Alberta Liberals Alberta Politics Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach polls

albertans going shopping.

A poll released today by Cameron Strategy Group shows Ed Stelmach’s Tories dropping 22 points in the past 7 months to 32% support across Alberta (down from 54% in January 2007).

The poll also shows Stelmach’s Calgary approval ratings dropping from 52% in January to 38% in August (his disapproval rating in Calgary is 40%). Stelmach has also dropped from a January high of 58% to an August 45% in Edmonton, and a 59% to 50% drop in the other regions of Alberta (his disapproval ratings in Edmonton and other Alberta regions are 39% and 26%).

But what is most interesting is the dramatic increase of undecided voters from 18% to 36% in 7 months (with 39% of Calgarians and 36% of Edmontonians falling in the unsure or won’t vote category). From the report:

“The increase in undecided voters in the past 3 months in Alberta is unprecedented. A huge swath of the Alberta electorate is now without a firm voting intention, which means that dramatic changes in the electoral landscape are possible. The key question remains to be answered in the next 6 months is who will be successful in luring these newly undecided voters: the PC’s, who need to bring them back to the fold, or the Liberals, who have not yet shown signs of growth in voter support.”

Here are the regional breakdowns:

Provincial Voting Intentions (January support in brackets)

PC – 32% (54%)
Liberal – 16% (16%)
NDP – 11% (9%)
Alliance – 5% (3%)
Unsure/Won’t vote – 36% (18%)

PC – 30% (59%)
Liberal – 17% (14%)
NDP – 8% (8%)
Alliance – 5% (2%)
Unsure/Won’t vote – 39% (16%)

PC – 27% (50%)
Liberal – 17% (16%)
NDP – 16% (12%)
Alliance – 5% (2%)
Unsure/Won’t vote – 36% (19%)

Other Alberta
PC – 41% (52%)
Liberal – 13% (18%)
NDP – 7% (6%)
Alliance – 7% (4%)
Unsure/Won’t vote – 31% (20%)

Another poll released by Cameron Strategy Group asked the question “Is the Stelmach Government Leading Alberta in the right direction?”

26% responded the ‘right’ direction, 30% responded the ‘wrong’ direction, and 44% were ‘unsure.’ When you compare these numbers to January 2007 when 54% responded ‘right,’ 10% responded ‘wrong,’ and 36% responded ‘undecided’ you can see a pretty substantial shift.

Though these numbers clearly don’t benifit any specific political party, the growing undecided pool of voters leaking from the Tory support hints that a fall 2007 election may start to look more likely (before the S.S. Stelmach sinks any further).

It also means that the Liberals and Tories are going to have to put in extra effort to woo the growing undecided vote in the run up to the next election.

Alberta Liberals Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach Kevin Taft

what is ed stelmach really up to?

The results of the latest daveberta poll are out:

When will the next Provincial General Election be called in Alberta?
Fall 2007 – 41% (53 votes)
Winter 2008 – 9% (12 votes)
Spring 2008 – 33% (43 votes)
Summer 2008 – 2% (2 votes)
Fall 2008 – 9% (12 votes)
Winter 2009 – 1% (1 vote)
Spring 2009 – 4% (5 votes)
Summer 2009 – 0% (0 votes)
Fall 2009 – 2% (2 votes)

This leads me to two specific theories that I have heard about when the next provincial election will be held…

Theory One: Spring 2008

Finance Minister Lyle Oberg has already set the date for the 2008 Alberta Budget for February 14, 2008. With Ed Stelmach‘s Tories having a very hard time gaining traction on the announcements they’ve made since December 2006, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Stelmach attempt to pull a page from the 1997 Election playbook and drop the writ minutes after tabling the budget and run on the budget.

A Spring 2008 election would also give all the parties time to organize over the next five to six months.

Theory Two: Fall/Winter 2007

There are four points that lend support this theory:

a) The Stelmach Tories should be concerned about how much further they could fall in the polls by Spring 2008.

After 36 years of Tory government, Albertans moods and political attitudes are shifting. With the election of Craig Cheffins in the Calgary Elbow by-election in May 2007, Stelmach must be worried about growing support for Kevin Taft‘s Alberta Liberals in Calgary.

