Rumours circulated over the weekend that the UCP could appoint Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Rajan Sawhney as the UCP candidate in Calgary-North West. Sawhney has served as MLA for Calgary-North East since 2019 but announced in February 2023 that she would not run for re-election.
There is also speculation in political circles that the UCP could name Nolan Dyck as the party’s candidate in Grande Prairie-Wapiti. Dyck is currently seeking the nomination in the neighbouring Grande Prairie riding but is President of the UCP association in Grande Prairie-Wapiti and is politically close to Toews.
Liberal Party names 6 new candidates
The Liberal Party has named six new candidates, bringing the party’s total slate of candidates up to seven.
The slate of new candidates includes Dr. Donna Wilson, a nursing professor at the University of Alberta who’s area of research focuses on health services and health policy.
Wilson will be carrying the party’s banner in Edmonton-Whitemud, where she previously ran for the Liberals in a 2014 by-election. Back then, the Liberals were led by now-UCP candidate Dr. Raj Sherman and the Wildrose Party was led by now UCP Premier Danielle Smith. The riding is currently represented by NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi.
Wilson also ran for the Liberals in Edmonton-Riverview in the 2015 election.
Other Liberal Party candidates include:
Charlie Heater in Calgary-Fish Creek
Prince Mugisha in Calgary-North East
Jean Kijuli in Edmonton-Manning
Abdi Bakal in Edmonton-Mill Woods
Patricia Chizek in Lethbridge-West
Bakal and Chizek were candidates in those ridings in the 2019 election. Liberal Party leader John Roggeveen has not announced where he plans to run.
Other nomination updates
The Independence Party of Alberta has nominated Bob Blayone in Camrose, Terry Wolsey in Cardston-Siksika, David Reid in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, Corrie Toone in Livigstone-Macleod, Katherine Kowalchuk in Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, Fred Schwieger in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, Brent Ginther in Taber-Warner.
Ashley MacDonald is the Green Party candidate in Red Deer-South.
Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley was nominated as her party’s candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona this past weekend. Speaking to a crowd of more than 800 supporters gathered at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Notley delivered an energetic speech that felt like a campaign kick-off for the former premier’s party.
Notley was first elected as MLA for the central Edmonton riding in 2008 and was re-elected in 2019 with 72.2 per cent of the vote. The riding has elected NDP MLAs since 1997 and the party previously held the riding from 1986 to 1993.
UCP choose Claresholm Mayor in ‘do-over’ nomination vote in Livingstone-Macleod
Town of Claresholm Mayor Chelsae Petrovic won the United Conservative Party‘s ‘do-over’ nomination vote in Livingstone-Macleod. Petrovic defeated Tanya Clemens and Don Whalen in a decisive first ballot victory. Petrovic earned 759 votes with Clemens collecting 469 votes and Whalen finishing third with 118 votes.
This is the UCP’s second time holding a nomination vote in the southern Alberta riding.
The riding was represented by former premier Jason Kenney from 2017 until his resignation in November 2022.
NDP members in the riding voted to select Venkat Akkiraj over Kim Wagner in that party’s nomination vote this week. Akkiraj is a law student and former organizer with the Ontario NDP.
City Councillor jumps into Grande Prairie UCP race
City Councillor Gladys Blackmore is the fourth candidate to enter the UCP nomination contest in Grande Prairie. Blackmore served on City Council from 2001-2010 before making an unsuccessful bids for mayor in 2010 and 2013. She returned to city council in 2021.
She joins Nolan Dyck, Larry Gibson, and Tayyab Parvez in the race to choose a UCP successor to retiring MLA Tracy Allard.
The UCP MLA for the neighbouring Grande Prairie-Wapiti riding, Finance Minister Travis Toews, has still not announced whether he plans to run for re-election. Toews is now the only remaining MLA who has not announced their plans for the May election.
Hinshaw critic wins UCP nomination in Lethbridge-West
Torry Tanner defeated Rick Dempsey to win the UCP nomination vote in Lethbridge-West. Tanner was a participant in an unsuccessful lawsuit against former Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw challenging Alberta’s COVID-19 public health restrictions.
The riding is currently represented by NDP Shannon Phillips.
Other nomination updates
Calgary-Foothills: The Alberta Party disqualified Shaoli Wang as a candidate after a series of embarrassing social media posts were revealed. Wang will instead run as an Independent candidate.
Cypress-Medicine Hat: James Finkbeiner and Justin Wright are on the ballot when UCP members vote to nominate a candidate on March 16. The riding is currently represented by Independent MLA Drew Barnes.
Edmonton-City Centre: Richard Wong is the UCP candidate in this downtown Edmonton riding.
