With three days left until Alberta’s provincial election begins, most parties are still filling their slates of candidates. The United Conservative Party is the only party currently with a full slate of 87 candidates. The Alberta NDP have named 84 candidates and are expected to complete their slate of 87 by Sunday, April 30.
The NDP have nominated Colleen Quintal in Cardston-Siksika. Quintal is President of the NDP constituency association in Lethbridge-East and works as a staff representative with CUPE in Lethbridge.
The NDP are expected to name candidates this weekend in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, Grande Prairie-Wapiti and Taber-Warner.
The Alberta Party has named Wayne Rufiange is as their candidate in Morinville-St. Albert. Rufiange sought the Alberta Party nomination in the riding in 2019, but was defeated by former St. Albert city councillor Neil Korotash. He instead ran in Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock in the last election.
Brad Friesen is running for the Alberta Party in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo.
The Independence Party has nominated Rodney Bowen as their candidate in Central Peace-Notley.
The Wildrose Independence Party has nominated interim party leader Jeevan Mangat in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake and Mike Lorusso in Highwood.
Although their nomination meetings are still scheduled on the NDP website, Elections Alberta’s website shows the NDP have endorsed Tanika Chaisson in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, Kevin McLean in Grande Prairie, Harry Singh in Drayton Valley-Devon and Jessica Hallam in Highwood.
The NDP is expected to have candidates nominated in Cardston-Siksika, Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, Grande Prairie-Wapiti and Taber-Warner by April 30. The four are all considered extremely safe UCP ridings, which is probably why the NDP is in no rush to fill those spots.
Meanwhile, some of the smaller parties are continuing to name candidates.
The Alberta Party now has a slate of 16 with the addition of three more candidates to its roster:
Jason Avramenko is running in Calgary-Currie. He ran for the Alberta Party in Chestermere-Strathmore in the 2019 election.
Glenn Andersen is running in Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul. Anderson was mayor of St. Paul from 2007 to 2017 and ran for the Alberta Party in the same riding in 2019. He also ran for the PC Party nomination in the former Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills riding in 2015.
Braham Luddu is running in Lethbridge-West. He ran for the Alberta Party in Calgary-Cross in the last election.
The Liberal Party is now up to 11 candidates after naming Zarnab Zafar in Calgary-Beddington, Leila Keith in Calgary-Currie, and Dylin Hauser in Livingstone-Macleod. Keith ran in Calgary-South East and Hauser ran in Livingstone-Macleod in 2019.
The Buffalo Party has nominated Andrew Jacobson in Edmonton-Strathcona. Jacobson is the first candidate nominated to run in an election under the Buffalo banner since the party’s creation in February 2022.
Brooklyn Biegel has been named as the Independence Party candidate in Grande Prairie-Wapiti.
Conrad Nunweiler is running as an Independent separatist candidate in Peace River.
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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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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.
Rumours circulated over the weekend that the UCP could appoint Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Rajan Sawhney as the UCP candidate in Calgary-North West. Sawhney has served as MLA for Calgary-North East since 2019 but announced in February 2023 that she would not run for re-election.
There is also speculation in political circles that the UCP could name Nolan Dyck as the party’s candidate in Grande Prairie-Wapiti. Dyck is currently seeking the nomination in the neighbouring Grande Prairie riding but is President of the UCP association in Grande Prairie-Wapiti and is politically close to Toews.
Liberal Party names 6 new candidates
The Liberal Party has named six new candidates, bringing the party’s total slate of candidates up to seven.
The slate of new candidates includes Dr. Donna Wilson, a nursing professor at the University of Alberta who’s area of research focuses on health services and health policy.
Wilson will be carrying the party’s banner in Edmonton-Whitemud, where she previously ran for the Liberals in a 2014 by-election. Back then, the Liberals were led by now-UCP candidate Dr. Raj Sherman and the Wildrose Party was led by now UCP Premier Danielle Smith. The riding is currently represented by NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi.
Wilson also ran for the Liberals in Edmonton-Riverview in the 2015 election.
Other Liberal Party candidates include:
Charlie Heater in Calgary-Fish Creek
Prince Mugisha in Calgary-North East
Jean Kijuli in Edmonton-Manning
Abdi Bakal in Edmonton-Mill Woods
Patricia Chizek in Lethbridge-West
Bakal and Chizek were candidates in those ridings in the 2019 election. Liberal Party leader John Roggeveen has not announced where he plans to run.
Other nomination updates
The Independence Party of Alberta has nominated Bob Blayone in Camrose, Terry Wolsey in Cardston-Siksika, David Reid in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, Corrie Toone in Livigstone-Macleod, Katherine Kowalchuk in Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, Fred Schwieger in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, Brent Ginther in Taber-Warner.
