The northeast Calgary district was represented by Liberal MP Darshan Kang from 2015 until he left the Liberal caucus in 2017 following allegations of sexual harassment. The former two-term Liberal MLA sat as an Independent until his term was complete and did not seek re-election in 2019.
Rick Peterson out of Conservative race in Edmonton-Strathcona
It appears as though former Conservative Party leadership candidate Rick Peterson is no longer seeking his party’s nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona. While neither Peterson nor the party have made any official public statement, Conservative Party sources say that he was disqualified from the race by the central party.
It now appears likely that his opponent, Tunde Obsan, the only other candidate in the race, will be acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona. Obasan was the 2019 United Conservative Party candidate in Edmonton-South and is an audit manager with the provincial Department of Alberta Treasury Board and Finance.
Edmonton-Strathcona is currently represented by NDP MP Heather McPherson.
Don Iveson running in Edmonton-Centre?
Rumours continue to circulate that Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson could seek the federal Liberal nomination in Edmonton-Centre. Rumours about Iveson jumping into federal politics have been around for years, but his decision to not seek re-election as mayor and the proximity to an impending federal election has given new fuel to the speculation.
Iveson was first elected to City Council in 2007 and has served as Mayor since 2013. He is currently the chairperson of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Big City Mayors’ Caucus.
Former Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault, who represented the district from 2015 to 2019, has already announced his intentions to seek his party’s nomination.
The NDP have nominated Shawn Gray in Edmonton Riverbend.
Austin Mullins is now running for the Green Party nomination in Calgary-Centre. Mills had previously announced his intentions to seek the party’s nomination in Banff-Airdire, where he ran in 2019.
The right-wing People’s Party have nominated Dennis Trepanier in Battle River-Crowfoot, Edward Gao in Calgary-Confederation, Jonathan Hagel in Calgary-Midnapore, Kyle Scott in Calgary-Nose Hill, Michael Knoll in Calgary-Shepard, Brent Kinzel in Edmonton-West, Brigitte Yolande Maria Cecelia in St. Albert-Edmonton, and Murray MacKinnon in Sturgeon River-Parkland.
The party has also nominated two time Wildrose Party candidate Darryl Boisson in Peace River-Westlock and is expected to nominate Ben Whyte in Calgary-Rocky Ridge at a meeting on July 29.
The separatist Maverick Party has nominated Orrin Bliss in Bow River, Annelise Freeman in Calgary-Heritage, Josh Wylie in Foothills, and Physical Education and Social Studies teacher Todd Muir in Yellowhead.
Photo: federal candidates Jasraj Singh Hallan, Nirmala Naidoo, Joe Pimlott, and Gurinder Singh Gill
With a federal election expected to begin sometime in the next nine days, some of Canada’s major political parties are scrambling to fill their slate of candidates in Alberta. At the time this update was published, the Liberal Party had 17 candidates nominated in Alberta’s 34 ridings, the NDP had nominated candidates in 9 ridings, and the Greens had candidates in 21 ridings. The Conservative Party and People’s Party had nominated full-slates of 34 candidates.
The regionally dominant Conservative Party is already expected to sweep most of the federal races in Alberta on October 21, 2019, but it is still a bit shocking that the other major political parties are still so far behind in their candidate selection process. It sends a pretty strong signal that those parties will be spending most of their resources in other provinces that are seen as more competitive, with the exception of a few Alberta ridings – Edmonton-Strathcona for the NDP and Calgary-Centre, Edmonton-Centre and Edmonton-Mill Woods for the Liberals.
Former UCP candidiate Hallan wins Conservative nomination in Calgary-Forest Lawn
Nirmala Naidoo has been acclaimed as the Liberal candidate in Calgary-Skyview. The former television broadcaster was the Liberal candidate in Calgary-Rocky Ridge in the 2015 election. She briefly served as co-chair of the Alberta Liberal Party’s leadership contest before stepping down to serve as the spokesperson for Sandra Jansen during her brief campaign for the Progressive Conservative Party leadership in 2016 (Jansen had endorsed Naidoo’s federal candidacy in 2015).
Naidoo’s candidacy was approved despite two other candidates having announced their intentions to run for the Liberal Party nomination in this riding.
The riding is currently represented by Independent MP Darshan Kang. Kang is a former two-term Liberal MLA who was elected as a federal Liberal in 2015 before leaving the Liberal caucus in 2018 following allegations of sexual harassment.
The Liberals have nominated Ghada Alatrash in Calgary-Signal Hill. She is a Syrian-Canadian writer and holds a PhD in Educational Research from the University of Calgary.
