As if voters won’t already have enough candidates knocking on their doors with Alberta’s municipal elections scheduled for October 16, 2017, a federal by-election will be held in the Sturgeon River-Parkland electoral district with a vote on October 23.
It is widely expected that whoever wins the Conservative Party of Canada candidate nomination will be easily elected as the riding’s next Member of Parliament. And with the by-election being held one week after the municipal elections, voter fatigue could lead to a record low turnout in this by-election.
I plan to pay particular attention to this by-election over the next few weeks, as it is where I grew up and where my family originally settled and homesteaded in the 1890s.
Here is a look at the candidates running in the by-election and for party nominations:
Initially scheduled for mid-October, the Conservative Party moved its nomination meeting dates to September 23, 2017 in Stony Plain and September 24, 2017 in Morinville.
Four candidates are seeking the Conservative Party nomination: local party organizer Jamie Mozeson, recently relocated Vancouver businessman Rick Peterson, and political staffers Dane Lloyd and Luke Inberg (Note: I haven’t seen Luke in years, but our families lived down the street from each other in Morinville and we worked together at the St. Albert IGA while we were both studying in University. I can’t speak to his politics today, but I remember him as a nice guy back then).
Mozeson’s website lists endorsements from former riding MP Rona Ambrose, former Stony Plain MLA Ken Lemke, and sitting Conservative MPs Michelle Rempel, Matt Jeneroux, Tom Kmeic, Garnett Genuis, and Arnold Vierson.
After a twelfth-place finish in the Conservative Party’s recent leadership race, Peterson relocated moved from Vancouver to Spruce Grove in order to run in this by-election. His campaign has adopted an oil derrick as their logo, likely to demonstrate how Albertan he has become since moving back to the province a few months ago.
Ernest Chauvet defeated Kevin Schulthies in a nomination meeting to become the Christian Heritage Party candidate in early September. Chauvet earned 690 votes as his party’s candidate in this riding during the 2015 federal election.
While i have not been able to find any information on who might run as the Liberal Party candidate in this by-election, the party has scheduled a nomination meeting on Sept. 21 at the Border Paving Athletic Centre in Spruce Grove. The party does appear to have shown some activity in the riding. A tweet was posted showing Halifax Liberal MP Andy Fillmore campaigning with local party supporters on Sept. 8.
Update: The St. Albert Gazette reports that Brian Gold will be acclaimed as the Liberal Party candidate in Sturgeon River-Parkland. Gold ran in the 2015 election in the Edmonton Griesbach riding and finished third with 10,387 votes.
It might be one of the most bizarre political stories of 2016.
Mr. Fildebrandt’s “suspension” and quick return to the Official Opposition Wildrose Caucus is being spun by party strategists as a reaction to a social media faux-pas but it is widely interpreted by political watchers as an internal power play to neutralize a potential challenger to Mr. Jean’s leadership of the party.
Wildrose Caucus House leader Nathan Cooper held a press conference defending his party’s decision to criticize Ms. Wynne and suggested the Wildrose MLAs might not have known she was actually in the Assembly gallery at the time. The move was almost universally seen as being in bad taste and led Postmedia columnist Graham Thomson to refer to the Wildrose as “Team Petulant.”
A screen shot of a Facebook message began circulating on social media early Friday evening showing a comment from a supporter on Mr. Fildebrandt’s Facebook page referring to Ms. Wynne as “Mr. Wynne or whatever the hell she identifies as” – an apparent reference to the fact Ms. Wynne is openly gay. The author of the comment added that he was “proud to have you as my MLA,” and Mr. Fildebrandt initially responded, “Proud to have constituents like you!” Mr. Fildebrandt quickly apologized online, responding that he did not fully read the comment and that it was totally inappropriate.
Mr. Jean issued a public statement around 11:30 p.m. announcing the suspension of Mr. Fildebrandt from the Wildrose Caucus because of the comments he made on social media: ‘This evening, Mr. Fildebrandt made an unacceptable comment on social media that does not represent the values of the Wildrose Caucus.’ This was seen a very serious and unexpected move by Mr. Jean, who was in Vancouver attending the Conservative Party of Canada national convention at the time.
Saturday, May 28, 2016
Mr. Jean faced criticism from a massive mob of party supporters online who were opposed to the suspension.
Ms. Wynne accepted Mr. Fildebrandt’s apology for the Facebook comment. “But, you know, I think it was an interesting confluence of things. There’s a woman premier in Alberta, I’m there as a woman, we’re talking about climate change. And I think the attack, the viciousness of the attack, had a particular quality to it. So, I will just say we need to pay attention to that,” Ms. Wynne told the Canadian Press.
CBC journalist Kim Trynacity reported that Legislative Assembly Speaker Bob Wanner‘s office had never received official notice informing them that Mr. Fildebrandt was suspended, meaning he had remained a Wildrose MLA even though Mr. Jean’s statement claimed he was suspended.
As of this afternoon, the Speaker's office in the #ableg had not received notice that @Dfildebrandt was suspended from the #WRP .
Mr. Jean held a press conference announcing that Mr. Fildebrandt could return to the Wildrose Caucus if he took actions to behave himself on social media and met a list of secret conditions.
The five secret conditions were not secret for long. They were first reported on daveberta.ca and soon after by Postmedia. The conditions were: 1) He is suspended from the Wildrose Official Opposition Caucus until the end of the current Legislative Session. 2) He will be on probation until September 1, 2016. 3) He has to commit to personal improvement and personal development. 4) He would be prohibited from doing any media interviews except with local media in his Strathmore-Brooks constituency. 5) He will not be reappointed as Finance critic when he returns to the Wildrose Caucus.
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
The Wildrose Caucus released a statement announcing Mr. Fildebrandt had been fully reinstated in the Official Opposition and had retained his post as Finance critic. The five secret conditions given to Mr. Fildebrandt on May 30 appeared to had been dropped and the only condition of his return was that he hire a staffer to manage his social media accounts. The Wildrose statement claimed five secret conditions reported in media were “not accurate” but sources close to Mr. Fildebrandt confirm the five secret conditions did indeed exist.
Speaking in Calgary, Ms. Notley said “with respect to the waffling back and forth in terms of whether Mr. Fildebrandt is in or out, or on side, or whatever it is today, I think we see a party that’s in a bit of disarray.”
A close advisor of Mr. Fildebrandt’s, Jordan Katz, confirmed to Postmedia columnist Rick Bell that the secret conditions did exist and he questioned whether a quote endorsing Mr. Jean’s leadership in the Wildrose statement issued on May 31 was actually approved by Mr. Fildebrandt.
Thursday, June 2, 2016
Mr. Fildebrandt returns to the Legislative Assembly for the first time since his “suspension” on Friday, May 27. “There’s always going to be hurt feelings. I’m sitting down with people, talking one on one, face to face. And I think at the end of the day, we’re all going to come out of this stronger as a caucus and ready to go forward,” Mr. Fildebrandt told the CBC.