Edmonton-Calder: Alex Bosse has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate.
Edmonton-Ellerlsie: Completing the slate of 87 NDP candidates is Rod Loyola, who was nominated as the NDP in this south east Edmonton constituency. Mr. Loyola replaces previously nominated candidate Tina Jardine, who withdrew her candidacy for health reasons.
Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood: Herbal practitioner Dari Lynn has been nominated as the Evergreen Party candidate.
Lethbridge-East: Rob Miyashiro defeated Alderman Jeff Carlson to win the Liberal Party nomination. Mr. Miyashiro will face Liberal-turned-PC MLA Bridget Pastoor in the upcoming election. After serving two-term as a Liberal MLA, Ms. Pastoor crossed the floor to join the PCs in October 2011.
After a week away from the blogging world, I spent some time this weekend catching up with plenty of election nomination candidate updates. Alberta’s political parties are all in varying degrees of preparation for the upcoming election and for the next session of the Legislative Assembly. The Spring sitting of the Assembly begins this week and the provincial budget is expected to be tabled by Finance Minister Ron Liepert by the end of the week.
In Edmonton-Mill Woods, Sohail Qadri defeated controversy-prone one-term MLA Carl Benito to win the PC nomination. Mr. Benito is the third PC MLA to lose a nomination contest in the run up to the next provincial election. The PCs have been unable to find candidates to run in Calgary-Buffalo and Edmonton-Strathcona.
The NDP, with more than 70 nominated candidates, acclaimed University of Alberta student Aditya Rao as a candidate in Drumheller-Stettler last weekend.
The Liberal Party, with only 29 candidates nominated, recently chose Pete Helfrich in Banff-Cochrane, Wilson McCutchan in Calgary-West, Les Vidok in Innifail-Sylvan Lake and Jason Chilibeck in Red Deer-South. Liberal leader Raj Sherman is expected to release key parts of his party’s election platform in Calgary and Edmonton today.
The Alberta Party recently nominated Brandon Beasley in Calgary-Shaw and will soon nominate candidates Midge Lambert in Battle River-Wainwright. On March 4, Alberta Party members in Lacombe-Ponoka will choose either Tony Jeglum or Brent Chalmers as their candidate in a contested nomination.
In the electoral realm beyond political parties, Sherwood Park Independent owner James Ford announced that he will run as an Independent candidate in Sherwood Park. Mr. Ford is better known as the Independent candidate who placed a strong second to Conservative Tim Uppal in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. Mr. Ford’s candidacy in the federal elections were in response to Mr. Uppal’s nomination win over Strathcona County Councillor Jacquie Fenske, which many in the local Conservative establishment believed to be unfair. Ms. Fenske is now the nominated PC candidate in the neighbouring Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville constituency.
Edmonton-Centre: Young lawyerAkash Khokhar defeated Nicole Martel to win the PC nomination. In the next election, Mr. Khokhar will face Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman, who has represented the constituency since 1997.
Edmonton-Gold Bar: Past Mayoral candidate David Dorward defeated past City Council candidate Lori Jeffrey-Heany to become the PC candidate. This is Mr. Dorward’s second attempt at becoming MLA in Gold Bar. In 2008, he placed second to Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald, who will be retiring at the next election.
Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville: Strathcona County Councillor Jacquie Fenske defeated Tofield Mayor Nabil Chehayeb, former Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Jim Sheasgreen, Gene Hrabec, and Adam Kozakiewicz to become the PC candidate. Former Premier Ed Stelmach has represented this region since 1993.
UPCOMING NOMINATION MEETINGS
The PCs will be holding a packed week of nomination meetings that will see Alberta’s 40 year governing party nearly fill its entire slate of 87 candidates. Two final nomination meetings are scheduled to be held in February to replace MLAs who recently announced their retirements.
I will be away from my blog for the next week, so to earn forgiveness for my absence, here is a look at the PC nomination meetings that will be happening in the final week of January. I will provide updates when I return.
Lethbridge-East (January 26, 2012): Former Liberal MLA Bridget Pastoor is facing Lethbridge County Reeve Lorne Hickey for the PC nomination. Ms. Pastoor has represented the constituency since 2004 and cross the floor to join the PC caucus in late 2011. Lethbridge Alderman Jeff Carlson and Lethbridge Senior Citizens Origanization executive director Rob Miyashiro announced this week that they will seek the Liberal nomination (date not scheduled). The constituency has been represented by Liberal MLAs since 1993.
