The results of the April 23 provincial general election in Alberta will cause a series of municipal by-elections as some successful candidates move from the previously held municipal roles into their new jobs as Members of the Legislative Assembly.
A June 11 by-election in the County of Grande Prairie will be held to replace former District 1 Councillor and Reeve Everett McDonald, who was elected as the PC MLA for Grande Prairie-Smoky. Mr. McDonald was first elected to the County Council in 1992. Bezanson District Fire Captain Harold Bulford and realtor D.J. Golden have entered the contest.
A by-election in Strathcona County will be held on June 25 to fill the vacancy created by former Councillor Jacquie Fenske, who was elected to succeed retiring Premier Ed Stelmach as the PC MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville.
Other municipal politicians making the jump to provincial politics after April 23 are Village of Beiseker Mayor Bruce Rowe, who was elected as Wildrose MLA for Olds-Disbury-Three Hills, and Village of Stirling Deputy Mayor Gary Bikman, who was elected as the Wildrose MLA for Cardston-Taber-Warner.
According to Section 162 of the Municipal Government Act, a council must hold a by-election to fill a vacancy on council unless (a) the vacancy occurs in the 6 months before a general election, or (b) the council consists of 6 or more councillors and the vacancy occurs (i) in the 18 months before a general election and there is only one vacancy, or (ii) in the 12 months before a general election and the number of councillors remaining is at least one more than the majority of the number of councillors compromising the council. The next municipal general election will be held in October 2013.
When Alberta’s Legislative Assembly reconvenes in the next few months, for the first time since 1982 the title of Official Opposition will given to a caucus of MLA’s representing a party other than the New Democrats or the Liberals. Following the April 23 general election, seventeen Wildrose Party MLA’s were elected, creating the largest Official Opposition caucus since 1997 (when eighteen Liberal MLA’s were elected).
Aside from high-profile leader Danielle Smith, who was elected in Highwood, most Albertans would probably respond with blank stares if asked to name another Wildrose MLA. Over the past week, I have read biographies and scoured the internet for information about the MLA’s who, for at least the next four years, have been tasked with the responsibility of being Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in Alberta.
Only two of the four incumbent Wildrose Party MLA’s were re-elected last week. Paul Hinman, who was narrowly elected in a 2009 by-election was soundly defeated by PC candidate Linda Johnson in Calgary-Glenmore. In Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, four-term MLA Guy Boutilier, who crossed the floor to the Wildrose in 2010 after sitting for 12 years as a Progressive Conservative MLA, was unseated by municipal councillor Mike Allen. Both Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson and Calgary-Fish Creek MLA Heather Forsyth, who crossed the floor from the PCs to the Wildrose in January 2010, were re-elected.
Here is a look at the fourteen rookie MLA’s who will be joining Ms. Smith, Mr. Anderson, and Ms. Forsyth in the Wildrose Party caucus.
Drew Barnes (Cypress-Medicine Hat) Defeated two-term PC MLA Len Mitzel. Mr. Barnes is a real estate agent and co-owner of Belcore Homes, a construction company in Medicine Hat. He is the past-campaign chair and president of the Southeastern United Way. He completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Alberta in 1983.
Gary Bikman (Cardston-Taber-Warner)
Mr. Bikman is a business management consultant and co-founder of ChopStix International Franchising Inc, a fast food gourmet Chinese restaurant chain. He is the past-president of Speedy Heavy Hauling Ltd, an oilfield service company. Until recently he was a councillor and deputy mayor of the Village of Sterling. Mr. Bikman attended the first Reform Association of Canada (later the Reform Party of Canada) conference in Vancouver in 1987. His Facebook page lists him as having completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology (1968) and Master of Business Administration (1972) at Brigham Young University.
Ian Donovan (Little Bow)
Mr. Donovan farms near the hamlet of Mossleigh. He was elected to Vulcan County Council at the age of 19 and he has served for the past 16 years, including two years as Reeve. Perceived mishandling of the nomination process which selected him as the candidate led to the entire executive board of the Little Bow Wildrose Association to resign in January 2010.
Rod Fox (Lacombe-Ponoka) Mr. Fox is a sales manager for an insurance company. From 2006 to 2007 he served as a director on the Lacombe Economic Development Board and ran unsuccessfully for Lacombe municipal council in 2007. He served as President of the Conservative Party of CanadaWetaskiwin Electoral District Association from 2007 to 2010 and was Communications Director for MP Blaine Calkins during the 2011 federal election.
