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Alberta Politics Canadian Politics Candidate nominations

Harper endorses Rob Anders and more nomination updates

With Dave Hancock being sworn-in as the 15th Premier of Alberta and speculation running rampant about who will replace him in four to six months, I thought now would be a good opportunity to provide a quick update about nominations for federal election candidates in Alberta.

Calgary-Signal Hill

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and MP Rob Anders.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and MP Rob Anders.

In what could be a deciding factor in one of Calgary most hotly contested Conservative Party nomination races, Member of Parliament Rob Anders has posted on his website an endorsement from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

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.

Moderate Tories have tried for 17 years to grab the nomination from Mr. Anders, sending high-profile candidates like Alison Redford, Jocelyn Burgener and Donna Kennedy-Glans to run against him, to no avail.

Fort McMurray-Athabasca
Unlike the raucous Conservative by-election nomination race in Macleod, the contest to choose the next Conservative candidate in northeastern Alberta’s Fort McMurray-Athabasca is a sleepy affair. As of this morning, only Fort McMurray lawyer Arlan Delisle and Athabasca County councillor David Yurdiga have entered the Conservative 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.

Lewis Cardinal Edmonton NDP
Lewis Cardinal

Edmonton-Centre
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.

No candidates have yet to step forward for the Conservative nomination since MP Laurie Hawn announced his resignation on March 9, 2014. Three candidates – Randy BoissonnaultHarold Robinson and Don Padget – are seeking the Liberal Party nomination.

Edmonton-Mill Woods
Varinder Bhullar 
has announced that he will seek the Liberal Party nomination in the new Edmonton-Mill Woods riding.

Edmonton-Wetaskiwin
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 mayor John 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.

If there are any additions to the list of nomination candidates for the 2015 federal election, please contact me through the comment section below or by email at david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com.

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Alberta Politics Canadian Politics Candidate nominations

He’s in: Ron Liepert challenges Rob Anders in Calgary Signal Hill

Calgary Signal Hill federal riding Anders Liepert
Boundaries of the new Calgary Signal Hill riding.

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.

Mr. Liepert’s candidacy has been widely suspected since the “timetodobetter.ca” group announced it would support a candidate to challenge ultra-conservative Member of Parliament Rob Anders. Mr. Anders has represented west Calgary since 1997 and since then he has defeated a “who’s who” of challengers who would seek to defeat him in the nomination contest or general election.

Here is an exert from Mr. Liepert’s statement:

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.

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Alberta Politics Calgary Politics Canadian Politics Candidate nominations

Ron Liepert versus Rob Anders: the next PC-Wildrose proxy war?

Rob Anders
Rob Anders

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.

Alberta Finance Minister Ron Liepert
Ron Liepert

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 joined Danielle 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.

Alison Redford Alberta Election 2012 Conservative leader
Alison Redford

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.

There is no shortage of criticism of Mr. Anders. Perhaps the most hard-edged social conservative in Ottawa, he is well-known for being the sole parliamentarian to vote against granting former South African president Nelson Mandela an honorary Canadian citizenship. He also embarrassingly attacked two Canadian Forces veterans, who he described as “NDP hacks.” He used his podium at an official Government of Canada press conference to endorse right-wing conservative Ted Morton. And he recently suggested that former NDP leader Jack Layton‘s death was hastened by now-leader Thomas Mulcair.

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.

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Alberta Politics

Former Finance Ministers Morton, Liepert and Snelgrove line up with free advice.

Ted Morton MLA
Ted Morton

Free from the tight leash of party discipline, three former Finance Ministers are giving plenty of advice to Premier Alison Redford and Finance Minister Doug Horner.

Ted Morton, the former two-term Tory MLA from Foothills-Rockyview and two-time Tory leadership candidate who served as Finance Minister from 2010 to 2011, penned an opinion-editiorial in Wednesday’s Calgary Herald pointing out some common misconceptions about Alberta’s fiscal situation.

