The non-Conservative parties are slowly starting the process of nominating candidates in Alberta ahead of the next federal election.
Blake Desjarlais is seeking the New Democratic Party nomination in Edmonton-Griesbach. Desjarlais is the Director of Public Affairs & National Operations for the Métis Settlements General Council and was the co-chairperson of the Alberta government’s Indigenous Climate Leadership Summits in 2017 and 2018. The nomination meeting is scheduled for March 18.
David Gamble is seeking the Liberal Party nomination in Calgary-Confederation. Gamble was the provincial Liberal candidate in Calgary-Klein in the 2015 election and previously served as Executive Vice-President of the Alberta Liberal Party.
Government audit manager Tunde Obasan is challenging former federal Conservative leadership candidate Rick Petersen for the Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona. Obsan was the United Conservative Party candidate in Edmonton-South in the 2019 election where he was defeated by NDP MLA Thomas Dang.
The Conservatives are continuing to acclaim their incumbents in Alberta. As of today, I am not aware of any Conservative MPs in Alberta being challenged for their party nomination ahead of the next election.
Here is the list of the most recently acclaimed Conservatives in Alberta:
Calgary-Confederation – Len Webber has served as the Conservative MP for this district since 2015. He previously served as the Progressive Conservative and Independent MLA for Calgary-Foothills from 2004 to 2014.
Calgary-Skyview – Jag Sahota has served as the MP for this district since 2019. She was the PC candidate in Calgary-McCall in the 2015 provincial election.
Grande Prairie-Mackenzie – Chris Warkentin has served as an MP in northwest Alberta since 2006.
Fort McMurray-Cold Lake – David Yurdiga has served as an MP since 2014.
Edmonton-Mill Woods – Tim Uppal was first elected as MP for Edmonton-Mill Woods since 2019 and previously served as MP for Edmonton-Sherwood Park from 2008 to 2015.
Edmonton-West – Kelly McCauley has served as MP for this district since 2015.
Edmonton-Wetaskiwin – Mike Lake has served as MP for Edmonton-Wetaskiwin from 2006 to 2015 and MP for Edmonton-Wetaskiwin since 2015.
Medicine Hat — Cardston — Warner – Glen Motz has served as MP for this district since 2016.
Alberta’s oldest newly rebranded separatist party has a new interim leader, maybe.
A now deleted tweet from the newly renamed Wildrose Independence Party announced that former Wildrose Alliance leader Paul Hinman is the new interim leader of the party. Unless the party’s account was hacked, it would appear that Hinman is launching another attempt at a political comeback.
The press release included with the now deleted tweet said that Hinman would speak to his new role at this week’s Freedom Talk “Firewall Plus” conference, a pro-separatist event organized by former Wildrose candidate and right-wing online radio show host Danny Hozak that features speakers including former arch-Conservative MP Rob Anders, conservative lawyer John Carpay, Postmedia columnist John Robson, and federal Conservative leadership candidate Derek Sloan.
The name change does not appear to have been approved by Elections Alberta, which still lists the party under its most recent previous name on its official website. But it was reported last week that former Wildrose activist and FCP candidate Rick Northey was the party’s new president. Former Social Credit leader James Albers is also on the party’s executive.
The oldest newest separatist party on Alberta’s right-wing fringe should not be confused with the also recently renamed Independence Party of Alberta (formerly known as the Alberta Independence Party and now led by past UCP nomination candidate Dave Campbell), the Alberta Advantage Party (led by former Alberta Alliance Party president Marilyn Burns), and the unregistered Alberta Freedom Alliance (led by former Wildrose Party candidate Sharon Maclise).
The United Independence Party name was also recently reserved with Elections Alberta, presumably by another former Wildrose candidate trying to start another new separatist party.
But back to the new interim leader of the new separatist Wildrose party…
The grandson of former Social Credit MLA and cabinet minister Edgar Hinman, Paul Hinman’s first foray into provincial electoral politics saw him elected in Cardston-Taber-Warner as the lone Alberta Alliance MLA in the 2004 election. Hinman inherited the leadership of the tiny right-wing party when Randy Thorsteinson (who had previously helped found the Alberta First Party) failed to win his election in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake. He endorsed Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Ted Morton in 2006 and led the party through an eventual split and re-merger with a faction branding itself as the Wildrose Party – and thus the Wildrose Alliance was formed.
Hinman lost his seat in the 2008 election in a rematch with former PC MLA Broyce Jacobs. He announced plans to step down as leader shortly afterward and then surprised political watchers when he won a 2009 by-election in posh Calgary-Glenmore, pumping some momentum behind Danielle Smith when she won the party’s leadership race a few months later.
In 2010, Hinman was joined by floor crossing PC MLAs Heather Forsyth, Guy Boutilier, and Rob Anderson (who four years later crossed the floor back to the PC Party and now hosts a Facebook video show where he promotes Alberta separatism), but, despite the party’s electoral breakthrough in 2012, Hinman was again unable to get re-elected.
