He’s the former MLA, former MP, and former leader of the Wildrose Party.
He’s Fort Mac’s golden boy.
Now he’s the United Conservative Party candidate.
He’s also Jason Kenney’s worst enemy and if he wins he’ll become an even bigger thorn in the Premier’s side ahead of the April 9 leadership review.
Kenney beat Jean in the 2017 UCP leadership race and is now openly campaigning against him in the leadership review.
Jean isn’t the only anti-Kenney candidate in the race.
NDP candidate Ariana Mancini is campaigning hard.
The NDP are cautiously optimistic about their chances but it’s a real long shot and know they are the underdog.
Even with the NDP leading the UCP by 15 points in province-wide polls and Kenney’s approval ratings in free fall, there is still a big gap to close in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche.
The UCP won the riding with 66 per cent of the vote in 2019.
Competing with Jean for disaffected conservative voters is another former Wildrose Party leader, Paul Hinman.
Hinman now leads the separatist Wildrose Independence Party.
He’s another long-shot candidate.
He’s also living proof that by-elections can produce weird and unpredictable results.
What do I mean?
Hop in and join me in the Alberta Politics Time Machine™.
One year after Hinman was lost his Cardston-Taber-Warner seat in the 2008 general election he shocked political watchers by winning a by-election in posh Calgary-Glenmore in the city’s southwest.
It was a real country-mouse-becomes-city-mouse situation.
But Hinman isn’t the only example of how by-elections can be sometimes have shocking results.
The Liberals stunned political watchers when Craig Cheffins won in the Calgary-Elbow by-election to replace retired Premier Ralph Klein in 2007.
Alberta Party leader Greg Clark very nearly repeated history in 2014 when he placed a painfully close second to PC cabinet minister Gord Dirks in another Calgary-Elbow by-election.
“But Dave,” you say, “aren’t those just fancy urban Calgary ridings?”
The Liberals won the 1992 by-election in Three Hills.
Yes. That’s right. Three. Hills.
Deficit hawk Liberal leader Laurence Decore recruited farm realtor Don MacDonald in that by-election.
It was a sign of how well the Liberals were doing as much as how poorly the old Progressive Conservatives had tumbled under Don Getty’s beleaguered premiership.
“This is the heartland of Conservative Alberta,” Decore told a boisterous crowd of supporters in Three Hills on the night of MacDonald’s win.
He won with a stunning 2,476 lead over the second place Social Credit candidate.
The PC placed third.
“This is rural Alberta. This is where it’s not supposed to happen. This is where Liberals are supposed to be the anathema of everything that this area stands for,” Decore said. “Not only are we winning but we’re winning handsomely.”
The Liberals even came within a hair of winning a by-election in Little Bow a few months earlier.
Yes. Little. Bow.
That’s the deep south and it’s where conservatives usually win big.
The Reform Party of Canada was on the rise and, just like Three Hills a few months later, Reformers were split between the provincial Liberals and Tories in that by-election.
Reformer-turned-Liberal Donna Graham finished 262 votes behind Reformer-turned-Tory winner Barry MacFarland.
It was a close race.
And then there’s the big by-election win that people always talk about when Alberta separatism periodically peaks in the polls: Western Canada Concept’s Gordon Kesler winning the 1982 Olds-Didsbury by-election.
It was the only time a separatist party candidate has been elected to the Alberta Legislature.
People were mad.
Mad at Pierre Trudeau.
Mad at Peter Lougheed.
And boy did they show it.
But Kesler only had a few months as an MLA before Lougheed shifted gears and steamrolled the WCC into electoral oblivion in the November 1982 general election.
Ok. Buckle up.
Let’s take the time machine back even further.
Young PC candidate Bill Yurko stole the Strathcona East seat vacated by retired Premier Ernest Manning in 1969, foreshadowing the demise of Social Credit only a few years later.
Even the New Democrats have squeaked in a surprise by-election win, though you’ll have to go way back to find it.
Pincher Creek-Crowsnest. 1966.
Garth Turcott becomes the first Alberta NDP MLA in the province’s history.
Turcott’s team brought in a professional organizer and used new campaigning techniques like “doorknocking.”
Federal NDP leader Tommy Douglas even lent Turcott’s campaign a hand and drew hundreds of people to a by-election rally in the riding.