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.

Alberta Finance Minister Ron Liepert
Ron Liepert

Ron Liepert, the former two-term Tory MLA from Calgary-West who served as Finance Minister from 2011 to 2012, has suggested that it was time for the government to address its revenue problems by looking at tax hikes.

“Nobody likes to pay more taxes. Nobody likes to pay the taxes you’re paying today. But everybody wants the services,” Mr. Liepert told the Calgary Herald in December 2012.

Meanwhile, disgruntled former Finance Minister Lloyd Snelgrove, who quit the Tory caucus in 2011 citing irreconcilable differences with Premier Redford, told the right-wing Sun News that he does not believe the government has a revenue problem, but if it does then a sales tax should be imposed.

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.

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Alberta Politics

Map: Alberta cabinet ministers catch the international travel bug.

“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

According to the Journal, the $518,280 trip sent 29 Albertans to London including Tory Premier Alison Redford, Culture Minister Heather Klimchuk, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Minister Christine Cusanelli, government officials, artists and performers including Corb Lund and Donovan Workun.

While the trip to the London Olympics has sticker shock, it is small potatoes in comparison to the Government of Alberta’s $14 million splash at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, where Premier Ed Stelmach and cabinet ministers hosted Olympic attendees on a $499 per ticket luxury train to Whistler and showered them with gifts that included iPod Touchs and White Cowboy Hats.

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.

I have created a Google Map tracking the international travel of Premier Redford, cabinet ministers, and backbench Tory MLAs since November 2011. Zoom in and click the icons to read who traveled where and when.


View Alberta Cabinet Minister and MLA Travel November 2011-October 2012 in a larger map

Note: Travel dates and locations listed on this map were found in media releases published on the Government of Alberta website.

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Alberta Politics

is edmonton’s former capital health board being targeted by a calgary-led witch-hunt?

Witch Trial Alberta Health Services
The Alberta Health Services investigation into former Capital Health executives.

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 Eagle announced 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.

Despite calls from critics to expand the expenses audit, it will not investigate former executives from Alberta’s other now-defunct regional health authorities.

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).

Expanding the expense-claims audit beyond the Capital Health Region could reveal similarities and contrasts in expense-claims, but more dangerously for some, it could dive into the annals of PC Party patronage. The regional health boards across the province were notoriously stacked with appointees who also happened to be card-carrying members of the PC Party.

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.

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Alberta Politics

alberta budget 2012: keep calm and carry on voting tory.

STAY CALM AND CARRY ON VOTING TORY
Alberta's 2012 pre-election budget.

Judging by past performances, not rocking the boat is a difficult thing for Finance Minister Ron Liepert, who managed to table a budget yesterday that will rock Albertans to sleep before it rocks them into a riot. Reminding Albertans of just how good their forty-year government is, the Tories are subtly trying to convince Albertans not to do anything too drastic, like voting for another party in the upcoming election.

Stable increases to the health care and education budgets, increased funding AISH and to end homelessness will appeal to soft Liberal and New Democrat voters that the PCs hope to capture in the next election.

This puts Alberta’s opposition parties in a difficult position. NDP leader Brian Mason questioned the PCs optimistic projections about the next economic boom, saying that the 40-year governing party is “hiding a big deficit.” Liberal leader Raj Sherman, himself a former Tory MLA, called the budget dishonest and accused the Tories of making “unrealistically high revenue predictions.” Alberta Party leader Glenn Taylor  accused the government of having neglected to listen to Albertans priorities in this budget.

Meanwhile, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith continues to insist that the government is “poised to raise taxes,” even after Minister Liepert said at least 38 times during his budget speech that he would not raise taxes. Not heeding the political Right’s calls for drastic cuts, the Tories have happily ceded the radical fiscal conservative territory to Ms. Smith’s party.

Premier Alison Redford‘s pre-election budget is tailored to the moderate majority of Albertans, who, unlike the political class, will likely have a hard time getting angry about this budget. Keep Calm and Carry On Voting Tory.