Leduc-Beaumont: Heather Feldbusch, Nam Kular, Brandon Lunty, Dawn Miller, Dave Quest, and Karen Richert are running for the UCP nomination. A vote is scheduled for March 18.
Peace River: Nancy O’Neill is running for the Independence Party of Alberta nomination.
Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: Former Clearwater County Reeve Tim Hovenwill run as an Independent candidate. Hoven was disqualified from running for the UCP nomination against Jason Nixon last year. It was widely believed that Hoven could have defeated Nixon, who was then serving as former premier Kenney’s chief lieutenant.
Former Calgary Catholic School District Trustee Pamela Rath has been nominated United Conservative Party candidate in Calgary-Mountain View. Rath served as a trustee from 2017 until her resignation in December 2022 for “personal and family matters.”
Rath’s resignation came a few months after she was censured by her trustee colleagues after being found to be in violation of the board’s code of conduct, though the nature of her alleged misconduct was never made public.
The riding has been represented by Alberta NDP MLA Kathleen Ganley since 2019 and was previously represented by Liberal MLA David Swann from 2004 to 2019.
Hogg defeated retired teacher Tim Gruber and private college founder David Martin. She has served as a trustee with the Prairie Rose Public School since 2013 and previously served as President of the Public School Boards’ Association of Alberta.
And way up north, Scott Sinclair defeated three other candidates to win the UCP nomination in Lesser Slave Lake.I’m told that Sinclair beat second place finisher Martine Carifelle by three votes. Sinclair will face Registered Nurse and former NDP MLA Danielle Larivee in the election.
Grande Prairie UCP race draws a crowd
Three more candidates – Larry Gibson, Don Golden and Tayyab Parvez – have joined the UCP nomination contest to replace retiring MLA Tracy Allard..
Gibson is an energy and utilities consultant and former chair of the Grande Prairie and District Chamber of Commerce. Golden is a realtor and former Catholic school board trustee. And Parvez is an engineer and the nephew of Calgary-North MLA Muhammad Yaseen. Nolan Dyck announced his candidacy last week.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Travis Toews is expected to announce soon whether or not he will run for re-election in the neighbouring Grande Prairie-Wapiti. Toews was first elected as MLA in 2019 and placed second to Danielle Smith in the 2022 UCP leadership race.
More nomination updates
Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock: Pastor-turned-horizontal directional driller Landen Tischerwas nominated as the NDP candidate in this sprawling riding north of Edmonton.
Calgary-Bow: Paul Godard has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Godard ran for the Alberta Party in the riding in 2019.
Calgary-Edgemont:Allen Schultz has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.
Calgary-Foothills:Shaoli Wang has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Wang previously ran for mayor in 2021 and as an Independent candidate in Calgary-Rocky Ridge in the 2019 federal election.
Camrose: Bob Blayone has announced he will run for the Independence Party of Alberta nomination in this central Alberta riding. Baylone acts as a spokesperson for the Independence Party and previously ran for town council in Peace River in 2021.
Central Peace-Notley: Lynn Lekisch is the Alberta Party candidate in this northwest Alberta riding. Lekisch ran for the NDP nomination in the riding in July 2022 but was defeated by Megan Ciurysek.
Edmonton-Castle Downs: Patrick Stewart has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.
Edmonton-Decore: Lawyer Brent Tyson has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.
Edmonton-Meadows: Amritpal Matharu defeated Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu to win the UCP nomination. Matharu is a shop manager at TJs Auto and Brakes & Tires and General Secretary of Gurdwara Millwoods.
Edmonton-West Henday: Joseph Angeles and Slava Cravcenco are on the ballot at the UCP nomination meeting on March 2.
Leduc-Beaumont: Al Luthra is no longer seeking the nomination. Heather Feldbusch, Nam Kular, Brandon Lunty, Dawn Miller, Dave Quest, and Karen Richert will be on the ballot when UCP members in the riding vote to choose a candidate on March 18.
Livingston-Macleod – Nanton town councillor Kevin Todd has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Todd had previously been seeking the UCP nomination but had a change of heart before the candidate entry deadline and choose to run for the Alberta Party instead.
Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills- Past Independence Party leadership candidate Katherine Kowalchuk is running for that party’s nomination in this central Alberta riding. Kowalchuk is connected to the COVID-skeptical Lawyers 4 Truth group and was briefly nominated as a Liberal Party candidate in Calgary-Signal Hill ahead of the 2015 federal election.
Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: Fred Schwieger is running for the Independence Party of Alberta. A nomination vote is scheduled for March 18, 19 and 20.
