Sources say that controversial Member of Parliament Rob Anders is preparing to run for the Conservative Party of Canada nomination in new rural Bow River riding east of Calgary. The six-term MP has represented Calgary-West since 1997 but lost a heated Conservative nomination contest in the new Calgary-Signal Hill riding to former Progressive Conservative MLA Ron Liepert in April 2014.
It had been speculated that Mr. Anders could run in the neighbouring riding of Calgary-Rocky Ridge. It is unclear whether Mr. Anders, who has the endorsement of senior cabinet minister Jason Kenney, will be approved by the Ottawa Tories as their candidate in this new riding.
While the epic battle between Rob Anders and Ron Liepert in Calgary-Signal Hill was entertaining to watch, preparation for the next federal election has sparked nomination contests in ridings across the province. And with two by-elections expected to be called within weeks, federal political parties are lining up their candidates for the vote.
On March 30, Liberal Party members chose Kyle Harrietha as their candidate. Mr. Harrietha faced Chris Flett in the nomination contest.
The Liberals are expected to run a strong campaign in the sprawling northeast Alberta riding. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau recently visited the riding, drawing a crowd of hundreds to a meet-and-greet event in Fort McMurray.
The Conservative Party will hold its nomination votes on April 24 in High Prairie and Slave Lake, April 25 in Athabasca and Lac La Biche, and April 26 in Fort McMurray. The results will be announced following the Fort McMurray vote. Fort McMurray lawyer Arlan Delisle and Athabasca County councillor David Yurdiga are the only two candidates seeking the nomination.
Oilsands worker Lori McDaniel will run for the New Democrats and firefighter Tim Moen is the Libertarian Party candidate.
On April 6, Dustin Fullerwas nominated as the federal Liberal candidate in the upcoming by-election. Mr. Fuller will face Conservative John Barlow when the by-election is called. There has so far been no sign of any NDP or Green Party candidates.
General Election nominations
Meanwhile, nominations for the general election are also underway. As most of Alberta are largely considered safe territory for the Conservatives, competitive races have emerged in newly redrawn ridings across Alberta. Here are some ridings with recent updates:
Calgary-Nose Hill Michelle Rempel was acclaimed as the Conservative candidate in this newly redrawn north Calgary riding. Ms. Rempel has represented the Calgary-Centre North riding since 2011.
Recent defeated in the Calgary-Signal Hill nomination contest, Mr. Anders may seek the Conservative nomination in this neighbouring riding. The Conservative nomination is already being sought by former MP Eric Lowther and party organizer Gord Elliott.
Mr. Lowther represented Calgary-Centre as the Reform Party/Canadian Alliance MP from 1997 until 2000, when he was defeated by former Prime Minister Joe Clark, who had returned to politics to lead the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.
Edmonton-Mill Woods Edmonton-Sherwood Park MP Tim Uppal has decided to jump across the city to seek the Conservative nomination in the new Edmonton-Mill Woods riding. Mr. Uppal was the Canadian Alliance/Conservative candidate in that area in 2000 and 2004 but was defeated by Mike Lake for the Conservative nomination in 2006.
This is not Mr. Chowdhury’s first attempt at a party nomination. In 2011, he challenged Matt Jeneroux for the Progressive Conservative nomination in the provincial riding of Edmonton-South West and in 2008 he unsuccessfully sought the federal Liberal Party nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona.
Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan Recent municipal election candidate Nicole van Kuppeveld has announced she will seek the Conservative nomination in this new riding east of Edmonton. Ms. van Kuppeveld, the former president of the Sherwood Park provincial PC Party, will face off against Garnett Genuis, the 2012 Wildrose candidate in Sherwood Park.
After a campaign filled with accusations of dirty tricks and political mischief, arch conservative Member of Parliament Rob Anders lost the Conservative Party nomination in the new Calgary-Signal Hill riding. After 17-years and many attempts, Calgary’s political establishment finally managed to achieve their goal of denying Mr. Anders the party nomination he needs to win in the next election.
It highlights how divisive a figure Mr. Anders is that Calgarians rallied around and many outsiders (including myself) quietly cheered for his opponent, Ron Liepert. The former provincial cabinet minister’s record suggests that he is not a Red Tory, as some would expect, and perhaps not even a moderate conservative.
During his time in provincial politics, Mr. Liepert was known as a hard-nosed conservative bulldog who the media cast as the bully of the Alberta Legislature. He will fit in well in Stephen Harper‘s Ottawa.