Ashley MacDonald is the Green Party candidate in Red Deer-South.
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).
Today’s by-election in Brooks-Medicine Hat will determine if Premier Danielle Smith will have a seat in the Alberta Legislature, but ahead of that vote here are the latest candidate nomination updates.
Wellwood has a long history of posts on social media in which she has compared vaccine passports to Nazi Germany, promoted ivermectin as a cure for COVID-19, and spread the conspiracy theory that U.S. President Joe Biden stole the 2020 election from former president Donald Trump.
“I think her focus is not where the people of Livingstone-Macleod are focused,” Mr. Reid said in an interview when asked if he would support Ms. Wellwood. “What she has been posting and what she’s been speaking to is not addressing the broad concerns of most of the residents of this riding.”
Ms. Wellwood said she did not have time to respond to questions on Thursday.
Wellwood blamed the “party elite” in a statement saying she would appeal her disqualification.
Her appeal will be a first test of the new UCP board, which is now about half controlled by supporters of the Take Back Alberta PAC slate, which swept the elections at the recent UCP AGM. Supporters of that PAC have called for the reopening of nominations in Cardston-Sikiska and Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, where challengers to the incumbent MLAs were disqualified earlier this year for making controversial statements on social media.
Former Wildrose MLA challenges Hanson
Former Wildrose MLA Scott Cyr joins former MD of Bonnyville Reeve Greg Sawchuck in challenging MLA David Hanson for the UCP nomination in Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul.
Cyr was first elected in 2015 and did not run for re-election in 2019 after his Bonnyville-Cold Lake and Hanson’s Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills ridings were merged in the electoral boundaries redistribution. Cyr endorsed Hanson in 2018.
Fred Kreiner of Jasper and Lavone Olson of Brule are running for the NDP nomination in West Yellowhead. Olson was Yellowhead County Councillor from 2007 to 2013 and 2017 to 2021. A December 8 nomination vote has been scheduled.
Kanwarjit Singh Sandhuannounced plans to seek the UCP nomination in Edmonton-Meadows at an event at the Sultan Banquet Hall. The southeast Edmonton riding is currently represented by NDP MLA Jasvir Deol.
The UCP has opened nominations in a handful of ridings, including Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock, where UCP MLA Glenn Van Dijkenfaces a challenge from 24-year old Westlock County Councillor Isaac Skuban.
Jacob Stacey has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate in Sherwood Park. He previously announced his candidacy in Strathcona-Sherwood Park.
Jeremy Appell has some coverage and raises some questions about Marilyn North Peigan’s departure as the NDP candidate in Calgary-Klein, a key swing-riding in the next election.
And it looks like a UCP candidate who came close to winning in the last election probably won’t be running again in the next election. Former UCP candidate Karri Flatla, who ran for the party in Lethbridge-West in 2019, levelled some pretty harsh criticism at Smith on her Facebook page.
NDP MLA Jon Carson announced today that he will not be seeking re-election in Edmonton-West Henday in the next election.
“Serving the people of Edmonton-West Henday has no doubt been the privilege of a lifetime,” Carson said in a statement posted on social media. “From our small campaign team huddled around the kitchen table in 2015 to the 2019 that was too close to call on election night… I know that our success was never my own, but always because of our strong team dedicated to creating a better future for Alberta families.”
Carson has represented west Edmonton since 2015 when he was elected as MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark.
An Electrician by trade, he was one of 9 NDP MLAs under 30 years old elected in Notley Wave of 2015.
Carson was re-elected in 2019 in the newly redrawn Edmonton-West Henday riding in what was the closest race in Edmonton of that election. He finished 518 votes ahead of United Conservative Party candidate Nicole Williams, a former lobbyist who has spent the past 3 years as Chief of Staff to Education Minister Adriana LaGrange.
Carson is the second NDP MLA to announce they are not running for re-election. Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Richard Feehanannounced last month that he would not seek re-election.
The area, which includes parts of the former Edmonton-Calder and Edmonton-Meadowlark ridings, has swung between the NDP, Liberals and Progressive Conservatives over the past 40 years. Notable former MLAs include Liberals Grant Mitchell, Karen Leibovici, Progressive Conservative turned Liberal Raj Sherman, and NDP MLA David Eggen (who now represents Edmonton-North West).
Druh Farrell nominated in Calgary-Bow
Druh Farrell has been nominated as the NDP candidate in Calgary-Bow. Farrell served on city council for 20 years before retiring from municipal politics last October.
She was a leading progressive voice in Calgary’s municipal debates during her time as Councillor, making her a frequent target of right-wing commentators and political action committees.