One of the three candidates running for the United Conservative Party nomination in south west Alberta’s Livingstone-Macleod riding was at the Petroleum Club event.
Tanya Clemens posted a photo of herself posing with Anderson on her social media at the talk. The photo caption included the quote “If the government is afraid of the people, you have democracy. If the people are afraid of the government, you have tyranny.”
When asked for comment about her attendance at Anderson’s event, Clemens replied:
“Like our Members of Parliament, I was unaware of her views and political history.
She was one of a few individuals that used their international platforms to call out Justin Trudeau’s unacceptable and dictator like behaviour during COVID and that is why I went to the event in the first place.
I had no additional information on Anderson, but had I known about her unacceptable stances beforehand, I would not have attended the event.”
The Calgary events were attended by Freedom Convoy organizer Tamara Lich and lawyer Keith Wilson, and street pastor-turned-Independence Party of Alberta leader Artur Pawlowski, who has turned the party into a vehicle of right-wing conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and the World Economic Forum.
Following the event, Anderson sat down for a one-on-one interview with Canadian Olympian and COVID-19 conspiracy theorist Jamie Salé.
Former Alberta Prosperity Project leader running for UCP nomination in Edmonton-Riverview
The APP has organized chapters around the province and promotes a range of conspiracy theories on its social media related to COVID-19, Digital ID, 15-minute cities and the World Economic Forum. The organization also recently promoted the debunked claim that commissioner of the Public Order Emergency Commission Paul Rouleau is the husband of Trudeau’s aunt (he’s not).
Until recently, the Alberta Prosperity Project’s chief executive officer was Dr. Dennis Modry.
Dr. Modry is a well-known Edmonton-based surgeon, having completed Alberta’s first heart transplant in 1985 and founding the heart & lung transplantation program at the University of Alberta. He was also a fundraiser for the Progressive Conservative Party in the 1980s and 1990s and was co-chair of Doug Main’s campaign for the PC Party leadership in 1992.
But Dr. Modry’s more recent political activities have moved further from the mainstream. He served as VP Policy and Governance of the Wildrose Independence Party before that party’s implosion and has since promoted Alberta sovereignty through the APP.
The APP has loudly advocated for the Alberta government to hold a referendum on independence from Canada, which the group says would give Alberta a strong position to negotiate with Ottawa.
The APP recently changed the by-laws posted on its website but a proposed party by-laws document posted in May 2022 outlined APP plans to create a separatist political party called the “Provincial Party” that would be renamed the “National Party” after a successful referendum on independence from Canada. The 2022 by-laws called for an independence referendum and included vague plans about establishing an Alberta “Constitution, Charter of Freedoms, Rights, & Responsibilities, and Declaration of Independence.”
The 2023 by-laws outline the creation of a new Alberta Republic, including the creation of a “Defense Force for the Republic” that would include an army, air force, cyber force, and navy (presumably the Alberta navy would have a home port at Cold Lake or Slave Lake).
The 2023 document also outlines APP plans to create a “Republic’s Reserve Bank” and create a “a mint for the Republic” that “will be evaluated in relation to three currency choices; Canadian, USA, or new currency minted in Alberta.”
The fundraising event was billed as an opportunity for the UCP leadership candidates to share their plans to protect Albertans from “the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 and World Economic Forum’s Great Reset.”
Only three of the seven UCP leadership candidates participated in the debate: Danielle Smith, Brian Jean and Todd Loewen.
“So part of when I decided I wanted to run [for Alberta premier], I knew how important it was to make sure that we addressed the issues of autonomy,” Smith said. “And I talked to Dr. Modry as one of my first steps. I said, ‘let’s try this together.’”
A UCP nomination meeting has not yet been scheduled in Edmonton-Riverview and I’m told that at least one or two other candidates might enter the contest.
A nomination vote in Livingstone-Macleod is scheduled for March 9, 10 and 11. The candidates in that race are Tanya Clemens, Town of Claresholm Mayor Chelsae Petrovic, and former pastor Don Whalen.
With 75 of 76 polls reporting, Premier Danielle Smith has won the by-election in Brooks-Medicine Hat.
Here are the results at the time this post was published:
Danielle Smith UCP – 5,768 (55.5%)
Gwendoline Dirk NDP – 2,512 (24.2%)
Barry Morishita AP – 1,871 (18%)
Bob Blayone IPA – 200 (1.9%)
Jeevan Mangat WRIP – 49 (0.5%)
I’ll share some more in-depth analysis on the Daveberta Substack on Thursday, but it’s worth noting that, while a win is win, Smith finished with only 55 per cent support in one of the most conservative parts of the province.