Leslie Penny is the nominated Liberal Party candidate in Peace River-Westlock. Penny ran for the provincial Liberal Party in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock in the 2008 and 2012 elections.
Ronald Brochu is the Liberal Party candidate in Sturgeon River-Parkland. Brochu has run for the provincial Liberal Party in Edmonton-Gold Bar in 2015 and Drayton Valley-Devon in 2019.
Del Arnold has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate in Calgary-Shepard. Arnold is the former vice-president of the Alberta Society of Registered Cardiology Technologists.
Tariq Chaudary has been acclaimed as the Liberal Party candidate in Edmonton-Riverbend. Chaudary was the Liberal candidate in this riding in 2015, where he earned 30 per cent of the vote.
Audrey Redman is expected to seek the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Riverbend on September 16, 2019.
Gurmit Bhachu is seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-Midnapore. Bhachu is active with the provincial NDP in Calgary-Fish Creek and briefly considered seeking the nomination in that district before the 2019 provincial election. The nomination meeting is scheduled to take place on September 10, 2019.
The NDP will nominate candidates in Calgary-Heritage on September 10 and in Calgary-Nose Hill on September 11.
Elke Crosson has been nominated as the Green Party candidate in Lakeland.
Before entering federal politics, he was president of the India Canada Association of Calgary, ran for a City Council seat in a 1993 by-election and ran for the PC nomination in Calgary-Montrose in 1996.
Obhrai faced a brief nomination challenge from former Calgary-East PC MLA Moe Amery but he was eventually acclaimed as his party’s candidate in the October 2019 election. Amery’s son, Mickey, is now the UPC MLA for Calgary-Cross.
The Conservatives will need to select a new candidate to succeed Obhrai in the upcoming federal election.
Former Alberta MLA running for the federal Conservatives on Vancouver Island
She travelled to Alberta during the 2019 provincial election to campaign for Calgary-Bow UCP candidate Demetrios Nicolaides.
DeLong is not the first former Alberta politician to try their hand at federal politics west of the Rockies.
Former provincial treasurer Stockwell Day is perhaps the most recognizable example of former Alberta politician jumping into federal politics in British Columbia, but he is not alone. Former Edmonton mayor Vincent Dantzer served as the MP for Okanagan-North from 1980 to 1988, former Slave Lake mayor Val Meredith served as MP for Surrey-White Rock-South Langley from 1993 to 2004, and Werner Schmidt, who led Alberta’s Social Credit Party from 1973 to 1975, later served as the MP for Okanagan-Centre and Kelowna from 1993 to 2006.
Katherine Swampy was nominated as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Centre. Swampy is a councillor with the Samson Cree Nation, member of the board of directors for Peace Hills Trust, and previously ran for the NDP in the 2015 provincial and federal elections.
Nigel Logan was nomination as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Mill Woods. Logan previously ran for Edmonton City Council and has worked as a constituency assistant for Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MP Linda Duncan.
Patrick Steuber has been nominated as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-West.
Lito Velasco is seeking the Liberal nomination in Edmonton-Wetaskiwin. He is the editor of the Alberta Filipino Journal.
Artist and motivational speaker Jesse Lipscombe is seeking the Liberal nomination in St. Albert- Edmonton. Lipscombe is well known for his work with the #MakeItAwkward campaign and is the grandson of Edmonton Eskimos star player Rollie Miles.
Please contact me at email@example.com for additions or updates related to candidate nominations in Alberta and I will add them to the list. Thank you!
With an election call expected within the next few weeks, or days, Alberta’s political parties are continuing to nominate candidates to run for the upcoming vote. As of this afternoon, the United Conservative Party has nominated 83 candidates in 87 districts, the New Democratic Party has nominated 80 candidates, the Alberta Party has nominated 73 candidates, the Liberal Party has nominated 35 candidates, the Green Party has nominated 19 candidates, the Freedom Conservative Party has nominated 15 candidates, and the Alberta Advantage Party has nominated 11 candidates.
The New Democratic Party are expected to nominated Heather Eddy in Calgary-South East and Paula Cackett in West Yellowhead on March 16 and Shannon Dunfield in Grande Prairie-Wapiti on March 17.
Dr. Esther Tailfeathers has withdrawn as the New Democratic Party candidate in Cardston-Siksika. In a post on Facebook, Dr. Tailfeathers described her reason for withdrawing from the race. The NDP have scheduled a new nomination meeting in Cardston-Siksika on March 18, 2019 and a candidate nomination meeting in Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright on March 16, 2019.
