Alberta Politics

Rookie and retiring Conservatives criticize “no show” Southern Alberta MP

Candidates running for office usually reserve their harshest criticism for their political opponents, but in southern Alberta a rookie Conservative candidate and retiring Member of Parliament are turning on one Conservative MP running for re-election.

Rachael Harder Conservative MP
Rachael Harder

Local media reported that Conservative candidate Rachael Harder lambasted former Lethbridge Conservative MP Jim Hillyer at a forum hosted by the local Chamber of Commerce, claiming that the city endured “four years of non-representation” and “have suffered for the last four years” with her Conservative predecessor as their Member of Parliament.

But Mr. Hillyer is still running for re-election in the neighbouring riding of Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner. Due to a change in electoral district boundaries, Mr. Hillyer’s hometown of Raymond is now in the new riding.

Mr. Hillyer shot back at Ms. Harder, telling a local radio station that she is also facing some of the criticisms she levelled against him. “They’re saying the same things she said about me. She’s not attending forums, she’s not listening, she’s not there,” Mr. Hillyer told CJCY radio.

Retiring Medicine Hat Conservative MP LeVar Payne, who Mr. Hillyer is running to replace in his new riding, also shared some harsh words about his colleague on Twitter, referred to him as “no show Hillyer,” in reference to claims he skipped to many public debates during the 2011 federal election.

Mr. Payne had previously announced in 2014 that he would not endorse Mr. Hillyer in his bid to become MP for the new riding.

Mr. Hillyer was first elected to parliament in 2011 and when the electoral boundaries were redrawn in 2014 he initially announced he would run against Mr. Payne for the Conservative nomination in the new Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner riding. After what was likely a stern directive from his Ottawa bosses not to challenge a fellow MP, he then announced that he would run for re-election in Lethbridge.

Almost immediately after Mr. Payne announced that he would retire, Mr. Hillyer then jumped back into the nomination race in the Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner riding.

The controversial Mr. Hillyer faced public criticism when he expressed his extreme views on gay rights and women’s reproductive rights while debating his opponents for the Conservative nomination in September 2014. Both he and Ms. Harder have been endorsed by the Campaign Life Coalition in this election.

Despite the public tension between the two Conservatives, it is likely that both Mr. Hillyer and Ms. Harder be elected to the House of Commons, which could make for an awkward working relationship in Ottawa.


2015 Election in Lethbridge and Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner

In this election, Mr. Hillyer faces New Democrat Erin Weir, Liberal Glen Allen, Green Brent Smith and Independent candidate John Turner. Ms. Harder is facing New Democrat Cheryl Meheden, Liberal Michael Pyne, Green Kas MacMillian, Christian Heritage candidate Geoffrey Capp, and Rhino Party candidate Solly Krygier-Paine.

Transposing the results from the 2011 election into the boundaries of the new Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner riding gives the Conservatives 25,659 votes (68.7 percent), New Democrats 5,578 votes (14.9 percent), Liberals 4,165 votes (11.1 percent) and the Greens 1,658 (4.4 percent).

Transposing the results from the 2011 election into the boundaries of the redrawn Lethbridge riding gives the Conservatives 21,617 votes (52.5 percent), New Democrats 12,329 votes (29.9 percent), Liberals 3,759 votes (9.13 percent) and the Greens 1,845 (4.4 percent).

