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Alberta Politics

Peggy Wright wins NDP nomination in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview, firefighter Jason Curry joins NDP race in Calgary-Beddington

Provincial NDP President and teacher Peggy Wright defeated former public school board trustee Michelle Draper to secure to Alberta NDP nomination in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview.

“I have watched the thoughtful discourse Rachel Notley and the NDP have been having with Albertans to develop proposals for a better path forward,” said Wright. “Right now, Albertans are facing the biggest affordability crisis in decades, our healthcare and education systems are struggling, and we need a change.

Incumbent NDP MLA Deron Bilous, who was first elected in 2012, is not seeking re-election.

And there are more nomination updates:

Jason Curry NDP nomination candidate Calgary-Beddington
Jason Curry (source: JasonCurry.ca)
  • Calgary Firefighter lieutenant Jason Curry joins past candidate Amanda Chapman in the race for the NDP nomination in Calgary-Beddington on October 17, 2022. Curry is the Director of Government Relations for the Calgary Firefighters Association.
  • And in today’s edition of “not your grandfather’s NDP,” former Calgary Economic Development vice president Court Ellingson will challenge former bank vice president Usman Sadiq for the NDP nomination in Calgary-Foothills on October 2, 2022.
  • Retired teacher Tim Gruber is seeking the NDP nomination in Cypress-Medicine Hat. Drew Barnes, the Independent MLA for the south east Alberta riding, has asked to be allowed to rejoin the United Conservative Party Caucus.

Upcoming nomination meetings:

  • September 15 – Calgary-Mountain View NDP
  • September 17 – Edmonton-Gold Bar NDP
  • September 20 – Edmonton-Castle Downs NDP
  • September 24 – Calgary-Shaw NDP
  • September 24 – Edmonton-South NDP
  • September 25 – Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood NDP
  • September 27 – Spruce Grove-Stony Plain NDP
  • September 28 – Sherwood Park NDP
  • September 29 – Chestermere-Strathmore NDP
  • October 1 – Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills NDP
  • October 2 – Calgary-Foothills NDP
  • October 5 – Red Deer-North NDP
  • October 11 – Edmonton-City Centre NDP
  • October 17 – Calgary-Beddington NDP

I am tracking candidates and building a list of people running for nominations to run in Alberta’s next provincial election. If you know of someone running, please post a comment below or email me at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. Thank you!

(I am launching a Substack. Sign up at  Daveberta Substack).

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Alberta Politics

Big Alberta Candidate Nomination Updates

I’ve been away for the past week, so there’s a lot to catch up on. Here are some of the latest candidate nomination updates:

  • Teacher Michael Lisboa-Smith defeated Lesley MacKinnon, and Shiraz Mir to become the Alberta NDP candidate in Calgary-North West at a September 7 nomination meeting. Lisboa-Smith was endorsed by former NDP MLA Michael Connolly and U of C NDP Club President Devon Langdon.
  • Jennifer Yeremiy was nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Calgary-North West on September 7.
  • R.J. Sigurdson was nominated as the United Conservative Party candidate in Highwood.
  • MLA Rod Loyola defeated psychologists association president Dr. Judi Malone and ETS driver Manpreet Tiwana to become the NDP candidate at a September 10 nomination meeting.
  • MLA Heather Sweet was acclaimed as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Manning at a September 8 nomination meeting. Sweet has represented the riding since 2015.
  • MLA Shannon Phillips was acclaimed as the NDP candidate in Lethbridge-West at a September 11 nomination meeting. Phillips was first elected in 2015 and served as Minister of Environment and Parks during the NDP’s term in government. She is currently the Official Opposition Finance critic.

Upcoming nomination meetings:

  • September 14: Former public school board trustee Michelle Draper and NDP provincial president Peggy Wright will face each other at a nomination vote in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview.
  • September 15: MLA Kathleen Ganley is running for the NDP nomination in Calgary-Mountain View.
  • September 17: MLA Marlin Schmidt is seeking the NDP in Edmonton-Gold Bar.
  • September 20: MLA Nicole Goehring is facing a nomination challenge from Nurmaiya Brady in Edmonton-Castle Downs.
  • September 24: Former city council candidate Rhiannon Hoyle and University of Alberta researcher Nasim Boroumand is seeking the NDP nomination in Edmonton-South.
  • September 25: Teacher David Cloutier is seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-Shaw.
  • September 25: MLA Janis Irwin is seeking the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood.
  • September 27: Former Spruce Grove city councillor Chantal Saramaga-McKenzie and former Parkland County Mayor Rod Shaigec are seeking the NDP nomination in Spruce Grove-Stony Plain.
  • September 28: Five candidates are running for the NDP nomination in Sherwood Park. Strathcona County Councillor Katie Berghofer, renewable energy entrepreneur Kyle Kasawski, teacher Jeff Manchak former MLA Annie McKitrick, and information technology professional Vivian Mills will be on the ballot.
  • September 29: Calgary Transit operator Raj Jessel is seeking the NDP nomination in Chestermere-Strathmore. Jessel was the federal NDP candidate in Calgary-Shepard in the 2021 election.
  • October 1: Cheryl Hunter Loewen is seeking the NDP nomination in Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills.
  • October 5: Former Red Deer City Manager Craig Curtis and past school board candidate Jaelene Tweedle are seeking the NDP nomination in Red Deer-North.

I am tracking candidates and building a list of people running for nominations to run in Alberta’s next provincial election. If you know of someone running, please post a comment below or email me at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. Thank you!

(I am launching a Substack. Sign up at  Daveberta Substack)

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Alberta Politics

Adriana LaGrange wins UCP vote in Red Deer-North, NDP target Nate Glubish on rural broadband internet

Incumbent MLA Adriana LaGrange won the United Conservative Party nomination vote to run for re-election in Red Deer-North. LaGrange faced a nomination challenged from anti-vaccination activist Andrew Clews and according to a source in Red Deer, the vote was close.

LaGrange has been the face of the government’s controversial education system reforms, including the introduction of a new curriculum for kindergarten to grade 12 that many education experts say includes outdated and retrograde terms and ideas.

LaGrange was first elected to the Legislature in 2019 when she unseated NDP MLA Kim Schreiner in a 60.6 percent to 23.1 per cent vote. She previously served as a trustee on the Red Deer Catholic School board from 2007 and 2018 and was president of the Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association from 2015 to 2018.

Former city manager Craig Curtis and recent school board candidate Jaelene Tweedle are seeking the NDP nomination in Red Deer-North. The NDP have not announced a date for the meeting.

NDP candidates target Nate Glubish on rural broadband internet

Edmonton-Manning NDP MLA Heather Sweet joined Strathcona-Sherwood Park candidate Bill Tonita and Morinville-St. Albert candidate Karen Shaw at a press conference to criticize the UCP government for lack of progress on rural broadband internet expansion.

“Access to high-speed, affordable internet is essential for diversifying our economy and creating jobs, but the digital divide is growing under the UCP and hundreds of thousands of Albertans are at risk of being left behind,” said Tonita.

Strathcona-Sherwood Park is currently represented by UCP MLA and Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish, who responded in a tweet saying “…Alberta’s Broadband Strategy is a fully-funded plan to eliminate the digital divide in 5 years. We are making sure we invest tax dollars wisely to achieve the best possible result for rural Alberta.”

Glubish recently made news when he switched his support in the UCP leadership race from Travis Toews to Danielle Smith.