More recently, Hinman launched a brief bid for the UCP leadership in 2017, announcing a campaign focused on parental rights and conscience rights, but when the Sept 2017 deadline to deposit the $57,500 candidate fee passed, he did not make the cut. Hinman later endorsed Jason Kenney‘s candidacy.
Now he might be taking over the interim leadership of the fledgeling fringe separatist party at a time when public opinion polls show that Albertans’ appetite for leaving Canada is cooling as memory of the 2019 federal election fades. If historic trends hold, then the desire for separatism will drop if it looks like the next federal Conservative Party leader can form a government in Ottawa.
Separatism is ever-present on the fringes of Alberta politics and is more of a situational tendency than a real political movement with legs but a half-organized separatist party could syphon votes away from the UCP in the next provincial election.
And with next October’s Senate nominee election likely to be a showdown between candidates aligned with the federal Conservative Party led by whoever wins this summer’s leadership race and the federal Wexit Party led by former Conservative MP Jay Hill, expect the UCP to be paying a lot of attention to these fringe separatist groups sniping at its right-flank.
If he actually does become the leader of the oldest newest separatist party, Hinman will provide some profile and credibility in political circles where conservatives are perpetually disgruntled with New Democratic Party leader Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and newly disgruntled with Premier Kenney, presumably for not pushing hard enough for Alberta’s separation from Canada.
It is 10:20 p.m. and Conservative Party candidate Glen Motz has cruised to a crushing victory in the Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner federal by-election. With 190 of 223 polls reporting, Mr. Motz had earned 69.3 percent of the vote, which is slightly higher to what the Conservative candidate earned in the October 2015 federal election. This is not unexpected, as voters in this sprawling southeast rural Alberta riding have a long history of supporting conservative candidates.
Though in a distant second place, Liberal candidate Stan Sakamoto is set to have achieved a high-water mark for the Liberals in this riding by earning the highest share of the vote for the Liberals since since 1974. An impressive mid-campaign splash by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a first by a sitting prime minister since 1993, also prompted a visit by Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, a first by a Conservative Party leader since before 2006.
Meanwhile, the New Democratic Party candidate, Bev Waege, is sitting at an embarrassingly low 1 percent of the vote, down from the 2015 candidate’s 9 percent. Neither the federal nor provincial parties appear to have put much, if any, effort into this by-election campaign. The lack of an NDP candidate until midway through the campaign also likely pushed NDP supporters towards Mr. Sakamoto’s campaign.
The results are undoubtably a reflection of how voters in this deep southern rural Alberta riding (the heart of Wildrose Party territory) feel about the federal NDP opposition in Ottawa and the provincial NDP government in Edmonton (which is not encouraging news for Medicine Hat NDP MLA Bob Wanner).
I expect Wildrose MLAs will try to blame Premier Rachel Notley for this poor showing, but anyone who has been paying attention to rural politics in this province over the past 17 months will not be completely shocked by this result.
Shorter version: Not much has really changed. Carry on with politics as usual.
Today is election day in the federal riding of Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner. Polls are open from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
What was expected to be a sleepy by-election campaign in this long-time Conservative-held riding in southeast Alberta turned out to be surprisingly exciting. More than 2,000 Albertans showed up to see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a rally for local Liberal Party candidate Stan Sakamoto, marking the first time a sitting prime minister has visited Medicine Hat since 1993.
Mr. Sakamoto is a well-known local businessman and appears to be fairly popular in the city.
Conservative Party candidate Glen Motz is a retired police officer and also appears to be a fairly well-liked figure in the community. The Conservatives won this riding with 68.8 percent of the vote in October 2015 and Mr. Motz is expected to win. Interim party leader Rona Ambrose was in the riding last week and was met by a crowd of 500 local Conservatives.
Mr. Trudeau has said “I know that this is one we can win,“ but the odds of Mr. Sakamoto winning the by-election still feel like a long-shot. I expect that Conservatives know this, but the strong turnout to Mr. Trudeau’s rally in this southern Alberta city has likely spooked the Conservative establishment.
A Liberal win in this by-election would send shockwaves through the Conservative Party, but a strong second place would be a success for the Liberals, who last earned more than 20 percent of the vote in this riding in the 1993 election.
Meanwhile, despite being officially connected, neither the federal or provincial New Democratic parties appear to have put much public effort or resources into supporting candidate Bev Waege during this by-election campaign. As Toronto Star columnist Chantal Hebertnoted today, “this byelection has illustrated the dysfunctional nature of the relationship between the federal NDP opposition and Alberta’s New Democrat government.”
This is a race between a Liberal underdog and a Conservative favourite.
More than two thousand Albertans showed up to see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tonight at a rally in the southern Alberta city of Medicine Hat. Mr. Trudeau was in town to support Liberal candidate Stan Sakamoto, a popular local businessman, in his bid to become the next Member of Parliament in the Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner riding in the October 24, 2016 by-election.
The riding is believed to be a very safe seat for the Conservative Party, whose candidate earned 68 percent of the vote in the 2015 election. Candidate Glen Motz is expected to win the election but the huge turnout at a Liberal Party rally should raise some eyebrows.