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Alberta Politics

alison redford to appoint a new candidate in calgary-west, say tory sources [updated].

Alberta Premier Alison Redford 2011
Premier Alison Redford

Following claims of voting irregularities at the recently held Calgary-West Progressive Conservative nomination meeting, Tory sources are saying that Premier Alison Redford may find a new candidate to carry her party’s banner in that constituency.

The hard fought nomination battle saw former Calgary-McCall MLA Shiraz Shariff shock political watchers by defeating past Alberta Health Services Chairman Ken Hughes. A former Member of Parliament, Mr. Hughes was a member of Premier Redford’s transition team and was seen as a star candidate for the PCs.

The constituency is currently represented by Finance Minister Ron Liepert, who is not seeking re-election. Sources say that the new candidate could be someone other than Mr. Hughes.

This is not Mr. Shariff’s first brush with controversy. In 2008, private-citizen Naheed Nenshi spoke to CBC about what he believed were irregularities carried out at the polls by Mr. Shariff’s campaign workers during the 2004 election. Mr. Shariff narrowly defeated Liberal Darshan Kang in that election (Mr. Kang later defeated Mr. Shariff in the 2008 election).

This would not be the first time the PCs have had to find a last minute replacement for a candidate in Calgary-West.

In 1997, Premier Ralph Klein‘s barber Mike Nasser stepped down as the PC candidate after it was revealed he was the subject of a city lawsuit and several complaints regarding his business proceedings. The runner-up from the previously held nomination meeting cut her Mexican vacation short to fly back and hold the party banner in the election. Karen Kryczka served two terms as MLA after that.

The Tories are also expected to appoint candidates to challenge popular Liberal MLA Kent Hehr in Calgary-Buffalo and NDP MLA Rachel Notley in Edmonton-Strathcona. No candidates entered the previously scheduled nomination contests in these two constituencies. Sources suggest that recent Calgary-McCall PC nomination candidate Jamie Lall will be appointed in Calgary-Buffalo. This will be the second consecutive election where the PCs have had to appoint a candidate to challenge Ms. Notley.

UPDATE: A media release from the PC Party says that Mr. Shariff is no longer the candidate in Calgary-West. Jamie Lall and Emerson Mayers have been appointed as PC candidates in Calgary-Buffalo and Edmonton-Strathcona. See the comment section of this blog post for the entire text of the media release.

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Alberta Politics

tories nearing a full-slate of candidates, opposition parties all over the map in election preparation.

After a week away from the blogging world, I spent some time this weekend catching up with plenty of election nomination candidate updates. Alberta’s political parties are all in varying degrees of preparation for the upcoming election and for the next session of the Legislative Assembly. The Spring sitting of the Assembly begins this week and the provincial budget is expected to be tabled by Finance Minister Ron Liepert by the end of the week.

NOMINATION UPDATES

Following a busy few days of more than 20 nomination meetings across Alberta, the Progressive Conservatives now have nominated 85 candidates in 87 constituencies.

Recently nominated PC candidates include Linda Johnson in Calgary-Glenmore, Bridget Pastoor in Lethbridge-East, Steve Young in Edmonton-Riverview, Kelly Hegg in Airdrie, Ron Casey in Banff-Cochrane, Maureen Kubinec in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock, Christine Cusanelli in Calgary-Currie, Jason Luan in Calgary-Hawkwood, Donna Kennedy-Glans in Calgary-Varsity, Mike Allen in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, Everett McDonald in Grande Prairie-Smoky, John Barlow in Highwood, John Kolk in Little Bow, Cris Basualdo in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood, Matt Jeneroux in Edmonton-South West, Stephen Khan in St. AlbertSandra Jansen in Calgary-North West, and Bev Esslinger in Edmonton-Calder.

