Tag Archives: Teresa Woo-Paw

Jim Prentice appoints another Pipeline Obsessed Cabinet

Jim Prentice Pipeline Cabinet Oil Sands
Members of the PC cabinet, elected and non-elected, stand preparing to be sworn-in to their new jobs at Government House today.

As he prepared to be sworn-in as the 16th Premier of Alberta at Government House today, Jim Prentice aimed to project the image of a leader who is in command and in control of the situation. And today’s tightly controlled cabinet shuffle achieved that goal. Unlike previous cabinet shuffles, the news around today’s appointments was tightly sealed, with no leaks to the media to spoil Mr. Prentice’s opening day as Premier.

Jim Prentice Alberta PC Party Premier Leader
Jim Prentice

But did Mr. Prentice really give Albertans the change he promised with this cabinet shuffle? There are a few new faces in top positions and two unelected cabinet ministers from outside the Legislative Assembly, but at least fifteen of the twenty cabinet ministers previously served in the cabinets of Premier Alison Redford or Dave Hancock.

Without appointing a larger group of unelected cabinet ministers, he had little choice but to draw on the current pool of PC MLAs. If Albertans really want to see change in their government, they will have to do what people in every other province do from time to time: elect a new party to form government.

Viewed as having the endorsement of Corporate Calgary’s Oil Executives, Mr. Prentice’s choices for cabinet sends a message that the construction and expansion of oil sands pipelines will remain a priority for the Progressive Conservatives.

Frank Oberle MLA Peace River
Frank Oberle

As well as being Premier, Mr. Prentice takes on the role of Aboriginal Affairs and Intergovernmental Affairs, both important roles when dealing with the construction of Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline through northern British Columbia and the TransCanada Energy East Pipeline to New Brunswick.

The Northern Gateway Pipeline, which would pump raw bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands to the port city of Kitimat, is facing stiff opposition in Alberta’s neighbouring province, especially from First Nations and environmental groups. Before entering the PC Party leadership race, Mr. Prentice worked for Enbridge as an envoy to B.C.’s First Nations communities.

Teresa Woo-Paw, the two-term MLA from north Calgary, is now the Associate Minister for Asia-Pacific Relations, an important position as the proposed pipeline would send Alberta’s raw bitumen to be refined and processed in Asia (likely in the People’s Republic of China).

Teresa Woo Paw MLA
Teresa Woo-Paw

How Mr. Prentice and Ms. Woo-Paw approach Alberta’s trade relations with Asian countries will also seal the fate of former cabinet minister Gary Mar, who was appointed as Alberta’s representative in Hong Kong after he was defeated in the 2011 Progressive Conservative leadership contest.

Expenses related to Mr. Mar’s patronage appointment have been harshly criticized by the opposition parties.

During Ms. Redford’s time as Premier, the Government of Alberta expanded trade operations in Asia, operating offices in China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. A new trade office was opened last year in Singapore and another will soon open in Mumbai, India.

Third-term Peace River MLA Frank Oberle is now Alberta’s Energy minister. It is unclear how Mr. Oberle will approach the role differently than his predecessors, but his connections to northern British Columbia may play a role in the government’s focus on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline. Mr. Oberle’s father, Frank Oberle Sr. was the Member of Parliament for Prince George-Peace River from 1972 to 1993, serving as Minister of Forestry under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Kyle Fawcett MLA Calgary-Klein
Kyle Fawcett

His past relations with northern Albertans opposed to nuclear development may be an indication to how the new energy minister plans to approach opposition to pipeline expansion.

Serving as the defacto junior energy minister, Calgary MLA Kyle Fawcett was appointed as Environment & Sustainable Resource Development. Prone to embarrassing outbursts, Mr. “Leaky” Fawcett’s appointment suggests that Mr. Prentice might not be serious about tackling climate change and environmental issues linked to natural resource development.

