Wildrose

Doug Faulkner

Fort McMurray-Conklin: Former Wood Buffalo Mayor Doug Faulkner was acclaimed as the Wildrose candidate. Mr. Faulkner was a federal PC candidate in the 2000 election and federal Liberal candidate in the 2004 election. Councillor Don Scott was acclaimed as the PC candidate.

Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo: Andrew Highfield has joined declared candidates Mike Allen, Nick Sanders, and Jeff Thompson in competing for the PC nomination scheduled for January 28, 2012.

Lethbridge-East: Lethbridge County Reeve Lorne Hickey is challenging Liberal-turned-Tory MLA Bridget Pastoor for the PC nomination scheduled for January 26, 2012.

Medicine Hat: Darren Hirsch and Linda Rossler are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency is currently represented by 17-year MLA Rob Renner, who is not seeking re-election.

Red Deer-North: Well-known local historian Michael Dawe is seeking the Liberal nomination scheduled to be held on January 19, 2012.

Sherwood Park: Six candidates are vying for the PC nomination on January 21, 2012 to replace outgoing MLA Iris Evans. Declared candidates include Matthew Bissett, County Councillor Brian Botterill, Helen Calahasen, Murray Hutchinson, former Mayor Cathy Oleson, and local PC organizer Susan Timanson. Ms. Calahasen is the sister of long-time Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pearl Calahasen.

Vermilion-Lloydminster: Dr. Richard Starke was acclaimed as the PC candidate to replace outgoing MLA Lloyd Snelgrove.

Senator-in-Waiting Election 
Former PC Member of Parliament Douglas Fee has joined the PC nomination contest, to be held on February 10 and 11. Mr. Fee served as the MP for Red Deer from 1988 to 1993.

alberta election candidate update: january 2012.

The list of candidates nominated to stand in the next provincial general election continues to grow.

Nominated Alberta Election Candidates by Region January 3 2012

Nominated Alberta Election Candidates by Region (January 3, 2012)

Here are some of the updates that I have recently made to the list:

Banff-Cochrane: Nominated Wildrose Party candidate Trudy Heuser has stepped down as her party’s candidate, citing personal reasons. The former school trustee was criticized after her nominated by local Wildrose members who called the process unfair. Canmore businessman John Fitzsimmons and Cochrane Mayor Truper McBride have entered the Progressive Conservative nomination contest to replace retiring MLA Janis Tarchuk. The nomination meeting is scheduled for January 28, 2012.

Lloyd Bertschi Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock PC nomination candidate

Morinville Mayor Lloyd Bertschi

Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock: Tim Schultz, Maureen Kubinec, Lloyd Bertschi, and Bert Seatter are the second, third, and fourth candidates to enter the PC nomination contest to replace retiring ten term MLA Ken Kowalski. Mr. Shultz is the former executive assistant to Deputy Premier Doug Horner. Ms. Kubinec is Deputy Reeve of Westlock County and the former President of the Alberta School Boards Association. Mr. Bertschi is the Mayor of Morinville and the former President of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association. Mr. Seatter is a member of Westlock County Council. The first candidate to enter the contest was Westlock Town Councillor David Truckey. The nomination meeting is scheduled for January 28, 2012.

Bonnyville-Cold Lake: Past federal Liberal candidate Rob Fox has expressed interest in the Liberal Party nomination in this northeast Alberta constituency. Mr. Fox placed third with 6.1% of the vote in the May 2011 federal vote.

Calgary-East: Liberal Party activist Michelle Robinson is seeking her party’s nomination.

Calgary-Hawkwood: Local radio personality Kumar Sharma is seeking the PC nomination.

Ken Hughes Alberta Calgary-West

Former AHS Chairman Ken Hughes

Calgary-West: Recently resigned Alberta Health Services chairman Ken Hughes is seeking the PC nomination, which is being vacated by current Finance Minister Ron Liepert. Mr. Hughes served as Chairman of AHS since 2008 and was a PC Member of Parliament from 1988 until 1993. Also seeking the nomination is Calgary Police Service Sergeant Mike Ellis.

Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview: Prolific tweeter Don Martin has been acclaimed as the Wildrose Party candidate.

Edmonton-Calder: Alex Bosse is seeking the Liberal Party nomination in this north west Edmonton constituency. Mr. Bosse was previously seeking the nomination in St. Albert, but told this blogger that he was convinced by the party to run in Calder instead.