Jason Hale (Strathmore-Brooks)
Unseated first-term PC MLA Arno Doerksen. Mr. Hale operates a cattle farm with his family. He was a Professional Bullfighter for 10 years and is a member of the a member of the Bassano Rodeo committee and a Director on the Bassano Agricultural Society. He completed a diploma in Chemical Technology at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. He also coaches for hockey and baseball.
Bruce McAllister (Chestermere-Rockyview) Defeated senior cabinet minister and former PC leadership candidate Ted Morton. Originally from New Brunswick, Mr. McAllister is well-known for his time as the host of Global Television’s morning newscast in Calgary since 2004. Before moving to Calgary, Mr. McAllister was an anchor and reporter at CH Television in Victoria, BC. He also worked as a broadcaster in Winnipeg and Halifax.
Blake Pedersen (Medicine Hat) Mr. Pedersen has been a co-owner in an oilfield, industrial supply company since 1999.
Shayne Saskiw (Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills)
Unseated three-term MLA and cabinet minister Ray Danyluk. Mr. Saskiw studied Law at the University of Alberta with MLA Rob Anderson and practiced law in Vegreville. He was named one of “The Next 10” by Alberta Venture magazine in 2010. Mr. Saskiw served as Vice-President (Policy) of the PC Party from 2008 until January 2010, when he joined the Wildrose Party. He later served as executive director of the Wildrose Party.
Pat Stier (Livingstone-Macleod) Unseated first-term MLA and cabinet minister Evan Berger. Mr. Stier lives on his family’s ranch near DeWinton and is the President of River Canyon Enterprises Inc., which provides planning services for land use and development applications to rural land owners. He served one term on the municipal council of the M.D. of Foothills from 2004 to 2007. He was a member of the PC Party Board of Directors in Highwood from 2006 to 2009 and in 2010 became the President of the Wildrose Alliance association in that constituency. Between 1988 and 1999 he served as President of the Dunbow Road Area Residents Association.
Rick Strankman (Drumheller-Stettler) Unseated cabinet minister Jack Hayden. Mr. Strankman owns a cattle ranch and grain farm near Altario. He is the past Treasurer of the Western Barley Growers Association and is an anti-Canadian Wheat Board activist. In 1996, he was fined $1000 for taking his own wheat in his grain truck and driving it across the Canadian border into the United States. In 2000, Mr. Strankman was an unsuccessful candidate in the Canadian Wheat Board elections and in 2002 he was fined $7,500 and faced 180 days in jail after taking 756 bushels of wheat across the American border and sold it (he only served a week in jail with four other rebel farmers).
Kerry Towle (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake) Defeated three-term PC MLA and former cabinet minister Luke Ouellette. Ms. Towle is a real estate broker and was executive assistant with the now-dissolved David Thompson Health Region. She ran a turkey farming operation with her husband for five years. She attended Reeves Business College in 1992 and 1993.
With a provincial election expected to be called within the next week or two, candidates representing Alberta’s political parties have been hoping to grab voters attentions by uploading campaign videos on YouTube.
The best YouTube video I have seen so far in this pre-election period belongs to Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview NDP candidate Deron Bilous. The video is a five minute mini-documentary that gives a good introduction and background to the candidate.
Mostly produced by the candidates and their campaign teams, with the exception of the central campaign filmed Progressive Conservative videos. The PC videos, featuring candidates Doug Griffiths, Jason Luan, Rick Fraser, and Bob Maskell, include the same format and special effects (including a talking billboard headshot of the candidates). These videos have a good production quality, but have a better effect when the speaker is dynamic.
The Wildrose Party video features Cardston-Taber-Warner candidate Gary Bikman. Having only lost this constituency to the PCs by 49 votes in the last provincial election, it is high on the Wildrose list of target constituencies.
The next two videos feature Innisfail-Sylvan Lake Liberal candidate Les Vidok and Edmonton-Ellerslie NDP candidate Rod Loyola.
This area has deep Liberal roots, having first elected MLA Grant Mitchell in 1986, but since 2001 it has become a swing-riding electing both Liberals and PCs. Currently held by former PC MLA and now Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman, the next vote will be a test of his personal popularity as he runs under his new party’s banner. He will face former PC MLA Bob Maskell, who served from 2001 until 2004.