Edmonton-Riverview (January 27, 2012): Edmonton police office Steve Young and businessman Tom Choucair are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency has been represented by Liberal MLA Kevin Taft, who is not seeking re-election.
Edmonton-Strathcona (January 27, 2012): No candidate stepped forward to claim the nomination, though the date is still listed on the PC Party website.
Airdrie (January 28, 2012): Former Airdrie Mayor Linda Bruce, Councillor Kelly Hegg, and Michael Crawford are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency is represented by MLA Rob Anderson, who left the PC Party in 2010 to join the Wildrose Alliance.
Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock (January 28, 2012): The retirement of Speaker Ken Kowalski, who has represented this region since 1979, has attracted five candidates including Morinville Mayor Lloyd Bertschi, Westlock Town Councillor David Truckey, ministerial executive assistant Tim Schultz, and Westlock County Councillors Maureen Kubinec and Bert Seatter.
Calgary-Varsity (January 28, 2012): Former Nexen Vice-President Donna Kennedy-Glans is facing Ph.D. business student Rhiannon MacDonnell. The constituency has been represented by Liberal MLA Harry Chase since 2004. Mr. Chase is retiring at the next election.
Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo (January 28, 2012): Four candidates have lined up to earn the right to face PC-turned-Wildrose MLA Guy Boutiler as the PC candidate. Candidates include Councillor Mike Allen, teacher Andrew Highfield, Nick Sanders, and School Trustee Jeff Thompson.
Grande Prairie-Smoky (January 28, 2012): The retirement of former cabinet minister Mel Knight has sparked a three-way nomination contest that has drawn Grande Prairie County Reeve Everett McDonald,Tab Pollock, and Tom Burton.
Highwood (January 28, 2012): Associate publisher at the Okotoks Western Wheel John Barlow, John Hankins, and Okotoks Town Councillor Ed Sands are seeking the PC nomination. Wildrose leader Danielle Smith is also seeking election in this constituency.
Little Bow (January 28, 2012): Deputy Reeve of the County of Lethbridge Henry Doeve and former County Councillor John Kolk are seeking the PC nomination.
Medicine Hat (January 28, 2012): Former Alderman Darren Hirsch, retired school district superintendent Linda Rossler, and Investment Advisor Dan Hein are seeking the PC nomination to replace long-time MLA Rob Renner. Mr. Hein is the former campaign manager for Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne
Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood (January 30, 2012): Past City Council candidate Cris Basualdo and Emerson Mayers are the two candidates I have heard are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency has been represented by NDP MLA Brian Mason since 2000.
Edmonton-South West (January 30, 2012): This new constituency has drawn the candidacy of four PC nominees Charles Balenga, Tofael Chowdhury, Matt Jeneroux, and Eva Mah-Borsato.
Calgary-Buffalo (January 30, 2012): Donna Haslam is the only candidate that I am aware of who is seeking the PC nomination. The constituency has been represented by popular Liberal MLA Kent Hehr since 2008.
With an election fast approaching, Alberta’s political parties are busy nominating candidates across the province. Here is a regional breakdown showing where candidates have been nominated and some of the recent updates.
Airdrie: Former Airdrie MayorLinda Bruce and current Alderman Kelly Hegg are seeking the Progressive Conservative nomination.
Calgary-McCall: It is a full house in the PC nomination contest on January 21, 2012 with 10 candidates having entered the race. Candidates include Khandaker Alam, Deepshikha Brar, Afzal Hanid, Amtul Khan, Jamie Lall, Aslam Malik, Ravi Prasad, Muhammad Rasheed, Jagdeep Sahota, and Jangbahadur Sidhu.
Calgary-Mountain View: Lawyer Cecilia Low was acclaimed as the PC candidate. This constituency has been represented by Liberal MLA David Swann since 2004.
Calgary-Northwest: First reported on this blog, former cabinet minster Lindsay Blackett will not be seeking re-election. Sandra Jansen announced yesterday that she will be seeking the PC nomination. Ms. Jansen is a former news anchor for Global Television and has served as Communications Manager for Premier Alison Redford‘s Southern Alberta Office since late last year.
Calgary-Shaw: The Alberta Party will be holding a nomination meeting on January 30, 2012. At this time, Brandon Beasley is the only declared candidate.
Edmonton-Centre: Urban Development Institute executive director Nicole Martel is seeking the PC nomination scheduled for January 24, 2012. Ms. Martel was the federal Liberal candidate in Edmonton-East in the 2006 election and a candidate for the Liberal nomination in Edmonton-Centre in 2008.