The NDP’s Gwendoline Dirk finished a distant second overall but appears to have won the vote in the City of Medicine Hat, a sign of the growing urban-rural divide in Alberta politics.
Third place is not where Alberta Party leader and former Brooks mayor Barry Morishita wanted toend the night, but 18 per cent in the leader’s riding is not the worst result for a party that is polling at around 3 per cent in province-wide polls.
Reid was first elected in 2019 and was undeterred from running for the nomination again even when it looked like he would face new party leader Danielle Smith in the contest. But then Reid suddenly dropped out on the morning after the October 31 candidate entry deadline.
Statement from our MLA Roger Reid: November 1, 2022 After much personal wrestling and conversations with family and friends I have decided to withdraw my name from the United Conservative Party nomination for Livingstone Macleod. While I hoped to serve a second term, I no longer feel it is possible for me to do so. It has been a tremendous honour to represent the people of this riding as the MLA. I have discovered many amazing places so close to home and it has been my privilege to meet with constituents from High River to the Crowsnest over the last 4 years. I will continue to be focused on the needs of Livingstone Macleod through the end of my term. The last couple of years have been particularly challenging for our province. Neither I, nor our government have been perfect, but I believe the work we have done has put Alberta back on track. We are stronger and in a better position to weather the current storms than we were four years ago. There is still work to do. To move forward we must be a united movement to ensure a strong conservative government continues to lead the province. It is essential for our true prosperity. As I end my term, I will ensure that the concerns and the needs of Livingstone Macleod are kept in front of our Premier and her cabinet until the next election is called. Thank you for allowing me privilege of representing you. In Service, Roger W. Reid MLA – Livingstone Macleod
Unless there is another surprise candidate in the race, it looks like Nadine Wellwood could be acclaimed as the UCP candidate in the rural southwest Alberta riding.
Marilyn North Peigan is no longer the NDP candidate in Calgary-Klein.
NDP provincial secretary Brandon Stevens issued a statement about her candidate status after North Peigan retweeted a video clip of City Councillor Dan McLean with an accompanying tweet alleging he was corrupt and that one of his family members was a corrupt board member for the Calgary Stampede.
Stevens also stated that while McLean’s actions in the original video circulating online are racist and unacceptable, the statements made by North Peigan towards his family and the Stampede are not appropriate and not reflective of the views of the Alberta NDP.
Premier Smith says it’s up toDrew Barnes to decide whether he wants to rejoin the UCP Caucus and seek the party’s nomination to run for re-election. Barnes was first elected as MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat in 2012 and was one of four Wildrose MLAs not to cross the floor with Smith in 2014. He was kicked out of the UCP Caucus in 2021 after becoming one of former Premier Jason Kenney‘s biggest internal critics.
Two-term MLA Ron Orr is not running for re-election and Jennifer Johnson and paramedic Dusty Myshrall have stepped forward to run for the UCP nomination in Lacombe-Ponoka. Johnson’s social media feed shows her recently attending events organized by the separatist Alberta Prosperity Project and COVID-19 skeptical Canadians For Truth group.
Brooks-Medicine Hat by-election
Advance voting in the Brooks-Medicine Hat by-election is open until Saturday, November 5. On Election Day, November 8, voting stations will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The five candidates contesting the by-election, UCP leader Danielle Smith, NDP leader Gwendoline Dirk, Alberta Party leader Barry Morishita, Wildrose Independence Party interim leader Jeevan Mangat, and Independence Party candidate Bob Blayone, participated in a forum organized by the Alberta Teachers’ Association Grasslands Local No. 34.
I’ll start with the by-election in Brooks-Medicine Hat.
Brooks-Medicine Hat by-election
A November 8 by-election has been called in Brooks-Medicine Hat and Premier Danielle Smith is running as the United Conservative Party candidate. She will face Alberta NDP candidate and retired teacher Gwendoline Dirk and Brooks mayor-turned-Alberta Party leader Barry Morishita.
Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips was on hand to help Dirk’s kick off her campaign this week. Dirks is a retired high school teacher and Medicine Hat College instructor. She ran for a seat on the Medicine Hat Public School Board in 2021 and is a member of the Medicine Hat Police Commission. Her partner Peter Mueller was the NDP candidate in the neighbouring Cypress-Medicine Hat riding in the 2019 election.
This is Morishita’s first time running in an election as the leader of the Alberta Party but he is a veteran of elections in the City of Brooks. He served on Brooks City Council from 1998 to 2003 and 2010 to 2016, and was Mayor from 2019 until 2021.