Unless he decides to seek a nomination in the neighouring Calgary-Rocky Ridge riding or elsewhere, Mr. Anders is now partially unleashed from his partisan obligations in the next campaign and could cause serious trouble for Mr. Liepert and his party before the 2015 election.
While Mr. Liepert may not prove to be a huge improvement from Mr. Anders, he and his team have certainly done Canadians a service by delivering Mr. Anders the political defeat he deserved.
I am sure I speak for many Canadians when I say: good riddance, Mr. Anders.
With the race for the Conservative Party nomination in Calgary-Signal Hill in less than 10 days, the Rob Anders campaign has broadcast a new robocall praising the incumbent MP for decreasing the federal Goods and Services Tax.
The message also includes an attack on his opponent Ron Liepert for musing about introducing a Provincial Sales Tax while he was Alberta’s Finance minister.
The robocall coincides with the launch of a new attack website - ronlieperttruth.com - which accuses Mr. Liepert of being “a tax-and-spend liberal.”
Personal attacks and threats of lawsuits have turned the race to become the Conservative candidate in the next election into a race into a race to the bottom. It appears that no matter who wins the nomination on April 12, the voters of Calgary-Signal Hill will still lose.
Here is the audio from a robocall placed by Mr. Anders’ campaign to Conservative Party members in Calgary-Signal Hill announcing Mr. Harper’s endorsement:
One of Canada’s most offensive hyper-Conservatives, Mr. Anders is facing a stiff nomination challenge in the new Calgary-Signal Hill from former Calgary MLA and provincial cabinet minister Ron Liepert.
Mr. Harper’s endorsement is sure to inflame supporters of Mr. Liepert, who will be quick to point out how unusual it is for leader of a party to openly endorse a candidate in a contested nomination race.
Today, March 24, is the deadline for candidates to enter the Conservative Party nomination contest and the cutoff for membership sales is March 31, 2014.
On March 26, Edmonton-Centre’s Lewis Cardinal is expected to be acclaimed as the first New Democratic Party candidate nominated for the 2015 federal general election. The nomination meeting will take place in the lobby of the Winspear Centre and will leader Thomas Mulcair and a handful of NDP MPs from across the country. The lobby of the Winspear is a memorable place for many local New Democrats, who remember when Jack Layton used the venue to host a large and energy-filled election campaign rally in 2008.
Edmonton-Mill Woods Varinder Bhullarhas announced that he will seek the Liberal Party nomination in the new Edmonton-Mill Woods riding.
When Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont MP Mike Lake decided to seek the Conservative nomination in the new Edmonton-Wetaskiwin riding, he was taking a gamble. Mr. Lake, who lives a south Edmonton neighbourhood included in the new riding now facing the challenge of winning a nomination in a riding where 75% of the new territory is new ground. Well-respected in Edmonton, he is now facing a challenge from Leduc County mayorJohn Whaley and Edmonton police officer Mohinder Banga.
Lethbridge First-term MP Jim Hillyer is facing two challengers for the Conservative nomination in the new Lethbridge riding. With Mr. Hillyer cut-off from his base of support in the southern half of the former Lethbridge riding, Doug McArthur and Alex Hann hope to replace him as the Tory candidate.
Red Deer-Mountain View
MP Earl Dreeshen has announced his plans to seek the Conservative nomination in the new Red Deer-Mountain View riding. Mr. Dreeshen has represented the current Red Deer riding since 2008.
Former provincial cabinet minister and MLA Ron Liepert officially announced in a statement this morning his intentions to seek the Conservative Party of Canada nomination in the newly redistributed Calgary Signal Hill riding.
Ten days ago a concerned group of community members launched a campaign featuring a few road signs and a website “timetodobetter.ca.” The initiative was designed to re-engage federal Conservatives in the city’s west and northwest that will form the new Signal Hill riding in the next election. This initiative was led by Conservative party members who are strong supporters of the Conservative cause and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The website registered over 3000 visitors and over 500 email sign-ups within just over a week signalling early and overwhelming support for democracy and open nominations. As a result Conservatives from throughout the Calgary Signal Hill riding became excited again.
I was proud to be a member of the group and overwhelmed by the response our campaign generated. So now it is time to take the next step. Today I am announcing that I will put my name forward as a candidate for the federal Conservative nomination in Calgary Signal Hill when it is called this year.
Mr. Liepert is the second candidate to announce a challenge to Mr. Anders in Calgary Signal Hill. Former Calgary-West Conservative president Dan Morrison announced his candidacy last week.
List of 2015 federal election candidates
Canada’s next federal election is scheduled to be held on October 19, 2015. I am maintaining a list of candidates who have announced their intentions to seek nominations and run in the next federal election in Alberta ridings. Please contact me at david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com for additions or updates related to candidate nominations in Alberta.