The Tories only need +42 of the 60 seats they already hold to form a majority government – and with there only being half a dozen opposition held ridings likely to be hotly competitive for the Tories it is not unimaginable that they will only mount strong campaigns in these ridings (including already nominated PC candidates in Edmonton Meadowlark, St. Albert, and Cardston-Taber-Warner).

The Tories may also need to concentrate on gaining seats in Edmonton and area in order to offset expected losses to the Alberta Liberals in Calgary.

b) Stelmach has lined up a number of high profile speaking engagements across Alberta in September and October (Premier’s Dinners in Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, and Fort McMurray along with PC policy conferences in Edmonton and Calgary) to raise his profile.

c) A pre-campaign memo sent by the Tories to their constituency associations, MLA’s, and members was widely distributed and made very public – which could be an attempt to throw off the opposition parties in their election timeline planning. The Stelmach Tories have also appointed a Campaign Manager (Randy Dawson) and Camapign Co-Chairs (Doug Goss and Douglas Black).

d) The Tory candidate nomination timeline requires all PC-incumbent ridings to have candidates nominated by October 31, 2007 and non-PC-incumbent ridings to have candidates nominated by November 30, 2007. These are deadlines, so it is possible that the Tories could have all their candidates nominated by the end of October, leaving enough time to avoid a Christmas election and call an election similar to 2004 (immediately following the October municipal elections).

AEUB Alberta Liberals Alberta Politics Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach

top ten.

I’m going to be taking a break from the world of blogging for the month of July, but I will be back in August.

Until then, I will leave you with the Ed Stelmach Top Ten List…

10. The $5,000 Fundraiser

9. Ed Stelmach’s first cabinet (90% male, 90% rural, 90% rookie)

8. Ed Stelmach’s second cabinet (89% male, 89% rural, 89% rookie).

7. The Stelmach-Oberg 2007 Budget.

6. Ed Stelmach agreeing with Calgary Elbow PC candidate Brian Heninger that he should be choked (Heninger was defeated by Alberta Liberal Craig Cheffins. Kevin Taft’s Alberta Liberals won Calgary Elbow after 36 years as a Tory stronghold).

5. Ed Stelmach picking a fight with Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier over municipal funding.

4. Ed Stelmach letting Education Minister Ron Liepert pick a fight with the Alberta Teachers’ Association over the unfunded pension liability during a bargaining year.

3. Ed Stelmach defending the AEUB for hiring four private investegators to spy on Albertans and their lawyers.

2. Ed Stelmach doing nearly nothing to address Alberta’s growing affordable housing crisis.

1. Ed Stelmach blaming market forces for his 19 point drop in support in Calgary.

There you have it folks, see you in August!

Alberta Liberals Kevin Taft

shuffling the political deck.

From Andrew Cohen in today’s Ottawa Citizen:

If Saskatchewan is poised for change, so is Alberta, where the Conservatives have been in office since 1971. The loss of Ralph Klein’s seat — which the Conservatives held for years — in a recent byelection in Calgary may well be the first knock on the door of their undoing.

Led by the intelligent Kevin Taft, the Liberals offer a government-in-waiting. Mr. Taft’s provocative new book, Democracy Derailed, is a searing indictment of a government that he calls unaccountable and unimaginative in a province coping with explosive growth.

Alberta, like Saskatchewan, is on the cusp of change.

Alberta Liberals Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach

take two.

In reaction to the Alberta Liberal victory in the June 12 Calgary Elbow by-election, Ed Stelmach has added three Associate Ministers to his cabinet. Here are my thoughts on the move:

– A cabinet shuffle this early is a very odd move for a Premier that has yet to receive a mandate from the electorate.

– Appointing Gene Zwozdesky (Edmonton Mill Creek) puts two of three Edmonton Tory MLAs at the cabinet table (does Zwozdesky get a ‘half-seat?’). Zwozdesky’s responsibilities surround “capital planning,” something that suffered greatly over the past decade under the Tories. This may also give Zwozdesky a boost if he decides to run for re-election next Spring (Zwozdesky was re-elected by 781 votes in 2004).