Both Strathcona-Sherwood Park and Morinville-St. Albert are ridings the NDP believes they have a chance of picking up in the next election.

Other nomination updates:

Upcoming nomination meetings

  • September 7 – Calgary-North West NDP
  • September 10 – Edmonton-Ellerslie NDP
  • September 11 – Lethbridge-West NDP
  • September 14 – Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview NDP
  • September 15 – Calgary-Mountain View NDP
  • September 17 – Edmonton-Gold Bar NDP

I am tracking candidates and building a list of people running for nominations to run in Alberta’s next provincial election. If you know of someone running, please post a comment below or email me at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. Thank you!

(I am launching a Substack. Sign up at  Daveberta Substack)

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Alberta Politics

NDP President Peggy Wright first out of the gate in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview nomination

Alberta NDP provincial president Peggy Wright is the first candidate to declare plans to enter the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview. Her announcement on Facebook comes only days after third-term MLA Deron Bilous announced he will not seek re-election.

Wright has served as the party’s provincial president since 2016 and previously served as president of the NDP constituency association in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview, where she was involved in Bilous’ election campaigns. She previously served as president of the NDP’s youth wing.

And Wright has deep connections to the NDP.

Her father Keith Wright helped Grant Notley found the Youth Cooperative Commonwealth Federation Club at the U of A in the 1959, which was nicknamed “Notley’s Motley Crew,” according to Howard Leeson’s biography of Notley. Her father ran as the CCF candidate in Strathcona-Centre in the 1959 provincial election and was elected president of the national NDP youth wing in 1961.

Wright’s mother, Kathleen Wright, was a longtime NDP activist and stood as a provincial candidate in Edmonton-Gold Bar in 1979 and Edmonton-Avonmore in 1982.

They were both awarded lifetime memberships in the party in 2018.

The NDP had held Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview since 2012, when Bilous was first election, and past NDP MLAs for the riding include Ray Martin (2004-2008) and Ed Ewasiuk (1986-1993).

UPDATE: The NDP have scheduled a nomination meeting in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview on September 14. 

Other nomination updates:

Upcoming nomination meetings

  • August 18 – Red Deer-North UCP
  • September 7 – Calgary-North West NDP
  • September 10 – Edmonton-Ellerslie NDP
  • September 11 – Lethbridge-West NDP
  • September 14 – Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview NDP
  • September 15 – Calgary-Mountain View NDP
  • September 17 – Edmonton-Gold Bar NDP

I am tracking candidates and building a list of people running for nominations to run in Alberta’s next provincial election. If you know of someone running, please post a comment below or email me at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. Thank you!

(I am launching a Substack. Sign up at  Daveberta Substack)

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Alberta Politics

Jackie Lovely wins close UCP nomination vote in Camrose, NDP MLA Deron Bilous not running for re-election in Edmonton-Beverly Clareview

MLA Jackie Lovely fended off a strong challenge from Beaver County Reeve Kevin Smook to narrowly secure the United Conservative Party nomination in Camrose.

Lovely has served as MLA for the central Alberta riding since 2019 and was appointed parliamentary secretary to the Associate Minister of Status of Women in November 2021. She previously ran as the Wildrose Party candidate in Edmonton-Ellerslie in 2012 and 2015.

Smook was first elected to council council in 2013 and was the Alberta Party candidate in Camrose in 2019.

Lovely admitted today that she was the only other person to join MLA Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk on an awards committee that selected a sexist and racist essay for a third place prize. In a written statement Lovely said she regretted the decision but was not available to answer any questions about why she chose the essay (or whether she actually read it before giving the $200 prize). There were only 5 essays submitted for the Her Vision Inspires essay contest.

Response to Lovely’s nomination on social media was largely muted, with the notable exception of Haydn Place, the acting chief of staff to Minister of Infrastructure Nicholas Milliken, who tweeted: “Glad the former Alberta Party candidate was defeated by a long-term UCP/Wildrose activist like Ms Lovely.” 

Deron Bilous not running for re-election

Deron Bilous NDP MLA Edmonton Beverly Clareview
Deron Bilous with his original NDP MLA colleagues, David Eggen, Rachel Notley and Brian Mason, following the party’s then-breakthrough in 2012. (Source: Facebook)

After three-terms in the Legislature, NDP MLA Deron Bilous announced today that he will not run for re-election in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview. The former NDP economic development minister was first elected in 2012 by unseating Progressive Conservative MLA Tony Vandermeer. 

“It has been an honour to serve as the member for Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview for the past 10 years, but after much consideration, I have decided not to seek re-election,” Bilous said in a statement. 

“I am incredibly proud of everything the NDP has accomplished during our time in government and as an opposition caucus, but the time has come for me to pursue new adventures in the private sector.” 

“I would like to thank my constituents, volunteers, and party members for their support over the last decade. Together, we have built a stronger community in Beverly-Clareview.”

The working-class north east Edmonton riding has a long-history of NDP representation, with former party leader Ray Martin representing the riding from 2004 to 2008 and former city councillor Ed Ewasiuk holding the riding from 1986 to 1993. Bilous was re-elected in 2019 with 50 per cent of the vote.

No candidates have declared their intentions to run for the NDP nomination but names that immediately began circulating in political circles include former school trustee Michelle Draper, city councillor Aaron Paquette, recent city council candidate Cori Longo, and past federal NDP candidate Charmaine St. Germain.

Kathleen Ganley running for re-election in Calgary-Mountain View NDP

MLA and former justice minister Kathleen Ganley is seeking her party’s nomination for re-election in Calgary-Mountain View.

Ganley was first elected in Calgary-Buffalo in 2015 and hopped across the river to run in Mountain View after the riding boundaries were redrawn for the 2019 election (allowing former Calgary-Fort MLA Joe Ceci to run for re-election in Buffalo). She was re-elected in 2019 with 47.3 per cent of the vote.

  • Applications to run for the UCP nomination in Highwood close at 5:00 pm on August 12.
  • Three candidates – Michael Lisboa-SmithLesley MacKinnon, and Shiraz Mir – are running for NDP nomination in Calgary-North West scheduled for September 7.
  • David Cloutier is running for NDP nomination in Calgary-Shaw. The riding is currently represented by UCP leadership candidate Rebecca Schulz and was held by NDP MLA Graham Sucha from 2015 to 2019.
  • The showdown between UCP leadership candidate Leela Aheer and political opponents in her Chestermere-Strathmore continues on August 27 at the riding association’s next annual general meeting.

Upcoming nomination meetings

  • August 18 – Red Deer-North UCP
  • September 7 – Calgary-North West NDP
  • September 10 – Edmonton-Ellerslie NDP
  • September 15 – Calgary-Mountain View NDP
  • September 17 – Edmonton-Gold Bar NDP

I am tracking candidates and building a list of people running for nominations to run in Alberta’s next provincial election. If you know of someone running, please post a comment below or email me at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. Thank you!

(I am launching a Substack. Sign up at  Daveberta Substack

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Alberta Politics

Nomination update: Rob Miyashiro wins 4-way race in Lethbridge-East, Jennifer Burgess running for NDP nomination in Calgary-Glenmore

Former Lethbridge City Councillor Rob Miyashiro defeated former MLA Maria Fitzpatrick, non-profit executive director Amanda Jensen, and teacher Kevin McBeath to win the Alberta NDP nomination in Lethbridge-East on Nov. 21.

Miyashiro served on Lethbridge City Council from 2013 until 2021 and is the executive director of the Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization.

