Alberta NDP MLA Janis Irwin was nominated to run for re-election under her party’s banner at an outdoor nomination meeting in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood yesterday.
“Every day I meet people who share their stories with me, and I know that they and their loved ones deserve a representative and a government that is going to be there for them. I am so grateful that this community has put their faith in me, once again, to be their representative,” Irwin said in a statement.
A former school teacher and curriculum expert, Irwin was first elected in 2019 with 63.4 per cent of the vote. She succeeded former NDP leader and longtime MLA Brian Mason, who had represented the east central Edmonton riding since 2000.
Former Alberta Party President wins NDP nomination
Rhiannon Hoyle defeated Nasim Boroumand to win the NDP nomination in Edmonton-South. Hoyle a long time community league volunteer who was narrowly defeated by Jennifer Rice in last year’s City Council elections. She also served as President of the Alberta Party from 2017 to 2019.
Teacher and information technology consultant David Cloutier was nominated as the NDP candidate in Calgary-Shaw.
“I grew up in south Calgary, and when the UCP was elected it was the first time my family and I ever questioned if we wanted to stay in the province. I was worried about the direction they were taking Alberta,” said Cloutier. “I asked myself how I could get involved, and work towards a better change for my family and my community, and that led me straight to the Alberta NDP.”
The south Calgary riding is currently represented by UCP MLA and leadership candidate Rebecca Schulz.
The NDP have now nominated candidates in 49 of Alberta’s 87 electoral districts. The United Conservative Party has 35 nominated candidates and the Alberta Party has three.
Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul: Former Municipal District of Bonnyville Reeve Greg Sawchuk is seeking the United Conservative Party nomination. Sawchuk served as Reeve from 2017 until he was unseated in a rematch against Barry Kalinski in the 2021 election.
Incumbent MLA David Hanson has announced his plans to run for re-election. Hanson was first elected in 2015 as a Wildrose Party MLA and was re-elected in 2019 under the UCP banner.
Calgary-Shaw: David Cloutier is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate at a candidate selection meeting today.
Edmonton-Castle Downs: NDP MLA Nicole Goehring defeated Nurmaiya Bradyto secure the NDP nomination. Goehring was first elected in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019. Former city councillor Jon Dziadyk is the nominated UCP candidate.
Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood: MLA Janis Irwin is expected to be nominated at a meeting on September 25 at the Bellevue Community Hall. Irwin was first elected in 2019 with 63.4 per cent of the vote.
Edmonton-South: Nasim Boroumand and Rhiannon Hoyle are seeking the NDP nomination in a vote today.
Lacombe-Ponoka: Paramedic and Alberta Paramedic’s Association president Dustin Marshrall is seeking the UCP nomination. Teacher Dave Dale is running for the NDP nomination at an October 19 nomination meeting.
Withdrawals: Usman Sadiq has withdrawn from the NDP nomination contest in Calgary-Foothills and Vivian Mills from the NDP contest in Sherwood Park.
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.
Arcand-Paul launched his candidacy in the west Edmonton riding the day after two-term MLA Jon Carson announced he would not run for re-election.
“Albertans deserve leaders who care about people, Arcand-Paul said in a statement.
“The NDP have a proven record that they really care about all people. The last few years have presented our communities with unprecedented challenges, and the UCP government has failed us at every turn. It’s time for government to work for all Albertans, rather than against them. From rising insurance and utility rates, cuts to education and healthcare, we cannot afford another UCP term. ”
Arcand-Paul is the in-house legal counsel for the Alexander First Nation, located about a 25-minute drive northwest of Edmonton, and Vice President of the Indigenous Bar Association.
His launch event included endorsements from Edmonton-Griesbach MP Blake Desjarlais, former Edmonton-Strathcona MP Linda Duncan and Edmonton-Rutherford NDP nomination candidate Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse.
The date for a nomination meeting has not yet been announced.
The battle for Calgary heating up
The NDP need to sweep Alberta’s largest city if they want to win the next election, and vulnerable Calgary United Conservative Party MLAs know it. Rachel Notley has been spending a lot of time in Calgary and NDP MLAs have been spending nearly every spare minute knocking on doors in the city.
A group of UCP MLAs were spotted door-knocking in Calgary-Klein to support first-term UCP MLA Jeremy Nixon, who is facing a strong challenge from NDP candidate Marilyn North Peigan.