In a related position, Yvonne Fritz (Calgary Cross) becomes Associate Minister of Affordable Housing and Urban Development. I’m not convinced that these two new Associate Minister appointments will actually solve the problems facing Albertans (ie: municipal funding, infrastructure, affordable housing) as what is needed is action and policy change – not the creation of new political jobs with hefty pay increases.

– In an odd move, Cindy Ady (Calgary Shaw) becomes Associate Minister of Tourism Promotion (with responsibility for Alberta’s participation in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver). I’m not quite sure why Alberta needs an Associate Minister of Olympics, but Hector Goudreau needs all the help he can get. I wonder how Mark Norris is feeling this week…

– All three newly appointed Associate Ministers supported Jim Dinning in the PC Leadership selection.

– Both Fritz and Zwozdesky were Ministers in Ralph Klein’s cabinets. All three supported Jim Dinning in the 2006 PC Leadership selection.

– These appointments raise serious concerns about the effectiveness of the Cabinet Policy Committees created after Stelmach became Premier.

– Appointing Justice Minister Ron Stevens as Deputy Premier is substantial only in a superficial manner. Considering that no one noticed when no Deputy Premier was appointed in December, it’s hard to say that this is anything more than bestowing another title. That said, Stelmach would be smart to move closer to veteran Ministers like Stevens and Dave Hancock – as surrounding himself with rookie rural Ministers Ray Danyluk, Lloyd Snelgrove, and Luke Ouellette hasn’t done him much good.

This all occurred the day before the release of a new Ipsos poll released on Saturday that shows party support sitting near 2004 levels (the more things change…).

Alberta Liberals Alberta NDP Alberta Tories Campaign Finance Ed Stelmach

flap flap flap.

The adventures of Honest Ed continue…

EDMONTON — Premier Ed Stelmach admitted Monday that “overzealous” organizers for his Conservative leadership bid wrongly solicited a $10,000 cheque from a municipal garbage agency, money his campaign returned after he won the race.

The premier said the donation last summer from Beaver Regional Waste Management Service’s Commission was legal but clearly unethical, though the Tofield-area body’s records show the cheque was only returned a day before Stelmach’s campaign had officially cleared its debt in February.

It’s the second time Stelmach has blamed his campaigners for questionable practices, months after public outcry forced him to cancel a $5,000-a-ticket fundraising reception billed as a chance to have a private audience with Alberta’s top politician.

Liberal Leader Kevin Taft, who made public the $10,000 donation in the legislature Monday, accused Stelmach of developing a “conscience of convenience” once the leader had a campaign surplus and knew his finances faced more public scrutiny.

“It was only after they began to feel they would be watched that they developed a conscience and refunded the money,” Taft told reporters.

And yet some people will tell me that donations to leadership races have no business being public.

I’m of the belief that there should be much more accoutability through involvement by Elections Alberta in internal party financial and fundraising rules similar to those of Elections Canada.

Can you imagine an Alberta where an end would be put to massive secret and loophole backdoor out-of-province political donations?


UPDATE: Calgary Grit’s take on Stelmach’s ““The donation might have been legal, it certainly was not ethical.” comment.

Alberta Liberals Kevin Taft

kevin taft offers albertans a plan.

I know I already posted one of the videos already, but four new online videos have been released with Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft speaking about the Alberta Liberal plan for affordable housing, Alberta’s Creative Economy, Alberta’s Water, and Sustaining Alberta’s future.

Affordable Housing Alberta Liberals Kevin Taft

kevin taft on affordable housing.

Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft on Affordable Housing

Alberta Liberals Alberta Tories Calgary Elbow By-Election Drumheller-Stettler By-Election

dropping the writ.

By-Elections in Calgary Elbow and Drumheller-Stettler were called this afternoon.

Writ Day: June 12.

More detailed post coming soon.


Here’s what the media is saying about the June 12 By-Elections in Calgary Elbow and Drumheller-Stettler:

Maclean’s: Cracks in Tory Monolith
Calgary Sun: Candidates off and running in Calgary Elbow and Grit feels Tories on a De-Klein
Edmonton Sun Grits anxious for Calgary Elbow
CBC: Alberta By-Elections to be held in June
770 CHQR: Former Klein Strategist Fears Riding May Go To Liberals

Alberta Alliance Alberta Liberals Alberta NDP Alberta Tories Dan Backs Edmonton Manning

criss-crossing the floor.

