Tag Archives: Wayne Cao

Jim Prentice is dwarfed by a giant photo of himself on the PC campaign bus at a stop in Edmonton this week.

Will 2015 be an lucky or unlucky #13 for Alberta’s PC Party?

CALGARY, ALBERTA

On May 5, 2015, the Progressive Conservatives will face Alberta voters for the thirteenth time since they first formed government in 1971. Since that election 44 years ago, the PCs have dominated over their opposition.

Rachel Notley NDP Alberta

Rachel Notley

It remains difficult to believe that the PC will not form another majority government, but there are indications that the opposition parties could do much better than initially expected. Some political watchers have even suggested that the PCs could form their first minority government.

With the most money and resources at their disposal, the PCs are the only party running a true “province-wide” campaign, but recent polls indicate the two main opposition parties have an opportunity to make gains.

NDP leader Rachel Notley appears to be enjoying an unprecedented bump in support in Alberta. Ms. Notley’s campaign has focused on job creation and health care, contrasting her party’s plan with Jim Prentice‘s party’s 44 year record. Clear signs, and many lawn signs, are indicating that an NDP surge in Edmonton, Lethbridge, and pockets of Calgary, could boost the NDP into Official Opposition status (the NDP previously formed official opposition from 1982 to 1993).

Brian Jean Wildrose Leader

Brian Jean

The current Official Opposition Wildrose Party, now focused on rural Alberta and cities like Red Deer and Grande Prairie, have made opposition to government spending and tax increases a central theme of their campaign. Wildrose leader Brian Jean was chosen little more than one month ago, so it is difficult to believe he alone is the inspiration for the bump in Wildrose support. More likely, there are many voters who still feel comfortable parking their votes with the Wildrose, which is why Mr. Prentice’s party has begun increasing their attacks on their conservative opposition.

Unless the PCs have given up their chances in Edmonton, we should expect PC cabinet ministers to soon start lining up to denounce Ms. Notley as well.

Because of the two opposition party’s different regional support, there might be only two or three constituencies across Alberta where both the NDP and Wildrose in a real competition with the PC candidate.

Joe Ceci Calgary NDP

Joe Ceci

One of those constituencies appears to be Calgary-Fort. Popular five-term PC MLA Wayne Cao has decided to retire from politics, leaving the PCs with rookie candidate Andy Nguyen. The NDP have nominated former Alderman Joe Ceci, the party’s most high-profile Calgary candidate in decades. The Wildrose have nominated Jeevan Mangat, who came within 200 votes of defeating Mr. Cao in the 2012 election.

Four months ago, there appeared to be a growing consensus that Mr. Prentice would lead the PCs to win nearly all the seats in the Legislative Assembly. And while it is never safe to bet against the PCs, with twelve consecutive election wins in their belt, with seventeen days left before election day, it appears that Albertans could send a very strong contingent of opposition MLAs to the legislature.


I have updated the unofficial list of Alberta Election candidates with information released by Elections Alberta after today’s nomination deadline.

Will Rick Hanson run for the PCs in Calgary-Cross?

Rick Hanson Calgary PC Cross Candidate

Rick Hanson

Will Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson run for the Progressive Conservatives in the upcoming spring provincial election? His surprise resignation announcement today timed with the PCs abrupt delay of their nomination in the northeast Calgary-Cross constituency until March 14 has led some political watchers to speculate Mr. Hanson could be appointed as a candidate.

With the retirement of six-term PC MLA Yvonne Fritzseven candidates are seeking the PC nomination in Calgary-Cross. Deep political divisions between the various ethnic groups backing those candidates led one political observer described the race as “a gong-show.” Appointing a high-profile outsider like Mr. Hanson might be a more palatable alternative for the PC establishment to holding a highly divisive nomination meeting that would be difficult to control.

Joe Ceci NDP Calgary Fort

Joe Ceci

But Cross is not the only available spot. There are six other constituencies in Calgary that do not yet have PC candidates, including Calgary-McCall and Calgary-Fort, in which nomination meetings have not yet be scheduled.