Alberta Politics

Tuesday Morning Federal Election Updates from Alberta

Some of the latest from the federal election campaign trail in Alberta:

  • NDP leader Tom Mulcair will visit the Lethbridge riding this week to campaign alongside candidate Cheryl Meheden during his visit to Alberta. He will also speak at a rally in Calgary tonight. Mr. Mulcair is back in Alberta this week to participate in a Globe and Mail debate on Sept. 17.
  • Introduced by Health Minister Sarah Hoffman, Mr. Mulcair spoke to an estimated crowd of 1,700 supporters in Edmonton on Sept. 10.
  • Liberal leader Justin Trudeau made a campaign stop in Edmonton on Sept. 9 to rally a crowd of 1,500 supporters. During his visit, Mr. Trudeau promised additional funding for the southeast LRT to Mill Woods if the Liberals form government on Oct. 19.
  • Both Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Trudeau met briefly with Edmonton mayor Don Iveson during their visits.
  • For a $50.00 donation to Calgary-Heritage NDP candidate Matt Masters Burgener, anyone can place a custom message on a campaign-style lawn sign that will be placed near one of Conservative leader Stephen Harper‘s election signs.
  • The federal Liberals have chosen their final candidate in Alberta by nominating businessman Robert Prcic in Calgary-Nose Hill. Mr. Prcic earned 3.8 percent of the vote as the provincial Liberal candidate in the October 2014 Calgary-Foothills by-election.
  • The Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy has released projections of ten ridings that the NDP need to win to get the most seats and ten ridings the Liberals need to win to get out of third place. For the NDP, the list includes the Alberta riding of Edmonton-Manning, and for the Liberals, the list includes the ridings of Calgary-Centre and Edmonton-Centre.
  • is maintaining riding levels projections that show a handful of Alberta ridings in play during this federal election. As of Sept. 13, 2015, the projections show potential NDP wins in Edmonton-Griesbach, Edmonton-Manning, Edmonton-Strathcona and Lethbridge. The Liberals are projected to do well in Calgary-Centre, Calgary-Confederation, Calgary-Skyview and Edmonton-Centre.
  • A poll conducted by Mainstreet Technologies suggests the election in the new Fort McMurray-Cold Lake could be closer than last year’s by-election results in the old riding of Fort McMurray-Athabasca. The poll showed Conservative David Yurdiga with the support of 35 percent and Liberal Kyle Harrietha with 27 percent support. In the June 2014 by-election, Mr. Yurdiga only finished 11 points ahead of Mr. Harreitha in what was considered a very close race for this riding (in the 2011 election, former Conservative MP Brian Jean was re-elected with a margin of 58.6 percent).
Alberta Politics

Parties gear up for federal election 2015 – Alberta nominations update

Prime Minister Stephen Harper poses with some of the Conservative Party's newly acclaimed Alberta candidates (disclaimer: Candidates might actually be humans dressed in horse costumes).
Prime Minister Stephen Harper poses with recently acclaimed Conservative Party candidates (disclaimer: Candidates may actually be humans dressed in horse costumes).

Aside from recent updates about Kent Hehr running in Calgary-Centre and Darshan Kang running in Calgary-Skyview, it has been a while since I have published an update to accompany the list of candidate nominations for the next federal election, expected to be held in 2015. So, without further ado, let me present you the latest update:

Jim Hillyer Conservative Lethbridge Medicine Hat
Jim Hillyer

The Lethbridge -> Medicine Hat Shuffle
Almost as soon as Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne announced that he will retire at the next election, neighbouring MP Jim Hillyer jumped into the nomination race to replace him. The controversial Mr. Hillyer, who has represented the Lethbridge riding since 2011, had initially announced he would run against Mr. Payne for the Conservative nomination in the redrawn Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner, but  was then sternly directed by his Ottawa bosses not to challenge a fellow MP. But once Mr. Payne announced his retirement, Mr. Hillyer jumped back into the Medicine Hat race.

As a nomination challenger, he faces Dan Hein, the former president of the local Conservative association and former the campaign manager for Mr. Payne in 2011.

Meanwhile, the NDP have nominated Cheryl Meheden in Lethbridge. That party did particularly well in the last election as the NDP candidate in 2011 earned 13,097 votes (27% of the total votes cast). Ms. Meheden is a former University of Lethbridge management instructor and former board chair for Economic Development Lethbridge. 