Calgary-Currie MLA Nicholas Milliken, Calgary-Edgemont MLA Prasad Panda, Calgary-Beddington MLA Josephine Pon, and Calgary-East MLA Peter Singh were on the doors this weekend with Nixon and party volunteers.
The NDP held a similar door-knocking blitz in the riding with MLAs and dozens of volunteers earlier in the year.
Meanwhile, Edmonton-Whitemud NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi was recently doorknocking with NDP candidate Julia Hayter in Calgary-Edgemont, and Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Janis Irwin was busy campaigning with Rosman Valencia in Calgary-East.
And Notley wasin Calgary for Druh Farrell’s nomination meeting in Calgary-Bow and to join Calgary-Falconridge candidate Parmeet Singh Boparai and Calgary-Bhullar-McCall MLA Irfan Sabir at Nagar Kirtan celebrations.
‘Three candidates are contesting the NDP nomination contest in Camrose’ are not a series of words I imagined writing even a year ago, yet here we are.
Business owner and former diplomat Richard Bruneau defeated Registered Psychiatric Nurse Tonya Ratushniak and educational assistant and recent city council candidate Wyatt Tanton to win the NDP nomination in Camrose.
“When attending Augustana their motto was ‘to lead and to serve,’ and this is my vision of how I would like to lead and lift people up in the community. A vision I believe Alberta’s NDP embodies,” Bruneau said in a press release announcing his win. “The UCP has not been serving the people of Alberta, and the pandemic highlighted the short-signed failures of UCP policy. Camrose deserves better than the UCP.”
Bruneau is a bookstore owner, farmer, former lecturer at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus and a former Canadian diplomat who served in Afghanistan, Jordan and Palestine. He lives with his family on a cattle farm.
Bruneau was joined by Edmonton-North West MLA David Eggen at the nomination meeting and by Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Janis Irwin at a meet and greet in Camrose today.
The riding is currently represented by United Conservative Party MLA Jackie Lovely, who was first elected in 2019 with 65.2 per cent of the vote. This was Lovely’s third attempt at winning a seat in the Legislature, the first two being as the Wildrose Party candidate in Edmonton-Ellerslie in 2012 and 2015.
Walker-McKitrick rematch being set up in Sherwood Park
First-term UCP MLA Jordan Walker is seeking his party’s nomination for re-election in Sherwood Park.
The UCP backbencher was first elected in one of the closer races in Edmonton’s surrounding suburbs in 2019 by narrowly unseating NDP MLA Annie McKitrick.
The stage is being set for a rematch in 2023, with McKitrick announcing last week that she plans to seek the NDP nomination to challenge Walker in the next election. This is a riding the NDP will need to win to form government.
Gurinder Singh Gill running for NDP nomination in Calgary-Cross
Gurinder Singh Gill is seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-Cross. Gill previously ran as the federal NDP candidate in Calgary-Skyview in the 2019 and 2021 elections. He placed third with 16.2 per cent of the vote behind victorious Liberal George Chahal and incumbent Conservative MP Jag Sahota in the last federal election.
The east Calgary riding is currently represented by UCP MLA Mickey Amery, who was elected in 2019 with 54.2 per cent by unseating NDP cabinet minister Ricardo Miranda, who finished second with 37.3 per cent.
Amery is the son of Moe Amery, who represented the neighbouring Calgary-East riding from 1993 until his defeat in the 2015 election.
MLA Guthrie endorses Danielle Smith’s challenging Roger Reid
Airdrie-Cochrane UCP MLA Peter Guthriehas endorsed former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith’s bid for the UCP nomination in Livingstone-Macleod. Smith is challenging Guthrie’s caucus colleague Roger Reid for the nomination.
Smith is wasting no time making her mark in UCP circles as she eyes the nomination and the party leadership.
Tonight she will join Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan, a vocal Kenney critic, and former Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson to discuss the “Free Alberta Strategy.” And on April 23 she is joining Independent MLA Todd Loewen for a “Politics Uncensored” event in Three Hills.
Loewen is a former UCP Caucus chair who booted from the UCP Caucus in May 2021 after he publicly called on Premier Jason Kenney to resign.
Meanwhile, demonstrating how much bad blood remains between Smith and many UCP activists as a result of the 2014 Wildrose floor crossings, a Twitter account run by staff in Kenney’s office attacked Smith (and Brian Jean) by proclaiming that “I’ve always found it surprising that two people whose only track record is losing general elections, somehow feel they have all the answers.”
