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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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-Cochrane, Justin 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.
I’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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 butresigned 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.
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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A 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!).
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.
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.
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 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
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.
“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.
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
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.
The Alberta NDP leads the pack with 75 candidates nominated across the province. NDP leader Rachel Notley will be nominated as her party’s candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona at a pre-election rally at the big NDP campaign training school in Edmonton on March 11. And two candidates – Venkat Akkiraj and Kim Wagner – are vying for the NDP nomination in Calgary-Lougheed on March 14.
The remaining NDP vacancies without scheduled nomination meetings are in the ridings of Cardston-Siksika, Drayton Valley-Devon, Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, Grande Prairie, Grande Prairie-Wapiti, Highwood, Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin, and Taber-Warner.
These are mostly ridings where the NDP is seen as having little chance of winning, though NDP MLAs did represent Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville and parts of Maskwacis-Wetaskwin from 2015 to 2019.
Nominations votes are scheduled for Livingstone-Macleod (March 9, 10, 11), Calgary-Lougheed (March 13), Lethbridge-West (March 14), Cypress-Medicine Hat (March 16), and Leduc-Beaumont (March 18).
That leaves unscheduled or unannounced UCP nominations in Grande Prairie and Grande Prairie-Wapiti (where Finance Minister Travis Toews has not announced his intentions to run for re-election), and the central Edmonton ridings of Edmonton-City Centre, Edmonton-Glenora, Edmonton-Gold Bar, Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood, Edmonton-Riverview and Edmonton-Strathcona (which are all among the safest NDP ridings in Alberta).
Because Smith won in a by-election on November 8, 2022, the UCP provincial board decided to accept her candidacy in the south east Alberta riding without opening a new nomination process.
Smith won the by-election with 54.5 per cent of the vote shortly after winning the UCP leadership.
In the upcoming provincial election she will again face NDP candidate Gwendoline Dirk, who placed second with 26.7 per cent in the by-election, and Alberta Party leader Barry Morishita, who placed third in the by-election with 16.5 per cent.
Smith previously represented the Highwood riding in the Legislature from 2012 to 2015.
Brian Jean nominated in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche
Also having his nomination approved by the UCP board was Brian Jean, who will run for re-election in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche.
While Jean has been a political figure in Fort McMurray for many years, he most recently won the March 2022 by-election in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche with 63.6 per cent of the vote.
Jean previously represented Fort McMurray-Conklin in the Legislature from 2015 to 2018 and Athabasca-Fort McMurray in the House of Commons from 2004 to 2014. He currently serves as Minister of Jobs, Economy and Northern Development.
He is the only candidate nominated to run in the north east Alberta riding.