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Alberta Politics

Danielle Smith’s big win

Losing Calgary was the plan Smith shared with Rick Bell months before the 2023 election

Danielle Smith has never been interested in building a big tent political party.

It was October 2022 when Smith landed in hot water with United Conservative Party MLAs from Calgary when she told Postmedia columnist Rick Bell that she would be okay with her party losing half its seats in that city.

Fast forward seven months and that’s what happened when Smith’s UCP were re-elected on May 29, 2023.

Read the rest of the column on the Daveberta Substack

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Alberta Politics

Danielle Smith’s Fundraising Machine

A special weekend episode of the Daveberta Podcast

It’s rare that I send out a newsletter on the weekend but I thought subscribers would enjoy listening to a new episode of the Daveberta Podcast we recorded this week.

We cover a lot of ground in this episode of the Daveberta Podcast, including:

  • Premier Danielle Smith’s recent packed leader’s dinner fundraisers in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer and Bonnyville.
  • how the Alberta NDP leadership candidates are leaning into digital advertising on the Meta platform and what this might say about their campaigns.
  • how federal boundary changes are impacting the electoral map in south east Edmonton (I’m calling it the Mill Woods Shuffle) and former Progressive Conservative MLA Naresh Bhardwaj’s campaign for the Conservative nomination in the new Edmonton-Southeast riding (I’ve updated the list).
  • how electoral boundary commissions work in Alberta (one of my favourite topics).

The full episode of this Daveberta Podcast is available to paid subscribers of the Daveberta Substack.

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Alberta Politics

Danielle Smith enjoys a honeymoon summer

It’s been a quiet, but not boring, post-election summer in Alberta

Conventional wisdom tells us that the summer months are a quiet and boring time in politics, but not so in Alberta. It’s not often there is an actual quiet and boring political summer in this province.

Two summers ago was the Best Summer Ever disaster and the summer before that was the first COVID-19 summer. Before that was the Summer of Repeal.

And last summer, one of the most unexpected political comebacks happened right before our eyes. Former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith, who had been written off by most political watchers after her disastrous decision to cross the floor in 2014, defined the summer of 2022 and the United Conservative Party leadership vote that followed.

But this year’s political summer was a fairly quiet, albeit incredibly smoky, affair.

Read the rest on the Daveberta Substack.

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Alberta Politics

Saddle up. Calgary Stampede politics are back.

Dust off your cowboy boots and hat. It’s that time of year again. It’s the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. It’s the Calgary Stampede.

The Stampede is a must attend event for politicians of all stripes. Aside from the actual rodeo (the Chuckwagon races are a must see), the free pancake breakfast and BBQ circuit is unparalleled and a huge opportunity for local, provincial and federal politicians to connect with Calgarians. Proper attire is key, as is the ability to wear it properly.

Read the rest on the Daveberta Substack.

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Alberta Politics

19 Alberta ridings I’ll be watching closely on Election Day

There are four days left until Election Day in Alberta.

Readers of the Daveberta will know I’ve been watching this Alberta election pretty closely and, while I’ve actually been watching all 87 ridings throughout the campaign, there are a few handfuls I’ve been keeping a close eye on.

Some of them will be close races and some will be won with landslides.

Here’s my list of 19 ridings I’ll be watching closely on Election Day.

Read the rest on the Daveberta Substack. Sign up for a paid subscription to get access to the Daveberta Podcast and special election extras.

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Alberta Politics

After the election: What different scenarios mean for Alberta

Before the collapse of the Progressive Conservative Party in 2015, being a PC Party member – or at least participating in PC Party events – was extremely normal. Normal to the point that it was barely political.

If you were a business or a non-profit that depended on government policy, you were a participator to some extent – you kind of had to be. As a decades-old political dynasty, it was the only game in town, and the political dynamic in Alberta showed it.

Read the rest on the Daveberta Substack. Sign up for a paid subscription to get access to the Daveberta Podcast and special election extras.

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Alberta Politics

Daveberta Podcast: Who’s on the ballot in Alberta’s election?