The “@UniteAlberta” twitter account is run by Deputy Director ofGovernment Communications and Speechwriter Harrison Fleming, who is currently on leave to work on Kenney’s leadership campaign.
Other senior staff on leave to work on their boss’s leadership review campaign are Chief of Staff Pam Livingston, Executive Director of Communications and Planning Brock Harrison, and Issues Manager Chad Hallman.
Meanwhile, the former Wildrose leader and Kenney-foe has been sworn-in as an MLA the Legislature. Newly elected Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche MLA Brian Jean has rejoined UCP Caucus he left in 2018.
CBC reporter Michelle Bellefontaine tweeted today that Jean said Kenney has not spoken to him since he was elected as a UCP MLA in March.
NDP MLAs flock to Calgary
Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Rakhi Pancholi will be nominated as her party’s candidate for re-election tonight.
“This community has shared with me their wisdom, their experiences, their hopes, and have trusted me to be their voice in the legislature,” said Pancholi. “I want to continue to work hard to help the families of this community – and across Alberta – seize the opportunities available for us to have a strong economic recovery.”
And with the next provincial election just over a year away, she, like most NDP MLAs, are spending a lot of time in Calgary – the expected battleground of the next election.
Pancholi was spotted door knocking in Calgary-Acadia with nomination candidate and Registered Nurse Diana Batten, and with NDP leader Rachel Notley and local candidate Janet Eremenko in Calgary-Currie.
Notley has been spending a lot of time in Calgary, including on the doors this week with Calgary-Edgemont candidate Julia Hayter. Notley will be headlining an April 9 nomination rally in Calgary-East where teacher Rosman Valencia is expected to be acclaimed.
Eggenwas spotted door-knocking with MLA Joe Ceci in Calgary-Buffalo and candidate Gurinder Brar in Calgary-North East
Irwin and Edmonton-Glenora MLA Sarah Hoffman are planning to join NDP nomination candidate Marilyn North Peigan on the doors this weekend in the Tuxedo Park neighbourhood in Calgary-Klein. Irwin is also scheduled to spend time door-knocking with Eremenko in Calgary-Currie and Hayter in Calgary-Edgemont.
Best Alberta MLA: Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highands-Norwood
Always a fan favourite, for the second year in a row Janis Irwin has been voted Best Alberta MLA. Irwin is a hard-working MLA in the Assembly and in her constituency, and her sense of humour (and her social media star cat, Oregano) has endeared her to politicos on both sides of the aisle.
Best Alberta Cabinet Minister: Leela Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women
Nurturing a reputation as an affable politician, Leela Aheer proved herself to be on the right side of public opinion in Alberta when she spoke out against Premier Jason Kenney and called on him to resign. The MLA for Chestermere-Strathmore was booted from cabinet for speaking out against Kenney, but that probably only further endeared her to the growing majority of Albertans who disapprove of the Premier’s performance.
That Aheer remains a member of UCP Caucus after openly calling on Kenney to resign is also a testament to how well-liked she is by her UCP MLA colleagues.
Best Opposition MLA: Rachel Notley, MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona
For the third year in a row, Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley has been voted Best Opposition MLA. Notley continues to be her party’s greatest asset and, if the polls and party fundraising returns are any indication, might stand a good chance at leading her party to form government when the next election is held in 2023.
If Notley’s party is successful in 2023, she would be the first former Premier to return to that office in Alberta’s history.
Up and Coming MLA to Watch in 2022: Rakhi Pancholi, MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud
A tireless advocate for childcare since she was first elected in 2019, Rakhi Pancholi has been voted Up and Coming MLA to Watch for a second year in a row.
Pancholi is smart and well-spoken, and has been tough and tenacious in her calls for affordable and accessible childcare for Alberta families.
Best Political Play of 2021: Jyoti Gondek‘s election as Mayor of Calgary
Jyoti Gondek defied public expectations and a motivated conservative establishment to win Calgary’s mayoral election in October 2021, becoming the first woman to be elected mayor of Alberta’s largest city.
With hundreds of submissions made to the Best of Alberta Politics 2021 survey, your choices have been sorted and you can now vote in each category. Voting is open until Dec. 22, 2021 at 6:00 pm and the winners will be announced shortly after that.