Calgary-McCall is currently represented by Liberal Darshan Kang, who is jumping into federal politics as the Liberal candidate in Calgary-Skyview. In Calgary-Fort, long-time PC MLA Wayne Cao is retiring and the New Democrats have recruited former five-term city councillor Joe Ceci.

Mr. Hanson is already seen as close to Mr. Prentice, having invited him to ride alongside the Calgary Police Foundation during the 2014 Calgary Stampede Parade. Mr. Prentice was the Chair of the Calgary Police Foundation Fundraising Committee.

Manmeet Bhullar

Manmeet Bhullar

This would not be the first time the PC Party appointed a candidate in north east Calgary. In 2008, two days after the election was called, 27-year old university student Manmeet Bhullar was appointed by Ed Stelmach as the PC candidate in Calgary-Montrose. Mr. Bhullar is now Minister of Infrastructure and is considered one of Mr. Prentice’s chief political lieutenants.

Mr. Hanson would be one of the latest in a string of police chiefs to jump into electoral politics. In Ontario, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives salivated when Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino was able to steal a long-time Liberal riding in a by-election. In British Columbia, Kash Heed, the chief constable of the West Vancouver Police Department, briefly served as Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

While he would be a political unknown to most Albertans outside of Calgary city limits, Mr. Hanson would be one of the PCs first “star candidates” to be nominated for this election. And with most PC MLAs winning their nominations by acclamation and only a handful of low-key nomination contests underway, a high-profile name like Mr. Hanson’s could bring some much needed heft to a PC slate still heavily loaded with Redford-era MLAs.

Alberta Politics Round-Up: Redford and the Opposition

Premier Alison Redford Alberta

Premier Alison Redford

An investigation into former Premier Alison Redford‘s use of government airplanes has been closed and no charges will be laid, the RCMP announced yesterday. In 2014, Premier Dave Hancock and Justice Minister Jonathan Denis asked the RCMP to investigate findings made by the Auditor General that Ms. Redford and her staff had misused government aircraft.

Ms. Redford resigned as Premier and leader of the Progressive Conservatives in March 2014 after facing a caucus and party revolt against her scandal-plagued administration.

Alberta Liberals and Alberta Party
Greg Clark Calgary-Elbow Alberta Party

Greg Clark

The never-ending dance between the Alberta Liberals and the Alberta Party continued last week as party leader Greg Clark presented another “cooperation” offer to the Liberal Party. Not surprisingly the offer was declined by interim Liberal leader David Swann, who was chosen by his party’s executive because he did not share MLA Laurie Blakeman‘s pro-cooperation stance.

The Alberta Party is hosting its Annual General Meeting this weekend, an event that will feature guest speakers Stephen Carter and Dave Taylor (former Liberal and Alberta Party MLA for Calgary-Currie from 2004 to 2012).

Meanwhile, a poll commissioned by former Liberal Party executive director Corey Hogan shows that both parties could be shut out of Calgary’s inner-city constituencies in the next election. If defeat is not a powerful motivator to cooperate, I do not know what else would be.

NDP nab a big candidate in Calgary
Joe Ceci NDP Calgary Fort

Joe Ceci

Rachel Notley‘s NDP have grabbed their biggest name candidate in decades – former five-term Alderman and Homeless advocate Joe Ceci announced this week that he will seek the NDP nomination in Calgary-Fort. Mr. Ceci supported the Liberal Party when it was led by Kevin Taft and endorsed Mr. Swann when he ran for the party’s leadership in 2008.

Calgary-Fort has been represented by PC MLA Wayne Cao since 1997. Mr. Cao is not seeking re-election.

Three candidates have stepped up to run for the PC nomination: Christopher PrimeauBeverly DeSantis and David Aftergood.

Mr. Aftergood recently appealed to the CBC Ombudsman for the removal of an article reporting his jail sentencing in 2007 for improper handling of ballots in the 2004 Calgary municipal election. According to the CBC, Mr. Aftergood was sentenced to 14 days in jail in May 2007 but never served out the sentence, because upon appeal, he was granted a new trial and the charge against him was stayed in January 2010.

Much of the area was represented by NDP MLA Barry Pashak from 1986 to 1993. The NDP have not elected an MLA in Calgary since 1989, but Ms. Notley has said she hopes her party can increase its support in the next election.