Will former provincial cabinet minister Ron Liepert make the jump into federal politics?
With the launch of the TimeToDoBetter.ca website today, rumours began to spread that the former two-term Calgary-West Progressive Conservative MLA turned consultant could challenge ultra-conservative Rob Anders for the Conservative Party nomination in the new Calgary Signal Hill riding.
Mr. Liepert’s candidacy would surely spark another proxy-war between the supporters of the provincial PC and Wildrose parties first seen in last year’s Calgary-Centre by-election.
This would not be the first time these two men have publicly sparred. In 2009, Mr. Liepert accused Mr. Anders of campaigning against him in the 2008 provincial election. Many of Mr. Anders associates have joinedDanielle Smith‘s Wildrose Party, including his close confident Andrew Constantinidis, who ran to replace Mr. Liepert in the 2012 provincial election.
While many of his supporters flocked to the new provincial party, some in the Wildrose establishment see Mr. Anders as a political liability whose ideology could challenge their attempt to rebrand as a moderate conservative alternative to the governing PCs.
In the conservative bloodbath that is sure to ensue if the rumours are true, I would expect nothing less than for Mr. Anders and conservative entertainer Ezra Levant to slice directly at Mr. Liepert’s jugular. They will be sure to remind their conservative base about Mr. Leipert’s record as the Health minister who created the centralized Alberta Health Services and the Finance minister who introduced deficit budgets and talked about increasing taxes.
Mr. Liepert’s ties to the provincial PC establishment date back to the Peter Lougheed era, when he worked at the Legislative Assembly and was appointed as a staff member at Alberta’s trade office in Los Angeles. He first ran for the PC Party in 1993, first in an unsuccessfully bid for the party nomination in Edmonton-Glenora and then as the PC candidate in Edmonton-Highlands-Beverly (in the election he was defeated by his Liberal opponent, Alice Hanson). He was first elected to the Assembly in 2004 as the PC MLA for Calgary-West.
Mr. Leipert is no slouch. In provincial politics, he thrived off the cut and thrust of partisan conflict. Whether he could win the Conservative Party nomination against Mr. Anders is yet to be seen.
Since he was first elected in 1997, Mr. Anders has been challenged by many high profile conservatives and easily defeated all of them in nomination battles.
At the age of 24, Mr. Anders, then a young Republican Party provocateur, returned to Canada to defeat nine other candidates to win his first Reform Party nomination in Calgary-West. His election coincided with the election of a group of young conservative Reformers, including Jason Kenney and Rahim Jaffer.
If he is challenged by Mr. Liepert in the upcoming nomination, it would not be the first time a high-profile politico who has attempted to end Mr. Anders career in Ottawa.
In 2004, future Progressive Conservative premier Alison Redford made her first jump into electoral politics with an unsuccessful nomination bid against Mr. Anders. Mr. Liepert was her campaign manager.
In 2000, he was unsuccessfully challenged by Calgary-Currie PC MLA Jocelyn Burgener (now a poet) and in 2009 he faced future Calgary-Varsity PC MLA Donna Kennedy-Glans. With the help of Mr. Levant, he nastily branded Ms. Kennedy-Glans as a “Liberal saboteur” and a “bizarre cross between a radical feminist and an apologist for a women-hating Arab dictatorship.”
Internal nomination contests are not the only area Mr. Anders has faced challengers. In the 1997 election, alderman and future mayor Dave Bronconnier led an unsuccessful campaign against him as the Liberal Party candidate. In the 2000 election, Mr. Anders defeated both former Calgary-North West Liberal MLA Frank Bruseker and PC candidate Jim Silye (a Reform Party MP for Calgary-Centre from 1993 to 1997). Wind energy entrepreneur Justin Thompson earned 29% as the Liberal candidate in the 2004 election, the highest of any of Mr. Anders challengers. And the 2006 and 2008 elections, former Calgary Board of Education trustee Jennifer Pollock carried the Liberal banner against Mr. Anders.
Despite these high-profile challengers from inside and outside his party, Mr. Anders has yet to face electoral defeat in the political arena.
While Professor Morton correctly points out that the symptoms of Alberta’s financial woes are not a new phenomenon, his prescription is a tough pill to swallow.
In his column, Dr. Morton dispels the myths that 1) our fiscal problems are just because we are having a bad year, 2) our fiscal problems are just because of the low price of bitumen (also known as the notorious ‘Bitumen Bubble‘), and that 3) this is just about a Budget 2013 deficit.
