Categories
Alberta Politics

josipa petrunic – the liberal party’s next great hope in edmonton-gold bar?

If there was a Liberal Party heartland in Alberta, it would be located in the boundaries of Edmonton-Gold Bar. The east central Edmonton constituency is the longest Liberal held constituency in the province, having elected Liberal MLAs since the 1986 election.

Represented by popular Alderman Bettie Hewes from 1986 until 1997, Gold Bar’s current MLA Hugh MacDonald was first elected in 1997. Some call him salt of the earth, others may call him obsessed, but over his 14 years in office Mr. MacDonald has undoubtably been one of the hardest working MLAs in the opposition benches. Last month, Mr. MacDonald announced that he would be retiring from politics when the next election is called.

The big question is who will succeed Mr. MacDonald. While the chatting class has quietly chitted and chatted about big name long-shot candidates like Councillor Ben Henderson or former AUPE President Dan MacLennan, the chatterers had kept their voices low until an odd choice and potential star candidate recently declared her intentions to join the contest.

Josipa Petrunic

Currently residing in Cambridge, UK to complete a research fellowship, Josipa Petrunic is planning to seek the Liberal Party nomination in Gold Bar.

Incredibly articulate and well-spoken, Ms. Petrunic chaired the recent Liberal Party leadership contest that saw former PC MLA Raj Sherman defeat Mr. MacDonald. As moderator at the leadership candidate forums Ms. Petrunic was many times the most impressive person on the stage.

She may be new to electoral politics in Edmonton, but Ms. Petrunic is no pushover. A Liberal candidate in Calgary-East in last May’s federal election, Ms. Petrunic’s candidacy grabbed headlines after incumbent Member of Parliament Deepak Obhrai accused her of being “a visitor from Toronto.”

This rallying cry may become familiar to voters in Gold Bar if Ms. Petrunic wins her party’s nomination. The truth is that while she lived abroad, Calgary was her family’s home.

When contacted by email, Ms. Petrunic was quick to certify her connection to Edmonton, calling Gold Bar a community that she considers a home and an area that she will be moving to in December 2011.

She is planning to move to Edmonton to take up a fellowship at the University of Alberta that is in the process of being approved. At the University, she would conduct research that focuses on a comparative history of engineering techniques in bitumen extraction.

“Moving back to Edmonton is a homecoming for me,” Ms. Petrunic wrote. “In 2000, I moved to Gold Bar specifically, as I was a university student in the French immersion program at the Faculté Saint-Jean.”

“I then moved to the north side of the riding a year later, when I got a job as a journalist at the Edmonton Journal. That journalism job was crucial to my career because the Journal gave me the by-lines I needed to move on to the Globe and Mail a year later, where I won a national journalism award,” wrote Ms. Petrunic.

Reflecting on the upcoming contest in Gold Bar, NDP organizer Lou Arab said “MacDonald’s departure, along with the low poll numbers the Alberta Liberals are experiencing at the moment, creates a great opportunity for the NDP to take this seat. But it won’t be easy.”

Mr. Arab managed the campaign of the area’s Public School Trustee Sarah Hoffman in October 2010.

In the recent federal election, NDP MP Linda Duncan received 45% of the votes in the area compared to 50% for Conservative candidate Ryan Hastman. The fresh contacts, new donors, and sign locations gathered during the federal vote could help boost the campaign of already nominated NDP candidate Marlin Schmidt.

“The combination of Linda’s decisive win in the federal election, the Liberals’ flagging fortunes, and Hugh MacDonald stepping down have created an excellent opportunity for the NDP in this riding,” said Mr. Schmidt.

Other parties are also keeping their eye on Gold Bar.

“Judging by history I feel that Gold Bar voters, some of the most active in the province, will choose their next MLA based more on personal qualities than party affiliation,” said Leslie Bush, a member of the local Alberta Party constituency association.

The Progressive Conservatives have scheduled their local nomination meeting for Wednesday, January 25, 2012. Past candidate David Dorward has said he will take the next two weeks to decide whether he will seek the nomination. Mr. Dorward placed second to Mayor Stephen Mandel in the 2010 municipal election.

When asked about her chances in the campaign, Ms. Petrunic wrote “if the nomination goes my way, there’s a campaign storm on the horizon. And I plan to be at its epi-centre.”

Past Election Results in Edmonton-Gold Bar

2008
Hugh MacDonald, L – 6,279
David Dorward, PC – 5,261
Sherry McKibben, NDP – 1,923
David Zylstra, Grn – 525

2004
Hugh MacDonald, L – 8,798
Manjit Dhaliwal, PC – 2,572
Keith Turnbull, NDP – 1,967
Delmar Hunt, AA – 538
Dave Dowling, Ind – 167

Categories
Alberta Politics

recommended reading: how the katz group did an end run around the best interests of edmontonians.

