Tag Archives: Rod Love

Sandra Jansen (left) and Premier Rachel Notley (right) at the press conference announcing the PC MLA had crossed the floor to join the NDP.

When it comes to Sandra Jansen, it’s a grudge match for the UCP

It was supposed to be an event highlighting an effort to recruit more conservative women into politics in Alberta, but it was overshadowed by the news that former Prime Minister Stephen Harper plans to personally campaign against New Democratic Party MLA Sandra Jansen in the next provincial election. 

Stephen Harper Calgary Stampede

Stephen Harper

Laureen Harper told a gathering at the launch of the She Leads group that she and her husband plan to campaign in the next election for whoever the United Conservative Party candidate is in their home Calgary-North West district. 

For UCP activists, and Jason Kenney in particular, the fight in Calgary-North West likely feels personal. Jansen was elected as a Progressive Conservative in 2012 and re-elected in 2015 before crossing the floor to the NDP in 2016. But Conservative anger was directed at Jansen before her floor-crossing.

Jansen’s support for her friend Nirmala Naidoo, who ran as a Liberal candidate in the 2015 federal election, drew the ire of the legions of federal Conservatives who were moving to take over the PC Party following its defeat in the 2015 election (Naidoo’s Conservative competitor, now Member of Parliament Pat Kelly, is endorsing UCP nomination candidate and pipeline lobbyist Sonya Savage). 

Sonya Savage UCP Calgary North West

Sonya Savage

Jansen attempted a mount a campaign for the leadership after her party’s disastrous results in the last election but was all but drummed out of the party by social conservatives allied with Kenney.

Her moderate views on social issues like abortion and rights for sexual minorities, as well as her role as a former communications manager and key supporter of former premier Alison Redford contributed to the mounting tension from more hard-line conservatives.

Her comment to her former colleague and now Conservative MP Len Webber that he “should go back to being an electrician” smacked of Tory elitism.

Jansen accused Kenney of wanting to destroy the PC Party in his plans to merge with the Wildrose Party. And when push came to shove at the PC Party’s annual convention in 2016, Jansen was shoved hard by social conservative activists and soon after decided to leave the party.

She joined the NDP and was appointed Minister of Infrastructure in 2017.

For Conservative partisans, this was the biggest betrayal. 

Pat Kelly MP Calgary Rocky View

Pat Kelly

As Minister of Infrastructure, Jansen has a powerful spot at the cabinet table, allowing her to champion the construction of big capital projects like the new Calgary Cancer Centre and the completion of the city’s ring road and the Green Line C-Train route. 

Jansen plays a big role in Premier Rachel Notley’s charm offensive in Calgary, but her tendency to get involved in petty arguments with Conservative partisans on social media distracts from the NDP government’s narrative. As I have written in the past, she could probably spend less time arguing on Twitter and more time trying to boost her government’s fortunes in Calgary.

Uniting the Right meant CPC-UCP unity too

Regardless of whether Jansen wins or loses the next election, she should take it as a complement that a Conservative heavy hitter like Harper would personally campaign against her. She should wear it as a badge of honour.

Harper likely remains popular among Conservatives in particular and Calgarians in general, and his support for Kenney’s UCP is not surprising. Harper endorsed Kenney’s leadership bid last year and was rumoured to be one of the driving forces behind the scenes in the PC-Wildrose unity referendum last year.

Harper is now the chairman of the International Democratic Union, an international club of right-wing political parties from 63 countries. His congratulatory tweet to extreme right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in April 2018 raised eyebrows among political watchers. Orbán was re-elected after campaigning on a platform that included hostile anti-immigrant rhetoric. 

But the federal Conservative connections to the UCP go deeper than Harper. Organizationally, the UCP has become an extension of the Conservative Party of Canada in Alberta, with most Conservative MPs actively involved or endorsing candidates in UCP nomination races. This is a significant change since the 1990s, when the provincial PC Party and the federal Reform Party were at each other throats.

Despite forming the opposition, the UCP are not the underdogs going into the next election. The next election campaign will represent the first time in more than 25-years that the dominant federal and provincial conservative parties in Alberta will be marching in lock-step.