2. Who was the best Alberta cabinet minister of 2021? – VOTE
Leela Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women
Ric McIver, Minister of Municipal Affairs
Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Transportation
Honourable mentions to runners-up Minister of Health Jason Copping and Minister of Finance Travis Toews. It is also worth noting that a large number of people chose to submit various versions of “none of the above.”
3. Who was the best opposition MLA of 2021? – VOTE
Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
Rachel Notley, MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona
Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge-West
Honourable mention to runners-up Edmonton-City Centre MLA David Shepherd and Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Rakhi Pancholi..
4. Who is the up and coming MLA to watch in 2022? – VOTE
Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
Brian Jean, (potentially future) MLA for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche
Rakhi Pancholi, MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud
Honourable mentions to runners-up Drumheller-Stettler MLA Nate Horner and Edmonton-South MLA Thomas Dang.
5. What was the biggest political play of 2021 in Alberta? – VOTE
Brian Jean’s political comeback
Jason Kenney’s “Open For Summer/Best Summer Ever” COVID-19 plan
Jyoti Gondek’s election as Mayor of Calgary
What was the biggest political issue of 2021 in Alberta?
In some past years this category has been a dog’s breakfast, but like last year, this year your choice was clear. COVID-19 was the clear choice of the overwhelming majority of people who submitted in this category. The global COVID-19 pandemic defined Alberta politics in 2021, with the failure of Premier Jason Kenney’s “Open For Summer” plan and the fourth wave that followed garnering the most submissions.
On Oct. 26, 2021, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney was having a rare good day. He got the result he argued he was looking for from the province-wide Equalization Referendum and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave him the gift of appointing long-time environmental activist Steven Guilbeault as Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
Kenney’s good day lasted less than 24 hours.
In what can only be described as a bombshell story, the CBC first reported today that a former ministerial Chief of Staff is suing the Premier’s Office, “saying she suffered from a toxic workplace culture and was fired as retribution for speaking out about the problems she saw there.”
The allegations in Ariella Kimmel‘s lawsuit include sexual harassment and heavy drinking by ministers and staff in legislature offices, as well as claims that senior staff in the premier’s office fabricated rumours about her contributing to her termination, reported CBC journalist Elise von Scheel.
The CBC reported that Kimmel has filed a lawsuit against the Kenney’s office for alleged sexual harassment and defamation.
Kimmel was Chief of Staff to Minister Doug Schweitzer until February 2021 and before that worked as Director of Community Relations in the Premier’s Office and as the United Conservative Party’s Director of Outreach before the 2019 election.
Kimmel had previously worked for Kenney during his time in Ottawa as executive coordinator for multiculturalism when he was Minister of Employment and Social Development and as an assistant during his time as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
The statement of claim, which is reported in detail by CBC, makes serious allegations against numerous officials and staffers in the UCP government, including Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen.
Responding to a question in the Assembly today from Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood NDP MLA Janis Irwin, Kenney said that his office was appointing an independent review to make recommendations to revise human resource practices for political staff.
Calgary-Fish Creek UCP MLA Richard Gotfried called on the government to not wait for a review and instead immediately adopt the Respect in the Workplace program promoted by Respect Group Inc.
While none of the allegations have been proven in court, the conditions described are probably not uncommon in political offices across Canada. Kimmel’s lawsuit shines a big spotlight on a toxic workplace culture in the Legislature that needs to change immediately.
Aheer is having none of it
Chestermere-Strathmore UCP MLA Leela Aheer responded to the allegations by calling on Kenney to resign and drawing comparisons to disgraced Calgary City Councillor Sean Chu. A A former cabinet minister and UCP deputy leader, Aheer was dropped from cabinet after criticizing the UCP’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Standing at a podium in the Legislature Rotunda today, Aheer refused to stand down and appeared to be daring Kenney and her MLA colleagues to remove her from the UCP Caucus.
UCP MLAs voted to remove Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA DrewBarnes and Central Peace-Notley MLA Todd Loewen from the caucus in June following Loewen’s call for Kenney to resign.
Kenney avoided a caucus revolt and non-confidence vote last month when he agreed to push up his leadership review from fall 2022 to April 2022. That move was successful in appeasing the disorganized opposition inside the UCP Caucus, but not the party, as numerous UCP constituency associations continue to push for Kenney’s review to be held before March 1, 2022.
Kenney’s approval rating dropped to an abysmal 22 per cent last month and leaked poll results showed that 75 per cent of Albertans disapprove of the UCP government, one of the strongest disapproval ratings for an Alberta government in recent memory.