Avinash Khangura has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Calgary-McCall. Khangura was the Liberal Party candidate in this district in the 2015 election, where he earned 17.4 per cent of the vote. Khangura is also listed as the Riding Chair for the federal Liberal Party in Calgary-Skyview district, which is currently represented by former Liberal and now Independent Member of Parliament Darshan Kang, who represented Calgary-McCall as a Liberal MLA from 2008 to 2015. The district is currently represented by New Democratic Party MLA Irfan Sabir.
Daniel Ejumabone has withdrawn from the Liberal Party nomination in Calgary-West and is now running in Calgary-Bow, and Ben Midgely is the new candidate in Calgary-West. The Liberals have also nominated John Roggeveen in Calgary-Fish Creek, Prerna Mahtani in Calgary-North West, Michael McGowan in Edmonton-Ellerslie, Inderjeet Randhawa in Edmonton-Riverview, Sharon Howe in Chestermere-Strathmore, Anwar Kamaran in Cypress-Medicine Hat.
Tanya Herbert is running for the Green Party in Edmonton-Gold Bar and past city council candidate Taz Bouchier is running in Edmonton-Highands-Norwood.
Eight additional candidates affiliated with the Alberta Independence Party have registered as Independent candidates in the upcoming election: Timothy Shanks in Edmonton-North West, Roberta McDonald in Calgary-North West, Vincent Loyer in Edmonton-Gold Bar, Dave Bjorkman in Edmonton-West Henday, Don Dubitz in Camrose, Mark Grinder in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, Michael Keller in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, and Michael Neufeld in Red Deer-North.
If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will add them to the list. Thank you!
There are three scheduled nomination meetings being held this week:
November 5, 2018 – 2015 Wildrose Party candidate Terry Devries, Amoriza Gunnink, Nicholas Milliken, past federal Conservative nomination candidate Dan Morrison, and Bettina Pierre-Gilles are seeking the UCP nomination in Calgary-Currie. Anthony Parker’s candidacy was not accepted by the UCP. Gunnink has been endorsed by Airdrie-East MLA Angela Pitt and Pierre-Gilles has been endorsed by Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Jason Nixon.
November 6 & 7, 2018 – Former Morinville town councillor and 2015 Wildrose Party candidate Joe Gosselin, Legal town councillor Trina Jones, Dale Nally, and former Sturgeon County mayor and 2015 Wildrose nomination candidate Don Rigney are seeking the UCP nomination in Morinville-St. Albert.Gibbons town councillor Amber Harris withdrew her candidacy for the nomination on November 2, 2018. Rigney’s endorsements page on his website appears to have been reused from his 2013 mayoral re-election campaign, including a testimonial from now deceased former Social Credit MLA Keith Everitt.
November 8, 2018 – NDP MLA Barb Miller is expected to be acclaimed for her party’s nomination in Red Deer-South. Miller was elected in 2015 with 35.9 percent of the vote in a three-way race.
Calgary-Falconridge – Raman Gill is seeking the UCP nomination. Happy Mann’s candidacy appears to have been rejected by the UCP. Mann was alleged to have been involved in a incident where a local reporter was assaulted. Mann was the Wildrose Party candidate in Calgary-McCall in the 2015 election and Calgary-Cross in the 2012 election.
Calgary-Mountain View – Long-time radio journalist Angela Kokott has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Many Calgarians will know Kokott as the host of Calgary Today on NewsTalk 770. She is the third 770 host to jump into provincial politics in recent history, following Dave Taylor, who served as the MLA for Calgary-Currie from 2004 to 2008 (as a Liberal, then an Independent and Alberta Party MLA), and Mike Blanchard, who ran for the Wildrose Party in Calgary-Buffalo in 2012.
Calgary-North – Melanie Wen has withdrawn her candidacy for the Alberta Party in this district. She had been nominated on October 4, 2018.
Edmonton-Manning – Keli Tamaklo is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.
Edmonton-North West– Emerson Mayers is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Mayers was recently a candidate for City Council in Ward 4. He ran for the Progressive Conservative Party in Edmonton-Strathcona in the 2012 election and previously sought the Liberal Party nomination in Edmonton-Manning in 1997, the PC nomination in Edmonton-Manning in 2008, the PC nomination in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood in 2012, and the PC nomination in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview in 2015.
Edmonton-Rutherford – Richard Feehan is seeking the NDP nomination for re-election in 2019. Feehan was first elected in 2015, earning 63.9 percent of the vote. He now serves as Minister of Indigenous Relations and Deputy Government House Leader.