Douglas roasted Premier Ernest Manning for standing in the way of public health care.
“He has been the spearpoint of the attack on medicare,” Douglas said of the Alberta Premier.
It’s probably how Rachel Notley would describe Jason Kenney today. She’d be right.
But that’s for another column.
Slide back to the present. March 14, 2022.
What a wild ride.
I’d love to take the time machine to tomorrow night to see how the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election turns out but our tank is almost empty (and radioactive plutonium almost costs as much as a tank of gas these days!).
So we’ll have to take a big deep breath and wait to see if Brian Jean reclaims his old seat tomorrow night.
It might be a Jean slam dunk, but as we just saw on our little journey through Alberta history – sometimes by-elections can have unexpected results.
The price of oil is way up and COVID-19 public health restrictions are gone in Alberta.
Premier Jason Kenney and United Conservative Party cabinet ministers have fled the big cities and are hopping across the province making big spending announcements.
Grande Prairie. Red Deer. Acme. Hospitals. Schools. Airports. Childcare centres.
There is almost money for everything again. Unemployment is still high but government coffers are flush with oil revenues.
It feels like election season in Alberta.
The next provincial election is supposed to be just over a year away.
Bill 81 passed last year sets the next election day for the third Monday in May. That’s May 29, 2023. The bill was signed by Lieutenant Governor Salma Lakhani in December but it hasn’t been proclaimed into law by the Kenney cabinet.
Kenney could call a Hail Mary early election this year but with Rachel Notley’s NDP leading in every poll since November 2020, it would be a big gamble. The UCP could lose big.
Notley’s NDP are recruiting good candidates and have a lot more money in the bank than Kenney’s UCP, which has struggled to fundraise over the past two years.
But an early election would take advantage of high oil prices, boosted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine that has given Kenney a chance to shift back to talking about oil and pipelines. Plus, Kenney is keen to project a sense of optimism that the COVID pandemic might actually be over (for now, at least).
And a really early election could be a way to avoid that pesky April 9 leadership review in Red Deer.
‘Give all Albertans a chance to vote in the leadership review!’, Kenney could say.
A super early election would let Kenney punt out the growing chorus of opponents in his own caucus and avoid the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election (so long, Brian Jean!).
Kenney would still have a lot to answer for. He’s still sitting on an unpopular coal mining report the government was forced to write after nearly all Albertans rose up against open-pit coal mining in the Eastern Slopes.
Plus the draft education curriculum, a big fight with doctors, abandoned plans to privatize and sell provincial parks, and that $1.3 billion gambled on Donald Trump’s re-election.
New Labour Minister Kaycee Madu is still in cabinet after trying (and failing) to ‘interfere in the administration of justice’ after getting distracted driving ticket. And new Justice Minister Tyler Shandro is facing a code-of-conduct hearing at the Law Society.
While Kenney has callously used the Ukraine crisis as a pitch for Canadian oil, one big country dependent on Russian oil and gas, Germany, is talking about abandoning fossil fuels all together.
German Finance Minister Christian Lindner has referred to renewable electricity sources as “the energy of freedom.”
But Kenney’s audience isn’t Germany or investment funds in New York. His primary audience is UCP voters in Alberta.
Back to the early election talk.
Maybe that’s what Pam Livingston is already working on?
The Premier’s chief of staff is on a leave of absence to make sure he wins the leadership review, but with party nominations heating up – notably in ridings held by Kenney loyalists – shifting into election campaign mode might be a natural transition.
City UCP MLAs are worried about the NDP, and rightfully so, but rural MLAs are mostly worried about a challenge from the populist right.
An early election could catch challengers like the Wildrose Independence Party off-guard, robbing them of a full year to organize and recruit candidates.
“But Dave,” you say, an early election call didn’t go so well for Kenney’s conservative predecessor in the Premier’s office.
Premier Jim Prentice led a calcified Progressive Conservative dynasty to get trampled in the 2015 Orange Wave election that broke the mold of Alberta politics. It’s probably a warning Kenney should heed.
The NDP could win big and Notley could become the first Premier in Alberta’s history to return after being defeated. It would be a big deal.
Notice that Kenney’s language has shifted in the past month?