Singh started the day with a health care announcement outside the East Edmonton Health Centre with Desjarlais, Edmonton-Strathcona MP Heather McPherson and a group of nurses and health care workers.
During his announcement Singh criticized the Liberals for not doing enough to improve affordability of long-term care and hold the corporations that run long-term care centres to account after outbreaks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He voted against getting rid of profit from long-term care, making it clear he would rather protect the interests of the for-profit, billion-dollar corporations that profit off the backs of seniors, rather than putting seniors first,” Singh said.
This puts Justin Trudeau, who made his own seniors care announcement in Victoria today, in a difficult position of not wanting to engage in an important but largely provincial issue that could sour relations with other provincial governments, like Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.
As noted in my previous post, unlike the last federal election campaign, Alberta NDP MLAs are campaigning alongside some federal NDP candidates in this election.
Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Janis Irwin, Edmonton-Glenora MLA Sarah Hoffman, and Edmonton-South MLA Thomas Dang were at an afternoon rally outside the Bellevue Community Hall where a crowd of NDP supporters gathered to cheer on Singh, Desjarlais and other areas candidates, including Edmonton-Centre candidate and former public school board trustee Heather Mackenzie.
This is a significant shift in federal-provincial NDP relations, which were much frostier during the 2019 federal election when the dominant issues were the carbon tax and pipelines.
In another sign of changing times, Singh used his visit to Alberta to leverage the declining popularity of Premier Jason Kenney, especially on his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his decision to attack frontline nurses, doctors, and health care workers.
Kenney has been conspicuously missing from the campaign trail, scheduling a vacation instead (when he returns he will be without a Principal Secretary, as Larry Kaumeyer is leaving the Premier’s Office to become the new head of Ducks Unlimited).
While Kenney will likely pop up campaigning for a candidate somewhere, it is a considerable difference from 2019 when the Alberta Premier spent an entire week campaigning for Conservative Party candidates in Ontario and Manitoba.
In 2019, Kenney was seen as an asset for Andrew Scheer. In 2021, he might be a liability for Erin O’Toole.
Trudeau touches down in Calgary-Skyview
Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau’s plane touched down in Calgary tonight to make a quick campaign stop in support of Calgary-Skyview candidate and City Councillor George Chahal.
“With the right representation, we can build prosperous communities. We need to diversify our economy, invest in infrastructure like we did with Airport Trail and the Green Line and we must continue to do so with public infrastructure such as the expansion of the Blue Line, Arts Common, and the development of the multi-sport fieldhouse at the Foothills Athletic Park,” said Chahal in a press release following the event.
Voters in the district, in which the Calgary International Airport is located, elected former Liberal MLA Darshan Kang in 2015 and Conservative Jag Sahota in 2019.
Banff gets a new kind of tourist
Supported by former Conservative MPs Rob Anders and Eric Lowther, Ontario MP Derek Sloan announced his plans to run as an Independent candidate in Banff-Airdrie.
The first-term former Conservative from southeast Ontario has been travelling around Alberta for the past month speaking at rallies of anti-vaxxer and COVID-19 conspiracy theorists.
The political tourist claims he wants to “Make Alberta Great Again.”
Sloan will challenge Conservative MP Blake Richards, who was re-elected in 2019 with 71.09 per cent of the vote.
Candidates say the dumbest things
We have not entered the “airing of dumb things candidates have said on social media” phase of the federal election campaign. The Conservative Party released a statement from Calgary-Nose Hill candidate Michelle Rempel Garner attacking Liberal candidate Jessica Dale-Walker for a March 2020 tweet that said “Fit in or fuck off. We Alberta need to start fitting in. Because quite frankly, we are not as superior as our government touts.”
Dale-Walker responded, in a tweet: My tweet last summer was thoughtless and wrong. Thats certainly not how i feel today. I want to be absolutely clear I am double vaccinated and I believe all Canadians, who can, should be. If my brash comments caused anyone to think otherwise, I apologize.”
Hugo Charles has been nominated as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Wetaskiwin.
Kelly Green has been nominated as the Green Party candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona.
The Libertarian Party has nominated Morgan Watson in Edmonton-Griesbach and MalcolmStinson in Edmonton-Strathcona.