Farrell’s nomination has caused some tension with some local NDP organizers, including former president Krista Li, who have complained the party was too heavy handed in allowing the former city councilor to run.
The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA and Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides, who was elected in 2019 with 55 per cent of the vote, unseating NDP MLA Deborah Drever, who placed second with 34 per cent.
There’s an NDP race in Central Peace-Notley
There appears to be a contested NDP nomination in the northern rural Central Peace-Notley riding. Megan Ciurysek, a Research Officer at Northern Alberta Development Council, is challenging Fairview resident and Enviro Projects owner Lynn Lekisch.
The riding is currently represented by Independent MLA Todd Loewen, who was kicked out of the UCP Caucus for calling on Premier Jason Kenney to resign. He was elected in 2019 with 75 per cent of the vote.
The riding is not named after Rachel Notley, but after her father. Grant Notley represented Spirit River-Fairview, covering much of the region, in the Alberta Legislature from 1971 to 1984.
It is fairly quiet on the UCP nomination front, with the party largely focused on Kenney’s leadership review. There are a few updates though:
Former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith is busy campaigning for the UCP nomination in Livingstone-Macleod, including a recent meeting with the Citizens Supportive of Crowsnest Coal group. Smith is challenging first-term UCP MLA Roger Reid.
In his first piece for CBC, Jason Markusoff breakdowns which ridings current UCP members live in. Unsurprisingly, the three ridings with the most members eligible to vote in the leadership review are Cardston-Siksika and Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, where nomination challengers Jodie Gateman and Tim Hoven were disqualified, and Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, where former Wildrose leader Brian Jean just won a by-election. All three are actively campaigning against Kenney in the review.
Alberta politics never takes a break, but sometimes I do. I was away last week having a great time facilitating a communications planning course at the Winter Labour School, an annual conference for working Albertans organized by the Alberta Federation of Labour and Canadian Labour Congress.
But now I’m back, and upon my return a growing mountain of candidate nomination news was awaiting me.
Here we go.
Probably the biggest news happened today: former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith is jumping back into provincial politics by taking a run at the United Conservative Party nomination in Livingstone-Macleod, a riding currently represented by UCP MLA Roger Reid. She even says she could run for the party leadership if Jason Kenney loses the upcoming leadership review.
Smith has been around Alberta politics for a while, working for lobby groups including the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, writing newspaper columns, hosting television and radio shows, briefly serving as a school trustee in Calgary, and most notably, serving as the leader of the Wildrose Party from 2009 until 2014.
Crossing the floor secured Smith a spot in the governing PC Caucus but she was unable to secure the PC nomination in the Highwood riding she had represented since 2012, so she did not run for re-election in 2015.
Boundary changes ahead of the 2019 election moved her home town of High River into the Livingstone-Macleod riding.
– MLA Marie Renaud was nominated in St. Albert. Renaud was first elected in 2015 and serves as Official Opposition Community & Social Services, and Francophone Issues critic.
– Danielle Lariveewas nominated in Lesser Slave Lake. Larivee was the MLA for this riding from 2015 to 2019 and served as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Minister of Children’s Services. She is a Registered Nurse and currently serves as First Vice-President of United Nurses of Alberta.
– Oneil Carlier was nominated in Parkland-Lac Ste. Anne. Carlier was MLA for this riding from 2015 to 2019 and served as Minister of Agriculture and Forestry from 2015 to 2019.
The NDP recently held contested nomination votes in two ridings.
Sarah Elmeligi defeated Canmore town councillor Tanya Foubert, bank manager Gavin McCaffrey, and condo manager Mark Tkacz to become the NDP candidate in Banff-Kananaskis. Elmeligi is a professional biologist and conservation and land-use planner. She currently runs her own consulting company but from 2016 to 2019 she worked as a Parks Facility Planner with the Kananaskis Region and from 2009 to 2013 was a Senior Conservation Planner with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – Southern Alberta Chapter.
Marilyn North Peigan defeated Heather Eddy and Mattie McMillan to become the NDP candidate in Calgary-Klein. North Peigan is a member of the Blackfoot Confederacy and is a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, where she trained as a field medic with Toronto EMS and was stationed with Edmonton Field Ambulance. She is vice-chair of the Calgary Police Commission and was a candidate for city council in Calgary’s 2021 municipal elections.
Joining Ip at his campaign launch were former city councillor Michael Phair and former city council candidate and past Alberta Party president Rhiannon Hoyle. He is also endorsed by former NDP MLAs Bob Turner and Jim Gurnett, and Public School Boards Association of Alberta past president Patty Dittrick.
Also running for the NDP nomination in Edmonton-South West are Ben Acquaye, Chand Gul, and Mohammad Ali Masood Kamal. The riding is currently represented by UCP cabinet minister Kaycee Madu.