This will be Miyashiro’s second time running as a candidate in Lethbridge-East. He was the Alberta Liberal candidate in the district in the 2012 provincial election, placing third with 14.6 per cent of the vote behind Progressive Conservative candidate Bridget Pastoor, who crossed the floor from the Liberals in 2011.

Nathan Neudorf Lethbridge East UCP MLA
Nathan Neudorf

The district is currently represented by United Conservative Party MLA Nathan Neudorf, who was elected as Chair of the UCP Caucus following Central Peace-Notley MLA Todd Loewen’s resignation and expulsion from the UCP Caucus last summer. Neudorf was first elected in 2019 after defeating Fitzpatrick.

As I’ve previously noted, Lethbridge-East has a unique voting history for a district in southern Alberta, with voters electing Liberal MLAs in every election from 1993 to 2008. Voters embraced the Orange Wave in 2015, electing Fitzpatrick as the riding’s first-ever NDP MLA.


We are now roughly 15 months away from the next provincial election in Alberta, so the candidate nomination news is rolling in slowly, candidates are starting to step forward across the province:

Banff-Kananaskis: Condo property manager Mark Tkacz is the third person to enter the NDP nomination contest in Banff-Kananaskis, joining biologist Sarah Elmeligi and bank manager Gavin McCaffrey.

Joe Ceci

Calgary-Buffalo: Two-term MLA Joe Ceci was acclaimed as the NDP candidate in Calgary-Buffalo, a riding he has represented since 2019. Ceci was first elected as the MLA for Calgary-Fort in 2015 and ran for re-election in the neighbouring Calgary-Buffalo in 2019 following the redrawing of electoral boundaries ahead of the last election.

Ceci served as a City Councillor in Calgary from 1995 to 2010 and was the Minister of Finance during the NDP’s four years as government.

Jennifer Burgess Alberta NDP Calgary-Glenmore nomination election
Jennifer Burgess

Calgary-Glenmore: Communications professional Jennifer Burgess announced yesterday that she is seeking the Alberta NDP nomination in this southwest Calgary riding.

Burgess is the President of the Braeside Community Association and a long-time NDP activist. She was president of the Calgary-Buffalo constituency association in 2016 and in 2019 managed the campaign of Calgary-Glenmore candidate Jordan Stein. 

Burgess previously ran for the NDP against then-Progressive Conservative leader Jim Prentice in the 2014 by-election in Calgary-Foothills. Her partner is former NDP MLA Graham Sucha, who represented Calgary-Shaw from 2015 to 2019.

The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA Whitney Issik, who was appointed Associate Minister of Status of Women in July 2021. Before Issik’s election in 2019 the riding was represented by NDP MLA Anam Kazim. Kazim was elected in 2015 and was defeated by Stein in a nomination race ahead of the 2019 election. 

Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche: The UCP hasn’t officially made the announcement it on its website, but the Elections Alberta website notes that the UCP will hold their nomination meeting in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche on December 11.

Membership sales closed over the weekend in the race to choose a candidate to run in the upcoming by-election, which has to be called by Feb. 15, 2022.

Former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean, who represented much of the riding as an MLA from 2015 to 2018 and an MP from 2004 to 2013, is facing business consultant Joshua Gogo.

With a by-election call imminent, a steady stream of NDP MLAs have been travelling to Fort McMurray to raise the party banner and meet with locals.

Edmonton-City Centre NDP MLA and health critic David Shepherd was in Fort McMurray earlier this week, and party leader Rachel Notley, Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview MLA Deron Bilous and Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Richard Feehan have recently visited Fort Mac.

There is still no word on who will run for the NDP in this by-election. The candidate who ran for the party in the 2018 by-election and 2019 election, Jane Stroud, was acclaimed to another term on the Wood Buffalo municipal council, a position she has held since 2010.

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Alberta Politics

Here he goes, again. Brian Jean running for the UCP nomination in the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election

Here he goes, again.

Former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean announced today that he plans to run for the job he quit three years ago.

Jean announced on Facebook that he plans to seek the United Conservative Party nomination in the upcoming Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election. The by-election to replace Laila Goodridge, who was recently elected as a Member of Parliament, needs to be called by Feb. 15, 2022. He is the second candidate to announce after Joshua Gogo entered the race last month.

Jean represented the predecessor riding, Fort McMurray-Conklin, from 2015 until 2018, when he quit after losing the UCP leadership to Jason Kenney.

This is Jean’s second political comeback. His first happened when he was a last minute candidate for the Wildrose Party leadership in 2015 after stepping down as a MP in 2014. He saved the party from the brink of oblivion in that election and became leader of the Official Opposition.

Since leaving the Legislature in 2018, he has become a vocal critic of the government, flirted with western separatism in online columns, and called for Kenney to resign as leader of the UCP.

“Something must be done or Rachel Notley will win the next election with an overwhelming majority,” Jean wrote on Facebook of the popular NDP leader who’s party has been leading in the polls since last November, once again publicly signalling his lack of confidence in Kenney.

Jean has every reason to dislike Kenney after an alleged Kamakaze campaign was organized against him during the UCP leadership race, and since quitting he has appeared to take pleasure in poking at his rival from the sidelines.

Jean was even spotted at a Calgary Stampede BBQ hosted by ousted UCP MLAs Drew Barnes and Todd Loewen over the summer.

Brian Jean and Jason Kenney
Brian Jean and Jason Kenney

There is little doubt that he could win the nomination and the by-election. He is a well-known and popular figure in Fort McMurray, and he comes across as affable and down to earth to anyone who meets him. His lack of stick-to-it-iveness should probably raise some concerns, but at this point local conservatives might just be hopeful to find a candidate who can reliably hold on to the seat.

The question is whether the increasingly unpopular Kenney will allow a rival who has openly called for his resignation to run under his party’s banner?

And if Jean isn’t allowed to run for Kenney’s party, will he run as an Independent or for another party, like the struggling Wildrose Independence Party.

Of course, Jean isn’t alone in calling for Kenney’s resignation.

Leela Aheer and Brian Jean
Leela Aheer and Brian Jean

His former colleague, UCP MLA Leela Aheer, stood at a podium in the Legislature Rotunda last week to call for the Premier to step down and she does not appear to have faced any consequences. Calgary-Fish Creek MLA Richard Gotfried has been openly agitating for an leadership review to be held before March 1.

No emergency caucus meeting was held to kick them out, and perhaps more notably, no Kenney loyalists in the cabinet or caucus stepped up to rebuke them and defend their leader. The silence was deafening.

So, Jean now wants his seat back, and he probably wants his party back too.


It is not uncommon for party leaders and politicians to spend time in ridings where by-elections are expected,

Rachel Notley (source: Facebook)

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley was in Fort McMurray in October meeting with community groups and highlighting the UCP government’s failure to stop the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, which overwhelmed the staff at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.

Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview NDP MLA Deron Bilous, who served as Economic Development Minister in the first Notley government, is in Fort McMurray this week and has posted a series of videos about his visit on Instagram.

The UCP Caucus was scheduled to hold its annual retreat in Fort McMurray on Sept. 15 and 16, but the event that would have brought most UCP MLAs to the northeast Alberta city ahead of the by-election was abruptly canceled on Sept. 10 after rumours that Kenney was facing a caucus revolt. Kenney also cancelled his scheduled Sept. 15 keynote speech to the annual Oil Sands Conference and Trade Show, which the UCP Caucus retreat was planned around.