The People’s Party has nominated Jacob Cohen in Calgary-Centre, Dwayne Holub in Calgary-Forest Lawn, Ron Vaillant in Calgary-Shepard, Nicholas Debrey in Calgary-Signal Hill, Brock Crocker in Edmonton-Centre, Martin Halvorson in Edmonton-Manning, Jennifer Peace in Edmonton-Riverbend, Wesley Janke in Edmonton-Strathcona, Daniel Hunter in Foothills, Shawn McLean in Grande Prairie-Mackenzie, Ann McCormack in Lakeland, Mardon Day in Red Deer-Lacombe, Kelly Lorencz in Red Deer-MountainView, John Wetterstrand in Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan, and Michael Manchen in Yellowhead,
New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh will be the first party leader to visit Alberta in this election campaign when he stops in Edmonton on August 19.
Singh will be spending his whole day in Edmonton-Griesbach starting with a 9:30am health care announcement outside the East Edmonton Health Centre and a 1:15pm “whistle stop event” at the Bellevue Community Hall at in support of local candidate Blake Desjarlais and other candidates in the capital city.
Desjarlais is Director of Public Affairs & National Operations for the Metis Settlements General Council and the former Co-Chair of Alberta’s Indigenous Climate Leadership Summit. The NDP are pouring some resources into the riding, including support from Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MP Heather McPherson, in hopes that Desjarlais can unseat second-term Conservative MP Kerry Diotte.
Unlike the last election, a few Alberta NDP MLAs are campaigning alongside the federal NDP. Popular Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Janis Irwin has lent her support and her extensive social media reach to Desjarlais (she ran against Diotte in 2015), as has Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Richard Feehan, who served as Minister of Indigenous Relations from 2016 to 2019.
Meanwhile, as Graham Thomson writes in ipolitics today, unlike the last federal election campaign, Premier Jason Kenney is now seen as a liability for his federal Conservative brethren. The Premier’s Office has said that Kenney is currently on vacation.
Ontario MP Derek Sloan running in Banff-Airdrie?
Independent Ontario MP Derek Sloan has spent the past month travelling around Alberta speaking to increasingly large crowds of anti-vaxxer and COVID-19 conspiracy theorists. Videos on his social media accounts show he has recently spoken at evangelical-style events in Airdrie, Calgary, Camrose, Claresholm, Cochrane, Red Deer and St. Albert.
The first-term MP from Hastings-Lennox and Addington was kicked out of the Conservative caucus in January 2021 after making numerous controversial statements about abortion and LGBTQ issues, and accepting a donation from a neo-Nazi.
Sloan apparently sees Alberta as his new political home, because in an email to his supporters today he pledged to never leave and “Make Alberta Great Again!” as he plans to make an important announcement in the town of Cochrane tomorrow. Rumours has it that the life-long Ontarian plans to run as an Independent candidate in Banff-Airdrie, where incumbent Conservative MP Blake Richards is seeking re-election.
Federal Conservatives endorse Senate Nominee candidates
The federal Conservative Party has endorsed three candidates in the upcoming Senate Nominee election to select two nominees to submit to the Prime Minster of appointment tot he upper chamber.
Lobbyist and former United Conservative Party president Erika Barootes, right-wing activist and former municipal election candidate Pam Davidson and Canadian Ukrainian Free Trade Agreement Association president Mykhailo Martyniouk will have the endorsement of the federal party in the October elections.
Newly nominated federal election candidates
The Liberal Party has nominated Leah McLeod in Battle River-Crowfoot, Jessica Dale-Walker in Calgary-Nose Hill, Dan Campbell in Grande Prairie-Mackenzie, and Hannah Wilson in Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner.
The Communist Party of Canada has nominated candidates Jonathan Trautman in Calgary-Forest Lawn,Alex Boykowich in Edmonton-Griesbach and Naomi Rankin in Edmonton-Mill Woods.
The Green Party has nominated Daniel Brisbin in Battle River-Crowfoot.
The Maverick Party has replaced Doug Karwandy with Jeff Golka in Battle River-Crowfoot.
The Christian Heritage Party has nominated former Wildrose candidate Jeff Willerton in Sturgeon River-Parkland and Derek Vanspronsen in Calgary-Heritage. Previously announced Calgary-Heritage candidate Larry Heather is now running in Calgary-Nose Hill.
Provincial politics in Alberta can be hard to stomach sometimes. The kind of overwrought partisanship that comes with competitive electoral politics is new for many people in Alberta, and it can sometime be distasteful and feel alienating.
But this weekend we saw a bit of hope on a local level.