Edmonton-Strathcona – It was never in doubt, but Premier Rachel Notley has officially announced her plans to seek re-election in the district she has represented since 2008. Notley was re-elected with 82.4 percent of the vote in 2015. With the exception of one-term from 1993 to 1997, this district has been represented by the NDP since 1986.
Former Progressive Conservative MLA Moe Amery briefly launched a challenge against Deepak Obhrai for the federal Conservative nomination in Calgary-Forest Lawn but withdrew from the contest months later. Obhrai was then acclaimed.
Non-incumbent Conservatives acclaimed for their nominations include Jagdeep Sahota in Calgary-Skyview, James Cumming in Edmonton-Centre, and Tim Uppal in Edmonton-Mill Woods. Sam Lilly is seeking the Conservative Party nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona.
If Lilly is nominated in Edmonton-Strathcona, then all eleven Conservative Party candidates in Edmonton and the surrounding area will be men.
Liberal Party MP Randy Boissonnault was acclaimed as his party’s candidate in Edmonton-Centre, making him the governing party’s first nominated candidate in Alberta during this election cycle. Liberal MP Kent Hehr is expected to be nominated as his party’s candidate in Calgary-Centre on October 21, 2018 and Edmonton-Mill Woods Liberal MP Amarjeet Sohi has yet to be nominated. Sohi currently serves as Minister of Natural Resources with special responsibilities related to the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
Yellowhead: With Conservative MP Jim Eglinski not seeking re-election, five candidates have stepped up to seek the party nomination in Yellowhead, including Christian private school principal Robert Duiker, former Drayton Valley mayor Glenn McLean, Yellowhead County Planning and Subdivision Officer Kelly Jensen, past Wildrose Party candidate Kathy Rondeau, and Yellohwead County Mayor Gerald Soroka. Two other candidates, Ryan Ouderkirk and Carolyne Mackellar, withdrew from the contest.
Conservative Party members in Yellowhead will be voting to select their candidate in Grande Cache, Hinton, Rocky Mountain House, Drayton Valley, Wabamum and Edson between October 11 and 13, 2018.
I expect to soon be tracking federal nominations in Alberta, so stay tuned. If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for federal party nomination, please send me an email at email@example.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!
Photo: Liberal Party leader Kevin Taft speaks to a rally of supporters on the weekend before the 2008 election. Taft, in my opinion, was one of the best premiers Alberta never had.
March 3, 2008 was an optimistic day to be a Liberal Party supporter, at least up until 8:22 p.m that night. The polls had only closed for 22 minutes when the news channels began declaring that the long in the tooth Progressive Conservatives would form another majority government in Alberta.
It was a heartbreaking loss for those of us who were involved in the Alberta Liberal Party campaign that year.
I had been involved with the Liberal Party since the early 2000s and played a behind the scenes role in that year’s election campaign.
While I spent a considerable amount of time knocking on doors for candidates in Edmonton, I was also working with a group of MLAs, lawyers and former PC cabinet ministers on what would have been the plan to transition the Liberals into government if the party had won that election ten years ago today.
The whole project felt like a silly effort at 8:22 p.m. that night, but there were moments in the campaign where it did feel like Albertans were looking for a change.
After a divisive PC leadership race and a surprise win in the Calgary-Elbow by-election, it looked as if the Liberals led by Edmonton MLA Kevin Taft were about to build significant gains after their Calgary breakthrough in the 2004 election.
The Liberals did make gains in Calgary that night, electing five MLAs including rookies Kent Hehr and Darshan Kang, but the party suffered huge losses in its traditional base of Edmonton. Liberal MLAs were defeated in seats the party had held since the 1980s and 1990s and gains they had made in the city in the previous election were competely erased. When the dust settled, there were only 3 Liberal MLAs left in the capital city.
It was also bittersweet night for our opponents in the New Democratic Party campaign. Star candidate Rachel Notley was elected in Edmonton-Strathcona, retaining the seat held by former party leader Raj Pannu. But the party’s caucus was reduced to two after MLAs David Eggen and Ray Martin were swept away in the PC’s Edmonton wave.
For those involved in the PC campaign, it was a remarkable landslide. And the last big landslide of the party’s more than four consecutive decades in office.
Stelmach ended up being a fairly decent premier, who I believe history will treat kindly, but landslide victories like these can be a doubled-edged sword. The large PC caucus of 72 MLAs, which included rookie MLAs Alison Redford and Raj Sherman, proved to be too unruly to manage. And the politics of a bitter conservative establishment festered as aspiring leadership contenders jockeyed for power. It was less than four years later that Stelmach resigned from the Premier’s Office.