The Auditor General reported in July that the Alberta Government has not been monitored its climate change targets and that its expensive carbon capture program is nowhere near meeting its targets for emission reductions. I sincerely hope that Mr. Fawcett sees his role as environment minister as more than a public relations activity for the government’s oil sands and pipeline expansion agenda.

On the environment and energy file, actions will speak louder than cabinet appointments.

Unelected Cabinet Ministers

Stephen Mandel Edmonton
Stephen Mandel

Mr. Prentice handed the helm of two very important ministries to individuals who have never been elected to the Alberta Legislature. Former Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel, 69, and former Saskatchewan cabinet minister Gordon Dirks, 67, were appointed to cabinet as Minister of Health and Minister of Education.

Mr. Mandel remains popular among many Edmontonians, and is expected to run in a by-election in Edmonton-Whitemud, the southwest Edmonton constituency made vacant following Mr. Hancock’s resignation last week. His tendency to show thin-skin when he does not get his way may prove challenging when having to compromise with his new cabinet and caucus colleagues, or his political opponents.

Mr. Dirks’ affiliations with a socially conservative evangelical church have raised the ire of his critics, who worry these views may impact his support of secular public education in Alberta. The appointment of the former Calgary Board of Education trustee and 1980s Saskatchewan politician was unexpected, to say the least.

It is suspected that Mr. Dirks will run for the PC Party nomination in the impending Calgary-Elbow by-election, triggered by Ms. Redford’s departure from political life. The nomination is also being contested by long-time PC Party activist Pat Walsh.

Who’s not welcome in Prentice’s cabinet?

Thomas Lukaszuk Alberta Edmonton MLA PC Leadership
Thomas Lukaszuk

Thomas Lukaszuk, Fred Horne, Doug Griffiths, Ken Hughes, Sandra Jansen are all names that many Albertans have become familiar with over the past few years. These former senior cabinet ministers will now occupy seats in the backbenches (and have their offices relocated from prime real estate in the Legislature Building to the aging and stuffy Legislature Annex).

Also demoted were former Finance minister Doug Horner, who will take on the role of “trade advisor” for the Premier and former International Affairs minister Cal Dallas, who will now serve as a “Legislative Secretary” for intergovernmental relations.

The resignation of Mr. Hancock last week took many political watchers by surprise. I am told by sources in the PC Party that Premier Hancock was informed by his party’s new leader that he would not be appointed to cabinet if he chose to remain as an MLA.

Rejection of Gay-Straight Alliances motion shows some Alberta MLAs need a reality check

Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly urge the Government to introduce legislation, like Manitoba’s and Ontario’s, requiring all school boards to develop policies to support students who want to lead and establish gay-straight alliance activities and organizations, using any name that is consistent with the promotion of a positive school environment that is inclusive, welcoming, and respectful for all students regardless of sexuality, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

It was a simple motion introduced on the floor of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly on April 7, 2014 that would help create safer environments for students in schools. Nineteen Liberal, New Democrat, and Progressive Conservative MLAs voted in favour of the motion, but it failed after 31 PC and Wildrose MLAs stood up and voted against it.

Kent Hehr MLA Calgary-Buffalo
Kent Hehr

Motion 503, introduced by Calgary-Buffalo MLA Kent Hehr, was not a piece of binding legislation, it was a symbolic message of that all students, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, can be welcomed and accepted in Alberta’s education system.

Creating safe and supportive environments for all students, including LGBTQ youth who may face discrimination in and outside of school, should be something that is encouraged by MLAs.

Mr. Hehr’s motion undoubtably would have made some social conservatives uncomfortable, but it would have ultimately helped drag some of Alberta’s more stodgy school boards into the 21st century. The motion would not have forced any school board to form student-led gay-straight alliances, but it would have compelled the elected boards to accept the existence of the groups if students in their schools chose to organize them.