Edmonton-Ellerslie: Past City Council candidate Chinwe Okelu was acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate in this southeast Edmonton constituency.

Edmonton-Gold Bar: Past City Council candidate Lori Jeffery-Heaney is challenging past Mayoral candidate David Dorward for the PC nomination. The nomination meeting is scheduled for January 25, 2012.

Fort McMurray Conklin: Catholic School Trustee Keith McGrath is considering seeking the Wildrose nomination. UPDATE: Mr. McGrath has withdrawn his name from the Wildrose contest.

Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo: Public School Board Trustee Jeff Thompson is seeking the PC nomination. The constituency is currently represented by Wildrose MLA Guy Boutilier. The nomination meeting is scheduled for January 28, 2012.

Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville: Chris Fulmer is the nominated NDP candidate.

Grande Prairie-Smoky: Todd Loewen was nominated as the Wildrose canddiate, defeating Duane Stevenson and Bret McNally.

Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills: Lac La Biche County Councillor John Nowak was nominated as the Liberal candidate.

Rob Renner MLA is retiring

MLA Rob Renner is retiring.

Medicine Hat: After 18 years as a PC MLA and cabinet minister, Rob Renner has announced that he will not seek re-election. Mr. Renner was first elected in 1993, defeating Liberal candidate and future Mayor Garth Vallely by 151 votes. He was re-elected in 2008 by a margin of 1,763 votes.

Sherwood Park: Strathcona PC President Sue Timanson is seeking the PC nomination in the neighbouring Sherwood Park constituency. Also seeking the nomination are PC Party activist Matthew Bissett, former Strathcona County Mayor Cathy Olesen, and current County Councillor Brian Botterill.

St. Albert: Morinville Vice-Principal Sleight Anstruther is the fifth candidate to join the PC nomination contest in this constituency. The nomination meeting is scheduled for January 31, 2012.

With a General Election expected to be held in the next few months, the PCs have scheduled nomination meetings in Airdrie, Calgary-Currie, Calgary-Fish Creek, Calgary-GlenmoreCalgary-Mackay-Nose Hill, Calgary-Mountain View, Calgary-McCall, Calgary-VarsityEdmonton-Meadowlark, Edmonton-Riverview, Edmonton-South West, Highwood, Lethbridge-East, and Vermilion-Lloydminster.

I will post updates from these constituencies when I receive them. Please email david.cournoyer@gmail.com if you have updates that you would like to share.

 

alison redford appoints gary mar’s cabinet.

Alberta cabinet ministers

Tory MLAs gather for the traditional game musical chairs to choose the new Cabinet.

Do you think Gary Mar left a draft cabinet list in the Premier’s Office when he was measuring the drapes? Because Premier Alison Redford found it.

We were told to expect big changes, that many “household names” would be dropped from cabinet, but as they enter their new jobs, Premier Alison Redford‘s cabinet looks like one that should have been made by her main leadership opponent Gary Mar.

Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Fred Horne‘s appointment as Minister of Health and Wellness and Ron Liepert‘s appointment as Finance Minister means that there will be no serious judicial inquiry into the intimidation of health care workers. Minister Liepert’s promotion from Energy to Finance is surprising considering that only last week he was openly defying Premier Redford on the need for a health care inquiry. Both Mr. Horne and Mr. Liepert were strong supporters of Mr. Mar in the leadership contest and would have likely ended up in similar positions had he not been defeated on the third ballot vote on October 1.

It has yet to be seen what new powers Minister Liepert will hold as Finance Minister. Remember that in recent cabinets, the President of the Treasury Board has held considerable sway over the province’s purse-strings. This could mean that ‘Liepert the Hound‘ could turn into ‘Liepert the Pup‘ when dealing with the current Treasury Board President and Deputy Premier Doug Horner.

New Alberta Cabinet Map

A map of the constituencies represented by members of Alberta's new cabinet.

Former Finance Minister Ted Morton is moving into the Energy Minister’s office, an area where he will be comfortable defending the province’s record on oil sands development. New Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk is a cabinet lightweight who will have to be a quick study if he wants to survive in his new job. He and Premier Redford started things off right this afternoon with the announcement adding $100 million into the education budget today. Both Minister Morton and Minister Lukaszuk supported Mr. Mar on the final ballot of the PC leadership contest.

