Kind of like Aunt Martha’s fruitcake. It keeps coming back at you year after year.
Over the summer months, while most Albertans were focusing on navigating wildfire smoke and intense heat, the provincial government released a steady stream of mandate letters from Premier Danielle Smith to her cabinet ministers.
The mandate letters are meant to provide direction from the Premier to the Ministers on where the departments they are responsible for fit in the government’s agenda.
Publicly releasing ministerial mandate letters provides a certain level of transparency on the surface but the stream of press releases, as conservative thinker KenBoessenkool mused last year, “turns an important governing process into a communications and stakeholder exercise.”
The United Conservative Party has filled their slate of 87 candidates with the nomination of Nick Kalynchuk as their candidate in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood.
Kalynchuk is a staffer in Premier Danielle Smith‘s office and was Vice-President of the United Conservative Club at the University of Alberta. He started working in the Premier’s office during Jason Kenney‘s time as Premier and previously worked for the UCP Caucus.
Kalynchuk will face Alberta NDP MLA Janis Irwin, Green Party candidate Kristine Kowalchuk and Communist Party leader Naomi Rankin.
Irwin was elected in 2019 with 63.4 per cent of the vote. The NDP have held the riding since it was created in 2004.
NDP slate to be filled by April 30
NDP leader Rachel Notley announced today that her party would have their full slate of 87 candidates nominated by April 30.
Also announced today: Harry Singh will be nominated as the party’s candidate in Drayton Valley-Devon on April 30.
Always a fan favourite, for the third year in a row Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Janis Irwin has been voted the Best Alberta MLA. For the first time, Irwin was voted Best Opposition MLA, knocking her leader Rachel Notley out of the spot for the first time since 2019.
Irwin is a passionate voice in the Legislature and one of the hardest working constituency MLAs in the province.
On any given day, she can be spotted around her north east Edmonton constituency out volunteering with a community group, attending a cultural event, or just meeting with constituents. Sure this is what a lot of MLAs do, but Irwin balances her community work and politics with level of humility and humour that you don’t always see in a politician – and she’s been able to successfully translate it into a huge social media following on Instagram and Twitter. (Oh, I can’t forget to mention Oregano).
Best Alberta Cabinet Minister
Well-liked and respected among her colleagues, Minister of Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism Rajan Sawhney was new to politics when she was first elected in 2019 but quickly distinguished herself as a strong performer in a largely rookie cabinet.
The Calgary-North East MLA leaned on her years of business experience to launch an outsider campaign for the United Conservative Party leadership in 2022, but it wasn’t enough to break through in a campaign that was defined by the front-runner, Danielle Smith.
Up and Coming MLA to Watch
Edmonton-Whitemud NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi continues to distinguish herself as a smart and well-spoken member of the opposition.
This is Pancholi’s third year winning in this category, demonstrating that a lot of people are interested in watching her political trajectory and probably won’t stop until she either becomes a cabinet minister after next year’s election or goes on to lead her party at some point in the future.
Candidate to Watch in 2023
First Nations lawyer and Edmonton-West Henday NDP candidate Brooks Arcand-Paul was voted the Candidate to Watch in 2023. The University of Ottawa law graduate is the in-house legal counsel for the Alexander First Nation, located just north of Edmonton. As part of the NDP’s slate of new candidates, he’s running in the west Edmonton riding being vacated by retiring two-term NDP MLA Jon Carson.
Biggest issue of 2022
The crisis in the health care system was overwhelmingly voted the biggest political issue of 2022 in Alberta, and there shouldn’t be any confusion why.
The lingering effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the dramatic impact of respiratory illnesses on children’s hospitals in Calgary and Edmonton have made national headlines. Shortages of nurses and doctors have created a staffing crisis in hospitals and health centres in every corner of Alberta.
The current crisis guarantees that health care will be one of the top issues on the minds of Albertans heading into the 2023 election.
Biggest political play of 2022
It was almost Shakespearean. Jason Kenney losing the leadership of the UCP – the party he nurtured from its birth – was voted the biggest political play of 2022. Kenney pulled together the Wildrose and Progressive Conservatives parties (which won the 2017 award in this category) with the goal of defeating the NDP in 2019 but it wasn’t long after his big electoral success that his party started to turn on him.
Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to everyone who voted in this year’s survey. There is a lot of negativity in politics, so I started the annual Best of Alberta Politics survey back in 2017 as a way to give followers of provincial politics a chance to recognize and reward some of the best people involved in Alberta politics.
With thousands of submissions made to the sixth annual Best of Alberta Politics 2022 survey, your choices have been sorted and you can now vote for the top 3 choices in each category. Voting is open until Dec. 22, 2022 at 8:00 pm and the winners will be announced shortly after at daveberta.ca. Thank you to everyone who voted.
“I believe without a doubt that Red Deer-North, and all of Alberta, can thrive under the NDP,” Tweedle said in a statement.
“I will work to ensure our community has access to quality healthcare, a world class public education system, long-term job growth and opportunities for our children, supports and dignity for our most vulnerable, and ensure affordability for families with a competent government steering the ship.”
Tweedle is a former oilfield administrator and was a candidate for the Red Deer Public School Board in 2021.
Lawyer Andrea James has already announced her plans to run for the UCP nomination and there is speculation in political circles that former City Councillor and mayoral candidate Jeff Davison could also seek the nomination.
Calling a by-election in a safe rural seat so a potential future Premier Smith can get into the Legislative while also not calling a by-election in the already vacant riding sounds like a pretty good way of helping the UCP lose the seat in the next election.
The NDP have now nominated candidates in 55 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 Alberta Party has nominated three candidates.
Alberta NDP MLA Janis Irwin was nominated to run for re-election under her party’s banner at an outdoor nomination meeting in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood yesterday.
“Every day I meet people who share their stories with me, and I know that they and their loved ones deserve a representative and a government that is going to be there for them. I am so grateful that this community has put their faith in me, once again, to be their representative,” Irwin said in a statement.
A former school teacher and curriculum expert, Irwin was first elected in 2019 with 63.4 per cent of the vote. She succeeded former NDP leader and longtime MLA Brian Mason, who had represented the east central Edmonton riding since 2000.
Former Alberta Party President wins NDP nomination
Rhiannon Hoyle defeated Nasim Boroumand to win the NDP nomination in Edmonton-South. Hoyle a long time community league volunteer who was narrowly defeated by Jennifer Rice in last year’s City Council elections. She also served as President of the Alberta Party from 2017 to 2019.
Teacher and information technology consultant David Cloutier was nominated as the NDP candidate in Calgary-Shaw.
“I grew up in south Calgary, and when the UCP was elected it was the first time my family and I ever questioned if we wanted to stay in the province. I was worried about the direction they were taking Alberta,” said Cloutier. “I asked myself how I could get involved, and work towards a better change for my family and my community, and that led me straight to the Alberta NDP.”
The south Calgary riding is currently represented by UCP MLA and leadership candidate Rebecca Schulz.
The NDP have now nominated candidates in 49 of Alberta’s 87 electoral districts. The United Conservative Party has 35 nominated candidates and the Alberta Party has three.
Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul: Former Municipal District of Bonnyville Reeve Greg Sawchuk is seeking the United Conservative Party nomination. Sawchuk served as Reeve from 2017 until he was unseated in a rematch against Barry Kalinski in the 2021 election.
Incumbent MLA David Hanson has announced his plans to run for re-election. Hanson was first elected in 2015 as a Wildrose Party MLA and was re-elected in 2019 under the UCP banner.
Calgary-Shaw: David Cloutier is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate at a candidate selection meeting today.
Edmonton-Castle Downs: NDP MLA Nicole Goehring defeated Nurmaiya Bradyto secure the NDP nomination. Goehring was first elected in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019. Former city councillor Jon Dziadyk is the nominated UCP candidate.
Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood: MLA Janis Irwin is expected to be nominated at a meeting on September 25 at the Bellevue Community Hall. Irwin was first elected in 2019 with 63.4 per cent of the vote.
Edmonton-South: Nasim Boroumand and Rhiannon Hoyle are seeking the NDP nomination in a vote today.
