United Conservative Party leader Danielle Smith and Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley met last night for the only televised leaders debate of Alberta’s election campaign. The debate was entertaining for political watchers and it will probably be analyzed to death for the next 24 hours, but I’m not sure it will have much of an impact on the election campaign.
Here are a few quick thoughts on the leaders debate…
Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley was nominated as her party’s candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona this past weekend. Speaking to a crowd of more than 800 supporters gathered at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Notley delivered an energetic speech that felt like a campaign kick-off for the former premier’s party.
Notley was first elected as MLA for the central Edmonton riding in 2008 and was re-elected in 2019 with 72.2 per cent of the vote. The riding has elected NDP MLAs since 1997 and the party previously held the riding from 1986 to 1993.
UCP choose Claresholm Mayor in ‘do-over’ nomination vote in Livingstone-Macleod
Town of Claresholm Mayor Chelsae Petrovic won the United Conservative Party‘s ‘do-over’ nomination vote in Livingstone-Macleod. Petrovic defeated Tanya Clemens and Don Whalen in a decisive first ballot victory. Petrovic earned 759 votes with Clemens collecting 469 votes and Whalen finishing third with 118 votes.
This is the UCP’s second time holding a nomination vote in the southern Alberta riding.
The riding was represented by former premier Jason Kenney from 2017 until his resignation in November 2022.
NDP members in the riding voted to select Venkat Akkiraj over Kim Wagner in that party’s nomination vote this week. Akkiraj is a law student and former organizer with the Ontario NDP.
City Councillor jumps into Grande Prairie UCP race
City Councillor Gladys Blackmore is the fourth candidate to enter the UCP nomination contest in Grande Prairie. Blackmore served on City Council from 2001-2010 before making an unsuccessful bids for mayor in 2010 and 2013. She returned to city council in 2021.
She joins Nolan Dyck, Larry Gibson, and Tayyab Parvez in the race to choose a UCP successor to retiring MLA Tracy Allard.
The UCP MLA for the neighbouring Grande Prairie-Wapiti riding, Finance Minister Travis Toews, has still not announced whether he plans to run for re-election. Toews is now the only remaining MLA who has not announced their plans for the May election.
Hinshaw critic wins UCP nomination in Lethbridge-West
Torry Tanner defeated Rick Dempsey to win the UCP nomination vote in Lethbridge-West. Tanner was a participant in an unsuccessful lawsuit against former Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw challenging Alberta’s COVID-19 public health restrictions.
The riding is currently represented by NDP Shannon Phillips.
Other nomination updates
Calgary-Foothills: The Alberta Party disqualified Shaoli Wang as a candidate after a series of embarrassing social media posts were revealed. Wang will instead run as an Independent candidate.
Cypress-Medicine Hat: James Finkbeiner and Justin Wright are on the ballot when UCP members vote to nominate a candidate on March 16. The riding is currently represented by Independent MLA Drew Barnes.
Edmonton-City Centre: Richard Wong is the UCP candidate in this downtown Edmonton riding.
Leduc-Beaumont: Heather Feldbusch, Nam Kular, Brandon Lunty, Dawn Miller, Dave Quest, and Karen Richert are running for the UCP nomination. A vote is scheduled for March 18.
Peace River: Nancy O’Neill is running for the Independence Party of Alberta nomination.
Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: Former Clearwater County Reeve Tim Hovenwill run as an Independent candidate. Hoven was disqualified from running for the UCP nomination against Jason Nixon last year. It was widely believed that Hoven could have defeated Nixon, who was then serving as former premier Kenney’s chief lieutenant.
One of the three candidates running for the United Conservative Party nomination in south west Alberta’s Livingstone-Macleod riding was at the Petroleum Club event.
Tanya Clemens posted a photo of herself posing with Anderson on her social media at the talk. The photo caption included the quote “If the government is afraid of the people, you have democracy. If the people are afraid of the government, you have tyranny.”
When asked for comment about her attendance at Anderson’s event, Clemens replied:
“Like our Members of Parliament, I was unaware of her views and political history.
She was one of a few individuals that used their international platforms to call out Justin Trudeau’s unacceptable and dictator like behaviour during COVID and that is why I went to the event in the first place.
