Tag Archives: Tim Uppal

Kevin O'Leary is coming to Alberta but skipping the Conservative Party leadership debate.

O’Leary skips Conservative debate, federal NDP debate skips Alberta

The most high-profile candidate running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada will be skipping tomorrow’s leadership debate in Edmonton. As the thirteen other candidates for the leadership gather on stage at the Citadel Theatre, Boston-resident and American reality television personality Kevin O’Leary will instead be hosting a “fireside chat” in a fireplace-less conference room across the street at the Westin Hotel.

Jason Kenney Wildrose Conservative Alberta

Jason Kenney

O’Leary will be joined by former Conservative MP Tim Uppal who will moderate the chat. Uppal represented the Edmonton-Sherwood Park riding from 2006 until 2015 when he switched ridings and was defeated by Liberal candidate Amarjeet Sohi in Edmonton-Mill Woods in October 2015.

O’Leary was spotted chatting with former MP and Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Jason Kenney at last weekend’s Manning Centre Conference in Ottawa. Kenney participated in a panel discussion at the conference with Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt and conference namesake Preston Manning on the topic of uniting Conservatives in Alberta.

Manning, who has been involved in conservative politics in Alberta since the 1960s (his father, Ernest Manning was premier of Alberta from 1943 to 1968), played an instrumental role in convincing nearly the whole Wildrose caucus to cross the floor to join the PCs in 2014.

Back to the federal Conservative leadership, Fildebrandt has endorsed leadership candidate Maxime Bernier, the Quebec MP known for his libertarian views briefly served as Minister of Foreign Affairs before resigning in 2008 after he acknowledged leaving sensitive government documents out in the open, apparently at his former girlfriend’s home. Bernier has also been endorsed by Calgary MP Tom Kmiec and former Wildrose MLA Heather Forsyth.

The largest group of Conservative MPs (ten) from Alberta are supporting Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer‘s bid for the leadership. Four are supporting Ontario MP Erin O’Toole and one, David Yurdiga, is supporting Kellie Leitch (watch her latest video here, if you can bear it). Bow Valley MP Martin Shields is supporting Calgary MP Deepak Obhrai‘s candidacy.

Derek Fildebrandt Alberta Wildrose MLA

Derek Fildebrandt

O’Leary does not have the support of any sitting MPs from Alberta but has gained support from Uppal and former PC MLA Ken Hughes. O’Leary was widely mocked online last year after writing an open letter to Premier Rachel Notley pledging to invest $1 million to Alberta economy if she would resign (it is not known if the letter was sent by O’Leary from his home in Massachusetts).

Federal NDP skip Alberta in leadership debate schedule

Meanwhile, the federal NDP released a schedule of debates for their leadership contest and have apparently skipped over Alberta, the only province in Canada with an NDP government.

It is an odd slight, but one that is probably welcomed by Notley’s pro-pipeline NDP government, whose Climate Leadership Plan helped gain approval for the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia. The divide between the Alberta NDP and its counterparts in Ottawa on the pipeline issue is stark and the federal party would not be doing Notley’s government any favours by rolling into the province trumpeting an anti-pipeline message.

City Councillor Amarjeet Sohi speaks at a rally during the 2015 federal election.

Who will run to succeed Amarjeet Sohi in the Ward 12 by-election?

On Oct. 19, City Councillor Amarjeet Sohi was elected as a Member of Parliament in the federal riding of Edmonton-Mill Woods. With Mr. Sohi’s resignation from city council in order to take his seat in the House of Commons, and his new post as Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, a by-election will be held in order to fill the vacancy in Ward 12.

Ward 12 Edmonton by-election map

A map of Ward 12.

The Municipal Government Act states that a by-election must take place within 90 days of a council seat being vacated, which means the by-election would need to be held before the end of January 2016, depending on the exact date that Mr. Sohi resigned from city council.

At the council meeting on Nov. 3, 2015, councillors Tony Caterina and Andrew Knack introduced a motion requesting the city administration to prepare a report with recommendations for a date for the Ward 12 by-election. The motion was passed and the report is due at the next council meeting on Nov. 17, 2015 .

Mack Male has published an excellent blog post outlining many of the rules governing municipal by-elections in Edmonton.

Four candidates have already publicly declared their plans to become candidates in the Ward 12 by-election:

  • Danisha Bhaloo – Manager of Fund Development, Boys and Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton and Area. Named by Avenue Magazine as one of Edmonton’s Top 40 under 40 in 2013. (Reported in Metro Edmonton)
  • Irfan Chaudhry – Project Manager in the City of Edmonton’s Multicultural Relations Office and sessional criminology instructor at MacEwan University. Named by Avenue Magazine as one of Edmonton’s Top 40 under 40 in 2013. (Announced on Twitter)
  • Arundeep Singh – Vice-President Outreach of the Progressive Conservative Party and employee of his family’s gravel trucking business. (Reported in Metro Edmonton)
  • Damien Austin – announced on his Facebook page that he will be a candidate in Ward 12.

In the realm of speculation and rumours, here are some names of potential candidates who could enter the Ward 12 by-election:

  • Balraj Manhas – The president of the United Cabbies Association has been an outspoken advocate for the taxi industry against incursions by private driving company Uber. He ran for the PC nomination in Edmonton-Ellerslie but was disqualified by the central party.
  • Laura Thibert Serving her second term as a trustee of the Edmonton Catholic School District. Ms. Thibert was briefly nominated as the Wildrose Party candidate in Edmonton-Mill Woods in 2014 before declining to run in the provincial election.
  • Naresh Bhardwaj – Now cleared of bribery allegations, the former PC MLA from Edmonton-Ellerslie could seek a return to political office after serving two terms in the Alberta Legislature.
  • Tim Uppal – Former three-term Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Sherwood Park who was defeated by Mr. Sohi in this election in Edmonton-Mill Woods. Previously ran for parliament in the former Edmonton-Southeast riding in 2000 and served as Minister of State for Multiculturalism in the Conservative government.
  • Harpreet Singh Gill – Founder of Asian Vision magazine and 2015 provincial Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Mill Creek.
  • Carl Benito – The PC MLA for Edmonton-Mill Woods from 2008 to 2012. After facing controversy and media attention in his first term he was defeated in the PC nomination contest ahead of the 2012 election. He ran as an Independent candidate, placing fifth with 3.9 percent of the vote.