Lacombe-Ponoka: Paramedic and Alberta Paramedic’s Association president Dustin Marshrall is seeking the UCP nomination. Teacher Dave Dale is running for the NDP nomination at an October 19 nomination meeting.
Withdrawals: Usman Sadiq has withdrawn from the NDP nomination contest in Calgary-Foothills and Vivian Mills from the NDP contest in Sherwood Park.
MLA Rod Loyola defeated psychologists association president Dr. Judi Malone and ETS driver Manpreet Tiwana to become the NDP candidate at a September 10 nomination meeting.
MLA Heather Sweet was acclaimed as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Manning at a September 8 nomination meeting. Sweet has represented the riding since 2015.
MLA Shannon Phillips was acclaimed as the NDP candidate in Lethbridge-West at a September 11 nomination meeting. Phillips was first elected in 2015 and served as Minister of Environment and Parks during the NDP’s term in government. She is currently the Official Opposition Finance critic.
Upcoming nomination meetings:
September 14: Former public school board trustee Michelle Draper and NDP provincial president Peggy Wright will face each other at a nomination vote in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview.
September 15: MLA Kathleen Ganley is running for the NDP nomination in Calgary-Mountain View.
September 17: MLA Marlin Schmidt is seeking the NDP in Edmonton-Gold Bar.
September 20: MLA Nicole Goehring is facing a nomination challenge from Nurmaiya Brady in Edmonton-Castle Downs.
September 24: Former city council candidate Rhiannon Hoyle and University of Alberta researcher Nasim Boroumand is seeking the NDP nomination in Edmonton-South.
September 25: Teacher David Cloutier is seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-Shaw.
September 25: MLA Janis Irwin is seeking the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood.
September 27: Former Spruce Grove city councillor Chantal Saramaga-McKenzie and former Parkland County Mayor Rod Shaigec are seeking the NDP nomination in Spruce Grove-Stony Plain.
Arcand-Paul launched his candidacy in the west Edmonton riding the day after two-term MLA Jon Carson announced he would not run for re-election.
“Albertans deserve leaders who care about people, Arcand-Paul said in a statement.
“The NDP have a proven record that they really care about all people. The last few years have presented our communities with unprecedented challenges, and the UCP government has failed us at every turn. It’s time for government to work for all Albertans, rather than against them. From rising insurance and utility rates, cuts to education and healthcare, we cannot afford another UCP term. ”
Arcand-Paul is the in-house legal counsel for the Alexander First Nation, located about a 25-minute drive northwest of Edmonton, and Vice President of the Indigenous Bar Association.
His launch event included endorsements from Edmonton-Griesbach MP Blake Desjarlais, former Edmonton-Strathcona MP Linda Duncan and Edmonton-Rutherford NDP nomination candidate Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse.
The date for a nomination meeting has not yet been announced.
The battle for Calgary heating up
The NDP need to sweep Alberta’s largest city if they want to win the next election, and vulnerable Calgary United Conservative Party MLAs know it. Rachel Notley has been spending a lot of time in Calgary and NDP MLAs have been spending nearly every spare minute knocking on doors in the city.
A group of UCP MLAs were spotted door-knocking in Calgary-Klein to support first-term UCP MLA Jeremy Nixon, who is facing a strong challenge from NDP candidate Marilyn North Peigan.
Calgary-Currie MLA Nicholas Milliken, Calgary-Edgemont MLA Prasad Panda, Calgary-Beddington MLA Josephine Pon, and Calgary-East MLA Peter Singh were on the doors this weekend with Nixon and party volunteers.
The NDP held a similar door-knocking blitz in the riding with MLAs and dozens of volunteers earlier in the year.
Meanwhile, Edmonton-Whitemud NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi was recently doorknocking with NDP candidate Julia Hayter in Calgary-Edgemont, and Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Janis Irwin was busy campaigning with Rosman Valencia in Calgary-East.
And Notley wasin Calgary for Druh Farrell’s nomination meeting in Calgary-Bow and to join Calgary-Falconridge candidate Parmeet Singh Boparai and Calgary-Bhullar-McCall MLA Irfan Sabir at Nagar Kirtan celebrations.