Former Tory MP eyes Wildrose leadership
Brian Jean

Brian Jean

Former Fort McMurray-Athabasca Conservative MP Brian Jean is considering a run for the leadership of the Wildrose Party. The crossword loving former Ottawa politician served as MP from 2006 to 2014. He retired in 2014 to return to private life.

Although Wildrose MLA Guy Boutilier was unseated in the 2012 election, he and former Mayor Doug Faulkner were only narrowly defeated in Fort McMurray’s two provincial constituencies.

Former Strathcona County Mayor Linda Osinchuk confirmed on Facebook yesterday that she plans to run for the Wildrose Party leadership.

Seven PC nominations today

The Progressive Conservatives will be holding candidate nomination contests today in Bonnyville-Cold Lake, Calgary-Fish Creek, Calgary-Mountain View, Calgary-North West, Medicine Hat, Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre and Spruce Grove-St. Albert.

#ABvote Google Hangout

With a provincial election expected in the coming month, we kicked off the first #AbVote Google Hangout last night. Watch the archived version online at abvote.ca.

The Redford legacy haunts Prentice Tories

Celebrating one-year since the 2012 Tory victory is Moe Amery, Premier Alison Redford, Wayne Cao, and Peter Sandhu.

Celebrating the anniversary of the 2012 Tory victory: then-Premier Alison Redford and PC MLAs Moe Amery, Wayne Cao, and Peter Sandhu. (photo from May 2013).

Most people rely on TripAdvisor or call a travel agent to book hotels for overseas trips, but it is alleged by intrepid CBC investigative journalists that former Premier Alison Redford dispatched a staffer to visit hotels and restaurants in advance of her trips to India, China, Switzerland, Washington, and Toronto for a cost of nearly $330,000.

Jim Prentice Alberta PC Party Premier Leader

Jim Prentice

It is not uncommon for government leaders to have advance staff, but in this case, like so many of the decisions that led to Ms. Redford’s downfall, it appears to have been done in secret (the cost of the staffer and their travel was not included in the publicly available travel expenses disclosures).

If advance work was indeed required, and there are reasons why this could be the case, it is hard to understand why the Premier’s Office would not simply hire the services of a consultant in the country or city Ms. Redford was planning to visit. Was it really necessary to hire a dedicated employee for this task?

In response to the allegations, former top Redford loyalist Thomas Luksazuk has called on the former premier to resign as the MLA for Calgary-Elbow, a move that is likely to occur after Jim Prentice wins the party leadership. Mr. Prentice is without a seat in the Assembly and the cash-flush Calgary-Elbow PC association could steer the new Premier through a potentially treacherous by-election.

Thomas Lukaszuk Alberta Edmonton MLA PC Leadership

Thomas Lukaszuk

In a fundraising email sent to supporters today, Wildrose Party president David Yager wrote that his party “will fight the by-election with every ounce of firepower we have.”

Advance Cabinet Shuffle

Signalling that Jeff Johnson‘s troubling reign as Education Minister could come to an end in September, Mr. Prentice pledged to work “in a respectful way” with the powerful Alberta Teachers’ Association.

Similar comments were made by Ms. Redford during her run for the PC Party leadership and during the 2012 election. Soon after, the PC government turned on public sector workers, threatening to legislate the contracts of teachers and public service employees and attacking their pensions. Mr. Prentice will need to follow his words with actions.

Mr. Prentice also said he will accelerate the construction of new school buildings, a promise that was originally made by Ms. Redford, but recently downplayed by Infrastructure Minister Wayne Drysdale last week. In a stunning admission, Mr. Drysdale told the media that the P3 (Public-Private Partnership) option for building the new schools was too expensive.

Wayne Drysdale MLA Grande Prairie Wapiti

Wayne Drysdale

But when it comes to governance of the education system, it is not clear what role Mr. Prentice believes locally elected school boards and municipalities should play in this decision making process, as they face intense growth pressures to raise new schools and shutter others.

Another prime target for a demotion in Mr. Prentice’s cabinet is Finance Minister Doug Horner, whose budget reporting structure was today the target of an open-letter from a group of retired Tory politicians.