After years of using divide and conquer tactics on almost every issue, the most divisive and unpopular premier in Alberta’s recent history is making a desperate appeal for “unity.”
He needs a big shift – and a big shovel to dig himself out of the giant hole he has spent the past three years digging.
Whether he is actually campaigning for the April 9 leadership review or setting up Albertans for an early election, gambling might be Kenney’s only option if he wants to stay in the Premier’s office. Otherwise he might as well book the U-Haul.
Government House Leader and Environment & Parks Minister Jason Nixon is running to reclaim the United Conservative Party nomination in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre. Nominations in this and three other ridings held by Jason Kenney loyalists were quietly opened earlier this week.
Nixon appears to be facing a challenge from former Clearwater County Reeve and Councillor Tim Hoven. Elections Alberta lists March 21, 2022 as the nomination meeting date.
Nixon’s younger brother, Jeremy Nixon, will face a nomination vote on March 24, 2022 in Calgary-Klein. It is unclear whether he will face any challengers.
UCP MLA Matt Jones is also seeking his party’s nomination to run for re-election in Calgary-South East. A nomination meeting has been scheduled for March 21, 2022, according to Elections Alberta’s website.
Nominations were opened tonight in five other ridings currently held by Kenney loyalists – Calgary-Edgemont (represented by Minister of InfrastructurePrasad Panda), Drumheller-Stettler (represented by Minister of Agriculture Nate Horner), Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville (represented by MLA Jackie Armstrong Homeniuk), Morinville-St. Albert (represented by Associate Minister of Natural Gas Dale Nally), and Peace River (represented by MLA Dan Williams). The deadline for candidates to enter these nomination contests is March 3.
Michelle Landsiedel running for Alberta Party in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election
Suncor employee Michelle Landsiedel is the Alberta Party candidate in the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election.
Landsiedel is the vice-chair of the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Club of Fort McMurray and is an Emergency Response Team Supervisor and National Member of the Canadian Red Cross. She was a candidate for Wood Buffalo municipal council in 2021 in Ward 1.
Election Alberta also listed Abdulhakim Hussein as the Liberal Party candidate.
Nurse Diana Batten running for NDP nomination in Calgary-Acadia
Registered Nurse Diana Batten announced she plans to run for the NDP nomination in Calgary-Acadia.
“Like many, I have struggled with feelings of hopelessness and frustration throughout the pandemic,” Batten writes on her campaign website. “The lack of transparency, communication, and planning demonstrated by the UCP government, while strengthening my resolve, has also reinforced that my values do not align with this government.”
Batten is a Nursing Instructor at Bow Valley College and a nurse at the Rotary Flames House, a residential community-based hospice at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
Calgary-Acadia is currently represented by UCP MLA Tyler Shandro, who was first elected in 2019, and until recently served as Minister of Health. He is now Minister of Labour.
Wyatt Tanton running for NDP nomination in Camrose
Educational Assistant Wyatt Tanton is the second candidate to enter the NDP nomination contest in the Camrose riding.
“Classroom sizes are ballooning, staff are burning out, and students are the ones paying the price when the government implements unjustifiable sweeping cuts, fires tens of thousands of essential support staff, and continues pushing forward a curriculum so outdated and out-of-touch that it would’ve made Ernest Manning pause in the 60’s,” Tanton said. “We need a strong voice for our constituency in Edmonton, and a government that’s willing to listen to them – and I want to be that strong voice for Camrose when we elect Rachel Notley and the Alberta NDP to a strong mandate in 2023.”
Tanton was a candidate for Camrose City Council in 2021 and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce through Athabasca University. He joins Registered Psychiatric Nurse Tonya Ratushniak in the contested nomination race.
The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA Jackie Lovely, who is being challenged for her party’s nomination by Beaver County Reeve Kevin Smook.
Dave Klepacki fourth candidate in Banff-Kananaskis NDP race
Dave Klepacki is the fourth candidate to join the NDP nomination contest in Banff-Kananaskis.
Klepacki is the co-founder of Experience Journeys and the former Vice President of Wilcox Energy Corporation. He earned a PhD in Geological Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology mapping rock structures along the Kootenay Arc of British Columbia.