I joined Éric Grenier of TheWrit.ca on his excellent podcast this week to discuss Alberta’s election and the candidates who will be on the ballot on May 29. Éric was generous enough to share the audio from that episode so I can share it with the lucky paid subscribers of the Daveberta Substack.

Thank you to Daveberta Podcast producer Adam Rozenhart for editing this so we can share it with you today.

Listen to this episode of the Daveberta Podcast by signing up for a paid subscription to the Daveberta Substack.

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Alberta Politics

Look who’s running in Alberta’s election. There are 349 candidates but it’s still a UCP-NDP race

The official list of candidates was released by Elections Alberta at the end of last week. I’ve been tracking candidate nominations for this election quite closely over the past two years and shared some initial thoughts a few weeks ago. But now that the list of candidates is official, here’s a quick look at the slates on the ballot on May 29.

Read the rest on the Daveberta Substack. Sign up for a paid subscription to get access to the Daveberta Podcast and special election extras.

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Alberta Politics

Elections Alberta releases the official list of 2023 election candidates

The deadline has passed for candidates to get on the ballot for Alberta’s provincial election and, as was widely expected, only the United Conservative Party and the Alberta NDP have fielded a full slate of 87 candidates.

The Green Party has the third largest slate with 41 candidates and Pastor Artur Pawlowski’s Solidarity Movement of Alberta has 38.

The Independence Party (formerly led by Pawlowski) has 14 candidates and the Paul Hinman-led upstart Wildrose Loyalty Coalition also has 16.

The Alberta Party has nominated 19 candidates and the Liberal Party has 13.

There are 14 registered political parties and 349 nominated candidates.

I will update the list of candidates to reflect the Elections Alberta official list this weekend and I will share some thoughts about the nominated slates soon on the Daveberta Substack (subscribe!).

I’ve been tracking candidate nominations for this election since March 2021 and it is always a bit of a bitter sweet ended when we reach deadline day. I want to thank everyone who reached out, emailed, DMed, texted and tweeted me with candidate updates over the past two years.

I’m sure it won’t be long before I start collecting nomination updates for the next Alberta election.

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Alberta Politics

Former Wildrose leader Paul Hinman’s Wildrose Loyalty Coalition names 54 candidates in Alberta’s election

The separatist Wildrose Loyalty Coalition was only recognized as a political party by Elections Alberta last week and this weekend the right-wing splinter party registered a slate of 54 candidates in ridings across Alberta.

The right-wing slate includes leader Paul Hinman, who is running in Taber-Warner, an area he represented as an Alberta Alliance and Wildrose Alliance MLA from 2004 to 2008.

The Wildrose Loyalty Coalition was formed by Hinman after he was removed as leader of the Wildrose Independence Party. Hinman was leader of the Wildrose Alliance from its creation in 2008 until 2009, when Danielle Smith was chosen as leader.

Meanwhile, the formerly-Hinman-led Wildrose Independence Party has nominated 2 candidates, including now-leader Jeevan Mangat in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.

The other right-wing separatist party, the Independence Party, has 11 candidates nominated, including recently named Cody Ray Both in Cypress-Medicine Hat, David Braun in Grande Prairie, Vicky Bayford in Red Deer-North, Kerry Lambert in Chestermere-Strathmore, and Frank Kast in Taber-Warner. Kast replaces previously nominated candidate Brent Ginther.

Recently ousted Independence Party leader Pastor Artur Pawlowski announced last week that he plans to create a new party called the Solidarity Movement of Alberta.

I’m planning to write a more in-depth piece about Alberta’s cottage industry of right-wing political parties on the Daveberta Substack next week.

More nominations

Other smaller parties have also announced new candidates:

The Alberta Party nominated Darrell Dunn in Vermilion-Lloydminster-Vegreville, Wayne Jackson in Calgary-Beddington, and Preston Mildenberger in Grande Prairie.