The appointment of Battle River-Wainwright MLA Doug Griffiths as Minister of Municipal Affairs could turn out to be an interesting choice. Minister Griffiths, who was defeated on the first ballot of the PC leadership contest and has never served in cabinet, comes with both inexperience and an open-mind. Despite his rural pedigree, I would not discount his ability to build relationships with the group of young municipal leaders who have been elected in recent years, including Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Edmonton City Councillor Don Iveson.

The appointment of Edmonton-Whitemud MLA and long-time cabinet minister Dave Hancock (also a Mar loyalist) as Minister of the new Human Services super-ministry is a smart choice. Minister Hancock is a seasoned govern0r who may be the only MLA who can help weave and organize this newly formed portfolio, which includes Children and Youth Services, Employment and Immigration (except for immigration), Homelessness, Alberta Supports (from Seniors and Community Supports).

Rewarded for his most (if only) significant political decision is backbench MLA Art Johnston, who was appointed Parliamentary Assistant to Executive Council (which means he gets to carry Premier Redford’s briefing binder in the Assembly). Mr. Johnston was the only MLA to support Ms. Redford on the first ballot of the PC leadership vote.

Some much needed new blood around the cabinet table includes Drayton Valley-Calmar MLA Diana McQueen as Minister of Environment and Water, Calgary-Montrose MLA Manmeet Bhullar as Minister of Service Alberta, Athabasca-Redwater MLA Jeff Johnson as Minister of Infrastructure, and Red Deer-South MLA Cal Dallas as Minister of International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations.

Notable cabinet ministers joining the great unwashed masses in the Tory backbenches include Sherwood Park MLA Iris Evans, Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Lloyd Snelgrove, Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Luke Ouellette, Edmonton-Mill Creek MLA Gene Zwozdesky, Calgary-Cross MLA Yvonne Fritz, Calgary-Shaw MLA Cindy Ady, and Medicine Hat MLA Rob Renner. It would not be surprising to see these now backbench MLAs and others decide to collect their million dollar severance packages and not stand in the next election.

Not to be unexpected, it did not take long for the rumour mill to start suggesting what next steps these former cabinet ministers might take. If he is not retiring, one rumour I heard today suggests that Mr. Zwozdesky may seek re-election and challenge Speaker Ken Kowalski for his position in the Assembly after the next election.

Avoiding one of former Premier Ed Stelmach‘s first mistakes, this cabinet reaches a respectable geographical balance. Four cabinet minister each from Calgary and Edmonton and the remaining twelve spread across the province.

alberta politics notes 1/07/2011

Albertans appointed to the Federal Cabinet
Two Alberta Conservative MPs were included in a recent cabinet shuffle in Ottawa. Macleod MP Ted Menzies was appointed as the Minister of State (Finance) and Calgary-Nose Hill MP Diane Ablonczy was appointed as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas). These two minor appointments were meant to offset the loss of Environment Minister Jim Prentice from the federal cabinet in Ottawa.

Provincial Cabinet Shuffle
The Spring Sitting of the Legislative Assembly could be delayed by the PCs. In preparation for the next election, Premier Ed Stelmach is expected to bring in some new faces and ask old faces planning to retire in the expected March 2012 election to step aside. Three Ministers prime for retirement appear to include Environment Minister Rob Renner, Children and Youth Services Minister Minister Yvonne Fritz, and Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky, who will have each served as MLAs for 18 years by the time of the next election is expected. Also rumoured for retirement include Education Minister Dave Hancock and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Iris Evans, who were first elected in 1997. Potential additions to a new cabinet could include Parliamentary Assistants Drayton Valley-Calmar MLA Diana McQueenAthabasca-Redwater MLA Jeff Johnson, and Livingstone-Macleod MLA Evan Berger.

Raj Against the Machine Tour
Independent Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Raj Sherman is hitting the road this spring on a province-wide town hall tour to hear Albertans’ views on health care. Dr. Sherman was kicked out of the PC caucus in November 2010 when he publicly criticized the PC government’s record on health care and singled out former Health Minister Ron Liepert as a problem. The good Doctor Sherman is also the newest MLA to join Twitter, where he can be found at @RajShermanMLA

NDP MLA Brian Mason at a media conference his week.

