Alberta Politics

year in review 2010: alberta mla edition.

Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Raj Sherman

Raj Sherman (Independent Edmonton-Meadowlark)
The Emergency Room Doctor turned MLA shook the Tory establishment when he went public with his concerns about how the PC government has handled health care. Dr. Sherman saved special criticism for former Health Minister Ron Liepert, who was responsible for the creation of Alberta Health Services. An over-night folk hero to many, Dr. Sherman was suspended from the PC caucus and became the target of a whisper campaign to undermine his credibility, which started with a phone call placed by MLA Fred Horne. Dr Sherman has said he may take legal action against those involved in the smear campaign. In three weeks, Dr. Sherman’s public criticisms of the PCs health care record made him the de-facto leader of the opposition in the last two months of 2010.

Dr. Sherman made this list in 2008, when I described him as “one of the brighter stars in the vast expanse of dim lights in the Alberta Legislature.

Doug Griffiths (PC Battle River-Wainwright)
Thinking out of the box has kept this perennial Parliamentary Assistant away from the cabinet table, where he would likely excel. Doug Griffiths’ appointment as the Parliamentary Assistant for Finance and Enterprise is the latest in a series of lateral moves from his previous roles as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Solicitor General. After trying to start a public discussion about how a provincial sales tax could reduce government dependency on natural resource revenue, Mr. Griffiths became the target of his own colleagues who shot down his idea at the 2010 PC Party convention and by the Wildrose Alliance, who used Mr. Griffiths’ comments as a fundraising-focused attack campaign. He also hit the road this year as the author of a new book, 13 Ways to Kill your Community.

In last year’s list, I wrote of Mr. Griffiths: “With alternatives to the near 40 year governing PCs gaining support, independent-minded Griffiths may be in a position to decide whether he wants to stay in the backbenches or join something new.

Airdrie-Chestermere MLA Rob Anderson with Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith.

Rob Anderson (Wildrose Airdrie-Chestermere)
First-term PC MLA Rob Anderson‘s floor-crossing from the PCs to the Wildrose in January 2010, along with fellow PC MLA Heather Forsyth, set the tone for Alberta politics in 2010. He may have less political experience than his three fellow Wildrose MLAs (two of which are former PC cabinet ministers), but what he does not have in age or years of experience he makes up in political tenacity. If leader Danielle Smith is unable to win a seat in the next provincial election, Mr. Anderson is in a good position to take over the role.

Ken Kowalski (PC Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock)
Making his third appearance on this list, Assembly Speaker Ken Kowalski celebrated his 31st year as an MLA by micro-managing the communications of and denying a requested increase in funding to the Wildrose Alliance caucus, which grew from one to four MLAs over the past 12 months. Ex-Speakers David Carter and Stan Schumacher criticized his decision to block Wildrose funding and the Calgary Herald even called for his resignation. While unreasonable under these circumstances, Speaker Kowalski allowed for a second (and successful) motion from Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman for an emergency debate on health care during the fall sitting of the Assembly.

Calgary-Buffalo MLA Kent Hehr

Kent Hehr (Liberal Calgary-Buffalo)
What started as a tongue-in-cheek campaign by Liberal caucus staffers became reality when first-term Liberal MLA Kent Hehr launched his candidacy for Mayor of Calgary. Although he was a popular candidate in a crowded field, Mr. Hehr was unable to create the kind of momentum that launched Naheed Nenshi into contention. Mr. Hehr dropped out of the Mayoral contest when his poll numbers showed he was far behind, but that did not hurt his political credibility as he returned to the Assembly as the Official Opposition Justice Critic.

Dave Taylor (Independent Calgary-Currie)
After an unsuccessful run for the Liberal leadership in 2009, Dave Taylor was not satisfied with the leadership of his rival David Swann and left the Liberal Opposition to sit as an Independent in April 2010. As one of the more effective opposition critics in the Liberal caucus, losing Mr. Taylor likely cost the Official Opposition in media attention and also an MLA who held the support of many of his former talk radio hosts at the popular AM770 and 630CHED stations.

Cindy Ady (PC Calgary-Shaw)
Alberta’s Minister of Parks and Tourism rode the Alberta train as our province’s ambassador to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. While handing out White Cowboy hats and iPod Touches, Minister Ady made sure that Alberta was the topic of discussion for the international media and tourists traveling to the Olympic events in Whistler.

Edmonton-Mill Creek MLA & Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky

Gene Zwozdesky (PC Edmonton-Mill Creek)
Crowned as the “the Wizard of Zwoz” by the media, Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky was responsible for fixing the mess created and mend the fences destroyed by previous Minister Ron Liepert. Minister Zwozdesky has been more open and accessible than his predecessor, but the real challenge will be for him to actually deliver real improvements to a health care system that has been seen constant political interference and restructuring over the past twenty years.

Kyle Fawcett (PC Calgary-North Hill)
On the night of the October municipal election, the backbench Tory MLA who once described Premier Ed Stelmach as “a man of extraordinary vision,” also had a loose twitter finger. As the Purple Revolution swept his city, Mr. Fawcett tweeted that Calgarians had made a “Big Mistake” by electing Naheed Nenshi as Mayor.

Carl Benito (PC Edmonton-Mill Woods)
Where do I start? A broken promise to donate his entire salary to a scholarship fund for students in his constituency and blaming his wife for forgetting to pay his municipal property taxes. Mill Woods, your MLA is a real winner.