Alberta MLA Vote Gay Straight Alliances Vote Motion 503
A map showing the constituencies represented by MLAs who voted in favour (blue) and against (red) Motion 503. White indicates MLAs who were not present for the vote. (Click to enlarge)

Passage of this motion would have sent a strong message that tolerance and acceptance are priorities Alberta’s provincial legislators.

Anti-bullying minister Sandra Jansen voted in favour but Education minister Jeff Johnson voted against it.

Missing from the vote were Premier Dave Hancock and NDP leader Brian Mason, who both later said they would have voted in favour had they been in the Assembly. Wildrose opposition leader Danielle Smith was not present for the vote and it is not clear if she would have voted differently than her party’s MLAs.

The divided PC government caucus also missed an opportunity to send a clear message that they embrace 21st century values by singling out the opposition Wildrose as the only party to unanimously vote against the motion – and remind Albertans of the infamous Lake of Fire.  And for the Wildrose, a vote for the motion, even by one or two of that party’s MLAs, would have done a lot of demonstrate the party is more moderate on social issues than its opponents claim.

In total, 36 MLAs were absent from the vote (minus the Speaker, who abstains from votes of the Assembly).

Voted in Favour: 19
Deron Bilous (NDP)
Laurie Blakeman (LIB)
Neil Brown (PC)
Pearl Calahasen (PC)
Cal Dallas (PC)
Alana DeLong (PC)
David Eggen (NDP)
Kyle Fawcett (PC)
Kent Hehr (LIB)
Ken Hughes (PC)
Sandra Jansen (PC)
Heather Klimchuk (PC)
Jason Luan (PC)
Thomas Luksazuk (PC)
Rachel Notley (NDP)
Don Scott (PC)
Raj Sherman (LIB)
David Swann (LIB)
Teresa Woo-Paw (PC)
Voted against: 31
Moe Amery (PC)
Rob Anderson (WR)
Drew Barnes (WR)
Gary Bikman (WR)
Robin Campbell (PC)
Ron Casey (PC)
Christine Cusanelli (PC)
Ian Donovan (WR)
David Dorward (PC)
Wayne Drysdale (PC)
Jacquie Fenske (PC)
Rick Fraser (PC)
Yvonne Fritz (PC)
Hector Goudreau (PC)
Jeff Johnson (PC)
Linda Johnson (PC)
Maureen Kubinec (PC)
Genia Leskiw (PC)
Bruce McAllister (WR)
Everett McDonald (PC)
Diana McQueen (PC)
Frank Oberle (PC)
Bridget Pastoor (PC)
Dave Rodney (PC)
Bruce Rowe (WR)
Shayne Saskiw (WR)
Richard Starke (PC)
Rick Strankman (WR)
Kerry Towle (WR)
George VanderBurg (PC)
Greg Weadick (PC)

Wheels up! Redford Tories hit the skies with another world tour

Paris, Munich, Berlin, Geneva, London, Las Vegas, Anchorage, St. Paul, Madison, Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Shanghai… where haven’t Premier Alison Redford‘s cabinet ministers been this year?

Embarking on another round of international trips, Premier Redford and Associate Minster Teresa Woo-Paw will each travel to China, South Korea and Japan next month over a sixteen-day period. Premier Redford and Associate Minister Woo-Paw made a similar trip to China in September 2012.

Meanwhile, despite the price per barrel for Western Canadian Select closed at a very healthy $90.32 yesterday, the provincial government continues to push drastic cuts to Alberta’s post-secondary institutions that will likely lead to less programs offered and lower admission levels.

Here’s a Google Map showing where cabinet ministers and MLAs have travelled overseas on government business since Premier Redford became premier in November 2011.


View Alberta Cabinet Minister and MLA Travel November 2011-September 2013 in a larger map

(Locations and dates on this map were identified in official Government of Alberta press releases)

Tories tighten their grip over powerless school boards.

Jeff Johnson Alberta Education Minister MLA
Jeff Johnson

Provincial politicians like school boards.

When popular decisions are made, like opening new schools or announcing new funding, the provincial government takes the credit.

