Get ready for the clash of two very different political worlds as two of Alberta’s arguably most opposite MLAs vie for the Speakers chair.
In the right corner, you have incumbent Ken Kowalski. As previously mentioned, after 29 years in the Legislature Kowalski is returning for his 9th term as the Tory MLA for the Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock area. Kowalski is also the type of rural conservative who campaigns for re-election on hard hitting points like “while human beings can create laws, the laws of God must take precedence” (which is totally appropriate for someone who has been the Speaker of the Assembly since 1997…).
In the left corner, you have the challenger, Laurie Blakeman. Blakeman is the Alberta Liberal MLA for the very urban downtown constituency of Edmonton-Centre. Returning for her fourth-term in the legislature since 1997, Blakeman is tough, outspoken, and a strong advocate of the arts, GLBTQ issues, and women in politics. Blakeman is probably the closest to an anti-thesis to the type of rural politics that Kowalski practices that you can find.
Though it won’t be a surprise when the 71 members of the Tory caucus jump to vote for the good old boy when Ed Stelmach and Kowalski give them the signal, Blakeman will be challenging Kowalski with the express intent of opening new horizons for women MLAs. Bridget Pastoor (Lethbridge-East) will be joining Blakeman in challenging the Tory majority by running for Deputy Speaker.