Dan Backs, the Independent MLA from Edmonton Manning who was kicked out of the Alberta Liberal caucus last November is seeking the Tory nomination in that riding. Backs will be running against former PC MLA Tony Vandermeer for the nomination (Backs narrowly defeated Vandermeer in 2004).

MacEwan College Political Science Professor Chaldeans Mensah described the situation perfectly:

Chaldeans Mensah, who teaches political science at MacEwan College, said Backs is “a bit opportunistic” since his prospects of re-election are slim as an independent.

The Alberta Liberals will soon nominate Edmonton Lawyer Sandeep Dhir in Edmonton Manning. I was actually quite excited when I heard Sandeep was running as I know he will be a great candidate and MLA. His community experience includes serving as President of the Edmonton Inner City Housing Society, and involvement with the Theatre Network Society and the Law Society of Alberta.

Rumour has it that Ward 3 City Councillor Janice Melnychuk is considering carrying the New Democrat flag. But more recent rumours suggest Melnychuk is having second thoughts about jumping to the provincial scene to attempt to join the four-man New Democrat caucus. Melnychuk would be a strong candidate, but I wouldn’t blame her for wanting to stick to City Council.

The area covered by Edmonton Manning has been represented by three parties over the past 21 years. As Edmonton Belmont it elected NDP MLA Tom Sigurdson (1986-1993). Since being created in 1993, Edmonton Manning has elected one Tory MLA – Tony Vandermeer (2001-2004) – and three Liberal MLA’s – Peter Sekulic (1993-1997), Ed Gibbons (1997-2001), and the breifly Liberal Dan Backs (2004-2006). Regardless, Edmonton Manning will be a hard fought race as it will likely be hotly contested by all three parites.

On another note, it’s been rumoured that Alberta Alliance leader Paul Hinman is trying to negotiate his way into the PC caucus…

Alberta Liberals Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach Joe Ceci Kevin Taft Michael Phair

everyone needs a place to live.

Only a week after Premier Ed Stelmach ruled out using rent control to deal with the skyrocketing cost of housing and then changed his mind, PC Party delegates forced Stelmach to change his position another 180 degrees to turn against the use of rent control (again):

In the [PC] party’s annual general meeting, delegates rejected a motion to adopt the resolutions of an all-party legislature committee that had urged Premier Ed Stelmach’s Tory government to adopt rent controls.

Meanwhile, as Stelmach continues to not act on the issue, it seems like Albertans are being left to dry in a climate of skyrocketing rent costs.

Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft
has been continuing to hammer the Stelmach Tories on the issue.

Liberal Leader Kevin Taft says both Premier Ed Stelmach and Housing Minister Ray Danyluk got farm support payments last year.

Taft says its ironic that they take farm support cheques but wont help people struggling with soaring housing costs by imposing rent controls.

He says some Albertans are being forced to sleep in their cars and trucks because soaring rents and a shortage of housing.

Edmonton City Councillor Michael Phair responded

“It’s very misguided,” Phair said. “There are many people who rent across the province who will be quite disappointed that the [PC] party didn’t take a different course of action.”

Long-time Calgary Alderman Joe Ceci responded:

“I think it’s indicative of the fact that the grassroots of the Tory party doesn’t have the best interests of low-income people in mind,” he said.

It seems that the Stelmach Tories have found themselves squarely on the wrong side of an explosive issue.

As someone who presented recommendations to the Affordable Housing Task Force earlier this year, it’s disappointing to see that the Provincial government hasn’t taken a strong leadership role on the issue.

Alberta Liberals Alberta NDP Alberta Tories Campaign Finance

for the love of…

For those of you interested in this sort of thing, here’s a breakdown of the financial statements of the Alberta PC‘s, Alberta Liberals, and Alberta NDP from 2006.

The individual contribution data isn’t yet available on the Elections Alberta Electoral Finance, but hopefully it will be up soon.

Though the individual contribution breakdown will give us a better idea of where the contributions are coming from, looking at the raw numbers shines a light on some interesting trends.