NDP tackle the Tories on Long-term Care
NDP MLA Brian Mason raised some fair criticisms of the PC Government’s handling of Long-term Care as the new Villa Caritas facility opened near the Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton. Many of the beds in the Covenant Health-operated Villa Caritas were originally slated as Long-term Care spaces, but were later changed to include geriatric mental health patients transferred from Alberta Hospital Edmonton. According to the NDP, there are more than 600 people on the waiting list for long-term care beds in Edmonton.

Alberta Party leadership candidates emerge.
Chris Tesarski is the first person to publicly declare their candidacy for the leadership of the new Alberta Party. Mr. Tesarski is the owner of a Calgary-based energy company Sandbox Energy Corporation and has listed an extensive biography on his website.

Also expected to join the contest is three-term Town of Hinton Mayor Glenn Taylor, who is expected to launch his campaign for the new Alberta Party leadership in the next few weeks. Mayor Taylor was first elected to his current job in 2004. This would not be his first foray into provincial politics as he was the NDP candidate in West Yellowhead in the 1997 General Election when he placed a strong third with 20% of the vote.

Liberal course correction
With a change in communications staff this week, the Liberals are trying to get their house in order for 2011. I broke the story and you can read more here and here.

Alberta is a member of the mighty Plains-to-Port Alliance.

Around the world in 21 days
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Iris Evans is gearing up for a trip around the globe that will land her in Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom from January 10 to 31, 2011. Cypress-Medicine Hat PC MLA Len Mitzel recently travelled to Texas for a three day trip to a meeting of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance meeting. I generally support sending representatives to promote Alberta internationally, but with the total amount of travel time being logged by cabinet ministers and PC MLAs, now might be the time to have a serious discussion about the value of these trips.

The Alberta-China Connection
The Calgary Herald has published the first of a four part series of articles written by Jason Fekete investigating the Province of Alberta’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China.

Wildrose nominations heat up
The Wildrose Alliance lost a candidate when Milvia Bauman resigned last week, but that party is still attracting candidates in other constituencies. In Calgary-McCall, a contest will see Khalil Karbani and Grant Galpin face off for the nomination. Mr. Gaplin is listed as the Spokesperson for the Airport Trail Access Committee, which has been Liberal MLA Darshan Kang‘s Number 1 issue in the Assembly over the past year. On the other side of north Calgary, Kevin Dick is standing for the Wildrose nomination in Calgary-Varsity.

View an updates lists of nominated and declared candidates standing in the next provincial general election.

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.

2010 in review: alberta politics.

This past year has been a fascinating one in Alberta politics. We have felt the rise of a new political opposition, witnessed more floor crossings than in decades, and a long-serving government that is trying desperately to find a direction. What have the changes in the past year meant for Alberta’s political players and what will it mean for them in 2011?
Progressive Conservatives
The challenges facing the PC Party on the eve of 2011 are similar to the challenges they faced a year ago. During the mid and late 1990s, the PCs were driven by an all-consuming desire to defeat the provincial deficit and debt. Once those goals were accomplished in the mid-2000s, the PCs lost their driving force. As in 2009, they continued to drift through 2010, without a defining purpose.

To say that the government was on auto-pilot in 2010 might be too generous a description because even that assumes that the ship is purposefully being steered in one direction. This is not to say that the PCs have driven Alberta into the ground. Alberta is still one of the most economically vibrant regions in Canada, but even the biggest optimist would admit that with a lack of strong leadership an institutional mediocrity has begun to define the leadership of Premier Ed Stelmach.

Protecting the reputation of the oil sands has become a raison d’aitre for many cabinet ministers, including Premier Stelmach and Environment Minister Rob Renner, but issues like health care have overshadowed these environmental issues on a domestic level. The firing of Alberta Health Services CEO Stephen Duckett along with a public shaming by the ER Doctors, and a very public battle with Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Dr. Raj Sherman over Emergency Room wait-times turned the Tories to damage control mode late in 2010.

The PCs had initially hoped to turn health care as one of their positive stories of 2010 and promised one of the most important pieces of health care legislation in decades. The flagship Alberta Health Act was initially created to bring all health care laws under one piece of legislation, but once it made it to the Assembly floor, it was watered down to include a non-binding health charter and empowering the Health Minister to make more decisions in closed door cabinet meetings, rather than through Legislative votes.