The 2008 election was a real formative political period for me. Despite the disappointing and depressing outcome, I learned so much from my time working with the dedicated and passionate Albertans involved that campaign. It was a real honour.
To this day, I think Albertans were looking for change on March 3, 2008. It just took them another seven years to decide that the change they were looking for wouldn’t come from inside the PC Party.
Photo: Kent Hehr with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Calgary Stampede in July 2017. (Photo from Kent Hehr’s Facebook Page)
It has been a busy week for me, so without the time to write a full column-type post, here is a quick summary of what I have been watching in Alberta politics over the past few days.
Calgary MP moved in Trudeau cabinet shuffle
Calgary-Centre Member of Parliament Kent Hehr was appointed Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities this week as part of a fairly significant shuffle in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet. Hehr had previously served as Minister of Veterans Affairs, a post he had held since his election in 2015. Though the move is viewed as a demotion at worst or a lateral move at best, there is no indication that the shuffle was a reflection on Hehr’s performance as minister, which appeared to fulfill competently.
As a former amateur athlete and leader in the Canadian Paraplegic Association, Hehr appears to be a good fit for this role.
Meanwhile, Calgary-Skyview Liberal MP Darshan Kang announced he would take a medical leave of absence due to stress caused by allegations of sexual harassment that have dogged the federal politician over the past few weeks.
Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous continues his town hall tour of Alberta’s coal communities this week. In the Town of Hanna, Bilous and mayor Chris Warwick announced $450,000 in funding create Community Action Teams led by the Cactus Corridor Economic Development Corporation to focus on initiatives identified in a report by the Hanna Climate Change Strategy Task Force.
The low participation rate may have a lot to do with the deep political divide between the Alberta NDP and its federal and provincial counterparts over the expansion and construction of oil pipelines, which is a priority for Rachel Notley’s government. To my knowledge, no Alberta NDP MLAs have released public endorsements for any of the federal NDP leadership candidates.
Cyr said Wildrose MLAs were stonewalled when they requested information about ballooning staff at the former official opposition caucus office.
Schweitzer said the new party will not be a credible voice for fiscal management if it cannot manage its own internal budget. Schweitzer has described Jean’s leadership platform as “big government” and is proposing deep cuts to the provincial budget if he becomes premier in 2019.
When Jason Kenney was asked why he was not attending any Calgary Pride Week events, he initially said it was because he did not get an invitation. When he received an invitation from Alberta-born internationally successful musician kd lang to meet in person to discuss LGBTQ issues, Kenney’s spokesperson said the UCP leadership candidate was too busy. It appears as though Kenney will go to far lengths not to do anything that would alienate the social conservative supporters he hopes will help make him leader of the UCP in October 2017.
Hehr on the move
Calgary-Centre Member of Parliament Kent Hehr is expected to be shuffled from his role as Minister of Veterans Affairs as Newfoundland MP Seamus O’Regan is moved into the role. When Hehr was appointed to cabinet in 2015, he became the first Liberal cabinet minister from Calgary since the early 1970s. It is not yet known what his new role will be.
Gerry Keller, the former chief of staff to Rona Ambrose, has decided not to enter the Conservative Party nomination to run in the upcoming Sturgeon River-Parkland by-election. Current candidates running for the nomination include local party organizer Jamie Mozeson, recently relocated BC-businessman Rick Peterson and political staffer Dane Lloyd.
Perhaps demonstrating how high the political stakes were for the conservative opposition parties, the right-wing Wildrose Party delivered a last minute flyer to houses across Greenway attacking Mr. Gill for being a “Justin Trudeau Liberal.”
The braintrust at Wildrose Party headquarters, all federal Conservative loyalists, probably didn’t consider that Albertans are smart enough to know the difference between federal and provincial politics. And then there is the possibility that Mr. Trudeau, and local Liberal MP Darshan Kang, might actually be popular among voters in northeast Calgary.
Khalil Karbani, the actual Liberal Party candidate (who ran for a Wildrose Party nomination in 2012), placed third with an impressive 22 percent of the vote. As the provincial Liberals have essentially been non-existant in this constituency for some time (they did not run a candidate in 2015), the longtime community association president likely benefited from his own personal popularity and that of Mr. Kang (and Mr. Trudeau, I am sure).
Wildrose candidate Devinder Toor placed second with 23 percent, only three points higher than he placed in last year’s general election. Mr. Toor faced allegations of questionable business practices during the campaign which may have hurt his chances. But the loss can also be seen as a rebuke of the Wildrose Party’s no holds barred ideological and negative attacks against anyone who disagrees with its positions.
