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Alberta Politics

Former MLAs jump into Alberta’s municipal elections

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 Hehr dropped 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.

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Alberta Politics

The first week of January is usually a sleepy time in Alberta politics – not this year!

The first week of January is typically a sleepy time in Alberta politics, but 2021 is an incredible exception.

They found Tany Yao! And he’s staying in Mexico

Tany Yao UCP MLA Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo
Tany Yao

MLA Tany Yao has re-emerged in Mexico and appears to be defying Premier Jason Kenney’s directive to MLAs to immediately return home after “disconnecting” following a stressful year of passing a one-page private members’ bill that easily passed through the Legislative Assembly on November 16, 2020.

The United Conservative Party MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo apparently turned his cell phone off after he arrived in Mexico on Dec. 26, avoiding news of the hot holiday scandal that started to envelope his government last Friday. He will return to Alberta on Jan. 9, according to media reports.

Kenney goes into hiding after firing cabinet minister 

Kenney was nowhere to be seen the day after he announced on Facebook that he was asking for the resignations of Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard and his Chief of Staff Jamie Huckabay and demoting the handful of UCP MLAs who ignored advice to stay home and jetted off to hot destinations over the Christmas break.

Leger Poll Disapprove Kenney COVID-19 Alberta
A recent Leger poll showing that 69% of Albertans disapprove of how the Kenney government is handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, Health Minister Tyler Shandro and new Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver took point at the COVID-19 press conference yesterday, thanking Albertans for being angry at the government over the MLAs ignoring the recommendations to stay home and avoid non-essential international travel, claiming the government feels the same way.

Kenney’s last public appearance was on last Friday, when he took to the podium to defend Allard’s Hawaiian vacation and claim that he has been encouraging international, despite 9-months of telling Albertans to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19.

On top of the troubles in his sun-seeking Caucus, a recent Leger poll showed that 69 per cent of Albertans disapprove of how the Kenney government is handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Slave Lake Town Council calls for Pat Rehn to resign

Pat Rehn

The biggest political news of the day came from up north.

With his Mexican vacation cut short by public outrage, Pat Rehn will have returned home to face a letter signed by the entire Slave Lake Town Council calling for his resignation as the MLA for Lesser Slave Lake. But the letter isn’t about his hot holiday.

“We have lost faith that you have the ability and the desire to undertake the work which is required of an MLA. On behalf of the Town of Slave Lake and those we represent, we are asking for your resignation as MLA for the Lesser Slave Lake constituency,” the letter, signed by Mayor Tyler Warman and all the town Councillors said. 

Warman used to be a supporter of Rehn’s and donated $500 to the Lesser Slave Lake UCP association in 2019, according to Elections Alberta records.

Tyler Warman

The letter accuses the first-term backbench MLA of consistently missing meetings with local officials, not living in the constituency and spending “more physical time managing his business in Texas” than being physically present in the constituency.

In all my years writing about Alberta politics, I cannot recall a municipal council being forced to take this sort of drastic action against a local MLA. The town council must have felt they had exhausted all other options in trying to work with Rehn, who was first elected in 2019 after unseating NDP cabinet minister Danielle Larivee in the UCP sweep of rural Alberta.

Rehn responded on Facebook with a statement that does more to spin the issue than address the concerns raised by Slave Lake town council.

His response does not deny missing meetings with local officials or refute the allegations that he spends more time in Texas than in his constituency by saying he “doesn’t own property in Texas.”

But perhaps the most tone deaf part of Rehn’s response is when he accused Slave Lake Town Council of trying to “sow political division.”

Rehn, who just returned from a hot holiday in Mexico after his government asked every Albertan to cancel their own Christmas gatherings and holiday trips, has no moral authority to accuse anybody in Alberta of “sowing disunity.” He has done that himself.

Here is the letter:

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Alberta Politics

Lady Whistledown: Alberta Erupts in Scandal!

MONDAY, JANUARY 4, 2021

It has come to the attention of this Author that a number of influential government officials and Members of the Legislative Assembly have brought scandal to the highest seat in the land.

Sir Jamie Huckabay, the loyal right hand of Lord Jason Thomas Kenney, the Premier of Alberta, left the province and sailed to Great Britain in contravention of government rules requesting the good people of Alberta to remain at home. 

If he had only kept his seat firmly planted in Alberta his scandal could have been avoided!

But alas, Sir Jamie was not alone. 

Whilst most of polite society cancelled their festive gatherings in light of the latest pandemic, a handful of government ministers and deputies absconded to the tropics!

Accompanied by a large host of valets carrying numerous valises, the deputies appeared eager to enjoy a reprieve from the frigid weather and dry atmosphere of the prairies in December.

And with the waterways yet to be frozen over, off they sailed!

Until today, Lady Tracy Allard of La Grande Prairie was the newest Minister of the Crown, debuting in great fashion last August. She was widely seen as an up and coming star in an overcast sky, but her decision to flee Alberta for the Hawaiian Islands has led to a quick end to her political career. She was summarily sacked amid large fanfare.

Lord Kenney and his associates are said to have been barraged with the sort of commentary from the public that cannot be printed in an honourable publication such as this.

It is said that even Lady Danbury, forced by circumstance to cancel her annual Solstice Ball, had penned a strongly worded letter to Lord Kenney’s principal secretary.

Lady Allard is back in town, along with Misters Jeremy Nixon, Pat Rehn, and Jason Stephan, and Lady Tanya Fir. Marquess Tany Yao remains unaccounted for.

The Marquess absconded from his seat at Fort McMurray-on-the-Clearwater and appears to be incommunicado with the outside world from his retreat on the Mexican coast, much to the chagrin of Lord Kenney in Edmonton.

But despite the cold’s tendency to turn one’s nose a rather unattractive shade of red, Lord Kenney’s colour was likened to a sheet of white as he defended the now former-Minister Allard on Friday last.

This Author cannot help but wonder whether Lord Kenney’s decision to sack the whole lot was too little and too late, or whether it will appease the masses clamoring for a sacrifice.

One can only wonder if this incident will compel Lord Kenney, who has suffered from a bout of unpopularity locally, to finally leave the provincial town and return to the comfort of the capital in Ottawa.

Or perhaps, he is content with the situation at hand? Not every politician desires popularity, after all.


To any readers who do not understand the references in this post, please watch Bridgerton on Netflix. Viewer discretion is advised.

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Alberta Politics

MLA Tany Yao MIA in Mexico. 6th UCP MLA caught on hot holiday.

In the midst of its biggest scandal since the United Conservative Party formed government in April 2019, Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao is still vacationing in Mexico, but, according to reports, no one can get ahold of him.

Reports online say that neither the Premier Jason Kenney’s office nor the UCP caucus have been able to contact the MIA MLA. Maybe Yao turned off his cell phone to avoid any distractions and enjoy a hot holiday on the beach while the rest of us are stuck at home?

