Alberta Politics

Nomination races begin for federal election 2015

There are 705 days until Monday, October 19, 2015, when the next Canadian federal election is scheduled to be held. With less than two years until Canadians choose who will serve as Members of Parliament and with new electoral boundaries coming into effect at the next election, candidates across Alberta are preparing to seek party nominations, a first step to becoming a candidate.

Edmonton's 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.
Edmonton’s 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.

Last week’s resignation announcement by Conservative MP Ted Menzies opens the door for a by-election to be held in southwest Alberta’s Macleod riding. When the next election is called, Macleod will be dissolved and the new Foothills riding will be created. Rumours circulated soon after Mr. Menzies announcement that Wildrose official opposition leader Danielle Smith could seek the Conservative nomination were quickly quashed when he announced she would remain as MLA for Highwood. According to the Okotoks Western Wheel, three local residents, businessman Scott Wagner, rancher Phil Rowland and former Parliament Hill staffer Melissa Mathieson, have expressed interest in seeking the Conservative nomination.

With former Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber confirming he will run as an Independent in the new St. Albert-Edmonton riding in the next election, aspirants are already lining up to contest Conservative Party nomination.

Expected to enter the race in St. Albert-Edmonton is businessman and former political organizer Ryan Hastman, who is currently employed as a Regional Director in the University of Alberta‘s Office of Advancement. Readers of his blog will recognize Mr. Hastman as a co-host of the #yegvote Google Hangout and as the 2011 Conservative candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona. He has previously worked in Prime Minister Stephen Harper‘s Office and for the Wildrose Party.

Lawyer and conservative activist Michael Cooper has already announced his candidacy in the St. Albert-Edmonton Conservative nomination and has the support of the provincial Progressive Conservative establishment, including endorsements from Finance Minister Doug Horner, Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk, and St. Albert MLA Stephen Khan. Also in the race is Kevin Tam, a Conservative Party activist who is currently employed as a researcher with the provincial Liberal Opposition.

Lethbridge and southern Alberta 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.
Lethbridge and southern Alberta 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.

Changing boundaries in southern Alberta mean that Lethbridge Conservative MP Jim Hillyer will soon find himself living inside the redrawn Medicine Hat riding, currently represented by Conservative MP LeVar Payne. While a nomination race between the two incumbents could easily be averted if Mr. Hillyer runs in the newly redrawn Lethbridge, he may still face a tough nomination contest now that his large base of support in the southern half of the old riding will now living in a new riding.

After a narrow win in last year’s by-election, Conservative MP Joan Crockatt can expect a strong challenge from a newly revitalized Liberal Party organization in Calgary-Centre.

Conservatives have still yet to resolve who will run in the handful of new ridings created in south Edmonton. Similar to the situation in southern Alberta, Conservatives are hopeful that nomination battles between MPs Mike Lake, James Rajotte, and Blaine Calkins can be averted. This may be even further complicated if current Edmonton-Sherwood Park MP Tim Uppal decides to seek a nomination in the newly redrawn Edmonton-Mill Woods riding. Mr. Uppal was the Canadian Alliance and Conservative candidate in south east Edmonton in the 2000 and 2004 federal elections and lost his party nomination to Mr. Lake before the 2006 election.

Rod Loyola announced his intentions to seek the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Mill Woods last year. Mr. Loyola was the 2012 provincial NDP candidate in Edmonton-Ellerslie and is currently the president of the Non-Academic Staff Association at the University of Alberta.

Calgary's 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.
Calgary’s 2015 electoral districts as recommended by the Electoral Boundary Commission Final Report.

With the retirement of Calgary-Nose Hill MP Diane Ablonczy, who was first elected under the Reform Party banner in 1993, Calgarians can expect a hotly contested nomination race in this riding that is considered a Conservative stronghold. One candidate rumoured to be considering a run for a nomination is Calgary-Foothills PC MLA Len Webber, who served as a cabinet minister in Premier Ed Stelmach‘s government but was shuffled to the backbenches after Alison Redford became Premier in 2011.

In the always contested Edmonton-Centre, aboriginal activist and educator Lewis Cardinal, announced earlier this year that he would once again seek the NDP nomination. In 2011, Mr. Cardinal increased his party’s support in that riding by 11%, placing second to Conservative incumbent Laurie Hawn. The central Edmonton riding was represented by Liberal MP Anne McLellan from 1993 until 2006. Hoping for a revival of Liberal support in the next election, a number of candidates are said to be preparing to contest the Liberal nomination, including entrepreneur and Rhodes Scholar Randy Boissonnault, and  2011 candidate and lawyer Mary MacDonald.

