Just over a month after she announced plans to not run for re-election in Calgary-North East, MLA Rajan Sawhney has been appointed as the United Conservative Party candidate in Calgary-North West to replace retiring MLA Sonya Savage.
The first-term MLA from north east Calgary was first elected in 2019 and served in cabinet since, currently as Minister of Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism.
Sawhney placed sixth out of seven candidates in the 2022 UCP leadership race and was a sharp critic of Danielle Smith during that campaign. She was facing a strong nomination challenge when she announced her plans not to run for re-election in Calgary-North East.
Sawhney was voted Best Alberta Cabinet Minister in the Best of Alberta Politics 2022 Survey.
On the same day Sawhney was appointed in Calgary-North West, UCP members in her Calgary-North East riding voted to choose her successor. Inderjit Grewal defeated Harjit Soroya in a vote by more than 1,800 members in the north east Calgary riding.
Grewal was criticized by the right-wing news outlet True North for sharing Facebook posts from Calgary-Falconridge NDP candidate Parmeet Singh Boparai.
Grewal will face NDP candidate Gurinder Brar. The Liberal Party has nominated Prince Mugisha.
Both ridings are expected to be competitive in the next election.
Candidates are expected to be appointed in Lethbridge-West to replace Torry Tanner and Grande Prairie-Wapiti to succeed Travis Toews. The UCP board of directors in Grande Prairie-Wapiti unanimously passed a motion last week to support Ron Wiebe’s appointment as the candidate.
Tunde Obasan drops out of Edmonton-South race
The UCP is also expected to appoint a candidate to replace Tunde Obasan, who withdrew his name as the UCP candidate in Edmonton-South over the weekend.
Obasan previously ran in the riding in 2019 and was the federal Conservative candidate in Edmonton-Stratchona in the 2021 election. Obasan’s campaign was one of few in Edmonton that the UCP appeared to be focusing local resources in ahead of the election campaign.
Past city council candidate Rhiannon Hoyle is running for the NDP.
“The abrupt resignation of my opponent in Edmonton-South is yet more chaos from the UCP. It follows another UCP resignation in Lethbridge-West, and the parachuting of Rajan Sawhney into Calgary-North West after she bailed out of a competitive nomination race in the riding she already represents,” Hoyle said in a statement released by the NDP.
“I’m focused on offering the people of Edmonton-South a stable, competent and caring government led by Rachel Notley,” Hoyle said.
Alberta Party leader looking for a new riding?
The former Brooks mayor became leader of the seatless party in 2021 and had his electoral prospects tested early when his own MLA, Michaela Frey, resigned in late 2022 to allow Premier Smith to run in a by-election. Morishita placed a disappointing third place in that by-election, earning only 16.5 per cent of the vote.
It’s unclear what riding Morishita could pick that would be friendlier than Brooks-Medicine Hat, where he is already well-known and respected. Smith deciding to make the riding her own certainly created a tough situation for the aspiring MLA.
Pawlowski loyalists retake control of Independence Party
A slate of candidates loyal to deposed leader and controversial street preacher Artur Pawlowski took back control of the Independence Party of Alberta board of directors at the party’s annual general meeting this weekend . Pawlowski was removed as party leader last week, the day before a recording of his infamous interview with Premier Smith was made public.
Supporters of Artur Pawlowski voted out the entire board that removed him as leader of @IndependenceAb Looks like it's Artur's party after all. I guess it just remains to be seen if they reinstate him now. #ableg #abpoli pic.twitter.com/CG2RnjiiGC
— Pastor Sisu van Hellberta (@sisuvanhell) April 2, 2023
Pawlowski’s opponents on the previous party board claimed the street preacher was spending too much time preaching religious teachings and opposition to already lifted COVID-19 mitigation measures and not focusing enough time promoting the party’s separatists policy positions.
The party has nominated at least seven candidates to run in the next election, though it remains unclear at the moment which candidates are loyal to Pawlowski and which are opposed.
Upcoming nomination votes
With Inderjit Grewal’s nomination and Tunde Obasan’s withdrawal, the UCP now has a slate of 81 candidates in Alberta’s 87 ridings. The Alberta NDP have nominated 78 candidates. The Green Party has 27 candidates, the Alberta Party has nominated 12 candidates, the Liberal Party has 8, and the Independence Party has at least seven.
Candidate nomination votes are currently scheduled in the following ridings:
- April 3 – Grande Prairie UCP
- April 21 – Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville NDP