Broyce Jacobs Ed Stelmach Iris Evans Jack Hayden Len Mitzel Lloyd Snelgrove Mel Knight Ray Danyluk Richard Marz Wayne Drysdale

the rural alberta advantage.

While speaking to the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties this week, Premier Ed Stelmach confirmed the obvious when defending his government’s decision to increase the number of constituencies in the next election: it was in order to preserve the existing number of rural constituencies in the Legislative Assembly. This decision continued the over-represention of rural Alberta ridings in the Assembly, despite rapid growth in the urban centres.

With a few exceptions, the PCs have been able to rely on non-competitive electoral districts in rural Alberta since wiping out the Social Credit rump in 1975. Over the past 39-years, the PCs have relied heavily on rural politicians as a “farm team” to replenish their ranks of rural MLAs (some now include Premier Stelmach, and Ministers Jack HaydenIris EvansRay DanylukLloyd SnelgroveMel Knight, and MLAs Wayne DrysdaleBroyce JacobsRichard Marz, and Len Mitzel).

The PCs have dealt with competitive elections in the two major urban areas (Edmonton and Calgary), but the threat of a Wildrose insurgency across Alberta would be cause for great concern and is likely the reason behind Premier Stelmach’s posturing over rural over-representation.

Broyce Jacobs Ed Stelmach Iris Evans Jack Hayden Len Mitzel Lloyd Snelgrove Mel Knight Ray Danyluk Richard Marz Wayne Drysdale

electoral boundaries mashup.

Earlier this week, I posted the poll-by-poll results from the 2008 provincial election for Calgary and Edmonton, and (once again thanks to reader Alan Hall) posted below are the 2008 results superimposed over the proposed boundaries from the interim report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission. A listing of the interim ridings with the 2008 results and margins are also posted below. If the political environment continues to change before the expected 2012 election, the past electoral results could mean very little, but until that time, these maps provide an interesting view of the previous election and what could be in 2012:

Dave Hancock. Jonathan Denis Ed Stelmach Fred Lindsay Gene Zwozdesky George Groenveld Iris Evans Janis Tarchuk Lloyd Snelgrove Luke Ouellette Mel Knight Ray Danyluk Ron Liepert Ted Morton

alberta cabinet shuffle: a lot of hype.

I am not going to write a lot about today’s cabinet shuffle, as there really is not much substance to write about. While three new MLAs have been appointed to the cabinet, the problems facing Premier Ed Stelmach are much larger than anything a minor cabinet shuffle can solve. Today’s cabinet change was hardly the dramatic change that it was hyped to be.

Going political and trying to head off the insurgent Wildrose Alliance at the hard-conservative pass was one goal of today’s shuffle. This explains the appointment of Ted Morton as Finance Minister. If he can survive in Finance, Premier Stelmach may have just anointed Morton as his unofficial successor. Minister Morton will have a high-profile new role, but much of the Government’s financial levers will remain held by Stelmach-loyalist and Treasury Board President Lloyd Snelgrove.

Newly appointed Housing and Urban Affairs & Housing Minister Jonathan Denis is known as nice guy, but also as a pretty comfortable hyper-partisan. Some people I have spoken with expect him to fulfil a political role similar to his former business partner, Pierre Poilievre.

Loyalty was big. Stelmach confidants Luke Ouellette, Ray Danyluk, Iris Evans, and Mel Knight all remain in cabinet. George Groeneveld, Janis Tarchuk, and Fred Lindsay were rightfully bumped out of the cabinet. Not surprisingly, Ron Liepert‘s departed Health & Wellness to Energy. Where, as Paula Simons suggested that “he’ll use his unique brand of charm to win new friends and influence more people.” His successor, Gene Zwozdesky will likely bring a more easy going face to one of the more heavy-lifting portfolios in government.

Look for more substantive content in the Ministerial Mandate Letters later this week and the February 9 Provincial Budget.

Alison Redford David Swann Ed Stelmach Ernie Walter Ray Danyluk

ernie walter appointed chair of alberta’s next electoral boundaries commission.