Yao is the sixth UCP MLA we know of who ignored his government’s recommendations to cancel all non-essential international travel and stay home to avoid spreading the COVID-19 virus.

Yao was first elected in 2015 as a Wildrose MLA and was re-elected under the UCP banner in 2019. He was one of three MLAs appointed to the UCP government’s “Fair Deal Panel” on Alberta autonomy in 2019.

Tracy Allard MLA Grande Prairie United Conservative Party
Tracy Allard (source: Facebook)

The other UCP MLAs who ignored the COVID-19 recommendations include Minister of Municipal Affairs and Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard, Calgary-Klein MLA and parliamentary secretary Jeremy Nixon, Calgary-Peigan MLA Tanya Fir, Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn, and Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan.

Even Kenney’s own Chief of Staff, Jamie Huckabay, ignored the recommendations and recently travelled to the United Kingdom with his family.

Closer to home, it was also revealed yesterday that Energy Minister Sonya Savage recently made a trip to British Columbia to check on some recent maintenance work in her vacation home in that province.

At a press conference last Friday, Kenney said he would not remove Allard from cabinet because she technically did not break any rules by flying to Hawaii for a Christmas vacation with her family.

Former Energy minister calls on Kenney to sack sun-seeking MLAs and staffers

Adding to the growing chorus of voices calling for consequences for MLAs and political staffers flouting the public health recommendations is former Energy Minister Mel Knight. The former Grande Prairie MLA took to Facebook to call on Kenney to sack all the UCP MLAs and staffers who ignored the government’s COVID-19 advisories and went on hot holidays last month. Knight wrote that Kenney would no longer have his support if he failed to act.

Knight served as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Grande Prairie-Smoky from 2001 to 2012 and as Minister of Energy from 2006 to 2010.

Another former PC cabinet minister, Greg Stevens, told the Calgary Herald’s Don Braid that “I cannot believe how stupid and unbelievably ignorant he (Kenney) has shown himself to truly be, when the issues demand strong and principled decisions.”

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Alberta Politics

A spectre is haunting the UCP – the spectre of communism

From the columns of Postmedia newspapers to the halls of the United Conservative Party caucus, the the spectre of communism and socialism is striking fear in the minds of political elites who see Bolsheviks breeding in every corner of Alberta, from City Council chambers to voluntary blood donor clinics.

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

Using the same abrasive approach that got him promoted in cabinet, Justice Minister and Edmonton-South West UCP MLA Kaycee Madu warned against reforms to the Calgary police budget, describing City Councillors in the province’s largest city as “a bunch of socialists who would prefer to have a chaotic world. That is how they win elections and that is how they demonize people they disagree with.”

Last week, Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo UCP MLA Tany Yao described labour unions and advocates opposed to his private members’ bill to legalize corporate for-profit blood donation clinics as socialists who want to harvest organs from people without consent.

This was not the first time Yao had warned against the perils of the Red Menace.

Tany Yao UCP MLA Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo
Tany Yao

In July 2020, Yao stood on the floor of the Assembly and claimed that Edmonton-Ellerslie NDP MLA Rod Loyola was the former leader of the Communist Party. Yao was later forced to withdraw his claim because it was not true.

Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland UCP MLA Shane Getson posted on Facebook that there was a “VIP section” in hell awaiting the “Socialist NDP.”

And in a video on Facebook, Getson described the federal Liberal Party as communists.”They think it’s the red they used to vote for twenty years ago. Well, the only red that’s happening there is so akin to that hammer and sickle right now, it’s not a centrist, it’s that slow dance to socialism,” Getson said.

In February 2020, Airdrie-Cochrane UCP MLA Peter Guthrie wrote an entire MLA column warning about the dangers of communism. Guthrie’s column was syndicated on the websites of weekly Postmedia newspapers across Canada.

Red Deer-South UPC MLA Jason Stephan referred to the NDP’s elected term in government as a “socialist occupation” and described other provinces as “hostile, parasitic partners” that depend on Alberta for welfare payments.

Former UCP cabinet minister Tanya Fir has referred to the former NDP government as a “socialist dumpster fire.”

Ron Orr UCP MLA Lacombe Ponoka
Ron Orr

And who could forget the time Lacombe-Ponoka UCP MLA Ron Orr warned that the legalization of marijuana could lead to a communist revolution.

Former Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Leslyn Lewis, who led the votes in Alberta, published an op-ed in the National Post that accused Trudeau of plotting a “Socialist coup” in Canada.

Even Premier Jason Kenney is known to toss around flamboyant warnings about the rise of ‘bohemian Marxism’ or radical European green-left eco-socialists who have undue influence over the international banking system. A fixture on the libertarian think tank symposium circuit, Kenney frequently indulges in attacks on socialism in his responses to the opposition in Question Period.

Peter Guthrie MLA Airdrie-Cochrane UCP Communism
Peter Guthrie

Of course, this kind of rhetoric is nothing new.

It appears that there could be a competition among UCP MLAs about who can sound the most like a paranoid Social Credit MLA from the 1950s.

In Alberta, history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

Of course, it has been a long time since any major political party in Alberta could have been described as socialist or communist.

UCP claims that Rachel Notley and the NDP are dangerous socialists are meant to marginalize and discredit the opposition or bait their opponents into a debate. But it is increasingly clear that in the minds of some government MLAs, the talking points have become reality.

The anti-communist terminology is from another era and, quite frankly, it is very weird.

As a government and now as official opposition, the Alberta NDP were only slightly to the political left of the Progressive Conservative Party it defeated in 2015.

In reality, the NDP government only moved Alberta to the mainstream of labour laws compared to other provinces and the only industries it ever seriously mused about nationalizing were driver’s road tests and hospital laundry services.

In most other provinces, the Alberta NDP would be considered closer to a centre-leftish Liberal Party than anything resembling anything Karl Marx wrote about.


Secret Public Inquiry delayed again

The final report of the McCarthy-esq Public Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns has been delayed again. The $3.5 million public inquiry, which was lauded by Kenney as part of his “Fight Back Strategy” against alleged enemies of Alberta’s oil industry, was granted a second extension to submit its final report to Energy Minister Sonya Savage.

The public inquiry that has operated in near-complete secrecy under the leadership of Commissioner Steve Allan will now submit its final report to Savage on Jan. 31, 2021, at least until the deadline is extended again.

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Alberta Politics

Failing Upwards: Kaycee Madu promoted to Justice after disastrous year in Municipal Affairs

Edmonton’s lone United Conservative Party MLA got a big promotion today in a mini-cabinet shuffle. After a year as Minister of Municipal Affairs, Edmonton-South West MLA Kaycee Madu has been appointed as Solicitor General and Minister of Justice.

Madu replaces Doug Schweitzer, who is the new Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation, a rebranded Economic Development, Trade and Tourism department. Current EDTT Minister Tanya Fir moves to the backbenches and Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard is the new Municipal Affairs Minister.