This is not Morishita’s first time running in a provincial election. In 2001, he ran for the Liberals against Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Lyle Oberg, earning 15.5 per cent of the vote.
The deadline for candidates to enter the nomination is October 21 and it’s looking like it won’t be a crowded race.
Buffalo Party leader John Holberg and party president Raman Bains announced that the recently formed right-wing party would not put forward a candidate to run in the by-election. “We wish the Premier the best of luck in the Brooks-Medicine Hat by election,” the statement declared.
Independence Party of Alberta leader and Calgary street preacher Artur Pawlowski is hosting information sessions on Oct 17 in Medicine Hat on Oct. 17 and Brooks on Oct. 19 but the party hasn’t publicly named a candidate. UPDATE: Bob Blayone has been named as the Independence Party candidate.
Now to other candidate nomination news from across Alberta:
Two-term MLA David Shepherd was nominated as the NDP candidate Edmonton-City Centre. Shepard was first elected in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019 with 66 per cent of the vote.
Dawn Flaata was nominated as the NDP candidate in Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright at an October 15 meeting. Flaata is a local author with a long history of involvement in the chamber of commerce in Vermilion and was a Constituency Assistant to former Conservative MP Leon Benoit.
Communications consultant Amanda Chapman defeated firefighter Jason Curry to secure the NDP nomination in Calgary-Beddington.
Liana Paiva running for the NDP nomination in Peace River with a nomination meeting scheduled for Friday, October 28, 2022.
Lawyer Denis Ram is running for NDP nomination in Calgary-Peigan at a November 8 nomination meeting. Ram placed second in the NDP nomination in Calgary-Cross in July 2022.
United Conservative Party
Jon Horsman is the second candidate to declare plans to run for the UCP nomination in Calgary-Elbow. Horsman is a former bank vice-president and briefly was a candidate for the leadership of the UCP. Lawyer Andrea Jamesannounced her candidacy in June 2022.
Brazeau County Councillor Kara Westerlund is the third candidate to enter the UCP nomination contest in Drayton Valley-Devon. Westerlund has served on county council since 2010 and is a Vice President of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta. She joins Carol Vowk and Andrew Boitchenko.
The NDP have now nominated candidates in 58 of Alberta’s 87 electoral districts. As previously noted, it appears as though the UCP have paused the nomination process until after their new leader is selected on October 6. The Green Party has 15 candidates nominated and the Alberta Party has named three candidates.
Chris Brown and I discuss the last month in the United Conservative Party leadership race, Danielle Smith’s unexpected rise to the top, and how a Smith led UCP will do against Notley’s NDP in 2023 (or sooner) on the latest episode of the Cross Border Interviews Podcast.
Watch the interview here:
Subscribe and listen to Chris Brown’s Cross Border Podcast on Apple and Spotify.
There ain’t no party like a fringe right-wing Alberta separatist party.
Less than two months after Paul Hinman was ousted as leader of the Wildrose Independence Party and replaced by interim leader Jeevan Mangat, it appears that a counter-kudatah (known outside Alberta as a “coup d’état”) has pushed out Hinman’s opponents.
An online statement and email to WIP members from former Wexit Alberta interim leader Kathy Flett, who identifies herself as the WIP VP Communications, says a false narrative is being put out by the former Provincial Board after a well-attended annual general meeting on July 23, 2022 in Red Deer.
“There have been repeated claims that a “Minority Group of 40 or so” members “Took Over” the AGM,” Flett writes. “The Facts tell a different story.”
“This weekend in Red Deer, history was made as Wildrose members stood steadfast for what they knew was right. Their tenacity and persistence forced those who thought they should remain on the board to finally walk out in shame.”
“What occurred yesterday is a sad example of what happens when a small group of individuals completely lose touch with the will of the majority.”
“The Wildrose Independence Party belongs to its members, not the Party Board of Governors, and, therefore, Rick Northey, Wes Caldwell, Bill Jones, et al, are no longer Governors of the Wildrose Independence Party.”
“As of this moment, they still control the party’s website and email system. As such, we advise you to disregard any communications originating from “Wildrosenation.com” until we’ve confirmed with you that it is, again, from us.”
According to Flett’s statement, the newly elected board includes President Angela Tabak (the party’s president in Cardston-Siksika), Chief Finance Officer Allan Wesley, and Secretary Gord Elliot (who until recently was President of the United Conservative Party constituency association in Calgary-North West).
The takeover appears to have pushed out President Rick Northey (the former President of the Wildrose Party association in Airdrie) and CFO Bill Jones.
As of this afternoon, the party’s website showed most of the party’s Board of Governors positions as vacant but still listed Northey and Jones, as well as former Conservative MP Rob Anders and separatist activist Bob Lefurgey as members of the party’s board.