First, the Tories were still dominant in the money section. This is no surprise. The Alberta PC’s form the current government and have a well established fundraising base in corporate Alberta. Being the last year of the Ralph Klein dynasty, 2006 was an exiciting year for the Alberta PC’s with the attention and funds garnered from their leadership race, this is what I’m assuming a large part of the 1374% increase in “other sources” is about (membership sales, leadership candidate deposits, and the aparatus of this activity).

Second, Kevin Taft’s Alberta Liberals raised over a million dollars last year. This is quite significant since I believe the last time the Alberta Liberals raised over a million was in 1993 (twelve years of inflation aside, it is still nearly 20% higher than their 2005 fundraising numbers, which is a significant sign of growth). The Alberta Liberals have also made a significant dent in their debt (a leftover from their disaterous 2001 election campaign) and have suceeded paying off over $350,000 in just two years.

Third, though the Alberta NDP were only able to raise half of what the Alberta Liberals raised, the NDP continue to attract more contributions from less than $375 crowd than both the Alberta Liberals and Tories. I see this as significant for a number of reasons. Most significantly, when the Federal Liberals introduced Campaign Finance reform before Prime Minister Chretien retired, the Conservatives benifited greatly from having a broadly developed base of supporters who contributed smaller amounts of donations in larger amounts. That said, I’m not convinced that Alberta will see any significant campaign finance reforms before the next election (the numbers also show the NDP running a deficit and an increasing debt).

The Alberta Alliance failed to submit their financial contribution data by the deadline. Does this mean they will be deregistered? I’ll have to find my copy of the Alberta Elections Act and read up…

Alberta Liberals Kevin Taft

sweet sweet calgary.

Dan and I drove to Calgary this weekend to spend some time with +200 fellow politicos at the Alberta Liberals election readiness convention.

It was a good weekend and was probably one of the best organized Alberta Liberal conventions I’ve been to since I started going to these things way back in 2000. It was a good chance to meet with MLA’s, candidates, and other volunteers from across Alberta. Other than the training sessions, there were some good speeches from Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft, Mount Royal College Political Science Professor Keith Brownsey, and other MLA’s- rallying the troops, etc.

I also had the chance to meet both Liberal candidates nominated to run in the upcoming by-elections: Craig Cheffins from Calgary Elbow and Tom Dooley from Drumheller-Stettler.

In Calgary Elbow, Craig Cheffins – former President of the Lakeview Community Association and Work Experience Coordinator for the Bachelor of Applied Justice Studies program at Mount Royal College – will be facing PC candidate Brian Heninger – longtime President of Heninger Toyota – and it’s shaping up to be a fight with both candidates having a chance of taking this riding.

Other nominated candidates include Alberta Green Party leader George Read and Trevor Grover – sacraficial lamb from the Social Credit Party.

Calgary Elbow will be a litmus test to gauge rural-based Ed Stelmach’s curb appeal in Calgary. This comes only months after Stelmach’s near shut out of the Jim-Dinning-loyalist-Calgary-Tory caucus from his cabinet in December.

In Drumheller-Stettler, Liberal candidate Tom Dooley – rancher and former County Councillor – has been nominated. As for the Tories, municipal consultant Jack Hayden is making his move. Other nominated candidates in Drumheller-Stettler include Socred Larry Davidson and Alberta Green Jennifer Wigmore.

This riding was Shirley McClellan’s stronghold for 20 years – which she won in a by-election in 1987 following the death of longtime Tory Minister Henry Kroeger. Though it’s much more likely that Calgary Elbow will be the more competitive race, weirder things have happened – in a 1992 by-election, Liberal Don MacDonald was elected in the Tory strong-hold of Three Hills a landslide with 26% margin. Even if the Liberals don’t win in Drumheller-Stettler, a strong second place finish in a deep rural riding like this one would boost momentum for Kevin Taft’s Liberals in rural Alberta.

With both major parties putting up a full court press for these seats it should be an exciting summer!

Alberta Liberals Alberta Tories Democracy Ed Stelmach Kevin Taft The Departed


First of all, I would just like to say that I was very glad to see The Departed emerge victorious during last weekend’s Academy Awards as Best Picture and Best Director for Martin Scorsese. Well deserved.