In a number of year end interviews, Premier Stelmach has already begun managing expectations for 2011, stating that the provincial budget deficit may not be paid down until 2013, which creates an interesting political environment for an election expected in March 2012. The Premier has also stated that he will shuffle his cabinet in early 2011 in advance of the next election.

The next year will give the PCs an opportunity to mend some fences in their former stronghold of Calgary. The election of Mayor Naheed Nenshi in October 2010 could create a new cooperative tone between the Premier and the Mayor of Alberta’s largest city (a relationship that was not kind to the Premier when Dave Bronconnier was Mayor). If the PCs are unable to regain lost ground in Calgary, they might begin asking what, or who, caused their decline in support, and whether the reason responsible should be replaced.

Liberals
After being elbowed to the sideline by the growing narrative of the Wildrose Alliance as the next government-in-waiting in 2010, the Liberal Party’s biggest challenge in 2011 is to be relevant. Unable to defeat the PCs after 17 years as the Official Opposition, the Liberal Party has started to look and feel like yesterday’s opposition party.

The party has paid down its enormous debt and the caucus has released a series of new policies, but under David Swann‘s leadership the party has been unable to show any momentum as it slipped to third place in nearly every poll in 2010.

The departure of Calgary-Currie MLA Dave Taylor in April 2010 hurt the Liberals and I am told that many of the party’s traditional big donors in Edmonton are not pleased with the current leadership or Dr. Swann’s last minute appeal for cooperation with other opposition parties. With up to three of the party’s eight MLAs planning on retiring at the next election, the party is hoping to draw on a number of former MLAs defeated in the 2008 election to bolster its slate in the next election. Not exactly the sign of renewal that they will need to build momentum.

Wildrose Alliance
The past year has been a spectacular one for the Wildrose Alliance. With four MLAs, that party now has the third largest caucus in the Assembly, the most charismatic leader, Danielle Smith, a slew of staffers and organizers who have fled the PCs, a growing membership, and a group of 26 already nominated candidates knocking on doors across the province. The annual fundraising reports expected to be released by Elections Alberta in March 2011 will reveal another part of this party’s story in 2010 and will show if they will be able to compete with the PC Party’s multi-million dollar war chest.

The Wildrose Alliance is becoming more adept at using political wedge issues to draw out the weakness of the governing PCs. For example, where the PCs will never admit that they have ever attempted to increase privatization of our public health care system, the Wildrose Alliance is much more open with their desire to introduce private insurance and private providers (of course, their arguments around private health care delivery hit a bump in the road when they decided to defend the bankrupt Health Resource Centre in Calgary).

On the municipal front, Ms. Smith briefly entered the City Centre Airport redevelopment debate and received a stunning rebuke from Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel. While Ms. Smith’s entry into the debate does not appear to have helped that cause, it did give her party the opportunity to organize in their weakest region of the province (a maneuver that appears to have paid off).

A party cannot grow this fast without bumps along the road and the Wildrose has had a few. A few months ago, the entire Board of Directors of that party’s Little Bow Constituency Association resigned over allegations of central party interference in the nomination contest that selected Ian Donovan over Kevin Kinahan in November 2010. This week, the Board of Directors of the Medicine Hat Wildrose Constituency Association resigned over the acclamation of candidate Milvia Bauman.

New Democratic Party
The NDP are well… the NDP. The party’s two MLAs, Brian Mason and Rachel Notley, were vocal opponents in the Assembly this year and the party hosted a reasonably well-attended policy conference. The NDP Caucus released some positive policy this year, but rather than offering a constructive alternative to the current government the two MLAs fell back into the comfortable opposition attack-dog position.

The party shows very little signs of serious growth in the polls outside its traditional areas of support, but they are in a position to benefit from a weakened Liberal Party inside Edmonton’s city limits. Barring a change in leadership, which could see Ms. Notley or former MLA David Eggen step up, the NDP may have missed their window of opportunity to broaden their support beyond a handful of Edmonton constituencies a number of years ago.

Alberta Party
After the merger of the old Alberta Party with the Renew Alberta group in late 2009, the new Alberta Party has experienced huge growth.