If you read one article today, please read Paula Simons well written column on how billionaire Daryl Katz and the Katz Group were able to score major concessions from the City of Edmonton during their campaign to secure public funds to build their new downtown arena.

Simons: Katz Group power play scores major concessions from city

Call it the art of the deal — raised to the level, not of a Donald Trump, but of a Leonardo da Vinci.

Back in April, Edmonton city council agreed that it would only support Daryl Katz’s proposal for a new downtown arena under a long list of very strict circumstances. Among them? The motion required the Katz Group to put up at least $100 million toward the capital cost of the arena. It put a strict $125-million ceiling on the city’s direct cost for building the facility. And it specified that no deal would go ahead until another level or levels of government had somehow made up the remaining $100 million funding shortfall.

There is still no public hint of that magical $100 million, from either the Alison Redford Tories or the Stephen Harper Conservatives.

Yet at a hastily called meeting this past Friday, with three councillors out of town and one on a medical leave, city council voted to buy the land that Katz has optioned for a new arena. (Bryan Anderson, who’s recovering from surgery, missed the vote. So did Ben Henderson, who was stuck on a plane. Karen Leibovici and Linda Sloan were out of the country on holiday, but voted over the phone.) Of those councillors who did vote, only Sloan, Tony Caterina, and Kerry Diotte opposed the purchase.

Read the rest and if your stomach is feeling queasy when you reach the end of the column, phone or email the Mayor and your City Councillor, and tell them how you feel about the decisions they are making by rushing the decision to provide public funds to pay for a downtown arena for Mr. Katz and his company.

Categories
Alberta Politics

a look at the alberta liberal leadership candidates.

You might be forgiven if you have not paid much attention to the Alberta Liberal Party leadership contest, which is currently under way. The Liberal contest is not as exciting as the Progressive Conservative’s leadership contest, as flashy as the Wildrose (now minus the Alliance), or intriguing as the new Alberta Party, but it is important enough not to ignore. The Liberal Party is still the Official Opposition and while it has taken a beating in the polls and public image over the past few years, its next leader will play a role in the next provincial election.

Here is a look at the candidates for their leadership:

Edmonton-Centre Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman
Laurie Blakeman

Laurie Blakeman
Slogan: Laurie4Leader
Elected Experience: MLA for Edmonton-Centre from 1997 to the present.
Background: Laurie Blakeman is known as a vocal and unrelenting critic of the governing Tories. As Deputy Leader under party leaders Kevin Taft and David Swann, she also served as critic for Finance, the Environment, and Culture.

Her strong views as an unapologetic feminist representing Edmonton’s densest urban constituency have made her an enemy to many conservatives, but her skills as Opposition House Leader have gained her respect from some Tory MLAs across the floor. She is also one half of Edmonton’s political power couple, her husband is Ward 8 City Councillor Ben Henderson.

In 1998, Ms. Blakeman supported then-MLA Linda Sloan‘s leadership bid. She declined to run for her party’s leadership in 2004, telling the Globe & Mail that “she doesn’t have the fire in her belly to run” and again in 2008 admitting that fundraising was not her strength. Earlier this year she publicly mused about joining the Alberta Party, but instead decided to seek the Liberal Party leadership.

(Disclaimer: I like Laurie Blakeman have volunteered for her election campaigns in 2004 and 2008).

Liberal candidate Bill Harvey
Bill Harvey

Bill Harvey
Slogan: Returning to responsible government
Elected Experience: Liberal candidate in Calgary-East in 2004 and 2008.
Background: Calgary financial advisor Bill Harvey entered the leadership contest this week with a message that Liberals need to return to their past roots to succeed in the future. The main message on his website reminds Liberals of their 1990’s glory days under former leader Laurence Decore and is peppered with fiscal conservative language.

In 2008, he ran a “law and order” and “tough on crime” focused campaign, which earned him an endorsement by Craig Chandler‘s hyper-conservative Progressive Group for Independent Business. His website says that he will be releasing a detailed platform later this month.

Edmonton-Gold Bar Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald
Hugh MacDonald

Hugh MacDonald
Slogan: None
Elected experience: MLA for Edmonton-Gold Bar from 1997 to present
Background: Since stepping into his role as the opposition labour critic during his first-term and making headlines over the government’s shaky handling of rotting pine shakes roofing and lack of whistle-blower protection, Hugh MacDonald earned a reputation as a dogged critic of the Tories. As Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, his focus on uncovering Tory scandals sometimes makes him appear on the verge of paranoia, but he is relentless and hardworking. It is not uncommon to see Mr. MacDonald buried in books, doing his own research in the Legislature Library.