In Edmonton-Mill WoodsSohail Qadri defeated controversy-prone one-term MLA Carl Benito to win the PC nomination. Mr. Benito is the third PC MLA to lose a nomination contest in the run up to the next provincial election. The PCs have been unable to find candidates to run in Calgary-Buffalo and Edmonton-Strathcona.

The NDP, with more than 70 nominated candidates, acclaimed University of Alberta student Aditya Rao as a candidate in Drumheller-Stettler last weekend.

The Liberal Party, with only 29 candidates nominated, recently chose Pete Helfrich in Banff-CochraneWilson McCutchan in Calgary-WestLes Vidok in Innifail-Sylvan Lake and Jason Chilibeck in Red Deer-South. Liberal leader Raj Sherman is expected to release key parts of his party’s election platform in Calgary and Edmonton today.

By my estimate, the Wildrose Party has 81 candidates chosen across the province, including recently nominated Tim Dyck in Calgary-Bow and Tim Copithorne in Banff-Cochrane. The party held a campaign school in Red Deer last weekend, drawing candidates and campaign workers from across the province. The Wildrose Party has been accused of launching another round of negative push polls aimed at Premier Alison Redford.

The Alberta Party recently nominated Brandon Beasley in Calgary-Shaw and will soon nominate candidates Midge Lambert in Battle River-Wainwright. On March 4, Alberta Party members in Lacombe-Ponoka will choose either Tony Jeglum or Brent Chalmers as their candidate in a contested nomination.

EVERGREEN PARTY

Celebrating two years since reforming their organization, the Alberta Party is no longer the newest kid on the political block. Rising from the ashes of the financially-mangled and now-defunct Alberta Green Party is the new EverGreen Party. Leader Larry Ashmore is carrying his party’s banner in Livingstone-Macleod. Mr. Ashmore earned 937 votes as the Green Party candidate in Foothills-Rockyview in the 2008 election.

THE RETURN OF JAMES FORD

In the electoral realm beyond political parties, Sherwood Park Independent owner James Ford announced that he will run as an Independent candidate in Sherwood Park. Mr. Ford is better known as the Independent candidate who placed a strong second to Conservative Tim Uppal in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. Mr. Ford’s candidacy in the federal elections were in response to Mr. Uppal’s nomination win over Strathcona County Councillor Jacquie Fenske, which many in the local Conservative establishment believed to be unfair. Ms. Fenske is now the nominated PC candidate in the neighbouring Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville constituency.

Categories
Alberta Politics

what to make of alison redford’s budget before election strategy.

A photo of Alberta Premier Alison Redford
Premier Alison Redford

Premier Alison Redford has told reporters that her government will approve Alberta’s 2012/2013 budget before the next provincial general election is called. The budget is expected to be introduced shortly after MLAs return to the Assembly on February 7, 2012. The election must take place between March 1 and May 31, based on Alberta’s new ‘fixed-election period.’

In previous years, including 1997 and 2008, the Assembly only briefly returned for a sitting before elections were called.

A Spring sitting of three to four weeks would put the Progressive Conservatives in a position to force their greatest perceived threat, the Wildrose Party, to make some firm commitments on the public record about what they would cut from the provincial budget. The Wildrose have been weakened in the polls since the departure of Premier Ed Stelmach and the PCs will do their best to frame Danielle Smith‘s party as a disgruntled fringe group of angry and outraged conservatives.

Albertans can expect the PCs to use the Spring sitting of the Assembly to saturate the media airwaves with spin about how great their provincial budget will be. Think of it as Phase 1 of the PC Party election platform.

Alberta Finance Minister Ron Liepert
Ron Liepert

A full Spring sitting would also allow retiring Finance Minister Ron Liepert to table and implement one budget before the next election. Minister Liepert was appointed to the Finance portfolio in late 2011 and will not be seeking re-election (some political watchers have suggested that Minister Liepert could be hired as Premier Redford’s post-election Chief of Staff)

Holding a Spring sitting will also give the many PC candidates set to be nominated at the end of January a months to knock on doors and organize before the vote is called. The PCs are scheduled to select their candidates for the Senate Nominee election on February 10 and 11.