Klepacki joined the other candidates in the nomination race – Sarah Elmeligi, Gavin McCaffrey, and Mark Tkacz – at the second candidate’s forum on Zoom organized by the local NDP association on Feb. 17. More than 50 NDP members in the riding attended the forum, which focused on climate and the environment.
March 15 – the Ides of March – is the day voters in the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche riding will go to the polls to choose their new MLA.
Premier Jason Kenney waited until the very last day possible to call a by-election to replace former MLA Laila Goodridge, who resigned six months ago to run in last year’s federal election. Waiting this late to call a normal by-election would be very unusual, but this is no normal by-election.
United Conservative Party members in the northern Alberta riding rejected Kenney’s favoured nomination candidate in favour of Brian Jean, the former leader of the Wildrose Party and former MLA and MP who is openly calling on Kenney to resign.
Jean dropped out of provincial politics in 2018, resigning as MLA for the former Fort McMurray-Conklin riding when he was not given a spot in Kenney’s shadow cabinet. But retirement didn’t suit him, and it wasn’t long before he was regularly chirping at Kenney on social media and in the newspaper editorial pages.
He now has the UCP nomination in a normally safe UCP riding and he is openly organizing and fundraising in an effort to dump Kenney at the April 9 leadership review in Red Deer.
With no pro-Kenney candidates on the March 15 ballot, don’t expect the Premier or any cabinet ministers to be visiting the riding in the next 28-days.
Rachel Notley‘s NDP have nominated Fort McMurray school teacher and past candidate Ariana Mancini as their choice in the by-election. And while Mancini remains an underdog in this race, she has been joined over the past few months by a steady stream of NDP MLAs travelling north to visit the riding.
Edmonton-Whitemud NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi was in Fort McMurray today for Mancini’s campaign launch.
While the NDP have been riding high in the poll and are flush with cash, this will be a tough riding for them to win. The UCP earned 66 per cent of the vote in 2019 and the last time voters in this area elected a New Democrat was in 1986, when Leo Piquette won in Athabasca-Lac La Biche.
But, never say never. By-elections can sometimes produce unpredictable results.
While the Kenney-Jean rivalry is the main theme going into the by-election, the candidacy of another former Wildrose Party leader makes this race even more unusual.
Former Wildrose Party leader Paul Hinman now leads and is running in the by-election for the Wildrose Independence Party – a party that not only promotes Alberta separatism from Canada, but, judging from its social media feeds, embraces a vast range of right-wing internet conspiracy theories.
The grandson of former provincial treasurer Edgar Hinman, the younger Hinman was the Alberta Alliance MLA for Cardston-Taber-Warner from 2004 to 2008 before surprising political watchers by winning a 2009 by-election in posh Calgary-Glenmore. He led the Alliance and Wildrose Alliance from 2005 until resigning in 2009 to make way for Danielle Smith.
Hinman endorsed Jean for the Wildrose Party leadership in 2015 and Kenney for the UCP leadership in 2017 after cancelling his own bid to lead the new party.
Now he leads the separatist Wildrose Independence Party, which was created by a merger of the Freedom Conservative Party and the Wexit Alberta group in July 2020.
But that’s not where the Wildrose blast-from-the-past ends in this by-election!
Burns was a candidate for the Alberta Alliance Party in Stony Plain in 2004 and ran against Hinman for the Alliance leadership way back in 2005. She was later part of a small group of Wildrosers who campaigned against the merger with the Progressive Conservative Party before helping found the Alberta Advantage Party.
Burns led the Alberta Advantage Party into the 2019 election and resigned soon after amid a leadership challenge and announced plans to run for the position again. She now appears to once again be party leader.
The second separatist candidate in the by-election, the Independence Party of Alberta‘s Steven Mellott, has never led or tried to lead the Wildrose Party (as far as I am aware).
We got the band back together for the final episode of the Daveberta Podcast. That’s right, folks. We are going on a semi-permanent hiatus. And to help mark this announcement, our good friend Ryan Hastman joined Dave Cournoyer and Adam Rozenhart for a trip down memory lane, reminiscing and reflecting on Alberta politics since we launched the Daveberta Podcast in 2017.