Edmonton-Ellerlise: Past Public School Board candidate Tina Jardine has withdrawn her name as the NDP candidate for personal reasons.
Edmonton-Gold Bar: Dennis O’Neill was acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate.
Edmonton-Mill Woods: Despite bizarre nomination shenanigans, the PCs will hold their nomination meeting on January 28, 2012. Candidates include Ron Randhawa, Sohail Qadri, and controversy-prone MLA Carl Benito.
Edmonton-Riverview: Taleb Choucair, Edmonton Police Officer Steve Young, and former Public School Trustee Bev Esslinger are seeking the PC nomination on January 27, 2012.
Edmonton-South West: Allan Hunsperger is the nominated Wildrose candidate. Matt Jeneroux and Tofael Chowdhury are competing in the PC nomination scheduled for January 30, 2012. Mr. Choudhury was a candidate for the federal Liberal nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona in 2008.
Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo: Andrew Highfield has joined declared candidates Mike Allen, Nick Sanders, and Jeff Thompson in competing for the PC nomination scheduled for January 28, 2012.
Lethbridge-East: Lethbridge County Reeve Lorne Hickey is challenging Liberal-turned-Tory MLA Bridget Pastoor for the PC nomination scheduled for January 26, 2012.
Medicine Hat: Darren Hirsch and Linda Rossler are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency is currently represented by 17-year MLA Rob Renner, who is not seeking re-election.
Red Deer-North: Well-known local historian Michael Dawe is seeking the Liberal nomination scheduled to be held on January 19, 2012.
Sherwood Park: Six candidates are vying for the PC nomination on January 21, 2012 to replace outgoing MLA Iris Evans. Declared candidates include Matthew Bissett, County Councillor Brian Botterill, Helen Calahasen, Murray Hutchinson, former Mayor Cathy Oleson, and local PC organizerSusan Timanson. Ms. Calahasen is the sister of long-time Lesser Slave Lake MLAPearl Calahasen.
Vermilion-Lloydminster: Dr. Richard Starke was acclaimed as the PC candidate to replace outgoing MLA Lloyd Snelgrove.
Former PC Member of Parliament Douglas Fee has joined the PC nomination contest, to be held on February 10 and 11. Mr. Fee served as the MP for Red Deer from 1988 to 1993.
Each year around this time, I compile a list of a handful of Members of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly who I believe deserve mentioning following their political performance over the past year. This is just my list, so please feel free to agree, disagree, or make your own suggestions in the comment section below. Here is my list of MLAs that made a significant impact on Alberta’s political scene in 2011:
Ed Stelmach (Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville) – Honest Ed – Triggering Alberta’s most significant political event of 2011, Premier Ed Stelmach surprised many political watchers when he announced his retirement after only four years in the job. Almost immediately, his party’s political fortunes improved, showing increased support in the polls and attracting six candidates to its leadership contest.
Characterized by his opponents as a back-country rural politician, I believe history will be kinder when his achievements, such as the initiation of the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, the creation of the Capital Region Board, and significant public infrastructure investments across the province, are fully realized.
Alison Redford (Calgary-Elbow) – ‘New Hope‘ – Bringing renewed hope of generational renewal to the PC Party, first-term MLA and now Premier Alison Redford set a positive tone after being elected as leader in October 2011. She is smart, well-spoken, and bring a world of experience with her to the office. She still has to answer for the half-fulfilled promises like the creation of a “fixed election period” rather than the promised fixed-election date and empowering the quasi-judicial Health Quality Council, rather than the promised Judicial inquiry, to investigate the intimidation of health care professionals. Her reasonable responses to international corporations questioning Alberta’s environmental record is both refreshing and reasonable, now let us see some action.
Doug Horner (Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert) – Steady Second in Command – Placing third in the crowded PC leadership contest, cabinet minister Doug Horner’s support of Ms. Redford on the second ballot of the PC leadership contest helped make her Premier. Now as Deputy Premier and President of the Treasury Board, Minister Horner sits in the powerful position of being his party’s northern Alberta messenger in the next provincial election. This is similar to a role played by his father, Dr. Hugh Horner, when he served as Deputy Premier to Premier Peter Lougheed in the 1970s. He is smart and tough, and is in an ideal position to place himself as Premier Redford’s successor if the next election does not go smoothly for their party.
