With provincial by-elections in Alberta’s two biggest cities expected to be called soon, opposition parties are gearing up to challenge two unelected cabinet ministers running under the Progressive Conservative banner.
Dates for the by-election votes have not been scheduled and a third by-election for Premier Jim Prentice is also expected to take place. Mr. Prentice is expected to run in the Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill constituency.
By-elections are risky for incumbent governments, as they give voters an opportunity to send a message without changing government. These votes will provide the first indications whether Albertans are satisfied with Mr. Prentice’s ability to rebrand the scandal-plagued 43-year old PC Party Government.
Trigged by the resignation of former Premier Alison Redford, this by-election has been described as “ground zero” by the opposition Wildrose Party. Many of the neighbourhoods in this constituency were devastated by last year’s floods and I am told that many locals remain disappointed with the provincial government’s response in repairing the damage. Not surprisingly, many residents also remain very disappointed with the performance of their former PC MLA.
Newly appointed Education Minister Gordon Dirks, 67, has been acclaimed as the Progressive Conservative candidate. Mr. Dirks is a former Calgary school trustee and Saskatchewan PC MLA. His appointment to cabinet was a surprise to most political watchers.
Conservative activist Pat Walsh had announced plans to seek the PC nomination, but stepped aside last week to clear the way for Mr. Dirks’ acclamation. But this week, in a strange move, Mr. Walsh has endorsed Wildrose candidate John Fletcher.
Mr. Fletcher is a retired Canadian Forces Colonel and is a candidate the Wildrose believes can defeat the unelected Education minister.
The Liberals are looking to candidate Susan Wright to regain some of their former support in Calgary-Elbow. The Liberals won the constituency in a 2007 by-election to replace Mr. Klein, but lost it Ms. Redford the following year. While the Liberals have had a strong base of support in the constituency in previous elections, the party’s support plummeted in 2012. This by-election will test whether Dr. Raj Sherman’s Liberals are a viable political force in Calgary.
This will be Alberta Party leader Greg Clark’s second time running as a candidate in Calgary-Elbow, but this time he will have the support of celebrity political strategist Stephen Carter (formerly of the PC Party) and former Liberal Party campaign manager Corey Hogan. The Alberta Party briefly held a seat in the Assembly before the 2012 election, when former Liberal MLA Dave Taylor, who represented the neighbouring Calgary-Currie, joined their ranks. Mr. Clark hopes that he can become his party’s second-ever MLA.
The NDP have nominated lawyer Stephanie McLean as their candidate. Both of the MLAs in the NDP leadership contest – Rachel Notley and David Eggen – have said that expanding their party’s support in Calgary is key to success. Here is their opportunity to start earning votes.
Sure to cause a stir among die-hard New Democrats is Ms. McLean’s endorsement of popular Liberal MLA Kent Hehr’s campaign to become the federal Liberal candidate in Calgary-Centre.
I am told that the Green Party of Alberta has decided not to run a candidate in this by-election. It is unclear why they are sitting it out.
Constituency Association Net Assets, Calgary-Elbow, 2013
Progressive Conservative: $207,972.97
NDP – $0
Alberta Party: $2,465.16
The PC Party’s longest-held constituency in Edmonton, Edmonton-Whitemud was represented by former Premier Dave Hancock from 1997 until his resignation last week.
Newly appointed Health Minister Stephen Mandel, 69, has been acclaimed as the PC candidate. The former three-term Edmonton Mayor remains popular among many Edmontonians and it is unclear whether he will face any serious challengers.
So far, the only candidate to step up to challenge him is Alberta Party President Will Munsey. An amiable character, Mr. Munsey ran under his party’s banner in the Leduc-Beaumont constituency in the last provincial election and as a Green Party candidate in Vegreville-Wainwright in the 2011 federal election.
The Liberals have yet to announce a candidate, but I am told that the party is working hard to recruit a former Edmonton Liberal MLA to run in the by-election. Similar to Elbow, the Whitemud by-election will test whether Dr. Sherman’s Liberals can regain their former strength in Edmonton.
As far as I am aware, no candidates have publicly declared their intentions to seek the Wildrose or NDP nominations at the time this column was published.