Mr. MacDonald is a dyed-in-the-wool Liberal partisan. Even if the Liberal Party is wiped off the political map in the next election, Hugh MacDonald will fight to the end (clasping a battle-axe in one hand while caped in blood-soaked battle armour under a Liberal Party flag). Inside the Liberal Party, Mr. MacDonald appeals to the stalwart crowd who believe that it is not the Liberal brand that has damaged their party, but that party members who have not adhered enough loyalty to the Liberal brand are responsible for the party’s 80 years of electoral defeat.

Mr. MacDonald has the endorsements of former party leaders Nick Taylor and Ken Nicol and former MLAs Bill Bonner and Yolande Gagnon.

Bruce Payne Liberal candidate
Bruce Payne

Bruce Payne
Slogan: 87 Strong
Elected experience: Nominated as the Liberal candidate in Calgary-Varsity
Background: An unknown outside some Calgary political circles, it is difficult to know whether Bruce Payne is actually a serious candidate in this contest.

A long-time union leader, in 2007 he led the 6,000 southern Alberta carpenters union as it and seven other construction unions threatened Alberta’s first multi-trade strike in almost 30 years. He was later the Spokesperson for the Alberta and Northwest Territories Regional Council of Carpenters and Allied Workers and President of the Building Trades of Alberta Southern Council.

His 87 Strong slogan is in reference to the 87 constituencies that will be created when the next election is called. His campaign also takes a shot at the current Liberal MLAs and their tendency to attack the Tories for every “scandals, faux-pas, screw-ups, miscues and arrogant decisions” without a long-term strategy.

His campaign manager is the former Liberal Caucus communications director Neil Mackie, who departed from his job at the Assembly earlier this year.

Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Raj Sherman Independent Liberal
Raj Sherman

Raj Sherman
Slogan: None
Elected experience: MLA Edmonton-Meadowlark from 2008 to present
Background: Former Tory MLA Raj Sherman could be both the wildcard and the front-runner in this contest. Six months ago he wanted nothing to do with the Liberal Party as he sat in the PC caucus as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health & Wellness. Since writing the bluntly-worded email that led to hm being kicked out of the PC caucus, Dr. Sherman has attained a folk hero status among many Albertans.

After opening up their leadership vote to any Albertan without having to purchase a membership, I have a difficult time seeing Dr. Sherman as anything but the front-runner in this contest.

Although his opponents will criticize him for switching parties, it is hard to believe that Dr. Sherman has ever actually “belonged” to any political party. On February 13, 2008 PC candidate Dr. Sherman told the Edmonton Journal, “Ideas belong to society, they don’t belong to a party. For me, it wasn’t so much about parties as about getting the idea to the people who make decisions.”

Dr. Sherman has the support of former MLA Bharat Agnihotri, and I have been told that Calgary-Buffalo MLA Kent Hehr and Calgary-McCall MLA Darshan Kang are lending their support to his campaign.

Not yet entered the contest:

There may be a sixth candidate to enter this contest. Word on the street is that the executive of a medium-sized Calgary-based energy company may announce his candidacy next week.

Categories
Alberta Politics

politicos march in edmonton’s 2011 pride parade.

Tens of thousands of Edmontonians packed the streets of downtown on Saturday  for the first major festival event of the summer – Edmonton’s Pride Parade. Held the same day as the City Centre Market and the Al Fresco Block Party on 104 Street, our city’s downtown core into a vibrant and very fun day-long party. The Pride Parade that kicked off the day was also an opportunity for politicos of most stripes (no blue coloured political signs spotted) to fly their flags and have some fun celebrating Pride Week. Here are some photos of some of the politicos who joined in the festivities:

A photo of myself and my dog Max at the 2011 Pride Parade in Edmonton.
Max and I marched with the Alberta Party crew in the parade.
A photo of City Councillor Don Iveson in Edmonton's 2011 Pride Parade.
City Councillor Don Iveson with MLA Laurie Blakeman in the background (Photo credit: britl. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
A photo of the Alberta Party crew at Edmonton's 2011 Pride Parade.
The Alberta Party crew, including Edmonton-Glenora candidate Sue Huff and Edmonton-Rutherford candidate Michael Walters.
A photo of City Councillor Ben Henderson in Edmonton's 2011 Pride Parade.
City Councillor Ben Henderson (Photo credit: britl. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
A photo of NDP MLA Rachel Notley and David Eggen in Edmonton's 2011 Pride Parade.
Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MLA Rachel Notley and Edmonton-Calder candidate David Eggen. (Photo credit: britl. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Categories
Alberta Politics

alberta politics notes 2/18/2011

Robbing Peter to pay Paul…
…or robbing the Liberals and NDP to pay the Wildrose Alliance. The PC MLA-dominated Legislative committee responsible for allocating funds to Assembly caucuses voted to give in to Wildrose Alliance demands for increased caucus funding, but it came at the expense of the other three parties caucuses. While the 67 MLA PC caucus will barely notice the decrease, the slightest decrease in funding is the difference between a one more staff member or not for the opposition caucuses. Chalk this one up to another round of institutional micro-management and political games by Speaker Ken Kowalski.