It appears as though Hinman has been reinstated as party leader but Elections Alberta still lists Mangat as the party’s interim leader, so it’s not totally clear.
Hinman originally stepped into the role on an interim basis in 2020 but later became the party’s permanent leader when no one else ran for the leadership. He was leader of the Wildrose Alliance from 2005 to 2009 and was elected to the Legislature twice – as MLA for Cardston-Taber-Warner from 2004 to 2008 and MLA for Calgary-Glenmore from 2009 to 2012. He briefly mounted a campaign for the UCP leadership in 2017 but withdrew before the nomination deadline and endorsed Jason Kenney.
The Wildrose Independence Party was created in 2020 as a merger of the Wexit Alberta group created after the federal Liberals were re-elected in 2019 and the Freedom Conservative Party, which was previously known as the Alberta First Party, Separation Party of Alberta, and the Western Freedom Party.
The WIP has suffered from poor fundraising returns in recent months, raising a measly $7,613 in the second quarter of 2022, and low support in the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election.
A recent push by UCP leadership candidates Danielle Smith, Brian Jean and Todd Loewen toward all out separatism or some form of provincial autonomy has given a second wind to Alberta separatists but sucked the wind out of the sails of the actual separatist parties.
Recent merger talks with the competing Independence Party of Alberta fell apart in June 2022. A statement on the IPA website lists Northey and Jones as key negotiators for the WIP in those talks.
The IPA, formerly known as the Alberta Independence Party, went through its own internal drama after the 2019 election and is now in the process of choosing its second new leader since that election. Former federal Liberal candidate and anti-COVID restrictions activist lawyer Katherine Kowalchuk is the only candidate in the race.
All this ongoing drama is almost par for the course for Alberta’s small cottage industry of right-wing separatist parties, but it raises the big question: How do they plan to fight Ottawa when they are so busy fighting themselves?
Her campaign chair, Rob Anderson, is founder of the Free Alberta Strategy and was one of two Progressive Conservative MLAs to cross the floor to Smith’s Wildrose in 2010 (he later crossed the floor back to the PCs with Smith in 2014).
Smith declared Alberta will never ever have a lockdown again (we never *really* had a lockdown).
The other candidates responded.
She made wild statements about any cancer before Stage 4 is a result of poor personal choices.
Postmedia columnist Don Braid wrote that her “dabbles in quackery” are sometimes almost funny but “this one is dangerous.”
When Smith hosted a popular radio talk show she promoted hydroxychloroquine as a cure to COVID-19. She even touted ivermectin as a treatment. Now she wants to appoint chief medical officers of alternative medicine.
Rehn was briefly expelled from the UCP Caucus in 2021 after taking a hot holiday to Mexico while most Albertans respected the government’s own COVID-19 travel advice and stayed home, and local municipal leaders called on him to resign after spending more time in Texas than his own riding.
Kenney said Rehn would not be allowed to run for the UCP nomination in the next election but he was quietly allowed to rejoin the UCP Caucus last summer. But now Kenney is on his way out.
Some might say I’m playing into the Smith-comeback narrative by writing this article, but she’s the only candidate saying anything interesting – even if it’s quackery.
She’s drawing crowds and appears to be hitting the right notes with a motivated segment of the UCP base, which says a lot about who the membership of the UCP is today.
This isn’t your father’s Progressive Conservative Party, folks.
The other candidates in the UCP race better get their acts together, because the membership sales deadline is on August 12.
Hinman has been replaced by Jeevan Mangat, who ran for the Wildrose Party in Calgary-Fort in 2012 and 2015.
The WIP was created in 2020 through the merger of the Wexit group and the Freedom Conservative Party (which was previously known as the Alberta First Party, the Separation Party of Alberta and the Western Freedom Party). The party has struggled with fundraising and Hinman placed a distant third in the recent Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election.
Before his time as WIP leader, Hinman served as a Wildrose MLA from 2004 to 2008 and 2009 to 2012, and as leader of the Wildrose Alliance Party immediately before Danielle Smith was chosen as leader in 2009.
Meanwhile, the IPA is still looking for a new leader. Past federal Liberal candidate Katherine Kowalchuk is the only candidate in the race, so far.
Edmonton public school board trustee Nathan Ip defeated business instructor Ben Acquaye, behavioral specialist Chand Gul, andmedical clinic executive director Ali Kamal to win the NDP nomination in Edmonton-South West.
“We are in dire need for new schools in the growing areas of Edmonton-South West,” said Ip. “Edmonton-South West is one of the fastest growing communities in Alberta with one of the youngest populations and they deserve a representative that will stand up for them.”