Kyle Harrietha Liberal Fort McMurray alberta
Kyle Harrietha

Fort McMurray-Cold Lake
Fresh off the by-election campaign trail in Fort McMurray-Athabasca, the Liberals are expected to nominate Kyle Harrietha as their candidate in their candidate in Fort McMurray-Cold Lake on July 26 (the current riding boundaries will change when the next federal election is called). Conservative Member of Parliament David Yurdiga is expected to be automatically acclaimed as his party’s candidate because of the recent by-election.

Bow River
City of Brooks mayor Martin Shields is seeking the Conservative nomination in this new southern Alberta riding. Evangelical talk-radio host Paul Arthur is also running for the nomination.

The Liberals will hold a nomination meeting on August 7, 2014 where party members will have their choice of three candidates – entrepreneur Randy Boissonnault and lawyers Don Padget and Harold Robinson.

Randy-Boissonnault Edmonton Centre Liberals
Randy Boissonnault

On July 15, Conservatives gathered for what was described as a “soft launch” event for James Cumming, President and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, in support of his potential campaign for the Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Centre. Current MP Laurie Hawn has announced his plans to retire at the next election.

 Liberal activist Wendy Butler, artist Heather Workman (aka Lady Dolphin), and lawyer Eleanor Olszewski are running for the Liberal nomination in this south central Edmonton riding. Lawyer and Edmonton-Gold Bar Progressive Conservative association president Len Thom is seeking the Conservative nomination. The riding has been represented by NDP MP Linda Duncan since 2008.

On May 5, Valerie Kennedy was acclaimed as the Green Party candidate in Edmonton-Riverbend. Ms. Kennedy was the Green Party candidate in Edmonton-Leduc in 2011. where she earned 2,896 votes (4.87% of the votes cast).

Nicole Van Kuppenveld Conservative Fort Saskatchewan Sherwood Park Election
Nicole van Kuppenveld

Local hotel manager Kelly McCauley has jumped into the Conservative contest in this new west Edmonton riding. Before moving to Edmonton, Mr. McCauley was the president of the Victoria Conservative association. He now faces Edmonton-McClung PC MLA David Xiao and Edmonton Police Constable Brad Rutherford for the nomination.

MP Mike Lake defeated Leduc County mayor John Whaley for the Conservative nomination in this new mostly-south of Edmonton riding. A third candidate, Mohinder Banga was disqualified shortly before the nomination vote was held.

Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan
Four candidates are contesting the Conservative nomination in this new east-of-Edmonton riding. Past Wildrose candidate Garnett Genuis Bee Clean Building Maintenance vice president Randy Moore, Telus employee and retired Canadian Forces Major Joe Theberge, and 2013 Strathcona County municipal candidate Nicole van Kuppeveld.

And a whole swath of Alberta Conservative MPs have been acclaimed as candidates in the next election: Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Calgary-Heritage, Devinder Shory in Calgary-Skyview, Chris Warkentin in Grande Prairie,  Kevin Sorenson in Battle River-Crowfoot, Earl Dreeshen in Red Deer-Mountain View, Blaine Calkins in Red Deer-Wolf Creek, Rona Ambrose in Sturgeon River, and Jason Kenney in Calgary-Midnapore.

Lethbridge Politics

guest post: lethbridge election 2010

Winds of Change?

By  Jenn Prosser

Municipal elections wrap up Monday the 18th, and for a moment I would like to request your attention down south.

The 2010 Lethbridge municipal election has proven one thing above all else: people are demanding progress in local government. People are starting to feel the widening space between themselves and locally elected representatives, and finding it is difficult to connect to people when they don’t have a relationship. This has come out loudly from forum attendees and comments from citizens, online and elsewhere. People are more actively engaged in this election than they have been in council proceedings in the years leading to this election. Already advance voting has seen 2 565 people come out, a doubling of advance voters from last year.

There are 30 aldermanic candidates, and 6 mayoral candidates to vote for. The mayoralty race is not contested by an incumbent, while there are 6 of the 8 previous aldermen running again.

