Categories
Alberta Politics

City Council candidates lining up ahead of campaign period start on Jan. 1, 2021

We are days away from January 1, 2021, which marks the start of the official municipal election campaign and nomination period and the lifting of early fundraising limits for candidates.

I spoke with CTV Edmonton about the bizarre development in Edmonton’s mayoral election between former City Councillor Michael Oshry and current Councillor Mike Nickel. Nickel tweeted a screenshot of a private message sent to him by Oshry saying he was “likely in” as a candidate for the mayoral race and asking Nickel if he would support him. Nickel’s tweet was sent to generate attention to his own campaign for mayor, but also serves as a warning to anyone planning to send him an email or private message – it might not stay private for long.

Diana Steele has announced her plans to run for mayor. Steele is the President of the Crestwood Community League and Coordinator, Volunteer Services and Communications for the Pilgrims Hospice Society.

There have also been a number of candidates who have announced their plans to run for Edmonton City Council in the newly redrawn and renamed Wards:

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

Dene: Youth, Child and Refugee Advocate Gerard Mutabazi Amani is running in this north east Edmonton ward.

Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi: Haruun J. Ali and Rhiannon Hoyle have launched their campaigns in this south Edmonton ward.

Ali is a political science student at the University of Victoria who, according to his website, volunteered on Edmonton-South NDP MLA Thomas Dang‘s re-election campaign in 2019.

Hoyle is the past president of the Alberta Party and the former president of the Heritage Point Community League, which includes the Rutherford and MacEwan neighbourhoods.

Glynnis Lieb announced her plans to run in this ward last month.

Metis: Steven Townsend and James Kosowan have announced their plans to run in this east Edmonton ward.

Townsend is the President of the Parkdale-Cromdale Community League and owner of The Briefing Room. He was the provincial Liberal Party candidate in Lesser Slave Lake in the 2012 election and in Edmonton-Whitemud in the 2015 election.

Kosowan is a high school Social Studies teacher and placed third in Ward 8 in the 2017 municipal election.

pihêsiwin: First-term councillor Tim Cartmell announced his plans to run for re-election in this newly redrawn ward. Cartmell made the announcement on his constituent email list.

sipiwiyiniwak: Giselle General announced on Facebook that she plans to run in this new south west ward. General is the Volunteer and Communications Coordinator with the Edmonton Community Legal Centre and the author of the FlipinaYEG blog.

Sspomitapi: Rashpal Sehmby is planning to run in this south east Edmonton ward. Sehmby is a postal worker and currently the Health & Safety officer for C.U.P.W. Edmonton Local 730.

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!

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Alberta Politics Daveberta Podcast

Episode 65: The Best of Alberta Politics 2020

With the help of two special guests, Jessica Littlewood and Matt Solberg, we are thrilled to announce and discuss the results of the 2020 Best of Alberta Politics survey.

Dave Cournoyer, Jessica Littlewood and Matt Solberg on the Daveberta Podcast.
Dave Cournoyer, Jessica Littlewood and Matt Solberg on the Daveberta Podcast.

Jessica Littlewood was the Alberta NDP MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville from 2015 to 2019 and during that time served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Trade for Small Business. Matt Solberg is a Director at New West Public Affairs and previously served as director of Communications for the United Conservative Party

With more than 2,300 votes in total, the winners of the Best of Alberta Politics 2020 survey are:

Best Alberta MLA: Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highands-Norwood

Best Alberta Cabinet Minister: None of the Above

Best Opposition MLA: Rachel Notley, MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona

Up and Coming MLA to Watch in 2021: Rakhi Pancholi, MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud

Biggest Political Play of 2020: UCP’s fight with Alberta’s Doctors

Albertan most likely to be a future Premier: Don Iveson and Naheed Nenshi (two frontrunner)

Thank you to everyone who voted!

The Daveberta Podcast is hosted by Dave Cournoyer and produced by Adam Rozenhart.

The Daveberta Podcast is a member of the Alberta Podcast Network: Locally grown. Community supported. The Alberta Podcast Network includes dozens of great made-in-Alberta podcasts.

You can listen and subscribe to the Daveberta Podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotifyStitcher, or wherever you find podcasts online. We love feedback from our listeners, so let us know what you think of this episode and leave a review where you download.

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Alberta Politics

Vote for the Best of Alberta Politics in 2020 – The Top 3

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.

Here are the top choices in every category:

1. Who was the best Alberta MLA of 2020? – VOTE

  • Rachel Notley, MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona
  • Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
  • David Shepherd, MLA for Edmonton-City Centre

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.

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Alberta Politics

More Nots than Hots as Alberta MLAs wrap up heated summer session at the Legislature

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.

Along with a flurry of attacks on provincial parks and public sector unions, and pushing for increased autonomy from Ottawa at the same time as the provincial government was increasingly relying on federal funding, the UCP, usually led by Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon used every opportunity to attack the New Democratic Party opposition. Rachel Notley and the NDP responded in kind.

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:

Tyler Shandro Alberta Health Minister Calgary Acadia
Tyler Shandro

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.

Shandro’s ongoing dispute with the Alberta Medical Association, including a temper-tantrum in the driveway outside a physician’s house, has poisoned the relationship between the government and doctors in the middle of a pandemic. The threat of doctors leaving rural Alberta practices has created an uncomfortable divide in the UCP Caucus between rural MLAs worried about the impact of losing doctors in their communities and Calgary MLAs not wanting to back down from a fight.

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.

Adriana LaGrange Alberta MLA Red Deer North
Adriana LaGrange

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.

Rakhi Pancholi NDP Edmonton Whitemud
Rakhi Pancholi

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.

With its revenues in the tank, the government continues to refuse to consider options to diversify its revenue streams, meaning Toews, who usually fills the roll of the adult in the room, will likely be announcing big cuts and layoffs when the Legislature returns for a one-day fiscal update debate on August 27.

To top it off, Calgary economist Trevor Tombe has declared Alberta is now a “have-not” province.

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.

Kaycee Madu Edmonton South West
Kaycee Madu (Source: Twitter)

Not: Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu (MLA Edmonton-South West): Carrying a definitively paternalistic approach to the provincial government’s relationship with municipalities, Madu introduced changes to local elections laws that led the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association to declare that their relationship with the minister was broken.

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.”

Sonya Savage

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.

The much-lauded “Fightback” strategy touted by Savage and Kenney, which features a scandal-plagued Canadian Energy Centre and a $3.5 million secret public inquiry, seems to amount to the minister accusing companies like Total and financial institutions like Deutsche Bank of being “highly-hypocritical.” The world is moving away from Alberta’s oil sands and the government is either unable or unwilling to face that challenge.

Marlin Schimdt NDP MLA Edmonton Gold Bar Alberta Election 2019 politics
Marlin Schimdt

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.

Not: Marlin Schmidt (MLA Edmonton-Gold Bar): Schmidt’s comments about former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher were an unnecessary distraction at a point when it looked like the NDP were on a role. Smarten up, Marlin.

Categories
Alberta Politics

VP Weissenberger, Agent-General Rodney and the ABCs of patronage

“This Alberta is a meritocracy” – Jason Kenney (April 30, 2019)

It was first reported this week by the CBC that John Weissenberger has been hired as the Alberta Energy Regulator’s new vice president of its science and innovation branch. Weissenberger is a former adjunct professor at the University of Alberta and manager of geological services with Husky, but it is his deep political connections that raised eyes this week. 

Weissenberger is a long-time conservative activist going back to the early days of the Reform Party and was Jason Kenney’s campaign manager during his successful bids for the the Progressive Conservative and United Conservative Party leadership campaigns in 2017. He was also director of the Alberta Victory Fund, the political action committee created to support Kenney’s campaign for the UCP leadership, and has been described as former prime minister Stephen Harper’s best friend.

It has also been reported that Weissenberger is a self-proclaimed ‘climate change skeptic,’ something that is unlikely to help the government’s bid to attract international investment and companies to move to Alberta.

Weissenberger’s wife, Angela Tu Weissenberger, was appointed by the UCP to the board of the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission in November 2019.

“Sherpa Dave” is Kenney’s Man in Texas

Dave Rodney MLA Calgary Lougheed
Dave Rodney

Congenial former Progressive Conservative MLA Dave Rodney has been appointed as Alberta’s Agent General in Houston, Texas. Rodney served as the PC MLA for Calgary-Lougheed from 2004 until 2017 when he resigned to allow Kenney to run in a by-election.

Rodney’s reward for stepping down, it would appear, is a pseudo-diplomatic post with a $250,000 annual salary. The former MLA served as a backbencher for all but two of his thirteen years in the Legislature. He served as Associate Minister of Wellness from 2012 to 2014.

And as anyone who has paid close attention to Alberta politics will know, Rodney is the first Canadian to have reached the summit of Mount Everest, twice.

Rodney’s appointment is reminiscent of former Stettler MLA Brian Downey‘s appointment as chairman of the Alberta Grain Commission when he resigned his seat in 1989 to allow Premier Don Getty to return to the Assembly (Getty had lost his Edmonton-Whitemud seat to Liberal Percy Wickman in the 1989 general election).

Rodney’s appointment marks the return of the Agent General title, a term that was widely used by Alberta’s out-of-country representatives until 1996, when the Agent-General Act was repealed and the Managing Director job title was adopted.

At the time the Agent General title was abolished, it had become associated with partisan patronage following a long string of appointments that included former PC MLA Mary LeMessurier to a post in London, former MLA Fred Peacock as the Asia-Pacific Agent General, a political aide in Getty’s office as Agent General in Hong Kong, and Getty’s wife’s cousin’s husband as Agent General in Tokyo.

Tory Patronage Machine Humming

Like the engine of a blue Dodge Ram, the UCP patronage machine has revved up since the party formed government in April 2019. counting donors, which would expand the list substantially, here is a quick list of individuals with connections to Kenney, the UCP and the conservative movement who have been appointed to various agency, board and commission positions:

  • Len Rhodes was appointed as Chair of the board of directors of the Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Commission. He was the UCP candidate in Edmonton-Meadows in 2019.
  • Janice Sarich was appointed to the board of governors of MacEwan University. Sarich was the UCP candidate in Edmonton-Decore in 2019 and represented the district as a PC MLA from 2008 to 2015.
  • Lily Le was appointed to board of governors of Norquest College. Le was the UCP candidate in Edmonton-City Centre in 2019.
  • Laurie Mozeson was appointed to the Municipal Government Board. Mozeson was the UCP candidate in Edmonton-McClung in 2019.
  • Karri Flatla was appointed to the Board of Governors of Lethbridge College. She was the UCP candidate in Lethbridge-West in 2019.
  • Tom Olsen was hired as CEO of the Canadian Energy Centre. He was the UCP candidate in Calgary-Buffalo in 2019.
  • Bettina Pierre-Gilles was appointed to board of Bow Valley College. Pierre-Gilles ran for the UCP nomination in Calgary-Currie ahead of the 2019 election.
  • Donna Kennedy-Glans appointed to board of governors of Banff Centre. Kennedy-Glans was the PC MLA for Calgary-Varsity from 2012 to 2015 and briefly ran for the party leadership in 2017. She was also appointed to the Fair Deal Panel.
  • Janice Harrington was appointed as Alberta’s Health Advocate and Mental Health Patient Advocate. Harrington was executive director of the PC Party and UCP from 2017 to 2019 and was previously involved in PC Party campaigns.
  • Shelley Beck was appointed to the board of governors of Medicine Hat College. Beck has worked as a constituency assistant to Cypress-Medicine Hat UCP MLA Drew Barnes.
  • Wayne Drysdale was appointed to the Municipal Government Board. Drysdale served as the PC and UCP MLA for Grande Prairie-Wapiti from 2008 to 2019. He was Minister of Transportation from 2014 to 2015.
  • Heather Forsyth was appointed to the Alberta Review Board. Forsyth served as the PC and Wildrose MLA for Calgary-Fish Creek from 1993 to 2015. She served as Solicitor General from 2001 to 2004 and Minister of Children’s Services from 2004 to 2006.
  • Lloyd Snelgrove was appointed to the Board of Governors of Lakeland College. Snelgrove served as the PC MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster from 2001 to 2012. He served as Minister of Finance and Enterprise from January 2011 to October 2011.
  • Bill Smith was appointed as member and vice-chair of the Public Health Appeal Board. Smith is the former president of the PC Party and was a candidate for Mayor of Calgary in 2017.
  • Andy Crooks was appointed to Municipal Government Board. Crooks was chairman of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation during Jason Kenney‘s time as its spokesperson in the 1990s.
  • Richard Casson was appointed to the Board of Governors of the University of Lethbridge. Casson served as the Member of Parliament for Lethbridge from 1997 to 2011.
  • James Rajotte was appointed to the Board of Governors of the University of Alberta. Rajotte served as the MP for Edmonton-South West and Edmonton-Leduc from 2000 to 2015.
  • Diane Ablonczy was appointed as a member of the Council of the Alberta Order of Excellence. Ablonczy served as the MP for Calgary-North and Calgary-Nose Hill from 1993 to 2015.
  • Ted Menzies was appointed to the Board of Governors of Olds College. Menzies served as MP for Macleod from 2004 to 2015.
  • Janice MacKinnon was appointed to the Board of Governors of The University of Alberta. MacKinnon chaired the UCP government’s Panel on Alberta’s Finances in 2019.

Editor’s Note: Thank you to Brent Wittmeier for the inspiration for the title of this post.

Categories
Alberta Politics

Election bills give Albertans more democracy, less transparency and accountability.

Albertans could soon be given more opportunities to cast their ballots but with much less transparency about and accountability for who is spending money to influence their votes.

The United Conservative Party government continued to unwrap its electoral reform package this week with the introduction of:

Bill 26: Constitutional Referendum Amendment Act: introduced by Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer, the bill amends the Constitutional Referendum Act law to allow for province-wide referendums to be held on non-constitutional issues

Bill 27: Alberta Senate Election Amendment Act: also introduced by Schweitzer, this bill makes amendments to the Alberta Senate Election Act passed in June 2019. 

Bill 29: Local Authorities Election Amendment Act: introduced by Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu, this bill introduces major changes to the law that governs municipal elections in Alberta.

These bills are part of a series of election bills that are expected to also include future bills allowing for the recall of MLAs, municipal politicians and school trustees, citizen initiated referendums, and major changes to provincial election laws.

Doug Schweitzer Calgary Alberta Conservative
Doug Schweitzer

The three bills introduced this week provide more opportunities for Albertans to vote for candidates and on issues, but they also claw back important transparency and accountability rules implemented by the previous New Democratic Party government less than two years ago.

It has almost been 50 years since the last time a province-wide plebiscite was initiated by the Alberta government. Bill 26 would allow the provincial government to hold referendums on non-constitutional issues, like creating an Alberta Pension Plan or deciding if we should remain on Daylight Saving Time. Providing an opportunity for Albertans to cast ballots on important issues can be a powerful tool to engage voters, but the timing and wording of such votes can also be intentionally manipulative.

The bill allows third-party groups, colloquially known as political action committees, to spend up to $500,000 on advertising up from the current $150,000 limit. Third-party groups that spend less than $350,000 on advertising during a referendum would not be required to file financial statements with Elections Alberta.

Schweitzer did not hold a press conference to announce the bill, so it is unclear why he chose to include such a massive gap in transparency.

Changes to municipal election laws included in Bill 29 are being framed by Madu as helping “level the playing field” for new candidates running for municipal councils and school boards by not allowing incumbents to carry over campaign war chests between elections and increasing the amount candidates can spend ahead of the election period from $2,000 to $5,000.

Bill 29 raises the election period donation limit from $4,000 back up to $5,000 and allows candidates to self-finance their campaign up to $10,000, reversing a number of changes made by the NDP government in 2018 that have not had a chance to be tested in a municipal election campaign.

Madu’s bill would also make it legal for wealthy individuals 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.

Eliminating the ability of incumbents to store campaign surpluses in war chests for future elections might lower the amount of cash on hand at the beginning of an election campaign. But in Edmonton at least, only two city councillors – Sarah Hamilton and Ben Henderson – reported having surpluses of more than $10,000 at the end of the 2017 election, suggesting that war chests are not necessarily a significant issues in the capital city.

Raising the donation limit could strengthen the advantage of incumbents with name recognition and developed political networks running against challengers who may be seeking political office for the first time.

The advantage of name recognition that helps incumbents get re-elected in large numbers at the municipal level is a feature that predates any of the changes to municipal election finance laws introduced by the previous NDP and Progressive Conservative governments over the past decade. The incumbent advantage even existed when there were no donation limits.

Bill 29 removes the requirement that candidates disclose their donors ahead of election day, which allows voters to see who is financially supporting candidates before they head to the ballot box.

The bill also removes spending limits for third-party groups before the start of the election period, allowing groups like Calgary’s infamous Sprawl Cabal of land developers free reign to spend unlimited amounts of money on advertising before May 1, 2021.

Madu’s Bill 29 introduces big money back into municipal elections under the guise of fairness and without creating any of the structural changes required to design a real competitive electoral environment at the municipal level.

Bill 29 also removes all references to the Election Commissioner, a housekeeping item necessitated by the controversial firing of the Commissioner by the UCP government in November 2019. In its place, the bill creates a Registrar of Third Parties, though it is unclear if the person holding this title would have the legal investigative authority of the now defunct Election Commissioner.

In past elections many municipalities simply did not have the resources available to enforce municipal election finance rules, so in some cases complaints were simply left uninvestigated.

Some of these changes were expected and were included in the UCP’s 2019 election platform, others were necessitated by inconsistencies in the changes made by the NDP in 2018, and some have come completely out of left-field.

Alberta’s election laws should be dynamic and designed to encourage and facilitate participation by voters and candidates, not to hide the identities of those who would spend money influencing election campaigns.

Overall, these bills could probably be summed up as one step forward for democracy and two steps back for transparency and accountability.

Changes coming to provincial election laws

Joseph Schow Cardston-Siksika MLA UCP
Joseph Schow

These changes are likely a taste of what is to come from the recently appointed Select Special Democratic Accountability Committee. Chaired by Cardston-Siksika UCP MLA Joseph Schow, the committee will review Alberta’s Election Act and the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act within the next six months and has be tasked with answering a series of questions submitted by Schweitzer within four months.

Along with Schow, the committee membership includes Drumheller-Stettler MLA Nate Horner, Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard, Calgary-Buffalo MLA Joe Ceci, Edmonton-South MLA Thomas Dang, Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche MLA Laila Goodridge, Calgary-Klein MLA Jeremy Nixon, Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Rakhi Pancholi, Highwood MLA R.J. Sigurdson, Drayton Valley-Devon MLA Mark Smith and Edmonton-Manning MLA Heather Sweet.

Categories
Alberta Politics

Vote for the Best of Alberta Politics in 2019 – The Top 3

Photos: Leela Aheer, John Archer, Greg Clark, Devin Dreeshen, Sarah Hoffman, Danielle Larivee, Rachel Notley, Janis Irwin, Rakhi Pancholi, Shannon Phillips (source: Legislative Assembly of Alberta website)

With more than 500 submissions made to the Best of Alberta Politics 2019 survey, your choices have been sorted and you can now vote in each category. Voting is open until Dec. 14, 2019 at 11:59 pm and the winners will be announced on the special year-end episode of the Daveberta Podcast on Dec. 16, 2019.