“Albertans deserve a compassionate government that will exercise positive and responsible leadership on energy and environmental policy”, Fluker said in a press release announcing his candidacy. “The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly revealed that the UCP has no ability to lead when it matters.”
Manpreet Singh Tiwana and Psychologists’ Association of Alberta President Judi Malone are seeking the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Ellerslie. Two-term NDP MLA Rod Loyola has not yet announced whether he plans to run for re-election.
Amanda Chapman is seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-Beddington. Chapman is a communications consultant and former communications coordinator with AIDS Awareness Calgary. She ran for the NDP in the riding in 2019, finishing second with 35.7 per cent off the vote.
Now back to the governing UCP, who are twisting themselves into pretzels ahead of Kenney’s fast approaching leadership review (more on that very soon).
UCP nominations have been a lot quieter since the party disqualified challengers Jodie Gateman in Cardston-Siksika and Tim Hoven in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre.
The following UCP MLAs have been acclaimed for their nominations: Josephine Pon in Calgary-Beddington, Peter Singh in Calgary-East, Prasad Panda in Calgary-Edgemont, Jeremy Nixon in Calgary-Klein, Rebecca Schulz in Calgary-Shaw, Matt Jones in Calgary-South East, Joseph Schow in Cardston-Siksika, Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, Nathan Neudorf in Lethbridge-East, Dale Nally in Morinville-St. Albert, Nathan Cooper in Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, Jason Nixon in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, and Nate Glubish in Strathcona-Sherwood Park.
This is a big change from nominations ahead of the last election, which saw many competitive UCP nominations and many, many NDP acclamations. So far this time it’s been the opposite.
It sure feels like election season in Alberta. Or maybe it’s just Leadership Review season.
Ok. Let’s get on with the updates.
Tim Hoven and Jodie Gateman have been disqualified from the United Conservative Party nomination races in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre and Cardston-Siksika.
The right-wing municipal politicians were challenging two high-profile Jason Kenney loyalists – Government House Leader and Environment & Parks Minister Jason Nixon and Deputy Government House Leader Joseph Schow.
The party says they were disqualified because of controversial posts they shared and liked on social media.
People close to Gateman’s campaign say it was because she was accused of reposting conspiracy theories on her social media accounts.
They tell me that party staff even asked her if she was in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021. (The person I spoke with said she was visiting family in Las Vegas).
Disqualifying them avoids negative media attention from unwanted bozo-eruptions and has the added bonus of protecting two Kenney loyalists who were by most accounts considered vulnerable in the nomination.
They also both happened to be endorsed by Kenney rivals Brian Jean and Drew Barnes.
Without nomination races to keep them busy, there’s more time to focus on the April 9 leadership review in Red Deer.
Gateman is now shifting her attention to getting as many of her supporters to vote against Kenney at the April 9 leadership review in Red Deer.
A new poll from ThinkHQ shows that 64 per cent of Albertans and 59 per cent of UCP voters want Kenney gone.
More on that later. Now back to the nomination updates.
For the UCP:
It hasn’t been announced yet, but is appears that Calgary-Shaw MLA Rebecca Schulz and Calgary-South East MLA Matt Jones will be acclaimed as the UCP candidates in their ridings.
MLA Josephine Pon is running for the UCP nomination in Calgary-Beddington. Pon was first elected in 2019.
MLA Mickey Amery is running for the UCP nomination in Calgary-Cross. Amery was first elected in 2019.
MLA Peter Singh is running for the UCP nomination in Calgary-East. Singh was first elected in 2019.
Legislative Assembly Speaker MLA Nathan Cooper is running for the UCP nomination in Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills. Cooper was first elected in 2015.
MLA Dan Williams is running for the UCP nomination in Peace River. Williams was first elected in 2019.
Service Alberta Minister and MLA Nate Glubish is running for the UCP nomination in Strathcona-Sherwood Park. Glubish was first elected in 2019.
For the NDP:
MLA Irfan Sabir has been nominated to run for re-election in the recently renamed Calgary-Bhullar-McCall. Sabir was first elected in 2015.
MLA Rakhi Pancholi has announced her plans to run for the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Whitemud. Pancholi was first elected in 2019.
MLA Christina Gray is running for the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Mill Woods. Gray was first elected in 2015 and served as Minister of Labour from 2015 to 2019.
Respected energy analyst Samir Kayande is now the NDP candidate in Calgary-Elbow.
Canmore town councillor Tonya Foubert is the fourth candidate to join the NDP nomination contest in Banff-Kananaskis.
Director Business Renewables Centre Canada director Nagwan Al-Guneid is the second candidate to enter the NDP nomination race in Calgary-Glenmore. They join communications consultant Jennifer Burgess in the race.