Through the Big Listen process, the party attracted many disenchanted Tories, Liberals, New Democrats, former Greens, and independents to its ranks and has grown to nearly 1000 member in just one year. The party has been bolstered through the presidency of Chris Labossiere and in a smart move the party hired community organizer Michael Walters as their provincial organizer in Spring 2010. This still-growing party is expected to have over 40 constituency associations organized by the end of January 2011.

Acting Leader Sue Huff replaced leader Edwin Erickson in November 2010 and a full leadership contest will be launched in January 2011. A few potential candidates have already stepped up, including Hinton Mayor Glenn Taylor and Calgarian Chris Tesarski. The Alberta Party received a boost in public and media interest in October 2010, when many of its key organizers helped vault Naheed Nenshi to the Mayoralty in Calgary.

As an active member of this party, I see the Alberta Party’s big challenge of 2011 to move past the Big Listen to the next step of initiating some Big Action.

alberta politics notes 11/19/2010

After a week-long break, MLAs returned to the Assembly for a week that started with three-sided tailing ponds and ended with an emergency debate on health care.

Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Raj Sherman at 2010 Premier's Pancake Breakfast.

Emergency Debate on Health Care
Edmonton-Meadowlark PC MLA and parliamentary assistant for Health & Wellness Raj Sherman got the attention he was looking for when he wrote a blunt email to the Premier, and several MLAs, cabinet ministers, and medical colleagues. The letter continued a month long media firestorm on the state of emergency room wait times in Alberta.

As Question Period ended yesterday, Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman succeeded in her bid to hold an emergency debate, which lasted for just over an hour and showcased some of the most passionate debate I have seen in the Assembly this year. This was the second attempt by the opposition during this session to initiate an emergency debate on this topic. A motion to extend the debate during the afternoon was defeated when a number of PC MLAs who did not want to extend their four day week on the Assembly floor (Ron Liepert, Jeff Johnson, and Barry McFarland as tweeted by Liberal caucus Chief of Staff Rick Miller). UPDATE: Mr. Miller has commented below that his tweet was naming the three PC MLAs for not standing in support of the initial vote to have an emergency debate, not to vote against extending the debate past 4:30pm.

MLA Laurie Blakeman initiated the emergency debate.

For Dr. Sherman, the big question is what does his political future hold? After embarrassing the Premier and his caucus on this sensitive file, it is questionable how much longer his colleagues will tolerate an independence streak. With three former PC MLAs having crossed to the Wildrose Alliance in the past year, the Tories need to balance maintaining caucus unity without being too disciplinary with their more independent-minded MLAs. This is a balancing act that has proved difficult in the 68 MLA PC caucus.

New Rural Municipalities Leader
The AAMDC Annual Conference was held this weekend and Bob Barss was elected as their new President. Mr. Barss is the Reeve for the Municipal District of Wainwright No. 61. He was first elected in to Council in 1995 and became Reeve in 1997. Mr. Barss replaces Municipal District of Taber Reeve Don Johnson, who has served in the position since 2004. The conference included speeches from provincial cabinet ministers Hector Goudreau, Rob Renner, Ray Danyluk, Heather Klimchuk, Jack Hayden, Luke Ouellette, and Premier Ed Stelmach.

Liberal Party AGM
The Liberal Party is holding its annual general meeting on November 27 and will elect three of its executive committee members, President, Vice-President (Policy), and Secretary. Edmonton Regional Director Erick Ambtman has declared his intentions to run for President. Current President, Debbie Cavaliere, was appointed on an interim basis after former President Tony Sansotta resigned in July. Ms. Cavaliere will be seeking election as VP (Policy) and current Secretary Nancy Cavanaugh will be seeking re-election for her position.

New NDP Communications Guy
Richard Liebrecht started his new job as the Communications Director for the NDP Caucus this week. Mr. Liebrecht is a former reporter for the Edmonton Sun and editor at the Hinton Parklander. Mr. Liebrecht replaces another former Sun reporter Brookes Merritt, who recently left the NDP Caucus for a job at the Public Affairs Bureau.

The former Libertarian leader wants to carry the Wildrose flag in Calgary-Hays.

Libertarian leader goes Wildrose
Dennis Young is seeking the Wildrose Alliance nomination in Calgary-Hays. The former leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada, Mr. Young earned  265 votes in his 2008 campaign in Calgary-Southwest, which was won by Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Note: Mr. Young is still listed as leader on the Libertarian Party website, but lists himself as the former leader on his campaign website). View the updated list of declared and nominated provincial election candidates.

Distracted drivers
Alberta has a new distracted driving law that will prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.

Alberta Party (new) media coverage
If you missed the coverage of last weekend’s Alberta Party policy conference, there is no shortage of online news stories and blog posts. Here is a run-down from media and participants of the policy convention and recent Big Listens.

Todd Babiak: Alberta Party hopes to gain foothold with “post-partisan politics”
Dave Berry: Political Crowdsourcing
Samantha Power: Party of the Young
The Unknown Studio Podcast: The Brierley Patch
Mack Male: The Alberta Party’s Big Listen
Edwin Erickson: Moving right along then…
Gerard McLellan: Sunday morning at the Alberta Party policy convention
The Roundhouse: Alberta Party Policy Convention – Part 1
Alberta Party policy convention – Aftermath
Chris Labossiere: Tired and yet inspired
David King: Carpe Diem
Ken Chapman: The Alberta Party is on the Move and Making Waves
Max Fawcett: Mission Impossible?
Duncan Kinney: Feed-in Tariffs, Geothermal and Carbon Disclosure – My experience at the Alberta Party Policy Convention
Jeremy Barretto: Why the Alberta Party is a game changer, not late to the game

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.

oil sands toxin-levels report stirs the pot.

A recent peer-reviewed study from researchers including University of Alberta Professor David Schindler has raised some serious questions about the level of oil sands caused toxins in the Athabasca River and the regime that is supposed to monitor these toxin levels. Speaking to the media, Dr. Schindler offered some strong words against claims by the government and industry that the toxin levels are natural.

Environment Minister Rob Renner responded by telling reporters that his scientists have told him that the amount of compounds detected in the Athabasca River are “not a concern and are of insignificant levels.” Liberal leader David Swann and NDP MLA Rachel Notley jumped on the opportunity and offered their support for Dr. Schindler’s report. Wildrose Alliance MLAs have remained suspiciously silent on this important environmental debate.

The Stand with Fort Chipewyan group reminded Albertans that this is not the first time the toxins issue has been raised:

“When Fort Chipewyan residents demanded the government look into whether oilsands activity was contributing to the community’s high cancer rates, they were denied. They were denied because the government’s monitoring system — R.A.M.P. — indicated that there was no impact.”

And 48 hours after the report became public, Premier Ed Stelmach called for a probe:

“We’ll have the scientists sit down and compare the data. Some of the measurements, I couldn’t explain to you, but let it be discussed scientist to scientist.”

Considering that the provincial government’s current strategy to clean up the oil sands appears to revolve largely on public relations campaigns, it may take much more than simple reassurances from the Premier’s “top men” to resolve this issue:

alberta politics notes 6/10/2010

– The Edmonton Journal’s Sheila Pratt attended and wrote an article about an Alberta Party Big Listen meeting that she attended.
– Liberal leader David Swann had an op-ed published in the Calgary Herald outlining his party’s ‘12-step plan to clean up government.’ Dr. Swann may need a plan to mend some fences mended inside his party as some long-time Liberal organizers in Edmonton are very unhappy about a motion passed at their recent policy convention.
– Alberta’s two NDP MLAs have been spending a lot of time in northwestern Alberta. Brian Mason recently spoke to the Hinton Chamber of Commerce and joined his colleague Rachel Notley in touring the Peace Country.
Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith is drawing the crowds. Ms. Smith had over 150 people welcome her at a recent visit to Lacombe, a big increase from eight months ago when another event only drew 25 people.
– The Federal Conservatives will nominate their candidate in Lethbridge on June 19. Nomination candidates include Mark Switzer, Jim Hillyer, Kent Prestage, and Lorna Peacock.
– Long-time municipal councillor and two-time Liberal candidate John Vyboh is running for Mayor of Wood Buffalo. Mr. Vyboh ran against Fort McMurray MLA Guy Boutilier in 1997 and 2001 (Mr. Boutilier was booted from the PC caucus in 2009 and now sits as an Independent MLA). Current Mayor Melissa Blake has not announced whether she will seek a third-term in office.
– Environment Minister Rob Renner and Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Broyce Jacobs are being dispatched to trade and energy meetings in the United States.
Boycotts in Bellingham. Nude protesters at Lush. Slate Magazine critics. Even the 2010 Marxism conference featured a seminar titled “Tar sands: the case against the world’s most destructive development.”
– The Alberta Chambers of Commerce has released a swath of new advocacy policies.
– After public pressure to open up their invite-only meetings, consultation meetings for the new Alberta Health Act are now open to the public.
– The Public Safety and Services committee met to discuss the issue of transparency in leadership races and have decided that most Albertans are not interested in such matters. PC MLAs on the committee decided to compile a list of groups to invite to consult and not to publicly advertise the meeting. The PCs ran into trouble earlier this year when backbench MLAs supported Wetaskiwin-Camrose MLA Verlyn Olson‘s motion to remove powers of the Public Accounts Committee Chairman (who is Edmonton-Gold Bar Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald). Mr. Olson later withdrew his motion after significant public pressure.