Tracy Allard MLA Grande Prairie United Conservative Party
Tracy Allard (source: Facebook)

The mini-cabinet shuffle, the first since the UCP formed government in April 2019, is a minor readjustment and not nearly what many had expected, with controversial Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange retaining their cabinet posts.

Madu’s promotion will be a surprise to many of Alberta’s municipal leaders, who watched the junior cabinet minister take a paternalistic approach to municipal affairs by interfering in the construction of major infrastructure projects, overhauling municipal election laws to the point where the AUMA publicly described its relationship with the minister as “broken,” and sparking an uprising by traditionally docile rural municipalities over exemptions to oil & gas taxes.

It was the uproar in rural Alberta that most likely lead to Madu being shuffled. Dozens of rural municipalities have spoken out against the government exemptions for municipal oil and gas taxes.

Rural governments that were already having a difficult time collecting taxes from oil and gas companies said the new changes imposed by the UCP government force them to hike property and business taxes in their counties. And rural MLAs, who make up the majority of the UCP caucus, have been receiving an earful from normally supportive local leaders over the tax changes.

Doug Schweitzer Calgary Alberta Conservative
Doug Schweitzer

Madu may have spent a year burning bridges with municipalities but he is the only UCP from inside Edmonton city limits and a loyal party soldier, a geographic fact and trait that has now earned him a senior cabinet role. Control of the UCP cabinet and caucus is so firmly held by Premier Jason Kenney and his inner circle of political staff that unflinching loyalty is the key to promotion.

Madu is now expected to oversee changes to the Police Act, and provincial election finance laws proposed by the Select Special Democratic Accountability Committee. He will also oversee the implementation of MLA recall legislation and the Fair Deal report recommendations, the government’s never-ending fight against the federal government over the carbon tax, and the expected referendum on equalization in October 2021.

Doug Schweitzer: This appears to be a demotion for Calgary-Elbow MLA Doug Schweitzer, who has recently been bearing the brunt of the criticism about the public inquiry into anti-Alberta energy campaigns.

The public inquiry, which has been conducted in complete privacy, is over-budget and behind schedule and has had its mandate changed twice since it was formed, suggesting that the one-man commission is having troubling completing its goal of rooting out the alleged global conspiracy against Alberta.

Tanya Fir MLA Calgary Peigan United Conservative Party Alberta
Tanya Fir

Schweitzer’s move signals that the UCP is desperate to recover the “jobs and economy” part of their election slogan that has been sideswiped by the collapse in the international price of oil and economic shutdown in response to COVID-19 pandemic. Schweitzer will be responsible for the new Invest Alberta crown corporation.

Tracy Allard: The first-term MLA from Grande Prairie and owner of Tim Hortons restaurant franchises in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and in Grande Prairie is now the ninth Minister of Municipal Affairs since 2010. Her first order of business will likely be trying to repair some of the many relationships damaged by Madu during his short tenure, and, as Kenney announced in today’s press conference, oversee the creation of a spending report card for municipal governments in Alberta.

Tanya Fir: It is unclear what led to Fir’s demotion to the backbenches. The first-term UCP MLA from Calgary-Peigan appeared to be well-spoken and had not caused much public drama for the government. Fir appears to have avoided controversy but her election campaign manager, long-time conservative activist Craig Chanlder, has never shied from controversy and was recently a featured speaker at a separatist rally.

Who was left out: Not making it into cabinet in this mini-shuffle are a number of UCP MLAs who are rumoured to be cabinet contenders: UCP Caucus chairperson Todd Loewen, Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao, Calgary-West MLA Mike Ellis, Drumheller-Stettler MLA Nate Horner, and Brooks-Medicine Hat MLA Michaela Glasgo.

Also missing from the shuffle is former UCP finance critic Drew Barnes, now the third-term MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat, who was left out of cabinet when the party formed government last year. Barnes recently made comments in support of separation if Alberta fails to get Ottawa’s attention regarding issues brought forward from the Fair Deal Panel.

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Alberta Politics

Once upon a time Alberta had a provincial police force. Fair Deal report could recommend we have one again.

While much of my undergraduate studies at the University of Alberta focused on Canadian politics, one of my favourite courses covered a topic far away from the prairies – the Habsburg Monarchy. It was a combination of an unfamiliar topic and a passionate professor that made this course memorable. So my interest was piqued when the words “South Tyrol” began circulating in Alberta political circles this week.

Angela Pitt (source: Facebook)
Angela Pitt (source: Facebook)

“Should Alberta be an autonomous Province? South Tyrol has” asked Airdrie-East MLA Angela Pitt in a Facebook post linking to a website showcasing facts about the autonomous province in northern Italy.

While most of the separatist fever that swept Alberta following the re-election of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in October 2019 appears to have subsided, the United Conservative Party government is expected to release the final report of the “Fair Deal Panel” when the province-wide state of emergency expires on June 15.

Unless she was planning a post-COVID vacation to the Dolomites, this is likely the reason why South Tyrol was on Pitt’s mind.

“Autonomous-province” sounds similar to the “sovereignty-association” historically promoted by some sovereigntists in Quebec but it is unclear whether in practice Alberta actually has more autonomy in Canada than does South Tyrol does in Italy. Canadian provinces already have incredible amounts of autonomy to do things like form parole boards, establish police forces (more on this in a moment), conduct adventures in foreign affairs and abdicate responsibility for approving oil sands development to unelected and unaccountable boards.

Much of South Tyrol’s status appears to be a result of it having a German-speaking majority population in a country where most people speak Italian. The former princely county of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was annexed by Italy after the First World War.

Charles I, the last Habsburg Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary and King of Bohemia.
Charles I, the last Habsburg Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary and King of Bohemia.

I expect many German-speaking South Tyroleans would probably prefer to re-join their linguistic cousins in Austria than remain in Italy.

I am not sure which other province or region Alberta would join if we adopt what might be Pitt’s version of an autonomous-province. Perhaps Frederick Haultain’s dream of a Province of Buffalo could be finally be realized if Alberta merged with its smaller cousin to the east, Saskatchewan? Or maybe British Columbia’s Peace Country will finally be released to unite with its northwestern Alberta cousins?

But Red Deer-South UCP MLA Jason Stephan is certainly whittling down the number of possible candidates.

Stephan apologized to the Legislative Assembly this week after describing other Canadian provinces as “hostile, parasitic partners” in a speech about federal fiscal policies and equalization program.

The rookie MLA and sole UCP backbencher appointed to the powerful Treasury Board committee also claimed that “Alberta must liberate itself from this mess.”

While Alberta is not going to separate from Canada, the final report from the government-appointed Fair Deal Panel will include recommendations to increase provincial autonomy from Ottawa.

Jason Stephan (source: Facebook)
Jason Stephan (source: Facebook)

The Fair Deal panel was announced by Premier Jason Kenney at last November’s gathering of Alberta conservatives at the Manning Centre conference in Red Deer.