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Alberta Politics

It’s a dog’s breakfast! A guide to Alberta’s municipal elections, Senate Nominee election and referenda on Equalization and Daylight Saving Time 

Alberta’s municipal election is only 14 days away.

When you think of municipal elections, you might immediately think about roads, libraries, sidewalks, pools, traffic, playgrounds, potholes, public transit, bike lanes and snow removal. And while these are some of the more high-profile responsibilities of municipal governments, the amount of information being thrown at voters in this year’s election has muddied the water about what the ballot issues on October 18 might be.

Electing Mayors, Councillors and School Trustees

The primary function of municipal elections is for voters to elect their local municipal officials in their city, county, municipal district, town, or village. Voters also cast ballots for trustees to govern their Public, Catholic or Francophone school boards. (Here is a list of candidates running in Edmonton’s municipal election).

This year there are open mayoral races with no incumbent running for re-election in the cities of Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Red Deer and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which will mark a big turnover in municipal leadership in Alberta.

As if there weren’t already are a lot of challenges facing municipalities, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit Alberta hard and municipal governments are bearing the brunt of many of those health, social and economic challenges.

Municipalities also face a hostile provincial government that has not hesitated to interfere in local issues, in some cases leaving Albertans with a choice between candidates who agree with the provincial government interference, candidates who want to keep their heads down in hopes for a change of provincial government in 2023, or candidates who will stand up for their communities and challenge the United Conservative Party government.

Senate Nominee Election

When you vote on Oct. 18 or in the advance polls you will probably be handed a few different ballots. One of them will ask you to choose up to three candidates in this year’s Senate Nominee Election.

Senate Nominee elections are a uniquely Alberta activity dating back to 1989. The elections are held to choose a list of names for the Premier to recommend to the Prime Minister for appointment to the Senate if vacancies occur.

There is currently one vacancy in Alberta’s 6-member Senate delegation and another vacancy is expected when Senator Doug Black retires on October 31, 2021.

Unfortunately for the candidates running in this election, they are not going to be appointed unless the Prime Minister is a member of the Conservative Party, the only major party that recognizes the elections as legitimate. The Liberal Party has created a new application process for Senate appointments, dismantling the old partisan patronage machine, and the NDP believe the Upper Chamber should be abolished.

One of the major flaws of the Senate Nominee election is that winning candidates who might eventually be appointed to the Senate never ever have to face re-election, so there is no opportunity for voters to hold these “elected” Senators accountable for their decisions. In fact, they can stay in the Senate until they turn 75-years old if they decide to.

Another major flaw is that a province-wide election in a province of 4.3 million people makes it impossible for the Senate candidates to meaningfully reach many voters. I doubt most Albertans could name a candidate running in year’s Senate Nominee election, but here they are:

Progress Alberta executive director Duncan Kinney is running on the “Fuck Kenney Vote Kinney” slogan and Chad Jett Thunders Saunders is running to turn the Senate into a “Thunderdome.”

Physicians Dr. Sunil Sookram. and Dr. Karina Pillay (also the former Mayor of Slave Lake), Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett, former Western Barley Growers Association President Jeff Nielsen, and former deputy premier and finance minister Doug Horner are running as Independent candidates are are the more serious candidates with real public service experience.

Then there are the three People’s Party endorsed candidates who filed their papers to run in the Senate Nominee election only hours before they were defeated as candidates in the Sept. 20 federal election – Nadine Wellwood, Kelly Lorencz, and Ann McCormack.

And finally there are the three UCP loyalists endorsed by the Conservative Party of Canada – lobbyist and former UCP President Erika Barootes, right-wing activist and failed municipal candidate Pam Davidson, and Ukrainian-Canadian trade association president Mikhailio Martyniouk.

The three UCP/Conservative Party candidates, who appear to have less comparable actual public service experience than many of the Independent candidates on the ballot, are still probably going to win. But like previous Senate Nominee elections, the turnout will be low and number of spoiled ballots will be high.

Alberta’s Senate Nominee election should be a serious affair, but it will probably end up being a joke or an afterthought for most Albertans who will have no idea who to vote for.

Plebiscites and Referendums

Depending where you live in Alberta you could also be handed one, two or three additional ballots to cast your vote for referendums and plebiscites, though there is a good chance you haven’t heard much about them during this election.

There are two province-wide referendums.

The first is Premier Jason Kenney’s referendum to remove the Equalization program from the Constitution. The results won’t actually remove Equalization from the Constitution, but Kenney has said it would put Alberta in a strong bargaining position to negotiate with the rest of Canada. This is unlikely.

Even if the Equalization formula was removed from the Constitution, Albertans wouldn’t actually notice any change. We would still pay federal taxes the same as we do now, but the federal government would not be obligated to distribute funds collected through federal taxes to the provinces through an Equalization formula as currently required by the Constitution.

The Equalization referendum is all about the politics of grievance and saving Jason Kenney’s leadership of the UCP. A yes vote won’t accomplish much and a no vote will probably hurt Kenney’s chance of remaining in the Premier’s Office for much longer (Kenney’s approval rating has dropped to 22 per cent according to a recent poll from ThinkHQ).

The other province-wide referendum will ask Albertans whether they want to permanently remain on Daylight Saving Time rather than having to switch between DST and Mountain Standard Time twice each year. While the annual time-change is widely unpopular, it is unclear why the UCP cabinet chose to ask Albertans if they want to make DST permanent rather being able to choose between DST and MST.

In this referendum, a no vote is a vote to continue the annual time change and a yes vote is a vote for darker mornings and lighter evenings in the winter. If I understand correctly, it could also mean that from March to November each year Alberta’s timezone will be two hours ahead of the times observed in much of British Columbia. The result of the vote on this question is binding on the provincial government.

And if you live in Calgary, you have a chance to vote to rejoin the 21st century and put fluoride back into your public water. Good luck with that, Calgary.

Endorsements

At least in Edmonton, candidate endorsements have become a mini-story.

This year’s city council election has seen a string of high-profile endorsements of city council candidates from Mayor Don Iveson, mayoral candidate Mike Nickel and some individual NDP MLAs across the city. While it is not unheard of for incumbent City Councillors to endorse candidates in a municipal election, the number of endorsements in this year’s election is significantly higher than usual.

List of candiayes incumbent City Councillors have endorsed in this municipal elections.
List of candidates incumbent Edmonton City Councillors have endorsed in this municipal elections.

Just like City Councillor endorsements, it is not unheard of for MLAs to endorse candidates, but this year the number of MLAs endorsing municipal candidates is higher.

The decision by some NDP MLAs to endorse candidates has flustered some political watchers who for some reason believe municipal politics should exist in a vacuum outside of provincial and federal politics, the endorsements appear to be a choice made by individual MLAs rather than a decision made by the party.

And in at least one case, NDP MLAs have endorsed different candidates. In Ward tastawiyiniwak, for example, the NDP endorsements appear to be split, with Edmonton-City Centre MLA David Shepherd endorsing Ahmed Knowmadic Ali and Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview NDP MLA Deron Bilous endorsing Cody Bondarchuk.

List of City Council candidates who Edmonton MLAs have endorsed in this election.
List of City Council candidates who Edmonton MLAs have endorsed in this election.

While there was an attempt a year ago to create a single-slate of progressive candidates in Edmonton’s city council election in response to expectations that the UCP would organize a slate, the organizing effort appears to have failed because there were too many progressive candidates wanting to run for city council to make a single-slate feasible.

