Alberta Politics

Yellowhead federal by-election called for November 17

The Yellowhead Highway is a major east-west highway connecting the four western Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

Providing a distraction from the four provincial by-elections currently being held in Alberta, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced today that federal by-elections will be held in Ontario’s Whitby-Oshawa riding and Alberta’s Yellowhead riding.

The Yellowhead by-election is triggered by the resignation of five-term Conservative Member of Parliament Rob Merrifield, who was appointed by Premier Jim Prentice as Alberta’s envoy in Washington D.C.

Covering a huge swath of west central Alberta, the Yellowhead riding sprawls from Jasper National Park in the west to Drayton Valley, Onoway and Barrhead in the east.

The Hinton Voice reported on September 25 that two candidates were seeking the federal Conservative nomination in this riding. Former Yellowhead Conservatives President Jim Eglinski served as Mayor of Fort St. John from 2005 to 2008 and Gerald Soroka has has served as the Mayor of Yellowhead County since 2007.

According to the Voice, Hinton Town Councillor and local social studies teacher Ryan Maguhn filed his papers to become the Liberal Party candidate.

Yellowhead voted solidly Conservative riding in the 2011 election. Conservative candidate Mr. Merrifield earned 77% of the total vote in Yellowhead, with NDP candidate Mark Wells earning 13%. Green candidate Monika Shaeffer placed third with 5.1% and Liberal Zack Siezmagraff placed fourth with 2.8%.

The riding was represented by former Prime Minister Joe Clark from 1979 to 1993. In the 1988 election, Mr. Clark faced Reform Party leader Preston Manning, who he defeated 44% to 27%. Five years later, in the 1993 election, Reform Party candidate Cliff Breitkreuz was elected with 55% of the vote. He represented the riding in Ottawa until Mr. Merrifield was first elected in 2000.

Alberta Politics

alberta senate elections in 2011 or 2012.

Via Postmedia News, Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidates are calling for another round of Senator-in-Waiting elections to happen concurrent with the next provincial election:

“We want them (Senate nominees) to be current. We don’t want to end up with a stale list,” said Alison Redford, Calgary-Elbow member of provincial legislature and the lone female candidate in the Tory race. “There must be another election and we may as well hold it in conjunction with the next provincial election.”

Redford believes Albertans should elect three Senate nominees who could fill the three vacancies over the next few years. Liberal Sen. Tommy Banks faces retirement in December 2011; Conservative Sen. Bert Brown must retire by March 2013; and Liberal Sen. Joyce Fairbairn by November 2014.

Alberta has held three Senate elections, in 1989, 1998, and 2004. One of Ms. Redford’s opponents, former Finance Minister Ted Morton was elected as a Senator-in-Waiting in 1998 and gave up the position-in-waiting when he ran in the 2004 provincial election in the Foothills-Rockyview constituency. PC candidates elected in the 2004 contest include Senator-no-longer-in-waiting Bert Brown, and Senators-still-waiting Betty UngerCliff Breitkreuz, and Senator-got-tired-of-waiting Link Byfield (who is now the Wildrose candidate in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock).

The Wildrose announced yesterday that its former Executive Director, Vitor Marciano, would be one of its candidates in the next Senate election. Mr. Marciano is a well-known Conservative Party of Canada operative in Alberta. It is unknown whether the other opposition parties would support candidates in a Senate election.

The last Liberal to stand in a Senate election was Calgary lawyer Bill Code, who placed second in the 1989 contest. The New Democrats support the abolition of the Senate, but in 1998, future NDP candidate in Edmonton-Glenora Guy Desrosiers stood as an Independent Senate candidate (and placed third with 16.7% of the vote).

Alberta Politics

wildrose alliance draft policy proposals.

Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith at a January 2010 press conference.

In less than a year, the Wildrose Alliance Party has skyrocketed from the political fringes to having three MLAs in the Assembly and challenging the dominance of the 39-year governing Progressive Conservative Party in many polls. Since the selection of Danielle Smith as their leader in October 2009, many questions have been raised about where the new leader and her party stand on important policy issues. The party has slowly started to release some new policy positions and one of Ms. Smith’s most common responses is that her party would be reassessing many of their positions at their June 2010 policy convention.

Luckily for readers of this blog, a friendly political insider was kind enough to pass along a copy of the draft Proposed Policy Resolutions that will be debated at the 2010 Wildrose Alliance Annual General Meeting scheduled for June 25 and 26 in Red Deer.

The document includes some of what would be expected from a conservative political party in Alberta and has a slightly more moderate tone than expressed in that party’s fringe-right past. Here is a brief summary of a few of the proposals:

– Renegotiate federal equalization program.
– Create an Alberta Constitution.
– Former Reform Party Member of Parliament and current Senator-in-Waiting Cliff Breitkreuz proposes that party leaders should run in a province-wide election and that the leader who receives the most votes in a general provincial election will be sworn in as Premier of Alberta.
– Party member Randy Coombes proposes that his party ensure all law abiding and mentally fit Albertans enjoy the right to keep and bear arms in perpetuity.
– Member Peter Csillag proposes the stop of any and all public monies involved in the deliberate and intentional termination of pregnancies.
– There are a series of policies that could be dubbed the “Ezra Levant” section of the proposal which deal with freedom of speech and the Alberta Human Rights Act.
– Party Vice-President Jeff Callaway proposes the introduction of legislation to allow citizen-initiated referendums though a petition signed by at least 10% of the total voters of the last Provincial election in Alberta (which is quite a low number when you take into account the 40% voter turnout).
– The Medicine Hat and Cypress-Medicine Hat constituencies submitted policies calling for “a public consultative review with Albertans of the collective bargaining process in the public sector.”
– A proposal calls for the creation of a First Nations Forum to provide aboriginal citizens direct communication with government.

There are also policy proposals calling for the creation of “whistle-blower” legislation, educating Albertans in environmental stewardship, abolishing income-tax, supporting nuclear and hydroelectric power, and exempting seniors from paying a number of taxes.

Here is the full document.
Policy Resolutions 2010 Agm Preliminary