The panel and its open-mic town hall meetings were both a relief valve and a steering wheel meant to allow Albertans to vent their frustrations while allowing Kenney to attempt to keep control of the latest burst of separatist fervour. The separatist fervour from Alberta’s right-wing fringe, despite the media attention it generated, now appears to have mostly died out.

The panelists included former Reform Party leader Preston Manning, former Progressive Conservative MLA Donna Kennedy-Glans, Peter Lougheed‘s son Stephen, and perennially disgruntled UCP backbencher MLA Drew Barnes of Cypress-Medicine Hat and fellow backbenchers Miranda Rosin of Banff-Kananaskis and Tany Yao of Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. The panel was tasked with making recommendations on topics including withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan, replacing the Canada Revenue Agency by establishing a provincial revenue agency, opting out of federal programs like pharmacare, forming an office of a Chief Firearms Officer, and forming a provincial police force.

Drew Barnes Wildrose MLA Cypress Medicine Hat
Drew Barnes

Kenney already announced plans to appoint a Chief Firearms Officer, one of the recommendations the panel was tasked with studying, and there has been speculation by Postmedia columnist Don Braid that the report could urge the creation of a provincial police force to replace the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Alberta.

Once upon a time, Alberta, like most other provinces, had a provincial police force.

The Alberta Provincial Police was formed in 1917 after the North West Mounted Police hastily withdrew from policing in Alberta.

The NWMP had been created in 1873 and was part of the federal government’s suppression of the North West Rebellion in 1885, but, by 1917, Ottawa’s attention was focused on the First World War and there was little federal interest in enforcing provincial prohibition laws that had been enacted in 1916.

The APP merged into the RCMP in 1932 following negotiations between the provincial and federal governments during the Great Depression. The agreement to offload the costs associated with policing to the RCMP stipulated that former provincial police officers who transferred to the federal police would maintain their seniority and be eligible to receive pensions in accordance with their years of service.

When officers hung up their blue APP uniforms on April 15, 1932, it was reported in the Calgary Daily Herald that it took more than a month for the red RCMP uniforms to arrive in Alberta. So during the short period following the return of the federal police, RCMP officers worked in civilian clothes or, for those who worked as police in Alberta before 1917, wore the uniforms of the old NWMP.

RCMP Take Over Policing of Alberta, Calgary Daily Herald, April 15, 1932
RCMP Take Over Policing of Alberta, Calgary Daily Herald, April 15, 1932

While Alberta politicians have generally expressed pleasure with contracting policing responsibilities to the federal government, there have been several attempts to reinstate a provincial police force. 

A resolution at the United Farmers of Alberta convention of 1935 called for the re-instatement of the APP, but the UFA were swept away from Alberta politics when the party lost all its seats in that year’s election.

The next notable attempt to reinstate the APP came in 1937 from Edson MLA Joseph Unwin, the Whip of the Social Credit government caucus. Unwin introduced a motion to abolish the RCMP in Alberta and replace it with an Alberta Provincial Police Force.

Unwin argued that it was preferable that “the police force in the province should be indisputably at the exclusive orders of the attorney general.” Given this comment and the context of the time, it is fairly safe to speculate that Unwin was hoping to create a police force that would enforce the Social Credit ideological and political agenda in Alberta.

Joseph Unwin
Joseph Unwin

Unwin introduced the motion the same week he was arrested on charges of libel and counselling to murder in what would become known as the Bankers’ Toadies scandal.

Unwin and British Social Credit expert George Frederick Powell were arrested when police raided the party headquarters following the printing of a pamphlet advocating the “extermination” of nine prominent Edmontonians. The nine men, labelled as “Bankers’ Toadies,” included Conservative Party leader David Duggan and Senator and former mayor William Griesbach.

Unwin was sentenced to 3-months hard labour for the libel charge, which was later overturned on appeal. He did not resign as an MLA when he went to jail and his return to the Legislature was celebrated by Social Credit MLAs with a “snake dance” on the floor of the Assembly.

Unwin was defeated by Labour Party candidate and United Mine Workers president Angus Morrison in the 1940 election.

Various PC MLAs called for the creation of a provincial police force during the 1980s and early 1990s but most of those calls were quickly discredited because they were usually followed closely by racist comments about RCMP officers wearing turbans or speaking French.

Ted Morton MLA
Ted Morton

Anti-oil patch activist Wiebo Ludwig called for the creation of a provincial police force during his brief run for the Social Credit Party leadership in 2000 before having withdraw from the race after a judge refused to waive the conditions of his bail.

Motions recommending the creation of a regional police force or to make public studies conducted to assess the creation of a provincial police force were introduced by Wainwright MLA Doug Griffiths in 2003 and Lethbridge-East MLA Ken Nicol in 2004 were debated in the Legislature but gained no real traction.

But perhaps the most infamous call for the reinstatement of a provincial police force in Alberta came in the Firewall Manifesto in January 2001, signed by Conservative luminaries Stephen Harper, Tom Flanagan, Ted Morton, Rainer Knopff, Andrew Crooks and Ken Boessenkool.

In 2006, Morton, then a candidate for the leadership of the PC Party, called for the creation of a provincial police force, a proposal mocked by outgoing premier Ralph Klein. “We studied it and it was rejected,” Klein said. “Thus far, we’re getting a pretty good deal with the RCMP.”

Premier Ed Stelmach defeated Morton in the leadership race and signed a 20-year agreement with the federal Conservative government that would have the RCMP continue as Alberta’s police force until March 31, 2032.

Ed Stelmach
Ed Stelmach

“This is wonderful news for the province and for Albertans,” Stelmach said in an August 2011 press release. “This agreement makes good financial sense for Alberta and strengthens a valuable relationship with a partner who continues to play a key role after more than a century keeping Alberta communities safe.”

In 2006, the Alberta Sheriffs Branch was created from the Courts and Prisoner Security branch.

The Fair Deal report will have to be publicly released before we know for sure what it recommends, but a move to create a new provincial police force in 2020 would face two powerful political factors

First, systematic racism and police violence against people of colour in the Canada and the United States has led to mounting calls to “defund the police.” Massive protests calling out systematic racism have taken place across the country, including a 15,000-strong rally outside the Legislature in Edmonton and similar rallies in Calgary and around the province. City councils and police commissions are now facing increased public pressure to reign in budgets and address systematic racism in the civilian police forces.

Jason Kenney (source: Flickr)
Jason Kenney (source: Flickr)

And most shockingly, video footage of RCMP officers assaulting Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam has made international headlines.

Second, Kenney has said that a great reckoning is coming for Alberta’s finances, which will likely mean more massive job cuts in the public sector across Alberta. If the Kenney is laying-off teachers and nurses, it will be difficult for him to explain to Albertans that he needs to spend money on creating a brand new police force. A lack of finances was the main reason why the provincial police were disbanded in 1932.