While it has certainly made Edmonton’s political establishment uncomfortable, it is positive to see progressive groups organizing to support candidates. With traditional low turnout, low interest and high-incumbent re-election, municipal politics in Edmonton could use a bit of disruption.

Election Finance law changes are the real story

Changes to Alberta’s municipal election finance laws introduced by UCP cabinet Ministers Kaycee Madu and Doug Schweitzer in June 2020 allow for much less transparency and accountability showing who is spending money to influence candidates and votes.

The new rules make it legal for wealthy people 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. While municipal political donors do not receive the generous tax credits they get from provincial or federal donations, there are wealthy Albertans with the ability to financially influence candidates across the board.

The UCP also removed the requirement for candidates to disclose their list of donors ahead of Election Day, which would have allowed voters to see who is financially supporting candidates before they go to the ballot booth. Many candidates will already do this on their own but many won’t because they are not required to by law.

The new rules introduced by the UCP also allow Third Party Advertisers, colloquially known as political action committees, to spend up to $500,000 on advertising during the referendums, up from the previous $150,000 limit. Third Party Advertisers that spend less than $350,000 on advertising during a referendum are not required to file financial statements with Elections Alberta, which means those groups don’t have to publicly disclose their donor lists.

There are currently four registered Third Party Advertisers registered with Elections Alberta that are advertising during the Referendum. Alberta Proud (who’s contact person is former Wildrose Party press secretary Vitor Marciano), Equalization Fairness Alberta (run by former UCP ministerial chief of staff Dr. Bill Bewick), Society of Albertans Against Equalization (run by Canadian Taxpayers Federation director Franco Terrazzano), and Vote Yes To End Equalization Inc.

One Third Party Advertiser registered to participate in Calgary’s municipal election is being investigated by Elections Alberta for allegedly sending out campaign signs for Calgary mayoral candidate Jeff Davison.

And that is a quick guide to the dog’s breakfast that is Alberta’s 2021 municipal elections. Make sure to vote on Oct. 18 or in the advance polls starting today.

Good luck, Alberta.

Categories
Alberta Politics

NDP nominate Julia Hayter in Calgary-Edgemont. Sayid Ahmed running for UCP nomination in Edmonton-Decore.

Julia Hayter was nominated as the Alberta NDP candidate in Calgary-Edgemont at a meeting held last night.

Hayter was the NDP candidate in the northwest Calgary district in the 2019 election, where she earned 34 per cent of the vote to United Conservative Party candidate Prasad Panda’s 52 per cent. Panda currently serves as Minister of Infrastructure.

Hayter is the second NDP candidate nominated to run in the expected 2023 provincial election. Dr. Luanne Metz has been nominated to run in the neighbouring Calgary-Varisty.

Sayid Ahmed seeking UCP nomination in Edmonton-Decore

Sayid Ahmed has filed papers with Elections Alberta to seek the UCP nomination in Edmonton-Decore. Ahmed is a manager in the provincial Department of Health and is President of the UCP association in the neighbouring Edmonton-Manning district and Vice President of Policy for the Alberta Advisory Board of the Conservative Black Congress of Canada.

Edmonton-Decore has been represented by NDP MLA Chris Nielsen since 2015. Nielson was re-elected in 2019 with 47.5 per cent of the vote, ahead of UCP candidate Karen Principe (Principe is currently running for Edmonton City Council in Ward tastawiyiniwak). The third place candidate in that year’s race, Alberta Party candidate Ali Haymour, is running for city council in Edmonton’s Ward Anirniq.

The district is named after former MLA Laurence Decore, who served as MLA for the then-named Edmonton-Glengarry from 1989 to 1997 and as Mayor of Edmonton from 1983 to 1988. He was leader of the Alberta Liberal Party from 1988 to 1994.

Ahmed is the second prospective candidate to announce plans to seek a UCP nomination ahead of the 2023 election. Chantelle de Jonge has filed her papers to run for the UCP nomination in Chestermere-Strathmore.

Former Edmonton lawyer Randy Hogle running for Senate

Former Edmonton lawyer Randy Hogle has filed his papers to run as a candidate in the Senate Nominee election, which is being held on the same day as Alberta’s October 18 municipal elections.

Hogle had a successful legal career and, despite being legally blind, he excelled as an equestrian athlete. This is his second attempt at political office after a previous run for Edmonton City Council in 1992, during which one of his key platform points was the construction of bike lanes on Jasper Avenue.

Hogle is the son of former long-time CFRN news director Bruce Hogle and brother of former sports reporter and current Hockey Edmonton General Manager Steve Hogle.

Also running are Progress Alberta executive Director Duncan Kinney, lobbyist and former UCP President Erika Barootes, conservative activist Pamela Davidson, and emergency medicine doctor Sunil Sookram.

Banff Mayor appointed to the Senate

Despite the upcoming elections to choose a Senate Nominee, a process that is unique to Alberta, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that one of two of Alberta’s vacant seats in the Senate would be filled by Town of Banff Mayor Karen Sorenson.

Sorensen’s long record of public service includes terms as a trustee on the Canadian Rockies Public Schools from 1997 to 2001, as a Banff town councillor from 2004 to 2010 and as mayor from 2010 until her appointment to the Senate in 2021.

She will sit as an Independent member of Canada’s upper chamber.

UPDATE:

Mykhailo Martyniouk has submitted his papers with Elections Alberta to run in the Senate Nominee election. Martyniouk is the current president of the Canadian Ukrainian Free Trade Agreement Association.

In 2019, Martyniouk donated $1,155 to Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview UCP candidate David Egan and in 2018 he donated $300 to the UCP association in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview. In 2020, he donated 1,600 to the Conservative Party of Canada association in Edmonton-Manning.

Categories
Alberta Politics

Former UCP nomination candidate hit with a $9,000 fine from Elections Alberta

Elections Alberta is reporting that it has issued a $9,000 fine against former United Conservative Party nomination candidate Jeff Walters for violations of two sections of the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act. The violations are reported to have taken place Walters’ bid for the UCP nomination in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview in 2018.

Walters dropped out of the UCP nomination contest in November 2018 and soon after was nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in the 2019 election. He told the Toronto Star that he joined the Alberta Party after a lawyer who compared the Pride flag to the Nazi swastika was allowed to remain a member of the UCP.

According to the Elections Alberta website, Walters’ offences included violations of:

  • Section 34(2) of the EFCDA: Knowingly Accepted Funds, from 5 contributors, contrary to section 34(1)
  • Section 46 of the EFCDA: Knowingly Made a False Financial Statement with the CEO.

Also listed as having received administrative penalties from Elections Alberta was Walters’ chief financial officer, Karen Nolin, who was issued a $9,000 fine for violating three sections of the EFCDA.

Two individual political contributors, Reid Hogan and Wyatt Hogan, were fined $2,o00 each for violations of Section 34(1) of the EFCDA for “contributing funds to a registered nomination contestant that had been given or furnished to him by another person.”

According to financial disclosures from the 2018 nomination contest, the two Hogans were reported to have donated $2,000 each to Walters’ UCP nomination campaign.

Bar-N-Ranche was also issued a fine of $2,500 for violating section  Section 16(2) of the EFCDA after making a prohibited contribution of $10,000 to Walters’ UCP nomination campaign, though the donation does not appear on the disclosures submitted by his campaign.

Corporations have been prohibited from making contributions to political candidates and parties in Alberta since 2015.