I had no additional information on Anderson, but had I known about her unacceptable stances beforehand, I would not have attended the event.”
The Calgary events were attended by Freedom Convoy organizer Tamara Lich and lawyer Keith Wilson, and street pastor-turned-Independence Party of Alberta leader Artur Pawlowski, who has turned the party into a vehicle of right-wing conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and the World Economic Forum.
Following the event, Anderson sat down for a one-on-one interview with Canadian Olympian and COVID-19 conspiracy theorist Jamie Salé.
Former Alberta Prosperity Project leader running for UCP nomination in Edmonton-Riverview
The APP has organized chapters around the province and promotes a range of conspiracy theories on its social media related to COVID-19, Digital ID, 15-minute cities and the World Economic Forum. The organization also recently promoted the debunked claim that commissioner of the Public Order Emergency Commission Paul Rouleau is the husband of Trudeau’s aunt (he’s not).
Until recently, the Alberta Prosperity Project’s chief executive officer was Dr. Dennis Modry.
Dr. Modry is a well-known Edmonton-based surgeon, having completed Alberta’s first heart transplant in 1985 and founding the heart & lung transplantation program at the University of Alberta. He was also a fundraiser for the Progressive Conservative Party in the 1980s and 1990s and was co-chair of Doug Main’s campaign for the PC Party leadership in 1992.
But Dr. Modry’s more recent political activities have moved further from the mainstream. He served as VP Policy and Governance of the Wildrose Independence Party before that party’s implosion and has since promoted Alberta sovereignty through the APP.
The APP has loudly advocated for the Alberta government to hold a referendum on independence from Canada, which the group says would give Alberta a strong position to negotiate with Ottawa.
The APP recently changed the by-laws posted on its website but a proposed party by-laws document posted in May 2022 outlined APP plans to create a separatist political party called the “Provincial Party” that would be renamed the “National Party” after a successful referendum on independence from Canada. The 2022 by-laws called for an independence referendum and included vague plans about establishing an Alberta “Constitution, Charter of Freedoms, Rights, & Responsibilities, and Declaration of Independence.”
The 2023 by-laws outline the creation of a new Alberta Republic, including the creation of a “Defense Force for the Republic” that would include an army, air force, cyber force, and navy (presumably the Alberta navy would have a home port at Cold Lake or Slave Lake).
The 2023 document also outlines APP plans to create a “Republic’s Reserve Bank” and create a “a mint for the Republic” that “will be evaluated in relation to three currency choices; Canadian, USA, or new currency minted in Alberta.”
The fundraising event was billed as an opportunity for the UCP leadership candidates to share their plans to protect Albertans from “the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 and World Economic Forum’s Great Reset.”
Only three of the seven UCP leadership candidates participated in the debate: Danielle Smith, Brian Jean and Todd Loewen.
“So part of when I decided I wanted to run [for Alberta premier], I knew how important it was to make sure that we addressed the issues of autonomy,” Smith said. “And I talked to Dr. Modry as one of my first steps. I said, ‘let’s try this together.’”
A UCP nomination meeting has not yet been scheduled in Edmonton-Riverview and I’m told that at least one or two other candidates might enter the contest.
A nomination vote in Livingstone-Macleod is scheduled for March 9, 10 and 11. The candidates in that race are Tanya Clemens, Town of Claresholm Mayor Chelsae Petrovic, and former pastor Don Whalen.
Toor’s first term as a UCP backbencher was not short of controversy.
In June 2020, CBC reported that the owners of two popular food trucks claimed they were being bullied and harassed by residents who didn’t want them there, including Toor.
He was hit with a $15,000 fine from Elections Alberta in July 2021 for violating five sections of the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act. And in September 2021, Alberta Health Services issued a closure order for a Gleichen hotel owned by Toor.
Toor was one of only a handful of UCP MLAs to support Danielle Smith in her bid to win the party’s leadership and he was rewarded in October 2022 with an appointment as Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism.
This is a riding the NDP believe they can flip. It is on my list to watch.
Four in Livingstone-Macleod UCP race, former candidate now running for Alberta Party
It looked like there might be six or seven candidates in the race but when the nomination papers were handed in, there were only four candidates contesting the ‘do-over‘ UCP nomination Livingstone-Macleod.