For Kenney there is also the inconvenience of the RCMP’s investigation into whether a “kamikaze” campaign for the leadership of UCP in 2017 defrauded donors. That investigation is being guided by a special prosecutor from Ontario.

Creating a new provincial police force in this context would be incredibly tone deaf and completely unnecessary. But like many political decisions being made in Alberta lately, the world appears to be moving in one direction and our government moving in another. It kind of reminds me of those Habsburgs just over a century ago.

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Alberta Politics

Candidate nominations continue with weeks or days left until an election call in Alberta

With an election call expected within the next few weeks, or days, Alberta’s political parties are continuing to nominate candidates to run for the upcoming vote. As of this afternoon, the United Conservative Party has nominated 83 candidates in 87 districts, the New Democratic Party has nominated 80 candidates, the Alberta Party has nominated 73 candidates, the Liberal Party has nominated 35 candidates, the Green Party has nominated 19 candidates, the Freedom Conservative Party has nominated 15 candidates, and the Alberta Advantage Party has nominated 11 candidates.

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

The New Democratic Party are expected to nominated Heather Eddy in Calgary-South East and Paula Cackett in West Yellowhead on March 16 and Shannon Dunfield in Grande Prairie-Wapiti on March 17.

Message from Dr. Esther Tailfeathers NDP
Message from Dr. Esther Tailfeathers

Dr. Esther Tailfeathers has withdrawn as the New Democratic Party candidate in Cardston-Siksika. In a post on Facebook, Dr. Tailfeathers described her reason for withdrawing from the race. The NDP have scheduled a new nomination meeting in Cardston-Siksika on March 18, 2019 and a candidate nomination meeting in Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright on March 16, 2019.

Avinash Khangura has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Calgary-McCall. Khangura was the Liberal Party candidate in this district in the 2015 election, where he earned 17.4 per cent of the vote. Khangura is also listed as the Riding Chair for the federal Liberal Party in Calgary-Skyview district, which is currently represented by former Liberal and now Independent Member of Parliament Darshan Kang, who represented Calgary-McCall as a Liberal MLA from 2008 to 2015. The district is currently represented by New Democratic Party MLA Irfan Sabir.

Daniel Ejumabone has withdrawn from the Liberal Party nomination in Calgary-West and is now running in Calgary-Bow, and Ben Midgely is the new candidate in Calgary-West. The Liberals have also nominated John Roggeveen in Calgary-Fish Creek, Prerna Mahtani in Calgary-North West, Michael McGowan in Edmonton-Ellerslie, Inderjeet Randhawa in Edmonton-Riverview, Sharon Howe in Chestermere-Strathmore, Anwar Kamaran in Cypress-Medicine Hat.

Tanya Herbert is running for the Green Party in Edmonton-Gold Bar and past city council candidate Taz Bouchier is running in Edmonton-Highands-Norwood.

The Freedom Conservative Party has nominated Kari Pomerlau in Calgary-Foothills and Matthew Chapin in Red Deer-North. Chapin had previously announced his intentions to seek the UCP nominations in Red Deer-North and Red Deer-South but withdrew from both races. He ran for the PC nomination in Red Deer-North in 2015 and has run for Red Deer City Council numerous times over the past decade.

Shawn Tylke has been nominated as the Alberta Advantage Party candidate in Lacombe-Ponoka

Eight additional candidates affiliated with the Alberta Independence Party have registered as Independent candidates in the upcoming election: Timothy Shanks in Edmonton-North West, Roberta McDonald in Calgary-North West, Vincent Loyer in Edmonton-Gold Bar, Dave Bjorkman in Edmonton-West Henday, Don Dubitz in Camrose, Mark Grinder in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, Michael Keller in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, and Michael Neufeld in Red Deer-North.

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

Len Rhodes to be appointed UCP candidate in Edmonton-Meadows. Firefighter captain Todd Russell wins NDP contest in Grande Prairie

Photo: Len Rhodes (source: cfl.ca)

The rumour mill is churning at full speed with news that Len Rhodes, outgoing President and CEO of the Edmonton Eskimos, is on the verge of being appointed by Jason Kenney as the United Conservative Party candidate in Edmonton-Meadows.

Arundeep Sandhu Edmonton By-election ward 12
Arundeep Sandhu

Rhodes’ appointment would bump three local nomination candidates, Joel Mullan, Arundeep Sandhu, and Sant Sharma, who have been campaigning for the UCP candidacy in the southeast Edmonton district for nearly a year. In particular, Sandhu, a young Edmontonian of Sikh heritage who mounted an energetic bid for City Council in 2016, has been campaigning hard for the nomination since May 2018.

Rhodes recently completed a term a Chair of the Board of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and announced last week that he was stepping away from his senior executive role with the Canadian Football League team as of Feb. 20. It appears we will know soon if this is the reason why.

With seven years as the top corporate executive of the Eskimos on his resume, Rhodes will certainly be described as a “star candidate,” which is something that has so far been absent from the UCP slate in NDP-leaning Edmonton. But his personal connections to the district, his own political views and understanding of local issues remains unclear.

The area included in the Edmonton-Meadows district is currently represented by New Democratic Party MLA Denise Woollard, who was first elected in 2015 in Edmonton-Mill Creek. Woollard is being challenged for her party’s nomination by 2015 federal NDP candidate Jasvir Deol and Alberta Pashtoon Association president Chand Gul. A nomination meeting for the NDP has been scheduled for Feb. 24, 2019.

Firefighter Captain wins NDP nomination in Grande Prairie

Rachel Notley (centre), with Grande Prairie NDP nomination candidates Melissa Byers and Todd Russell.
Rachel Notley (centre), with Grande Prairie NDP nomination candidates Melissa Byers and Todd Russell.

Firefighter Captain Todd Russell defeated non-profit executive director Melissa Byers to secure the NDP nomination Grande Prairie on Feb. 19. The contested nomination meeting was attended by Premier Rachel Notley and Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd, who is running for re-election in the new neighbouring Central Peace-Notley district.

Russell placed second in the Grande Prairie-Smoky district in the 2015 election, placing 334 votes behind then-Wildrose candidate Todd Loewen. Loewen is seeking re-election in the neighbouring district against McCuaig-Boyd.

The Alberta Firefighters Association has endorsed Notley and been actively campaigning for NDP candidates across the province. AFA President Craig Macdonald gave a rousing speech at the NDP convention in October 2018 praising the Notley government for introducing new workplace health and safety rules to protect firefighters and first responders.

NDP select more 5 candidates and announce new nomination meetings

NDP MLA Chris Nielsen was nominated as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Decore and MLA Kim Schreiner has been nominated in Red Deer-North.

Jane Stroud NDP Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche
Jane Stroud

Wood Buffalo municipal councillor Jane Stroud has been nominated as the NDP candidate in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche district and Fort McMurray Public Schools trustee Stephen Drover has been nominated as the NDP candidate in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. Cesar Cala has been nominated as the NDP candidate in Calgary-East.