New Justice Minister Verlyn Olson.

Cabinet Shuffle
A cabinet shuffle led to two first term backbench MLAs replacing two Cabinet Ministers seeking the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party. Wetaskiwin-Camrose MLA Verlyn Olson replaces Alison Redford as Justice Minister and Lethbridge-West MLA Greg Weadick replaces Doug Horner as Minister of Advanced Education & Technology. Red Deer-South MLA Cal Dallas replaces Doug Griffiths as the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance, who is now Minister Lloyd Snelgrove.

Readers may remember Mr. Olson from his controversial motion on the Public Accounts Committee in 2010, which tried to strip the autonomy of the committee’s chairman, Edmonton-Gold Bar Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald. Fun fact: Mr. Weadick is a decedent of Guy Weadick, the founder of the Calgary Stampede.

Calgary’s new Political Minister
Filling Ms. Redford’s former position as political minister for Calgary is long-time Calgary-Cross MLA and Minister of Children & Youth Services Yvonne Fritz.

Bitumen!
The Provincial Government and North West Upgrading announced that a deal had been reached to begin the construction of the first phase of a new upgrader near Fort Saskatchewan. Premier Ed Stelmach called it “a bold step”, but that was not good enough for NDP MLA Brian Mason. Mr. Mason made the point of attacking Premier Stelmach, saying that despite past promises to keep upgrading jobs in Alberta, more jobs have moved to the United States.

Blakeman aims for Liberal leadership
Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman announced yesterday that she is seeking the Liberal leadership. The four-term opposition MLA is the first candidate to enter the contest to replace outgoing leader David Swann. In her speech yesterday, Ms. Blakeman, the party’s Deputy Leader, explained that she had toyed with the idea of joining the new Alberta Party, but later decided to stay with her current party.

Ms. Blakeman is one half of an Edmonton political power couple with her husband Ben Henderson, who is the City Councillor for Ward 8.


Ms. Blakeman’s second V-log takes a creative angle at explaining the political spectrum.

Lukaszuk weighing his options
A well-placed source has informed this blogger that Employment & Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk has been weighing his options about joining the PC leadership contest.

Second Alberta Party leadership candidate
Calgarian Tammy Maloney has announced that she is seeking the Alberta Party leadership. Ms. Maloney is an entrepreneur, a former Oil & Gas business analyst and IESE MBA. She also worked for the Clinton Foundation in Nigeria. Ms. Maloney’s only other challenger so far is Hinton Mayor Glenn Taylor, who entered the contest two weeks ago.

Unions call for fair revenue
At a joint media conference yesterday morning, the Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan, United Nurses of Alberta Vice-President Bev Dick, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees President Guy Smith, and Health Sciences Association of Alberta President Elisabeth Ballermann called for the Auditor General to investigate the amount of natural resource royalties collected by the provincial government. In advance of next week’s provincial budget, the Union leaders want an open debate about Alberta’s revenue challenges.

Carter: smooth political operator
Edmonton Journal columnist Graham Thomson focused his latest column on the strategies of paid political operative Stephen Carter. Mr.Carter, who is known for his work for the Wildrose Alliance and Naheed Nenshi‘s campaign, is a high-profile hire on Ms. Redford’s PC leadership campaign. Watch out Rod Love, at this rate Mr. Carter is becoming Alberta’s next biggest celebrity political operative.

PC leadership candidate Ted Morton hunting for conservative votes.

Morton country no more?
An editorial in the Rocky View Weekly questions whether former Finance Minister Ted Morton will receive the kind of support from Airdrie-Chestermere Tories in the current PC leadership contest that he did in 2006. Five years ago Mr. Morton earned the support of 57% of PC members in that constituency, with 26% supporting Jim Dinning and 17% supporting Premier Stelmach. With the constituency now represented by Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson, it will be interesting to see if conservative voters in that area are still comfortable with Mr. Morton or whether they have found a new political home.