Brian Mason (Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood) – Veteran leader with a cause – With a talented knack for quippy one-liners, NDP leader Brian Mason continues to outshine the other opposition leaders in the media and on the Assembly floor. With the Liberals moving to the political-right in order to compete with the Tories and Wildrose Party, Mr. Mason has carved out a recogizable piece of the political spectrum for his tiny social democratic party. With only a few months before the next provincial election, the NDP’s chances of making electoral gains in 2012 looks good. Will Mr. Mason get a new title in 2012? Maybe Leader of the Official Opposition?
Raj Sherman (Edmonton-Meadowlark) – new Liberal – Former Tory backbencher Raj Sherman inherited a divided and drifting party when he was elected Liberal Party leader in September 2011. Dr. Sherman talks about creating a business-friendly and socially-liberal party, which sounds suspiciously like political real estate already happily occupied by the PC Party. It is still unclear what the future of the Liberal Party will look like under his leadership, especially after losing the floor-crossing Lethbridge MLA Bridget Pastoor and retiring veteran MLAs Kevin Taft, Harry Chase, and Hugh MacDonald.
Hugh MacDonald (Edmonton-Gold Bar) – True Grit& Defender of the Faith – Edmonton-Gold Bar MLA Hugh MacDonald ran a passionate campaign of partisan preservation in this year’s Liberal Party leadership contest. His campaign did not prevail and following his defeat to Dr. Sherman he announced his plans to retire when the next election is called. Mr. MacDonald’s loss is also a loss for the Assembly, which will lose one of the hardest working and determined opposition MLAs. If the next election does not go well for his party, there may be more than a few Liberal stalwarts asking for Mr. MacDonald to come back.
Rob Anderson (Airdrie-Chestermere) – The Wildrose’s Thorn – First elected as a PC MLA in 2008, Rob Anderson crossed the floor to the Wildrose Party in 2010. Since then, he has relished in his role as an opposition MLA, becoming his party’s unofficial leader on the Assembly floor. While he is sometimes over the top (and negative) in his accusations against the governing Tories, his presence overshadows his three Wildrose caucus colleagues to the point where he might as well be a one man opposition caucus.
Jonathan Denis (Calgary-Egmont) – Rising Star – In his first-term as a PC MLA, Jonathan Denis has gone from backbencher to holding two cabinet portfolios. As Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs (which is now part of the Ministry of Human Services), Minister Denis supported the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness through its second and third years. The plan’s focus on the Housing-First Principle is key to its success. After supporting Ted Morton and Mr. Mar in the PC leadership contest, Minister Denis found himself promoted to Solicitor General in Premier Redford’s first cabinet.
Dave Taylor (Calgary-Currie) – The Alberta’s Party’s first MLA – The former Liberal MLA became the first Alberta Party MLA in January 2011. He may have played a low key role in the two sittings of the Assembly since he joined that party, but his jumping to the new party helped put them on the political map. Mr. Taylor will not be seeking re-election when the next provincial vote is called.
Doug Griffiths (Battle River-Wainwright) – Young Pup – After almost ten years as a PC backbencher, Doug Griffiths entered this year’s PC leadership contest as a dark horse and a long-shot. On the campaign trail he spoke articulately and passionately about issues that make conservative partisans uncomfortable. He placed last in the leadership contest and made what should have been a political career ending decision when he then endorsed another losing candidate. Somehow, he ended up as a cabinet minister after Premier Redford was elected. His energy and open-mindedness as a cabinet minister is refreshing and much needed.
To keep the list short it is limited to current MLAs, which immediately excludes a few people who made a big impact on the province’s political scene this year. While I did not include them in this list, I feel there are a few non-MLAs who deserve an honourable mention for having made a significant impact on Alberta’s political scene in 2011. They are Gary Mar, Naheed Nenshi, Danielle Smith, Sue Huff, and Stephen Carter.
For the past year I have been maintaining a list of declared and nominated candidates planning to stand in Alberta’s next provincial general election. To give readers a better idea about where in the province the five main political parties are actually nominating candidates, I have created an easy spreadsheet with a regional breakdown.
For the regional breakdown, I have used the same divisions used by Wikipedia. The Edmonton region consists of all constituencies within the city, and St. Albert, Spruce Grove-St. Albert, Sherwood Park, and Strathcona-Sherwood Park.
Here are some of the recent updates that I made to the list:
Calgary-Klein: Chris Tahn was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate.
