Tag Archives: Tom Choucair

PC Party executive director Kelley Charlebois was recently featured in lobby company Canadian Strategy Group's annual "House of Cards" photo shoot.

“It’s like we’ve become House of Cards,” PC activist says of party nomination interference

“It’s like we’ve become House of Cards,” is how one Progressive Conservative Party member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described their party’s candidate nomination process. With a rush of nomination contests being held in advance of a spring provincial election in Alberta, the member said “the entire process has gone straight to hell.”

A number of frustrated PC Party members have contacted me over the past few weeks to vent their frustration with interference by senior cabinet ministers and party officials in local nomination contests, especially in rural constituencies where long-standing PC Party loyalists are challenging former Wildrose MLAs who crossed the floor to the PC Party in December 2014.

Over the past few months, cabinet ministers have criss-crossed the province to campaign and be seen alongside their favoured candidate nominees. The interference is coming from “the boys on the third floor,” said another disaffected PC activist, referring to the Premier’s Office, which is located on the third floor of the Legislative Assembly Building.

While hurt feelings, drama and even the odd scandal are not uncommon in party nomination contests, the increased number of controversies arising from PC nomination contests this year could be a cause of concern for the 44-year long governing party. In many Alberta constituencies, winning the PC nomination is a more challenging campaign than winning the actual election.

When running for the PC leadership last year, Jim Prentice promised to restore trust in a PC Party badly damaged by former Premier Alison Redford, but the latest nomination controversies undermine his promise and will likely increase cynicism among Alberta voters.

Here is a quick run-down of some of the more contentious nomination races that have been reported in by the media:

– PC MLA Naresh Bhardwaj resigned as Associate Minister for Persons with Disabilities last Friday pending an investigation by the PC Party into allegations of bribery in the recent Edmonton-Ellerslie nomination contest. Metro Edmonton first reported that a party member publicly accused Mr. Bhardwaj of offering him, through another person, a $10,000 bribe in return for recanting his support for candidate Balraj Manhas. Mr. Bhardwaj, who was acclaimed as the PC candidate, has stated that he plans to clear his name.

 As I suspected in February, former Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson was appointed by Mr. Prentice as the PC Party’s candidate in Calgary-Cross. Normally, the appointment of this type of star candidate is celebrated, but in this case, there were at least six other candidates already campaigning for the nomination. Although the party leader has the power to appoint the candidates of his choosing, it is a delicate balance not to offend or alienate local party organizers.

– One day before the Edmonton-Meadowlark PC nomination vote on March 14, 2015, candidate Tom Choucair was disqualified after another candidate, Steve Benson, alleged someone from another candidate’s campaign offered him money to drop out of the race. Mr. Benson announced in an email sent to the local PC Association that he had filed an affidavit with the party. “Personally, the party wants a particular person to be the nominee,” Mr. Choucair told CBC. Former Globe & Mail reporter Katherine O’Neill won the nomination vote this weekend.

CBC reporter John Archer has written about the strange details behind the Meadowlark nomination controversy, including mistaken phone calls from senior staff in the Premier’s Office and a former Edmonton City Councillor.

Don Martin, a 2012 Wildrose candidate and a 2015 nomination candidate in Edmonton-Decore, claims he was forced out of the nomination contest by a PC Party official. Mr. Martin posted his account of the situation on his Facebook page, claiming he was forced out of the race amid wrongful accusations of misconduct and threats of a mystery affidavit. His withdrawal from the nomination led to PC MLA Janice Sarich being acclaimed as the PC candidate.

– Defeated nomination candidate Dixie Dahlstedt submitted an official complaint to the PC Party about the conduct of the party’s nomination vote in the Bonnyville-Cold Lake constituency. Ms. Dahlstedt’s complaint lists a series of objections about the organization of the nomination, alleged conflicts of interest, and calls for the party to conduct an inquiry. The nomination vote was won by Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland.

Only two remaining constituencies – Chestermere-Rockyview and Calgary-McCall – have not yet scheduled nomination contests, leaving some PC Party members to speculate that Mr. Prentice is aiming to appoint candidates in those spots.

Thursday morning candidate nomination updates in Alberta

Alberta PC Nomination Spruce Grove St AlbertOn February 21, Rus Matichuk celebrated his victory over former city councillor Neil Korotash and government spokesperson Kathleen Range in the Progressive Conservative nomination contest in Spruce Grove-St. Albert. But yesterday, the PC Party announced that due to “errors” in the voting process a second vote will need to be held on March 14, 2015.

“It has been found that 4 ballots were cast by individuals ineligible to vote.  The riding has been directed by PC Alberta to have this vote redone as the votes for the candidates was very close,” PC nominations committee chairperson Carol Stewart told the St. Albert Leader.

Here are the latest updates to the growing list of candidates running in Alberta’s next provincial election:

Calgary-Klein: Noel Keough, professor in the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary, is running for the Green Party.

Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill: Ako Ufodike, PhD Management student in Accounting at the University of Calgary, is challenging MLA Neil Brown for the PC nomination.

Calgary-Varsity: University of Calgary Students’ Union Vice-President Academic Hana Kadri  has announced plans to seek the PC nomination. Also rumoured to be eyeing the PC nomination is Sam Shaw, former President of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton and current vice-president of the right-wing Manning Centre.

Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley: Former Member of Parliament Albert Cooper, school principal Nigel McCarthy, Donnelly-area farmer Rhonda Clarke-Gauthier, and Edmonton-base lawyer Gordon Andreiuk have entered the PC nomination contest to replace retiring MLA Hector Goudreau. Mr. Cooper, who served as the PC MP for Peace River from 1980 to 1993, was previously seeking the federal Conservative nomination in the new Peace River-Westlock constituency, but has now switched his focus to provincial politics.

Edmonton Beverly-Clareview: Articling law student Harman Kandola is seeking the PC nomination. Mr. Kandola is also the Executive Director of the Punjabi Sports Association Summer Soccer Camps.

Edmonton-Castle DownsNicole Goehring was acclaimed as the New Democratic Party candidate in this northwest Edmonton constituency.

Edmonton-Centre: Five-term Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman has been acclaimed as her party’s candidate for the next election. Ms. Blakeman made headlines last fall for leading the debate in favour of allowing student-created Gay-Straight Alliances in Alberta schools.

Edmonton-Manning: Second-term PC MLA Peter Sandhu is seeking his party’s nomination for re-election. Mr. Sandhu sat as an Independent MLA from May to December 2013 during an Ethics Commissioner investigation into potential conflicts of interest.

Edmonton-Meadowlark: Former school trustee Debbie Cavaliere will face Dan Bildhauer in the Liberal Party’s March 3 nomination contest. Mr. Bildhauer is also seeking the federal Liberal nomination in Edmonton-West. Businessman Tom Choucair has joined the PC nomination contest. Mr. Choucair unsuccessfully sought the PC nomination in Edmonton-Riverview before the 2012 election.

Edmonton-Mill Creek: Liberal organizer Harpreet Gill is seeking the Liberal nomination. Mr. Gill is the co-founder of the Asianvision news magazine and sits on the boards of the provincial and federal Liberal Parties in Alberta.

HighwoodWayne Anderson has been acclaimed as the Wildrose candidate in this constituency currently represented by former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith. Mr. Anderson ran as his party’s candidate in Calgary-Hays in the 2012 election.

Livingstone-Macleod: Former Evan Berger was acclaimed as the PC candidate. Mr. Berger faced criticism after he landed a plum job in the public service after he was defeated in the 2012 election.

Lethbridge-East: William West defeated former Green candidate Helen McMenamin in this week’s Liberal nomination contest. Mr. West is a Peace Officer with Alberta’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement.

Peace RiverSherry Hilton, the manager at River City Cinema, has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.

Red Deer North : City Councillor Buck Buchanan, former city councillor Jeff Dawson, former city council candidate Matt Chapin and Red Deer County councillor Christine Moore are seeking the PC nomination. Current PC MLA Mary Anne Jablonski is not seeking re-election.


I have added these updates to the list of nominees and nomination candidates planning to run in Alberta’s next general election. Please email david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com if there are additions to the list. Thank you.

alberta tories holding a packed nomination week.

I have updated the list of nominated Alberta election candidates to include the following three Progressive Conservative nominees:

Edmonton-Centre: Young lawyer Akash Khokhar defeated Nicole Martel to win the PC nomination. In the next election, Mr. Khokhar will face Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman, who has represented the constituency since 1997.

Edmonton-Gold Bar: Past Mayoral candidate David Dorward defeated past City Council candidate Lori Jeffrey-Heany to become the PC candidate. This is Mr. Dorward’s second attempt at becoming MLA in Gold Bar. In 2008, he placed second to Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald, who will be retiring at the next election.

Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville: Strathcona County Councillor Jacquie Fenske defeated Tofield Mayor Nabil Chehayeb, former Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Jim SheasgreenGene Hrabec, and Adam Kozakiewicz to become the PC candidate. Former Premier Ed Stelmach has represented this region since 1993.

UPCOMING NOMINATION MEETINGS

The PCs will be holding a packed week of nomination meetings that will see Alberta’s 40 year governing party nearly fill its entire slate of 87 candidates. Two final nomination meetings are scheduled to be held in February to replace MLAs who recently announced their retirements.

I will be away from my blog for the next week, so to earn forgiveness for my absence, here is a look at the PC nomination meetings that will be happening in the final week of January. I will provide updates when I return.

Calgary-Glenmore (January 26, 2012): Lawyer Byron Nelson and Linda Johnson are seeking the PC nomination.