Nomination updates: Calgary Varsity and Edmonton-Centre
The list of declared and nominated candidates for the next provincial election has been updated. The nomination contest to replace two-term Calgary-Varisty Liberal MLA Harry Chase looks to be an acclamation. The only candidate to step forward appears to be Bruce Payne, a Business Representative with Carpenters’ Union, Local 2103 in Calgary. Mr. Chase surprised many political watchers when he grabbed the seat from the PCs in a close election in 2004 and was re-elected in 2008 defeating PC Jennifer Diakiw.

The Wildrose Alliance nomination contest in Varsity has drawn three candidates, Justin Anderson, Kevin Dick, and Brian Sembo.

Meanwhile, 26-year old Drew Adamick is seeking the yet to be scheduled NDP nomination in Edmonton-Centre. Mr. Adamick was the 2008 federal Liberal candidate in Cariboo-Prince George, where he placed third behind Conservative MP Dick Harris.

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.

Categories
Alberta Politics

edmonton election 2010: election night experience and hope for the future.

As far as municipal elections in Alberta usually go, Monday night was a pretty exciting time to be a political person in this province.

After a day of traveling across the City visiting campaign offices and gauging the energy of the difference campaigns, I made my first election night stop at Ward F Public School Board Trustee Michael Janz‘s election night party at the Boston Pizza on Whyte Avenue. I have known Michael for many years and was thrilled to watch the results consistently placing him ahead of his challengers Bev Sawyer and Joanna Rozmus.

Michael and his team have worked hard and effectively ran a City Council-like campaign for the Public School Board seat, so it was a rewarding experience to watch their hard work pay off when he was declared elected with 53% of the vote. It was also great to see so many people celebrate Michael’s victory last night, including Edmonton-Riverview MLA Kevin Taft and Ward D Public School Trustee Dave Colburn, who both stopped by to offer their congratulations.

At this point in the evening, word had begun to trickle in from our southern neighbours that Naheed Nenshi had taken the lead in Calgary’s Mayoral contest. Later that night, he would solidify his lead over Ric McIver and Barb Higgins and be elected Mayor of Calgary. Maybe it was the power of effectively using social media and word of mouth, but I did not talk with one person that night in Edmonton who had not heard about the Nenshi campaign over the previous 30 days.

We had also heard that Bill Given had unseated Dwight Logan to become the youngest-ever Mayor of Grande Prairie and that Linda Osinchuk was on her way to unseating the popular Cathy Olesen as Mayor of Strathcona County.

Following some hearty celebratory drinks, we grabbed a cab over to the Ward 10 Don Iveson election night party at the Parkallen Restaurant where celebrations were in full swing. Not only had Don just been re-elected to his second term on City Council, he also earned the highest percentage (76.3%) and highest vote total (12,945 votes) of any Councillor candidate running in this election.

Don has done an excellent job on City Council over the past three years as a voice for both new ideas and prudent planning. Along with fellow Councillors like Ben Henderson, Don has been a strong advocate for smart transit planning and family-oriented infill in his three years on Council.

After catching up with the crew at Team Iveson, we headed downtown to Mayor Stephen Mandel‘s election night party at the Sutton Place Hotel Ball Room. Mayor Mandel had been leading in the polls all night and by that point had settled into a 25% lead over second place challenger David Dorward.

In the end, Mayor Mandel was re-elected with 55% of the vote, a stunning rebuke to the Envision Edmonton lobby group that had essentially labeled the Mayor everything but a terrorist for not supporting their invalid plebiscite petition a month earlier.

The party at the Sutton Place was dying down by the time we arrived, but I still got the chance to chat with a few of the evenings successful candidates, including Councillor-elect Dave Loken who won a close race in the new Ward 3 and Councillor Henderson who was re-elected in the new Ward 8.

It was a late night and overall it was a fun evening for party hopping.

Overall thoughts on the election results…

I am thrilled that Naheed Nenshi was elected Mayor of Calgary. His election victory has proved that you can win a Mayoral campaign by using full-sentences and presenting well-thought ideas. He will have a lot of challenges, including inheriting a dysfunctional City Council who do not owe him any allegiance, but not being an incumbent Councillor probably helped propel him into his election victory. I am sure that Premier Ed Stelmach is glad to be rid of his old rival, outgoing Mayor Dave Bronconnier, but Nenshi is no political slouch.

In Edmonton, the clear mandate that Mayor Mandel has received in this re-election should mean the end of the Envision Edmonton lobby group’s crusade to keep the City Centre Airport open, but it will not. Not satisfied with the electoral defeat of their endorsed Mayoral candidate, the lobby group will be taking the City of Edmonton to court on February 10, 2011.

I am generally pleased with how Edmonton’s City Council contests resulted. The potential for ideological contrarians like Kerry Diotte and Tony Caterina to cause havoc exists, but I believe that we may even have a stronger Council than the previous one, which could bode well in terms of cooperation and consensus building to move projects forward.