Registered Nurse Diana Batten is running for the NDP nomination in Calgary-Acadia.
Rosman Valencia is now the only candidate seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-East after Alison Karim-McSwiney withdrew from the contest.
Registered Nurse Chantelle Hosseiny and paramedic Cameron Heenan are seeking the NDP nomination in Leduc-Beaumont.
Teacher James Grondin is the second candidate to enter the NDP nomination race in Morinville-St. Albert. Former Sturgeon County Councillor Karen Shawjoined the race in Dec. 2021.
Vulcan County Councillor Jodie Gateman is challenging MLA Joseph Schow for the United Conservative Party nomination in Cardston-Siksika. Gateman appears to have the support of the Take Back Alberta group, which is organizing against Premier Jason Kenney ahead of the April 9 leadership review in Red Deer.
Gateman was elected to Vulcan County Council in 2021 and was the UCP’s first Vice President Communications from 2018 to 2019. Her previous political experience includes working as a campaign manager for Reform Party Member of Parliament Grant Hill in 1997 and 2000.
A 2009 profile in the Calgary Herald described Gateman as a the then-principal and executive director of Green Learning Academy (a private school in Calgary that years later went bankrupt) and a graduate of the University of Dallas and American Intercontinental University.
Schow was first elected in 2019 and currently serves as the Deputy Government House Leader, a position that plants him firmly in the Kenney loyalist camp. Before his election as MLA he ran for the federal Conservative nomination in Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner and before that worked for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan Conservative MP Garnett Genuis.
A nomination meeting has been scheduled for March 21, 2022.
Like former Clearwater County Councillor Tim Hoven, who is challenging Government House Leader and Environment & Parks Minister Jason Nixon for the UCP nomination in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, Gateman’s social media feeds suggest her political views are solidly on the right-wing of the UCP.
Former UCP nomination candidate enters NDP contest in Edmonton-South West
Lakeland College business instructor Ben Acquaye is the third candidate to join the NDP nomination contest in Edmonton-South West.
“Families, businesses and communities are under stress, and as a province we have a lot of challenges ahead of us,” Acquaye said in a statement announcing his candidacy. “I am convinced in the leadership of Rachel Notley to steer us through these times to a more diversified economy that allows working families and communities to thrive.”
In 2018, Acquaye ran for the UCP nomination in Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright, a contest that was won by current MLA Garth Rowswell.
MLA Jackie Homeniuk-Armstrong is running the the UCP nomination in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville. Homeniuk-Armstrong was first elected in 2019 after unseating NDP MLA Jessica Littlewood. She is the chair for the Advisory Council on Alberta-Ukraine Relations, and chair of the UCP Skilled Trades Caucus. A nomination meeting has been scheduled for March 24, 2022.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Rural Economic Development Nate Horner is seeking the UCP nomination in Drumheller-Stettler. The rancher from Pollockville and scion of one of Alberta’s most prominent political families was first elected in 2019. A nomination meeting has been scheduled for March 24, 2022.
The UCP has also opened nominations in five more ridings: Calgary-Beddington (represented by Minister of Seniors and Housing Josephine Pon), Calgary-East (represented by MLA Peter Singh), Lethbridge-East (represented by UCP Caucus chair Nathan Neudorf), Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills (represented by Speaker and former UCP interim leader Nathan Cooper), and Sherwood Park (represented by MLA Jordan Walker)Strathcona-Sherwood Park (represented by Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish).
The United Conservative Party has opened candidate nominations in four ridings held by MLAs loyal to Premier Jason Kenney.
Dates for nomination meetings haven’t been announced but a February 28 deadline for candidates to put their names forward has been announced for Calgary-South East (represented by MLA Matt Jones), Calgary-Shaw (represented by Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz), Cardston-Siksika (represented by UCP Caucus Whip Joseph Schow) and Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre (represented by Environment & Parks Minister and Government House leader Jason Nixon).
Farmer Tim Hoven has announced his plans to challenge Nixon for the nomination and will be launching his campaign at the James River Community Hall on Feb. 17. Hoven was a municipal councillor in Clearwater County from 2017 until his defeat in the 2021 election.
Nurse Tonya Ratushniak running for NDP nomination in Camrose
Registered Psychiatric Nurse Tonya Ratushniak is seeking the NDP nomination in the Camrose riding.
“I’m running to become the next NDP candidate in Camrose because mental health, I believe, will be the next wave we need to address. I have the education, passion and experience to ensure the needs of mental health are no longer ignored. No longer thought of as the ugly stepchild of the healthcare system.”