The NDP announced a series of upcoming nomination meetings, with Robyn O’Brien seeking the nomination in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake on February 27, Kate Andrews seeking the nomination in Calgary-Acadia on March 1, Julia Bietz seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-Lougheed on March 2, Rebecca Bounsall seeking the nomination in Calgary-Fish Creek and Hafeez Chishti is seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-North West on March 3.

The NDP have also scheduled nomination meetings in Calgary-South East, Drumheller-Stettler, Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, and Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright on February 28, 2019, and in Brooks-Medicine Hat on March 2, 2019.

Colette Smithers
 has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Cypress-Medicine Hat.

Another Alberta Party candidate banned

It appears as though Tim Meech, the Alberta Party candidate in Livingstone-Macleod, and his CFO Mark Taylor, who is the executive director of the Alberta Party, have been added to Elections Alberta’s now infamous list of people ineligible to serve as candidates or CFOs.

Taylor is also serving as CFO for Red Deer-North candidate Paul Hardy and 4 Alberta Party constituency associations.

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

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

Big Nomination Update: Estefania Cortes-Vargas and Sandra Jansen not seeking re-election, and much, much more.

Today’s big nomination news is the announcements by two New Democratic Party MLAs, Strathcona-Sherwood Park MLA Estefania Cortes-Vargas and Calgary-North West MLA Sandra Jansen, that they will not seek re-election when the next general election is called.

Cortes-Vargas was first elected in 2015 and is one of the three first openly LGBTQ MLAs in the Alberta history. Cortes-Vargas is the current NDP caucus whip and announced on Facebook post an endorsement of crown prosecutor Moira Vane as the NDP candidate in the next election. 

“Our government has a strong record, I am proud to have worked alongside Premier Rachel Notley, someone I consider to have been an incredible mentor to me. It was her encouragement that brought me into politics, then saw me become one of the first of three openly LGBTQ+ MLAs, first of three Latin-American Canadians and the youngest government whip in Alberta’s history. I am appreciative of the work our government has done to continue to break the glass ceiling. It has always been my hope that it paves the way for more diverse voices to enter our political landscape.” – Estefania Cortes-Vargas, MLA for Strathcona-Sherwood Park

Jansen, who was previously elected as a Progressive Conservative MLA in 2012 and 2015, had announced in August 2018 that she would seek re-election in Calgary-North West as an NDP candidate. Jansen left the PC Party in 2016 and soon after joined the NDP caucus. She was appointed Minister of Infrastructure in October 2017. 

Cortes-Vargas and Jansen are the seventeenth and eighteenth Alberta MLAs to announce they will not seek re-election in 2019. As I have noted in the past, the number of MLA retirements during this election cycle is fairly average, with 19 MLAs not seeking re-election in 2015, 23 MLAs choosing to not run for re-election in 2012, and 20 MLAs not seeking re-election in 2008.

Alberta MLAs not seeking re-election in 2019

I was away for most of last week teaching at the Jasper Labour School organized by the Alberta Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress, so I was not able to publish a detailed update last week. Upon my return I was not surprised to discover the list of nomination updates has grown considerably.

I am planning to provide more frequent updates in the few months left before the next election is called in order to avoid these novel-length articles. So without further ado, here is the long-list of nomination updates:

Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul – Kari Whan is seeking the NDP nomination. Whan is a Grade 2 teacher at Cold Lake Elementary School.

Calgary-Acadia – Liberal Lorissa Good was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate on January 21, 2019. She is the Salon Coordinator with Swish Salon.

Calgary-Beddington – Heather Erlen will challenge Amanda Chapman for the NDP nomination in this north Calgary district.Erlen is the Alberta regional representative for the Canadian Labour Congress and is the former Team Lead for the Calgary Dream Centre Women’s Initiative. A candidate selection meeting is scheduled to take place on February 3, 2019.

Calgary-Cross – Ricardo Miranda was nominated as the NDP candidate. Miranda was first elected in 2015 and has served as Alberta’s Minister of Culture and Tourism since February 2016. Naser Al-Kukhun was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate on January 21, 2019.

Calgary-Foothills – Sameena Arif is seeking the NDP nomination. Arif is active with the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association.

Calgary-Glenmore – Jordan Stein is seeking the NDP nomination in this southwest Calgary district. Glenmore is currently represented by NDP Anam Kazim. A candidate selection meeting is scheduled to take place on February 3, 2019.

Calgary-Hays – Tory Tomblin is seeking the NDP nomination. 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. A candidate selection meeting is scheduled to take place on February 2, 2019.

Calgary-North – Salima Haq was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate on January 7, 2019. Gary Arora was nominated as the Alberta Party candidate on January 13, 2019. Arora replaces previously nominated Alberta Party candidate Melanie Wen, who withdrew her candidacy in late 2018.

Calgary-Peigan – Joe Pimlott has been nominated as the NDP candidate in this east Calgary district. Pimlott is a community liaison with Metis Calgary Family Services and the former executive director of the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary and provincial vice-president of the Metis Nation of Alberta. 

Ron Reinhold has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Reinhold was the Liberal Party candidate in Calgary-Cross in the 2008 provincial election, where he earned 22.2 percent of the vote. He endorsed Dave Taylor in the Liberal Party’s 2008 leadership contest. 

Calgary-Shaw – John Daly was nominated as the Green Party candidate in this district on January 21, 2019.

Calgary-West – Frank Penkala has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Penkala previously sought the party’s nomination in the neighbouring Calgary-Bow district but was defeated by Paul Goddard in the nomination contest.

Drayton Valley-Devon – Ronald Brochu was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate on January 18, 2019. Brochu was the Liberal Party candidate in Edmonton-Gold Bar in the 2015 election, earning 3.1 percent of the vote.

Edmonton-Ellerlsie – Faton Bislimi is seeking the United Conservative Party nomination in this southeast Edmonton district. Bislimi is an Albanian activist and author from present-day Kosovo. According to his entry on Wikipedia, in 2007 he ran for mayor of Gnjilane, a city of 54,239 in southeast Kosovo. He is currently completing his PhD in Political Science at the University of Alberta. He received a master’s degree in public administration and international development from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in 2007 and he worked as a lecturer of public policy and governance at the American University in Kosovo.

Chuck McKenna has withdrawn from the Alberta Party nomination in this southeast Edmonton district. Richard Corbin and former Liberal Party candidate Todd Ross will contest the nomination set for January 26, 2019. A candidate selection meeting has been scheduled for January 26, 2019.

Edmonton-Meadows – Chand Gul and MLA Denise Woollard are seeking the NDP nomination in this redrawn and renamed district in southeast Edmonton. Woollard was first elected in 2015 in the Edmonton-Mill Creek district.