UPDATE: In the comment section of this blog, Dr. Bob Turner announced that he will be the NDP candidate in the Edmonton-Whitemud by-election.
Constituency Association Net Assets, Edmonton-Whitemud, 2013
PC = $32,366.72
Liberal – $1,528.40
NDP – $286.77
Alberta Party: $1,171.76
Alberta politics fact: While located in two different cities, the constituencies of Calgary-Elbow and Edmonton-Whitemud both include some of Alberta’s wealthiest neighbourhoods. Both have also been represented by two Premiers (Elbow by Ralph Klein and Ms. Redford, and Whitemud by Don Getty and Mr. Hancock).
14 replies on “Coming Soon: Calgary-Elbow and Edmonton-Whitemud by-elections”
Raj Sherman was already tested in Calgary in 2012, and he lost seats from the 2008 election and had a very low vote.
So for Calgary-Elbow, the NDP has never been a big factor in Calgary. I say the Alberta Party and Liberal Party split the left wing vote and the PC squeak by the Wildrose with a lower majority.
2012 popular vote – ALP 12%, NDP 5% and AP less than 1% in Calgary. Calgary Elbow 5.5%, 4% and 2.5% respectfully.
From those stats ALP has the best chance to win. Cooperation and strategic voting is the only way for the centre & left voters will stop throwing their votes away.
Vote together and be part of the solution.
@Rene – I’m not sure the numbers you list suggest that any of those parties will do well in this election. In 2012, the Liberal vote in Elbow dropped by 81% compared to the 2008 election. Ms. Wright is a strong candidate, but it is clear that those voters not longer “belong” to the Liberal Party. They are up for grabs (heck, I wouldn’t be shocked to see many of them voting for the Wildrose just to send a message to the PCs).
I am seeking the Alberta ND nomination in Whitemud. An announcement will be made at the leg tomorrow ~ 1.
I have worked in healthcare in Edmonton for 37 years and want to bring some sanity to its management after a litinity of incompetence shown by the PCs. Mandel has no credibility as a Health Minister and is too closely tied to massive private interests to avoid conflict of interest.
My Twitter handle is @DoctorCanBob
Amicable is good.
Actually, Dave, “amicable” describes relationships. I believe what I am is “amiable.” I’m so amiable, in fact, I won’t correct you in public. Oops, I think I just did.
William – Yes, amiable. Thanks for catching that.
Thanks for letting us know about your candidacy, Dr. Turner.
Update: The Wildrose will be holding their campaign launch in Whitemud today at 12noon. The NDP will formally introduce their candidate, Dr. Bob Turner, at 1pm today.
Double candidate announcement on a Friday. Talk about throwing in the towel before the race has even started.
Dylan – It would appear so. I hear that the Wildrose candidate in the Whitemud by-election will be Tim Grover. He was already nominated to run for that party in the Edmonton-South West constituency across the river.
Glad to see someone with some actual experience in healthcare is getting involved. I’m tired of having our health system managed by people who’s only qualification for the job is that they are pals with the Premier
Some of you low information voters and low intelligence geniuses forget that Liberals were bested only because the Lakes of Fire boogeyman scared away progressive voters to the over promising Alison Redfraud. She betrayed almost every progressive voter that switched, to thwart the WR boogeyman. Dear voters if you are centrist, vote Liberal, if you are very left, vote NDP if you are RW, vote WR. The AP is just a vote splitting mechanism devised by by those that benefit to keep the tories in power. Albertans wholeheartedly reject new labels, And will accept only traditional familiar political labels.
“…Conservative activist Pat Walsh had announced plans to seek the PC nomination, but stepped aside last week to clear the way for Mr. Dirks’ acclamation. But this week, in a strange move, Mr. Walsh has endorsed Wildrose candidate John Fletcher.…” This is just one more demonstration that the Progressive Conservatives and Wildrose are all small-‘c’ conservatives, and the Wildrose’s only difference is that they are not PCs. Their political ideologies are so similar there is little to distinguish between them.
If this were not Alberta, they would split the right-wing vote and allow a NDP or Liberal to be elected. But this is Alberta, where the voters are so zombie-like in their support for right-wing parties there will be enough of them to have the Wildrose & PCs finish 1-2, with the centre-left far, far behind.