City council by-elections are uncommon in Edmonton, with the last one being held in 1994 to replace councillor Judy Bethel who had been elected as the Liberal MP for the Edmonton-East riding. Eighteen candidates ran in that by-election which resulted in Sherry McKibben being elected with 20 percent of the vote.

More than 300 people packed into the Metro Cinema at the Garneau Theatre to watch the election night results on a 30 foot screen.

Trudeau Liberals crack Conservative “Fortress Alberta” in nationwide sweep

The dust has yet to finally settle on tonight’s election night results but we know that the Liberal Party led by Justin Trudeau will form a majority government with more than 180 seats in the next parliament. Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper, who has led his party’s government since 2006, conceded to defeat and resigned as party leader. The New Democratic Party led by Tom Mulcair, who rocketed from fourth place to Official Opposition under Jack Layton‘s leadership in 2011, was cut back to third place.

In Alberta, the Liberals appear to have cracked the Conservative fortress with wins in Edmonton and Calgary.

In Calgary-Skyview, former Liberal MLA Darshan Kang has become the first Liberal Member of Parliament elected in Calgary since 1968. Another former Liberal MLA, Kent Hehr, is currently leading Conservative MP Joan Crockatt in Calgary-Centre with more polls yet to be counted. In Edmonton-Mill Woods, popular city councillor Amarjeet Sohi, running for the Liberals, is in a tight race with Conservative cabinet minister Tim Uppal. In Edmonton-Centre, Liberal Randy Boissonnault is leading Conservative candidate James Cumming and NDP hopeful Gil McGowan.

While Canadians rejected a Conservative government led by a Calgary MP, Alberta will not be left without representation in government. It will be expected that at least one Liberal MP from each of Alberta’s two largest cities will be appointed to Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet.

For the NDP, it appears that only incumbent Linda Duncan was re-elected to a third-term as the MP for Edmonton-Strathcona.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper delivers his concession speech.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper delivers his concession speech.

There will be plenty of times in the coming days to discuss what happened on election night and over the past eleven weeks, and what it means for the future of Canada. But tonight’s results make it clear that Canadians have rejected the politics of negativity, fear and division that Mr. Harper’s Conservative believed would help them secure re-election.

Tomorrow morning, Albertans will wake up in a new Canada  – with an incoming progressive Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a progressive New Democrat Premier Rachel Notley, and progressive mayors Don Iveson in Edmonton and Naheed Nenshi in Calgary.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley (right) and Education Minister David Eggen (second right) campaign with NDP candidate Janis Irwin (second from the left) in the Edmonton-Griesbach riding.

Mulcair and Trudeau show Alberta some love in the final days of Election 2015. Where’s Harper?

There is no longer any doubt that Alberta is an important battleground in this federal election campaign. While Conservatives will dominate in the provincial seat count, the Liberals and NDP believe they are positioned to win competitive races in Edmonton and Calgary. Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau will make appearances at campaign events in Alberta during the final days of Canada’s eleven week long federal election.

Aaron Paquette Edmonton Manning

Aaron Paquette

New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulcair and Premier Rachel Notley will share the stage tomorrow evening at a rally at downtown Edmonton’s Shaw Conference Centre.

The NDP are hoping that Ms. Notley’s popularity in the provincial capital can help boost the re-election effort of Linda Duncan in Edmonton-Strathcona and the election bids of Janis Irwin in Edmonton-GriesbachGil McGowan in Edmonton-Centre and Aaron Paquette in Edmonton-Manning. With 64 percent of Edmontonians having marked their ballots for the NDP in the recent provincial election, the NDP are hoping to extend some of that support to the federal level.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau will spend the final Sunday of the election campaign swinging through Alberta to headline rallies for Amarjeet Sohi in Edmonton-Mill Woods and Darshan Kang in Calgary-Skyview.

Amarjeet Sohi Edmonton

Amarjeet Sohi

Both Mr. Sohi and Mr. Kang are candidates the Liberals believe have a real chance at being elected on October 19. A Mainstreet Research poll released last week shows Mr. Sohi, a popular three-term city councillor, in a close two-way race with Conservative Tim UppalThe Liberals are also hoping that strong campaigns can propel Randy Boissonnault in Edmonton-Centre, former Liberal MLA Kent Hehr in Calgary-Centre and Matt Grant in Calgary-Confederation to victory.

It is has not been announced whether Conservative leader Stephen Harper will give Albertans any of his time in the final days before the election. He is running for re-election in the Calgary-Heritage riding.

Notley critics choking on Pretzel Logic
Wildrose leader Brian Jean campaigns for Conservative Joan Crockatt in Calgary-Centre.

Wildrose leader Brian Jean campaigns for Conservative Joan Crockatt in Calgary-Centre.

When they aren’t busy criticizing the NDP for implementing campaign promises, critics of Ms. Notley have tied themselves in knots criticizing her for either not being involved enough or for being too involved in the federal election campaign.

Alberta’s newly elected NDP government was a frequent target of Mr. Harper’s during this campaign. Ms. Notley succeeded in avoiding getting dragged into a war of words with the federal Conservative leader. Instead, Finance Minister Joe Ceci, a former Calgary alderman, was the NDP’s designated hitter to respond to the federal Conservative leader’s barbs.