“I see firsthand how rural mental health services have been eroded by UCP policies,” she said. “Wait times have become so long that many problems go undiagnosed, treatment centers have been closed and mental health beds have been reduced.”
Ratushniak works at St. Mary’s Hospital in Camrose as a Mental Health Therapist and serves as the President of the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses.
She was the federal NDP candidate in the 2021 election in Battle River-Crowfoot, where she placed second and earned 9.8 per cent of the vote.
Saad Siddiq running for UCP nomination in Edmonton-South
Engineer Saad Siddiq is seeking the UCP nomination in Edmonton-South.
“The UCP party is at a cross roads about its identity and I firmly believe that Millennials and Gen-Z representation must be there to make sure our voices are heard,” Siddiq said. “It’s about time we take the charge into our own hands and make Alberta affordable, a place where you have the freedom to exercise your rights and make your own choices and a symbol of tolerance for everyone living in this province and beyond.”
Siddiq is a 24-year old oil and gas engineer who graduated from the University of Calgary in 2020 and has been involved in the Conservative Student Association.
The riding is currently represented by Independent MLA Thomas Dang, who was first elected in 2015 and 2019 under the NDP banner. He left the NDP Caucus in December 2021 after the RCMP executed a search warrant of his house.
Alberta Party leader running in Brooks-Medicine Hat
Alberta Party leader Barry Morishita confirmed on this week’s episode of the Daveberta Podcast that he plans to seek his party’s nomination to run in his home riding when the next election is called. Morishita served as Mayor of the City of Brooks from 2016 to 2021 and served on city council from 1998 to 2004 and 2010 to 2016. The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA Michaela Frey.
Public school teacher second candidate in Calgary-East NDP race
Public school teacher Rosman Valencia is seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-East.
“I’m running to ensure the voice of our communities in Calgary-East can be heard and be a part of the decision making in shaping Alberta’s future,” said Valencia. “Not only has the UCP’s response to Covid-19 been a daily challenge for us in the classroom, but I also see families struggling with UCP increases to their expenses like insurance, income tax, and electricity. That’s the last thing families need right now.”
Rosman holds a Bachelor of Secondary Education from the Philippine Normal University-Manila and became a teacher in Alberta through the University of Calgary’s Bridge to Teaching Program.
International Avenue Business Revitalization Zone executive director Alison Karim-McSwiney is also seeking the NDP nomination.
Here are a few other nomination updates:
Calgary-Elbow: Energy analyst Samir Kayande has been acclaimed as the NDP candidate. The party will hold an official nomination meeting on March 5. Kayande announced his candidacy in November 2021.
Calgary-North East: Gurinder Brar is expected to be acclaimed as the NDP candidate at a February 17 nomination meeting. Brar announced his candidacy in January 2022.
It isn’t really a saying in Alberta politics but maybe it should be: When a Premier is in trouble, the cabinet gets growing.
That’s what we saw today as embattled Premier Jason Kenney made a major expansion of the provincial cabinet.
It is being described as a post-pandemic reset but today’s cabinet shuffle and expansion probably has more to do with internal turmoil in the UCP Caucus than any actual reset in the government’s agenda. Problem-creating ministers like Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and Environment & Parks Minister Jason Nixon remain firmly in place.
Kenney, who eagerly declared the COVID-19 pandemic over in Alberta on July 1, has seen his approval ratings and his party’s popularity plummet as it mismanaged its response to the pandemic and pushed forward with an unpopular political agenda that included opening the Rocky Mountains to open-pit coal mining, a backward draft curriculum for kids, and aggressive attacks against doctors and nurses.
Kenney’s unpopularity now appears to be spilling over into the federal scene and dragging down the federal Conservative Party’s support in Alberta, which a string of polls show at a historic low.
Kenney is so unpopular that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was able to openly mock him at a press conference in Calgary yesterday and there was no public backlash in defence of the provincial Conservative leader.
Facing dissent from inside and outside his caucus and party, Kenney has taken the predictable route of previous Alberta premiers who were in political trouble and expanded his cabinet. Appointments to cabinet posts come with the prestige of a ministerial title, office and staff, a hefty pay hike and are seen as a way to reward a premier’s supporters – and punish dissenters.
The past twenty years of turmoil in conservative politics in Alberta has given us a few clear examples of how cabinets grow when premier’s find themselves in political trouble.
Premier Ralph Klein’s cabinet grew from a slim 17 in 1992 to an expanded 24 by the time he resigned in 2006 after his party’s membership gave him a weak 55.4 per cent endorsement in a leadership review.
Klein’s successor, Premier Ed Stelmach, started with a cabinet of 19 ministers in 2006 only to expand it to 23 by the time he resigned in the face of a caucus revolt in 2011.