Meanwhile, the other opposition parties are continuing their preparations for a Spring election.

The NDP are close to nominating a full-slate of candidates (they have nominated 73 candidates in 87 constituencies) and plan to make regulating Alberta’s expensive energy prices one of their key election issues. NDP leader Brian Mason is the only current party leader with experience leading a party through a previous election.

A photo of former MLA Rick Miller
Rick Miller

The Liberal Party, veering toward the political right under Tory MLA-turned-Liberal leader Raj Sherman, will be without two key staff members when the Assembly returns on February 7. Communications Director Brian Leadbetter announced earlier this month that he would be departing for a new position with the Parkland School Division and Chief of Staff Rick Miller is leaving to peruse a candidacy in Edmonton-Rutherford. Mr. Miller served as the MLA for that constituency from 2004 until 2008, when he was narrowly defeated by now Health & Wellness Minister Fred Horne.

The Liberals are far behind in the nomination process, having only chosen candidates in 23 out of 87 constituencies. Some Liberal insiders have suggested that the Official Opposition party will likely fall short of nominating a full-slate in the upcoming election.

The Alberta Party has nominated 11 candidates and only plans to focus resources on a handful of those when the vote is called.

Categories
Alberta Politics

rookie photos of alberta mlas retiring in 2012.

With an election expected to be held in the next few months and a new Premier setting a new tone, many long-time and not-so-long-time Members of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly have decided that now is time to retire or look for greener pastures.

The nineteen MLAs not seeking re-election are former Premier Ed Stelmach, Ken Kowalski, Iris Evans, Ron Liepert, Mel Knight, Barry McFarland, Janis Tarchuk, Richard Marz, Lloyd Snelgrove, Rob Renner, Hugh MacDonald, Kevin Taft, George Groeneveld, Dave Taylor, Harry Chase, Broyce Jacobs, Ken Allred, and Art Johnston. Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Johnston were defeated in nomination contests in their constituencies.

Rumours circulating suggest that other long-time MLAs are also considering retirement, including Yvonne Fritz and Dave Hancock.

The departures are not limited to MLAs. Yesterday, Liberal Communications Director Brian Leadbetter announced that he will be leaving after a year in the position.

Some of the retiring politicians have spent a decade or more in office, so before the writ is dropped I thought it would be fun to take a look at what some of them looked like in their younger years in office.

Ed Stelmach, MLA for Vegreville-Vermilion (1993-2004), Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville (2004-2012), Premier (2006-2011)
Ed Stelmach, MLA for Vegreville-Viking (1993-2004), Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville (2004-2012), Premier (2006-2011)
Ken Ken Kowalski, MLA for Barrhead (1979-1993), Barrhead-Westlock (1993-2004), Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock (2004-2012) MLA Barrhead
Ken Kowalski, MLA for Barrhead (1979-1993), Barrhead-Westlock (1993-2004), Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock (2004-2012)
Iris Evans 1997 and 2012
Iris Evans, MLA for Sherwood Park (1997-2012)
Rob Renner, MLA for Medicine Hat (1993-2012)
Rob Renner, MLA for Medicine Hat (1993-2012)
Barry McFarland, MLA for Little Bow (1991-2012)
Barry McFarland, MLA for Little Bow (1992-2012)
Kevin Taft, MLA for Edmonton-Riverview (2001-2012)
Kevin Taft, MLA for Edmonton-Riverview (2001-2012)
Janis Tarchuk, MLA for Banff-Cochrane (1997-2012)
Janis Tarchuk, MLA for Banff-Cochrane (1997-2012)
Hugh MacDonald, MLA for Edmonton-Gold Bar (1997-2012)
Hugh MacDonald, MLA for Edmonton-Gold Bar (1997-2012)
Richard Marz, MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills (1997-2012)
Richard Marz, MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills (1997-2012)
Categories
Alberta Politics

alberta election candidate update – december 2011 (part 2)

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

Nominated Alberta election candidates by region. December 15, 2011
Nominated Alberta election candidates by region. December 15, 2011

Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock: Westlock Town Councillor David Truckey is the first candidate to enter the Progressive Conservative nomination contest in the constituency being vacated by long-time MLA Ken Kowalski. The PCs have held this constituency since 1967.