Wildrose leader Brian Jean, a former Conservative MP, was spotted campaigning for Conservative Joan Crockatt in Calgary this week. Mr. Jean claimed in an email to his party’s supporters that Ms. Notley was “throwing all the powers of the Alberta government behind Mulcair and the federal NDP.” The claim is plainly ridiculous.

By “all the powers,” what Mr. Jean meant was a single YouTube video of Ms. Notley’s speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce circulated with a government press release. The 42-minute long video of Ms. Notley’s speech included her brief remarks expressing support for Mr. Mulcair. Inappropriate? Yes. All the powers of the Alberta government? Not even close.

Dion campaigns in Edmonton
Stephane Dion spoke to Liberal supporters in Edmonton today.

Stephane Dion spoke to Liberal supporters in Edmonton today.

Former federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion was campaigning in Edmonton today. The likeable former cabinet minister and university professor from Montreal delivered an engaging speech to about 100 party supporters at a town hall meeting in the Sutton Place Hotel. Perhaps one of the most capable Prime Ministers Canada never had, Mr. Dion is sure to be appointed to cabinet if the Liberal Party forms government in Ottawa on Oct. 19.

Still not sure who to vote for?

Elections Canada reports that 358,830 Albertans cast their ballots at the advance polls on October 9, 10, 11 and 12, 2015. If you are still not sure which candidate you will be voting for on Oct. 19, take a look through my list of candidates running in Alberta’s 34 ridings.

Justin Trudeau Edmonton Liberal

Mulcair and Trudeau bring “Change” and “Real Change” to Edmonton this week

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair will visit Edmonton this week to campaign with local candidates and to rally their supporters. The visit by the two leaders follows an earlier stop by Conservative leader Stephen Harper during the second week of the election.

In a competition to own the “change” message, the NDP are holding a “Rally for Change in Edmonton” on September 10 and the Liberals are holding a “Rally for Real Change in Edmonton” on September 9. It is clear that both parties have identified varying degrees “change” as a common theme in this election campaign and that message could resonate in a handful of ridings in Edmonton in this election.

It is expected that popular Premier Rachel Notley might take the stage with Mr. Mulcair on September 10, to give her personal endorsement to the federal leader. With 64 percent of Edmontonians casting their ballots for the NDP in the May 2015 provincial election, the opposition parties have reason to believe that Alberta’s capital city is fertile ground for progressive messages.

Taking notice of the political shift in the city, the Conservatives recently dispatched Ontario candidate Kellie Leitch and Calgary candidate Michelle Rempel to canvass alongside Edmonton candidates who are in tough contests. Liberal MPs Ralph Goodale and Rodger Cuzner have travelled to Alberta in recent weeks and Ontario MP Carolyn Bennett will campaign in Edmonton later this week.

With forty days left in this election, here is a look at a few races in Edmonton and northern Alberta that could have interesting outcomes on October 19, 2015:

Janis Irwin

Janis Irwin

Edmonton-Strathcona: Two-term NDP MP Linda Duncan is expected to be re-elected but a resurgence in Liberal support for candidate Eleanor Olszewski could spoil an easy NDP victory and put Conservative Len Thom in a position to win. Note: The Liberal vote fell to an astonishing 2.82 percent in the 2011 election, down from 9 percent in the 2008 election.

Edmonton-Griesbach: If a second NDP MP is elected in Alberta, it will likely be Janis Irwin in this north east Edmonton riding. Ms. Irwin’s chances are boosted by highly-organized provincial NDP campaigns in the area and helped by the embarrassing antics of retiring Conservative MP Peter Goldring. The Conservatives nominated former city councillor Kerry Diotte as their candidate. Mr. Diotte’s record on city council and lacklustre bid for mayor in 2013 have left some Conservative activists unenthusiastic about their party’s chances of holding the riding. Note: I live in this riding and can attest to the large number of orange lawn signs that have popped up over the past few weeks, including one on my own lawn.

Brent Rathgeber

Brent Rathgeber

St. Albert-Edmonton: Will long-time Conservative Party loyalist Michael Cooper prevail over rebel MP Brent Rathgeber? Mr. Rathgeber is running as an Independent conservative candidate after quitting the Conservative caucus in 2013 to protest the level of control held over MPs by the Prime Minister’s Office. The two-term MP is well-known in the riding, but a deep Conservative establishment in the riding could be difficult for an Independent to uproot. Note: Before being elected as an MP in 2008, Mr. Rathgeber served as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Edmonton-Calder from 2001 to 2004.

Edmonton-Mill Woods: Popular city councillor Amarjeet Sohi surprised many political watchers when he declared his plans to seek the Liberal nomination earlier this year. Mr. Sohi faces former Edmonton-Sherwood Park Conservative MP Tim Uppal and NDP candidate Jasvir Deol in what could be a fascinating three-way race. Note: Mr. Uppal ran against Liberal MP David Kilgour in this riding as a Canadian Alliance candidate in the 2000 election and Conservative in 2004 election.

Amarjeet Sohi Edmonton

Amarjeet Sohi

Edmonton-Centre: Three-term Conservative MP Laurie Hawn is retiring, leaving this central Edmonton riding up for grabs. The Conservatives have nominated former Chamber of Commerce CEO James Cumming as their candidate, while entrepreneur Randy Boissonnault is running for the Liberals and Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan for the NDP. While the demographics of this riding do not suggest chances would be favourable for the Conservatives, Mr. Hawn benefited in the 2011 election from a sharp vote split by the NDP and Liberals. Note: In 2011, Mr. Hawn earned 48 percent of the vote and the combined Liberals and NDP vote in this riding was 47.8 percent.