In our second segment, we were thrilled to welcome Alberta Party leader Barry Morishita as our guest on this episode to talk about his time as Mayor of Brooks and President of the AUMA, and why he decided to make the jump into provincial politics (he also confirmed his plans to run in the Brooks-Medicine Hat riding in the next election).
Thank you to our friends at the Alberta Podcast Network: Locally grown. Community supported, for their support over the years. Make sure to check out their growing roster of great made-in-Alberta podcasts.
We’d like to send a big heartfelt thank you to everyone who has listened, subscribed to, supported, and joined us as a guest on the podcast over the years. It has been a lot of fun for us, and even more fun that many of you joined us on this ride (and a special thanks to our friend Mountain Ted for your always insightful and interesting questions).
We are signing off for now, but we are still around and might pop up again with some new special episodes when next year’s provincial election is called. Stay tuned.
And, of course, Dave will continue to write about Alberta politics and obscure Alberta political history at Daveberta.ca.
Take care, stay safe, be kind, and see you next time.
When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But as Albertans bask in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter by-election in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche (which must be called by February 15 – in 4 days).
MLA Chris Nielsen announced today that he plans to seek the Alberta NDP nomination in Edmonton-Decore and run for re-election in the next provincial election.
“The past 7 years have been an incredible time for me. The chance to represent the outstanding residents of Edmonton-Decore has been an honour, privilege and incredible learning experience,” Nielsen said in a statement posted on social media. “…the work is not finished yet … there is much more to do.”
Nielsen was first elected in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019 with 47.5 per cent of the vote, defeating United Conservative Party candidate Karen Principe (who was elected to Edmonton City Council in October 2021). He currently serves as the Official Opposition critic for Red Tape Reduction.
Before his election in 2015, Nielsen worked as a shipping receiver at the Lucerne Foods ice cream with UFCW Local 401.
Sayid Ahmed is seeking the UCP nomination in the north Edmonton riding.
Mohammad Ali Kamal seeks NDP nomination in Edmonton-South West
Mohammad Ali Kamal is seeking the NDP nomination in Edmonton-South West.
“SW Edmonton, the place for growing families, trails, and tranquility should be served by a community worker who can relate to the people of this riding, compared to the incumbent Kaycee Madu who would not follow the law that he is supposed to represent as the provinces law minster, and as a result is now a suspended justice minister,” Kamal said in a press release.
Kamal is the Executive Director of the Shifa Medical Clinic, Treasurer of the Alberta Association of Clinic Managers, Director of the Duggan Mother’s Day soccer Tournament, and a NCCP certified soccer coach.
Kamal joins Chand Gul as the second candidate seeking the NDP nomination in this riding.
The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA Kaycee Madu, who is on leave from his role as Minister of Justice and Solicitor General following allegations that he phoned Edmonton Police Service Chief Dale McFee receiving a traffic ticket for driving distracted in a school zone.
Second NDP nomination candidate in Calgary-East
Educator Rosman Valencia has filed papers with Elections Alberta to seek the NDP nomination in Calgary-East. International Avenue Business Revitalization Zone executive director Alison Karim-McSwiney is also seeking the NDP nomination.
Calgary-East has been represented by United Conservative Party MLA Peter Singh since 2019. Singh was elected with 49.7 per cent of the vote over New Democrat Cesar Cala, who finished second with 32.1 per cent.
“As a long-time advocate for reconciliation, public health care in Alberta, Calgary’s downtown, and the arts sector, I am all-in on building Alberta’s future and will bring my experience to the Alberta NDP and Team Rachel Notley,” North Peigan said in a press release announcing her candidacy.
North Peigan is a member of the Blackfoot Confederacy and is a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, where she trained as a field medic with Toronto EMS and was stationed with Edmonton Field Ambulance. She holds an MA in Integrated Studies, with a focus on Work, Organization, and Leadership.
She is vice-chair of the Calgary Police Commission and an author of the White Goose Flying Report, Calgary’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action. She was also a candidate for city council in Calgary’s 2021 municipal elections.
North Peigan has been endorsed by former Calgary-Klein MLA Craig Coolahan, who served as MLA from 2015 to 2019.
“Marilyn will bring a much-needed perspective to the party and the legislature,” Coolahan said when reached for comment.