Klein-era finance and revenue ministers Stockwell Day, Steve West, Greg Melchin, Lloyd Snelgrove, Lyle Oberg, and Ted Morton penned a letter to the PC leadership candidates urging them to return to the pre-Horner consolidated annual budget. Mr. Horner adopted a confusing new structure shortly after he was appointed to the post by Ms. Redford in 2012.

Notably missing from the list of former finance ministers was Jim Dinning, who spoke out against Mr. Horner’s budget reporting in April 2014.

Fort McMurray MLA Mike Allen arrested in U.S. prostitution sting

Mike Allen MLA

Mike Allen MLA

Mike Allen is the second MLA to resign from the Progressive Conservative caucus since last year’s election. The Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA resigned today from the Tory caucus after he was arrested in a prostitution sting in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The first-term MLA and former Wood Buffalo municipal councillor was in St. Paul to represent the Government of Alberta at the Council of State Governments Midwestern Legislative Conference. According to a Government press release, Calgary-Fort MLA Wayne Cao was also attending the conference.

This was Mr. Allen’s fourth trip to the United States as an official representative of the Alberta Government since he was elected. In 2012, he attended conferences in Cleveland, Ohio and Madison, Wisconsin and in 2013 he attended a conference in Washington state as a representative of the Premier’s Standing Committee on Resource Stewardship.

Mr. Allen’s resignation letter was published on the Edmonton Journal website:

“Today, I informed the Chief Government Whip of a legal incident that I have been involved in. Pending resolution of this incident, I have resigned from the government caucus and all legislative committee effective immediately. I apologize to my family, my friends, my constituents, my colleagues, my staff, and to all Albertans for the embarrassment I have caused in failing to live up to the standards expected of me and the standards I expect of myself. I made this mistake as a result of a profound lapse in my personal judgment. It is a mistake for which there are no excuses and for which I accept full responsibility. This is deeply embarrassing moment and all I can say is that I am sorry and I humbly ask for forgiveness. I will work long and hard to regain the trust of the many I have let down.”

Mr. Allen was first elected in 2012, defeating former Tory cabinet minister-tuned-Wildrose MLA Guy Boutilier. In 2012, he was appointed by Premier Alison Redford as the special advisor to the Minister of Transportation for highway 63.

Mr. Allen is the second MLA to resign from the governing Tory caucus since the 2012 election. In May 2013, Edmonton-Manning MLA Peter Sandhu resigned from the PC caucus after a CBC investigation revealed that a company owned by the politician had accumulated a trail of unpaid debt and that he made a false statement in a sworn affidavit.

calgary stampede: the greatest political show on earth.

Naheed Nenshi Horse Calgary Stampede

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi (via @nenshi)

The Greatest Show on Earth, also known as the Calgary Stampede, kicked-off celebrating its 100th anniversary this weekend. Between the chuck wagons and rodeo clowns, politicians off all stripes will drop into Calgary over the next week to kiss babies and grill pancakes.

Twitter was, well, atwitter with chatter comparing the level of applause received by Premier Alison Redford and Wildrose leader Danielle Smith at Prime Minster Stephen Harper‘s annual Stampede BBQ. It sounds silly, because it is, and it signals how deep the divide between Progressive Conservatives and Wildrose partisans are in this province.

No word about whether Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk and federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney took an opportunity to put aside their differences.

Liberal Member of Parliament Justin Trudeau was the talk of the political town at a fundraiser for the yet to be called Calgary-Centre by-election. Along with Beena Ashar, who already announced her candidacy, conservationist and former President of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Harvey Locke and TEDxCalgary organizer Rahim Sajan entered the Liberal Party nomination contest this weekend. As the provincial Liberal candidate in Calgary-Foothills during the 1989 election, Mr. Locke came within 500 votes of unseating Pat Black, who would later become Finance Minister Pat Nelson.

Here are some photos that were floating around social media networks this weekend. Check out Calgary Grit this week for his annual collection of political photos from the Stampede.