Edmonton-Manning: Encompassing the area of Edmonton north east of Edmonton-Griesbach, this riding could result in a close race between Conservative Zaid Aboultaif and New Democrat Aaron Paquette. Note: Mr. Paquette is also known as the founder of the clever #Ottawapiskat meme.


 

Justin Trudeau’s event, the “Rally for Real Change in Edmonton,” will be held on Wednesday, September 9th at 5:00 pm at the Radisson Edmonton South, 4440 Gateway Blvd.

Thomas Mulcair’s event, the “Rally for Change in Edmonton,” will be held on Thursday, September 10th at 6:30 pm at the Edmonton Shaw Convention Centre, Hall D, 9797 Jasper Ave.

NDP candidate Brian Fleck (centre) with NDP MLAs Christina Gray, Bob Turner, Richard Feehan, Thomas Dang and Edmonton-Strathcona MP Linda Duncan at the Edmonton-Riverbend NDP nomination meeting.

NDP catching up in Alberta – Sunday morning federal nomination update

Initially slow to nominate federal candidates, the New Democratic Party is now catching up to the other three main parties with nominated candidates in Alberta. As of this morning, the NDP have chosen candidates in 22 of Alberta’s 34 ridings, just shy of the 26 nominated Liberals and 24 nominated Green candidates. The Conservative Party filled their slate of 34 candidates last week.

Here is a quick review of the latest nomination races in Alberta:

– In Calgary-Centre, Dr. Jillian Ratti was acclaimed as the NDP candidate in a race already dominated by Conservative incumbent Joan Crockatt and former Liberal MLA Kent Hehr.

– Former journalist Kirk Heuser won the NDP nomination in a race against four other candidates in Calgary-Confederation. The Greens have nominated Natalie Odd as their candidate. Ms. Odd is a project manager with the Alberta EcoTrust and was a Green Party candidate in the 2006 election in Calgary-Centre.

– Thousands of NDP members voted at a large nomination meeting in the northeast Calgary-Skyview riding and Sahajvir Randhawa was chosen over challengers Abdulla Rafique and Mohammad Tayyab. Mr. Randhawa will face Conservative incumbent Devinder Shory and former Liberal MLA Darshan Kang in the election.

– Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan defeated community activist Reakash Walters and university professor Mark Crawford to win the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Centre.

– Former Progressive Conservative MLA Matt Jeneroux was chosen as the Conservative candidate in a race against relator Sandy Pon and past Wildrose candidate Ian Crawford. University of Alberta mechanical engineering professor Brian Fleck won the Edmonton-Riverbend NDP nomination in a three-way contest against Meheret Worku and Registered Nurse Ruth Alexander.

– The Liberals acclaimed Tanya MacPherson as their candidate in the Foothills riding. Ms. McPherson recently ran in her party’s nomination contest in Calgary-Midnapore. The NDP are expected to acclaim engineer Alison Thompson at a nomination meeting on August 18, 2015.

Melody Lepine, a government and industry relations manager for the Mikisew Cree First Nation, has been acclaimed as the NDP candidate in the Fort McMurray-Cold Lake riding.

– Former Assembly of First Nations regional chief Cameron Alexis was acclaimed as the NDP candidate in Peace River-Westlock riding. Mr. Alexis is also a retired RCMP officer, and former Chief of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation and Grand Chief of Treaty Six. Some local NDP members expressed concern over Mr. Alexis’ acclamation, as two other candidates had planned to seek the nomination. But when contacted, one of the other potential nominee, former Peace River town councillor Wanda Laurin described Mr. Alexis as “a very stellar candidate” and someone who could “champion the NDP in this region.”

– Red Deer City Councillor Paul Harris will face school trustee Dianne Macauley and former Green candidate Evan Bedford in the NDP nomination contest in Red Deer-Mountain View. UpdateMr. Bedford has withdrawn from the contest and endorsed Mr. Harris.

– Joanne Cave defeated Adam Comartin,  Kevin Fichtner and Bretton Reid to win the NDP nomination in Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan. Two-time candidate James Ford will once again be on the ballot as an Independent. In 2008 and 2011, Mr. Ford earned 32% and 29% of the vote against Conservative MP Tim Uppal in the now defunct Edmonton-Sherwood Park riding (Mr. Uppal is now running in the new Edmonton-Mill Woods riding).

– Transit driver Darlene Malayko defeated First Nations activist Aretha Greatrix in the St. Albert-Edmonton NDP nomination contest. One attendee at the meeting noted the strange sight of seeing conservative city councillor Cam Mackay endorse Ms. Malayko’s candidacy from the floor.

– Ron Rauhut and Ken Kuzminski are seeking the NDP nomination in the Yellowhead riding. Past candidate Eric Rosendahl, who earned 9.5% of the vote in a 2014 by-election, was elected as the NDP MLA for West Yellowhead in May 2015. Mr. Kuzminski previously ran for the NDP in this riding in the 2008 election.


 

Please email david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com if there are any further additions to the list. Thank you.

Nomination battles in Edmonton-Wetaskiwin, Griesbach

Edmonton-Wetaskiwin Riding

The new Edmonton-Wetaskiwin riding includes portions of (1) Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont, (2) Edmonton-Leduc, and (3) Wetaskiwin.

What happens when three federal ridings become one? South of Edmonton, large portions of the Wetaskiwin, Edmonton-Leduc and Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont ridings have been merged into the new Edmonton-Wetaskiwin riding.

Mike Lake

Mike Lake

The three Conservative MPs representing the area have chosen not to run against each other for their party’s nomination in the new amalgamated riding – Blaine Calkins will run in the new Red Deer-Wolf Creek and James Rajotte is expected to run in the new Edmonton-Riverbend – leaving Mike Lake to contest the Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Wetaskiwin.