The riding is currently represented by United Conservative Party MLA Jeremy Nixon and is on the NDP’s target list for the next election. The local NDP constituency association organized a large group canvass last weekend, with Calgary-Buffalo MLA Joe Ceci and Calgary-Mountain View MLA Kathleen Ganley joining the volunteers.
Oneil Carlier seeks nomination in Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland
Former MLA Oneil Carlier announced today that he plans to seek the Alberta NDP nomination in the Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland riding.
“When I was an MLA and cabinet minister, I saw how government can work to get results for families,” Carlier said in a press release. “From his handling of the pandemic, to his attacks on health care workers, to sky-rocketing electricity rates, it’s clear Jason Kenney is not delivering for the families of our area.”
Carlier represented the Whitecourt-Ste. Anne riding from 2015 to 2019 and served as Minister of Agriculture and Forestry in the NDP government. He was defeated in 2019 by United Conservative Party MLA Shane Getson in the redrawn Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland riding.
Getson has been an outspoken critic of the province’s COVID-19 protections and lost his position as Chair of the UCP’s Capital Region Caucus after he publicly suggested that people receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) were using the funds for Cheezies, cartoons and illegal drugs.
A nomination meeting is being scheduled for March 12, 2022.
Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election call down to the wire
Premier Jason Kenney has only 9 days left to call the by-election in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, which will see his leadership rival, UCP candidate Brian Jean, face off against NDP candidate Ariana Mancini and Wildrose Independence Party leader Paul Hinman.
The 28-day long by-election to choose a successor to Laila Goodridge must be called by February 15, 2022.
The NDP also crushed the UCP in annual fundraising in 2021, with Notley’s party raising a whopping $6,151,163.93 compared to $3,796,905.23 for Kenney’s party. This is the largest total amount that the NDP has raised in a year in Alberta.
The lacklustre fundraising returns for the governing UCP will likely be something that Kenney’s opponents hone in on as the party’s approaches its April 9 leadership review meeting in Red Deer.
The Alberta Party, now led by former City of Brooks Mayor Barry Morishita, saw a significant increase in their fundraising compared to previous quarters last year.
Despite doing well in most polls over the past year and benefiting from a handful of member defections from the UCP, the separatist Wildrose Independence Party had an unimpressive fundraising year. The party placed fifth in fundraising in 2021. Party leader Paul Hinman, a former Wildrose MLA, is running in soon to be called by-election in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche.
Here is what all of Alberta’s registered political parties raised in the fourth quarter of 2021:
Alberta NDP: $2,090,873.53
United Conservative Party: $1,200,823.71
Pro-Life Political Association: $121,503.00
Alberta Party: $121,108.54
Wildrose Independence: $68,114.29
Alberta Liberal Party: $43,105.32
Green Party: $6,889.50
Independence Party of Alberta: $3,319.00
Communist Party: $100.00
The Alberta Advantage Party and the Reform Party did not report any funds raised in this quarter.
Here are the total annual fundraising totals for 2021:
Alberta NDP: $6,151,163.93
United Conservative Party: $3,796,905.23
Pro-Life Political Association: $338,342.92
Alberta Party: $239,260.46
Wildrose Independence: $184,190.74
Alberta Liberal Party: $114,398.00
Green Party: $15,232.50
Independence Party of Alberta: $7,633.25
Alberta Advantage Party: $1,190.00
Communist Party: $300.00
Reform Party: $0
We covered a lot of ground, including the recent scandal involving Edmonton-South West United Conservative Party MLA Kaycee Madu, the leadership challenges faced by Premier Jason Kenney, the role of Brian Jean in the upcoming Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election, and the most likely paths to victory for Kenney and Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley in 2023.
“Jason Kenney has neglected Calgary-North East, an ever-growing community with no new schools, skyrocketing insurance premiums and during the devastating hailstorm, he did not raise a hand to help us;” Brar said in a press release. “Rachel is the only leader with the real vision to make life more affordable for Albertans and create jobs by diversifying the economy.”
According to his press release, Brar has taught at Olds College, Bow Valley College and SAIT and currently owns a small business. He earned Bachelor of Business Administration from Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and Master of Science in Public Policy and Management from University of London.
