Dave Taylor David Heyman David Swann Eric Lowther Ivrnet/Vincero Karen Kryczka Larry Johnsrude Neil Mackie Rick Miller Wendy Andrews

david swann names neil mackie as official opposition communications director.

After recently naming Rick Miller as the new Official Opposition Chief of Staff, David Swann today named Neil Mackie as the Communications Director, replacing former Director Larry Johnsrude.

Mackie comes from Calgary with some interesting (and perhaps mixed) partisan roots.

Having served as President of the Calgary-Southwest Federal Liberal Association, Mackie ran unsuccessfully against former Calgary-West PC MLA Karen Kryczka in the 2007 Board of Education election, and is listed as having supported Michael Ignatieff during the 2006 Federal Liberal leadership race.

Mackie will be leaving his position as President of the Calgary-based Vincero Communications, a subsidiary of Ivrnet Inc. In the recent past, Ivrnet/Vincero have done political polling for Calgary-Currie MLA Dave Taylor during his unsuccessful Liberal leadership bid, and former Edmonton-Riverview PC candidate Wendy Andrews during her run against former Liberal leader Kevin Taft in March 2008. I’m told that while working with the company, Mackie also handled polling in up to 53 PC held ridings during the 2008 election, and in Calgary-Buffalo for the campaign of Liberal Kent Hehr.

Well-known politicos with Ivrnet/Vincero connections include its current Vice-President, former Calgary-Centre Reform Party MP Eric Lowther, and former Calgary Herald reporter David Heyman. Heyman was employed as Director of Communications for Ivrnet/Vincero before becoming Calgary Communications Manager for Premier Ed Stelmach.

Alberta Liberals David Swann Judy Wilson Kevin Taft Larry Johnsrude Troy Wason

judy wilson leaves alberta liberal caucus. former mla rick miller new chief of staff.

Following the recent trend of staff departures at the Alberta Legislative Assembly that have included Larry Johnsrude and Troy Wason, Official Opposition Chief of Staff Judy Wilson is now the departing the Dome.

After serving as Director of Operations at Government House for 13 years, Judy Wilson joined the Official Opposition caucus in 2007 as Chief of Staff under former leader Kevin Taft, and remained in her position after David Swann was selected as leader of the Liberal Party in December 2008. Wilson will be succeeded by Rick Miller, who served as the MLA for Edmonton-Rutherford and Finance Critic from 2004 to 2008.

Media Release

March 3, 2009

Alberta Liberal caucus sees change in Chief of Staff

Edmonton – Judy Wilson, Chief of Staff of the Alberta Liberal Caucus will be leaving her position, effective Friday March 6, 2009. Rick Miller, former MLA for Edmonton-Rutherford, will be stepping into that role.

“Our caucus has a new leader, and he has decided to take a new direction,” said Wilson. “I wish Rick all the best in his new role.

“I’m looking forward to new challenges and opportunities, and to having time to focus on other projects that are important to me – like the Student Refugee program at the U of A, and my Rotary club. I’ll have more time to devote to coaching my daughter’s soccer team,” says Wilson.

“I have appreciated working with Judy and all that she has contributed to our Caucus in her nearly 2 years here”, says Dr. David Swann, Leader.

Rick Miller will assume his new role effective Monday, March 9, 2009.

“I see this as an opportunity to contribute to democracy in this province, which has always been important to me,” said Miller.

“I feel very fortunate to be able to come into an organization where a strong, solid foundation has been built, thanks to the commitment and talents of Judy Wilson. I’ve known Judy for many years – we are in the same Rotary Club and worked together in caucus when I was an MLA. I have tremendous respect for the skills that she brings to any endeavour in her future,” concluded Miller.


One of the first challenges faced by Miller will be to boost the moral and provide internal direction in Alberta’s Official Opposition caucus, which fell to 9 elected MLAs in 2008. Miller will also face the challenge of plugging leaks that have contributed to a rumour mill of anonymous gossip emanating from the Liberal Caucus over the past couple months. Many of the anonymous rumours surrounded Wilson’s participation in conversations being held by various groups of Albertans dissatisfied with the state of democracy in this province (including myself and Jason Morris from

David Swann Larry Johnsrude

johnsrude moving on.

News out of the Annex this morning is that Official Opposition Communications Director Larry Johnsrude‘s contract is not being renewed under new Liberal leader David Swann. Though it’s normal to see changes in key staff when a new leader takes the helm, I wouldn’t blame Johnsrude for wanting to move on. Handling communications for a rag-tag 9 MLA Opposition caucus likely isn’t the most rewarding job when the competition is a 72 MLA behemoth with a massive communications budget.

Johnsrude left the Edmonton Journal to join the Official Opposition caucus in 2007 after working for 30 years in the newspaper business.

Alberta Tories Environment Guy Boutilier Larry Johnsrude

john cleese, the mla for fort mcmurray-wood buffalo.

Larry Johnsrude posted a bizarre transcript of an Alberta Energy Utilities Board hearing starring Alberta’s Environment Minister Guy Boutilier who was not answering questions as a Minister, but only as an MLA…

Here’s a portion of the transcript, I encourage you to read the rest, bizarre, monty pythonesq…

Judge for yourself. The following is an excerpt from an exchange between Boutilier and Don Mallon, lawyer for the Mikisew Cree First Nation:

Q (Mallon). I’m going to talk about the paragraph where you look forward to fishing with your grandson, and today you said granddaughter, but I gather from what you said today and what it says in the following paragraph that you don’t have a
grandchild yet, or am I mistaken?

A (Boutilier). Actually my wife and I don’t have a son or daughter yet, but we’re in the process of privately adopting, so as a follow-up to our adoption, we expect to have grandsons and granddaughters.

Q. All right. So I’m going to assume that your grandson is precocious. And has become a river ecologist, a river biologist. And your son advises you as the Minister of Environment that the Athabasca River system’s ecosystem is in danger of imminent collapse and that you and he are not going to be able to fish in that river anymore. And the reason for it is that the flows are too low and that we’re removing too much water. Now, the responsibility that you have, which is an absolute responsibility, then, is to protect the river, right?

A. It’s important to recognize that I’m here as MLA, I’m quite prepared to answer any question, but not as Minister of Environment.

Q. Well, I’m sorry, sir, you don’t get to pick and chose who you are one minute and who you are not the next. You are the Minister of the Environment.

A. Right.

Q. And I’m asking you, sir, that as the Minister of Environment, is it not appropriate, if that ecosystem is in danger, to reduce or completely stop the withdrawal of those flows for the period of time that it takes in order to allow that system to get back to square one?

A. Mr. Chairman, I am here today as the MLA representing the region and citizens.

Q. And we know that Alberta Environment is the protector of the environment in this province.

A. Yes, I’m here today, though not as Alberta Environment but as the MLA.

Read the rest