Gul is the president of the Alberta Pashtoon Association and previously worked for the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers through the organization’s Community Connector Immigrant Women’s Integration network. She is the former chair of the women’s wing of the Pakistan-Canada Association of Edmonton. She was previously the South Edmonton Regional director for the Alberta Liberal Party and a member of the federal Liberal Party’s board of directors in Edmonton-Mill Woods, but she appears to have recently joined the NDP and attended the party’s convention in October 2018.

Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville – Jessica Littlewood was nominated as the NDP candidate in this district on January 20, 2019. 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. 

Leduc-Beaumont – Robb Connelly was acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate in this district following the withdrawal of Jan Becker and the party not accepting the candidacies of Tauras Pawluk and Coreina Hubert. Connelly previously sought the Alberta Party nomination in the neighbouring Strathcona-Sherwood Park district. 

Gil Poitras is the first candidate nominated by the Alberta Advantage Party in this election cycle. Poitras served as interim leader of new right-wing party in 2017, and previously served as Chief Financial Officer for the Alberta Party in 2013 and 2014, and as the president of the Alberta Party association in Leduc-Beaumont in 2015. He served on Beaumont town council from 2001 to 2004 and ran for mayor in in 2013 and 2017.

Lethbridge-West – Patricia Chizek was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate on January 7, 2019. 

Morinville-St. Albert – Neil Korotash defeated Wayne Rufiange to secure the Alberta Party nomination on January 19, 2019. Korotash teaches Biology and Urban Agriculture at Morinville Community High School and he sought the PC Party nomination in Spruce Grove-St. Albert ahead of the 2015 election. In 2001, Korotash became the youngest city councillor in St. Albert history when he was elected at age 21 in that year’s municipal elections.

Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills – Chase Brown has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in this central Alberta district. Brown studied business economics at the University of Alberta and has coached special Olympians in softball, curling, and floor hockey programs.

West Yellowhead – Zack Seizmagraff is seeking the Liberal Party nomination, which is scheduled to take place on January 25, 2019. Seizmagraff was the federal Liberal Party candidate in Yellowhead in the 2011 election, earning 2.87 percent of the vote. A candidate selection meeting has been scheduled for January 26, 2019.

The NDP have scheduled nomination meetings to be held in Calgary-West on February 6, 2019, Calgary-East on February 16, 2019, and in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche and Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo on February 17, 2019. The UCP have scheduled a nomination meeting in Lethbridge-East for February 9, 2019.

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

Calgary-Fish Creek bozo-eruption raises questions about “rigorous” UCP candidate screening process

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.

But a series of screenshots of anti-Islamic and conspiracy theory promoting social media posts allegedly made by Ross released the day before the vote raises some serious questions about the vetting process used by the UCP to approve candidates seeking nominations.

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.”

A series of bozo-eruptions, ranging from anti-Islamic comments, opposition to same-sex marriage, denial of climate change, and questioning the science of vaccinations, raises some serious questions about just how “rigorous” the UCP screening process actually is.

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.

Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running for party nominations ahead of the 2019 Alberta provincial general election:

Banff-Kananaskis – Michael Zubkow is seeking the UCP nomination.

Calgary-Acadia – Lana Bentley is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.

Calgary-East –Gar Gar is the nominated Alberta Party candidate. Gar is the past president of the SAIT Students’ Association and ran for Calgary City Council in Ward 10 in the 2017 municipal elections.

Jamie Lall is seeking the UCP nomination in this east Calgary district. Lall’s name will be familiar to attentive readers of this website. In 2012, he unsuccessfully sought the Progressive Conservative nomination in Calgary-McCall and was later appointed as the PC candidate in Calgary-Buffalo, where he finished second to Liberal MLA Kent Hehr. He re-emerged in 2015 as a nomination candidate in Chestermere-Rockyview before he was disqualified by text-message in one of the more bizarre PC Party nomination scandals of that election cycle. He instead resigned from his position as president of the Calgary-McCall PC association and ran as an Independent candidate in that Chestermere-Rockyview, earning 5.3 percent of the vote. He then sought the PC Party nomination to run in the 2016 Calgary-Greenway by-election, but was unsuccessful in that bid. Lall was then banned from running for office for a 5-year period after failing to file his 2015 campaign financial statements on time with Elections Alberta, but a judge overturned that ban in 2017.

Calgary-Mountian ViewMark 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 ParkDave 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.

West Yellowhead Kirstie Gomuwka is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Gomuwka is a director of the Edson Friendship Centre and was a candidate for trustee with the Grande Yellowhead Public School District in October 2017. She is married to Town of Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara, who also served as press secretary to former West Yellowhead PC MLA Robin Campbell until his defeat to New Democrat Eric Rosendahl in the 2015 election.

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!


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.

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Alberta Politics

Alberta Candidate Nomination Update: Lisa Davis in Calgary-Bow, Another former PC MLA in with Alberta Party, and more.

Calgary school trustee Lisa Davis announced this week that she will seek the United Conservative Party nomination in the Calgary-Bow district. While Davis’ conservative leanings are well-known, her desire to leave the trustee role she was only first elected to a short 9 months ago came as a surprise and has led to calls for her resignation by some groups.

Davis ran as part of the UCP-connected ‘Students Count’ slate in the October 2017 election. She will face at least three other candidates in the nomination contest, including her former campaign manager, Demetrios Nicolaides.

Heating up in Highwood

MLA Wayne Anderson had some choice words for Carrie Fischer and Richard Sigurdson, who are challenging him for the UCP nomination in the newly redrawn Highwood district:

“My understanding was she still wants to be Mayor of Okotoks, so I’m not clear on what her political intentions are. Whether it’s for name brand recognition or not. And then Mr. Sigurdson was the President of the PC Party here in Highwood. But, was a very inactive board. Didn’t raise any funds. They weren’t really meeting on a formal or regular basis.”

Anderson and Fischer faced each other in the 2015 election as the Wildrose Party and Progressive Conservative candidates in the district.

Another former PC MLA in with Alberta Party

It appears as though former Progressive Conservative MLA Ron Casey is organizing for the Alberta Party in the new Banff-Kananaskis district. Casey was MLA for Banff-Cochrane from 2012 to 2015 and Mayor of Canmore from 1998 to 2001 and 2004 and to 2012. He was unseated in 2015 by New Democrat Cameron Westhead.

Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running for party nominations ahead of Alberta’s 2019 provincial election:

Calgary-KleinJulie Huston is seeking the UCP nomination. She previously worked as a constituency assistant to former Wildrose MLAs Paul Hinman and Jeff Wilson.

Calgary-North West – Lawyer Cyndy Morin is seeking the UCP nomination.

Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview – Jeffery Walters is seeking the UCP nomination.

Edmonton-City CentreStephanie Shostak is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Shostak is the former north Edmonton regional director for the PC Party. Shostak.

Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo – MLA Tany Yao is seeking the UCP nomination. He was first elected as MLA for this district in 2015 as the Wildrose Party candidate.

A number of candidate nomination meetings will be held in the next week:

June 23, 2018 – Kieran Quirke is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate in Drayton Valley-Devon.