Wayne Cao Christine Cusanelli Sandra Jensen Alison Redford Calgary Stampede

Calgary-Fort PC MLA Wayne Cao, Tourism Minister Christine Cusanelli, Calgary-North West PC MLA Sandra Jensen, and Premier Alison Redford. (via Wayne Cao on Facebook)

Deron Bilous Pierre Nantel NDP Calgary Stampede

Edmonton-Beverly Clareview NDP MLA Deron Bilous and Longueuil–Pierre- Boucher NDP MP Pierre Nantel. (via Deron Bilous on Facebook)

Jonathan Denis Calgary Stampede

Justice Minister Jonathan Denis. (via Jonathan Denis on Facebook)

Raj Sherman Calgary Stampede

Alberta Liberal leader Raj Sherman. (via Raj Sherman on Facebook)

Danielle Smith Elizabeth May Calgary Stampede

Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May (via via @katyanderson)

assembly housekeeping: new staff, new speaker, & new public accounts committee chair.

As the Opposition Caucuses and Parties reorganize following electoral changes caused as a results of the April 23 election, there will be a number of staff and role changes in Assembly. The new Assembly will convene for the first time to elect a new Speaker on May 23, 2012 and listen to the Speech from the Throne on May 24, 2012.

New Speaker

Gene Zwozdesky

Gene Zwozdesky

As the result of the retirement of long-time Progressive Conservative MLA Ken Kowalski, the Speaker’s Office is vacant for the first time since 1997. Vying to become the new Assembly Speaker are former cabinet minister and Edmonton-Mill Creek PC MLA Gene Zwozdesky, Deputy Speaker and Calgary-Fort PC MLA Wayne Cao, former cabinet minister and Red Deer-North PC MLA Mary Anne Jablonski, and long-time Edmonton-Centre Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman. (Both Mr. Cao and Ms. Jablonski have exited the race).

Before his appointed as Minister of Aboriginal Relations last week, West Yellowhead PC MLA Robin Campbell was seen by some political insiders as a front-runner in this race.

This new Speaker will be selected by sitting MLA’s through a secret ballot and because this election is traditionally not a whipped vote, it can sometimes lead to interesting and unexpected results. When Mr. Kowalski was selected as Speaker in 1997, many political observers believed it was the Liberal and NDP MLA’s who helped him defeat Premier Ralph Klein‘s preferred choice, then-Dunvegan MLA Glen Clegg.

Opposition Staff Housekeeping

For the first time in 19 years, the Liberal Opposition Caucus will not be the Official Opposition in the Assembly. The Liberal Caucus, led by Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Raj Sherman, will undergo staff and research budget downsizing due to the number of Liberal MLAs shrinking from 8 to 5. The Liberal Caucus recently released its MLA critic and committee assignments.

Jonathan Huckabay Liberal candidate Edmonton-Manning

Jonathan Huckabay

A recent listing on the Government of Alberta website shows that Dr. Sherman’s long-time adviser Jonathan Huckabay will return to his role as Chief of Staff of the Liberal Caucus Office. Mr. Huckabay entered that role earlier this year when former MLA Rick Miller resigned to focus on his election campaign in Edmonton-Rutherford. When the election was called, Mr. Huckabay stood as a Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Manning, where he placed fourth with just over 1,000 votes.

Recently the party’s candidate in Cypress-Medicine Hat, Jon Mastel is Dr. Sherman’s new Executive Assistant.

Senior Communications Advisor Earl J Woods announced in a blog post last week that he would be leaving the Liberal Caucus, where he has worked for six and a half years (if you are looking to hire a great writer, contact Mr. Woods).

In the NDP Opposition Caucus, which doubled in size from 2 to 4 MLAs, Communications Officer Richard Liebrecht announced on Twitter last week that he was moving on from his role in the Legislature Annex. A former Reporter for Sun Media and the Hinton Parklander, Mr. Liebrecht started his job with the NDP in November 2010. He also previously worked for the Liberal Party of Canada.

The NDP are also hiring a number of constituency staff positions.

While the Wildrose Party‘s new role as Official Opposition will mean additional staff and research funding, a party position was made vacant following the election of Shayne Saskiw in Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills, the Wildrose Party is hiring a new Executive Director.