Two-term Edmonton-Decore PC MLA Janice Sarich is rumoured to be mounting a challenge against current Edmonton-East Conservative MP Peter Goldring in the new Edmonton-Griesbach riding. With Mr. Goldring back in the Conservative fold after sitting as an independent, he is expected to seek his party’s nomination in the new riding. The NDP are searching for a star candidate in this riding, after seeing their support steadily increase since the past four federal elections. The new riding also significantly overlaps the areas represented by NDP MLA Brian Mason, David Eggen, and Deron Bilous in the provincial Legislature. The NDP’s 2008 and 2012 candidate, former MLA Ray Martin, was elected to serve on Edmonton’s Public School Board on October 21, 2013.

Update (November 14, 2013): Educator Janis Irwin has announced her intention to seek the NDP nomination in the new Edmonton-Griesbach riding.

Because lists are something that this writer tends to do well, I will soon start a list tracking declared and nominated candidates planning to run in the 2015 federal election in Edmonton. If I have missed anyone in this round-up, please post a comment below or send me an email at

16 replies on “Nomination races begin for federal election 2015”

I’m thinking Edmonton-Manning is a possibility for Tim Uppal. It was the areas of Edmonton-Sherwood Park that have been transferred to Edmonton-Manning where he was strongest against Independent James Ford in the 2008 and 2011 elections with Ford winning many of the polls in Sherwood Park and Fort Saskatchewan in 2008.

MLA Jonathan Dennis is also looking at running in the new Calgary-Southeast federal riding. He has the support of his lifelong pal Jason Kenney but I bet this whole seat goes for Justin Trudeau. People want a change.

Can a sitting MLA run as a major party candidate in a federal election without resigning their seat, so that in the event they lose they just resume their MLA duties? I’m not actually sure if there are rules preventing this.

@Denny – Edmonton-Manning could be an option, but some Conservatives tell me that he would prefer to represent his home area of the city.

@Neal – I’m not sure where the rules are written, but I know that in Alberta, sitting MLAs who run in federal elections are required to resign as MLAs once the federal writ of election is dropped. I remember this being the case when Liberal MLAs Ken Nicol and Debby Carlson ran in the 2004 federal election. This is not the case in all provinces, as one of the Conservatives running in a federal by-election in Manitoba remains a sitting PC MLA in the Manitoba Legislature (I believe this is the case).


I would love to hear your thoughts on the fixed election date legislation and whether we are likely to see the next election on that date. Having fixed election dates was a major criticism from the Tories when they were in opposition, and something they passed shortly after winning their majority, but will they actually make it to 2015?

The Governor General (and, theoretically, the Queen I suppose) still has the power to dissolve Parliament at the advice of the PM. Will Stephen Harper wait it out until Oct. 2015, or do you think he might pull a fast one and call it early if things look good for the Conservatives? This IS the PM who said he would never appoint senators. Look where that got him.

I’ve also heard that Uppal is planning to run in the new Manning riding. Also, the Hill Times quoted Goldring a few months back as saying he wasn’t running in the next election. Not sure if he’s changed his mind since then.

@Justin Bell – As was demonstrated in 2011, the fixed election date is nothing more than a suggestion. Our parliamentary system allows the Prime Minister to ask the Governor General to dissolve the parliament and issue a writ of election at anytime within the 5 year term. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the timing of an election be decided by the PM when it appears to be the most political advantageous, as is almost always the case.

@Joel French – Thanks for the comment, Joel. It would make sense for Uppal to run in the new Edmonton-Manning, as he has already been elected in that area for two-terms, but I have heard Conservative organizers speculate otherwise. We shall see.

As for Goldring, I have heard both that he plans to run again and plans to resign. I suspect that means he hasn’t yet made up his mind.

The MLA in Manitoba resigned his seat about three weeks ago, the MNA running in Montreal has also resigned. My understanding is that MLAs are not eligible to run federally, and therefore must resign before submitting their nomination papers, which are due approx 23 days before E-day, but are usually submitted earlier.

@Jon – Thanks for the comment. I didn’t include any information about central Alberta ridings because I haven’t heard anything about them. I will share when I do. Please feel free to post any updates if you know any information.

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