Bridget Pastoor Lethbridge-East MLA

Bridget Pastoor

Lethbridge-East (January 26, 2012): Former Liberal MLA Bridget Pastoor is facing Lethbridge County Reeve Lorne Hickey for the PC nomination. Ms. Pastoor has represented the constituency since 2004 and cross the floor to join the PC caucus in late 2011. Lethbridge Alderman Jeff Carlson and Lethbridge Senior Citizens Origanization executive director Rob Miyashiro announced this week that they will seek the Liberal nomination (date not scheduled). The constituency has been represented by Liberal MLAs since 1993.

Edmonton-Riverview (January 27, 2012): Edmonton police office Steve Young and businessman Tom Choucair are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency has been represented by Liberal MLA Kevin Taft, who is not seeking re-election.

Edmonton-Strathcona (January 27, 2012): No candidate stepped forward to claim the nomination, though the date is still listed on the PC Party website.

Kelly Hegg Airdrie

Kelly Hegg

Airdrie (January 28, 2012): Former Airdrie Mayor Linda Bruce, Councillor Kelly Hegg, and Michael Crawford are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency is represented by MLA Rob Anderson, who left the PC Party in 2010 to join the Wildrose Alliance.

Banff-Cochrane (January 28, 2012): The PC nomination contest has drawn a crowd to replace retiring MLA Janis Tarchuk. Real Estate broker Jon Bjorgum, Canmore Mayor Ron CaseyRob Seeley, businessman John Fitzsimmons and Cochrane Mayor Truper McBride are seeking the nomination.

Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock (January 28, 2012): The retirement of Speaker Ken Kowalski, who has represented this region since 1979, has attracted five candidates including Morinville Mayor Lloyd Bertschi, Westlock Town Councillor David Truckey, ministerial executive assistant Tim Schultz, and Westlock County Councillors Maureen Kubinec and Bert Seatter.

Brian Holtby Calgary-Currie PC

Brian Holtby

Calgary-Currie (January 28, 2012): Candidates seeking the PC nomination include school principal Christine Cusanelli long-time PC Party organizer Dale Galbraith, lawyer Brian HoltbyStefan Spargo, and former MLA Jon Lord.

Calgary-Hawkwood (January 28, 2012): This newly created constituency has attracted the most candidates of any nomination contest of the 2012 election. Kiron Banik, Farouk Adatia, Sumita AnandJason Luan, Adam Idris, Jerry Mandryk, Chris Roberts, Kumar Sharma, Doug Stevens, and Darryl Wernham are contesting the PC nomination.

Calgary-Varsity (January 28, 2012): Former Nexen Vice-President Donna Kennedy-Glans is facing Ph.D. business student Rhiannon MacDonnell. The constituency has been represented by Liberal MLA Harry Chase since 2004. Mr. Chase is retiring at the next election.

Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo (January 28, 2012): Four candidates have lined up to earn the right to face PC-turned-Wildrose MLA Guy Boutiler as the PC candidate. Candidates include Councillor Mike Allen, teacher Andrew Highfield, Nick Sanders, and School Trustee Jeff Thompson.

Tab Pollock Grande Prairie-Smoky

Tab Pollock

Grande Prairie-Smoky (January 28, 2012): The retirement of former cabinet minister Mel Knight has sparked a three-way nomination contest that has drawn Grande Prairie County Reeve Everett McDonald, Tab Pollock, and Tom Burton.

Highwood (January 28, 2012): Associate publisher at the Okotoks Western Wheel John BarlowJohn Hankins, and Okotoks Town Councillor Ed Sands are seeking the PC nomination. Wildrose leader Danielle Smith is also seeking election in this constituency.

Little Bow (January 28, 2012): Deputy Reeve of the County of Lethbridge Henry Doeve  and former County Councillor John Kolk are seeking the PC nomination.

Medicine Hat (January 28, 2012): Former Alderman Darren Hirsch, retired school district superintendent Linda Rossler, and Investment Advisor Dan Hein are seeking the PC nomination to replace long-time MLA Rob Renner. Mr. Hein is the former campaign manager for Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne

Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood (January 30, 2012): Past City Council candidate Cris Basualdo and Emerson Mayers are the two candidates I have heard are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency has been represented by NDP MLA Brian Mason since 2000.

Edmonton-South West (January 30, 2012): This new constituency has drawn the candidacy of four PC nominees Charles Balenga, Tofael Chowdhury, Matt Jeneroux, and Eva Mah-Borsato.

Calgary-Buffalo (January 30, 2012): Donna Haslam is the only candidate that I am aware of who is seeking the PC nomination. The constituency has been represented by popular Liberal MLA Kent Hehr since 2008.

Edmonton-Mill Woods (January 31, 2012): Despite bizarre nomination shenanigans, the PC nomination contest will still include Ron RandhawaSohail Qadri, and controversy-prone MLA Carl Benito.

St. Albert (January 31, 2012): School Trustee Jacquie Hansen, businessman Stephen Khan, and retired armed forces pilot Jeff Wedman are seeking the PC nomination to replace retiring one-term MLA Ken Allred.