New Public Accounts Committee Chairperson

Hugh MacDonald MLA

Former MLA Hugh MacDonald

For the first time since 2001, someone other than Hugh MacDonald will serve as chair of the important Public Accounts Committee, which has ability to scrutinize government spending. Mr. MacDonald served as the MLA for Edmonton-Gold Bar from 1997 until the recent election when he chose to retire from the Assembly. While he sometimes appeared to be relentlessly focused on discovering scandal in the Tory government, Mr. MacDonald was easily one of the hardest working MLA’s under the Dome.

The role of Public Accounts Committee Chair traditionally falls to a MLA representing the Official Opposition Caucus, meaning that one of the 17 Wildrose Party MLA’s will fill this role when the new Assembly convenes next week. Second-term Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson, who will also serve as Official Opposition Finance Critic, could be a powerful force in this important role. Calgary-Fish Creek Wildrose MLA Heather Forsyth served as the Wildrose representative on the committee before the election.

Previous to Mr. MacDonald, former Liberal MLAs Lance White and Muriel Abdurahman filled the role as Chair.

return to the dome and inside baseball politics.

Alberta Legislative Assembly Building

Alberta's Legislative Assembly Building

With election withdrawal setting in like a bad hangover, much of the media attention this week focused on the 38 rookie MLA’s attending outgoing Speaker Ken Kowalski‘s Legislature 101 course and the resumption of inside baseball politics under the Dome.

Bridget Pastoor Alison Redford

Bridget Pastoor and Premier Alison Redford (photo from PremierofAlberta Flickr account)

Cabinet Speculation
Rumours abound about who might end up in Premier Redford’s new cabinet, which is expected to be appointed next week. While Tory stalwarts such as Dave Hancock, Doug Horner, Thomas Lukaszuk, and Doug Griffiths are almost certainly in line to keep a spot at the cabinet table, the retirement and defeat of a number of Tory MLAs and cabinet minister may have opened spots for new faces at the table.

I will be watching to see if newly elected MLA’s Donna Kennedy-Glans, Ken Hughes, Ron Casey, Don Scott, and Maureen Kubinec, and former Liberal MLA Bridget Pastoor (who crossed the floor to the Tories in 2011) are appointed to the new cabinet.

MLA Pay Recommendations
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Major released his recommendations to reform how MLA’s are paid. Regardless of which recommendations are adopted, this is the type of issue that will never really go away (someone will always be displeased with how much or how little our elected officials are paid).

We ask (nay, demand) our public office holders to do their very best 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. A $134,000 base salary does not seem unreasonable to me.

Gene Zwozdesky

Gene Zwozdesky

Electing a new Speaker
The first order of business when the Assembly convenes this Spring will be the election of a new Speaker for the first time since 1997. Candidates in the running include Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman and Tory MLA’s Gene ZwozdeskyWayne Cao, and Mary Anne Jablonski.

Premier’s new Chief of Staff
Premier Alison Redford appointed Calgary lawyer Farouk Adatia as her Chief of Staff. Mr. Adatia replaces Stephen Carter, who was temporarily replaced by Elan McDonald in March 2012 (Mr. Carter took a leave of absence to work on the PC Party campaign). Mr. Adatia was the unsuccessful PC candidate in Calgary-Shaw in the recent election and had previously attempted to win the PC nomination in Calgary-Hawkwood.

Wildrose Critics
The new Wildrose Official Opposition Caucus captured some earned media this week by releasing their list of critic positions. Leader Danielle Smith will take personal responsibility for “Cities” (i.e.: Calgary and Edmonton), where her party faired poorly during the recent election.

Mandel to Smith: Pick up the Phone
In the most bizarre story of the week, Ms. Smith told the media that she had asked Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi to “broker a peace summit” between herself and Mayor Stephen Mandel. Over the past three years, the Calgary-based Ms. Smith has publicly opposed some high-profile decisions made by Edmonton City Council.

Mayor Mandel quite correctly responded to Ms. Smith’s “peace summit” comment by saying if she wanted to talk with him she could pick up the phone. One can only imagine how this relationship would have started if Ms. Smith had actually been elected Premier last week.

wildrose alliance loses its third candidate in six months.