Previous Annual MLA Reviews
Year in Review 2009: Alberta MLA Edition
Year in Review 2008: Alberta MLA Edition

23 replies on “year in review 2010: alberta mla edition.”

Dave, you missed two people: new ministers Thomas Lukaszuck and Jonathan Denis. Both have done a good job on the front benches, particularly Thomas who has recently been hitting up employers with unsafe workplaces.

Thanks for the comment and suggestions, Brian. Of course, I could have written something about all 83 MLAs, but that wouldn’t be much fun (or very interesting) so I decided to pick 10 MLAs.

Aside from your comment about Minister Lukaszuk, why do you believe that he and Minister Denis belong on this list for 2010?

Great list Dave. Raj Sherman all the way.

I woulda added Darshan Kang for his never ending calls for a Calgary airport tunnel… Never ending….

No Jono Denis? He is the hardest working minister in cabinet. Leadership material. Premiership material. 2012 will be a great year for Minister Jono.

Ted Morton: Fiscal shark turned mallard goes soft on deficit.

Doug Griffiths: Bright star snuffed out in PC Caucus.

Ed Stelmach: huh?

Raj Sherman: my hero. Should join the Alberta Party.

Kent Hehr: Bright future but not as a Liberal MLA.

David Swann: Tries hard but never going to be Premier.

Rob Renner: tarsands damage denier. Frequent flyer.

Brian Mason: to much of a hot head. Party should seek kinder new face. Step up Rachel Notley.

I think Rob Renner is one of the most unsung but stand out Cabinet Ministers Alberta has. Tough job with the emphasis on the rush to the bottom of the economic ladder that is the “Alberta Advantage.” He gets the integration of economy, environment and the social implications of it all and works competently and consciously as a voice for the long term sustainable development of oil sands.

Calm, deliberative and determined to make a positive difference and in the greater public interest. He is a worthy notable in my mind.

Yes Rob Anderson is a newsmaker, but in a terribly bad way for the Wildrose. His views don’t sell and his demeanor is even worse. The best thing that happened to the PC’s is that he left.

Hmmm… Kent Hehr. Really? No, really?

Dave, I gotta say, your ongoing ability to deny that the NDP does any good is astounding. Have you forgotten that Rachel Notley forced the government to back down from making cuts to foster care back in the spring? Or that Ed Stelmach scolded them for not informing the government of what the government’s own plans were? Or that the two-person caucus toured the province consulting Albertans on what they want in a health care system? Or that Rachel Notley had breakfast with James Cameron? Or that Brian Mason had been calling for Stephen Duckett to be fired since the Spring?

I mean… really?

Mark: thanks for the comment and the suggestions. As I wrote earlier in this thread, I could probably write about all 83 MLAs, but that would be boring and defeat the point of this post. NDP MLA Rachel Notley was on the list in 2008 and 2009 and while they do good work in the Assembly, neither of the two MLAs struck me as spectacular when I was writing the 2010 list.

Check out the Alberta Politics Archives and you’ll see links to posts where I have written about all MLAs, including the NDPers:



Yeah ok Dave, I just have trouble seeing Kent Hehr as being more spectacular than Brian or Rachel. As an MLA his biggest 2010 moment was kinda not really resigning… So like I said… really? I mean if that and Kyle Fawcett’s bonehead tweet (just one!) stands out more for you than Rachel Notley embarrassing the Tories into reversing cuts to foster care families then I can see why regular people get fed up with politics.

I really don’t see what was notable about Kent Hehr or Cindy Ady at all. Were your comments about Ady supposed to be tongue-in-cheek? I can’t tell.

Zwoz seems to be notable for the fact everyone says he’s notable, but I can’t for the life of me point to one solid accomplishment since he took over the health file.

It’s so much easier to get your name in the press and thus complimented for hard work as an opposition member in a small caucus. For all we know some of the Tory members (or “back-benchers if you’re into mocking the institution) might do exceptional work for their constituency, but we’d never hear about them.

It’s not easier. Anyone who thinks about it for two seconds will realize it.

MLAs in smaller parties have to be an expert in 13 different ministry areas, do the research in those areas, respond to everything in a timely way, while attending three times the committee meetings, public events and house duty as MLAs in larger parties. You have to do more travel for your party than MLAs in bigger caucuses, and you constantly have to convince the media that what you have to say is more relevant or better than what the MLAs from the bigger parties (who have more time and research resources to prepare their remarks) have to say.

Are you seriously suggesting the reason Liberal MLAs don’t get the attention or respect the NDP (or increasingly, the WRA) do is because they have too MANY members in their caucus?

I said name in the press and cultivating reputations (and this counts for Liberals as well). Yes, behind the scenes there’s much more work, but don’t discount the work a government MLA (or MP for that matter) can do as well. Surely Lou can’t think that the NDP has a hard time getting all their names in print?

It’s not like the opposition ever spends time or energy thinking about whether to agree with something the government does. Condemn first, ask questions later.

Diana McQueen, Minister of Environment and Water deserves to be high on this list. She workss tirelessly for her own constituents as well as excels in her duties as Minister.

I would question Rob Anderson, his sarcasm renders him ineffective in my opinion. Kudos have to go to Dave Hancock who shoulders the responsibility of not only a complex Ministry but the mechanics of legislation as well.
There will be new faces a year from now and one that I am very excited about is Darcy Davis, who will no doubt win his constituency in a landslide in the next election. He has the ability to be a great Ag Minister down the road.

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