Ip was first elected to the school board in 2013 and currently serves as its vice-chair.
His candidacy was endorsed by former city councillor Michael Phair, former MLAs Bob Turner and Jim Gurnett, and former Alberta Party president Rhiannon Hoyle.
Edmonton-South West is the only riding in Edmonton city limits represented by a UCP MLA, current Labour Minister Kaycee Madu, who was removed from his position as Justice Minister after it became public that he personally phoned Edmonton’s police chief after getting a distracted driving ticket.
Madu faces a nomination challenge from Slava Cravcenco at a June 29 candidate selection meeting.
Sylvan Lake town councillor challenges Dreeshen for UCP nomination
Sylvan Lake town councillor Kjeryn Dakin is challenging MLA Devin Dreeshen for the UCP nomination in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.
Dakin is owner of the Bukwildz restaurant in Sylvan Lake and was first elected to town council in 2021.
Dreeshen was first elected in a 2018 by-election and served as Minister of Agriculture & Forestry from 2019 until 2021 when he resigned after a lawsuit by a former political staffer alleged a culture of sexual harassment, defamation, and drinking at the Legislature.
He is son of Conservative MP Earl Dreeshen, who has represented the Red Deer-Mountain View riding since 2008.
The younger Dreeshan was re-elected in 2019 with 74.5 per cent of the vote.
City lawyer wins NDP nomination in Red Deer-South
City solicitor Michelle Baer defeated former MLA Barb Miller and labour council president Kyle Johnston to win the NDP nomination in Red Deer-South.
“Red Deer is the third largest city in the province, yet is often stuck between being considered a ‘big city’ or a rural area,” Baer said. “Red Deer deserves a strong voice in government to represent the distinctive issues this area faces. I’m excited for the chance to do the hard work Red Deer needs and deserves.”
Red Deer-South is currently represented by UCP MLA Jason Stephan, a vocal critic of outgoing Premier Jason Kenney, who was first elected in 2019 with 60.3 per cent of the vote.
Dang was first elected in 2015 in Edmonton-South West and ran for re-election when the electoral boundaries changed as Edmonton-South was created.
On the doors
Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, NDP leader Rachel Notley was spotted at events with Calgary-Bow candidate Druh Farrell, Calgary-Glenmore candidate Nagwan Al-Guneid, and Calgary-North East candidate Gurinder Brar this past weekend. Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Richard Feehan was also spotted on the doors with Al-Guneid.
Sherwood Park UCP MLA Jordan Walker was on the doors with UCP nomination candidate Sayid Ahmed in Edmonton-Decore last weekend. The UCP have opened nominations in the north Edmonton riding.
There is no excuse for staff treating volunteers poorly, but in every party there is almost always some level of tension between the central party and local constituency associations when it comes to candidate recruitment and nominations.
Constituency associations will have their local favorites, including long-time volunteers, while the central party will be trying to build a province-wide slate of candidates who could potentially become cabinet ministers and ridings in which to place those high-profile candidates.
When there is a lot of interest in nominations, like there is now with the NDP, tension and conflicting plans of the local and provincial efforts can sometimes flare.
The NDP need to deal with this issue quickly and decisively or risk it dogging them into the upcoming election.
The other parties
Wildrose Independence Party leader Paul Hinman has been touring the province, recently making stops at party events in Drumheller, Morningside, Drayton Valley, Leduc, Springbrook, Red Deer and Calgary.
The Green Party has formally opened applications for candidates for the next election. Green Party leader Jordan Wilkie has already announced his plans to run as a candidate in Banff-Kananaskis . Party holding an election readiness town hall on July 17 in Edmonton.
Lawyer Katherine Kowalchuk is running for the leadership of the separatist Independence Party of Alberta. Kowalchuk was briefly nominated as the Liberal candidate in Calgary-Signal Hill ahead of the 2015 federal election.
The UCP claims the totals (see below) don’t include more than $375,000 raised by constituency associations. This is probably true, but we won’t actually know until Elections Alberta releases its next annual report sometime in early 2023.
So instead of having the kind of transparency that showed Albertans what political parties AND constituency associations actually raised in each quarter, we are now stuck comparing apples and oranges.
The funny thing is that if the UCP hadn’t made the disclosure laws less transparent, they would probably be getting positive headlines instead of having to spin a days worth of “but wait!” tweets.
Unlike the UCP and most other parties, the Alberta NDP has long disclosed all its fund-raising centrally, so all of the NDP’s fundraising will still be reported quarterly.