Calgary-Currie: Lawyer Norm Kelly has announced his intention to seek the Alberta Party nomination in this south central Calgary constituency. Currie is currently represented by Alberta Party MLA Dave Taylor, who will be retiring when the next election is called.

Calgary-Fish CreekWendelin Fraser, former Dean of the Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal University, has declared her intention to seek the PC nomination. This constituency is currently represented by PC-turned-Wildrose MLA Heather Forsyth.

Calgary-Hawkwood Farouk Aditia and Chris Roberts have entered the PC nomination contest in this new constituency. Mr. Adatia was the Chief Financial Officer in Premier Alison Redford‘s recent leadership campaign.

Calgary-McCall: Muhammad Rasheed is seeking the PC nomination. The constituency is currently represented by Liberal MLA Darshan Kang.

Calgary-West: Calgary Police Sergeant Mike Ellis is seeking the PC nomination. Incumbent MLA and current Finance Minister Ron Liepert recently announced that he would be retiring when the next election was called.
Chestermere-Rockyview: Nathan Salmon is seeking the yet to be scheduled NDP nomination.

Edmonton-Meadowlark: Former MLA Bob Maskell is seeking the PC nomination in this west Edmonton constituency. Mr. Maskell represented this constituency from 2001 to 2004. Also seeking the nomination is Richard Guyon, who was the Wildrose candidate in this constituency in the 2008 election. Meadowlark is currently represented by PC MLA turned Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman.

Edmonton-Mill Woods: Sohail Qadri is one of two people challenging incumbent MLA Carl Benito for the PC nomination.

Edmonton-Whitemud: Jim Graves defeated Muriel Stanley Venne to win the NDP nomination.

Leduc-Beaumont: Locomotive engineer and saskatoon berry farmer William Munsey is seeking the Alberta Party nomination in this constituency south of Edmonton. Mr. Munsey was the Green Party candidate in the Vegreville-Wainwright riding in the 2011 federal election.

Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: School Principal Jimmy Clark is challenging incumbent MLA Ty Lund for the PC nomination. The 73-year old Mr. Lund has represented the constituency since 1989.

Sherwood Park: Former Strathcona County Mayor Cathy Oleson and County Councillor Brian Botterill are seeking the PC nomination.

Senate
First reported on this blog last week, Mike Shaikh has confirmed his entrance into the PC Senate candidate nomination contest. Also entering the PC Senate nomination contest is former NAIT President Sam Shaw, who announced his candidacy  at the 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron Christmas Dinner last weekend.

Categories
Alberta Politics

ken kowalski chooses retirement over death in office.

Ken Kowalski Speaker Alberta MLA
Retiring Speaker Ken Kowalski

He once told Albertans that he would “die in office” rather than retire and collect his gold plated severance package, but this week Speaker Ken Kowalski opted for retirement instead of the afterlife. The long-time MLA announced yesterday in a letter to the Progressive Conservative Party that he would not be seeking re-election in the Spring 2012 provincial election. He was in August 2011.

Speaker Kowalski is the longest serving MLA in the Assembly and was first elected in a 1979 by-election in the Barrhead constituency. His absence will undoubtably lead to a hotly contested PC nomination in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock. Hoping to capture the seat from the Tories is Wildrose candidate and former Alberta Report publisher Link Byfield, who has been on the hustings for more than a year.