Former Calgary-Fort Wildrose Alliance candidate Bob McInnis

Now former Calgary-Fort Wildrose Alliance candidate Bob McInnis

The conservative Wildrose Alliance has lost its third candidate since it began its nomination process late last year.

Calgary-Fort candidate Bob McInnis will no longer carry his party’s banner against PC MLA Wayne Cao in the next election. When contacted by this blogger, Mr. McInnis said: “I withdrew for personal and career reasons. I still support policies, principles, and leader but couldn’t be in two places at same time.”

Mr. McInnis is the Executive Director of Brown Bagging it for Calgary Kids an organization that provides lunches to homeless children and youth in Calgary. Mr. McInnis’ initiative was frequently mentioned in speeches by party leader Danielle Smith as an example of how charities, rather than publicly-funded programs, are the solution to social problems.

Mr. McInnis’ exit is much quieter than the departure of nominated Medicine Hat candidate Milvia Bauman, who resigned in December 2010 after a very public disagreement with board members of her constituency association. Another candidate, Harpreet Nijjar, nominated in Calgary-Northern Hills in October 2010 quietly dropped off the party’s list in December 2010.

With Mr. McInnis’ departure, the Wildrose Alliance now has at least 29 out of 87 candidates nominated to stand in the next provincial election.

premier’s capital ex pancake breakfast 2010

This morning I enjoyed free pancakes and coffee with around 1000 other Edmontonians at Premier Ed Stelmach‘s 2010 Capital Ex Pancake Breakfast on the south lawn of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly Building. Below are some of the photos I snapped in between my first and second servings of pancakes at 7am this morning. You can see more photos from this morning on the Flickr set Premier’s Capital Ex Pancake Breakfast 2010.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach welcomes guests to the 2010 Capital Ex Pancake Breakfast on the Legislative Assembly grounds in Edmonton.

The Edmonton Eskimos mascot goofs off during Premier Stelmach's welcome speech.

Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette gestures wildly. I can only imagine that he is talking about the delicious pancakes.

Treasury Board President Lloyd Snelgrove and his goatee enjoy a beautiful morning to grill pancakes outside.

Sustainable Resource Development Minister Mel Knight supervises as Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Raj Sherman grills pancakes.

Calgary-Fort MLA Wayne Cao knows how to grill pancakes with style.

alberta politics notes 7/09/2010

– The Government of Alberta has purchased +$50,000 newspaper advertisements in Washington DC and written a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defending the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas. The pipeline is facing opposition from Democratic Representative Henry Waxman, who currently Chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The provincial government also employs former cabinet minister Gary Mar as a permanent envoy in the American capital and frequently sends cabinet ministers and MLAs to conferences and trade meetings in the United States.
– Members of the United Nurses of Alberta have voted to ratify a new collective agreement that includes a 6%-pay increase over three years. Both the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald editorial boards have praised the agreement.
– At the age of 40-years, two-term Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake is a hot political commodity.
– The Alberta PC Party has hired Brent Harding as their Director of Communications.
– The Liberals purchased newspaper ads calling for cooperation with other parties and received cool responses from the NDP and Alberta Party.
– Former MLA Dan Backs is gearing up to run for City Council against Councillor Ed Gibbons. Both men are former MLAs for Edmonton-Manning. Mr. Gibbons sat as a Liberal MLA from 1997 to 2001, and Mr. Backs sat as a Liberal from 2004 until he was ejected from the Opposition caucus in 2006. After being defeated by Peter Sandhu when seeking the PC nomination in 2007, he placed third in his bid for re-election as an Independent in 2008.
Jim Hillyer has been nominated as the Conservative candidate in Lethbridge for the next federal election. The federal Liberals held their candidate nomination in Edmonton-St. Albert last night.
Jim Silye has been appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper as chair of the board of the Museum of Science and Nature in Ottawa. Mr. Silye served as the Reform Party MP for Calgary-Centre from 1993 until 1997. Mr. Silye was defeated by Wayne Cao in the Calgary-Fort Progressive Conservative candidate nomination in 1997. In 2000, he ran as the PC candidate in Calgary-West against Canadian Alliance MP Rob Anders and Liberal candidate Frank Bruseker.

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.