Northeast Edmonton MP Tim Uppal was recently quietly acclaimed as the Conservative candidate in the new Edmonton-Mill Woods riding.

First elected in Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont in 2006, Mike Lake now faces a challenge from Mohinder Banga and Leduc County mayor John Whaley in the new riding. In a recent post on his Facebook page, Mr. Lake suggests that he might need to sign up 3,000 new members to defeat Mohinder Banga, who he claims could sell up to 4,000 Conservative memberships to win the nomination. It would certainly be some sort of record if 7,000 people showed up for one nomination meeting.

Deadline for membership sales is Thursday, May 22 and the nomination meeting is expected to be held in mid-June 2014.

Mona Gill NDP Edmonton Griesbach Alberta

Mona Gill

Edmonton-Griesbach
The NDP will choose a candidate in the new Edmonton-Griesbach riding at a June 2 nomination meeting at Alberta Avenue Community Hall. Mona Gill, Janis Irwin and Zane Smith are seeking the nomination and have drawn crowds of hundreds to town hall forums organized by the local NDP association.

A recent Elections Canada report transposed the 2011 federal election results with the new riding boundaries and showed the Conservatives with 19,832 votes, the NDP with 14,151 votes, and the Liberals with 2,484 votes in the new Edmonton-Griesbach.

Edmonton-Strathcona
Liberal activist Wendy Butler is seeking her party’s nomination in the only NDP-held riding in Alberta. The Liberal vote has declined sharply in this riding over the past five elections as non-Conservative voters coalesced behind NDP MP Linda Duncan. In 2000, candidate Jonathan Dai earned 17,816 votes (31.8% of total votes) and in 2011, candidate Matthew Sinclair earned 1,372 votes (2.8% of total votes).

Regular nomination updates can be found on the Federal Election 2015 page.

Conservatives spar for safe Alberta ridings

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.

By-Election nominations

Justin Trudeau and Kyle Harrietha on the front page of Fort McMurray Today.

Justin Trudeau and Kyle Harrietha on the front page of Fort McMurray Today.

Fort McMurray-Athabasca
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.

John Barlow George Canyon Conservative Macleod By-Election

John Barlow and George Canyon

Macleod
On April 6, Dustin Fuller was 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:

Bow River
Country music crooner George Canyon has withdrawn his name from the Conservative nomination contest in southern Alberta’s Bow River. Christian television talk show host Paul Arthur has since announced he will seek the nomination.

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.

Calgary-Rocky Ridge
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.

Varinder Bhullar is seeking the Liberal nomination and Deep Hundal has announced that he plans to run for the NDP nomination.

Edmonton-Riverbend
Will James Rajotte run for the Alberta PC Party leadership? It seems unlikely, but rumours persistTofael Chowdhury is challenging Mr. Rajotte for the Conservative nomination in this new south Edmonton riding.

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.

Edmonton-West
Edmonton Police Constable Brad Rutherford has entered the Conservative nomination race in this new riding. He will face Edmonton-McClung PC MLA David Xiao, who announced his candidacy in March.

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.

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.

Nomination races begin for federal election 2015

There are 705 days until Monday, October 19, 2015, when the next Canadian federal election is scheduled to be held. With less than two years until Canadians choose who will serve as Members of Parliament and with new electoral boundaries coming into effect at the next election, candidates across Alberta are preparing to seek party nominations, a first step to becoming a candidate.

Edmonton's 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.

Edmonton’s 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.

Last week’s resignation announcement by Conservative MP Ted Menzies opens the door for a by-election to be held in southwest Alberta’s Macleod riding. When the next election is called, Macleod will be dissolved and the new Foothills riding will be created. Rumours circulated soon after Mr. Menzies announcement that Wildrose official opposition leader Danielle Smith could seek the Conservative nomination were quickly quashed when he announced she would remain as MLA for Highwood. According to the Okotoks Western Wheel, three local residents, businessman Scott Wagner, rancher Phil Rowland and former Parliament Hill staffer Melissa Mathieson, have expressed interest in seeking the Conservative nomination.

With former Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber confirming he will run as an Independent in the new St. Albert-Edmonton riding in the next election, aspirants are already lining up to contest Conservative Party nomination.

Expected to enter the race in St. Albert-Edmonton is businessman and former political organizer Ryan Hastman, who is currently employed as a Regional Director in the University of Alberta‘s Office of Advancement. Readers of his blog will recognize Mr. Hastman as a co-host of the #yegvote Google Hangout and as the 2011 Conservative candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona. He has previously worked in Prime Minister Stephen Harper‘s Office and for the Wildrose Party.

Lawyer and conservative activist Michael Cooper has already announced his candidacy in the St. Albert-Edmonton Conservative nomination and has the support of the provincial Progressive Conservative establishment, including endorsements from Finance Minister Doug Horner, Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk, and St. Albert MLA Stephen Khan. Also in the race is Kevin Tam, a Conservative Party activist who is currently employed as a researcher with the provincial Liberal Opposition.

Lethbridge and southern Alberta 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.

Lethbridge and southern Alberta 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.

Changing boundaries in southern Alberta mean that Lethbridge Conservative MP Jim Hillyer will soon find himself living inside the redrawn Medicine Hat riding, currently represented by Conservative MP LeVar Payne. While a nomination race between the two incumbents could easily be averted if Mr. Hillyer runs in the newly redrawn Lethbridge, he may still face a tough nomination contest now that his large base of support in the southern half of the old riding will now living in a new riding.

After a narrow win in last year’s by-election, Conservative MP Joan Crockatt can expect a strong challenge from a newly revitalized Liberal Party organization in Calgary-Centre.