On his fourth argument, Dr. Morton diverts into a more conservative ideological direction. While he correctly points out the fickleness and limited life-span of some political agendas, the former Finance Minister criticizes his successor for choosing to use financing to fund capital projects. On this point, Dr. Morton appears to share the view of his ideological kin in Danielle Smith‘s Wildrose Party, who spent the waining days of 2012 on a relentless offensive against the government on this very issue.
Back in 2010, the last Tory to seriously discuss the idea of a sales tax was then-backbench MLA Doug Griffiths(now Municipal Affairs Minister). Mr. Griffiths was publicly demonized by the opposition for even broaching the topic.
Only two years earlier, another now-former Tory MLA, who is also now one of the government’s most vocal critic of the government, stood up in Alberta’s Legislative Assembly and called for tax reform and the introduction of a sales tax in Alberta:
“I, too, believe that the government of Alberta should look into studying the feasibility of eliminating our provincial income tax and using a consumption-based taxation system in its place, with a provincial sales tax being the likely substitute revenue generator.” – Newly elected Progressive Conservative MLA Rob Anderson in April 2008.
“The Redford government spent more than half a million dollars on its trip to the London Olympics earlier this year, including about $113,000 in hotel rooms that were not used…” – Edmonton Journal reporter Keith Gerein
I understand the value of sending cabinet ministers on these trips to promote our province abroad and I generally believe it is in our best interest, but there reaches a certain point when return on investment needs to be demonstrated.
Over the past eleven months, Premier Redford, cabinet ministers, and backbench Tory MLAs have traveled extensively on government business. The trips have taken Alberta Government officials to five continents and more than twelve countries, including numerous trips to Washington DC, New York, and Hong Kong.
Are executives of the former Calgary Health Region, now comfortably occupying senior positions at Alberta Health Services, campaigning to discredit the work done by executives of Edmonton’s now-defunct Capital Health Region?
AHS President and CEO Chris Eagleannounced earlier this week that, following the Allaudin Merali expense-claims scandal, an Ernst and Young audit would expand to include expense-claims from all former executives of Edmonton’s Capital Region Heath Authority. This expenses audit could include investigations into former Capital Health President and CEO Sheila Weatherhill, who recently resigned from the AHS Board of Directors, and potentially Ethics Commissioner Neil Wilkinson, who served as Capital Health’s board chairman until 2008.
Before it was dissolved, Capital Health was widely seen as an example of innovative regional health care in Alberta for its pioneering of Health Link and creation of the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute and the Edmonton Clinic at the University of Alberta. The targeting of only Capital Health officials in this expense-audit could be seen as a campaign to discredit their many successes of Capital Health by officials from the former Calgary Health Region, which was mired in a financial deficit.
Some current Alberta Health Services senior executives who were employed or connected with the former Calgary Health Region include President & CEO Mr. Eagle, Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer Bill Trafford, Chief Operations Officer Chris Marzukowich, Chief Medical Officer David Megran, and Senior Vice President (Communications) Roman Cooney. Even the AHS senior vice-president in charge of the Edmonton zone, Mike Conroy, held several senior management positions with the Calgary Health Region.
For many years, the Calgary Health Region benefited from political proximity to both Premier Ralph Klein, and former Provincial Treasurer Jim Dinning, who later served as chairman of the health region’s board of directors. Prominent politically connected directors appointed to serve on the Calgary Health board included Premier Klein’s constituency president Skip MacDonald and Progressive Conservative Party vice-president Scobey Hartley.
In some circles, it is suspected that the creation of the provincial health superboard was a reaction to the political brazenness of former Calgary Health Region CEO Jack Davis, who was known to use media attention to leverage increased funding from the provincial government. As CEO of Capital Health, Ms. Weatherill used considerably more tact than her Calgary counterpart, relying on official channels to lobby the government.
In its final year of existence, the Calgary Health Region recorded a $85 million deficit and Mr. Davis went public to get more money from Premier Ed Stelmach’s government before the 2008 election, which threatened to make it an campaign issue. Shortly after the Tories were re-elected in 2008, the regional health authorities were dissolved and Health Minister Ron Liepert created Alberta Health Services. The dissolution of the Calgary Health Region led to Mr. Davis receiving a $4 million retirement package (Ms. Weatherill was paid about $2 million under her supplemental executive retirement plan).
Among the prominent Tories appointed as chairman of the former regional health authorities included cabinet minister and PC election campaign manager Marvin Moore in the Peace Country Health Authority and former cabinet minister, Ernie Isley, who served as chairman of the Lakeland Health Authority, which posted a $4 million deficit in 2002.