Through an Order-in-Council, former Provincial Court Justice Ernie Walter has been appointed as Chair of Alberta’s next Electoral Boundaries Review Commission. Justice Walter will be joined by four commission members (two appointed by the Premier Ed Stelmach and two appointed by Official Opposition leader David Swann). The commission will be tasked to redraw the boundaries to account for the population changes since the last boundaries review in 2002/2003. The legislation governing this commission calls for it to be appointed before July 31, 2009.

New changes, introduced by Justice Minister Alison Redford in Bill 45: Electoral Boundaries Commission Amendment Act, mandate that the commission increase the total number of Alberta’s electoral districts from 83 to 87 (in these (sic) tough economic times, one thing that we can apparently afford is more politicians).

It is suspected that the 4 MLA increase has less to do with increasing representation and more to do with preempting any increased urban-rural tension among PC MLAs. Even as many rural Alberta ridings decrease in population, its citizens have continued to benefit from being over-represented in the Legislative Assembly in comparison to citizens in Alberta’s larger urban areas (ie: 23,645 people in Dunvegan-Central Peace and 55,570 people in Edmonton-Whitemud).

Not convinced? Last year, Municipal Affairs Minister and Lac La Biche-St. Paul MLA Ray Danyluk made his position clear when he told the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties that “Representation is not all about equal representation, it’s about equitable representation.” Actually, it is about equal representation.

As a result of the 2002/2003 Electoral Boundary Review Final Report, the quickly growing City of Edmonton lost a seat in the Legislative Assembly when the Edmonton-Norwood riding was dissolved (much of the area was merged with Edmonton-Highlands to become the current Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood).

ICLEI Ray Danyluk

video: minister ray danyluk speaks to the 2009 iclei world congress.

Alberta’s Minister of Municipal Affairs, Ray Danyluk, welcomed the 2009 ICLEI World Congress in Edmonton this afternoon.

Bärbel Dieckmann David Cadman ICLEI Ray Danyluk Stephen Kabuye Stephen Mandel

iclei world congress 2009 edmonton: day one.

I attended the opening plenary session of the 2009 ICLEI World Congress in Edmonton‘s Shaw Conference Centre. The 628 ICLEI delegates will face a rigorous agenda over the next four days. Congress delegates have flown in from around the world, including over 100 delegates who do not speak English.

David CadmanStephen Mandel

David CadmanStephen Mandel

(The great caricatures were drawn by Roy Blumenthal)

The 2009 ICLEI World Congress opened with speeches from:

Stephen Kabuye, ICLEI’s Vice President, Mayor of Entebbe, Uganda
Stephen Mandel, Mayor of Edmonton
David Cadman, Deputy Mayor of Vancouver, Canada & ICLEI President
Ray Danyluk, Alberta’s Minister of Municipal Affairs
Bärbel Dieckmann, Chairperson, World Mayors Council on Climate
Change, Mayor of Bonn, Germany

Of all the speakers, Cadman was the most passionate. As President of ICLEI, he used his time at the podium to urge delegates to lobby their state, provincial, and national governments for serious action on sustainable development and climate change. As this year’s COP15 meeting in Copenhagen approaches, the world’s municipalities will play a key role in advocating for serious action on the international stage. Even though it was only the first day of the Congress, I get the distinct feeling that municipal frustration towards regional and national inaction on sustainability and climate change is a common feeling among delegates.

GOA BoothStephen Mandel

Critics may point out the irony of holding an international sustainability conference due south of Alberta’s Energy Beach, but the 2009 ICLEI World Congress will give Alberta’s cities an opportunity to highlight some of the innovative sustainability initiatives that are being implemented at a local level. With an increased international spotlight on Alberta’s potential as an even stronger energy leader (and the irresponsible way that we are currently exploiting our resources), the Government of Alberta may feel an increased international pressure to become serious about cleaning up the way we are allowing oil companies to extract our natural resources.

For up-to-the-minute coverage of ICLEI over the next week, I will be uploading photographs on Flickr and joining the discussion on Twitter at #ICLEI. For more information on ICLEI, check out Mastermaq’s Guide to ICLEI World Congress in Edmonton.