Conservatives have still yet to resolve who will run in the handful of new ridings created in south Edmonton. Similar to the situation in southern Alberta, Conservatives are hopeful that nomination battles between MPs Mike Lake, James Rajotte, and Blaine Calkins can be averted. This may be even further complicated if current Edmonton-Sherwood Park MP Tim Uppal decides to seek a nomination in the newly redrawn Edmonton-Mill Woods riding. Mr. Uppal was the Canadian Alliance and Conservative candidate in south east Edmonton in the 2000 and 2004 federal elections and lost his party nomination to Mr. Lake before the 2006 election.

Rod Loyola announced his intentions to seek the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Mill Woods last year. Mr. Loyola was the 2012 provincial NDP candidate in Edmonton-Ellerslie and is currently the president of the Non-Academic Staff Association at the University of Alberta.

Calgary's 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.

Calgary’s 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.

With the retirement of Calgary-Nose Hill MP Diane Ablonczy, who was first elected under the Reform Party banner in 1993, Calgarians can expect a hotly contested nomination race in this riding that is considered a Conservative stronghold. One candidate rumoured to be considering a run for a nomination is Calgary-Foothills PC MLA Len Webber, who served as a cabinet minister in Premier Ed Stelmach‘s government but was shuffled to the backbenches after Alison Redford became Premier in 2011.

In the always contested Edmonton-Centre, aboriginal activist and educator Lewis Cardinal, announced earlier this year that he would once again seek the NDP nomination. In 2011, Mr. Cardinal increased his party’s support in that riding by 11%, placing second to Conservative incumbent Laurie Hawn. The central Edmonton riding was represented by Liberal MP Anne McLellan from 1993 until 2006. Hoping for a revival of Liberal support in the next election, a number of candidates are said to be preparing to contest the Liberal nomination, including entrepreneur and Rhodes Scholar Randy Boissonnault, and  2011 candidate and lawyer Mary MacDonald.

Two-term Edmonton-Decore PC MLA Janice Sarich is rumoured to be mounting a challenge against current Edmonton-East Conservative MP Peter Goldring in the new Edmonton-Griesbach riding. With Mr. Goldring back in the Conservative fold after sitting as an independent, he is expected to seek his party’s nomination in the new riding. The NDP are searching for a star candidate in this riding, after seeing their support steadily increase since the past four federal elections. The new riding also significantly overlaps the areas represented by NDP MLA Brian Mason, David Eggen, and Deron Bilous in the provincial Legislature. The NDP’s 2008 and 2012 candidate, former MLA Ray Martin, was elected to serve on Edmonton’s Public School Board on October 21, 2013.

Update (November 14, 2013): Educator Janis Irwin has announced her intention to seek the NDP nomination in the new Edmonton-Griesbach riding.

Because lists are something that this writer tends to do well, I will soon start a list tracking declared and nominated candidates planning to run in the 2015 federal election in Edmonton. If I have missed anyone in this round-up, please post a comment below or send me an email at davidcournoyer@gmail.com.

How Brent Rathgeber changed Edmonton’s political map and why the Tories might like it

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton MP

Brent Rathgeber

Edmonton-St. Albert MP Brent Rathgeber unleashed a political storm last night when he announced on Twitter that he is leaving the Conservative Party of Canada caucus. Initially citing a “a lack of commitment to transparency and open government,” he expanded his criticisms to the control Prime Minister Stephen Harper‘s office exercises over backbench MPs as interfering with the ability to represent his representing his constituents.

“When you have a PMO that tightly scripts its backbenches like this one attempts to do, MPs don’t represent their constituents in Ottawa, they represent the government to their constituents,” Mr. Rathgeber told reporters at an afternoon press conference in Edmonton.

First elected to Parliament in 2008, Mr. Rathgeber has built a case for leaving the Tories by earning a reputation as being one of the only Conservative politicians in Ottawa to purposely deviate from the party discipline enforced by Prime Minister Harper. This is certainly embarrassing for Prime Minister Harper’s government, which has been scandal plagued for the past few months, but it is yet to be seen how damaging the departure will be for the Tory government in Ottawa.

His positions have not always been consistent with one ideology. For example, he is a Conservative who opposes the government’s anti-union legislation yet has introduced a private members bill that could undermine the independence of crown corporations like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (which was amended by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson). Perhaps he was just bored with being one of the only contrarians in the Ottawa Tory backbenches?

Thomas Lukaszuk

Thomas Lukaszuk

Starting his political career at the provincial level in 2001, Mr. Rathgeber became an unlikely politician when he stepped in as a last minute candidate after the already nominated PC candidate, Don Koziak, decided against challenging popular Liberal MLA Lance White (Mr. Rathgeber won the election). He served one term as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Edmonton-Calder until 2004, when he was defeated by New Democrat David Eggen. This means Mr. Rathgeber holds the dubious honour of being the only Alberta Conservative to have unseated an incumbent Liberal and been defeated by a New Democrat.

Rumours are already circulating that he could be eyeing a return to provincial politics, perhaps using his new-found fame to propel him as the Wildrose Party‘s challenger to Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk in Edmonton-Castle Downs.

Before he makes his decision, Mr. Rathgeber could learn a lesson from former Edmonton Tory MLA Raj Sherman. Dr. Sherman was treated as a saint when he split with the provincial Tories to sit as an Independent, he fell from grace just as quickly as had risen when he decided to join the Liberal Party.

Rathgeber’s departure could help Tories

Unexpectedly, Mr. Rathgeber’s departure from the Tory caucus may have helped save his former party from an even more devastating political storm. With electoral boundary changes being imposed in the next federal election, local Tories were not looking forward to the prospect of some incumbent MPs having to challenge each other for riding nominations.