This was an extremely difficult decision to make, and I didn’t make it lightly. However, after being involved more closely with the party, I found that some of my values, morals and ethics were just not aligning as much as they used to.
Constituency office manager Lizette Tejada defeated four other candidates to win the NDP nomination in this hotly contested Calgary riding. This was the party’s second time holding a nomination contest in the riding. Brady Adkins, Angela McIntyre, Mattie McMillan and Laurie O’Neil were the other candidates in the race.
All quiet in Grande Prairie-Wapiti
What’s one of the big questions being asked in Alberta political circles this week?
The rancher-accountant and UCP leadership race runner-up has been silent on his plans for the next election and the party has not released any news about nominating a candidate in his Grande Prairie-Wapiti riding.
Will Toews bow out of provincial politics after tabling the spring budget? We’ll find out soon.
Calgary-Bhullar-McCall: Sonya Virk joins Amanpreet Singh Gill in the UCP nomination race in this north east Calgary riding. Virk is a former member of the Alberta Party provincial board. A vote is scheduled for March 5.
Edmonton-Glenora: Shannon Berry and Amit Batra are seeking the UCP nomination. Batra previously ran as a Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Calder in 2015, was active in Wexit Alberta and, until recently, served as a director of the Wildrose Independence Party.
Edmonton-McClung: Daniel Heikkinen defeated Terry Vankka to win the UCP nomination. Heikkinen was a candidate for Edmonton City Council in October 2021.
Edmonton-Manning: Alberto Mazzocca and Jaspreet Saggu are seeking the UCP nomination. A nomination vote is scheduled for February 22, 2023.
Lethbridge-West: Rick Dempsey and Torry Tanner are seeking the UCP nomination. Dempsey ran for the nomination in 2018. Tanner was named in an unsuccessful lawsuit against former Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw challenging Alberta’s COVID-19 public health restrictions. A nomination vote is scheduled for March 14.
Lesser Slave Lake: Martine Carifelle, Jerrad Cunningham, Scott Sinclair, and Silas Yellowknee are seeking the UCP nomination. A vote is being held on February 25 and 26.
Calgary-Lougheed: Venkat Ravulaparthi and Kim Wagner are seeking the NDP nomination. A nomination vote is scheduled for March 14.
Drumheller-Stettler: Pharmacist Juliet Franklin was nominated as the NDP candidate. This was the only riding where the NDP candidate placed 4th in the 2019 election.
Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: Fisheries biologist Vance Buchwald was nominated as the NDP candidate.
Julian Schulz has been nominated as the Green Party candidate in Edmonton-Glenora. Two of the party’s nominated candidates have withdrawn their candidacies: Brandy Kinkead in Calgary-Edgemont and Lucas Bevan in Sherwood Park.
Three months ago after the party cancelled a previous nomination contest it looked like almost nobody wanted to run for the United Conservative Party in Livingstone-Macleod. Now there are five candidates in the race to replace retiring MLA Roger Reid.
Edmonton-McClung: Past city council candidate Daniel Heikkinen and oral surgeon Terry Vankka are seeking the UCP nomination in this south west Edmonton riding. A nomination meeting is scheduled for February 10.
Edmonton-North West: Tyler Beaulac has been nominated as the Green Party candidate.
Edmonton-Whitemud: UCP Caucus staffer Varun Chandrasekar will challenge former Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman for the UCP nomination. Sherman attempted to run for the UCP leadership in 2022 but was not granted a waiver to join the race when he did not meeting the membership requirements.
Red Deer-North: Heather Morigeau is running for the Green Party. Morigeau was previously nominated as the party’s candidate in Calgary-Buffalo but withdrew from the nomination in that riding last month.
Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: Carrie Tait has a report about the Take Back Alberta-backed revolt against embattled MLA and former finance minister Jason Nixon and the right-wing group’s effort to overturn his nomination as the UCP candidate in the riding.
Sherwood Park: Sue Timanson is the Alberta Party candidate in this suburban riding just east of Edmonton. Timanson was the party’s candidate in 2019, when she earned 13.1 per cent of the vote.