I am also excited about the new faces on Edmonton’s Public School Board. As I wrote last week, our Public Board was in desperate need for new blood and new ideas to help make the institution more relevant to the broader community. Now is time to make it happen.

Monday was a good day for democracy in our province. I look forward t more good days to come.

Categories
Edmonton Politics

edmonton election 2010: the people in your neighbourhood.


Depending on what part of Edmonton you live in, you have probably noticed the lawn signs beginning to line up on private front lawns and sprawled across City-owned boulevards. While I hear that the sign war is red hot in the closely contested Wards 3, 7, and 11, in my downtown Ward 6 I have only noticed signs from a handful of candidates (Michael Janz, Bev Sawyer, Brian Kaptiza, and Rudy Arcilla).

Thus far there is virtually no signage belonging to incumbent Councillor Jane Batty in my neighborhood. This is a stark contrast from the last time I lived in this neighborhood during a municipal election. Back in 2004, I remember the area being covered with signs belonging to Councillors Michael Phair, Mrs. Batty, and then-challenger Ben Henderson (who is now standing for election in the new Ward 8 on the south side of the North Saskatchewan River).

I spoke with Adam Rozenhart from The Unknown Studio earlier this week about my Nomination Day experience and shared some thoughts on the election candidates. You can listen to my conversation with Adam on The Unknown Studio website or download the podcast on iTunes. The conversation starts at the 11:36 mark and also includes a conversation about how my dog needed to be rushed to the Emergency Veterinary Clinic after getting his jaw stuck in his kennel door (he is fine now).

There have been three City of Edmonton sponsored all-candidates forums held since Nomination Day in Wards 3, 7, and 11. They were all live-streamed online and should be posted shortly afterwards on the City of Edmonton election website.

Jeff Samsonow wrote a thought-provoking article yesterday that raised some serious questions about how the media cover their colleagues who are jumping into politics. More specifically, Mr. Samsanow is referring to on-leave Edmonton Journal columnist Scott McKeen, who is standing for election in Ward 7. Journal columnist Todd Babiak shared some of his thoughts on the Edmonton Commons blog, but did not really address the issue that Mr. Samsonow was getting at.

Scanning some of the candidates websites over the past few days has revealed some interested gems. Who would have thought that the people in your neighbourhood were such a colourful bunch? For example, did you know that the guy living down the street believes that the relationship between North Edmonton and South Edmonton is similar to North Korea and South Korea? Ward 3 candidate John Oplanich says so on his website.

The Northside has been ignored for far too long at the expense of the Southside/Westend/Millwoods and City Council (Ron Hayter, Kim Krushell, Ed Gibbons, Tony Caterina) has allowed this to happen. The southside/westend /Millwoods continues to flourish, prosper and live in luxury as the northside is drowning in controversy – City Center Airport/CN Railway in Calder. For 80 years we have called this corridor a Wasteland-Dead Zone. Can we afford to wait another 40 years? We need a strong and clear voice on City Council. VOTE for CHANGE. I‘m starting to feel like I live in North Korea and on the opposite side of the river is beautiful South Korea.

Ward 4 candidate Scott Robb is the first open Satanist to stand for election in Edmonton. I do not wade into the topic of organized religion very often on this blog (for good reason) and I am not going to start now, so you can make your own judgments. Whether you agree with Mr. Robb’s religious beliefs or not, he deserves some credit for being so open with it (at least he’s not running for the Catholic School District). I asked Mr. Robb about an online campaign that has emerged against him:

“All I have to say about it is it is one man’s narrow-minded ignorant opinion of me in which he fabricated stories, took posts of mine out of context (and some were photoshopped, although he publicly denies it)…

I’m curious, is that where everyone is finding out my religious beliefs? Because Satanism is not a cult, it’s been recognized as a legit religion since the british repealed their witchcraft laws in 1951! Cults brainwash people and don’t let members leave, we urge people to learn on their own and allow them to leave our church simply with a notification that they wish to…”

Country music singer KD Lang has some kind words to say about Councillor Bryan Anderson, who is running for re-election in Ward 9.

Meanwhile, retiring Trustee Gerry Gibeault is sharing some advice from his fifteen years on the Edmonton Public School Board: School Board Secrets. One political watcher close to the public school board has told to me that the online presence of this normally low-profile Trustee in this campaign could signal Mr. Gibeault’s desire for more than just a quiet retirement. The source suggested that Mr. Gibeault could be interested in a return to provincial politics in the near future. He was the NDP MLA for Edmonton-Mill Woods from 1986 to 1993.