South Edmonton ridings

The Edmonton Shuffle

In south Edmonton, new boundaries have forced Tory MPs Mike Lake, James Rajotte, and Blaine Calkins to uncomfortably position themselves for the prospect of nomination fights in new ridings. Making the shuffle more complicated are rumours that north Edmonton MP Tim Uppal may seek a nomination in a south Edmonton riding, as his Edmonton-Sherwood Park riding is being dissolved. Add to this the rumours that Minister Rona Ambrose may opt to retire instead of seeking a fifth-term in the new Edmonton-West riding.

Peter Goldring

Peter Goldring

If the nomination contest tension reaches the point of fisticuffs, the Tories could offer one of these MPs an easy nomination race in the now non-Conservative Edmonton-St. Albert. This is similar to when Mr. Uppal was offered an easy nomination win in Edmonton-Sherwood Park after Mr. Lake him for the Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont nomination in 2006 (Mr. Uppal was that riding’s Conservative candidate in 2000 and 2004).

Edmonton-East MP Peter Goldring said recently he would like to seek a Conservative (or even a Liberal) nomination in the next election. Mr. Goldring was welcomed back into the Conservative caucus today after he was suspended in 2011 for refusing to give a breath sample to police. Today he was found not guilty.

Mr. Goldring’s departure from the Conservative caucus a year and a half ago sparked interest among prospective Conservative nominees. Lawyer Michael Cooper, who is seeking the Conservative nomination in the new Edmonton-Griesbach riding, and PC MLA Janice Sarich, who is rumoured to be eyeing a federal candidacy, could see Mr. Rathgeber’s departure as an opening to run instead in Edmonton-St. Albert now that Mr. Goldring has been readmitted to the Tory caucus in Ottawa.

How Alberta’s federal politicians voted on Motion 312.

This week, Members of Parliament in Ottawa voted on Motion 312, which if passed could have re-opened a divisive debate about a woman’s right to make decisions concerning her own body. Thankfully, Motion 312 was defeated 203-91 votes, but it remains disappointing that in this modern age one-third of federal MPs stood in favour of this Motion.

Eight of Alberta’s twenty-seven MPs voted against and nineteen voted in favour of the Motion (the riding of Calgary-Centre is not currently represented in the House of Commons following the resignation of MP Lee Richardson).

Alberta MP Vote Bill motion 312

How Alberta’s Members of Parliament voted on Motion 312: Yay (Blue), Nay (Red)

The Alberta MPs who voted against the motion were Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Edmonton-Strathcona MP Linda Duncan, Macleod MP Ted MenziesCalgary-East MP Deepak ObhraiCalgary-Centre North MP Michelle RempelWild Rose MP Blake Richards, Calgary-Northeast MP Devinder Shory, and Edmonton-Sherwood Park MP Tim Uppal.

federal riding boundaries being readjusted in alberta.

alberta electoral boundary commission

How will Alberta’s federal riding boundaries be altered?

Likely unbeknownst to most Canadians, commissions have been struck across the country and tasked with redrawing our federal electoral boundaries in advance of the expected 2015 general election. The process of electoral redistribution, which is done every decade, accounts for population change in the ridings which we elect Members of Parliament to represent us in the House of Commons. Separate commissions have been struck for each province.

Chairing the Alberta commission is the Justice Carole Conrad, who is currently a member of the courts of appeal of Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Ed Eggerer of Airdrie and Donna Wilson of Edmonton are the two public members appointed to the commission.

The commission is also tasked with adding six new ridings to the province, which will increase Alberta’s representation in the House of Commons to 34 MPs. Alberta’s two largest cities, Calgary and Edmonton, and their surrounding regions,  can expect see their representation increased with the six additional ridings.

The federal commission is non-partisan in nature, unlike provincial electoral boundary commissions in Alberta, which include a neutral chairman and two representatives nominated by the leader of the governing party and the official opposition party.

In March 2012, the Alberta commission announced that it would release maps of its proposed boundary readjustments in the coming months (which suggests that it could be soon). Following the release of the maps, the Alberta commission will be holding public hearings to gather feedback on the proposed readjustments commencing in September 2012.

Edmonton-Sherwood Park MP Tim Uppal

Tim Uppal

The last federal electoral redistribution took place before the 2004 general election. In Edmonton, a number of ridings which had previously existed entirely within the City limits were redrawn to include large rural areas surrounding the City. This is why capital region communities like Beaumont, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc, Sherwood Park, Stony Plain, and Spruce Grove find themselves sharing Members of Parliament with suburban Edmonton voters.

In some cases, these outward stretching boundaries have led to interesting internal political disputes.

James Ford Sherwood Park

James Ford

Before the 2008 general election, conservative partisans in Sherwood Park were upset that Edmontonian Tim Uppal had won the nomination to become the Conservative Party candidate in Edmonton-Sherwood Park following the retirement of long-time MP Ken Epp. Not satisfied with internal party appeals, Sherwood Park resident James Ford challenged Mr. Uppall by running as an Independent candidate in that year’s election. After a fierce election campaign, Mr. Uppal was elected with 17,628 votes to Mr. Ford’s 15,960.

Linda Duncan NDP MP Edmonton-Strathcona

Linda Duncan

A look at the electoral results from that campaign show that support for each candidate was divided almost entirely by the City of Edmonton boundary (Mr. Uppall earning strong support in Edmonton polls and Mr. Ford sweeping polls in Sherwood Park and Fort Saskatchewan). The geographically-based results were replicated to a lesser extent when Mr. Ford challenged Mr. Uppal once again in the 2011 general election (Mr. Uppal earned a commanding 24,623 votes to Mr. Ford’s respectable 16,263).

It is likely that all partisan eyes are waiting to glimpse at what boundary changes will be made to Edmonton-Strathcona, home of Alberta’s only non-Conservative MP. New Democrat MP Linda Duncan increased her margin of victory when she was re-elected in 2011, but shifting boundaries have a way of changing political fortunes.