June 24, 2018 – Gul Khan is expected to be nominated as the Liberal Party candidate in Calgary-North East.

June 25, 2018 – Todd Loewen is expected to be nominated as the UCP candidate in Central Peace-Notley. The Alberta Party is expected to officially nominate Yash Sharma in Edmonton-Ellerslie, Carla Stolte in Edmonton-Glenora, and Mark Nikota in Drumheller-Stettler.

June 26, 2018 – Jonathan Dai is expected to be nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Edmonton-Whitemud. Dai was the PC Party candidate in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood in the 2015 election and the Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona in the 2000 federal election.

June 27, 2018 – UCP members will select Joseph Schow or Marc Slingerland as their candidate in the new Cardston-Siksika district. Kara Levis is expected to be nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Calgary-Klein.

June 28, 2018 – Marg McCuaig-Boyd is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate in Central Peace-Notley.

June 29, 2018 – Nate Pike is expected to be nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Calgary-North East.


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

Alberta Candidate Nomination Updates: 3 NDP MLAs nominated and another UCP MLA announces retirement.

New Democratic Party MLAs nominated: Three New Democratic Party MLAs were chosen as their party’s candidates for the next election at meetings held on May 6 and May 12, 2018. MLA Maria Fitzpatrick was nominated in Lethbridge-East and MLA Christina Gray was nominated in Edmonton-Mill Woods on May 6 and MLA Brian Malkinson was nominated in Calgary-Currie at a meeting on May 12, 2018. Gray currently serves as Minister of Labour and Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal.

The NDP have scheduled nomination meetings in Calgary-McCall on June 9, 2018 and June 11, 2018 in Lethbridge-West, where NDP MLA Shannon Phillips has already announced her plans to run for re-election.

Another UCP MLA retiring from politics: United Conservative Party MLA Wes Taylor announced in a note on his Facebook page that he would not seek re-election in 2019. Taylor is recovering from having recently undergone open heart surgery. The Battle River-Wainwright district he has represented since 2015 will be significantly redistributed in the next election into the redrawn CamroseDrumheller-Stettler, and Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright districts.

It’s truly been and honor and a privilege to serve the constituents of Battle River-Wainwright over the past 3 years as…

Posted by Wes Taylor on Monday, May 14, 2018

Taylor is the fifth UCP MLA to announce he will not seek re-election in 2019 (and the sixth if you include former Wildrose leader Brian Jean, who resigned as MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin in March 2018).

Meanwhile, Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao is running for the UCP nomination in the district he has represented since 2015.

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake by-election: Devin Dreeshen defeated five other candidates to win the as the United Conservative Party nomination to run in the upcoming Innisfail-Sylvan Lake by-election. He is son of Red Deer-Mountain View Member of Parliament Earl Dreeshen.

The NDP have scheduled a nomination meeting in that district on May 25, 2018 and are expected to select Nicole Mooney as their candidate. Mooney is an English teacher at St. Joseph’s High School in Red Deer and the Communications and Political Engagement Officer with Alberta Teachers’ Association Local 80.

It appears that Reform Party of Alberta leader Randy Thorsteinson has withdrawn his name from the by-election ballot. He declared his candidacy in February 2018.

A by-election will be called in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake by August 5, 2018 following the resignation of UCP MLA Don MacIntyre in February 2018 after he was charged with sexual assault and sexual interference.

Here are some other updates to the list of candidates running for party nominations across Alberta:

Airdrie-Cochrane Ian Chitwood and Laura Talsma are seeking the UCP nomination. Chitwood is director of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission. Talsma is a Registered Nurse at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre and Bethany Cochrane Long Term Care facility in Calgary.

Brooks-Medicine Hat – Jim Black is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Black ran for the Alberta Party in the Medicine Hat district in the 2015 election, earning 5.7 percent of the vote.

Calgary-McCall – Jasraj Singh Hallan is seeking the UCP nomination.

Calgary-North – Jun Lin is seeking the UCP nomination. He ran in the 2017 Calgary municipal election in Ward 3, placing third with 25 percent of the vote.

Calgary-Varsity – Michael Kim is seeking the UCP nomination. Kim is the president of MKMK Education and MKMK Insurance.

Camrose – Dawn Anderson is seeking the UCP nomination. Anderson is the general manager of the Camrose Resort Casino.

Drumheller-Stettler – Mark Nikota is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Nikota was Mayor of Hanna from 2010 to 2013 and currently works as the Chief Administrative Officer of the Village of Delia. 

Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview – David Egan (not to be confused with David Eggen) is seeking the UCP nomination. He is listed as the Chief Financial Officer of the UCP association in the neighbouring Edmonton-Manning district.

Edmonton-Castle Downs – Gordon Reekie and Ed Ammar are seeking the UCP nomination. Both candidates are Real Estate agents. Ammar served as chair of the UCP interim board until the recent founding convention and was Liberal Party candidate in the neighbouring Edmonton-Decore district in the 2012 election.

Edmonton-Glenora – Immigration consultant Marjorie Newman is seeking the UCP nomination. Carla Stolte is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.

Edmonton-Manning – Jitender Sahni is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.

Edmonton-MeadowsJoel Mullan is seeking the UCP nomination.

Edmonton-North West – Ali Eltayeb is seeking the UCP nomination. He is the owner and manager of Liberty Tax franchises in Edmonton.

Edmonton-Rutherford – Aisha Rauf is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. She is an instructor and according to her website biography is waiting for her PhD Linguistics thesis defence. She was interviewed in a September 2017 episode of the Broadcast.

Edmonton-SouthDan Johnstone, known to some by his nickname “Can Man Dan,” is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Johnston was a candidate for Edmonton City Council in Ward 10 in the 2013 election, placing fourth with 4.9 percent of the vote. He more recently ran in the 2016 by-election for Edmonton City Council’s Ward 12 where he finished with 3.2 percent of the vote.

Edmonton-West HendayWinston Leung is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.

Lesser Slave Lake Garrett Tomlinson is seeking the UCP nomination. Tomlinson served as a councillor in Northern Sunrise County from 2013 to 2017 and country reeve from 2014 to 2017. He is listed online as a communications coordinator for the Lubicon Lake First Nation.

Livingstone-Macleod – Justin Murphy is seeking the UCP nomination. He was a candidate for High River town council in the 2017 municipal election.

Morinville-St. Albert: Joe Gosselin is seeking the UCP nomination. Gosselin is a former Morinville town councillor and was the Wildrose Party candidate in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville in the 2015 election. He originally sought the Wildrose nomination in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock ahead of the last election but was defeated by Glenn van Dijken.

Red Deer-South – Ryan Mcdougal is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.

West Yellowhead – Martin Long is seeking the UCP nomination.

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.


Listen to the latest episode of the Daveberta Podcast to hear Dave and Ryan talk about some of the latest nomination news, including tips and advice for candidates fundraising for the next election.