Brent Rathgeber Calgary Elbow By-Election Chris Kibermanis Drumheller-Stettler By-Election Edmonton Castle Downs Ralph Klein Shirley McClellan Thomas Lukaszuk

by-election nation!

It looks like there will be two and potentially three by-elections facing Albertans across Alberta in the next couple months.

On Monday, former Premier Ralph Klein has said he will resign as the MLA for Calgary Elbow (a riding he has represented since 1989). And yesterday, former Minister of Finance Shirley McClellan declared that she will resign as MLA for Drumheller-Stettler (McClellan has served as MLA since 1987 in it’s previous recarnations of Chinook and Drumheller-Chinook).

McClellan’s announcement comes as no surprise as she had previously declared that she would not seek re-election in the next General Election.

The surprise of the day came yesterday when it was reported that Edmonton Castle Downs PC MLA Thomas Lukaszuk may step down as MLA and run for the Conservative Party of Canada nomination in Edmonton-St. Albert. Lukaszuk would be running against former Tory MP Scott Thorkelson and former Edmonton Calder MLA Brent Rathgeber in the race to replace retiring MP John Williams.

Lukaszuk was “re-elected” in 2004 by a court-decided margin of 3 votes against Liberal Chris Kibermanis.

Three potential by-elections would provide quite the mini-election and quite the thermometer in gauging the political feelings of Albertans since Tory Premier Ed Stelmach took the throne in December.

This should be exciting!

Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach Ralph Klein

i swear.

I went to Premier Ed Stelmach‘s swearing-in ceremony today on the steps of the Alberta Legislature.

It was an interesting event. Watching now FORMER PREMIER RALPH KLEIN official hand his resignation letter to Lueitenant Governor Norman Kwong and Premier Ed Stelmach being sworn in after that was a little exciting.

Premier Stelmach’s acceptance speech (is that what you call it?) was folksy. I can see that he has one-on-one appeal but it remains to be seen how his communication skills will emerge when attempting to communicate with a couple million Albertans through electronic mediums.

I also had a nice chat with Dave Hancock and Ken Chapman at the swearing-in-ceremony.

On another note, I’m sure Stelmach supporters are still spinning in joy following his come-from-behind win in the Alberta PC leadership race against Jim Dinning and Ted Morton.

Not too much to report other than that. Still waiting to see what Premier Stelmach’s first cabinet will look like…

2006 Alberta PC Leadership Race Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach Ralph Klein

something about a new premier?

To millions of Canadians (and maybe a million Albertans), Ed Stelmach is not a familiar name. When the 13 year political veteran was selected as the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta last weekend, this quiet little known political entity was thown into the political spotlight.

For those of you not totally familiar with Premier-designate Ed Stelmach’s background, here’s a bit of it…

A farmer from south of the Village of Andrew, Stelmach served as Reeve of Lamont County until being elected MLA for the newly created Vegreville-Viking riding in 1993. The election saw Stelmach defeat two-term NDP MLA Derek Fox (MLA for Vegreville 1986-1993). Stelmach was re-elected in Vegreville-Viking in 1997 and 2001. In 2004, Stelmach ran in and was elected MLA for the newly created Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville riding.

After entering Ralph Klein’s Cabinet, Stelmach served as Minister of Agriculture from 1997 to 1999, Minister of Infrastructure from 1999 to 2004, and Minister of Intergovernment and International Affairs from 2004 to 2006. Years of Cabinet experience aside, I seriously cannot name anything that Stelmach did while he was a Cabinet Minister. Can someone help me on this one?

One of the challenges that Stelmach faces as Premier is articulating a vision for which direction he would like to lead Alberta. Stelmach’s campaign, which was largely vague on policy, was as far as I can tell based on “Honest Ed” or “Steady Eddie” being a moderate conservative comprimise candidate between social conservative Ted Morton and Corporate Calgary Dauphin Jim Dinning. This said, I have nearly no idea where Stelmach stands on most issues.

It should be interesting to see just how different Stelmach is from Klein as Premier and if Stelmach is able to heal the body-wounds his party delivered to itself during this race in preparation for the next General Election.

Speaking of the next General Election, since 1993 the Alberta PC’s have centered their image around a single man – Ralph Klein. Since 1993, many Albertans voted for “Ralph’s Team” or “Ralph” himself not knowing who their actual PC candidate was (it’s like an intense form of leader-based elections). Also, the PC Party generally polled lower support than Ralph Klein. With Klein out of the picture, can the Alberta PC’s survive once his card is removed from the deck? Can Stelmach sucessfully replace Ralph Klein as the central figure of the PC Party? Will Stelmach be able to appeal to the broad cross-section of Albertans that Klein was able to?

Also, it should be interesting to see what Stelmach’s new cabinet looks like. Which MLA’s are rewarded and which are put to pasture. As well as what the configuration of the Cabinet Ministries look like as there is a good chance that some Ministries may be merged to create a smaller Cabinet (which I believe currently has 23 Ministers).

Should be interesting…