If you’ve noticed a break between posts, it has everything to do with the other stuff I keep myself busy with in my other life. I’m actually the campaign manager for a campaign of which I will not mention here. Ask me on March 9.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming Spring session of the Alberta Legislature. Just as I was excited when Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft announced an aggressive legislative agenda in the face of the “Conservative oppositon” as Taft called the Stelmach Tories, my good friend Duncan seems just as excited about Stelmach. It should be interesting to see how the session plays out. Rookie Premier, rookie Ministers, new dynamic within the Tory caucus. Power politics at play. Does the opposition smells blood? All-party committees? Two upcoming by-elections!

Will Alberta be raised to the level of legislative democracy shared by such beacons of democracy as the Republic of Vanuatu and the Federated States of Micronesia? We shall see.

Also, on another note, municipal politics are heating up in Edmonton as Councillors and Councillors-to-be are buying new walking shoes and warming up their campaign engines for an October 2007 election…

Alberta Liberals Alberta Tories Democracy Ed Stelmach Kevin Taft

democracy derailed.

“With political change so rare, one-party politics has become entrenched in Alberta. The forces that drive political change in other jurisdictions – the legislature, public inquiries, interest groups, opposition parties, the media, and so on – have adapted to this reality in order to cope, or have been deliberately gutted, or have simply deteriorated to the status of a sideshow. As a result of this one-party dominance, democracy in Alberta has been pushed off the rails. It’s time to get it back on track.”

This is how Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft finishes the introduction of his new book “Democracy Derailed: The Breakdown of Government Accountability in Alberta – and How to Get it Back on Track.” I’ve had the chance to read through an advanced copy of the book and I have some thoughts as it is released today.

Democracy Derailed covers a wide range of political and ethical transparency and accountability issues in Alberta’s long-time Tory-dominated political scene. Throughout the 110-page book, Kevin Taft recounts his experiences as an MLA and leader of the Official Opposition in dealing with Alberta’s democratic deficit as well as presenting positive solutions on how to make democracy better in Alberta.

The issues addressed in the book range from Alberta’s lack of whistle-blower protection for public servants and the devolution of power from the elected Legislative Assembly to the lack of power held by Alberta’s Auditor General and the irresponsible use of FOIPP legislation to block opposition research and the lack of resources allotted to Opposition Caucus Offices in Alberta compared to those allotted to the PC Members Caucus and opposition caucuses in other provinces.

One of the interesting facts that Taft highlights is the lack of power held by Alberta’s Public Accounts Committee:

“Alberta’s Public Accounts Committee can meet once a week only when the legislature is sitting, which is all of three months per year. During approximately a dozen 90-minute meetings, the committee must review the spending of 24 provincial government departments with a combined budget of $24 billion.

That’s not all. Unlike the federal Public Accounts Committee, Alberta’s Public Accounts Committee cannot submit a report to the legislature. Legislators outside of Alberta find this restriction hard to fathom. Conservative Member of Parliament John Williams said “It’s shocking. I cannot believe a government majority would use their capacity to set the rules like that.””

According to Taft, underlying many of these problems is the near merger between the Government of Alberta and the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta (which formed government in 1971). This is problem which would occur after any political party has governed for over 30 straight years. Examples Taft uses include the appointments of partisan Tories as elections officials, the Calgary Ward 10, Kelley Charlebois, and Alberta Securities Commission scandals, the partisan nature of the Public Affairs Bureau, and the fluid movements of Rod Love and Peter Elzinga through Government, business, and the PC Party.

The book is also complemented by a website ( which includes links and pdf documents sited in the book (such as Ralph Klein’s infamous plagiarized Chile paper), along with an online interactive message board and an online quiz.

The timing of the book is probably better than Taft and the Alberta Liberals had originally planned. With new and untested Tory Premier Ed Stelmach still learning the ropes, a March/April 2007 sitting of the Legislature, and a potential Fall 2007/Spring 2008 provincial election, Democracy Derailed will hopefully raise some much needed attention and debate on some serious problems facing democracy in Alberta.