Cardston-Taber-Warner: Pat Shimbashi defeated MLA Broyce Jacobs to win the PC nomination. Mr. Jacobs was first elected in 2001, was defeated by Alberta Alliance candidate Paul Hinman in 2004, and was re-elected in 2008.
Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville: Tofield Mayor Nabil Chehayeb has entered the PC nomination race. Already in the race are Vegreville Mayor Richard Coleman, Strathcona County Councillor Jacquie Fenske, and former Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Jim Sheasgreen. The nomination meeting to replace local MLA and former Premier Ed Stelmach is scheduled to be held on January 23, 2012.
Lacombe-Ponoka: Doug Hart is seeking the NDP nomination in this central Alberta constituency. In the 1989 election, Mr. Hart was the NDP candidate in the now defunct Ponoka-Rimbey constituency. He is the President of the Federal NDP association in the Wetaskiwin riding.
Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills: Darcy Davis has won the PC nomination in this central Alberta constituency. Mr. Davis defeated candidate Al Kemmere and Will Stevenson. Mr. Davis is the past Chair of Alberta Beef Producers.
Stony Plain: Stony Plain Mayor Ken Lemke is the nominated PC candidate, having defeated four other candidates – Parkland County Councillor Dianne Allen, Vern Hardman, David Cymbaluk and second-place finisher Lorna Wolodko. The Wildrose Party will nominate their candidate on December 17. Hal Tagg is only candidate to declare his entry so far.
West Yellohead: Barry Madsen is expected to be acclaimed at a December 9 nomination meeting in Hinton. As the NDP candidate in the 2004 provincial election, Mr. Madsen placed second with 21% of the vote.
According to Calgary Herald columnistDon Braid, Liberal MLA Bridget Pastoor will cross the floor and join the Progressive Conservative caucus today. Ms. Pastoor is currently serving her second term as the MLA for Lethbridge-East, a constituency represented by Liberal MLAs since 1993. She is currently assigned Official Opposition critic roles for Agriculture and Rural Development, Seniors and Community Supports, and Municipal Affairs.
Ms. Pastoor was a PC supporter during the Premiership of Peter Lougheed and in 2009 suggested that she was thinking about crossing the floor. As a respected member of the opposition benches, this move would be a blow to Liberal leader Raj Sherman (a former PC MLA) and a certain win for Premier Alison Redford.
The Liberal Party has struggled in the polls and suffered from serious internal party dissent since the 2008 provincial election. Though its large outstanding debts have been paid off, the Liberal Party continues to operate with minimal staff support (its executive director position is currently vacant). The party is now lead by its third leader in four years and a recent poll has placed the party in fourth place province-wide behind the PCs, Wildrose Party, and NDP.
While Lethbridge’s two constituencies have traditionally been a close fought battleground between the Progressive Conservatives and Liberals (voters in Lethbridge-East have elected Liberal MLAs since 1993, including former party leader Ken Nicol and current MLA Bridget Pastoor), the area has seen substantial growth for the NDP. In the May 2011 federal election, NDP candidate Mark Sandilands earned an unheard-of strong 27% of the vote, mostly concentrated within Lethbridge city limits. When the votes from the federal election are overlaid on the Lethbridge-West provincial boundaries, the NDP earned around 38% of the vote in the provincial constituency.
The constituency is currently represented by first-term MLA and Advanced Education & Technology Minister Greg Weadick.
Calgary-Buffalo: First-term MLA Kent Hehr has been acclaimed as the Liberal Party candidate. Mr. Hehr was elected in 2008 with 48% of the vote. The Wildrose have acclaimed former QR77 radio host Mike Blanchard as their candidate. Mr. Blanchard had originally sought his party’s nomination in the new constituency of Calgary-Nose Hill-Mackay, but was defeated by Roy Alexander.
Drayton Vally-Devon: Town of Drayton Valley Councillor Dean Shular has been acclaimed as the Wildrose candidate in his constituency. Mr. Shular was first elected to Town Council in 2007.
Drumheller-Stettler: A fifth candidate has joined the Wildrose nomination contest in this east central Alberta constituency. Drumheller Jeweler and FreemasonDoug Wade in Drumheller-Stettler. As reported on this blog in July, Dave France, Rick Strankman, Chris Warwick, and Patrick Turnbull are also seeking the Wildrose nomination.
Edmonton-Meadowlark: Local Wildrose activist Rick Newcombe was acclaimed as the Wildrose candidate in this west Edmonton constituency. Mr. Newcombe had originally sought his party’s nomination in Edmonton-Whitemud, but stepped aside in favour of Ian Crawford. The area is currently represented by former Tory MLA Raj Sherman, who is currently a candidate for the Liberal Party leadership.
Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: He denied it on June 9, but on July 10 landowners rights advocate and Rimbey Town Councillor Joe Anglin submitted his papers to become a candidate for the Wildrose nomination in this constituency. The former Alberta Green Party leader is facing Rocky Mountain House Town Councillor Sheila Mizera and past-president of the local Wildorse Association Ed Wicks.
Sherwood Park-Strathcona: Two candidates have put their names forward for the Wildrose nomination in this constituency. Strathcona County Councillor Jason Gariepy and Paul Nemetchek. Councillor Gariepy made headlines last years when he was sanctioned after sending an email critical of a press release quoting local MLAs Iris Evans and Dave Quest. Mr. Nemetchek was campaign manager for former Reform Party MP Ken Epp.
West Yellowhead: Alberta Party leader Glenn Taylor has been officially nominated as his party’s candidate in the sprawling west Alberta constituency of West Yellowhead.
Mr. Taylor was first elected as the Mayor of the Town of Hinton in 2004 and ran as a candidate for the NDP in this constituency in 1997. I am told that Mr. Taylor will be leaving his position as Mayor this fall to focus full-time on the party’s leadership.
Calgary: The NDP are expected to hold a round of joint-nomination meetings for candidates in Calgary later this month.
Three years later.
What a change three years can make. On March 3, 2008, Premier Ed Stelmach led the PCs to a massive majority, winning 72 of 83 seats in the Assembly. The sweep saw the Kevin Taft led Liberals halved from 16 MLAs to 9 MLAs and that party’s stronghold in Edmonton wither to three seats, Brian Mason‘s NDP were reduced from 4 to 2 MLAs, and the Wildrose Alliance‘s leader and only MLA Paul Hinman was defeated in Cardston-Taber-Warner (he would later be elected in the 2009 Calgary-Glenmore by-election). The election also marked the lowest voter-turnout in Alberta’s history as almost 60% of Albertans did not exercise the vote.
The letter was discovered when it was accidentally delivered to Edmonton-StrathconaNDP MP Linda Duncan‘s Ottawa office. Unfortunately for Ms. Duncan, her office does not have much moral authority on this issue. In February 2010, a conservative blogger discovered that Ms. Duncan’s Constituency Assistant and Campaign Manager Erica Bullwinkle had used her Parliamentary email account for campaign purposes.
More Tories join Wildrose
Former Finance Minister Lyle Oberg is not the only former Tory member to join the Wildrose Alliance. Perennial Edmonton PC nomination candidate Ian Crawford has also signed up for a Wildrose membership. Mr. Crawford, who last ran unsuccessfully for the PC nomination in Edmonton-Meadowlark against Raj Sherman and (now-Liberal Party executive) Debbie Cavaliere in 2007, is the son of former PC cabinet minister Neil Crawford.
Liberals tackle health care
The Liberals are without a long-term leader, but that has not stopped them from focusingon healthcare – an issue I believe could be their ticket back to relevance before the next election, especially while the Wildrose continues to push for increased privatization inside the health care system.
AHS Chair joining PC contest?
Alberta Health Services Chairman Ken Hughes‘ name has been bandied around as a potential candidate for the PC leadership contest. The former PC MP and insurance industry executive has reportedly been testing the waters through phone polls over the past few weeks.
Deputy Pastoor Lethbridge-East MLA Bridget PastoorreplacedEdmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman as Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition this week. Ms. Blakeman, who is seeking the Liberal leadership, will continue in her other critic roles.
I have updated the list of nominated and declared election candidates to include two PC MLAs who were nominated this week, PC leadership candidate and former Justice Minister Allison Redford was chosen as her party’s candidate in Calgary-Elbow at a nomination meeting this week. Ms. Redford was first elected in 2008, unseating Liberal MLA Craig Cheffins in a close-fought campaign. Elbow was represented by Ralph Klein from 1989 until his resignation in 2007, when Mr. Cheffins was elected in a by-election.
Red Deer-South PC MLACal Dallas won his party’s nomination in the constituency he was first elected to represent in 2008.
The Calgary Herald has been posting a number of YouTube video interviews on their website. In this one, pollster Janet Brown offers some thoughts on the PC leadership contest:
Liberal Party President Erick Ambtman edged out Calgary-Buffalo MLA Kent Hehr in the latest blog poll asking readers of this blog who they thought should replace Calgary-Mountain View MLA David Swann as leader of his party. In close third is former Edmonton Member of Parliament Anne McLellan, a high-profile name in Alberta politics.