Walters’ finished third with 7.4 per cent of the vote as the Alberta Party behind NDP MLA Deron Bilous, who was re-elected to a third-term with 50.6 per cent of the vote, and UCP candidate David Egan, who finished second with 36.2 per cent.

Categories
Alberta Politics

T-Minus 11 months: Candidates stepping up to run for Edmonton City Council

With less than a year to go until the 2021 municipal elections, candidates are stepping up to run for Edmonton City Council.

Don Iveson
Don Iveson

The big unanswered question about the October 18, 2021 election is whether incumbent Mayor Don Iveson will seek re-election for a third-term. Iveson was first elected in 2013 and won re-election with 73.6 per cent of the vote in 2017. When I asked about his plans for the election on a recent episode of the Daveberta Podcast, Iveson said he wasn’t yet ready to announce his intentions for 2021.

Former Economic Development Edmonton vice-president Cheryl Watson is the first candidate to throw her hat into the mayor contest. Rumoured to be planning or considering a run for mayor are current councillors Andrew Knack and Mike Nickel, as well as former city councillor Kim Krushell.

Also rumoured to be considering a run is former Member of Parliament Amarjeet Sohi, who previously served on city council from 2007 to 2015.

Edmonton City Council’s new Ward boundaries with new Indigenous names.

Newly redrawn Ward boundaries will also come with new Indigenous names, a first for a large Canadian city. The new boundaries and new names will be initially confusing for many Edmontonians, but I am hopeful that the City of Edmonton will engage the public in an education campaign explaining the meaning of the new names and the role they play in reconciliation.

By my count, the candidates who have already announced their plans to run are:

  • Glynnis Lieb is running in Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi. Lieb is the Executive Director of iSMSS in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta.
  • Keren Tang and Shamair Turner have announced their plans to run in the new Karhiio ward. Tang was a candidate in Ward 11 in the 2017 election, where she placed second and earned 26.7 per cent of the vote. Turner is a first time candidate and former Vice President and Account Executive at Aon Risk Solutions.
  • Cori Longo and Caroline Matthews are running in the Metis ward. Longo is a former postal worker and Registered Nurse who has worked as the Alberta regional representative for the Canadian Labour Congress. Matthews is the former Director of Recruitment for the University of Alberta’s MBA program and appears to have been endorsed by Edmonton-Greisbach Conservative MP Kerry Diotte, who is pictured campaigning with her in photos on social media.
  • Community organizer Adrian Bruff is running in the O-day’min ward, which encompasses most of the central core neighbourhoods of the city.
  • Michael Janz Edmonton Public School Board trustee education advocate
    Michael Janz (source: EPSB)

    Kirsten Goa has announced her plans to run in the papastew ward. Goa placed second in Ward 8 in the 2017 election, earning 23 per cent of the vote. Also rumoured to be considering running in this new ward is Edmonton Public School Trustee Michael Janz. Janz was first elected to the school board in 2010 and was re-elected in a landslide in 2017.

  • Cody Bondarchuk announced his plans to run in the new tastawiyiniwak (ᑕᐢᑕᐃᐧᔨᓂᐊᐧᐠ) ward. Known locally as the “Robin Hood of Chicken Nuggets,” Bondarchuk works as a constituency assistant for Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview New Democratic Party MLA Deron Bilous.

I am once again tracking candidates who have announced their plans to run for Mayor, City Council and School Board in Edmonton. If I am missing anyone on the list, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com or post a comment and let me know. Thanks!


Walters not seeking re-election

Michael Walters and a team of supporters at the Edmonton Municipal Election Nomination Day in 2013.
Michael Walters (centre) and a team of supporters at the Edmonton Municipal Election Nomination Day in 2013.

Ward 10 Councillor Michael Walters is so far the only incumbent to officially announce he will not seek re-election in next year’s vote. A well-known community organizer involved with groups like the Greater Edmonton Alliance, Walters was first elected to council in 2013 and was re-elected in 2017. He previously ran for the Alberta Party in Edmonton-Rutherford in 2012 and for the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Norwood ahead of the 2001 election.

Categories
Alberta Politics

Liberals and NDP *finally* fill their slates of candidates in Alberta

The New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party now appear to have full slates of 34 candidates in Alberta. The two parties have scrambled to nominate candidates in Calgary and parts of rural Alberta, with both parties dropping parachute candidates into many rural ridings in the province.

The dominance of the Conservative Party in rural areas, as well as the palpable hostility toward Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal NDP over the issue of oil pipelines (even though the Trudeau Government purchased and saved the Trans Mountain Pipeline project) is likely the biggest reason why the two parties have had such a difficult time fielding local candidates.

Here are the latest updates to the list of candidates nominated to run in the federal election in Alberta:

Battle River-Crowfoot: Dianne Clarke has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate.

Bow River: Margaret Rhemtulla has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate. Rhemtulla is the Policy Chair for the Alberta-wing of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Calgary-Midnapore: Brian Aalto has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate.

Calgary-Skyview: Rafih Bari has been nominated as the Libertarian Party candidate.

Edmonton-Centre: Donovan Eckstrom is the Rhinoceros Party candidate. Eckstrom ran for the Rhino Party in Edmonton-Strathcona in the 2015 federal election. Perennial candidate Adil Pirbhai is running as an Independent.

Edmonton-Griesbach: Andrzej Gudanowski is running as an Independent candidate. Gudanowski recently ran as an Independent candidate in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview in the 2019 provincial election and in Edmonton’s 2017 municipal election in Ward 7.

Edmonton—Wetaskiwin: Emily Drzymala is the Green Party candidate. Drzymala is a social worker and the former president of the Alberta College of Social Workers. She was the NDP candidate in Calgary-North Hill in the 1989 provincial election.

Foothills: Cheryl Moller has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate. Moller is a retired teacher and president of the Liberal Party association in Calgary-Rocky Ridge. She was a volunteer for Kara Levis’ campaign for the leadership of the Alberta Party in 2018.

Grande Prairie-Mackenzie: Ken Munro has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate. Munro is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Alberta. He is a longtime Liberal Party supporter in Edmonton, having served as president of the Liberal Party’s Alberta-wing and candidate in Edmonton-South in the 1984 election.

Lakeland: Mark Watson has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate. Watson is a former Smoky Lake town councillor and director with the Smoky Lake & District Agricultural Society. He is also president of the Liberal Party association in this riding.

University of Alberta political science student Jeffrey Swanson has been nominated as the NDP candidate. Swanson is Vice President of the U of A Campus New Democrat club.

Kira Brunner has replaced Elke Crosson as the Green Party candidate.

Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner: Harris Kirshenbaum has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate. Kirshenbaum was campaign manager for former Liberal MLA David Swann in Calgary Mountain-View.

Red Deer-Lacombe: Tiffany Rose has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate. Rose is a PTSD Yoga educator and facilitator and owner of LacOMbe Yoga. Sarah Palmer has replaced Desmond Bull as the Green Party candidate.

Red Deer-Mountain View: Gary Tremblay has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate. Tremblay is the Chair of the Liberal Party association in Calgary-Shepard.

St. Albert-Edmonton: Jason J. Brodeur is the Rhinoceros Party candidate.

Sturgeon River-Parkland: Heather Wood is the Rhinoceros Party candidate.