UPDATE: Maps of the proposed new federal riding boundaries have been released. I will have a post up tonight on this topic.

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.

here’s the rundown – federal election races to watch in edmonton.

In the land where federal election results are typically much ado about nothing, the election scheduled for May 2, 2011 is not much of an exception. As the Liberals and NDP fill ballots across the province with last minute paper candidates, with few exceptions Alberta remains safe electoral territory for the Conservative Party of Canada.

If any riding in Alberta changes hands in this federal election, it will be Edmonton-Strathcona. It is the only riding represented by an opposition Member of Parliament and Conservatives have made it their goal to unseat NDP MP Linda Duncan, who defeated Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer by a slim 463 votes in 2008. After campaigning for two years, the Conservatives hope that candidate Ryan Hastman is the one who can do the job.

As the NDP’s Environment Critic in Ottawa, Ms. Duncan has gone against the grain of other Alberta MP colleagues by criticizing the oil sands and its impact on the environment. In a campaign stop in Edmonton this weekend, NDP leader Jack Layton only briefly mentioned the environment, suggesting that he may have been avoiding the issue while in Alberta (he also did not take media questions while in the province).

The Green Party has nominated Environmental Economics and Policy student Andrew Fehr, who faces the challenge of convincing Green-leaning voters that actually voting for a Green Party is a better choice than a strategic vote for Ms. Duncan. The Liberals have not yet nominated a candidate and appear to be a non-factor in this contest.

Federal NDP candidates Lewis Cardinal, Linda Duncan, and Ray Martin.

The highly polarized geopolitics of this riding have the Conservatives drawing strong support from polls in the east and NDP drawing strong support from polls in the west. Both candidates will lean heavy on financial and organizational support from their national parties, making this riding too close to call.

The irony is that the NDP could increase their vote total across Edmonton at the same time they could lose the only riding they currently hold.

In Edmonton-Centre the real contest to watch is not to defeat door-knocking/hand-shaking/baby-kissing election-machine Conservative MP Laurie Hawn. The real contest is for second place. The Liberals hope their candidate Mary MacDonald can regain the support they lost in the last election and maintain their position as the de facto alternative to the Conservatives in this riding. The NDP are hoping that their candidate Lewis Cardinal can help build the kind of support needed to cut the Liberals down to third place. This is similar to the multi-election strategy that helped the NDP make gains in Strathcona.

The Liberals held this riding from 1993 until 2006 when Mr. Hawn defeated Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan. Mr Hawn’s vote share decreased in 2008 while his margin widened substantially as the Liberal vote collapsed. The Greens have nominated 2008 candidate David Parker and also running is Mikkel Paulson, leader of the Pirate Party of Canada.

Edmonton-East MP Peter Golding is what I would refer to as a wall-paper backbencher. Since he was first elected in 1997, Mr. Goldring seems to only pop into the media spotlight when taking up odd causes like exposing the “truth about Louis Riel” or joining the bizarre drive to get the obscure Caribbean Islands of Turks and Caicos to join Canada.

The NDP have steadily increased their support in this riding since the 2004 election and former MLA Ray Martin is hoping that this trend continues. Mr Martin is an NDP institution in northeast Edmonton, having been elected as an MLA from 1982 to 1993, a public school board trustee from 2001 to 2004, and once again as an MLA from 2004 to 2008. This is the fourth time Mr Martin has sought a seat in Parliament since 1997. The Liberals have nominated IT management consultant Shafik Ruda.

Edmonton-Sherwood Park was the second closest race in 2008, when Independent Conservative James Ford nearly defeated Conservative candidate Tim Uppal. It was a city mouse versus county mouse game as many voters in Strathcona County and Fort Saskatchewan were upset with the Conservative nomination process that led to County Councillor Jacquie Fenske defeat and allowed Edmontonian Mr. Uppal to win the nomination.

Mr. Ford is running again and the Liberals and NDP, represented by Rick Szostak and Mike Scott, are expected to play minor supporting roles in this contest. The big question is whether voters in the county still feel that Mr. Uppal’s candidacy is the great injustice they believed it to be in 2008.

roundtable discussion with edmonton members of parliament.

At the invitation of Edmonton-Mill-Woods-Beaumont MP Mike Lake, I participated in a roundtable discussion yesterday morning with some local Conservative MPs and a group of eight Edmontonians from diverse backgrounds. Along with Mr. Lake, the local MPs in attendance were Edmonton-Sherwood Park MP Tim Uppal, Edmonton-East MP Peter Goldring, Edmonton-St. Albert MP Brent Rathgeber, and Edmonton-Centre MP Laurie Hawn (who unfortunately had to step out for part of the meeting).

As the start of the meeting, each participant was asked to name a few issues that were important to them and that they wanted to discuss. The three issues that I raised, and were discussed, were:

Urban Growth: The growth of safe and healthy urban communities and investment in LRT and public transit.

Telecommunications: CRTC, User Based Billing, and the lack of competitiveness in the telecommunications sector in Canada (Internet service providers and Mobile Phone service providers).

Public Health Care: The need to provide stability in the public health care system. A big part of the Federal Government’s role in this could be ensuring the funding for the 2014 Canada Health Transfer.

I am not going to go into detail about the discussions that took place around the table over the next two hours, as they touched on a wide range of topics related to housing, immigration, temporary foreign workers, economic competitiveness, budget deficit, government debt, student finance, mental health, to urban growth and more.

I was actually surprised at how quickly the two hours passed  and how smoothly the discussions flowed. The roundtable format of the small group discussion certainly gave the meeting a more intimate feel. It also allowed for more flowing conversations and exchanges between participants and topics than a traditional town hall meeting would allow.

I appreciated the opportunity to talk with local MPs about some of the important issues close to my heart and listen to the issues raised by the other participants.