Mayoral candidates targeted the vote rich communities of Senior citizens in the City today. Mayor Stephen Mandel announced plans today about Seniors Housing and Recreation. The Seniors Housing plan proposes more cooperation between the City, the Province, Builders, and Seniors Groups to expand the number of seniors housing units available in Edmonton.

Mayoral candidate David Dorward made his first non-City Centre Airport related policy announcement today focusing on seniors and taxes. It has not yet been posted online or emailed out to their media list, so I do not have link to refer to. Thanks to @OrganizerMike for providing a less than 140 character summary of Mr. Dorward’s announcement:

@davecournoyer i stopped by his Presser- tax caps, tax rebates to seniors, review LRT spending -basically #yegvote

The first Mayoral all-candidates forum will be held tonight at Harry Ainley School from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. I will be there live-tweeting (follow @davecournoyer and #yegvote) and will provide some reflections on the debate later tonight.

Categories
Alberta Politics

alberta politics notes 8/06/2010

Edmonton-Mill Woods MLA Carl Benito at the Premier's Capital Ex Pancake Breakfast on July 27, 2010.

A promise is a promise, except if it’s a Carl Benito promise. SEE Magazine and the Edmonton Journal are taking Edmonton-Mill Woods PC MLA Carl Benito to task over not fulfilling his election promise to donate his entire MLA salary to a scholarship fund. According to Mr. Benito, when he promised to donate his entire salary, he did not really mean his entire salary. Mr. Benito is having a pretty tough time arguing against his own statements from election night in 2008:

On Monday night, Benito repeated his promise to donate his MLA salary (about $75,000) to a scholarship program. The idea was created to sway young people into more positive areas and away from youth-related crime, he said.
We’ve put that in writing and we’re 100-per-cent committed to it. I strongly believe in giving back to the community. The young people in Mill Woods are the future of our community.”

Since he was first elected in 2008, Mr. Benito has championed the noble causes of establishing Alberta’s Official Mushroom and trying to bring the Miss Universe Pageant to Alberta. He also described his constituents as “simple people” during a Legislative Committee meeting.
– The Government of Alberta has launched another advertising campaign promoting the oilsands as Greenpeace ninjas grab international attention by hanging a banner off the Calgary Tower.
– Two former Liberal MLAs have announced their intentions to stand in the next provincial election. Rick Miller will stand in Edmonton-Rutherford and Weslyn Mather will seek to reclaim her former riding of Edmonton-Mill Woods against the previously mentioned PC MLA Carl Benito.
– Party Vice-President Debbie Cavaliere has been chosen as the interim President of the Liberal Party, filling the vacancy left by Tony Sansotta. Ms. Cavaliere is a former Trustee with the Edmonton Catholic School District and was the Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Meadowlark during the 2008 election. Ms. Cavaliere joined the Liberals after being defeated by Dr. Raj Sherman in that constituency’s PC candidate nomination.
– The Wildrose Alliance has officially opened up candidate nominations in thirteen constituencies across Alberta.
– Two time candidate Michael Cormican is seeking the Federal Liberal nomination in Lethbridge. Mr. Cormican placed third with 9.3% of the vote in the 2008 election. The Conservatives have nominated Jim Hillyer and NDP Mark Sandilands.
– Edmonton City Councillor Ben Henderson will launch his re-election campaign in Ward 8 on August 9 at the Forest Heights-Terrace Community Hall at 5:30pm. Councillor Henderson was first elected in 2007 and is married to Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman.
Don Koziak, son of former PC cabinet minister Julian Koziak, kicked off his campaign for Mayor of Edmonton by laying out a bizarre anti-LRT platform. Mr. Koziak ran unsuccessfully against Mayor Stephen Mandel in 2007 and has made three unsuccessful bids for City Council (1995, 1998, and 2004). He was briefly nominated as the PC candidate in Edmonton-Calder in 2001 before resigning for personal reasons.

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.

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the katz group has its big block of cheese day.

I like to believe that most of the things worth writing about in this world have already been covered in an episode of the West Wing. While the topic of this video clip of Big Block of Cheese Day may be slightly more outlandish than the idea of a downtown arena district, it is the last 2:26-3:10 point that reminds me of this debate.


Last night I attended the Katz Group‘s open house at the Art Gallery of Alberta promoting the concept of a new Downtown Arena District. While I do not oppose the idea of a downtown arena, I have become frustrated with the lack of details in the Katz Group public proposal. I had hoped that by attending the open house that some of my questions about costs, funding models, and zoning would have been answered. Unfortunately, I walked out of the exhibition with more questions than answers.