Please contact me at david.cournoyer@gmail.com for additions or updates related to candidate nominations in Alberta and I will add them to the list. Thank you!
PHOTO: MAGALIE L’ABBE, CREATIVE COMMONS

Categories
Alberta Politics

Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta’s Finances, NDP critics, and auf Wiedersehen, Derek

It has been a busy week in Alberta politics and here are a few of my thoughts on some recent developments:

Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta’s Finances

Premier Jason Kenney and Finance Minister Travis Toews appointed a “Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta’s Finances” with a mandate to recommend changes limited to Alberta government spending. As others have already pointed out, the narrow mandate is a missed opportunity to actually address the fiscal challenges facing Alberta, which includes issues with revenue ranging from low taxation and over-dependence on oil and gas royalty revenues.

That Kenney, who started his political career as spokesperson for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, would want to focus purely on spending is not a shock. But it is only part of the challenge facing Alberta.

Appointing an arms-length panel to make these recommendations is politically smart and will give cover to a United Conservative Party government that is already inclined to make significant cuts to funding of public services. The NDP made similar political moves when they appointed arms-length panels to recommend changes to the natural resource royalty structure and to recommend action on climate change, which included the creation of the carbon tax, which Kenney has pledged to repeal.

Kenney’s appointment of history professor and former Saskatchewan New Democratic Party cabinet minister Janice MacKinnon and former Alberta Liberal MLA Mike Percy was a clever move that on the surface mildly disarms its critics. But despite their past political affiliations, both MacKinnon and Percy have in the decades since they left elected office been welcomed in conservative circles because of their fiscally conservative views. MacKinnon was even prominently quoted in the UCP election platform.

Albertans need leaders who will look at the big picture, not just a slice of the problem. Judging by its narrow mandate, it is hard to imagine the blue ribboned panelists recommending anything but cuts, cuts, and more cuts.

NDP critics to be named next week 

The 24 Alberta NDP MLAs who will make up the Official Opposition will be sworn-in on May 13 at the Legislative Assembly. Unlike their UCP colleagues, who will be sworn-in before the Speech from the Throne on May 21, the two dozen NDP MLAs will have an 8-day jump start with access to their Legislative offices and time to prepare for their first week of Question Period. And with a caucus mostly hailing from Edmonton, NDP MLAs will have a hometown advantage of not having to regularly travel long-distances to work in the capital city.

The NDP critic line-up is expected to be announced shortly after NDP MLAs are sworn-in. With 9 cabinet minister in its ranks, the NDP opposition will be well-equipped to question the cabinet of mostly rookie UCP MLAs. There could be a natural temptation to appoint the former cabinet ministers as critics for the ministerial offices they previously held, but it could also compromise the credibility of those critics who in some cases would be watching much of their 4-years of work be dismantled by the UCP.

Look for Official Opposition leader Rachel Notley to place Edmonton-Glenora MLA Sarah Hoffman, Lethbridge-East MLA Shannon Phillips, Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview MLA Deron Bilous, Edmonton-North West MLA David Eggen, and Calgary-Buffalo MLA Joe Ceci in key critic roles.

The NDP will be tempted to continue their relentless campaign against the UCP on social issues, but treating the post-election period as just an extension of the 2019 election could be a strategic mistake. The NDP need to prepare themselves for how to respond effectively to the aggressive legislative agenda Kenney is expected to implement in the “Summer of Repeal” and to a fall provincial budget that could include deep and short-sighted budget cuts.

auf Wiedersehen, Derek.

Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt faced a bizarre 72 hour suspension from the Official Opposition caucus this week.Former Wildrose Party and UCP MLA Derek Fildebrandt resigned as leader of the Freedom Conservative Party last week after his party’s electoral poor showing and his failure to win re-election in Chestermere-Strathmore in the April 2019 election. Fildebrandt, also a former spokesperson for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, is succeeded by interim leader David White, a former paramedic who ran for the party in Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin.

Say what you want about his political views and personal behavior, but Fildebrandt has been one of the most consistently colourful characters in Alberta politics since he burst on to the provincial scene in 2012.

The Freedom Conservative Party is the latest name of a tiny right-wing populist and sometimes separatist party that has existed since 1999. It took its latest form in June 2018 when the Western Freedom Party was renamed the Freedom Conservative Party. The party was originally formed as the Alberta First Party in 1999, renamed the Separation Party of Alberta in 2004 and again renamed the Alberta First Party in 2013 before it became the Western Freedom Party in April 2018.

Categories
Alberta Politics

I’m back, so about that Alberta Election…

Eleven days have passed since Alberta’s provincial election in which Albertans voted in droves and gave our province its first ever one-term government. That alone provides a lot of reflect on, but there is so much more.

Having taken a much-needed vacation after the election (I was on an early flight out of the country on the morning following election night), I now have some thoughts on the results and what they could mean for Alberta and the political parties. 

First, the voter turnout was high. The official results of the election were released this week, showing that 64 per cent of eligible voters in Alberta participated in the election. This is down from the previous voter turnout numbers released by Elections Alberta before the count was official that showed a 71 per cent turnout. While the numbers are not as fantastic as 71 per cent, this election marks the highest turnout since the 1982 election, which was 66 per cent.

The high turnout in advance voting, in particular the “vote anywhere” ballots that allowed Albertans to vote at any advance polling station in the province, was remarkable. More than 700,000 votes were cast at the advance polls, with more than 260,000 of them being “vote anywhere” advance ballots. This was the first time this option was allowed in an Alberta election, and it appears that many Albertans liked the option of voting anywhere during the 5-days of advance voting.

The United Conservative Party elected 63 MLAs and earned a remarkable 1,040,004 votes, the highest of any political party in Alberta’s history. That party’s 54.9 per cent is the highest earned by a political party since the Progressive Conservatives in the 2001 election. It appears as though much of the UCP’s popular vote was boosted by significant landslide victories in rural districts across the province, making rural MLAs a powerful force in the UCP caucus.

While the internal politics of this relatively new party are still evolving, incoming-premier Jason Kenney has a strong mandate to implement his incoming government’s agenda. Kenney has said he will appoint a cabinet by the end of April and hold a session of the Legislative Assembly in May, kicking off what he previously described as a “Summer of Repeal.” Kenney has pledged to dismantle many of the NDP’s flagship programs, including the Climate Leadership Plan and Energy Efficiency Alberta. 

The large UCP caucus only includes one MLA with previous provincial cabinet experience, Calgary-Hays MLA Ric McIver, so the learning curve will be steep for those appointed by Kenney next week. But like the NDP when it formed government in 2015, the UCP in 2019 will be bolstered by legions of career political staffers migrating to Alberta over the next few months.

Kenney is expected to continue to focus on his three key talking points from the election campaign – jobs, economy and pipelines – which is also expected to include a heavy does of political rhetoric aimed at Ottawa, Justin Trudeau, and anyone from outside Alberta who dares criticize the oil and gas sector (which will certainly keep Kenney busy).

The social conservative issues that dogged Kenney and many now elected UCP MLAs will not be his focus, but the social conservative groups who make up critical elements of his electoral coalition will expect to be rewarded for their loyalty. This could potentially create a difficult balancing act over the next four years.

The New Democratic Party was unable to get re-elected into government, but earned 619,147 votes, the party’s highest ever vote total. The larger voter turnout and consolidation of conservative votes around UCP candidates meant the NDP only earned 32.7 per cent of the vote and elected 24 MLAs, which is still one of the largest elected opposition caucuses in Alberta’s history. The NDP vote was heavily concentrated within Edmonton city limits, delivering the party all but one of the capital city’s electoral districts.