While this may give Conservatives a big boost in an election campaign, it is yet to be seen whether a UCP government would stand up for the interests of Albertans over partisan gain if faced by a Conservative government in Ottawa.

Not first time a Calgary-North West MLA targeted

Frank Bruseker MLA Calgary North West

Frank Bruseker

It is reminiscent of another election in Calgary-North West more than two decades ago. Liberal MLA Frank Bruseker had represented the district since 1989 and had become a major thorn in the side of Premier Ralph Klein going into the 1997 election.

Bruseker was described at the time as being a relentless and ferocious critic of Klein during the Multi-Corp Inc. share affair, in which the premier was accused of promoting a company his wife had shares in. 

It was reported during that campaign that PC Party campaign manager Rod Love had a poster hanging in his office of Bruseker framed by the crosshairs of a rifle scope.

The PCs poured significant resources into Calgary-North West and, when the dust settled in March 1997, Bruseker was unseated by Tory Greg Melchin by a margin of 1,964 votes.

alberta’s tories could have already won another election.

Premier Alberta Alison Redford Election 2012

Alberta Premier Alison Redford

Premier Alison Redford is expected to call a provincial election today.

Had Premier Alison Redford‘s Progressive Conservatives followed conventional political wisdom and dropped the writ shortly after tabling the 2012 provincial budget on February 10, they may have already secured their next majority government.

Danielle Smith Alberta Wildrose Party leader Election 2012

Danielle Smith

Instead, in an attempt to bump that conventional wisdom by holding a spring sitting in the Assembly after the budget was tabled, Premier Redford may have bolstered the opposition parties resilience. With the organizational ability to have had candidates nominated in every constituency by February 10, 2012, a mid-March Election Day would have saved the Tories from a month of embarrassing media coverage and robbed the opposition parties of one full month of organizing (this also demonstrates the uselessness of the new fixed-election period, which does not set a fixed election date, but a period over three months that election can be held).

Unfortunately for Premier Redford, “change from within” has not looked very flattering over the past month. A rough pre-election session has bruised the Tories and quickly ended the new Premier’s honeymoon period, allowing the opposition parties to expose weaknesses in the Tory battle lines (some more aggressively than others).

Raj Sherman Liberal Party leader Election 2012

Raj Sherman

The loud protests by religious homeschooling parents, the MLA committee pay fiasco, the drawn out “judicial” inquiry into health care, investigations into illegal political donations, and allegations of unethical conduct by Premier Redford’s man in Asia and former Tory leadership opponent Gary Mar, have scuffed the shine off the new PC administration. Even Rod Love, the former chief of staff to Premier Ralph Klein, has publicly asked “what the hell is going on in Edmonton?

It is difficult to say what actual effects delaying the election until after the Spring sitting will have had on Alberta’s opposition parties. Danielle Smith‘s Wildrose Party are hitting the Tories hard on the fiascos that have developed over the last month, and putting personal egos aside, they could make some significant inroads. For the Liberal Party, former Tory MLA and new leader Raj Sherman needs to prove wrong the predications of  doom and gloom for his official opposition party. The NDP led by Brian Mason are hoping to replace the Liberals as the main opposition on the centre-left. And managing expectations well, the Alberta Party led by Glenn Taylor are very conscious of the uphill battle they face.

Calling in the big guns, the Wildrose Party has long-time conservative stratagist Tom Flanagan as campaign manager and Cliff Fryers, the former chairman of Enmax and chief of staff to Preston Manning, as their campaign chair. Along with flocks of federal Conservative organizers migrating to their party, rumour has it that high-priced political consultants from Ontario are being flown in to advise the Wildrose Party’s central campaign.

Despite all this new ammunition made available to the opposition parties after the rough Spring sitting, a betting man would look at the Tories’ 41 years of election victories and easily weigh the odds in their favour of winning once again. Maybe all of these cracks in the Tory armour will amount to nothing Election Day? Maybe the will make all the difference? Maybe new cracks will appear?

ken kowalski will run in his tenth election as mla. love him or hate him, he’s got staying power.