The Green Party has nominated Christopher Khan in Edmonton-Meadows, David Clarke in Edmonton-City Centre, Derek Thompson in Edmonton-Manning, Lane Robson in Calgary-Currie, Shane Diederich in Grande Prairie. Michelle Overwater Giles in Airdrie-CochraneJustin Fuss in Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin, and Galloway Hiatt in West Yellowhead.

Newly registered Independent candidates include Andrej Gudanowski in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview, Nancy O’Neill in Lesser Slave Lake, Larry Heather in Calgary-Acadia, and disqualified UCP candidate Zulkifl Mujahid in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo.

Total Nominated candidates

Here are the total nominated candidates running in Alberta’s provincial election:

  • United Conservative Party: 87/87
  • Alberta NDP: 87/87
  • Wildrose Loyalty Coalition 53/87
  • Green Party: 39/87
  • Alberta Party: 21/87
  • Liberal Party: 12/87
  • Independence Party: 11/87
  • Advantage Party: 3/87
  • Communist Party: 3/87
  • Wildrose Independence Party: 2/87
  • Buffalo Party 1/87
  • Pro-Life Political Association: 1/87

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Daveberta Substack Podcast Alberta Politics Election Dave CournoyerI’m continuing to post candidate nomination updates on this website but subscribe to the Daveberta Substack to read my latest Alberta election coverage. My most recent piece dives into how the United Conservative Party went from being a political juggernaut in 2019 to being neck-and-neck with the Alberta NDP in 2023.

I am planning to share most of my writing for the upcoming Alberta election on Substack, so don’t miss out!

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Alberta Politics

Alberta Party and Liberals nominate new election candidates, Buffalo Party names first ever candidate

With 33 days left until Election Day, the United Conservative Party has named candidates in all 87 ridings and the Alberta NDP is only four away from completing its slate.

Although their nomination meetings are still scheduled on the NDP website, Elections Alberta’s website shows the NDP have endorsed Tanika Chaisson in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, Kevin McLean in Grande Prairie, Harry Singh in Drayton Valley-Devon and Jessica Hallam in Highwood.

The NDP is expected to have candidates nominated in Cardston-Siksika, Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, Grande Prairie-Wapiti and Taber-Warner by April 30. The four are all considered extremely safe UCP ridings, which is probably why the NDP is in no rush to fill those spots.

Meanwhile, some of the smaller parties are continuing to name candidates. 

The Alberta Party now has a slate of 16 with the addition of three more candidates to its roster:

  • Jason Avramenko is running in Calgary-Currie. He ran for the Alberta Party in Chestermere-Strathmore in the 2019 election.
  • Glenn Andersen is running in Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul. Anderson was mayor of St. Paul from 2007 to 2017 and ran for the Alberta Party in the same riding in 2019. He also ran for the PC Party nomination in the former Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills riding in 2015.
  • Braham Luddu is running in Lethbridge-West. He ran for the Alberta Party in Calgary-Cross in the last election.

The Liberal Party is now up to 11 candidates after naming Zarnab Zafar in Calgary-Beddington, Leila Keith in Calgary-Currie, and Dylin Hauser in Livingstone-Macleod. Keith ran in Calgary-South East and Hauser ran in Livingstone-Macleod in 2019. 

The Buffalo Party has nominated Andrew Jacobson in Edmonton-Strathcona. Jacobson is the first candidate nominated to run in an election under the Buffalo banner since the party’s creation in February 2022.

Brooklyn Biegel has been named as the Independence Party candidate in Grande Prairie-Wapiti.

Conrad Nunweiler is running as an Independent separatist candidate in Peace River.

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Daveberta Substack Podcast Alberta Politics Election Dave CournoyerSubscribe to the Daveberta Substack to read my latest Alberta election coverage, including what I’ve learned after years of tracking election candidate nominations. I am planning to share most of my writing for the upcoming Alberta election on Substack.

Most of my writing during the election will be accessible to all subscribers but to get full access to election extras (like this and this) and future episodes of the Daveberta Podcast (like the new episode coming out soon where I talk about public education with Edmonton Public School Board chairperson Trisha Estabrooks) please consider signing up for a paid subscription. Thank you!