Here are the political party fundraising results for the first quarter of 2022 released by Elections Alberta today:
NDP – $1,037,511.32
UCP – $887,974.49
Pro-Life Political Association – $67,564.93
Alberta Party – $29,006.45
Liberal – $19,667
Wildrose Independence – $14,205
Green Party – $1,920
Independence Party – $390
Alberta Advantage Party – $310
The Communist Party, Reform Party, and Buffalo Party reported no funds raised int he first three months of 2022.
The UCP fundraising has improved, but it is nowhere near as dominant it was in its heydays before 2020, when Rachel Notley‘s NDP began a near two-year streak of out-fundraising the governing conservative party.
It is something somewhat positive that Jason Kenney can point to as UCP members vote to decide his fate in the leadership review (but he might have to explain why he made political fundraising less transparent), but as we get closer to the next election it’s looking more like a competitive fundraising race between the NDP and UCP.
Meanwhile, Elections Alberta 2021 annual report showed the NDP with $5,598,136.01 and the UCP with $1,141,647.39 in the bank at the end of last year.
I’m sure I might have more thoughts to share about this as I pour through the disclosure reports this week, so stay tuned!
March 15 – the Ides of March – is the day voters in the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche riding will go to the polls to choose their new MLA.
Premier Jason Kenney waited until the very last day possible to call a by-election to replace former MLA Laila Goodridge, who resigned six months ago to run in last year’s federal election. Waiting this late to call a normal by-election would be very unusual, but this is no normal by-election.
United Conservative Party members in the northern Alberta riding rejected Kenney’s favoured nomination candidate in favour of Brian Jean, the former leader of the Wildrose Party and former MLA and MP who is openly calling on Kenney to resign.
Jean dropped out of provincial politics in 2018, resigning as MLA for the former Fort McMurray-Conklin riding when he was not given a spot in Kenney’s shadow cabinet. But retirement didn’t suit him, and it wasn’t long before he was regularly chirping at Kenney on social media and in the newspaper editorial pages.
He now has the UCP nomination in a normally safe UCP riding and he is openly organizing and fundraising in an effort to dump Kenney at the April 9 leadership review in Red Deer.
With no pro-Kenney candidates on the March 15 ballot, don’t expect the Premier or any cabinet ministers to be visiting the riding in the next 28-days.
Rachel Notley‘s NDP have nominated Fort McMurray school teacher and past candidate Ariana Mancini as their choice in the by-election. And while Mancini remains an underdog in this race, she has been joined over the past few months by a steady stream of NDP MLAs travelling north to visit the riding.
Edmonton-Whitemud NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi was in Fort McMurray today for Mancini’s campaign launch.
While the NDP have been riding high in the poll and are flush with cash, this will be a tough riding for them to win. The UCP earned 66 per cent of the vote in 2019 and the last time voters in this area elected a New Democrat was in 1986, when Leo Piquette won in Athabasca-Lac La Biche.
But, never say never. By-elections can sometimes produce unpredictable results.
While the Kenney-Jean rivalry is the main theme going into the by-election, the candidacy of another former Wildrose Party leader makes this race even more unusual.
Former Wildrose Party leader Paul Hinman now leads and is running in the by-election for the Wildrose Independence Party – a party that not only promotes Alberta separatism from Canada, but, judging from its social media feeds, embraces a vast range of right-wing internet conspiracy theories.
The grandson of former provincial treasurer Edgar Hinman, the younger Hinman was the Alberta Alliance MLA for Cardston-Taber-Warner from 2004 to 2008 before surprising political watchers by winning a 2009 by-election in posh Calgary-Glenmore. He led the Alliance and Wildrose Alliance from 2005 until resigning in 2009 to make way for Danielle Smith.
Hinman endorsed Jean for the Wildrose Party leadership in 2015 and Kenney for the UCP leadership in 2017 after cancelling his own bid to lead the new party.
Now he leads the separatist Wildrose Independence Party, which was created by a merger of the Freedom Conservative Party and the Wexit Alberta group in July 2020.
But that’s not where the Wildrose blast-from-the-past ends in this by-election!
Burns was a candidate for the Alberta Alliance Party in Stony Plain in 2004 and ran against Hinman for the Alliance leadership way back in 2005. She was later part of a small group of Wildrosers who campaigned against the merger with the Progressive Conservative Party before helping found the Alberta Advantage Party.
Burns led the Alberta Advantage Party into the 2019 election and resigned soon after amid a leadership challenge and announced plans to run for the position again. She now appears to once again be party leader.
The second separatist candidate in the by-election, the Independence Party of Alberta‘s Steven Mellott, has never led or tried to lead the Wildrose Party (as far as I am aware).