Voters in this constituency are notorious swing-voters. No incumbent has been re-elected here since 1997. Current PC MLA Doug Elniski made a last minute announcement that he would not seek re-election, leaving former school trustee and newly nominated candidate Bev Esslinger not a lot of time to catch up. Former MLA David Eggen has been campaigning in Calder for the past three years and is expected to launch a well-organized campaign. Wildrose candidate Rich Neumann may play kingmaker if he is able to attract enough past PC voters.
In 2009, outgoing Wildrose leader Paul Hinman narrowly won a hotly contested by-election that was seen as a referendum on then-Premier Ed Stelmach‘s popularity in Calgary (which was low). With new Premier Alison Redford representing the neighboring constituency, PC candidate Linda Johnson may receive a warmer reception at the doors. Throw into the mix former Mount Royal College instructor Craig Cheffins, who served as the Liberal MLA for Calgary-Elbow from 2007 to 2008, and the outcome of this race could be difficult to predict.
Represented by both PC and Liberal MLAs over the past twenty years, this constituency could be a key battleground for five opposition parties in the next election. Former Liberal MLA Bruce Miller is challenging PC cabinet minister Heather Klimchuk, who unseated him by 136 votes in 2008. Rev. Miller is not the only challenger in this election. The Alberta Party is pinning their hopes on former school trustee Sue Huff, the NDP have nominated former MLA and leader Ray Martin, and the Wildrose have chosen past Mayoral candidateDon Koziak.
With the retirement of popular two-term Liberal MLA Harry Chase, the Liberals have nominated former carpenters’ union official Bruce Payne, who ran for that party’s leadership in 2011. The PCs have chosen former Nexen vice-president Donna Kennedy-Glans. The results of this race will be a critical indicator of whether the Liberals can hold on to, and build on, important gains made in Calgary during the past two elections.
Energy Minister Ted Morton will face off against former Global Calgary news anchor and Wildrose candidate Bruce McAllister. The Wildrose attacked Minister Morton’s credentials as a “fiscal mallard” while he was Finance Minister and by nominating Mr. McAllister they are showing that they will not give him a pass in the next election.
8 ) Airdrie
When first-term PC MLA Rob Anderson joined the Wildrose in 2010, he automatically became a target of his former party, who have nominated Alderman Kelly Hegg as their candidate. The Airdrie area has typically voted for the PCs, but voters in this region have been known to elect opposition candidates in the past (Western Canadian Concept MLA Gordon Kesler was elected in 1982 and Liberal MLA Don MacDonald was elected in 1992).
9) Cardston-Taber-Warner After being unseated by Wildorse MLA Mr. Hinman in 2004, PC MLA Broyce Jacobs won a narrow victory in 2008. Fast forward to 2012, Mr. Jacobs has lost his party’s nomination to Pat Shimbashi and the Wildrose has nominated Sterling Deputy Mayor Gary Bikman. If the Wildrose are to pick up seats in the election, this will likely be one.
10) Edmonton-Rutherford In a rematch of the closest race of the 2008 election, PC MLA Fred Horne will face former Liberal MLA Rick Miller. While 2008 a two-way contest, the 2012 contest is more interesting with the presence of community organizer and Alberta Party candidate Michael Walters and Wildrose candidate Kyle McLeod.
11) Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo After winning four elections as this constituency’s PC candidate, late-blooming Wildrose MLA Guy Boutilier will face Wood Buffalo deputy mayor Mike Allen in the upcoming vote. After decades as a municipal and provincial politician, this election may be more a test of Mr. Boutilier’s personal support than that of his new party.
12) Edmonton-Gold Bar A Liberal Party stronghold since 1986, the retirement of MLA Hugh MacDonald and the redistribution of electoral boundaries south encompassing Tory-voting neighbourhoods may give second-time PC candidate David Dorward a boost. Liberal candidate Josipa Petrunic is a well-spoken and passionate partisan who hopes to hold the constituency for her party. The NDP have nominated Marlin Schmidt and hope to capitalize on local support for NDP MP Linda Duncan.
13) Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview A close contest in 2008 saw former PC MLA Tony Vandermeer defeat NDP MLA Ray Martin. In 2012, Mr. Vandermeer will face a strong challenge from NDP candidate Deron Bilous.