“By running as the Green Leader in Banff – Kananaskis, this district will finally get the attention it deserves. Rachel Notely and Jason Kenny treat Banff – Kananaskis like a notch on their belts,” Wilkie said. “Right now you see the Bow Valley interests being pitted against those in Bragg Creek and more urban areas like Springbank. While no one is properly taking the time to collaborate with theTsuut’ina and Îyârhe (Stoney) Nakoda Nations.”
“That is unacceptable and it is time for a new direction to move forward, especially on issues that affect everyone from community safety to economic prosperity,” said Wilkie.
The Edmonton firefighter was chosen as leader of the Green Party in March 2020. He holds an MA in Disaster Emergency Management.
The riding was represented by NDP MLA Cam Westhead from 2015 to 2019 and was home to the closest race between the UCP and NDP outside of the major urban centres in the last election and is a riding the NDP are hoping to pick up in the next election.
Demographic changes in the Bow Valley are creating a more competitive electoral landscape, and the UCP’s attempts to close and privatize provincial parks, open the Rockies to open-pit coal mining, and implementation of a fee to visit Kananaskis Country have proven to be deeply unpopular in the riding, which is currently represented by UCP MLA Miranda Rosin.
Meanwhile, much further north, Green Party of Alberta vice-president Brian Deheer could run for his party in the upcoming Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election but won’t announce his candidacy until the by-election is called.
“I feel it would be premature for me to comment until the election date has been set, and until it is clearer whether I’d be the candidate,” he recently told Lakeland This Week.
Deheer was the Green Party candidate in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche in the 2019 provincial Fort McMurray-Conklin in the 2018 provincial by-election, in Fort McMurray-Athabasca in the 2014 federal by-election, and in Fort McMurray-Cold Lake in the 2015, 2019 and 2021 federal elections.
Airdrie resident Steve Durrell has announced his plans to seek the Alberta NDP nomination to run in the Airdrie-Cochrane riding in the next provincial election.
“This coming election is one of high stakes. From education to our economy, from healthcare to respect for a person’s self-identity, Jason Kenney and the UCP have failed Albertans at every turn,” Durrell said in a statement posted on Facebook. “It’s time for change and to get Alberta back on track, and that is why I am seeking the nomination to run for the NDP, and support Rachel Notley on her road to once again being Premier of Alberta!”
Durrell is an organizer for United Steelworkers Local 1944.
If nominated, this will be Durrell’s second time as a NDP candidate in the riding. He ran in 2019 and placed second with 25.2 per cent of the vote behind United Conservative Party candidate Peter Guthrie.
Durrell became a target of Premier Jason Kenney in the 2019 election, when the UCP leader mocked him for being a 19-year old. He was actually 29-year old father of three at the time.
Rumble in Chestermere-Strathmore
Postmedia columnist Don Braidpenned a column about a showdown in the Chestermere-Strathmore riding, where Kenney loyalists are alleged to have mounted a hostile takeover of the local UCP constituency association.
The previous, or current riding association (depending on who’s side of the story you believe), is loyal to two-term UCP MLA and former UCP deputy leader Leela Aheer, who has called on Kenney to resign after a former political staffer filed a lawsuit against the Premier’s Office alleging sexual harassment, defamation, and toxic workplace culture at the Legislature.
Ahreer is popular among her UCP MLA colleagues so Kenney probably does not have the support to remove her from the UCP caucus like he did Drew Barnes and Todd Loewen last summer, so removing her local support (and access to the local UCP bank account) is a more indirect way of ensuring she does not seek re-election in 2023. If Aheer still has political ambitions, she will probably need to find a new party to run for.
As first noted on this website in May 2021, former federal Conservative staffer Chantelle de Jonge is already challenging Aheer for the UCP nomination to run in the next election. de Jonge worked in the constituency office of former Calgary-Skyview Member of Parliament Jag Sahota and recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Philosophy from the University of Calgary.
Confirmed UCP candidate and future UCP leadership hopeful Brian Jean is continuing to fire shots across Kenney’s bow ahead of the leadership review and the impending by-election in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche.
Jean called on the UCP executive board to commit to holding an in-person vote on April 9 rather than moving to an online vote in response to the fifth wave of COVID-19 that is sweeping across Alberta. It was largely assumed that the Kenney loyal executive board chose to hold an in-person meeting in Red Deer to give the Premier more control of the process, but the rise in COVID-19 cases would justify moving the vote online.
