Alberta Politics

Friday Night Action in Alberta Politics – Doug Schweitzer’s out, Rod Shaigec and Sonya Savage are in.

There’s rarely a dull Friday night in Alberta politics!

Doug Schweitzer resigns from UCP cabinet and is leaving politics

Doug Schweitzer announced he is resigning as Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation and later this month will resign as MLA for Calgary-Elbow.

Despite running for the United Conservative Party leadership in 2017, Schweitzer bowed out of this year’s race after endorsing Premier Jason Kenney in the June leadership review. He announced soon after that he would not seek re-election as MLA but his sudden resignation announcement at least eight months ahead of the next election comes as a surprise – and opens the possibility of a by-election in Calgary-Elbow before the next general election.

It would be the third by-election in Calgary-Elbow in the last 16 years – the others being held because of the resignations of former MLAs (and premiers) Ralph Klein in 2007 and Alison Redford in 2014.

The 2007 by-election shocked political watchers when Liberal Craig Cheffins won, and in 2014, Alberta Party leader Greg Clark narrowly lost to Calgary school trustee and former Saskatchewan MLA Gordon Dirks. Clark defeated Dirks in the election the following year but was defeated by Schweitzer in 2019.

Already seen as a possible pick-up in the next election, the Alberta NDP nominated energy analyst Samir Kayande and have poured resources and volunteers into the riding to support his bid.

The Alberta Party has chosen lawyer and former Liberal Party leadership candidate Kerry Cundal to carry their banner, and her candidacy will be a test of how much of the party’s support in 2015 was a credit to Greg Clark’s personal popularity.

Lawyer Andrea James announced her plans to seek the UCP nomination back in June.

Mark Calgary-Elbow down on your list of ridings to watch.

Former Mayor running for NDP nomination in Spruce Grove-Stony Plain

Former Parkland County Mayor Rod Shaigec is the second candidate to enter the NDP nomination contest in Spruce Grove-Stony Plain. Shaigec joins former Spruce Grove City Councillor and mayoral candidate Chantal Saramaga-McKenzie in the race.

“We need responsible and accountable government that puts Albertans and communities first. We need an honest, hard-working leader whose integrity is beyond reproach – that leader is @RachelNotley,” Shaigec wrote on Twitter

Shaigec served three-terms as Mayor of Parkland County from 2010 to 2021, and chose not to run for re-election last year to give himself time to recover from a traumatic tractor accident in 2020.

The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA Searle Turton, who is already nominated to run for his party in the next election.

Sonya Savage acclaimed in Calgary-North West

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage releases the final report of the Public Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns.
Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage releases the final report of the Public Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns.

Sonya Savage has been acclaimed as the UCP candidate in Calgary-North West. Savage was first elected in 2019, succeeding NDP MLA Sandra Jansen, who was elected as a Progressive Conservative in 2012 and 2015 but crossed the floor to the NDP in 2017 and became Minister of Infrastructure. Jansen did not run for re-election in 2019.

Savage has served as Minister of Energy since 2019 and is co-chair of Travis Toews’ leadership campaign. 

Before her election, Savage was known as a lawyer and lobbyist for the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association but many years before that she was a PC Party activist. 

“The philosophy we’re looking for is somebody who’s very conservative, less government, more individual responsibility, but also somebody who is progressive who’s backing the unity deal. We want to hear how they’re going to renew and urbanize the party,” said Savage, then known as Sonya Nerland, to Calgary Herald reporter Joan Crockatt on Sept. 19, 1992.

Savage ended up backing Energy Minister Rick Orman in the 1992 leadership race, along with future premier Jim Prentice, who was Orman’s campaign chair.

Orman placed third in the race and dropped out before the Dec. 2, 1992 second ballot to endorse Nancy Betkowski.

Savage would later co-chair Orman’s second campaign for the PC Party leadership in 2011. Orman dropped out after placing fifth on the first ballot and endorsed Gary Mar, who was then defeated by Alison Redford (who was the PC Party Youth President ten years before Savage).

(Am I the only one who’s starting to feel like Alberta politics is just a rotating cast of 20 characters?)

Three candidates – Michael Lisboa-Smith, Lesley MacKinnon, and Shiraz Mir – are running for the yet to be scheduled NDP nomination in Calgary-North West.

6 replies on “Friday Night Action in Alberta Politics – Doug Schweitzer’s out, Rod Shaigec and Sonya Savage are in.”

Savage….great. There would be a continual drain of our money to big oil companies and nothing in return.

Schweitzer, who perhaps was the last great hope of conservative moderates, hastily exiting can not be a good sign of what the future holds for them. I never thought Schweitzer really lived up to his promise as a conservative moderate, but at least he seemed willing at times to embrace that image.

I wonder if this is yet another sign the UCP is regressing back to a rural rump from its more ambitious supposedly big tent united conservative party. Maybe it is also a sign that the eclectic, but not always competent, gang that came in with Kenney are starting to make their way to the exits in anticipation of what the future might hold.

I’m not sure at this point Kenney really much cares anymore either, especially as his preferred successor seems to be running a listless campaign. So, if the whole thing soon falls apart, it will only prove that after him it actually is the deluge and he was right to warn about those trying to take over the party.

Maybe vindication for Kenney in a round about way, but I suppose succession planning is not a strength of Kenney’s either.

As long as Albertans keep allowing themselves to be treated like morons by these fake conservatives, reformers, we will never get out of this “Horrific Mess” as Peter Lougheed called it. Helping the rich steal our royalties and taxes to try to buy votes is all they care about, while they treat our doctors, nurses, teachers and students like third class citizens is just plain stupid. You would never have seen Peter Lougheed conservatives being this stupid.

Alan K. Spiller: That certainly is true. We are paying for the UCP’s very pricey shenanigans at every turn. It’s unfortunate, but there are people who can’t see how bad the UCP are.

The decision of long-time Parkland County Reeve Rod Shaigec to seek an NDP (not UCP) nomination means that many politically centrist Albertans see the NDP as a good bet to form government after the next election. It’s been interesting to see the NDP candidate slate (both nominated and declared) shaping up for the next election. It is far more accomplished, experienced and diverse than any previous candidate slate including the 2019 slate. The upcoming October 21-23 NDP Convention in Calgary could even have some fireworks as these mainstream candidates and their supporters rub shoulders and debate policy with the less diverse and more politically left traditionalists in the party.

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