‘Three candidates are contesting the NDP nomination contest in Camrose’ are not a series of words I imagined writing even a year ago, yet here we are.
Business owner and former diplomat Richard Bruneau defeated Registered Psychiatric Nurse Tonya Ratushniak and educational assistant and recent city council candidate Wyatt Tanton to win the NDP nomination in Camrose.
“When attending Augustana their motto was ‘to lead and to serve,’ and this is my vision of how I would like to lead and lift people up in the community. A vision I believe Alberta’s NDP embodies,” Bruneau said in a press release announcing his win. “The UCP has not been serving the people of Alberta, and the pandemic highlighted the short-signed failures of UCP policy. Camrose deserves better than the UCP.”
Bruneau is a bookstore owner, farmer, former lecturer at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus and a former Canadian diplomat who served in Afghanistan, Jordan and Palestine. He lives with his family on a cattle farm.
Bruneau was joined by Edmonton-North West MLA David Eggen at the nomination meeting and by Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Janis Irwin at a meet and greet in Camrose today.
The riding is currently represented by United Conservative Party MLA Jackie Lovely, who was first elected in 2019 with 65.2 per cent of the vote. This was Lovely’s third attempt at winning a seat in the Legislature, the first two being as the Wildrose Party candidate in Edmonton-Ellerslie in 2012 and 2015.
Walker-McKitrick rematch being set up in Sherwood Park
First-term UCP MLA Jordan Walker is seeking his party’s nomination for re-election in Sherwood Park.
The UCP backbencher was first elected in one of the closer races in Edmonton’s surrounding suburbs in 2019 by narrowly unseating NDP MLA Annie McKitrick.
The stage is being set for a rematch in 2023, with McKitrick announcing last week that she plans to seek the NDP nomination to challenge Walker in the next election. This is a riding the NDP will need to win to form government.
Gurinder Singh Gill running for NDP nomination in Calgary-Cross
Gurinder Singh Gill is seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-Cross. Gill previously ran as the federal NDP candidate in Calgary-Skyview in the 2019 and 2021 elections. He placed third with 16.2 per cent of the vote behind victorious Liberal George Chahal and incumbent Conservative MP Jag Sahota in the last federal election.
The east Calgary riding is currently represented by UCP MLA Mickey Amery, who was elected in 2019 with 54.2 per cent by unseating NDP cabinet minister Ricardo Miranda, who finished second with 37.3 per cent.
Amery is the son of Moe Amery, who represented the neighbouring Calgary-East riding from 1993 until his defeat in the 2015 election.
MLA Guthrie endorses Danielle Smith’s challenging Roger Reid
Airdrie-Cochrane UCP MLA Peter Guthriehas endorsed former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith’s bid for the UCP nomination in Livingstone-Macleod. Smith is challenging Guthrie’s caucus colleague Roger Reid for the nomination.
Smith is wasting no time making her mark in UCP circles as she eyes the nomination and the party leadership.
Tonight she will join Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan, a vocal Kenney critic, and former Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson to discuss the “Free Alberta Strategy.” And on April 23 she is joining Independent MLA Todd Loewen for a “Politics Uncensored” event in Three Hills.
Loewen is a former UCP Caucus chair who booted from the UCP Caucus in May 2021 after he publicly called on Premier Jason Kenney to resign.
Meanwhile, demonstrating how much bad blood remains between Smith and many UCP activists as a result of the 2014 Wildrose floor crossings, a Twitter account run by staff in Kenney’s office attacked Smith (and Brian Jean) by proclaiming that “I’ve always found it surprising that two people whose only track record is losing general elections, somehow feel they have all the answers.”
The “@UniteAlberta” twitter account is run by Deputy Director ofGovernment Communications and Speechwriter Harrison Fleming, who is currently on leave to work on Kenney’s leadership campaign.
Other senior staff on leave to work on their boss’s leadership review campaign are Chief of Staff Pam Livingston, Executive Director of Communications and Planning Brock Harrison, and Issues Manager Chad Hallman.