The minute I walked into the lobby of the Art Gallery it became very clear that the Downtown Arena District is a political campaign. The professional branding, warm colour patterns, the drawings of futuristic downtown starchitecture, and the focus-group-tested-sounding talking points of the hosts signaled to me that the Katz Group was clearly delivering a political sales pitch. Rather than actually providing new information on costs, funding models, and zoning, guests were welcomed by Katz Group executives or associates dressed in $3,000 suits who testified to the virtues of a new Downtown Arena District. “Why downtown? It has to be downtown.

As obvious as it was to me that this was an unbridled exercise in persuasion, I worry that it may be working. As a good friend of mine pointed out, with the municipal election less than six months away, the Katz Group may be on their way to convincing Edmontonians that the Downtown Arena District is such a good idea that no cost – even the $400 million handout that they are seeking from the City – is too much for such a well-marketed idea.

I was very pleased to read that most of City Council, including both of my City Councillors (Jane Batty and Ben Henderson) remain skeptical of the Katz Group proposal. I hope that our elected Councillors do not give into the flashy marketing of this well-financed campaign and continue to demand answers from a group that is acting as if it already has its hands on the City of Edmonton’s cheque book.

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2010 Municipal Election Ben Henderson Ed Gibbons Jane Batty Tony Caterina

12 wards for edmonton in 2010.

Edmontonians won’t notice a difference until next fall, but if City Councillors approve Bylaw 15142: Ward Boundaries and Council Composition Bylaw on June 22, our city will shed the 6-Ward/2-Councillor system in favour of a more modern 12-Ward/1-Councillor system.

The original motion to move to the 12-Ward system was introduced by Councillors Don Iveson and Dave Theile on February 17, 2009 and was approved in first reading by Councillors on April 15, 2009 (Councillors Jane Batty, Amarjeet Sohi, Tony Caterina, and Ron Hayter voted against the motion). I attended the April 15 meeting, and while watching the debate on Ward boundary changes was as exciting as you can imagine, the meeting reached a climax when former Councillor Sheila Mckay yelled her opposition from the Chamber seating area (Mckay was calmed down by Mayor Stephen Mandel).

Why are Councillors voting for this change? A new 12-Ward system will allow Councillors to more easily manage constituent requests (smaller population to represent) and will theoretically create more equitable representation for Edmotonians (in many cases, the more high profile of the two Councillors in the current large 6-Ward system receive the lions share of the constituents requests). Overall, I think the proposed 12-Ward system would be a positive move for our City.

The proposed new boundaries largely respect natural and community league boundaries, and in most cases are simple divisions of the current 6-Ward map. It’s unfortunate that City Councillors are drawing their own electoral boundaries, which is something that should change in the future, but Edmontonians should be proud that their Councillors avoided the kind of gong show debate that recently engulfed Calgary’s City Council.

Here is the map of the proposed new boundaries:


From a political perspective, Council will be taking a risk in accepting the new boundaries. Looking to the 2010 election, the new boundaries will likely play a factor in determining who runs for Mayor in 2010 and if any incumbents decide to run against each in the next campaign (I’m putting early odds on an Ed Gibbons versus Tony Caterina fight in the new Ward 4, and a Ben Henderson versus Jane Batty showdown in the new Ward 6).

Related Links:

Better Edmonton: 12 Councillors, 12 Wards: More Than A Dozen Reasons Why…
Don Iveson: 12 Wards
SEE Magazine
: Councillors stake out their territory

Categories
Ben Henderson Don Iveson Doug Elniski Fred Horne Heather Klimchuk Kevin Taft Laurie Blakeman Linda Duncan Rachel Notley

photo post: edmonton pride parade 2009.


City Councillors Don Iveson and Ben Henderson show off their tricycle-made-for-two.

Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman and Edmonton-Riverview MLA Kevin Taft.

Edmonton-Strathcona MP Linda Duncan and MLA Rachel Notley.

Edmonton-Calder MLA Doug Elniski, Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Fred Horne, and Edmonton-Glenora MLA Heather Klimchuk were the first PC MLAs to ever participate in Edmonton’s Pride Parade. Klimchuk was given a unique initiation at the Pride festivities:

Edmonton Pride Parade revellers waved rainbow flags Saturday afternoon as they booed and yelled “shame” at Edmonton-Glenora MLA Heather Klimchuk, the first government minister to participate in the annual celebration.

As the Service Alberta minister spoke to a crowd of thousands at Sir Winston Churchill Square, the shouts were louder than she was.

The boos were in response to the provincial government’s passage of Bill 44 nearly two weeks ago. The bill made controversial changes to Alberta’s Human Rights Act by giving parents the right to take their children out of classes dealing with sexual orientation, human sexuality and religion.

Critics argued the new law put teachers in danger of facing human rights complaints and created a second tier of rights.