While a group of protesters, some carrying Alberta separatist banners, made an appearance at the rally, the large turnout certainly defies the Conservative and mainsteam media narrative about the hostility Albertans may feel toward Mr. Trudeau and his government.
Four Liberal MPs were elected in Alberta in the last election but before forming government, the Liberals had racked up an impressive record of increasing their party’s support in a series of Alberta by-elections, most notably in Calgary-Centre and Fort McMurray-Athabasca.
There is a possibility that many of those Hatters who turned out tonight are voting for Mr. Sakamoto, but many may have just been curious to see Mr. Trudeau in person and listen to what he had to say.
I was surprised to learn that this was the first time a sitting Prime Minister has visited the city since Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Kim Campbell stopped by Medicine Hat during the 1993 election campaign.
Even during his nine years as Prime Minister, Conservative Stephen Harper never made the quick trip south of Calgary to visit the The Gas City!
A federal by-election will be held in the Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner riding on October 24, 2016. Voters in the riding are choosing a successor to Conservative Member of Parliament Jim Hillyer, who died in March 2016.
Lawyer Richard Billington is the third candidate to enter the Conservative nomination race in Calgary-Heritage to replace former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who resigned earlier this month. Mr. Billington joins party activist Bob Benzen and city prosecutor Paul Frank. As noted in a previous post, Mr. Billington ran for the Conservative nomination in Calgary-Centre in 2012 and has served as the President of the Conservative association in Calgary-Heritage for the past three years.
The Conservative nomination meeting in Calgary-Heritage is scheduled to take place on October 22, 2016, but could be pushed ahead if a by-election is called earlier. An open forum is expected to be held with the nomination candidates on October 12 or 13, 2016.
Kenny to resign this week
After spending the summer campaigning for the leadership of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party, Jason Kenney is expected to resign as MP for Calgary-Midnapore on September 23, 2016. Mr. Kenney had announced earlier this summer that he would resign on October 1, 2016, when the PC leadership race officially begins, but he announced last week at a campaign stop in St. Albert that he would resign one week earlier. A by-election must be called within six months of his resignation, which would be March 23, 2017.
Conservative Glen Motz and Libertarian Sheldon Johnston appear to be the only two candidates to so far step up to run in the upcoming federal by-election in Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner. The by-election has not been called yet but it will be called within the next 40 days – on or before the six month deadline of Sept. 26, 2016.
Barring a political earthquake, it is expected the Conservative Party candidate will win the by-election in this sprawling southeast Alberta riding with a large Mormon community and a strong social conservative base.
Former Member of Parliament Jim Hillyer, who died earlier this year, was re-elected on October 5, 2015 with 68 percent of the vote, compared to 17 percent for Liberal Glen Allan and 9 percent for NDPer Erin Weir.
Provincially, the area covered by the federal riding is represented by Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes and Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter of the Wildrose Party and Medicine Hat MLA Bob Wanner of the New Democratic Party. Mr. Wanner is the Speaker of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly.
Glen Motz will be the Conservative Party of Canada candidate in the upcoming federal by-election in the riding of Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner. Mr. Motz defeated five other men, including former Wildrose Party leader and Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Paul Hinman, in a contest that drew more than 3,100 party members to vote. The candidate was chosen on a fourth round of voting using a preferential ballot system.
He also has some social conservative views that are probably closer to the mainstream in this sprawling rural south east Alberta riding than they are in most of Canada.
“I’m pro-life, there’s no question. Unfortunately it’s the law of the land in this country,” Mr. Motz is reported to have told a crowd of supporters at a candidate’s forum in June 2016. “I will continue to fight that the rights of the unborn are not eroded further. I believe in the sanctity of life.”
Women’s reproductive rights and gay rights were some of the top issues debated by a field of white male candidates in the last nomination contest held in this riding in 2014.
This is one of the most reliably Conservative voting ridings in Canada, so it is almost a certainty that Mr. Motz will be the next Member of Parliament. Mr. Hillyer earned 68.8 percent of the vote when he was re-elected in October 2015.
Another federal by-election is expected to be held in the Calgary-Heritage riding if former Prime Minister Stephen Harperresigns as an MP later this summer as predicted. The names of a handful of potential nominees for the Conservative nomination have been rumoured, including Calgary-HaysProgressive Conservative MLA Ric McIver.
While it is expected that the Conservatives will easily hold on to this riding, the Liberals did see their share of the vote skyrocket from 7 percent in the 2011 election to 26 percent in the 2015 election (the Conservative vote in this riding dropped from 74.3 percent in 2011 to 63.7 percent in 2015).
The Liberals also saw their vote share increase significantly in four federal by-elections held in Alberta before the 2015 election, including in Calgary-Centre in 2012. Without the appeal of an incumbent Conservative MP or a sitting Prime Minister, the Liberals could see their vote increase in this by-election as well.
He does not appear to have officially declared his intentions to run for the Liberal Party nomination, but past candidate Brendan Miles has been knocking on doors in the riding for months and the local Liberal association is holding a pancake breakfast during the Calgary Stampede.