The Wildrose Party’s attacks on Mr. Gill probably do not bode well for Wildrose leader Brian Jean‘s fumbling attempts to convince the PCs to merge with them before the next election. With one by-election win under their belt, the PCs could feel a renewed sense of optimism for their own future electoral prospects.
The by-election will likely contribute to the narrative that the NDP have lost popularity in Alberta, regardless of the party never actually having won an election in Calgary-Greenway. It is also the start of the narrative that, despite their claims, the Wildrose Party is not the only party that can defeat the NDP – the PCs and the Liberals can now claim they can defeat the NDP as well.
As I wrote earlier this week, it is difficult to tell what impact a single by-election will have on future general elections. An abysmally low voter turnout, at 29 percent, suggests that none of the parties have meaningfully connected with voters in this constituency.
We do know two things. First, the PCs blocked the Wildrose Party from grabbing one of their nine remaining constituencies, which is an important victory for a party that was written off as dead less than one year ago. Second, attacking Justin Trudeau in Calgary might have actually hurt Wildrose chances of winning this by-election.
There was a time in the not too distant past when the Alberta Liberal Party went out of their way to distance themselves from the Liberal Party of Canada. The provincial party even formally separated from the federal party back in the 1970s in a move to distance itself from their Central Canadian-based federal cousins.
Those days are over. The election of Calgary-Skyview Member of Parliament Darshan Kang and Calgary-Centre MP Kent Hehr in October 2015 marked the first time since 1968 that Calgarians elected federal Liberal representatives in Ottawa. The provincial Liberals are eager to take advantage of any bump in support they can get from the popularity of the federal party and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
There has not been much for provincial Liberals to be excited about recently. The party lost Official Opposition status in 2012 and dropped to one MLA in the Legislative Assembly in 2015. Now without a permanent leader, the party delayed its next leadership vote until 2017. But the recent electoral success of the federal Liberals may have given the party some hope.
The provincial Liberals have adopted a nearly identical logo on their election signs as the federal Liberals and embraced the federal Liberal slogan ‘Vote for Real Change‘ for its campaign in the Calgary-Greenway provincial by-election. Federal Liberal MPs have even been spotted on campaigning for the local candidate.
Ottawa-area Liberal Member of Parliament Anita Vandenbeld, who was born in Calgary and studied at the University of Calgary, joinedMr. Kangthis past weekend to canvass with Calgary-Greenway candidate Khalil Karbani (who ran for a Wildrose Party nomination in 2012).
The results of the March 22 by-election will give some indication as to whether the provincial Liberal strategy to embrace their federal counterparts is a success. A provincial Liberal win, or even a strong showing, in the Calgary-Greenway by-election would be an unexpected surprise and much needed boost for a party that has been on a downward trend for the past eight years.
Remember Liberalberta Green?
In a move that was believed to be an attempt to distance the two parties, the provincial Liberals undertook a brief rebranding in 2012, ditching the colour red for green and calling themselves ‘Liberalberta’ but not long after the party moved to improve ties with the federal party. They later ditched Liberalberta green in favour of traditionally Liberal red.
The Alberta Party has decided to not run a candidate in the March 22, 2016 by-election in the Calgary-Greenway constituency. It was a strange choice by the small political party, which brands itself as a centrist alternative. Its leader, Greg Clark, was elected to the Legislative Assembly in May 2015.
The Alberta Party said the decision to not run a candidate was based on its choice to focus on preparing for the 2019 general election, but the party cannot brand themselves as the “de-facto official opposition,” as it did in a press release yesterday, if they do not participate in by-elections.
By sitting out the by-election, the Alberta Party is ceding ground to the other opposition parties ahead of the 2019 election. What else could this political party be doing that is more important than running a candidate in a by-election?
Here are a list of the other candidates nominated and registered to run in the March 22 by-election:
Perennial election candidate and social conservative advocate Larry Heather will run as an Independent candidate. Mr. Heather has run in at least 17 elections since 1984, including as an Independent candidate in Calgary-Heritage in the 2015 federal election and as a Social Credit candidate in the 2014 Calgary-Elbow by-election.
Said Abdulbaki will run as an Independent candidate. Mr. Abdulbaki stood as a Liberal candidate in the 2012 and 2015 provincial elections in the neighbouring Calgary-Fort constituency. He also ran as a Wildrose Alliance candidate in the 2008 provincial election in the Calgary-Montrose constituency, which became Calgary-Greenway in 2012.