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Alberta Politics

What I learned tracking election candidate nominations in Alberta

“Hey, you’re the candidate nominations guy!”

It’s not what people usually call me when I meet them for the first time, but it’s what a longtime daveberta.ca reader said when I met them for the first time a few weeks ago.

But I guess it’s true.

I started tracking the names of people running for nominations to become party candidates in elections 16 years ago and have since done it for every provincial and federal election in Alberta and municipal election in Edmonton. By my count that’s 15 elections.

Read the rest on the Daveberta Substack. Sign up for a paid subscription to get access to the Daveberta Podcast and special election extras.

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Alberta Politics

NDP nominate Katherine Swampy in Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin and Kevin McLean in Grande Prairie

The Alberta NDP now have candidates nominated in 80 of 87 ridings after nominating Samson Cree Band Councillor Katherine Swampy in Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin and former city councillor Kevin McLean in Grande Prairie. Nomination meetings are still scheduled for those ridings but the Elections Alberta website indicates both candidates have already been endorsed by the party.

Update: Tanika Chaisson is seeking the NDP nomination in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. Chaisson is a Laboratory Technician with Suncor and a former National Representative with Unifor. A nomination meeting is scheduled for April 30.

The NDP are expected to announce their candidates in Grande Prairie-Wapiti and Highwood soon.

The United Conservative Party are expected to complete their slate of 87 candidates when they acclaim Lieberson Pang in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood. The candidate entry deadline in the riding was yesterday.

The Green Party has nominated two new candidates, Vanessa Diehl in Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland and Kurt Klingbeil in Morinville-St. Albert, bringing that party’s total number of nominated candidates to 30.

Myles Chykerda has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Lacombe-Ponoka. The Alberta Party now has 13 candidates nominated and an email from party president Sid Kobewka to supporters yesterday confirmed the party does not intend to nominate a full slate of candidates in this election.

Independence goes Independent

Alberta’s fractious right-wing fringe parties are becoming even more divided after leadership turmoil in the Wildrose Independence Party and the Independence Party of Alberta. Candidates formerly affiliated with the two Alberta independence parties are declaring themselves to be Independent candidates on the ballot.

The Wildrose Loyalty Coalition, a new unregistered party founded by ousted Wildrose Independence Party leader Paul Hinman, announced that Daniel Jeffries will run as the new coalition’s candidate in Lacombe-Ponoka. Though unless the WLC is able to get official party status before May 10, Jeffries will be listed as an Independent candidate on the ballot.

Former Wexit Alberta interim leader Kathy Flett, who briefly served as the Wildrose Independence Party’s VP Communications, is running as an Independent candidate in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville under the “Independents for Alberta” banner.

Joining Flett as an IFA-affiliated Independent candidate is Angela Tabak, who briefly claimed the title of President of the Wildrose Independence Party following an unsuccessful counter coup, is running as an Independent candidate in Cardston-Siksika.

And in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, former Independence Party candidate Fred Schwieger is now running as an Independent candidate. Schwieger joins a handful of former IPA candidates who are running an Independents since Pastor Artur Pawlowski was ousted from the party leadership last month.

Total Nominated candidates

Here is the current list of nominated candidates:

  • United Conservative Party: 86/87
  • New Democratic Party 80/87
  • Green Party: 30/87
  • Alberta Party: 13/87
  • Liberal Party: 8/87
  • Independence Party of Alberta: 5/87
  • Communist Party: 3/87

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Daveberta Substack Podcast Alberta Politics Election Dave CournoyerIf you haven’t already, please subscribe to the Daveberta Substack. I am planning to share most of my writing for the upcoming Alberta election on Substack.

Most of my writing during the election will be accessible to all subscribers but to get full access to election extras and future episodes of the Daveberta Podcast, please consider signing up for a paid subscription. Thanks!

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Alberta Politics

UCP slate at 86 candidates with appointees in Edmonton-South, Lethbridge-West and Grande Prairie-Wapiti

The United Conservative Party announced the appointments of three candidates and the acclamation of another, filling the party’s slate to 86 candidates in 87 ridings.