Outgoing-Premier Rachel Notley has pledged to stay on as party leader, which is a positive outcome for the NDP after its election defeat. Notley is the party’s strongest asset and is probably key to why the party formed government in 2015 and was not decimated in this election.

While the NDP sometimes tends to act like it is more inclined for life on the opposition benches, the new official opposition caucus will only have 3 MLAs who previously served in opposition (Notley, Edmonton-North West MLA David Eggen and Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview MLA Deron Bilous). This is the first time the NDP will form official opposition since its previous tenure in the role from 1982 to 1993. 

A struggle for the new NDP caucus and for the NDP internally will be to decide whether it wants to remain the centre-leftish liberal-like party it was in government or whether it should return to something closer to its social democratic roots.

While I have a hard time expecting the NDP’s advocacy for oil pipelines to waver, the party has the opportunity to present a strong alternative to the UCP on issues ranging from climate change to support for strong public services like health care and education. Support for pipelines might be the biggest challenge the NDP will have to reconcile with if it wants to be seen as a serious advocate for action against climate change.

The Alberta Party lost all 3 of its seats in the Assembly despite having high-profile former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel at its helm. The Alberta Party increased its popular vote to 9.1 per cent but none of its candidates came close to being elected. Even in Calgary-Elbow, popular opposition MLA and former party leader Greg Clark fell more than 3,000 votes short of being re-elected.

This result should prompt some serious internal discussions about what role the moderate conservative party plays in Alberta politics, especially as it now has no presence in the Assembly.

For the first time in 33 years the Liberal Party has no presence in the Assembly. Leader David Khan performed well in the televised leaders’ debate and was expected to have a shot at being elected in Calgary-Mountain View, the seat being vacated by retiring four-term Liberal MLA David Swann. But when the votes were counted Khan finished in fourth place with 5.6 per cent. The party only fielded 51 candidates and earned 18,546 votes, which translated into 1 per cent of the vote.

The Liberals will continue to exist on paper but for all intents and purposes the party that formed the official opposition from 1993 to 2012 has ceased to exist as a political force in Alberta.

Disgruntled former Wildrose and UCP MLA Derek Fildebrandt’s Freedom Conservative Party barely registered on the electoral radar. Running candidates only 24 districts, the populist-UCP spinoff finished with 9,945 votes province-wide. Fildebrandt finished a distant third in Chestermere-Strathmore, 61 per cent behind UCP MLA Leela Aheer.

Despite the crushing loss, Fildebrandt carries no shortage of political ambition. My bet is that he will show on a ballot as a People’s Party of Canada candidate in the October 2019 federal election.

I am planning on taking a closer look at the district and regional level results over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for more analysis and commentary about the results of Alberta’s election.

Categories
Alberta Politics

Alberta Nomination Updates: MLA Debbie Jabbour fends off NDP nomination challenge in Peace River

Photo: Debbie Jabbour (centre) with Premier Rachel Notley (left) at an announcement in the Peace River district in 2016.

Debbie Jabbour has been nominated as the New Democratic Party candidate in the sprawling northwest Alberta district of Peace River. Jabbour, who was first elected in 2015, fended off a nomination challenge from Justin Sharpe.

She was first elected in 2015, earning 39.3 per cent, and previous to that worked as a provisional psychologist. She has served as Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees in the Legislative Assembly since her election.

Jabbour will face United Conservative Party candidate Daniel Williams, who worked as a political staffer for Jason Kenney in Ottawa before returning to Alberta to seek the UCP nomination, and Alberta Party candidate Dakota House, a Manning-born actor and motivational speaker known for his role on North of 60.

Premier Rachel Notley will officially accept her party’s candidacy at a nomination meeting scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 17, 2019 in her Edmonton-Strathcona district. Notley was re-elected to serve a third-term as the MLA for this district in 2015 with 82 per cent of the vote. The meeting is expected to be more of a rally and campaign kick-off, with the Speech from the Throne taking place on March 18 and an election call expected shortly afterward.

The NDP have also nominated Holly Heffernan in Drumheller-Stettler, Robyn O’Brien in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, Jeff Ible in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, Doug Hart in Lacombe-Ponoka, and Esther Tailfeathers in Cardston-Siksika.

United Conservative Party

The UCP has acclaimed Kulshan Gill as that party’s candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona. Gill ran for the UCP nomination in the northeast district of Edmonton-Manning but was defeated by Harry Grewal. Real estate agent Jovita Mendita withdrew from the UCP contest in that district.

The UCP has scheduled a nomination contest in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood on March 21, 2019. despite initially having four candidates registered as interested in seeking the nomination, only two candidates remain: Leila Houle and Atul Ranade.

Houle previously ran for the well-known-for-all-the-wrong-reasons UCP nomination in Edmonton-West Henday and was defeated by Nicole Williams. She previously ran as the federal Liberal candidate in the now-defunct Westlock-St. Paul district in 2008, finishing with 9.1 per cent in that vote. Renade registered intention to seek the UCP nomination in August 2018 after previously withdrawing from UCP nomination contests in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview and Edmonton-South.

Del Shupenia’s candidacy was not accepted by the party and George Lam and Michael Kalyn have withdrawn from the contest.

Arundeep Sandhu broke his silence this week and spoke to CBC’s The Ledge podcast about his disappointment in Jason Kenney’s decision to appoint Len Rhodes as the UCP candidate in Edmonton-Meadows. Sandhu is considering running as an independent candidate or even for a different party. “I’m a conservative, but I don’t believe I can run for the UCP as long as this leadership and this leadership team is in there,” he told CBC.

Alberta Party

Three more Alberta Party candidates have had their 5-year bans on running as candidates waived by the Court of Queen’s Bench. Rachel Timmermans in Calgary-Lougheed, Tim Meech in Livingstone-Macleod, and Ali Haymour in Edmonton-Decore will appear on ballots in their respective districts in the upcoming election.

The court has not yet waived the ban placed on party leader and former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel, who had been planning to run in Edmonton-McClung. Elections Alberta ruled in early February that seven Alberta Party candidates were ineligible to run after being late to file financial statements from their nomination contests.

Danielle Klooster is the nominated Alberta Party candidate in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake. Klooster is a former town councillor from Penhold and ran for the Alberta Party in 2012 and 2015, earning 4.8 per cent and 6.1 per cent of the vote in those races.

Hazelyn Williams is the Alberta Party candidate in Edmonton-Ellerslie. Williams in the third candidate to be nominated by the Alberta Party in Ellerslie during this election cycle, replacing previously nominated candidate Yash Sharma, who was removed after appearing at a controversial rally, and Richard Corbin, who withdrew for unexplained reasons.

Green Party

Jenn Roach has been nominated as the Green Party candidate in Leduc-Beamont.

Freedom Conservative Party

The Freedom Conservative Party has nominated Sheyne Espey in Calgary-Peigan, Jeff Rout in Leduc-Beaumont, and Clayton Knutson in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake. Wade Woywitka and Matthew Powell are competing for the FCP nomination in Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright.

Liberal Party

Former Grande Prairie city councillor Kevin McLean has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate in St. Albert. McLean served on Grande Praire City Council from 2010 to 2017 and ran for the Liberal Party in Grande Prairie-Smoky in the 2012 and 2015 elections, earning 4.8 per cent of the vote in each of those races.

Independent/Alberta Independence Party

Two candidates affiliated with the unregistered Alberta Independence Party have filed papers to run as Independent candidates in the upcoming election: CW Alexander in Calgary-Klein and Monica Friesz in Calgary-Mountain View.

If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!