14) Lethbridge-West After twenty years of close races, voters in this constituency have proven themselves to be deeply divided between the PCs and Liberals. This election, first-term PC MLA Greg Weadick and second-time Liberal candidate Bal Boora will be joined by NDP candidate Shannon Phillips, who has launched a spirited campaign, and Wildrose candidate Kevin Kinahan. Even if Mr. Weadick is re-elected, the real story may be who places second in this politically moderate southern Alberta constituency.
After more than three decades in the Assembly, the departure of PC MLA Ken Kowalski has created a large void to fill in this constituency north of Edmonton. The PCs have nominated Westlock County Councillor Maureen Kubinec, who will face off against her main opponent Wildrose candidateLink Byfield. Mr. Byfield has been campaigning for more than a year and could make gains if he is able to tap into the base of social conservative voters in this constituency.
Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater: At a nomination meeting scheduled for September 21, former Liberal caucus staffer turned NDP activist Mandy Melnyk will face Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3550 President Trudy Grebenstein for the NDP nomination.
Calgary-Buffalo: Mount Royal University Professor Lee Easton has withdrawn his name as the Alberta Party candidate in this constituency. Mr. Easton was a candidate for the Alberta Party leadership earlier this year.
Calgary-Currie: Businessman Norval Horner is seeking the Liberal nomination. Mr. Horner is a distant cousin to Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Doug Horner. The Liberals held this constituency until 2010, when two-term MLA Dave Taylor left to sit as an Independent. He later joined the Alberta Party and recently announced he would not be seeking re-election.
Calgary-East: Robin Luff was nominated as the NDP candidate at a joint-nomination meeting on September 5.
Calgary-Greenway: Al Brown was nominated as the NDP candidate at a joint-nomination meeting on September 5. Mr. Brown has run for the NDP on numerous occasions, including as their candidate in Calgary-East in the recent federal election.
Calgary-McCall: Collette Singh was nominated as the NDP candidate at a joint-nomination meeting on September 5. Ms. Singh was her party’s candidate in Calgary-Northeast in the recent federal election.
Calgary-Varsity: Cynthia Caldwell was nominated as the NDP candidate at a joint-nomination meeting on September 5.
Cardston-Taber-Warner: On September 17, businessman Doug Cooper and Village of Sterling Deputy Mayor Gary Bikman will contest the Wildrose nomination. Former nomination candidate David Wright withdrew his name from the contest and endorsed Mr. Bikman. The constituency was represented by Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman from 2004 until 2008 (Mr. Hinman now represents Calgary-Glenmore).
Drumheller-Stettler – What was originally shaping up to be a five person Wildrose nomination contest has dwindled down to a two person race. Still left in the contest are Rick Strankman and Doug Wade. The three other candidates, Dave France, Chris Warwick, and Patrick Turnbull, dropped out of the race when they did not meet the necessary qualifications required by their party.
Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview: Businessman Don Martin is seeking the Wildrose nomination.
Edmonton-Decore: Real Estate agent Ed Ammar is the nominated Liberal candidate in the constituency named for former Liberal Party leader Laurence Decore. Liberal MLAs Mr. Decore, Bill Bonner, and Bill Bonko represented the area from 1989 until 2008, when former School Board Trustee Janice Sarich captured it for the PCs.
Edmonton-Ellerslie: Community activist Chinwe Okelu is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. founder of Young and Associates, an Edmonton-based company that facilitates mediation and negotiations. He has run for City Council numerous times and his connections as a former Liberal Party supporter will create an interesting dynamic in this contest, in which former MLA Bharat Agnihotri is also running.
Edmonton-Glenora: Former NDP MLA Ray Martin is seeking his party’s nomination in this constituency. He was his party’s leader from 1984 until 1994, Mr. Martin was the MLA for Edmonton-Norwood from 1982 until 1993 and Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview from 2004 until 2008. He has also ran for federal office in 1997, 2000, 2008, and 2011.
Edmonton-Mill Creek: Mike Butler is seeking the Liberal nomination. Mr. Butler ran for the federal Liberals in Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont in the 2011 election and for the NDP in the same federal riding in the 2008 election. He also ran for the NDP in Edmonton-Rutherford in the 2008 provincial election.
Lethbridge-West: Activist and writer Shannon Phillips defeated James Moore to capture the NDP nomination on September 11. Ms. Phillips has received high-profile endorsements from Stephen Lewis and Naomi Klein.
St. Albert: Local businessman Tim Osborne was acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate.