Municipal politicians making the leap into provincial politics is a pretty common occurrence, but less common are former provincial politicians jumping into municipal politics.
This municipal election season, there are a handful of former Alberta MLAs who have decided to put their names on the ballot to run for their local municipal council. Here are a few that I’ve noticed on the lists of local candidates:
– Former NDP MLA Annie McKitrick and former Progressive Conservative MLA Dave Quest are both running for Mayor of Strathcona County. McKittrick served as the MLA for Sherwood Park from 2015 to 2019 and as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Education from 2017 to 2019. Quest served as the PC MLA for Strathcona-Sherwood Park from 2008 to 2015 and Associate Minister for Seniors from 2013 to 2014. He ran for the Alberta Party in the 2019 election.
– Former NDP MLA Eric Rosendahl running for Hinton Town Council. Rosendahl was the NDP MLA for West Yellowhead from 2015 to 2019.
– Former NDP MLA Colin Piquette is running to become a councillor in the Village of Boyle. Piquette served as the MLA for Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater from 2015 to 2019 and was the President of the Boyle Chamber of Commerce before he was elected to the Legislature. He is the son of Leo Piquette, who was the NDP MLA for Athabasca-Lac La Biche from 1986 to 1989.
– Victor Doerksen is running for Red Deer City Council. Doerksen was the Progressive Conservative MLA for Red Deer-South from 1993 to 2008 and Minister of Innovation and Science from 2001 to 2006. He finished seventh of eight candidates in the PC Party leadership in 2006.
– Mike Allen is running to become the next Mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. Allen was the PC MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo from 2012 to 2015 with the exception of 2013 to 2014 when he sat as an Independent MLA after he was arrested in a prostitution sting operation while on a government trip to Minnesota (he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour and paid a $500 fine plus legal fees). If elected he would replace another former PC MLA, Don Scott, who was elected mayor in 2017 and is not seeking re-election.
– Former Wildrose MLA Wayne Anderson is running to become a councillor in Foothills County. Anderson was the Wildrose and United Conservative Party MLA for Highwood from 2015 to 2019.
– Former PC MLA Arno Doerksen has been acclaimed as a councillor in Newell County. Doerksen served as the PC MLA for Strathmore-Brooks from 2008 to 2012.
– Kent Hehrdropped out of Calgary mayoral election race only weeks after entering the race. Hehr served as the Liberal MLA for Calgary-Buffalo from 2008 to 2015 and as the Liberal MP for Calgary-Centre from 2015 to 2019.
– And filed under “blast from the past,” long-time municipal politician Bob Russell is running for Mayor in the City of St. Albert. Russell served on city council from 1989 to 1992, 1995 to 2001 and 2013 to 2017 and ran for mayor in 1992, but before his municipal career he was leader of the Alberta Liberal Party from 1971 to 1974.
Did I miss any former MLAs running in the municipal elections? Leave a comment below.
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.
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.
– 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.
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.
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.
– NDP MLA Eric Rosendahl is seeking his party’s nomination in West Yellowhead at a candidate selection meeting scheduled for Feb. 24, 2019. Rosendahl was first elected in 2015 with 39 percent of the vote and, if nominated, will seek re-election in a district that has been drastically enlarged to include the area surrounding the Town of Whitecourt.
– Doug Hart, a Registered Nurse from Ponoka, will seek the NDP nomination in Lacombe-Ponoka. Hart was the NDP candidate in this district in 2012 and in 2015, when he earned 30.1 percent of the vote. He also ran for the NDP in the Ponoka-Rimbey district in the 1989 and 1993 election and against Conservative MP Blaine Calkins in Red Deer-Lacombe in the 2015 federal election. A nomination meeting has been scheduled for Feb. 27, 2019.
Cam Khan has been nominated as the Freedom Conservative Party candidate in Calgary-North West, where he unsuccessfully mounted a campaign for the UCP nomination in August 2018 but was defeated by nominee Sonya Savage. Following the UCP nomination contest, he ran for a position on the Alberta Party board of directors at that party’s 2018 annual general meeting. He also ran for Calgary City Council in the 2017 municipal election.
The FCP also nominated Matthew Morrisey in Airdrie-Cochrane and Malcolm Stinson in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville.
Rork Hillford is seeking the Liberal Party nomination in Calgary-Glenmore.
Carl Svoboda is seeking the Green Party nomination in Calgary-Edgemont. Svoboda previously ran in Calgary-Varsity as the Evergreen Party candidate in the 2012 election and the Green Party candidate in the 2015 election. The candidate selection deadline is Feb. 13, 2019.
Alberta Advantage Party
The right-wing Alberta Advantage Party has nominated Chris Poplatek in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood, Gordon Perrot in Edmonton-McClung, Donald Petruka in St. Albert, and Donald Melanson 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 email@example.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!
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.”
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.
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-West, Cypress-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).
Photo: UCP leader Jason Kenney and Calgary-Fish Creek MLA Richard Gotfried (source: Twitter)
MLA Richard Gotfried fended off a nomination challenge on September 7, 2018 against opponent Cindy Ross, becoming the United Conservative Party candidate in Calgary-Fish Creek. It was a contentious nomination race, with accusations of negative campaigning being tossed between the two camps and a third candidate dropping out before the vote was held.
Back in June 2017, party leader Jason Kenney promised “a rigorous screening process for prospective candidates to red light those who have advocated truly hateful views or who have serious reputational problems.”
Rutherford secures UCP nomination in Leduc-Beaumont
Brad Rutherford defeated former Wildrose Party candidate Sharon Smith and Scott Wickland to secure the UCP nomination in Leduc-Beaumont. Rutherford previously ran for a federal Conservative nomination in Edmonton-West ahead of the 2015 election and was the president of the local UCP association. He previously served with the Edmonton Police Service.
Calgary-Mountian View – Mark Hlady is seeking the UCP nomination. Hlady was the Progressive Conservative MLA for this district from 1993 to 2004, when he was defeated by Liberal David Swann. Hlady surprised many political watchers when he defeated Jim Prentice’s former Chief of Staff Jean-Sebastien Rioux to secure the PC Party nomination in 2015, setting up a rematch against Swann. But Hlady placed third with 23 percent of the vote behind Swann and New Democrat Marc Chikinda.
Edmonton-Mill Woods – Baljit Singh is seeking the UCP nomination.
Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo: UCP MLA Tany Yao has been acclaimed as his party’s candidate in this district. Yao was first elected in 2015 and currently serves as the Official Opposition Health Critic.
Strathcona-Sherwood Park – Dave Quest has been acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate in this district east of Edmonton. Quest served as the Progressive Conservative MLA for this district from 2008 to 2015, when he was unseated by New Democrat Estefania Cortes-Vargas.
Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright – Eileen Taylor and Darrel Howell are the latest candidates to enter the UCP nomination contest in this new rural district in east central Alberta. Eileen Taylor is a former teacher and he wife of retiring Battle River-Wainwright UCP MLA Wes Taylor (Mr. Taylor announced in May 2018 that he would not seek re-election because he is focusing on recovering from having undergone open heart surgery). The Taylor’s ran a real estate company before Mr. Taylor was elected in 2015. Howell is an engineer and was appointed as Chair of the Board of Governors of Lakelake College in 2014. He is a former president and chairman of Tartan Canada Corporation.
If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will add them to the list. Thank you!
NDP Convention moved to October
The New Democratic Party will now hold their convention on October 26, 27 and 28 at the Westin Hotel in downtown Edmonton. As noted in a previous article, the NDP had initially scheduled their convention for September 28, 29 and 30, 2018 in Red Deer. The NDP convention will now take place the weekend immediately before the Legislative Assembly is expected to reconvene for the fall sitting, on October 29, 2018.
Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips has filed her intentions with Elections Alberta to run for the New Democratic Party nomination in Lethbridge-West. Phillips was first elected as MLA in 2015 with 59 percent of the vote.
Also running for re-election is Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier, who told XM105FM that he will seek the NDP nomination in the newly redrawn Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland district. Carlier currently represents the Whitecourt-Ste. Anne district, which will no longer exist when the next election is called.
Independent MLA Derek Fildebrandt is agitating in Chestermere-Strathmore. After being banned from rejoining the UCP caucus in February 2, 2018 after a string of embarrassing scandals, Fildebrandt has essentially accused his former party of being afraid of an open nomination contest in the new district. The theatrical former finance critic accused the UCP of “Trudeau-style affirmative action” for not allowing him to run against popular Chestermere-Rockyview UCP MLA Leela Aheer.
Calgary-Currie – Amoriza Gunnink is seeking the UCP nomination. Gunnink is the founder of the Kinderhouse Preschool. Tony Norman is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Norman was his party’s candidate in this district in the 2015 election.
Calgary-East – Pradeep Singh is seeking the UCP nomination.
Calgary-Falconridge – Happy Mann is seeking the UCP nomination. Mann was the Wildrose Party candidate in Calgary-McCall in the 2015 election and the 2012 Wildrose Party candidate in Calgary-Cross.
Calgary-Glenmore – Maureen Zelmer is seeking the UCP nomination.
Calgary-Mountain View – Dean Brawn is seeking the UCP nomination. Brawn was a candidate for Calgary City Council in Ward 7 in the 2017 municipal election.
Drumheller-Stettler – MLA Rick Strankmanis seeking the UCP nomination. Strankman was first elected in 2012 as a Wildrose Party candidate.
Edmonton-Ellerslie – Yash Sharma is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Sharma is the Publisher of the Asia Tribune and producer of Harmony TV and in 2016 he was one of 32 candidates to run in the Ward 12 by-election.
Edmonton-South West – Kevin Greco is seeking the UCP nomination.
Lethbridge-East – Brian Litchfield is seeking the UCP nomination.
Morinville-St. Albert – Dale Nally and Trina Jones have entered the UCP nomination contest. Jones is currently serving as Deputy Mayor of the Town of Legal
Sherwood Park – Jordan Walker is seeking the UCP nomination. Walker and Strathcona-Sherwood Park nomination candidate Nate Glubish are being endorsed by Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan Member of Parliament Garnett Genuis, who is hosting a meet and greet for the two candidates on April 27, 2018. Genius was the 2012 Wildrose Party candidate in Sherwood Park.
Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright – Two-time Wildrose Party candidate Danny Hozack is seeking the UCP nomination. Hozack earned 37 percent of the vote in 2012 and 33 percent of the vote in 2015. He is seeking the nomination against Garth Rowswell, his campaign manager from the 2015 election.
West Yellowhead – MLA Eric Rosendahl is seeking the NDP nomination. He was first elected in 2015 with 39 percent of the vote.
If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at email@example.com. I will add them to the list.
Calgary-North East – Nate Pike is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Pike is a paramedic who works for Alberta Health Services.
Calgary-North West: Lesley Doell is seeking the United Conservative Party nomination. Doell is a French Immersion facilitator and instructional coach with the Foothills School Division and the former executive director of the French Language Resource Centre in Grande Prairie. She had been considered a potential candidate for the federal Conservative nomination in Calgary-Centre in 2019.
Calgary-Shaw – Mark Mantei is seeking the UCP nomination. He is an executive with a computer software and consulting company and previously served as the President of the Wildrose Party constituency association in this district. This district is currently represented by New Democratic Party MLA Graham Sucha.
Edmonton-Glenora – Sarah Hoffman is seeking the NDP nomination in this west-central Edmonton district. Hoffman was first elected as MLA for this district in 2015 with 68 percent of the vote, She previously served two terms on Edmonton’s Public School Board including as chair from 2012 to 2015. She has served as Minster of Health and Deputy Premier since 2015.
Edmonton-West Henday – Two candidates are seeking the UCP nomination in this new west Edmonton district. Nicole Williams is a senior associate with Canadian Strategy Group and previously worked as an assistant to various MLAs and cabinet ministers in the old Progressive Conservative government. Lance Coulter is a former assistant to Edmonton-Griesbach Member of Parliament Kerry Diotte and previously served in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville – Conservative partisan activist Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk is seeking the UCP nomination. Armstrong-Homeniuk currently serves on the local UCP association and previously served as the Regional Director for Central Northeast Alberta on the PC Party board of directors. This district is currently represented by NDP MLA Jessica Littlewood.
Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland – Jerry Molnar is seeking the UCP nomination in this newly redrawn district northwest of Edmonton.
St. Albert – Jeff Wedman is seeking the UCP nomination. Wedman is an officer with the Edmonton Police Service and is a retired Canadian Armed Forces pilot. He ran for the PC Party nomination in St. Albert ahead of the 2012 election. This district is currently represented by NDP MLA Marie Renaud, who is running for re-election.
Spruce Grove-Stony Plain – Dan Corbett is seeking the UCP nomination. He was briefly a candidate for the City of Spruce Grove mayoral election in 2017 but withdrew from the race before the election.
West Yellowhead – Town of Whitecourt mayor Maryann Chichak is seeking the UCP nomination in the newly redrawn West Yellowhead district, which now includes Whitecourt. Chichak was first elected as mayor in 2013 and was re-elected in 2017. She was the Wildrose Party candidate in the Whitecourt-Ste. Anne district in 2012, where she finished only 370 votes short of unseating PC MLA George VanderBurg. The West Yellowhead district is currently represented by NDP MLA Eric Rosendahl.
If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will add them to the list.
But when talking about his decision to run in the new Taber-Warner district, rather than challenging his caucus colleague Dave Schneiderfor the UCP nomination in the new Cardston-Siksika district, he made another statement that caught my attention.
“…the NDP have put us in a bad position in this southern part here, in that when the boundaries were redrawn, they split Cardston-Taber-Warner into two different ridings.”
The Cardston-Taber-Warner district Hunter currently represents will see significant changes when the next election is called. While he may have legitimate concerns about the redistribution of the electoral boundaries in southern Alberta, it is misleading to blame the NDP for putting him “…in a bad position…”
The new district boundaries for the 2019 election were drawn by a commission composed of an independent chairperson (Justice Myra Bielby), two NDP Caucus appointees (Bruce McLeod of Acme and Jean Munn of Calgary) and two Wildrose Caucus appointees (Laurie Livingstone of Calgary and Gwen Day of Carstairs). The commission was appointed in October 2016 and held public hearings and received hundreds of submissions from Albertans throughout 2017.
Of the Wildrose appointees, Livingstone supported the final report recommending the new electoral map, including the changes to Hunter’s district, and Day submitted a minority report opposing changes to rural district boundaries.
The process used to redraw Alberta’s electoral boundaries certainly has its flaws (I will write more about this soon), but with Hunter’s own party’s handpicked appointees deeply involved in the process it is misleading for him to blame the party in power for changes he might not like.
The bill introduced today includes a handful of the reform ideas that were debated by the now-defunct Special Select Committee for Ethics and Accountability, which was created during the euphoria that followed the election of the NDP. The political mood soured quickly after the election and the committee quickly succumbed to a year of partisan wrangling and procedural brinksmanship until the Legislature allowed the committee to disband in September 2016.
The new bill has already received the support of committee member and Liberal Party leader David Swann. Dr. Swann, who is believed to be quite sympathetic to the NDP on many issues, was quoted in a government press released praising the changes.
Bill 35 would lower the limit that individuals can contribute annually to political parties to $4,000, which is a positive move, and is a reform that NDP and Wildrose MLAs on the all-party committee found room to agree on. The current annual contribution limits are $15,000 outside election periods and $30,000 during election periods.
The bill imposes a spending limit of $50,000 for each individual candidate’s campaigns and a $2 million limit for political parties (the Progressive Conservatives were the only party to spend more than $2 million in the last election). I am in favour of spending limits but I do believe that a $50,000 limit for constituency campaigns could be too low. I expect this could lead to some candidate campaigns spending additional funds in advance of the election being called in order to circumvent the low limit.
There are currently no spending limits in Alberta and our province is currently the only province in Canada without spending limits. The lack of spending limits has led to some significant disparities in what is spent in elections campaigns. For example, Edmonton-Whitemud PC candidate Stephen Mandel‘s campaign spent $132,991 in 2015, while candidates like West Yellowhead New Democrat Eric Rosendahl spent $748. Generally, the rule is that the candidate who spends the most money is likely to win, but 2015 was an exception to that rule (Mr. Mandel was defeated and Mr. Rosendahl was elected).
The NDP have allowed a handful of costs to be exempted from the limit, including travel costs, parking and gas, childcare expenses, expenses related to a candidate living with a disability, and financial audits required by law. I suspect the exemption of travel and gas costs are meant to address some concerns that MLAs on the committee raised about additional expenses incurred when campaigning in geographically large rural constituencies. This issue was raised by Wildrose MLAs on the committee who represent some of these large rural areas.
The bill also proposes limiting spending by candidates running in party nomination contests, which currently does not exist in Alberta. Nomination candidates would now have to register their candidacy with Elections Alberta, which is similar to a system that already exists for federal political parties.
Perhaps most controversially, Bill 35 seeks to limit the total amount of money that third-party advertisers can spend during elections campaigns. The proposed limit of $150,000, of which no more than $3,000 could used in an individual constituency, is severely limiting. The high costs associated with advertising campaigns would mean that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for any third-party group to run an effective province-wide campaign during an election period in Alberta.
Perhaps somewhat ironically, considering the vastly different political environment in 2016, the third-party advertising laws passed by the PCs in 2009 were seen as a reaction to the Albertans for Change advertising campaign targeted then-premier Ed Stelmach. The ads, which became infamous for the spooky “Noooo Plaaan” tagline, were sponsored by a handful of Alberta labour unions.
It was during the 2009 debate in the Legislative Assembly over Mr. Anderson’s bill that the rookie MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona, Rachel Notley, foreshadowed what seven years later would become her government’s reforms to Alberta’s elections finance system:
“…in Alberta we should have a much more comprehensive set of rules around our own election financing as candidates, as members of political parties, we should have much more substantial limits on how much we can spend as political parties, and we should have much more substantial rules on the maximum donation that we can receive, all of that designed to ensure it is the individual voter whose activity and whose engagement ultimately makes the day one way or the other at the end of the process and that it’s not one person or a group of 20 people with $15,000 each who can decide a particular campaign in a particular riding.”
Where is Strankman’s bill?
Post media columnist Graham Thomson raises an important point in his latest column. Earlier this year Wlidrose MLA Rick Strankman introduced a Private Members’ Bill calling for a blackout of government announcements during election period in order to prevent a governing party from using public funds to influence the election.
The bill was introduced in the Assembly but then referred to the Special Select Committee for Ethics and Accountability, which never had the opportunity to debate it before it was disbanded. It is unclear whether Mr. Strankman’s bill will ever resurface in a future sitting.
Initially slow to nominate federal candidates, the New Democratic Party is now catching up to the other three main parties with nominated candidates in Alberta. As of this morning, the NDP have chosen candidates in 22 of Alberta’s 34 ridings, just shy of the 26 nominated Liberals and 24 nominated Green candidates. The Conservative Party filled their slate of 34 candidates last week.
– In Calgary-Centre, Dr. Jillian Ratti was acclaimed as the NDP candidate in a race already dominated by Conservative incumbent Joan Crockatt and former Liberal MLA Kent Hehr.
– Former journalist Kirk Heuser won the NDP nomination in a race against four other candidates in Calgary-Confederation. The Greens have nominated Natalie Oddas their candidate. Ms. Odd is a project manager with the Alberta EcoTrust and was a Green Party candidate in the 2006 election in Calgary-Centre.
– Thousands of NDP members voted at a large nomination meeting in the northeast Calgary-Skyview riding and Sahajvir Randhawa was chosen over challengersAbdulla Rafique and Mohammad Tayyab.Mr. Randhawa will face Conservative incumbent Devinder Shory and former Liberal MLA Darshan Kang in the election.
– Former Progressive Conservative MLA Matt Jeneroux was chosen as the Conservative candidate in a race against relator Sandy Pon and past Wildrose candidate Ian Crawford. University of Alberta mechanical engineering professor Brian Fleck won the Edmonton-RiverbendNDP nomination in a three-way contest against Meheret Worku and Registered Nurse Ruth Alexander.
– The Liberals acclaimed Tanya MacPherson as their candidate in the Foothills riding. Ms. McPherson recently ran in her party’s nomination contest in Calgary-Midnapore. The NDP are expected to acclaim engineer Alison Thompson at a nomination meeting on August 18, 2015.
– Former Assembly of First Nations regional chief Cameron Alexiswas acclaimed as the NDP candidate in Peace River-Westlock riding. Mr. Alexis is also a retired RCMP officer, and former Chief of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation and Grand Chief of Treaty Six. Some local NDP members expressed concern over Mr. Alexis’ acclamation, as two other candidates had planned to seek the nomination. But when contacted, one of the other potential nominee, former Peace River town councillor Wanda Laurin described Mr. Alexis as “a very stellar candidate” and someone who could “champion the NDP in this region.”
– Red Deer City Councillor Paul Harris will face school trustee Dianne Macauleyand former Green candidate Evan Bedford in the NDP nomination contest in Red Deer-Mountain View. Update: Mr. Bedford has withdrawn from the contest and endorsed Mr. Harris.
– Joanne Cave defeated Adam Comartin, Kevin Fichtner and Bretton Reid to win the NDP nomination in Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan. Two-time candidate James Ford will once again be on the ballot as an Independent. In 2008 and 2011, Mr. Ford earned 32% and 29% of the vote against Conservative MP Tim Uppal in the now defunct Edmonton-Sherwood Park riding (Mr. Uppal is now running in the new Edmonton-Mill Woods riding).
– Transit driver Darlene Malayko defeated First Nations activist Aretha Greatrixin the St. Albert-Edmonton NDP nomination contest. One attendee at the meeting noted the strange sight of seeing conservative city councillor Cam Mackayendorse Ms. Malayko’s candidacy from the floor.
– Ron Rauhut and Ken Kuzminski are seeking the NDP nomination in the Yellowhead riding. Past candidate Eric Rosendahl, who earned 9.5% of the vote in a 2014 by-election, was elected as the NDP MLA for West Yellowhead in May 2015. Mr. Kuzminski previously ran for the NDP in this riding in the 2008 election.
Please email david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com if there are any further additions to the list. Thank you.
Every year, political watchers gather at the Alberta Legislature for the pomp and circumstance of the Speech from the Throne, hoping to get a glimpse of a political agenda. And every year they are sorely disappointed at the Throne Speech’s lack of detail.
Yesterday’s Throne Speech, delivered by elderly Lieutenant Governor Donald Ethell, was unremarkable, but it was never meant to be more than predictable motherhood and apple pie.
A quick read of the text of this year’s speech will reveal that it was little more than a lengthened version of talking points that we have heard from Premier Jim Prentice since he launched his campaign to become Progressive Conservative Party leader last summer.
The real political agenda was revealed after the Lieutenant Governor left the Assembly chambers. Mr. Prentice revealed his first piece of legislation as Premier will remove another bill passed by PC MLAs in 2009. Bill 1, the Respecting Property Rights Act, is a one-page bill that rescinds the unpopular Land Assembly Project Area Act, which was passed in 2009 and amended in 2011, but never proclaimed by the PC Government.
Stemming from widespread opposition to the construction of electrical transmission lines, property rights became a volatile issue that cost the PCs support in rural central and southern Alberta over the past five years. The lack of understanding shown by rural PC MLAs on this issue was mind-boggling. It provided a clear demonstration that the PCs had forgotten how to speak to their loyal base of rural voters. And it cost them in the last election.
The Wildrose Party, with the help of rural rabble-rousers Keith Wilson and Joe Anglin, were able to take advantage of this disenchantment and translate it into electoral wins in long-time Tory strongholds. With his bill, Mr. Prentice hopes to remove the lightening rod that cost his party its rural strongholds.
The Tories are giddy with the decision by Wildrose Party activists to defeat a definitive statement supporting equality at their recent annual meeting in Red Deer. Despite attempts at rebranding as a softer ‘Mildrose’ party, leader Danielle Smith scrambled to explain her party’s position after the vote was held.
While some PC MLAs may cringe at the idea of schools that embrace lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth, Mr. Prentice now has an opportunity to show that his party is clearly different that the Wildrosers. By supporting Ms. Blakeman’s motion, the Premier can send a message to progressive-minded urban voters that the PCs have fully embraced 21st century social values.
If Mr. Prentice’s first few months as Premier have demonstrated anything, it is that he and his staff are skilled at controlling and shaping political narratives. I have little doubt that he will skillfully navigate these and other hot button issues that come his way. The new Premier’s big challenge will be to demonstrate that the PC Government under his leadership is more than just talking points in a Throne Speech.
Federal Tories win in Tory stronghold…
To no one’s surprise, the Conservative candidate coasted to victory in the by-election held in the federal riding of Yellowhead yesterday. Tory Jim Eglinski, a retired RCMP officer and former B.C. mayor, won with 62% of the vote. His main opponent, Liberal Ryan Maguhn, improved party’s standing by earning 20%, up from 2% in 2011. New Democrat Eric Rosendahl placed third with 9%. Unofficial results show that voter turnout was a measly 16%.
A big Conservative win is inevitable in this rural Alberta riding
When recently resigned Conservative Member of Parliament Rob Merrifieldwas appointed by Premier Jim Prentice as Alberta’s Representative in Washington D.C., many political watchers in Alberta were caught by surprise.
It was known that the MP was spending an increasing amount of time lobbying American politicians in the Capitol and I am told that his absence in his own riding was starting to become noticeable. And despite Mr. Merrifield’s focus south of the border, none of the federal political parties were seriously anticipating a by-election in Yellowhead.
And now, with a by-election set to be held on November 17, 2014, it is difficult to gauge how many voters in this sprawling rural Alberta riding will take interest in the campaign.
Demand for natural resources – oil, gas, mining and forestry – has resulted in a booming economy in most of the riding. Take a quick drive down any major street in Whitecourt, Drayton Valley, Hinton or Edson and it will be difficult to miss the convoys of large and brand new 4×4 trucks.
But the booming economy does not mean locals do not have issues with the federal government. The ongoing debate surrounding the fate of the Temporary Foreign Workers program has left many local business owners displeased with Stephen Harper‘s Conservatives. And cuts to Parks Canada funding and creeping privatization in the parks has left many residents of Jasper National Park feeling uncomfortable.
Barring a political earthquake, Conservative candidate Jim Eglinski will be elected the next Member of Parliament for Yellowhead.
A former mayor of Fort St. John, British Columbia and retired RCMP officer, Mr. Eglinski defeated Yellowhead County Mayor Gerald Soroka for the Conservative Party nomination last month.
It is not a stretch to suggest that winning the Conservative Party nomination in this riding would have been more of a challenge than winning the actual by-election. In the 2011 general election, Mr. Merrifield earned a landslide 77% of the votes cast. Both the NDP and Liberals scrambled to find parachute candidates from Edmonton to run in that election.
One of the opposition parties is slightly more organized this time.
The Liberals have nominated Ryan Maguhn, a town councillor and social studies teacher from Hinton. Mr. Maguhn received a boost from leader Justin Trudeau, who made campaign stops in Edson and Hinton on November 6. Although convincing voters in this region of Alberta to vote Liberal is no easy sell, Mr. Trudeau’s visits did attract more than a few locals. Many whom are curious about the dynamic young leader.
While winning the by-election is a lofty and unrealistic goal, the Liberals expect to place better than they did in 2011 (when the party finished in fourth place with 2.87% of the vote).
Independent candidate and documentary filmmaker Dean Williamsis running under a “Yellow for Yellowhead” slogan (his campaign colours are yellow). On his website, he criticizes Mr. Harper’s conservatives and pledges not to “waste words or play un-honest or un-disclosed politics.” Mr. Williams initially planned to run for the NDP nomination but decided to run as an Independent instead.
The NDP have chosen local labour activist and NDP riding association president Eric Rosendahl as their candidate (he has no website as of the time this post was published) and the Libertarian Party is running Cory Lystang. The Green Party did not nominate a candidate.