Mr. Ambtman is a virtual unknown to most people outside Liberal Party and some other political circles, but his performance at a media conference following Dr. Swann’s resignation announcement gave him an opportunity to show off some of his respectable speaking skills to the media. If he does not seek his party’s leadership, he could be a strong candidate in the next election.
After reportedly consulting party officials about his future this past weekend, Dr. Swann is expected to officially announce his resignation to the eight MLA Liberal caucus at a 10:00am meeting tomorrow morning.
One Liberal source told me tonight told me that Dr. Swann is expected to make his announcement public at an 11:30am media conference tomorrow morning at the Alberta Legislature Building. He is expected to announce that he will remain as leader until the end of the Spring Session, when a leadership contest will start or interim leader could be appointed.
Dr. Swann was elected leader in December 2008, replacing Edmonton-Riverview MLA Kevin Taft as Leader of the Official Opposition. Under the well-meaning and soft-spoken Dr. Swann, the Liberals have faced a number of problems in the form of resignations, internal party divisions, and which have manifested itself into some substantial external communications challenges, which have all been magnified as that party fell to third place behind the Wildrose Alliance in public opinion polls.
Sources tell me that Edmonton-Gold Bar MLA Hugh MacDonald is likely to seek the Liberal Party leadership.
The Alberta Liberalsshuffled their shadow cabinet yesterday in preparation for the Spring Sitting of the Legislature, an expected PC cabinet shuffle, and a provincial election expected early in 2012. After a rough 2010 filled with internalpartydivisions, incoherent messaging, and growing communicationschallenges, the Liberals need to be a lot more strategic in 2011 if they want to be a significant player in the political narrative building towards a 2012 provincial election.
With only eight Liberal MLAs in the Assembly, there are not many combinations that would make for a dramatic shuffle of critic portfolios, but yesterday’s changes includes some interesting moves.
There were a few interesting moves, including shuffling Hugh MacDonald out of the Labour critic portfolios and Kent Hehr from Justice critic to Energy, but most interesting move has Health & Wellness critic Kevin Taft shuffled aside to let Liberal leader David Swann take an additional critic responsibility. This gives us a pretty good clue about what the Liberals want to focus on in 2011, and how they might try to write themselves back into the political narrative.
Becoming the Health Care Party.
Health care was the dominant issue of the Fall 2010 sitting of the Legislature and is expected to be front and centre when the Spring sitting begins on February 22, 2011. The past six months of high-profile health care news stories, the firing of Dr. Raj Sherman, and the political battles that ensued make it a no-brainer why the Liberals would want their leader to be front and centre on this issue.
The soft-spoken Dr. Swann brings years of practical experience as a medical doctor that gives him a unique and personal perspective from inside the health care system, but that does not make his challenge any easier. As Health & Wellness critic, Dr. Taft has easily been the most well spoken and focused Liberal MLA in the Assembly. Carrying a wealth of knowledge collected after years working in the health care policy field, Dr. Taft was a formidable critic in that role.
As a strategy, it would be smart for the Liberals to want to become the health care party and the main alternative to the “lurch planning” of the Progressive Conservatives and the privatization agenda of the Wildrose Alliance. Putting their leader front and centre is one small step towards this and gaining more media attention, as NDP leader Brian Mason has discovered in his dual role as Health critic for his party.
The big challenge for any party is whether to emphasize the strength of their current team or improve the visibility of their current leader? With Dr. Taft having announced that he will not be standing for re-election there is a good argument to be made that the caucus should shift that high profile role to an MLA who is planning to stand for re-election. The challenge for the eight Liberal MLAs is whether they can afford to put their leader front and centre at the cost of putting one of their strongest players on the bench? It is a bit of gamble, but it could work for the Liberals.