Here are the top three choices in every category:

Who was the best Alberta MLA of 2019? – Vote

  • Devin Dreeshan, MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake
  • Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
  • Rachel Notley, MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona

An honourable mention to Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge-West who placed a strong fourth in total submissions. Notley was last year’s winner in this category.

Who was the best Alberta cabinet minister of 2019? – Vote

  • Leela Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women
  • Sarah Hoffman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
  • Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks

Honourable mentions to Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Devin Dreeshen and Minister of Finance Travis Toews, who placed a close forth and fifth in this category. Former Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson was last year’s winner in this category.

Who was the best opposition MLA of 2019? – Vote

  • Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
  • Rachel Notley, MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona
  • Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge-West

Former Calgary-Elbow MLA Greg Clark was last year’s winner in this category.

Who is the up and coming MLA to watch in 2020? – Vote

  • Devin Dreeshen, MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake
  • Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
  • Rakhi Pancholi, MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud

An honourable mention to Edmonton-South MLA Thomas Dang, who placed a strong fourth in the first round of voting. Jessica Littlewood, former MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, was last year’s winner in this category..

Who was the best candidate who didn’t win in the 2019 Alberta election? – Vote

  • John Archer, NDP candidate in Edmonton-South West
  • Greg Clark, Alberta Party candidate in Calgary-Elbow
  • Danielle Larivee, NDP candidate in Lesser Slave Lake

An honourable mention to Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville NDP candidate Jessica Littlewood, and Leduc-Beaumont NDP candidate Shaye Anderson, who tied for fourth place in this category..

What was the biggest political issue of 2019 in Alberta? – Vote

  • Budget cuts
  • Economy and jobs
  • Firing the Elections Commissioner
  • Turkey farm hostage taking

There were a lot of submissions in this category, so we decided to give you a chance to vote on the top four in this category.

What was the biggest political play of 2019 in Alberta?

Lorne Gibson Alberta Election Commissioner
Lorne Gibson

This category is usually a dog’s breakfast, but this year your choice was clear. So we have declared the biggest political play of 2019 in Alberta was the United Conservative Party government firing of Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson. The UCP government’s omnibus Bill 22 dissolved the Office of the Election Commissioner, who was in the midst of investigating and issuing fines for violations of Alberta’s elections laws during the UCP leadership race in 2017.

Government watch-dog Democracy Watch has called on the RCMP to investigate the firing of the Election Commissioner and wants a special prosecutor appointed to oversee the investigation to ensure there is no political interference.

Categories
Alberta Politics

Stephen Mandel’s time as Alberta Party leader ends as a footnote in Alberta’s history

The Alberta Party will soon be seeking applications for a new leader.

The party announced through a press release today that on June 30, 2019 Stephen Mandel will step down as leader 15-months after he was elected into the role. The former three-term Edmonton mayor and Progressive Conservative cabinet minister ran for the leadership in 2018 after MLA Greg Clark was ousted in a successful bid by former PC Party members to take over the Alberta Party.

Jim Prentice Stephen Mandel Health Minister Alberta
Premier Jim Prentice and Health Minister Stephen Mandel in 2014.

This was Mandel’s second attempt at a political comeback.

He surprised many political watchers when he was appointed to Jim Prentice’s cabinet without a seat in the Legislature in 2014, just over a year after he retired as mayor.

The first comeback was short-lived.

Mandel won a by-election in Edmonton-Whitemud in late 2014 but was unseated by popular New Democratic Party candidate Bob Turner in the spring 2015 Orange Wave that swept the province.

Following Jason Kenney’s win in the 2017 PC Party leadership race, a number of moderate conservative partisans left the party over differences with the new leader’s style, history of social conservative activism and drive to merge the party with the Wildrose Party.

Greg Clark Alberta Party MLA
Greg Clark

Prominent Progressive Conservatives like Mandel, Katherine O’Neill, Dave Quest, Sue Timanson, and Stephen Khan hoped to turn the Alberta Party into a home for former PC supporters disenchanted by what became the United Conservative Party.

Policy direction under Mandel shifted further to the economic-right but the party steadfastly refused to describe itself as conservative, sticking instead to the ambiguous “centrist” label. In a province where many eligible voters self-identify as conservatives, it remains puzzling why a political party run by conservatives and presenting a moderate conservative program would actively distance itself from the description.

The Alberta Party under Mandel increased the party’s vote from 2.2% in 2015 to 9.1% in 2019, but failed to win any seats in the Legislative Assembly. Unlike 2015, when the party focused all of its resources to successfully elect Greg Clark in Calgary-Elbow, in 2019 the Alberta Party spread thin its resources by running a province-wide campaign and a full-slate of candidates.

Mandel was able to attract a slate with credible candidates, including former PC MLA Dave Quest, former Liberal MLA Mo Elsalhy, former St. Paul mayor Glenn Andersen, former St. Albert city councillor Neil Korotash, anti-violence advocate Manwar Khan, actor Dakota House and well-known former radio host Angela Kokott.

Lorne Dach Edmonton-McClung NDP MLA
Lorne Dach

But the Alberta Party campaign stumbled out of the starting gate early in the campaign, with Mandel and a handful of candidates and chief financial officers being banned from running in the election by Election Alberta after missing their financial disclosure deadlines. The bans were lifted after court challenges by Mandel and the other candidates but it damaged the party’s chances of being seen as a serious contender in an election dominated by the UCP and NDP.

The party earned significant media coverage but struggled to gain traction and hit a ceiling of 12 percent in polling during the campaign. Mandel’s significant of name recognition in Edmonton was not able to help the Alberta Party break the dominance of Rachel Notley’s NDP in the provincial capital city. The NDP won 19 of 20 seats in Edmonton.

Mandel finished third behind NDP MLA Lorne Dach and UCP challenger Laurie Mozeson in Edmonton-McClung, which includes parts of the area he represented on city council before his time as mayor. The party’s two incumbent MLAs, Clark and Calgary-South East MLA Rick Fraser, were both defeated in their bids for re-election. The party’s third MLA, former NDPer Karen McPherson, declined to run for re-election.

The press release announcing Mandel’s departure states that he is pursuing his role as Chancellor of Concordia University of Edmonton, a role he was installed into on November 30, 2017, just over one month before he launched his campaign to win the Alberta Party leadership.

From the very beginning, Mandel’s second attempt at a political comeback was a strange endeavour. And despite Mandel’s nine-years as a popular big city mayor with a significant list of accomplishments, his final appearance on the political scene will largely be a footnote in Alberta’s history (unless, of course, this was not his final comeback…).


Alberta Party finances…

The Alberta Party’s financial disclosures from the 2019 election have not yet been released, but the 2018 annual financial disclosures paint a picture of a party in financial disarray. The Alberta Party raised $525,430 in 2018 while running a $137,964 deficit.

In a May 25, 2019 email sent to members explaining the financial situation, the party explained that it had cycled through three CFOs in 2018 and that larger than expected expenses related to the creation of the party’s proprietary Customer Relationship Management database and “too large of an AGM” put the party in a deficit position.

The email told members that “[t]he Party is not broke but will be operating on a tight budget for the foreseeable future.”

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Alberta Politics

NDP MLA Eric Rosendahl not running for re-election in West Yellowhead, Judge decides Stephen Mandel allowed to run in Edmonton-McClung

New Democratic Party MLA Eric Rosendahl announced this week that he will not be running for re-election when the provincial election is called later this spring. Rosendahl was first elected as the MLA for West Yellowhead in 2015 and had previously announced that he would seek his party’s nomination for re-election in 2019.

Robin Campbell Alberta Finance Yellowhead
Robin Campbell

Rosendahl is the former president of the Hinton Fish & Game Association, Hinton Search and Rescue, and the Yellowhead District Labour Council. He surprised many political watchers when he unseated Progressive Conservative Finance Minister Robin Campbell in the last election. Rosendahl’s campaign spent $748, compared to $25,208 spent by Campbell’s campaign.

While Rosendahl was not initially expected to win in 2015, the NDP does have a traditional voting base in the district, with a significant population of unionized workers employed by the provincial and federal governments, and by private employers at the numerous mills and mines in the region (Campbell had been president of United Mine Workers of America Local 1656 before he was elected in 2008 and is currently President of the Coal Association of Canada). Former Edson mayor Jerry Doyle represented West Yellowhead for the NDP from 1989 to 1993.

Rosendahl gained some negative media attention earlier this year when a former member of his constituency office staff alleged he pressured her to do political work on government time.

West Yellowhead will undergo significant changes when the 2019 is called and its boundaries will expand to include the town of Whitecourt.

The NDP have scheduled a nomination meeting for March 9, 2019. Already nominated in this district are United Conservative Party candidate Martin Long, Alberta Party candidate Kirstie Gomuwka, and Liberal Party candidate Zack Seizmagraff.

Here are some of the latest NDP candidate nomination updates:

Kate Andrews NDP Calgary-Acadia Election Alberta 2019
Kate Andrews

Kate Andrews is the NDP candidate in Calgary-Acadia. Andrews is a lawyer with the Kahane Law Office and has experience in civil and commercial litigation. She is the chair of the Board of Directors for Closer to Home Community Services.

– Lynn MacWilliam is the NDP candidate in the southern Alberta district of Brooks-Medicine Hat. MacWilliam serves on Bassano Town Council and ran for the provincial NDP in Strathmore-Brooks in 2015, earning 15 per cent of the vote, and for the federal NDP in Bow River in 2015, earned 5 per cent of the vote. She previously worked in Ottawa for former Burnaby-Douglas MP Bill Siksay. 

– Hafeez Chishti has been nominated as the NDP candidate in Calgary-North West. Dr. Chishti is a Professional Geologist/Geoscientist and is a member of the Board of Governors of the University of Calgary.

The NDP have also nominated Julia Bietz in Calgary-Lougheed and Rebecca Bounsall in Calgary-Fish Creek. Rosa Evelia Baez Zamora will seek the NDP nomination in Airdrie-East on March 13, 2019, and the NDP will hold nomination meetings in Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills on March 11, 2019, and in Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock and Grande Prairie-Wapiti on March 17, 2019.

Alberta Party

Stephen Mandel Edmonton
Stephen Mandel

After being banned from running as a candidate in the next election because his campaign missed a deadline to file financial disclosure papers with Elections Alberta, Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel‘s lawyers convinced a judge to overturn the ban and allow him to run in Edmonton-McClung when the next election is called.

Mandel became leader of the party in 2018 and served as the PC MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud and Health Minister from 2014 to 2015 and mayor of Edmonton from 2004 to 2013.

He was one of 7 Alberta Party candidates hit with this penalty. Six of the candidates, including Mandel, have now had their bans lifted. Edmonton-Meadows candidate Amrit Matharu remains on the banned list.

Jasbir Dhari has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Calgary-Falconridge.

Liberal Party

Michelle Robinson has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate in Calgary-East. Robinson ran for Calgary City Council in 2017, placing fourth with 6.1 per cent of the vote . She was the first First Nations woman to run for city council in Calgary.

The Liberals have nominated Dan Ejumabone in Calgary-West and Amy Yates in Taber-Warner. Clarie Wilde is seeking the Liberal Party nomination in Edmonton-Rutherford.

Rio Aiello is the nominated Freedom Conservative Party candidate in Calgary-West.

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!

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Alberta Politics

Friday Night Bombshell: Stephen Mandel and 5 Alberta Party candidates ineligible to run as candidates in 2019 election

This is not the kind of thing any political party wants to deal with an election call only weeks away.

Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel and five of the party’s candidates and their chief financial officers have been deemed ineligible to run as candidates or serve as CFOs in the 2019 election. The decision from Elections Alberta includes a 5-year ban from seeking provincial political office or serving in a CFO role.

The decision impacts Mandel, who was nominated in Edmonton-McClung, Rachel Timmermans in Calgary-Lougheed, Ali Haymour in Edmonton-Decore, Diana Ly in Edmonton-Gold Bar, Amrit Matharu in Edmonton-Meadows, and Moe Rahall in Edmonton-Castle Downs.

Mandel became leader of the centre-right Alberta Party in February 2018. He previously served as Mayor of Edmonton from 2004 to 2013 and as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud and Minister of Health from 2014 to 2015.

The ban also applies to Mandel’s CFO, Brian Heidecker, who previously served as CFO for numerous PC Party candidates and for Doug Griffiths’ campaign during his 2011 bid for that party’s leadership.

Sources in the party tell me this decision was a result of missed deadlines or improperly submitted paperwork filed by the candidates and their CFOs with Elections Alberta following their nomination meetings.

Section 57 of Alberta’s Election Act allows the Chief Elections Officer to deem an individual as prohibited from being nominated as a provincial election candidate for a period of eight or five years if they fail to file required statements with Elections Alberta. (In September 2017, I wrote about some other past candidates who were included in this list).

The party’s lawyers are planning to challenge the Elections Alberta decision at the Court of Queen’s Bench.

If the court overturns the Elections Alberta decision, this is still a pretty embarrassing situation. But if the court does not overturn the ban, the Alberta Party may be scrambling to find a new leader with only a few weeks before an election call.

NDP CFO on the banned list

Also recently included on the list is the New Democratic Party‘s Director of Operations Will Gammon, who serves as Chief Financial Officer for 9 of the party’s nominated or soon-to-be nominated candidates and 18 of the party’s registered constituency associations. Gammon’s appearance on the list appears to a result of his role a CFO for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake by-election candidate Nicole Mooney, who is also now ineligible to run as a candidate for the next 5 years.

Former PC Party MLA Steve Young, who was unsuccessful in his bid to win the United Conservative Party nomination in Edmonton-Glenora, and Shaun Collicott, who lost a bid for the UCP nomination in Edmonton-Rutherford, are also on the banned list.

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Alberta Politics

Rakhi Pancholi nominated for NDP in Edmonton-Whitemud, NDP to hold 3 more candidate selection meetings on Feb. 9

Photo: Rakhi Pancholi (source: Twitter)

With the nomination of Rakhi Pancholi in Edmonton-Whitemud, the Alberta New Democratic Party has selected 53 candidates across the province. Pancholi is a lawyer with McLennan Ross LLP and previously worked as the staff lawyer for the Alberta School Boards Association and as a Solicitor with the Government of Alberta. She is currently the Vice Chair of the Education Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association and sit on the Board of Directors of ParityYEG, an Edmonton-based organization promoting gender parity in politics.

Pancholi is aiming to succeed popular NDP MLA Bob Turner, who announced his plans to retire from politics late last year. She has the endorsements of Edmonton Public School Board trustee Michael Janz and former Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MLAs Raj Pannu and Barrie Chivers.

The NDP have scheduled a series of nomination meetings over the next few weeks and more are expected to be announced as we approach the impending election call later this spring:

John Archer NDP Edmonton South West
John Archer

February 9: Ministerial press secretary and former CBC reporter John Archer is seeking the NDP nomination in Edmonton-South West. Retired teacher and political columnist Peter Mueller is expected to secure the NDP nomination in Cypress-Medicine Hat. And Gulshan Akter is seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-West.

February 16: Cesar Cala is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate in Calgary-East and MLA Chris Nielsen is seeking the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Decore.

February 17: Wood Buffalo Municipal Councillor and 2017 Fort McMurray-Conklin by-election candidate Jane Stroud will seek the NDP nomination in the new Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche district. Fort McMurray school board trustee Stephen Drover is seeking the NDP nomination in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo.

February 19: Melissa Byers and Todd Russell are challenging each other for the NDP nomination in Grande Prairie.

February 20: MLA Kim Schreiner is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate in Red Deer-North.

February 23: Cameron Gardner is seeking the NDP nomination in Livingstone-Macleod. Gardner is Reeve of the Municipal District of Ranchland.

February 24: Jasvir Deol has joined MLA Denise Woollard and Chand Gul in the NDP nomination contest in Edmonton-MeadowsCrown Prosecutor Moira Vane is seeking the NDP nomination in Strathcona-Sherwood Park.

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!

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Alberta Politics

NDP MLA Colin Piquette not seeking re-election, Kelly Mandryk nominated for NDP in Calgary-North

Photo: Premier Rachel Notley and MLA Colin Piquette at an event in Athabasca in 2017 (source: Facebook)

New Democratic Party MLA Colin Piquette announced in a post on Facebook this week that he will not be seeking re-election when the writ is dropped. Piquette has represented the Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater district since 2015 and had previously announced plans to seek re-election in the sprawling new Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock district.

Concerns about the change in electoral boundaries and the geographic size of the new district were a reason given for his decision against running in the expected spring election:

“As it stands now my present riding is “only” 13,000 sqr km in size and laid out on a north-south access to Edmonton making it possible to visit communities on my way back and forth to meetings in the city. The new riding come this spring will be almost double that size spread west to east. For perspective, this is about half the size of Nova Scotia and just a little smaller than Belgium. That’s a lot of territory for one person to have to cover on a regular basis. I made no secret of my concerns over the electoral boundary changes and the negative impact they would have on effective rural representation. But I always somehow expected that if they did come to pass I would find a way to overcome the challenges they posed and make it work. However, as the election has drawn closer and campaign preparations have begun in earnest I realize just how much serving these new boundaries would demand, and not only of me. I just can’t see how to do this without an unacceptable degree of sacrifice from my family.”

Piquette raised concerns about the boundary changes when they were debated in the Assembly in 2017 and he and West Yellowhead MLA Eric Rosendahl were the only NDP MLAs to vote against changes recommended by Alberta’s Electoral Boundaries Commission. The changes recommended by the commission significantly altered the boundaries of the electoral districts they represent.

A map of the new Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock district
A map of the new Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock district

Had he run for re-election, Piquette would have faced United Conservative Party MLA Glenn van Dijken, who was elected to represent Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock in 2015 and is standing for re-election in the new district. His decision not to seek re-election is not surprising. A path to a second term for Piquette, and most other rural NDP MLAs, would be extremely challenging as it is unlikely that this new district will be brimming with NDP voters in 2019. This is not a reflection on Piquette or his record as an MLA, but of the current prevailing political winds in rural Alberta.

Piquette is the former president of the Boyle District Chamber of Commerce and director with the Boyle and District Agricultural Society. He worked as a university instructor and an insurance agent representing the Cooperators in Athabasca and Boyle before his election.

Piquette is the 11th NDP MLA to announce plans not to seek re-election in 2019. A total of 19 MLAs are not seeking re-election.


Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running in Alberta’s upcoming provincial election:

Kelly Mandryk NDP Calgary North
Kelly Mandryk

Kelly Mandryk was nominated as the NDP candidate in Calgary-North on February 4, 2019. Mandryk is a Senior Service Representative with Great West Life and is a former journalist and editor, having worked at the Barrhead Leader and Calgary Herald. 

Stephen Drover is seeking the NDP nomination in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. Drover is a trustee with the Fort McMurray Public School Board and was the NDP candidate in this district in 2015, earning 30.42 percent of the vote. He is an oil sands operator and member of Unifor Local 707-A. The NDP have scheduled a nomination contest in this district on February 17, 2019.

Gulshan Akter is seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-West. Akter is the managing director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Education and President and CEO of the Peerless Training Institute, a government-accredited private career college in Calgary.

The NDP have scheduled candidate in Edmonton-Whitemud on February 7, 2019, and in Calgary-WestCypress-Medicine Hat, and Edmonton-South West on February 9, 2019. The UCP is holding nomination votes in Calgary-North and Lethbridge-East on February 9, 2019 (I hope to have updates about these two UCP contests posted tomorrow).

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Alberta Politics

NDP nominate 7 new candidates, Jordan Stein defeats MLA Anam Kazim in Calgary-Glenmore

Photo: Jordan Stein (pictured) defeated MLA Anam Kazim to secure the NDP nomination in Calgary-Glenmore. (photo source: @Jordan.Stein.Alberta on Instagram)

We are in the zone. As of February 1, 2019, Albertans are now living in the campaign period where an election can be called any day until May 31, 2019.

The New Democratic Party had a big nomination weekend, selecting candidates in 7 districts across the province. With candidates nominated in 52 districts, the NDP are now 35 candidates away from a full-slate in all 87 districts.

Anam Kazim NDP MLA Calgary Glenmore
Anam Kazim

In the southwest district of Calgary-GlenmoreJordan Stein defeated MLA Anam Kazim to win the NDP nomination. Stein is a former coffee shop owner, flight attendant with WestJet and employee engagement consultant with Air North.

Kazim was first elected in 2015 with a 6-vote margin of victory over Progressive Conservative MLA Linda Johnson. Kazim was one of 9 NDP candidates under the age of 30 to be elected in 2015.

Kazim is the second incumbent NDP MLA to lose a candidate nomination contest in this election cycle. MLA Marie Renaud defeated MLA Trevor Horne to secure the NDP nomination in St. Albert in December 2018.

Stein will face United Conservative Party candidate Whitney Issik, Alberta Party candidate Scott Appleby, and Green Party candidate Allie Tulick when the election is called.

Here are the six other NDP nominations that have been held over the past few days:

Airdrie-Cochrane: Steven Durrell was chosen as the party’s candidate in Airdrie-Cochrane. Durrell is a Telus dispatcher and trustee for the Telus Corporation pension plan. He has been a shop steward for the United Steelworkers. He was a target of UCP leader Jason Kenney this past weekend, as the conservative leader mocked Durrell for being a 19-year old. Durrell is a 29-year-old father of three.

Steven Durrell Airdrie Cochrane NDP election alberta
Steven Durrell

This new district north of Calgary includes areas currently part of the Airdrie, Banff-Cochrane, and Chestermere-Rockyview districts.

Calgary-Beddington: Amanda Chapman is a communications consultant and former communications coordinator with AIDS Awareness Calgary.

Calgary-Edgemont:  Julia Hayter was a constituency assistant to recently resigned Calgary-Varsity MLA Stephanie McLean. She was seeking the NDP nomination in McLean’s former district until Anne McGrath entered the contest and was chosen as her party’s candidate.

Calgary-Foothills: Sameena Arif is active with the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association. A teacher who immigrated from Pakistan to Canada with her family in 2004, Arif’s story was highlighted in an article on one of the Government of Alberta’s official websites in 2012.

Calgary-Hays: Tory Tomblin is a primary care paramedic with Alberta Health Services and was a candidate for the Calgary Board of Education in Wards 12 & 14 in the 2017 election.

Julia Hayter NDP candidate Calgary Edgemont Alberta
Julia Hayter

Camrose: Morgan Bamford is the Acting Supervisor of Indigenous Relations with the City of Edmonton and is the co-founder of Bamford & Henbest Research and Consulting Partners Ltd. He is vice-president of the board of directors of Volunteer Alberta.

The NDP have scheduled candidate selection meetings in Calgary-North on February 4, 2019, in Edmonton-Whitemud on February 7, 2019, and in Calgary-West, Cypress-Medicine Hat, and Edmonton-South West on February 9, 2019.

The contested NDP nomination race between Melissa Byers and Todd Russell in Grande Prairie was initially scheduled to take place on February 3, 2019 but has been rescheduled to February 19, 2019. 

Alberta Advantage Party

The Wildrose Party-offshoot Alberta Advantage Party has nominated former Wolf Creek School Division trustee Paula Lamoureux as its candidate in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre. This is considered one of the most conservative voting areas in Alberta and is currently represented by UCP MLA Jason Nixon

Marilyn Burns, the leader of the small right-wing party, will be holding a series of town hall meetings in Pincher Creek, Brooks, and Calgary in February 2019.

Freedom Conservative Party

Rick Northey Airdrie East Freedom Conservative Party election alberta
Rick Northey

Rick Northey has been nominated as the Freedom Conservative Party candidate in Airdrie-EastNorthey is the former president of the Airdrie UCP and Wildrose Party associations. He resigned from that UCP board in June 2018, saying he was unhappy with what he maintained was a secretive cash transfer of $16,000 from the local Wildrose Party association to the Alberta Fund political action committee in late 2017. Nothey accused UCP MLA Angela Pitt of “outright intimidation” in trying to get him to stop asking questions about it. He will now face Pitt in the provincial election.

Valerie Keefe has withdrawn plans to seek the FCP nomination in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood.

The FCP has opened nomination contests in Airdrie-Cochrane, Calgary-North West, Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, and Leduc-Beaumont.

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!

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Alberta Politics

NDP nomination meetings sprouting up ahead of spring 2019 election

Photo: Peter Mueller, Kelly Mandryk, Jessica Littlewood, and Colin Piquette

With candidates nominated in 34 districts and less than two months until the official fixed-election period begins, the New Democratic Party has now scheduled nomination meetings in 23 additional districts between now and February 7, 2019. It is expected that more candidate selection meetings will be announced shortly.

The latest meetings to be announced will be held in Calgary-Foothills, Calgary-North and Grande Prairie on February 3, 2019 and Edmonton-Whitemud on February 7, 2019. 

Kelly Mandryk is seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-North. Mandryk is a Senior Service Representative with Great West Life and is a former journalist and editor, having worked at the Barrhead Leader and Calgary Herald. A candidate selection meeting is scheduled for February 3, 2019.

MLA Jessica Littlewood has announced she will seek the NDP nomination for re-election in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville. Littlewood was first elected in 2015, earning 45 percent of the vote and unseating one-term Progressive Conservative MLA Jacquie Fenske. She has served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Trade since October 2017 and was recently voted Up and Coming MLA to Watch in 2019 in the Daveberta Best of Alberta Politics 2018 Survey. A candidate selection meeting has been scheduled for February 2, 2019.