After initially appointing Prabhdeep Gill as a candidate, the Progressive Conservatives changed course and held a nomination vote on February 27, 2016, the day the nomination vote was initially scheduled to happen. The previously appointed candidate, Mr. Gill, defeated three other candidates in the nomination vote.
Past candidate Devinder Toor defeated Robin Martin to win the Wildrose Party nomination on February 26, 2016. Mr. Toor was his party’s candidate in the 2015 election when he placed third with 20 percent of the vote. Mr. Martin is the son-in-law of Calgary-Forest Lawn Member of Parliament Deepak Obhrai.
Khalil Karbani defeated Saima Jamal to win the Liberal Party nomination. Mr. Karbani is the president of the Taradale Community Association and was a candidate for the Wildrose Party nomination in the neighbouring Calgary-McCall constituency before the 2012 election. Liberals are hoping to translate some of the federal party’s recent success in Calgary, including former Liberal MLA Darshan Kang’s win in Calgary-Skyview, to this by-election.
The Reform Party of Alberta announced on its Facebook Page that it would not be officially registered as a political party with Elections Alberta in time to contest the by-election. There will not be a Reform Party candidate running in this by-election.
Alberta’s opposition parties are preparing for a spring by-election in Calgary-Greenway. The east Calgary constituency was represented by Progressive Conservative MLA Manmeet Bhullar from 2008 until late 2015, when Mr. Bhullar was killed in a traffic accident on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway. A by-election is expected to be called before the end of May 2016.
I am told the New Democratic Party has scheduled its nomination meeting for Feb. 20, 2016, though this is not publicly listed on the party’s website. Past NDP candidate Don Monroe posted on his Facebook Page on Feb. 1, 2016 that he is “wondering what’s going on in Greenway concerning representation” and is still waiting for the party to inform him when a nomination meeting will be held. Mr. Monroe earned 36 percent of the vote in the May 2015 election, placing eight points behind Mr. Bhullar.
Aryan Sadat has announced his intention to seek for the PC nomination. Mr. Sadat challenged former MLA Teresa Woo-Paw for the Progressive Conservative nomination in the Calgary-Northern Hills constituency in January 2015. In 2014, he hosted a fundraiser with then-PC leadership candidate Jim Prentice and Mr. Bhullar.
Some PC members have expressed hope that Calgary police chief Rick Hanson will seek the nomination. Mr. Hanson stepped down as police chief to run as a star candidate for the PC Party in the May 2015 election, but he was defeated by New Democrat Ricardo Miranda in the Calgary-Cross constituency.
Memories of the 2012 election could haunt the Wildrose Party. Four years ago, the party’s candidate in Calgary-Greenway helped destroy Wildrose chances of winning the election when he was quote as saying he had a Caucasian advantage in this multi-cultural constituency.
These comments hit the newspaper headlines about the same time as the Lake of Fire blog post from another Wildrose candidate was made public. Those two comments have saddled the Wildrose Party with a reputation as being the party of social conservatives in Alberta.
The Liberals have scheduled their candidate selection meeting for Feb. 29, 2016. A recent annual meeting of the local Liberal association was attended by the party’s interim leader David Swann, recent federal candidate Matt Grant, and Calgary-Skyview Member of Parliament Darshan Kang. Mr. Kang was the MLA for the neighbouring Calgary-McCall constituency from 2008 to 2015.
It appears that the Alberta Party has yet to schedule a date for a nomination meeting.
Ms. Notley proved to be a smart, likeable and charismatic leader on the campaign trail. I would argue that she was then and remains now her party’s greatest asset.
Voters opted for wholesale change by choosing 75 new MLAs, a huge turnover, to serve in Alberta’s 87 seat Legislative Assembly. The NDP started the election with 4 seats and ended it with 54 seats, including every seat in Edmonton, 15 seats in Calgary, seats in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Red Deer, and a handful in rural Alberta.
The PCs lost a total of 60 seats and were relegated to third place with 10 MLAs (9 after leader Jim Prentice resigned on election night) and the official opposition Wildrose won 21 seats, four more than the party won in 2012.
A record number of women were elected to the Legislature, including 26 in the 54 MLA NDP caucus and 7 of 13 cabinet ministers.
Thomas Dang, age 20, became the youngest MLA in Alberta history.
Optimism was in the air as thousands of Albertans showed up to the Legislature Grounds to watch the new Premier and cabinet be sworn-in to office.
In their first session as government, the NDP banned corporate and union donations, restored $1 billion in health care, education and human services funding cuts made by the PCs, increased Alberta’s corporate tax rate from 10 percent to 12 percent and announced a phased in $15 per hour minimum wage by 2018.