Waking up Saturday morning, Janis Irwin, the MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood, found out that someone had spray-painted “ANTIFA LIAR” in big red letters on the front window of her 112th Avenue constituency office.
Only less than two-years into her first-term as MLA, Janis is probably is one of the hardest working constituency MLAs I know.
She’s my MLA, so it is hard not to notice that she shows up to almost every community event.
If there is something happening in the area, she’s there. If there is a neighbourhood clean up event, she’s probably there. She really exemplifies public service and community spirit.
She is also no slouch when it comes to speaking out against injustice and discrimination in Alberta, especially to her huge social media following.
So it was perhaps no surprise that without being prompted, the community stepped up to help Janis on that cold Saturday morning.
And within hours, along with hundreds of messages of support on social media, cut-out paper hearts and messages of support covered the office door and the window where the graffiti had been.
On a weekend where tiki torch-carrying racists openly marched on the streets of Alberta’s largest city, it is easy to be dismayed and grossed out by politics. But the community response in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood gives a glimmer of hope that ordinary people are standing up and supporting good people in politics who speak out against hate and discrimination.
Keep up the good work, Janis. We’ve got your back.
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With more than 750 submissions made to the Best of Alberta Politics 2020 survey, your choices have been sorted and you can now vote in each category. Voting is open until Dec. 20, 2020 at 10:00 am and the winners will be announced on the special year-end episode of the Daveberta Podcast on the same day.
2. Who was the best Alberta cabinet minister of 2020? – VOTE
Leela Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women
Nate Glubish, Minster of Service Alberta
Ric McIver, Minister of Transportation
None of the Above
A None of the Above option is added to this question because a near majority of submissions fell into that category.
3. Who was the best opposition MLA of 2020? – VOTE
Rachel Notley, MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona
Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
David Shepherd, MLA for Edmonton-City Centre
An honourable mention to Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes, who received a number of votes in this category despite being a member of the governing United Conservative Party caucus.
4. Who is the up and coming MLA to watch in 2021? – VOTE
Rakhi Pancholi, MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud
Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
Thomas Dang, MLA for Edmonton-South
5. What was the biggest political play of 2020 in Alberta? – VOTE
UCP privatizing provincial parks
The Strategists winning biggest political play of 2020
UCP fight with Alberta doctors during COVID-19 pandemic
We have added a bonus category where we ask you to name an Alberta who you believe is most likely to be a future Premier of Alberta. – VOTE
What was the biggest political issue of 2020 in Alberta?
This category is usually a dog’s breakfast, but this year your choice was clear. COVID-19 was the clear choice of the overwhelming majority of people who submitted in this category. The global COVID-19 pandemic is not something that is unique to Alberta, but there is no doubt that it has defined 2020 in our province.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Alberta five months ago, our Legislative Assembly was one of only a handful of provincial assemblies that continued with a mostly regular sitting schedule. Premier Jason Kenney and his ministers frequently quoted Winston Churchill and compared the current pandemic to the Nazi blitz of the United Kingdom during World War II. But the narrative of fighting on the beaches and uniting Albertans did not stick around for long.
United Conservative Party MLAs were eager to continue the regular business of the Legislature and Kenney barely skipped a beat in continuing to implement a political agenda aimed at dismantling government regulation and imposing swift changes to health care, education and labour laws.
While the UCP enjoys a big majority in the Legislature, and the continued support of enough Albertans to probably form another majority government (albeit likely smaller) if an election were held tomorrow, the government’s decision to move forward with a business as usual approach further entrenched some political divides that grew more conciliatory in other provinces. While other premiers were pulling their provinces together, and enjoying popularity bumps as a result, Alberta’s premier actively pushed people apart.
Politics as usual meant that unlike other provinces, where government and opposition parties generally worked together or at least put partisan politics on hold, in Alberta, politics remained heated and partisan.
If someone out there was keeping a political scorecard of Alberta’s MLAs, here is look at a few individuals who stood out during this session:
Not: Health Minister Tyler Shandro (MLA Calgary-Acadia): Appointed to oversee a major overhaul and dismantling of Alberta’s public health care system, Shandro’s combative and confrontational approach has undermined much of the good will generated by the government’s initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pincher Creek Mayor Don Anderberg announced this week that the town’s council had to step in to convince doctors to not withdraw their services from that community’s hospital. Anderberg condemned Shandro and accused him of not being honest about the impact that doctors leaving the hospital could have on the community.