While Lethbridge traditionally re-elects its incumbents, this election looks like it might be an upset. There are a number of people running who have ran in the past couple elections unsuccessfully, and there are three candidates who had sat on council previously that are looking to be elected again. It is also entirely possible that Lethbridge will elect its first female mayor this year. Public perception points to Cheryl Meheden as being the front runner, though her two main competitors are not too far behind. In the Aldermanic race, it is doubtful gender parity will be reached on council as the number of men running far outweigh the number of women, and the front runners for the 8 spots are predominately male.

The “sexy” issue in the 2010 Lethbridge election is communication. Incumbent aldermen are being painted as out of touch with the changing needs of the city, and their defensive positions and responses are doing little to prove their good intentions. The government made a bad investment (Asset Backed Commercial Paper – a stock invested in by many municipalities) and the answer has been better communication.

Communication is a sticking point in all local elections. Successful city council candidates require strong and broad social circles. There is a cross section of people who support you, and their demands are too often conflicting and specific. Without good communication channels, it is easy to remove yourself from the community at large while expending efforts to satisfy responsibilities, at the obvious expense of electoral viability.

Why would Lethbridge any different? The small city of Lethbridge offers a unique example of why communication is so critical. In many ways, it is small town-like in its municipal affairs, mixed with city-learned expectations. Public opinion of taxation; and a diversity of social issues are found to be in line with the national median, despite the reputation of being disengaged and conservative. However, social circles can be narrow, and socially defined.

Despite the high level of community engagement and advancement within post-secondary driven institutions, and non-profit organizations; council has not capitalized on new communication methods, or technology to increase their transparency. Lethbridge city council has yet to even start broadcasting council meetings, nor do they use any type of media effectively.

There is a problem geographically as an overwhelming number of the 8 alderman are from one area in the city. Lethbridge is dived into three general areas: Westside, Southside, and Northside. In the 2010 municipal election, there are 10 aldermanic candidates who reside on the Southside, 15 who reside on the Westside, and 5 who call Northside home.

The Westside is a fairly new, but is the largest growing in population size. It also tends to be heavily populated by students, easily 6%-7% of the total student population in Lethbridge. It is also important to know that the west side is physically removed from the rest of the city, and connected through two bridges.

The Southside has the majority of businesses, and services. It also has significant high density housing, has a mix of high and low income housing, with lots of home ownership.
The Northside is 30% industrial but also has high density neighborhoods, more diversity in housing needs and styles, and a significant though small business core.

The distance and the divergent needs of Lethbridge’s geographic area are creating different demands for Lethbridge’s city council, demands that many are saying current council hasn’t met. This election process has seen a manifestation of those demands through citizen feedback and interest generated forums and surveys.

Communication isn’t the only issue, but it is an active one. Other issues encompass taxation, tax assessment process, relationship with administration, physical infrastructure, and a ward system.

Citizen interest has been made visible by forum attendance, candidates running, volunteers campaign, and on line engagement. has seen a consistent high level of access and has received positive feedback from viewers. This will make for interesting Election Day, as public opinion is divided among so many candidates, and re-election is far from certain for incumbents.

Lethbridge low down:
Population: 86,659
Post-secondary institutions: Lethbridge College, University of Lethbridge
Council: 8 seats, at-large-elected, considered part time, expected to fulfill 30 hours weekly
Mayor: Full time
Large administration
Founded through coal mining, and whiskey trading
Rising technology and neuroscience research centers
Windiest city in western Canada (source: primarily anecdotal personal experience)

Jenn Prosser is a political junkie who has worked with the Alberta and Lethbridge municipal governments for a number of causes including women’s issues, post-secondary education and low-income housing. Currently, she is the content editor for a local community paper, The Journal. She authors the blog and co-runs When not compiling survey information, or following candidates around with a camera and note pad, she knits and watches West Wing.