When unpopular decisions need to be made, like closing schools or cancelling programs, then the provincial politicians are more than happy to let the school board trustees take the blame.

As was demonstrated yesterday, provincial politicians also like school boards because they can tell them what to do. When the Calgary Board of Education voted to reject the new province-wide collective agreement negotiated by the Government of Alberta and the Alberta Teachers’ Association, Education Minister Jeff Johnson tabled a bill in the Assembly to force the agreement on all school boards in the province (Premier Alison Redford was unsurprisingly absent during the resulting commotion).

It is important to note that the vast majority of school boards and Locals representing the Alberta Teachers’ Association voted to approve the agreement. Minister Johnson’s bill simply forces the agreement on the few that refused, which happen to include Calgary, the largest school board in Alberta.

Normally, the Calgary Board of Education would have had the opportunity to sit down with the ATA and negotiate a separate local agreement. This is how, until very recently, teachers’ contracts were negotiated.

As the provincial government tightens its grip on the reins of locally elected school boards, locally negotiated teachers’ contracts may become a thing of the past, as could school boards if they ever become inconvenient for their masters in the provincial government.

———

By my count, five of the 87 members of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly previously served as school board trustees: Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Maureen Kubinec, Calgary-Klein MLA Kyle Fawcett, and Edmonton-Decore MLA Janice Sarich, as well as Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and PC MLA Teresa Woo-Paw, who served on the ill-fated Calgary Board of Education from 1998 until the dysfunctional board was fired by the provincial government in 1999.

it’s crunch time!

In the final days of Alberta’s 2012 General Election, party leaders will be focusing their time and energy in the places that will matter on election day.

Alison Redford Calgary candidates Alberta Election 2012
Premier Alison Redford with Calgary candidates Jason Luan, Teresa Woo-Paw, Sandra Jansen, and Len Webber (photo from Alison4Premier Facebook Page)

Progressive Conservative leader Alison Redford will spend the final day of the campaign making whistle stop appearances with Christine Cusanelli in Calgary-Currie, Alana DeLong in Calgary-Bow, Ken Hughes in Calgary-West, Cecilia Low in Calgary-Mountain View, Moe Amery in Calgary-East, Len Webber in Calgary-Foothills, and Manmeet Bhullar in Calgary-Greenway.

In past elections, most Calgary constituencies would be considered safe territory for the governing PCs. Since the beginning of this election campaign, polls have shown the Wildrose Party in a position to make significant gains across Calgary and Southern Alberta, putting many Tory incumbents and rookie candidates at risk of defeat.

With Wildrose Party candidate Ron Leech drawing fire after making some controversial racial comments, the Tories are undoubtedly hoping this controversy will translate into an advantage for their party in Calgary.

Danielle Smith Linda Carlson Wildrose
Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith with candidate Linda Carlson (photo from Danielle Smith-Wildrose Alliance Party leader Facebook Page)

Also in Calgary tomorrow, Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith will be making appearances at the at campaign offices of David Yager in Calgary-Hawkwood and Chris Challis in Calgary-North West, Richard Jones in Calgary-Acadia and Corrie Adolph in Calgary-Currie, and Dustin Nau in Calgary-Foothills.

Marlin Schmidt Brian Mason Olivia Chow NDP Alberta Election 2012
NDP MP Olivia Chow, candidate Marlin Schmidt, and NDP leader Brian Mason (photo from Marlin Schmidt's Facebook Page)

Toronto New Democrat Member of Parliament Olivia Chow was in Edmonton today campaigning with NDP leader Brian Mason in his Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood constituency, and making stops in Edmonton-RiverviewEdmonton-Manning and Edmonton-Gold Bar. The NDP are hoping candidates Lori SigurdsonCindy Olsen and Marlin Schmidt can make gains in these three constituencies.