Ken Kowalski Then and Now

Ken Kowalski: Then and Now

Many Albertans now know Ken Kowalski from his higher duty as the long-sitting Speaker of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly, a position he has held since 1997. The MLA for Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock announced this week that he will seek election for the tenth time since 1979. His long political career has demonstrated a kind of political longevity and stamina that not many  Alberta politicians can claim to have.

Mr. Kowalski is the only Tory MLA to have served under all four of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Premiers. He has also filled a wide range of cabinet posts since he was first elected 32 years ago (Environment, Career Development, Public Works, Economic Development and Tourism, and as Deputy Premier). Immediately before entering elected politics, he served as executive assistant to cabinet minister Hugh Horner (father of current PC leadership candidate Doug Horner), who he later replaced as MLA for Barrhead in a closely fought 1979 by-election.

Mr. Kowalski was one of the key players in making Ralph Klein Premier in 1992. Mr. Kowalski and a cadre of rural MLAs mobilized rural Alberta Tories to vote for Mr. Klein on the second ballot of the 1992 PC leadership contest after Nancy Betkowski placed first by one vote on the first ballot.

“People tell me there’s an arrogant look about me. That’s something I was born with; I cannot change that.” – Kowalski in 1993 (Edmonton Journal).

In the first few years of Premier Klein’s administration, Mr. Kowalski served in a powerhouse role as Deputy Premier and unofficially as the “Minister of Everything.” The power doled out by Mr. Kowalski, and the rewards he lavished on his constituency, led some Opposition politicians to claim that he was actually running the government, with the Premier only as a figurehead. That changed in 1994 when Mr. Kowalski’s career took a very different direction.

On October 21, 1994, political watchers were stunned when Mr. Kowalski was shuffled out of Premier Klein’s cabinet and announced that he would resign as an MLA to become chairman of (now defunct) Alberta Utilities and Energy Board. The shuffle was seen as a stunning demotion for Premier Klein’s most powerful cabinet minister.

On October 23, 1994 Ethics Commissioner Bob Clark told reporters that he would investigate Mr. Kowalski’s appointment. Three days later, Mr. Kowalski told the media that he would not accept the new job unless the Ethics Commissioner agreed.

On October 28, 1994 Premier Klein told the media that he had axed the appointment as a result of public pressure from the oil industry and environmental groups who claimed the posting would politicize the regulatory board. Mr. Kowalski was infuriated, claiming that the government was being run by “three stooges” and demanded an opportunity to address the PC caucus with his complaints.

“The blood hasn’t dried yet from the first sabre wound and I’ve got a second one.” – Ken Kowalski, 1994 (Calgary Herald)

Emerging from his meeting with the PC caucus on October 31, 1994, Mr. Kowalski told the media that he was never angry and that he “loved Ralph Klein.”

It was later ruled that both Premier Klein and Mr. Kowalski could have received $20,000 in fines for violating a six-month cooling-off period under Alberta’s Conflicts of Interest Act.

For the next few years, Mr. Kowalski languished in the Tory backbenches, emerging to criticize Premier Klein and his cabinet ministers ever so often (even once accusing them of “`misleading the public pretty dramatically about cuts to his former Ministry of Economic Development and Trade). The Calgary Herald labelled him as the “loose cannon” of the Tory caucus in 1996 when he revealed that Premier Klein’s Chief of Staff Rod Love had offered him a job with Multi-Corp (a company that Mr. Love, Klein’s wife Colleen, and a number of other associates owned shares in).

Mr. Kowalski’s time on the backbenches ended in April 1997, when he won a surprise victory against Dunvegan MLA Glen Clegg to become Speaker of the Legislative Assembly (it was suspected that he also had the support of the 18 Liberal MLAs and two NDP MLAs in the Assembly).

Love him or hate him, call him old fashioned or blatantly partisan, but Speaker Kowalski stands today as Alberta’s longest current serving MLA. As a political survivor against political odds that should have seen him crushed, he remains standing as the Progressive Conservatives prepare to celebrate forty years as government in September.

gary mar’s peeps – supporters secret facebook group revealed.

Gary Mar resigned today from his position as Alberta’s Representative in Washington DC, fuelling the speculation that the former cabinet minister will soon join the Progressive Conservative leadership contest.

Some of the more recent rumours predicting Mr. Mar’s entry into the leadership contest were based around a late February meeting of supporters, including Klein-era political operator Rod Love.

More concrete proof of Mr. Mar’s candidacy landed in my email inbox this afternoon when a reader emailed me a screenshot of a Secret Group on Facebook, named Gary Mar’s Peeps.” It appears as though this secret Facebook gathering place for Mr. Mar’s supporters has been up and running for the past month. Its content includes links to news stories, blog posts, and questions from group members ranging from where to send campaign donations to how to respond to chatter on Twitter.

A screenshot of "Gary Mar's Peeps" Secret Group on Facebook.

The 87 members of the invite-only Facebook group are an interesting camp of PC Party members. Some of the notable names in the members list include Jim Dinning‘s 2006 campaign chairman Brent Shervey, Calgary-Nose Hill MLA Neil Brown, Drayton Valley-Calmar MLA Diana McQueen, Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Fred Horne, former PC Youth President Courtney Luimes (who is currently the Executive Assistant to Energy Minister Ron Liepert), Airdrie-Chestermere PC Association President Janice Harrington, co-chair of the PC Party’s 2008 election platform committee Brenda Barootes, and pollster Janet Brown.

A person’s membership in a Facebook may not necessary translate into an official endorsement, but the exclusivity of this invite-only secret group may suggest that its members have a higher level of commitment towards Mr. Mar than if it were a regular public Facebook Group.

that’s bull shit.

Usually politicians only figuratively shovel out the B.S. On a new CBC program, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith literally shovels it out…

A politician shovelling horse manure is a spectacle ready-made for all sorts of obvious jokes. But Smith was apparently too busy with hard labour to worry about the symbolism of such things. Her adventures on a ranch outside of Cochrane and feedlot near Bowden will be broadcast on CBC Sunday evening as the final entry of Make the Politician Work.

Meanwhile, in the pages of the Calgary Herald, Rod Love is shoveling something that smells more like historical revisionism in his defence of the legacy of former Premier Ralph Klein

quotes in response to ed stelmach’s resignation.

On his decision to not run in the next election:

Premier Ed Stelmach told the Fort Saskatchewan Record: “I got to thinking when I was interviewing the MLAs coming in and asking them for a five year commitment,” he said. “Another five years would put me close to 65 and I know there’s many politicians older than that and doing well, but that would have been 30 years of public service.

“Having served the constituency for many years. I feel good in terms of what we’ve been able to accomplish, in terms of improved infrastructure, whether it be Fort Saskatchewan, Vegreville or the communities in between.

“I know it’s time for a change and politics is demanding, and will be increasingly demanding, and that’s why I made the decision.”

Party insiders on the next leadership contest:

PC Party Executive Director Pat Godkin told Sun Media that “there is no timeline whatsoever” in place for a leadership contest.

PC Party President Bill Smith told iNews880 that “I think more along the lines we’re looking at spring and summer.”

Ralph Klein’s former Chief of Staff Rod Love told Global News: “You know there’s 68 members in the caucus, a lot of the names are well known about who might be in, who might be out.”

Potential candidates::

Deputy Premier Doug Horner told the St. Albert Gazette: “I was asked the question whether or not I would consider it and my response honestly is, well yeah, you’re going to consider it but it doesn’t mean I’m going to do it just yet.”

Former Finance Minister and current University of Calgary Chancellor Jim Dinning on CKNW Radio in Vancouver: “While I still have the passion and the interest, I do not want to run for that job.”

Finance Minister Ted Morton told the Calgary Herald: I have not made that decision. It is still, as I said (Tuesday), inappropriate for you guys to ask those questions and inappropriate for me to answer.”

Justice Minister Alison Redford told the Calgary Herald: “It might be something in the future that I’ll consider. Whether that is imminent or not I just don’t know at this time. That’s my honest answer.”