New Liberal Critic Portfolios
David Swann (Calgary-Mountain View)- Health & Wellness, Executive Council Laurie Blakeman (Edmonton-Centre) – Environment, Sustainable Resource Development, Culture and Community Spirit Harry Chase (Calgary-Varsity) – Children and Youth Services, Tourism, Parks, and Recreation, Employment and Immigration Kent Hehr (Calgary-Buffalo) – Energy, Education Darshan Kang (Calgary-McCall) – Service Alberta, Housing and Urban Affairs, Infrastructure, Transportation Hugh MacDonald (Edmonton-Gold Bar) – Treasury Board, Finance and Enterprise, Justice and Attorney General, Solicitor General and Public Security Bridget Pastoor (Lethbridge-East) – Seniors and Community Supports, Municipal Affairs, International and Intergovernmental Affairs, Agriculture and Rural Development Kevin Taft (Edmonton-Riverview) – Aboriginal Relations, Advanced Education and Technology
It was supposed to be a boring week in Alberta politics. What was billed as a low-key and low-substance return of the Assembly for its fall sitting may still be lacking on substance, but it is not as low-key as most political watchers expected.
The Wizard of Zwoz introduces the Alberta Health Act
Health and Wellness Minister Gene Zwozdesky introduced Bill 17: The Alberta Health Act this afternoon. The Alberta Health Act has been a target of health care advocates since Edmonton-Rutherford PC MLA Fred Horne embarked on a province-wide road trip to “consult” Albertans on the proposed Act. The Edmonton Journal’s Sheila Pratt interviewed many of the people at these meetings, yet none of the criticism she discovered was reported in Mr. Horne’s committee’s final report. Minister Zwozdesky’s introductory speech was quick to target opposition to the Bill, which could open the door to further privatization after the next election.
Liberal Point of Order awaits Alberta Health Act
Minister Zwozdesky probably hoped to impress the opposition with his oratory introduction but it did not take long for Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman was less than impressed. Ms. Blakeman was quick to pounce after the Health Minister’s speech, raising a point of order accusing him of improperly using the time allotted for him during the Bill’s first reading. Speaker Ken Kowalski was not amused. He rarely is these days.
Wildrose fundraises and attracts a familiar face
Speaking in front of a crowd of 800 guests, Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith held her largest fundraiser yet in Calgary this week (the question and answer period was hosted by 630 CHED host Dave Rutherford). The Wildrose Alliance announced the nomination of three more candidates this week. Against the other opposition parties leaders, Shane McAllister will stand in Calgary-Mountainview and Wayde Lever in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood. In the new Calgary-Greenway, 2008 independent/jettisoned PC candidate Ron Leech who will carry the Wildrose banner against rookie PC MLA Manmeet Bhullar. Mr. Bhullar squeaked out a win against Pastor Leech in 2008 when the local PC constituency organization was in disarray following the retirement of long-time MLA Hung Pham. Pastor Leech was originally nominated by the local PC association, but was removed and replaced by the appointed Mr. Bhullar.
Leaky Fawcett to stand in Calgary-Klein
PC backbencher Kyle Fawcett proposed an amendment to the Electoral Boundaries Commission Final Report that would have his constituency of Calgary-North Hillre-namedCalgary-Klein in the next provincial election (in honour of former Premier Ralph Klein). Mr. Fawcett (known as “Leaky Fawcett” in some political circles) got his wish. Other new constituency names are Strathcona (which will be known as Strathcona-Sherwood Park) and Calgary-Montrose (which will be known as Calgary-Greenway).
The member of four political parties will be gathering for official party functions over the next month. Starting today, the Progressive Conservative’s will be meeting for their policy convention in Calgary. The NDP will be holding their Annual Convention in Red Deer on November 5, 6, and 7. The Alberta Liberals will be electing a new party President, Vice-President Policy, and Secretary at their Annual General Meeting scheduled for November 27 in Red Deer. The new kid on the political block, the Alberta Party will be holding their policy convention on November 13. Here is a video from their recent Annual General Meeting:
The NDP deserve credit for taking the initiative in bringing this issue to the forefront and effectively defining the first week of the sitting. There are all sorts of political reasons why the motion for emergency debate did not pass yesterday. The most obvious reason was that the PCs had no interest in being lambasted over the situation in our Emergency Rooms on the 6pm news. The Liberals also have little interest in providing NDP MLA Brian Mason with a platform to grandstand on the first day of the session. Politics as usual.
Away from the politics under the Dome of the Legislative Assembly, I attended the Alberta Party‘s Big Listen on Public Health Care last night. Crowded around a table in the basement of Sacred Heart Church on 96 Street in Edmonton, a group of former PCs, Liberals, and New Democrats participated in listening and respectful discussion about hopes, pressures, and opportunities for our public health care system. It was a refreshing contrast to the political plays and drama on the Assembly floor. The Alberta Party have been developing their policies at hundreds of meetings like this over the past six months and will be creating their policies at a November policy convention in Red Deer.