Here are the candidates appointed by Premier Danielle Smith through her powers allowed by the UCP constitution:

  • Edmonton-South: Joseph Angeles is a lawyer who previously ran for the UCP nomination in Edmonton-West Henday. He replaces Tunde Obasan, who withdrew his candidacy last week.
  • Lethbridge-West: Cheryl Seaborn is a Registered Nurse and former president of the UCP association in the riding. She replaces Torry Tanner who won the UCP nomination last month but resigned shortly after when a video surfaced of her claiming young children were being to exposed pornography in schools and teachers were hiding their students’ gender reassignments from parents. 
  • Grande Prairie-Wapiti: Endorsed by the local UCP constituency board of directors, Ron Wiebe will succeed Travis Toews as the UCP candidate in the riding.

And the acclamation: 

Edmonton-Glenora: Melissa Crane is a ministerial press secretary and ran for the UCP nomination in St. Albert in December 2022.

That leaves the UCP one short of a full slate. The UCP nomination in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood closes on April 13. Lieberson Pang is seeking the nomination. 

NDP sets nomination dates

The Alberta NDP have candidates nominated in 78 of 87 ridings and plan to hold nomination meetings to nominate the remainder of the slate before the election is called.

Vegreville Town Councillor Taneen Rudyk is acclaimed in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville and the NDP have scheduled nomination meetings in Maskwacis-Wetaskwin on April 22 (Samson Cree Band Councillor Katherine Swampy is the only approved candidate at the moment) and Grande Prairie on April 30.

UPDATE: Former Grande Prairie city councillor Kevin McLean is running for the NDP nomination in that riding. McLean served on city council from 2010 to 2017 and placed second in the 2022 municipal by-election. He ran for the Liberal Party in the former Grande Prairie-Smoky riding in the 2012 and 2015 provincial elections and in St. Albert in the 2019 election.

Kevin McLean NDP Grande Prairie Nomination
Former Grande Prairie city councillor Kevin McLean’s statement on Facebook,

The ridings without nominated NDP candidates or scheduled nomination meetings are Cardston-Siksika, Drayton Valley-Devon, Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, Grande Prairie-Wapiti, Highwood and Taber-Warner.

Other nomination news

  • Jason McKee is running for the Green Party in Calgary-West.
  • Alberta Party leader Barry Morishita confirmed today in an email to supporters that he will run in the Brooks-Medicine Hat riding in the next election.

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Daveberta Substack Podcast Alberta Politics Election Dave CournoyerA big thank you to the more than 2,000 people who have subscribed to the Daveberta Substack (and more than 100 who signed up for paid subscriptions!).

Check out my latest column about Premier Danielle Smith refusing to answer questions about her 11-minute phone call with Pastor Artur Pawlowski. Look for the first of many election extra special emails from the Daveberta Substack in your inbox early next week.


Happy Easter to all my readers. I will be taking some time to relax and enjoy the first real weekend of spring, so unless something big happens I’ll be back with more candidate nomination updates next week.

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Alberta Politics

Rajan Sawhney appointed in Calgary-North West on same day Inderjit Grewal wins Calgary-North East UCP nomination vote

Just over a month after she announced plans to not run for re-election in Calgary-North East, MLA Rajan Sawhney has been appointed as the United Conservative Party candidate in Calgary-North West to replace retiring MLA Sonya Savage.

The first-term MLA from north east Calgary was first elected in 2019 and served in cabinet since, currently as Minister of Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

Sawhney placed sixth out of seven candidates in the 2022 UCP leadership race and was a sharp critic of Danielle Smith during that campaign. She was facing a strong nomination challenge when she announced her plans not to run for re-election in Calgary-North East.

Sawhney was voted Best Alberta Cabinet Minister in the Best of Alberta Politics 2022 Survey.

Sawhney will now face Alberta NDP candidate Michael Lisboa-Smith and Alberta Party candidate Jennifer Yeremiy.