Not: Education Minister Adriana LaGrange (MLA Red Deer-North): The soft-spoken former Catholic school trustee from central Alberta spent much of her first year in office battling with school boards and the Alberta Teachers’ Association, leaving her with few allies when schools were forced online at the beginning of the pandemic.
Now, with a return to school plan that appears woefully inadequate, LaGrange faces opposition and a lot of unanswered questions from parents, teachers and students who will be returning to school as normal in September.
Hot: Janis Irwin (MLA Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood), Rakhi Pancholi (MLA Edmonton-Whitemud), and David Shepherd (MLA Edmonton-City Centre): These three NDP MLAs stood out to me as some of the most effective voices and sharpest critics in the opposition benches during this session.
Not: Finance Minister Travis Toews (MLA Grande Prairie-Wapiti): The provincial budget was barely tabled when the international price of oil plunged once again, putting the Alberta government’s optimistic projected natural resource royalty revenues in the realm of fantasy for the foreseeable future. The drop in oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic changed Alberta’s reality, but that did not stop Toews from shepherding an outdated budget through the legislative approval process.
Hot: Mike Ellis (MLA Calgary-West): Ellis’ role as chair of the Standing Committee on Private Bills and Private Members’ Public Bills will be unnoticed by most Albertans, but he has succeeded in fairly navigating some contentious issues that have arisen at committee hearings on private members’ bills this session. The expanded committee process for private members bills is new and is a very procedural and important part of how laws are made in Alberta.
Many rural municipalities have spoken out about oil and gas companies that are either unable or refusing to pay their municipal taxes and now tax structure changes implemented by the province threaten to strip oil and gas tax revenue from those same rural municipalities.
According to a statement from Camrose County: “Council and administration are extremely concerned about the serious impacts of this decision because it will mean an increase in property tax, reduction of services, or combination of both to make up for this lost revenue.
While the stated intention of this decision is to increase the competitiveness of oil and gas companies in this hard time, these changes will disproportionately benefit large oil and gas companies and harm smaller local firms.”
Not: Energy Minister Sonya Savage (MLA Calgary-North West): It is a pretty grim time to be an Energy Minister in Alberta. Former pipeline lobbyist Sonya Savage had some success in negotiating funding from the federal government to clean up orphan and abandoned well sites, but her brave rhetoric has not matched the reality of the world’s energy market. Big oil companies like Total are pulling out of Alberta and barely a week goes by without a major investment house or bank divesting its funds from Alberta’s oil sands.
Not: Shane Getson (MLA Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland): Getson’s adolescent behavior – telling the NDP that they have a special VIP section reserved in Hell and allegedly making inappropriate gestures toward opposition MLAs – are unbecoming of an elected representative. Grow up, Shane.
Hot: Speaker Nathan Cooper (MLA Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills): An effort to demystify the Legislative Assembly, Cooper’s weekly videos highlighting different parts of the Legislature Building and functions of the Assembly has been entertaining and educating. Cooper and his staff should be commended for recognizing the opportunity to open the Legislature to Albertans through social media.
With a provincial election, a change in government, a federal election, and much more in between, 2019 was a big year in Alberta politics. Tina Faiz and Natalie Pon join Dave Cournoyer on this episode of the Daveberta Podcast to discuss the year in Alberta politics and their hopes and wishes for 2020.
Tina Faiz is a communications consultant and served as a press secretary and acting chief of staff for the Alberta NDP government. Natalie Pon is a conservative activist and former member of the United Conservative Party interim joint board.
Thanks to everyone who voted and congratulations to the winners of the Best of Alberta Politics 2019 survey:
Best Alberta MLA: Rachel Notley, MLA Edmonton-Strathcona Best Cabinet Minister: Sarah Hoffman, Deputy Premier, Minister of Health & MLA for Edmonton-Glenora Best Opposition MLA: Rachel Notley, MLA Edmonton-Strathcona MLA to Watch in 2020: Janis Irwin, MLA Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood Best candidate who didn’t win in the 2019 election: Danielle Larivee, NDP candidate in Lesser Slave Lake Biggest political issue in 2019: Budget cuts
And a huge thanks to our talented producer, Adam Rozenhart, who always makes the podcast sound so good.
The Daveberta Podcast is a member of the Alberta Podcast Network, powered by ATB. The Alberta Podcast Network includes more than 30 great made-in-Alberta podcasts.
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