A Leger poll released in December 2021 showed that 73 per cent of Albertans believed the province would be better off with a new premier.
In the background of this, as Jean noted, the RCMP are continuing to investigate allegations of voter fraud in the online vote for the UCP leadership in 2017. Kenney defeated Jean in that vote.
Jean defeated Kenney-backed candidate Joshua Gogo in the UCP nomination contest held in Nov. 2021. He will face NDP candidate Ariana Mancini and Wildrose Independence Party leader Paul Hinman in a by-election that needs to be called by Feb. 15, 2022. The other parties have not yet announced their candidates.
The Alberta Party is expected to make an announcement soon.
The Independence Party of Alberta has not announced a candidate, but announced in Nov. 2021 that their local constituency association board had been formed.
While none of the details are clear, Notley said she believed the search was related to a Department of Health data breach that Dang reported to the government in Sept. 2021.
Dang issued a statement in response in which he reiterated Notley’s comments, saying that he believed the warrant was executed in relation to vulnerabilities of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination records website.
“In September, a concern was raised to me as a Member of the Legislative Assembly about the security of the vaccination record system,” Dang wrote. “I tested these concerns and found a security flaw did exist.
“I immediately notified Alberta Health with the relevant information so that the vulnerability could be corrected. It was resolved shortly thereafter,” wrote Dang, who studied Computing Sciences at the University of Alberta before his election as MLA in 2015.
Notley said that Dang, who was in the mountains skiing, voluntarily left the NDP Caucus until the police investigation was complete. Dang is the Official Opposition critic for Democracy and Ethics.
First elected as the NDP MLA for Edmonton-South West in 2015 and ran for re-election in the redistributed Edmonton-South in 2019.
Carol Vowk running for UCP nomination in Drayton Valley-Devon
Carol Vowk has filed papers with Elections Alberta signalling her intention to run for the UCP nomination in Drayton Valley-Devon. Vowk is Treasurer of the Drayton Valley Health Foundation and has volunteered with the Drayton Valley Air Cadets, Brazeau Snowmobile Club, and Drayton Valley Soccer.
The central Alberta riding is currently represented by Mark Smith, who was first elected as a Wildrose MLA in 2015. Smith was the centre of controversy during the 2019 election with the release of an audio recording of a church sermon he delivered which included some gross comments about “homosexual love.”
Smith was re-elected in 2019 with 71.1 per cent of the vote. He has not publicly announced whether he plans to run for re-election in 2023.
Brian Jean *is* the UCP candidate in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche
Former Sturgeon County councillor Karen Shaw announced that she is seeking the Alberta NDP nomination in Morinville-St. Albert. Shaw represented Division 6 on Sturgeon County Council from 2007 to 2021, which covers the northeast corner of the riding surrounding the Town of Redwater. She did not run for re-election to council in 2021.
“As a municipal leader for the past 14 years, I’ve worked to make positive changes to strengthen the community and economy, especially when it came to the Heartland and regional partners.” said Shaw. “It’s clear to me that Rachel Notley is the leader we need, and she has the best vision for Alberta.”
Karen and her husband Stuart, raise commercial Simmental X Angus cattle in the Redwater area.
The riding was created in 2019 from areas of the former Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock riding, which elected Wildrose MLA Glenn van Dijken in 2015, and Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater and St. Albert ridings, which elected NDP MLAs Colin Piquette and Marie Renaud in 2015.
It is currently represented by United Conservative Party MLA Dale Nally, who has served as Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity since April 2019. Nally was elected in 2019 with 50 per cent of the vote, with NDP candidate Natalie Birnie placing second with 33.2 per cent.
Kenney silent on Jean’s win
It has been more than 24 hours since former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jeandeclared victory in the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche UCP nomination contest and neither Premier Jason Kenney nor the UCP have made any public statement about the results.
Party leaders typically trumpet the nomination of their party’s candidates, but the radio silence from Kenney and the UCP telegraphs how the Premier feels about his rival winning the contest to run in the by-election.
Running on an anti-Kenney platform, Jean won the nomination with 68 per cent of the vote and defeated Kenney-backed candidate Joshua Gogo.
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