Alberta Electoral Boundary Review Alison Bauni Mackay Bob Clark Doug Graham Ernie Patterson Glen Clegg Ray Danyluk

setting the stage for an electoral boundary battle.

Representation is not all about equal representation, it’s about equitable representation. – Minister Ray Danyluk

This afternoon, Justice Minister Alison Redford announced the introduction of amendments to the Alberta’s elections laws in Bill 45: Electoral Boundaries Commission Amendment Act, 2009 that will allow a commission to begin the process of redrawing Alberta’s electoral boundaries earlier than scheduled. The amendments include increasing the number of electoral districts from 83 to 87. While my immediate reaction is to oppose an increase in the number of politicians in Alberta (I actually believe that we should decrease the number of MLAs in the Legislature), I am more concerned with equal representation in the Legislative Assembly.

One of the largest flaws in last Electoral Boundary Commission Review is that from the beginning, a process that should have been impartial and non-partisan quickly became politically-charged. The process inevitably became framed in rural versus urban or Conservative versus Liberal contexts due to the composition of the Commission. The membership of the 2002/2003 Electoral Boundary Commission included five political appointees – two appointed by the Premier (former MLA Glen Clegg and PC Party President-to-be Doug Graham), two nominated by the Leader of the Official Opposition (former Claresholm Mayor Ernie Patterson and former ATA President Bauni Mackay – both former Liberal candidates), and a chairperson appointed by the Cabinet* (former Social Credit MLA Bob Clark).

I have more thoughts on this topic, so you can be sure I will write more in the near future.

*The Cabinet is chaired by the Premier.

UPDATE: Duncan at has written a great post on this topic.

Edmonton Downtown Arena Electoral Reform Ray Danyluk

what’s a blogger to do?

I hope everyone enjoyed their long weekend of either:

a) Celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ;


b) Celebrating the arrival of the magical chocolate egg bearing “Easter Bunny.”

Coming back to Edmonton after a weekend spent up north, I had a difficult time deciding just what I wanted to write about upon my triumphant return to Alberta’s capital city…

I could write about the proposed development of a new arena in downtown Edmonton. The arena is being proposed as a way to revitalize Edmonton’s downtown-core, but I’m still not sure if I understand how building a giant cavernous hockey arena will equal revitalizion. Anyone care to explain? I’m hoping for some good coverage by Battle of Alberta and Covered in Oil

I also could write about Tory Minister Ray Danyluk’s political posturing for rural Alberta in preparation for the next Electoral Boundary Redistribution. It is too early to tell whether Danyluk and his gang (who shall know be known as the “rural clique“) are blowing smoke to appease the “rural clique” or are turning an issue of fair democratic representation in the Alberta Legislature into a purely political game. As I’ve written in the past, rural Alberta is incredibly overrepresented in the Legislative Assembly compared to urban Alberta. I’m really hoping that Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel, Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier, and their Councils don’t hesitate in standing up for fair provincial representation for Alberta’s two largest cities.

And finally, I could also give a shout out to the Grande Prairie Daily-Herald Tribune for their shout out in yesterday’s paper (thanks to Bill for sending me the link). The Daily-Herald Tribune is one of the better newspapers from Alberta’s smaller cities and usually makes my list of daily scans (along with the St. Albert Gazette and Fort McMurray Today).

Affordable Housing Ray Danyluk

danyluk flees alberta.

As the affordable housing crisis rages across Alberta, Tory Minister Ray Danyluk is traveling to New York to “investigate innovative programs to address homelessness and housing.

Now I wouldn’t have had a problem with Danyluk traveling to New York had he not appointed an Affordable Housing Task Force to study and hold hearings on this issue across Alberta (which they did quite sucessfully).

The Affordable Housing Task Force, which delivered its final report to Danyluk in March 2007, contains many innovative ideas that have since been largely ignored by the Stelmach Tories.

And even if the Tories didn’t like the Task Force’s Final Report, there’s no shortage of innovative ideas floating around Alberta to look at.