The contest in Edmonton-Gold Bar will be very interesting to watch. Unlike the 2008 election, when incumbent Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald‘s signs dominated front lawns across the constituency, this election’s lack of incumbent  has opened up a three- or four- way competitive contest. Driving through the constituency it appears that Mr. Schmidt is holding his own against Liberal Josipa Petrunic and Progressive Conservative David Dorward.

Alberta Party leader Glenn Taylor will be where he should, campaigning in the Town of Hinton in the West Yellowhead constituency. Mr Taylor served as Mayor of Hinton from 2004 until January 2012. He recently recorded an online message to Albertans about why they should support his party on April 23.

Perhaps not where anyone would expect him to be during the last weekend of the campaign, Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman was scheduled to spend today in the traditionally conservative voting Red Deer, where the Liberals nabbed prominent local historian Michael Dawe as their candidate in Red Deer-North. Despite polls showing Liberal support has collapsed in Central Alberta, I would not be surprised to see Mr. Dawe do well on Election Night.

Dr. Sherman will spend the final day of the campaign in his Edmonton-Meadowlark constituency.

Tomorrow: The coveted daveberta election endorsements.

updated: alberta candidate nomination updates – june 2011.

The summer months are here and while the Progressive Conservatives and Liberals are preoccupied with choosing new leaders, the Wildrose Alliance are focusing on nominating a swath of candidates across the province. Here are some updates to the list of candidate nominations happening across Alberta:

Travis Olson, Wildrose Alliance candidate in Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater
Travis Olson, Wildrose Alliance candidate in Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater

Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater: Travis Olson was nominated as the Wildrose candidate on June 3, defeating Smoky Lake County Councillor Lori Danyluk, Thorhild social worker Lauri Genert and Sturgeon County Mayor Don Rigney in a mail-in ballot nomination contest. Athabasca-Redwater PC MLA Jeff Johnson has been nominated as his party’s candidate.

Calgary-Bow: Tim Dyck and John Hilton-O’Brien are vying for the Wildrose Alliance nomination. Mr. Hilton-O’Brien was the Alberta Alliance candidate in Grande Prairie-Wapiti in the 2004 election. PC MLA Alana DeLong has been nominated as her party’s candidate.

Calgary-Currie: Carrie Adolph was nominated as the Wildrose Alliance candidate defeating Sonja Chycoski. Ms. Adolph will face Alberta Party MLA Dave Taylor, who has represented this constituency since 2004.

Calgary Fort: The Wildrose Alliance is now without a candidate after Bob McInnis withdrew his candidacy for personal and professional reasons.

Calgary-Hays: Former Wildrose Alliance nomination candidate Wendi Moore appears to have withdrawn from the contest and is now supporting real estate agent Gene Sarmaga, who is facing Libertarian Party of Canada leader Dennis Young.

A photo of Cory Morgan, nomination candidate for the Wildrose Alliance in Wildrose Cory Morgan Calgary Klein North Hill
Former separatist leader Cory Morgan is a Wildrose Alliance nomination candidate in Calgary-Klein.

Calgary-Klein: Recent Aldermanic candidate Jeremy Nixon and former Alberta separatist leader Cory Morgan are seeking the Wildrose Alliance nomination scheduled for June 29. This will be Mr. Morgan’s fourth attempt at provincial elected office, having run as a candidate for the Alberta Independence Party in Banff-Cochrane in 2001, the Separation Party of Alberta in Highwood in 2004, and the Wildrose Alliance in Calgary-Mountain View in 2008.

Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill: The host of the popular CHQR radio show Calgary Today Mike Blanchard and Roy Alexander are seeking the Wildrose Alliance nomination in this constituency at a June 13 meeting.

Calgary-Northern Hills: Prasad Panda was nominated as the Wildrose Alliance candidate on May 27, 2011. Mr. Panda replaces previously nominated candidate Harpreet Nijjar, who withdrew from the nomination earlier this year. Calgary-Mackay PC MLA Teresa Woo-Paw has been nominated as her party’s candidate.