But perhaps most famously, Premier Alison Redford’s cabinet grew from 21 in 2011 to 29, including 10 associate ministers, in 2013, representing almost half of the Progressive Conservative Caucus. There was a running joke at the time that if a PC MLA wasn’t in cabinet they must have done something really wrong.
Yesterday Kenney’s cabinet had 22 cabinet ministers and associate ministers. Today, Kenney’s cabinet has 26.
I bet it grows again in a few months.
Shuffled around …
Jason Luan, MLA Calgary-Foothills, is moved from Associate Minister of Additions and Mental Health to become Minister of Community and Social Services. Luan served as MLA for Calgary-Hawkwood from 2012 until his defeat in the 2015 election to NDP candidate Michael Connolly. Luan returned to the Legislature in 2019.
Ric McIver, MLA Calgary-Hays, keeps his role as Minister of Municipal Affairs but loses his dual role of Minister of Transportation. McIver took over Municipal Affairs when former minister Tracy Allard was removed from cabinet following her COVID rule breaking hot holiday to Hawaii in December 2020. McIver was first elected as a PC MLA in 2012 and previously served as an alderman on Calgary City Council from 2001 to 2010.
Rajan Sawhney, MLA Calgary-North East, leaves her current role as Minister of Community and Social Services to become Minister of Transportation. Sawhney is seen by many political insiders as an up and comer in the UCP cabinet.
Muhammad Yaseen, MLA Calgary-North, leaves his role as Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration to become the Associate Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism reporting to Minister of Labour and Immigration Jason Copping. Yasseen is a former president of the Pakistan Canada Association of Calgary and was first elected as an MLA in 2019.
New in cabinet…
Mike Ellis, MLA Calgary-West, leaves his role as UCP Caucus Whip to become Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. Ellis was first elected in a 2014 by-election and was only one of a handful of PC MLAs re-elected in 2015.
Nate Horner, MLA Drumheller-Stettler, becomes Associate Minister of Rural Economic Development reporting to Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer. Horner is the grandson of former Member of Parliament Jack Horner and the cousin of former deputy premier Doug Horner.
Whitney Issik, MLA for Calgary-Glenmore, becomes the Associate Minister of Status of Women reporting to newly appointed Minister of Culture and Status of Women Ron Orr. Issik will also serve as UCP Whip. She was first elected in 2019 and was a longtime PC Party volunteer, serving as campaign manager for Jim Prentice during his brief run for the federal PC Party nomination in Calgary-Southwest in 2002, as a constituency assistant to former Calgary-Mountain View MLA Mark Hlady, and as policy co-chair of the federal PC Party during the 2000 federal election.
Ron Orr, MLA Lacombe-Ponoka, becomes Minister of Culture. Orr once declared that legalizing cannabis would spark a communist revolution and he wrote on Facebook in May 2021 that Kenney was raised by God to be leader of Alberta and public health restrictions are just as bad as getting COVID. Before his election as a Wildrose MLA in 2015 he worked as a Baptist Minister in Alberta and British Columbia.
Back in cabinet is Tanya Fir, MLA Calgary-Peigan, as Associate Minister of Red Tape Reduction. Fir was surprisingly dropped from her role as Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism in August 2020. Fir was one of the UCP MLAs caught travelling on a hot holiday in December 2020, breaking the government’s public health restrictions.
Out of cabinet…
Leela Aheer, MLA Chestermere-Strathmore and UCP Deputy Leader, has lost her cabinet role as Minister of Culture and Status of Women. Her departure from cabinet is probably retribution for her publicly calling on Kenney to apologize after he and other senior cabinet ministers were caught breaking the government’s COVID-19 restrictions by holding a boozy dinner party on the balcony of the Sky Palace. Aheer also criticized Kenney for his tone-deaf defence of Sir John A Macdonald following the discovery of unmarked graves of children at former Indian Residential School sites.
Grant Hunter, MLA Taber-Warner, loses his position as Associate Minister of Red Tape Reduction. Hunter is currently on a province-wide ministerial tour of northeast Alberta with Justice Minister Kaycee Madu and Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. Hunter was the only cabinet minister from south of Calgary.
Other non-cabinet changes today included:
Joseph Schow, MLA Cardston-Siksika, the current the deputy government whip becomes deputy government house leader. Brad Rutherford, MLA Leduc-Beaumont, becomes deputy government whip.
After 6 months without a permanent Chief of Staff, Premier Kenney has named his Deputy Chief of Staff Pam Livingston to the role. Livingston started working in the Premier’s Office in January 2021 after the resignation of Jamie Huckabay, who was caught in the international holiday scandal.
Interim Chief of Staff Larry Kaumeyer returns to his previous role as Principal Secretary in the Premier’s Office.