Culture and Community Spirit Minister Lindsay Blackett told the Calgary Herald: You always have to consider it,” he said shortly after hearing of Stelmach’s decision, “and see what level of support there is for you to try to do something like that. But I’m also mindful I’ve only been on the game for three years.”

Alberta Mayors:

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel told CTV Edmonton: “I was a huge fan of the premier. He was a fine, fine man who was I think a great representative of the Province of Alberta. I wish him and his wife the best.”

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi told the Calgary Herald: “Right now I think it’s not time to think about politics. It is time to think about Premier Stelmach’s legacy as a really decent human being and a really dedicated public servant.”

Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling told the Red Deer Advocate: “This government and Mr. Stelmach have done a good job of recognizing that municipalities are the engines of the economy. Stelmach came from municipal politics so he understood the revenue sharing and imbalance of revenue for municipalities.”

Opposition Parties comment:

Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith told the Edmonton Journal: “Make no mistake, the reason I ran for leadership of the Wildrose party was to replace Ed Stelmach as premier of this province… “I think it’s too late at this point for the PCs to recover any of their former glory. … We think the next election will be a time for Albertans to turn the page on this Tory dynasty. It’s been in power for 40 years and it’s a new chapter.”

Liberal leader David Swann told the Edmonton Journal: “Everything will be on a holding pattern in the ministries to wait until direction comes from the party leader. Without clear leadership — in fact, division at the top — for what really needs to happen in terms of fixing health care, there will be a polarizing from those who want to see more private services provided to pick up the gap and those who feel that the primary problem is in leadership and management.”

Alberta Party acting leader Sue Huff told the Edmonton Journal: “I think it’s time for Albertans to really decide what it is they want for the future, for their children, for their grandchildren, and decide if we really want extreme right-wing politics to decide the day.”

NDP leader Brian Mason told the Edmonton Journal: “The Alberta Tories can’t be trusted to protect public health care. They have repeatedly sought to bring in more private care under various leaders, and leaked documents show they are planning it again. They run the least competent government in Canada. That’s the real problem.”

alberta politics notes 9/11/2010

– Residents of Sherwood Park are rightfully angry to discover that their long-promised hospital is not actually a hospital. Councillor Jason Gariepy had his computer access and blackberry service cut off after he sent an email criticizing a Strathcona County media release. The release quoted Strathcona County Mayor Cathy Olesen praising the County’s two PC MLAs Minister Iris Evans and Dave Quest. Councillor Linda Osinchuk, who is challenging Mayor Olesen, is less pleased.
– In a 2004 interview with the Edmonton Journal, Minister Evans listed bringing “a 24-hour emergency medical care facility to Sherwood Park” as the first of her top three priorities. Since that time, she has served as Minister of Health and Minister of Finance.
Alberta Health Services has re-announced the opening of 132 beds in Calgary this week. The beds were originally announced on June 25, 2010.
– Premier Ed Stelmach joined Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, Quebec Premier Jean Charest, and federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice for dinner with US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week. The Pembina Institute‘s Marlo Reynolds met with Speaker Pelosi the next day.
– It is official. The Fall Sitting of the Alberta Legislature will begin on October 25.
Canadian Rockies Public School Trustee Esmé Comfort has written an excellent letter in the Rocky Mountain Outlook about why school trustee work is important for community. The Public School Boards Association of Alberta has also published an excellent letter about the importance of trusteeship and the democratic process.
– NDP MLA Rachel Notley believes that public school fees would be less if the government stopped funding private schools.
– The Wildrose Alliance has released their Education policy.
– An MLA committee conference call caught some comments by Calgary-Buffalo Liberal MLA and Mayoral candidate Kent Hehr about fellow Mayoral candidate Barb Higgins.
– Earlier this week, Mr. Higgins’ campaign manager Donn Lovett shoved Naheed Nenshi supporter Stephen Carter at a campaign event. Mr. Lovett apologized after word of the altercation spread on Twitter.
– Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel launched his website, Twitter, and Facebook campaign.
Rod Love is now lobbying on License Plate Branding.
Elections Alberta is currently recruiting Returning Officers and Elections Clerks in seven constituencies for the next provincial election.

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.