Ms. Notley demonstrated an ability to reach outside NDP circles for expert advice by appointing Alberta Treasury Branches President & CEO Dave Mowat to lead a Royalty Review Panel, respected economics professor Andrew Leach to lead a Climate Change Panel, and former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge to provide advice on infrastructure investment. Calgary Liberal MLA David Swann was asked to co-chair a review of the province’s mental health services and Joseph Doucet, Dean of the University of Alberta’s School of Business, was tapped to chair the Premier’s Advisory Committee on the Economy.
The PC Party patronage machine ground to a halt. University and college boards of governors are still dominated with well-connected conservatives, but some high-profile appointees have been replaced. For example, Alberta’s representative in Washington D.C. Rob Merrifield, a former Conservative MP, was replaced by Gitane De Silva, a former Deputy Minister of International and Intergovernmental Affairs and Canadian Consul General to Chicago.
On the financial front, the NDP government faces serious problems inherited from the old PC government.
After years of poor long-term planning and over-reliance on royalty revenues to fund the province’s operations budget, the sharp decline in the international price of oil had a huge impact on the government’s coffers. The drop in the price of oil has also led to significant job losses in Calgary and northern Alberta, which have impacted tens of thousands of Albertans.
Instead of dealing with the drop in revenue by cutting budget funding and slashing public sector jobs, like the Wildrose and PC parties proposed, the NDP have decided to invest in public infrastructure, such as highway, school and hospital construction.
As well as keeping many Albertans in the construction industry employed during the economic downturn, investing in building public infrastructure now means the government will spend less time playing catch up when the next oil boom arrives. Ironically, this is similar to what Wildrose leader Brian Jeanargued in favour of when he resigned as Fort McMurray’s MP in January 2014.
Despite a constant barrage of criticism from conservative critics, who claim the NDP election win was simply a fluke, a recent poll showed the NDP with a narrow lead in Calgary and a wide lead in Edmonton. The poll was not fantastic news for the governing party, but it undermines the argument that the NDP were elected by accident. The NDP appear to be developing a solid base of support among moderate and progressive voters in urban Alberta.
This election was a reminder that Alberta has defied its stodgy political stereotype and has rapidly become a young and urban province.
The city of Calgary, long known for its conservative political roots, has now elected progressive politicians in the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government, something that would have been unheard of in past years.
According to Statistics Canada, in 1961, 53 percent of Albertans lived in rural areas. As of 2011, 83 percent of Albertans lived in urban centres with only 17 percent of our province’s population living in rural areas. This is a massive population shift that has and will continue to impact our political map for decades to come.
The year’s election was a rejection of establishment politics and a reminder that Albertans are largely politically moderate and more populist than conservative, which is an important distinction that the ruling PCs forgot after 44 years in power. It was also a reminder of how dramatically voters can abandon their traditional patterns of voting and embrace change.
This year was filled with many exciting firsts for progressive politics in Alberta. And while it is impossible to tell what the next year will bring in Alberta politics it is clear that our province changed in a significant way in 2015.
I had the pleasure of joining Ryan Jespersen on 630CHED on Dec. 16, 2015 to talk about the past year in Alberta politics. Take a listen and let me know what you think about what happened in 2015.
Here are a few items to watch out for in Alberta politics this week:
Which of the four Liberal Members of Parliament will be appointed to the federal cabinet on Nov. 4, 2015? Most speculation points toward newly elected Calgary-Centre MP Kent Hehr being given a cabinet spot. Mr. Hehr, along with Calgary-Skyview MP Darshan Kang, were the first federal Liberals to be elected in Calgary since 1968. But will one of the two Liberal MPs from Edmonton – Amarjeet Sohi and Randy Boissonnault – get a cabinet spot? If not, it would mark the first time since before Jim Edwards was appointed as President of the Treasury Board in 1993 that Edmonton has not had representation in the federal cabinet.
Two Conservative MPs from Alberta – Edmonton-Wetaskiwin MP Mike Lake and Sturgeon River-Parkland MP Rona Ambrose – have joined four other Conservative MPs with bids to become the interim leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. That party has only had one permanent leader, Calgary MP Stephen Harper, since the party was formed in 2003 and is expected to choose a new permanent leader next year.
It was always expected that uniting the Wildrose and PC parties will be tough. Richard Starke, the PC MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster, had some choice words for his Wildrose counterparts in the Legislature last week: “…the Official Opposition rather reminds me of the chippy hockey player that hacks and slashes in the corner and then, as soon as something similar happens back to them, goes running to the referee.”