Inderjit Grewal (source: Inder Grewal / Facebook)

On the same day Sawhney was appointed in Calgary-North West, UCP members in her Calgary-North East riding voted to choose her successor. Inderjit Grewal defeated Harjit Soroya in a vote by more than 1,800 members in the north east Calgary riding.

Grewal was criticized by the right-wing news outlet True North for sharing Facebook posts from Calgary-Falconridge NDP candidate Parmeet Singh Boparai.

Grewal will face NDP candidate Gurinder Brar. The Liberal Party has nominated Prince Mugisha.

Both ridings are expected to be competitive in the next election.

Candidates are expected to be appointed in Lethbridge-West to replace Torry Tanner and Grande Prairie-Wapiti to succeed Travis Toews. The UCP board of directors in Grande Prairie-Wapiti unanimously passed a motion last week to support Ron Wiebe’s appointment as the candidate.

Tunde Obasan drops out of Edmonton-South race

Tunde Obasan announced he had withdrawn as the UCP candidate in Edmonton-South (Source: Tunde Obasan / Facebook)
Tunde Obasan announced he had withdrawn as the UCP candidate in Edmonton-South (Source: Tunde Obasan / Facebook)

The UCP is also expected to appoint a candidate to replace Tunde Obasan, who withdrew his name as the UCP candidate in Edmonton-South over the weekend.

Obasan previously ran in the riding in 2019 and was the federal Conservative candidate in Edmonton-Stratchona in the 2021 election. Obasan’s campaign was one of few in Edmonton that the UCP appeared to be focusing local resources in ahead of the election campaign.

Past city council candidate Rhiannon Hoyle is running for the NDP.

“The abrupt resignation of my opponent in Edmonton-South is yet more chaos from the UCP. It follows another UCP resignation in Lethbridge-West, and the parachuting of Rajan Sawhney into Calgary-North West after she bailed out of a competitive nomination race in the riding she already represents,” Hoyle said in a statement released by the NDP.

“I’m focused on offering the people of Edmonton-South a stable, competent and caring government led by Rachel Notley,” Hoyle said.

Alberta Party leader looking for a new riding?

Barry Morishita

Alberta Party leader Barry Morishita may be looking to run in a different riding than his home Brooks-Medicine Hat, according to a tweet from CBC reporter Jason Markusoff.

The former Brooks mayor became leader of the seatless party in 2021 and had his electoral prospects tested early when his own MLA, Michaela Frey, resigned in late 2022 to allow Premier Smith to run in a by-election. Morishita placed a disappointing third place in that by-election, earning only 16.5 per cent of the vote.

It’s unclear what riding Morishita could pick that would be friendlier than Brooks-Medicine Hat, where he is already well-known and respected. Smith deciding to make the riding her own certainly created a tough situation for the aspiring MLA.

Pawlowski loyalists retake control of Independence Party

A slate of candidates loyal to deposed leader and controversial street preacher Artur Pawlowski took back control of the Independence Party of Alberta board of directors at the party’s annual general meeting this weekend . Pawlowski was removed as party leader last week, the day before a recording of his infamous interview with Premier Smith was made public.

Pawlowski’s opponents on the previous party board claimed the street preacher was spending too much time preaching religious teachings and opposition to already lifted COVID-19 mitigation measures and not focusing enough time promoting the party’s separatists policy positions.

The party has nominated at least seven candidates to run in the next election, though it remains unclear at the moment which candidates are loyal to Pawlowski and which are opposed.

Upcoming nomination votes

With Inderjit Grewal’s nomination and Tunde Obasan’s withdrawal, the UCP now has a slate of 81 candidates in Alberta’s 87 ridings. The Alberta NDP have nominated 78 candidates. The Green Party has 27 candidates, the Alberta Party has nominated 12 candidates, the Liberal Party has 8, and the Independence Party has at least seven.

Candidate nomination votes are currently scheduled in the following ridings:

  • April 3 – Grande Prairie UCP
  • April 21 – Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville NDP

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