These bills are part of a series of election bills that are expected to also include future bills allowing for the recall of MLAs, municipal politicians and school trustees, citizen initiated referendums, and major changes to provincial election laws.
The three bills introduced this week provide more opportunities for Albertans to vote for candidates and on issues, but they also claw back important transparency and accountability rules implemented by the previous New Democratic Party government less than two years ago.
It has almost been 50 years since the last time a province-wide plebiscite was initiated by the Alberta government. Bill 26 would allow the provincial government to hold referendums on non-constitutional issues, like creating an Alberta Pension Plan or deciding if we should remain on Daylight Saving Time. Providing an opportunity for Albertans to cast ballots on important issues can be a powerful tool to engage voters, but the timing and wording of such votes can also be intentionally manipulative.
The bill allows third-party groups, colloquially known as political action committees, to spend up to $500,000 on advertising up from the current $150,000 limit. Third-party groups that spend less than $350,000 on advertising during a referendum would not be required to file financial statements with Elections Alberta.
Schweitzer did not hold a press conference to announce the bill, so it is unclear why he chose to include such a massive gap in transparency.
Changes to municipal election laws included in Bill 29 are being framed by Madu as helping “level the playing field” for new candidates running for municipal councils and school boards by not allowing incumbents to carry over campaign war chests between elections and increasing the amount candidates can spend ahead of the election period from $2,000 to $5,000.
Bill 29 raises the election period donation limit from $4,000 back up to $5,000 and allows candidates to self-finance their campaign up to $10,000, reversing a number of changes made by the NDP government in 2018 that have not had a chance to be tested in a municipal election campaign.
Madu’s bill would also make it legal for wealthy individuals to donate up to $5,000 each to as many candidates as they want in any municipal or school board election across the province, effectively removing the cap on individual donations.
Eliminating the ability of incumbents to store campaign surpluses in war chests for future elections might lower the amount of cash on hand at the beginning of an election campaign. But in Edmonton at least, only two city councillors – Sarah Hamilton and Ben Henderson – reported having surpluses of more than $10,000 at the end of the 2017 election, suggesting that war chests are not necessarily a significant issues in the capital city.
Raising the donation limit could strengthen the advantage of incumbents with name recognition and developed political networks running against challengers who may be seeking political office for the first time.
The advantage of name recognition that helps incumbents get re-elected in large numbers at the municipal level is a feature that predates any of the changes to municipal election finance laws introduced by the previous NDP and Progressive Conservative governments over the past decade. The incumbent advantage even existed when there were no donation limits.
Bill 29 removes the requirement that candidates disclose their donors ahead of election day, which allows voters to see who is financially supporting candidates before they head to the ballot box.
The bill also removes spending limits for third-party groups before the start of the election period, allowing groups like Calgary’s infamous Sprawl Cabal of land developers free reign to spend unlimited amounts of money on advertising before May 1, 2021.
Madu’s Bill 29 introduces big money back into municipal elections under the guise of fairness and without creating any of the structural changes required to design a real competitive electoral environment at the municipal level.
Bill 29 also removes all references to the Election Commissioner, a housekeeping item necessitated by the controversial firing of the Commissioner by the UCP government in November 2019. In its place, the bill creates a Registrar of Third Parties, though it is unclear if the person holding this title would have the legal investigative authority of the now defunct Election Commissioner.
In past elections many municipalities simply did not have the resources available to enforce municipal election finance rules, so in some cases complaints were simply left uninvestigated.
Some of these changes were expected and were included in the UCP’s 2019 election platform, others were necessitated by inconsistencies in the changes made by the NDP in 2018, and some have come completely out of left-field.
Alberta’s election laws should be dynamic and designed to encourage and facilitate participation by voters and candidates, not to hide the identities of those who would spend money influencing election campaigns.
Overall, these bills could probably be summed up as one step forward for democracy and two steps back for transparency and accountability.
Changes coming to provincial election laws
These changes are likely a taste of what is to come from the recently appointed Select Special Democratic Accountability Committee. Chaired by Cardston-Siksika UCP MLA Joseph Schow, the committee will review Alberta’s Election Act and the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act within the next six months and has be tasked with answering a series of questions submitted by Schweitzer within four months.
Along with Schow, the committee membership includes Drumheller-Stettler MLA Nate Horner, Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard, Calgary-Buffalo MLA Joe Ceci, Edmonton-South MLA Thomas Dang, Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche MLA Laila Goodridge, Calgary-Klein MLA Jeremy Nixon, Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Rakhi Pancholi, Highwood MLA R.J. Sigurdson, Drayton Valley-Devon MLA Mark Smith and Edmonton-Manning MLA Heather Sweet.