Cardston-Taber-Warner: This constituency was represented by now-Calgary-Glenmore Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman from 2004 until 2008. Dave Wright and Stirling businessman Doug Cooper are seeking that party’s nomination.

Mike Blanchard, Wildrose Alliance nomination candidate in Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill
Mike Blanchard, Wildrose Alliance nomination candidate in Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill

Chestermere-Rockyview: It would appear that Chestermere Town Councillor Heather Davies defeated Said Abdulbaki to become the Wildrose Alliance candidate in that constituency.

Edmonton-Centre: Four-term Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman was acclaimed as her party’s candidate on May 15. The Wildrose Alliance has nominated Barb de Groot, the Executive Director/Registrar of the College of Alberta Professional Forest Technologists.

Edmonton-Decore: The Wildrose Alliance has nominated lawyer Chris Bataluk as their candidate.

Edmonton-Glenora: Former Alberta Party acting-leader Sue Huff is expected to be acclaimed as her party’s candidate in this constituency. PC MLA Heather Klimchuk has been nominated as her party’s candidate.

A photo of Cindy Olsen, Edmonton Catholic School District Trustee
Catholic School Trustee Cindy Olsen is considering a run for NDP in Edmonton-Manning, according to unnamed source.

Edmonton-Manning: According to an unnamed source, Edmonton Catholic School District Trustee Cindy Olsen is strongly considering seeking the NDP nomination in this constituency, which is one of five in the province where the NDP candidate placed second in 2008. (UPDATE: Ms. Olsen announced this morning that she will seek the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Manning. See media release and confirmation from Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MLA Rachel Notley in the comments below) Already seeking the nomination is Mike Scott, who was the Edmonton-Sherwood Park NDP candidate in the recent federal election (and is also formerly known as Mike Koala on 100.3 FM The Bear). The NDP has scheduled their nomination meeting for June 27.

Edmonton-Whitemud: Rick Newcombe and Ian Crawford are seeking the Wildrose Alliance nomination. Although this will be Mr. Crawford’s first time seeking a Wildrose nomination, he has run unsuccessfully for City Council numerous times since 1992, for the Reform Party nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona in 1993, for the PC nominations in Edmonton-Rutherford and Edmonton-Ellerslie in 1993, for the Canadian Alliance in Edmonton-Southeast nomination in 2000, and for the PC nomination in Edmonton-Meadowlark in 2007 against Raj Sherman and Debbie Cavaliere. PC MLA Dave Hancock has been nominated as his party’s candidate.

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake: Developer Rod English and real estate broker Kerry Towle are seeking the Wildrose Alliance nomination, which is scheduled to happen on June 16.

Joe Anglin is seeking the Wildrose Alliance nomination in Rocky Mountain House-Sundre
The Rimbey Review reports that Joe Anglin is seeking the Wildrose Alliance nomination in Rocky Mountain House-Sundre

Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills: Village of Beiseker Mayor Bruce Rowe was acclaimed as the Wildrose Alliance candidate.

Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: The Rimbey Review is reporting that Rocky Mountain House Town Councillor Sheila Mizera and Rimbey Town Councillor Joe Anglin are seeking the Wildrose Alliance nomination. Mr. Anglin is well-known as a vocal advocate for landowners rights and earned 23% of the vote as the 2008 Green Party candidate in Lacombe-Ponoka. He served briefly as the Leader of the Alberta Green Party until it was dissolved in 2009.

UPDATE: I have received an email from Mr. Anglin in in regards to the news he is seeking the Wildrose Alliance nomination: “I have been fishing in the Yukon for the last two weeks. Just returned today. This is news to me. I have not made any such announcement.

Whitecourt-Ste. Anne: Whitecourt Town Councillor Maryann Chichak was announced as her party’s candidate on May 20. PC MLA George VanderBurg has been nominated as his party’s candidate.

Am I missing anyone? Post a comment below or send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com.