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.

alberta politics yearbook: rob renner.

Like a high school yearbook, the internet is a treasure chest of snapshots from the past. Digging through the treasure chest, ‘then and now’ will be a regular series over the next few months showcasing Alberta politicians then and now. It is all in good spirit and will be an important reminder to Albertans of the errors of the 1980s and 1990s.

This week’s focus: Five-term Medicine Hat MLA Rob Renner.

Rob Renner sported a mighty moustache when he was re-elected to a second term as the PC MLA for Medicine Hat in 1997.

Environment Minister Rob Renner circa 2009 (sans moustache).

If you have a photo of an elected official that you would like to see included in this series, send me an email at daveberta.ca@gmail.com.

alberta cabinet shuffle.

With a cabinet shuffled expected in the near future (possibly as early as tomorrow), there is no shortage of speculation about who will be shuffled in, out, and around. A cabinet shuffle will put a new face on the tiring PC cabinet that has weathered a brutal public beating on issues ranging from unpopular health care restructuring, Bill 44, resource royalty tinkering, international attention on the oilsands, a by-election defeat, a seismic drop in the polls, and MLA defections.

As I wrote in December 2009, It is going to take something much more meaningful than a cabinet shuffle to change PC Party fortunes. One of Premier Ed Stelmach‘s greatest challenges is that his government doesn’t have a defining purpose beyond governing for governing sake, and it shows.

Iris EvansRon Liepert

Finance Minister Iris Evans may keep her job, but there are strong rumors about a comfy patronage appointment as Alberta’s Representative in London, UK. With a strong political pedigree, Doug Horner is a key candidate for promotion – to Finance, or more likely, Health & Wellness. His father, Hugh Horner, served as an MP, MLA, and cabinet minister between 1958 and 1979, including as Deputy Premier and Minister of Agriculture of Alberta.

The rumor mill appears to have come to an unlikely consensus that Minister Ron Liepert will relieve Minister Mel Knight of his position in Energy. Delicate as a wrecking ball, Minister Liepert oversaw the haphazard dissolution of Alberta’s regional health authorities and centralization under the Alberta Health Services ‘Superboard.’ I am sure that the energy sector will love him.

Iris EvansLindsay Blackett

As the Godfather of Edmonton PC MLAs, Dave Hancock is expected to remain Education Minister, not interrupting the ongoing School Act review. Also expected to remain in their job is Environment Minister Rob Renner, who has proved his ability to deliver a respectful media performance on dirty files like climate change and the oilsands. 

First-term MLA Diana McQueen wooed PC delegates in her introduction of Premier Stelmach at their 2009 leadership review convention. McQueen could be a strong addition to a weak cabinet. After playing interference for Premier Stelmach on the Alberta Hospital Edmonton bed closures, another rookie MLA, Fred Horne, has been rumored to be a candidate for Minister of Health, but more recently has been rumoured to replace Minister Horner in Advanced Education. Horne served as Executive Assistant to Minister Hancock, who also he served in the portfolio.

Long-time Stelmach confidants Jack Hayden, Ray Danyluk, and Lloyd Snelgrove will likely stay rewarded for their loyalty, but may be shuffled. Ted Morton is clearly enjoying his current role as Sustainable Resource Development Minister, but columnist Don Braid has suggested that he may be moved to the Treasury Board position. Weak Ministerial performers Lindsay BlackettJanis Tarchuk, Heather Klimchuk, and George Groenveld are also prime targets for being shuffled.

After taking another look at the rumoured shuffle, it does not appear to be much of a change after all. We shall wait and see.