NDP MLA Colin Piquette will seek his party’s nomination in the newly redrawn Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock district. Piquette was first elected in 2015 in the Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater, earning 40 percent of the vote. He is the son of former NDP MLA Leo Piquette, who represented Athabasca-Lac La Biche from 1986 to 1989.

If nominated, Piquette will face current Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock United Conservative Party MLA Glenn van Dijken in the next election. This will be the third race in which two incumbent MLAs are challenging each other in a newly redrawn electoral district. The other races are Central Peace-Notley, where NDP MLA Marg McCuaig-Boyd and UCP MLA Todd Loewen are running, and in Chestermere-Strathmore, where UCP MLA Leela Aheer and Freedom Conservative Party MLA Derek Fildebrandt are running.

Retired teacher Peter Mueller will seek the NDP nomination in Cypress-Medicine Hat. Mueller is a columnist in the pages of the Medicine Hat News where he has been a vocal and persistent critic of local UCP MLA Drew Barnes, who he plans to challenge in the next election. A nomination meeting has been scheduled for February 9, 2019.

Amanda Chapman is seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-Beddington, which is scheduled to take place on February 3, 2019. 

The Alberta Party has announced that Jason James will run for the party in Grande Prairie-Wapiti and Ivan Boles will run in Spruce Grove-Stony Plain. Boles was president of the PC Party association in Spruce Grove-St. Albert and Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert from 2010 to 2017 and endorsed Richard Starke in the 2017 PC Party leadership contest.

Putting an end to the rumours, Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer announced that she will not seek the UCP nomination in Red Deer-South. The UCP announced in early December that the party was  would delaying the selection meeting until 2019 in order to give time for a “high profile individual” run join the contest. Four candidates are already contesting the nomination. It remains unclear who the mystery star candidate will be.


Here is a list of upcoming candidate selection meetings: 

January 8, 2019: Bruce Hinkley was acclaimed as the NDP candidate in Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin. As I wrote in my previous update, Hinkley was first elected in 2015.

January 10, 2019: Shawna Gawreluck is seeking the NDP nomination in Morinville-St. Albert. Gawreluck is a lab technologist and a resident of Sturgeon County. She was the federal NDP candidate in the 2017 by-election in the Sturgeon River-Parkland district where she earned 7.7 percent of the vote.

January 10, 2019: MLA Annie McKitrick has officially filed her intention to seek the NDP nomination for re-election in Sherwood Park. McKitrick was first elected in 2015 with 52 percent of the vote and has served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Education since 2017.

January 10, 2019: MLA Erin Babcock is seeking the NDP nomination in the new Spruce Grove-Stony Plain district west of Edmonton. Babcock was first elected as MLA for Stony Plain in 2015, earning 38 percent of the vote and unseating PC MLA Ken Lemke.

January 17, 2019: MLA Ricardo Miranda is seeking the NDP nomination for re-election in Calgary-Cross. He was first elected in 2015 and has served as Alberta’s Minister of Culture and Tourism since February 2016. 

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!

Categories
Alberta Politics

Dr. Bob Turner announces retirement, lawyer Rakhi Pancholi to seek NDP nomination in Edmonton-Whitemud

Dr. Bob Turner has announced he will not seek re-election as the MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud when the next election is called. Turner was first elected in 2015, defeating then-Progressive Conservative Health Minister Stephen Mandel by 5,628 votes in what had been a PC Party stronghold since the 1997 election.

Rakhi Pancholi NDP Edmonton Whitemud
Rakhi Pancholi

Turner’s victory in 2015 was not an anomaly in Edmonton, as the New Democratic Party swept every seat in the city and region, but it was his strong second place finish in the October 27, 2014 by-election that foreshadowed the rise of the NDP in Edmonton. The by-election was held after long-time PC MLA and former deputy premier Dave Hancock was abruptly shown the door when Jim Prentice became premier in 2014.

In a statement released earlier this week, Turner described his main goals and achievements since becoming an MLA. “From the beginning, I spoke about the need to move forward in building Nellie Carlson School, with upgrading the Misericordia Hospital and eliminating flavoured tobacco,” Turner wrote.“I’ve been proud to see all of these goals accomplished.”

A respected hematologist and oncologist at the University of Alberta Hospital and Cross Cancer Institute and Professor of Medicine and Oncology at the University of Alberta, Turner was the perfect fit for this district, which includes some of Edmonton’s most affluent neighbourhoods. His departure is not shocking, as Turner turned 70 years old this year, but his retirement does mean this could be one battleground district to watch in next year’s election.

Michael Janz Edmonton
Michael Janz

Rakhi Pancholi, a lawyer with McLennan Ross LLP, plans to seek the NDP nomination to run in Edmonton-Whitemud in the next election. Pancholi’s legal experience includes working as the staff lawyer for the Alberta School Boards Association and as a Solicitor with the Government of Alberta before joining McLennan Ross, which is known in the world of labour relations as an employer-friendly law firm.

Pancholi is the former director and adoptions coordinator for the Humane Animal Rescue Team and has volunteered with the Edmonton Community Legal Centre and the Treatment Action Campaign in Cape Town, South Africa. Find more exclusive content on legal advice here.

Pancholi already has the support of a popular progressive elected official representing the area, Edmonton Public School Board trustee Michael Janz. It was rumoured that the NDP were courting Janz to run for the provincial nomination following his landslide re-election in October 2017. But he is now expected to endorse Pancholi in her bid to become the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Whitemud.

A date for the NDP nomination meeting has not yet been announced.

Already nominated to run in this district are United Conservative Party candidate Elisabeth Hughes and Alberta Party candidate Jonathan Dai.


NDP nomination meetings scheduled for early 2019

With an election expected to be called in spring 2019, the NDP have begun to announce what is expected to be a flurry of nomination meetings to be held in the first few months of 2019.

NDP members will select candidates in Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin on January 8, 2019, Morinville-St. Albert, Spruce Grove-Stony Plain, and Sherwood Park on January 10, 2019, Calgary-Cross on January 17, 2019, Calgary-Peigan on January 19, 2019, Edmonton-Castle Downs on January 23, 2019, Calgary-Bow, Calgary-Shaw and Highwood on January 26, 2019, Airdrie-Cochrane on January 31, 2019, Camrose and Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville on February 2, 2019, and Cypress-Medicine Hat on February 9, 2019.