Alberta Politics

in alberta politics, what once was old is new again.

Premier Alison Redford is expected to introduce new fixed-election date legislation in the postponed fall sitting of the Assembly, expected to sit in late November. In 2009, I wrote:

“In April 2008, St. Albert PC MLA Ken Allred introduced a Private Member’s Bill, Bill 203: Election Statutes (Fixed Election Dates), in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta that would have created fixed-election dates in our province. The Bill received very little public debate in the Legislature and was opposed by MLAs in the PC caucus, including Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Richard Marz, who argued to the media that fixed-election dates would allow public sector unions to strike in conjunction with elections.

In May 2008, Marz introduced a motion that “Bill 203, the Election Statutes (Fixed Election Dates) Amendment Act, 2008, be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence.” Marz’s motion was passed when 36 PC MLAs (including Allred) out-voted 5 opposition MLAs.”

Now it is November 2011, the Progressive Conservatives are still in office, Premier Ed Stelmach is gone, Premier Redford is in, Mr. Marz is retiring, Mr. Allred is being challenged for the PC nomination (and may retire), and Alberta might get fixed-election dates.

The Alberta Liberals announced with a gleeful media release this week that Alex MacDonald would be joining their caucus staff as a part-time strategist. Political watchers may remember Mr. MacDonald as the Chief of Staff to former Edmonton Mayor and Liberal Party leader Laurence Decore in the 1980s and early 1990s.

A seasoned strategist, Mr. MacDonald is said to be the man behind Mr. Decore’s infamous ‘debt clock’ that helped launch the Liberals into Official Opposition status in the 1993 election (and their best showing since the 1917 election). While the addition of Mr. MacDonald may boost their roster, it eats into the narrative that Tory MLA-turned-Liberal leader Dr. Raj Sherman is promoting about the birth (or re-birth) of the “new Liberals.”

Also biting into Dr. Sherman’s “new Liberals” narrative is the nomination of five former one-term MLAs as his party’s candidates in five potentially winnable constituencies – Mo Elsalhy in Edmonton-McClung, Bharat Agnihotri in Edmonton-Ellerslie, Weslyn Mather in Edmonton-Mill Woods, Rick Miller in Edmonton-Rutherford, and Bruce Miller in Edmonton-Glenora. Some of these are good candidates, but certainly not new.

A new face in the next election, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith has floated in conservative political circles since the 1990s and two of her party’s four MLAs have been in the Assembly for more than a decade. The “nascent” or “rookie” Alberta Party has existed in various forms since the 1980s and their leader Glenn Taylor ran for the NDP in the 1997 election.

Refusing to believe that new will ever be old or old will ever be new, the New Democrats have put a fresh face on an veteran politician. NDP leader Brian Mason has a fresh face – at least for the short-term – as he has shaved his mustache for Movember to raise awareness about prostate cancer. Mr. Mason has told the media that his trademark cookie-duster will return, meaning that once again, old will be new again.

NDP leader Brian Mason sans mustache
The new face of Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason (sans mustache).

7 replies on “in alberta politics, what once was old is new again.”

This “everything is old” narrative you’ve got here is cynical, and incorrect.

If the legislation is actually passed, that will be something “new.” The fact that it is being promoted by the Premier is new. Now, fixed election dates is the one part of the Chief Electoral Officer’s recommendations with which I usually disagree. I’ll wait to see what form the legislation takes, but from the perspective of voters, I’m not sure fixed election dates are a net win.

The liberals hiring someone associated with the Decore campaign? Yeah. That’s hilarious and sad at the same time. That fits your narrative.

The only similarity the current Alberta Party has to the old one is their lack of power.

And I’ll say the same thing about the Liberals that I said about the PCs. Sherman can veto nominees, but he can’t make them appear out of thin air. There’s no suggestion that he’s vetoing everyone but his own favourites. Let’s not be surprised when people who have run over and over again keep running, and when he doesn’t veto their nomination on the grounds that they are “old.”

Jason: thanks for your always insightful comment. 

The legislation will be new, but my point was that the introduction of  fixed election date legislation will be nothing new for those currently sitting in the Assembly.

I don’t mean to ‘blame’ anyone for the Liberals nominating so many former MLAs as candidates. My point is that it bites into Dr Sherman’s “new Liberal” narrative. 

The post wasn’t meant to be cynical, it was meant as a light piece of satire for a Friday morning. 🙂



I worked with Alex MacDonald and was very impressed by his organizational abilities and strategic thinking. Alberta politics will be much better with him back in the active scene. When he phoned to suggest that I might consider running in the next provincial election, I was very receptive to the the request. I didn’t think it was “hilarious” and/or “sad” to hear from Alex. And, although I am in my mid-50’s, I don’t think of myself as a “recycled” anything:) (at least not yet).

I hope Alex can coach Raj to stop reading scripted questions in the Legislature. He sounds like a robot. Let Raj be Raj!

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