Upon his retirement, Speaker Kowalski is expected to collect $1,271,600 in transition allowance, and it is suspected that he may also collect $54,000 per year from the now-defunct MLA pension that was dissolved in 1992. His retirement announcement takes place before a review of MLA salaries and benefits, led by retired Justice John Major, can take place.

This MLA pay review initiated by Premier Alison Redford may succeed in forcing generational change in the PC caucus by prompting the retirement of a number of stodgy former Tory cabinet ministers, including Sherwood Park MLA Iris Evans, Grande Prairie-Smoky MLA Mel Knight, Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Lloyd Snelgrove, Banff-Cochrance MLA Janis Tarchuk, and current Finance Minister and Calgary-West MLA Ron Liepert.

Categories
Alberta Politics

alberta election candidate update – december 2011.

The list of candidates nominated across the province continues to grow as we get closer to an expected Spring 2012 election.

Nominated Alberta election candidates by region. December 8, 2011
Nominated Alberta election candidates by region. December 8, 2011

The sudden burst of retirement announcements by Stelmach-era cabinet ministers has prompted a flurry of nomination activity in constituencies that could be considered Tory strongholds (where winning the PC nomination is typically the toughest fight):

Banff-Cochrane: Mayor Truper McBride is expected to enter the PC nomination contest in this mountain/foothills constituency today. Current PC MLA and former cabinet minister Janis Tarchuk announced this week that she will seek re-election, though some political watchers expect the former cabinet minister to retire when the next election is called.

Calgary-West: The Calgary Herald reported last night that Finance Minister Ron Liepert will not be running in the next election. Minister Liepert was first elected in 2004.

Grande Prairie-Smoky: Grande Prairie County Reeve Everett McDonald is seeking the PC nomination. The constituency is currently represented by MLA and former cabinet minister Mel Knight, who is not seeking re-election.

Iris Evans Sherwood Park MLA Progressive Conservative 2010
Retiring! Iris Evans

Sherwood Park: Long-time PC MLA and former cabinet minister Iris Evans will retire when the next election is called. Ms. Evans was first elected as MLA in 1997, defeating Liberal MLA Bruce Collingwood by over 300 votes. Matthew Bissett has announced his intentions to seek the PC nomination.

Vermilion-Lloydminster: Dr. Richard Starke is seeking the PC nomination, which is being left vacant by retiring MLA and former cabinet minister Lloyd Snelgrove.

Aside from the constituencies represented by retiring former cabinet ministers, here are other updates to the list of declared and nominated election candidates:

Calgary-Buffalo: The NDP are expected to acclaim Rebecca Eras as their candidate on December 13

Calgary-Cross:  The NDP are expected to acclaim Reinaldo Conterras on December 13. Mr. Conterras replaces previously nominated candidate Preet Sihota, who withdrew his candidacy for personal reasons.

Running?: Former MLA Jon Lord
Running? Former MLA Jon Lord

Calgary-Currie: Five prospective nomination candidates were testing the waters at a recent Meet and Greet event organized by the Calgary-Currie PC association. Potential nominees noted to have attended the event include former MLA and Alderman Jon LordStefan Spargo, Chair of the Calgary International Children’s Festival Charity Callahan, former Calgary-McCall constituency president Dale Galbraith, school principalChristine Cusanelli, and past-President of the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association Brian Holtby.

Calgary-Glenmore: The PC nomination has been scheduled for January 28, 2012. Linda Johnson has declared her candidacy for the nomination.

Calgary-Hays: Former Alderman and recent Mayoral candidate Ric McIver defeated incumbent MLA Art Johnston to nab the PC nomination. This is the second time that Mr. Johnston, the parliamentary assistant to Premier Alison Redford, has lost a nomination contest this year. In May 2011, he was defeated by Rick Fraser in the Calgary-South East PC nomination.

Cecilia Low Progressive Conservative Calgary-Mountain View 2011
Running: Cecilia Low

Calgary-Mountain View: Lawyer Cecilia Low has announced her intention to seek the PC nomination, which has yet to be officially scheduled.

Calgary-North West: The NDP are expected to acclaim Brian Malkinson as their candidate on December 13.

Edmonton-Gold Bar: Liberal Party members nominated Josipa Petrunic as their candidate earlier this week (read more about Ms. Petrunic here). The PC nomination date has been scheduled for January 25, 2012. Past candidate David Dorward is the only candidate to have declared his candidacy.

Edmonton-Whitemud: The NDP are expected to acclaim Muriel Stanley Venne as their candidate on December 13.

Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo: After circulating a rumour about a secret nomination meeting, Wildrose MLA Guy Boutilier has decided that he will seek his party’s nomination in the new Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo constituency.

Leduc-Beaumont: Perennial political candidate Hana Razga is seeking the NDP nomination. Ms. Razga recently ran for Edmonton City Council in Ward 8.

Lethbridge-WestKevin Kinahan is the nominated Wildrose Party candidate. Mr. Kirnahan was his party’s 2008 candidate in Little Bow and failed to once again secure his party’s nomination in that constituency last year. Most of the local Wildrose constituency association board resigned in protest following claims of irregularities in the nomination process.

Little Bow: Farmer John Kolk has announced his intentions to seek the PC nomination.

Livingstone-Macleod: PC MLA Evan Berger was acclaimed for his party’s nomination. Mr. Berger was first elected in 2008.

St. Albert: First-term MLA PC Ken Allred announced yesterday that he will not be seeking re-electionKent La Rose was the fourth candidate to join the crowded PC nomination contest in this constituency last week.

Senate: City of Leduc Mayor Greg Krischke will seek the PC nomination for Senate. City of St. Albert Alderman and former Liberal MLA Len Bracko told the Edmonton Journal that he will be running in the Senate election as an Independent candidate. Mr. Bracko was the MLA for St. Albert from 1993 to 1997. He returned to St. Albert City Council in 2001.

Sources tell me that Calgary Police Commission chairman Mike Shaikh will enter the contest for the PC nomination for Senate later this week.

Categories
Alberta Politics

the cast of alberta politics: the motion picture.

Politics in Alberta is not always easy for outsiders to understand. Forty years of uninterrupted Progressive Conservative majority governments have given the province a reputation of being a politically homogenous monolith.

The myth of Alberta as a western frontier where tarsands-rich oilmen and rugged cowboys rule the plains, perpetrated by an endless stream of CBC television dramas, could not be further from the truth. Alberta is a dynamic province, where urban rules and politics is less conservative and more moderate than most outsiders might assume.

It occurred to me that rather than spending millions of dollars to replicate lame advertising campaigns promoting our Spirit to Create and Freedom to Achieve (wait… or is it our Freedom to Create and Spirit to Achieve, or Freedom to Spirit…??), the true story of Alberta (and its politics) might be told through a blockbuster motion picture. A blockbuster political drama cast with big name Hollywood stars could not only explain Alberta’s story, but it might win some Academy Awards (and get a good score on Rotten Tomatoes).

I just started writing the Aaron Sorkin-inspired screenplay and that has not stopped me from sending out a casting call to actors who I believe would be perfect playing in these roles.

Allison Janney as Alison Redford
Allison Janney as Premier Alison Redford
Antonio Banderas as Raj Sherman
Antonio Banderas as Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman
Selma Blair as Danielle Smith
Selma Blair as Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith
John C Reilly as Brian Mason
John C Reilly as NDP leader Brian Mason
Aaron Eckhart as Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk
Aaron Eckhart as Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk
Jon Lithgow as Finance Minister Ron Liepert
Jon Lithgow as Finance Minister Ron Liepert
William H. Macy as Hugh MacDonald
William H. Macy as Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald
Guy Richie as Chief of Staff Stephen Carter
Guy Richie as Chief of Staff Stephen Carter

Please feel free to share your feedback for other actors to cast or plot points in the comment section below.