Meanwhile, the former Wildrose leader and Kenney-foe has been sworn-in as an MLA the Legislature. Newly elected Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche MLA Brian Jean has rejoined UCP Caucus he left in 2018.
CBC reporter Michelle Bellefontaine tweeted today that Jean said Kenney has not spoken to him since he was elected as a UCP MLA in March.
NDP MLAs flock to Calgary
Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Rakhi Pancholi will be nominated as her party’s candidate for re-election tonight.
“This community has shared with me their wisdom, their experiences, their hopes, and have trusted me to be their voice in the legislature,” said Pancholi. “I want to continue to work hard to help the families of this community – and across Alberta – seize the opportunities available for us to have a strong economic recovery.”
And with the next provincial election just over a year away, she, like most NDP MLAs, are spending a lot of time in Calgary – the expected battleground of the next election.
Pancholi was spotted door knocking in Calgary-Acadia with nomination candidate and Registered Nurse Diana Batten, and with NDP leader Rachel Notley and local candidate Janet Eremenko in Calgary-Currie.
Notley has been spending a lot of time in Calgary, including on the doors this week with Calgary-Edgemont candidate Julia Hayter. Notley will be headlining an April 9 nomination rally in Calgary-East where teacher Rosman Valencia is expected to be acclaimed.
Eggenwas spotted door-knocking with MLA Joe Ceci in Calgary-Buffalo and candidate Gurinder Brar in Calgary-North East
Irwin and Edmonton-Glenora MLA Sarah Hoffman are planning to join NDP nomination candidate Marilyn North Peigan on the doors this weekend in the Tuxedo Park neighbourhood in Calgary-Klein. Irwin is also scheduled to spend time door-knocking with Eremenko in Calgary-Currie and Hayter in Calgary-Edgemont.
Best Alberta MLA: Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highands-Norwood
Always a fan favourite, for the second year in a row Janis Irwin has been voted Best Alberta MLA. Irwin is a hard-working MLA in the Assembly and in her constituency, and her sense of humour (and her social media star cat, Oregano) has endeared her to politicos on both sides of the aisle.
Best Alberta Cabinet Minister: Leela Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women
Nurturing a reputation as an affable politician, Leela Aheer proved herself to be on the right side of public opinion in Alberta when she spoke out against Premier Jason Kenney and called on him to resign. The MLA for Chestermere-Strathmore was booted from cabinet for speaking out against Kenney, but that probably only further endeared her to the growing majority of Albertans who disapprove of the Premier’s performance.
That Aheer remains a member of UCP Caucus after openly calling on Kenney to resign is also a testament to how well-liked she is by her UCP MLA colleagues.
Best Opposition MLA: Rachel Notley, MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona
For the third year in a row, Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley has been voted Best Opposition MLA. Notley continues to be her party’s greatest asset and, if the polls and party fundraising returns are any indication, might stand a good chance at leading her party to form government when the next election is held in 2023.
If Notley’s party is successful in 2023, she would be the first former Premier to return to that office in Alberta’s history.
Up and Coming MLA to Watch in 2022: Rakhi Pancholi, MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud
A tireless advocate for childcare since she was first elected in 2019, Rakhi Pancholi has been voted Up and Coming MLA to Watch for a second year in a row.
Pancholi is smart and well-spoken, and has been tough and tenacious in her calls for affordable and accessible childcare for Alberta families.
Best Political Play of 2021: Jyoti Gondek‘s election as Mayor of Calgary
Jyoti Gondek defied public expectations and a motivated conservative establishment to win Calgary’s mayoral election in October 2021, becoming the first woman to be elected mayor of Alberta’s largest city.
With hundreds of submissions made to the Best of Alberta Politics 2021 survey, your choices have been sorted and you can now vote in each category. Voting is open until Dec. 22, 2021 at 6:00 pm and the winners will be announced shortly after that.
2. Who was the best Alberta cabinet minister of 2021? – VOTE
Leela Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women
Ric McIver, Minister of Municipal Affairs
Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Transportation
Honourable mentions to runners-up Minister of Health Jason Copping and Minister of Finance Travis Toews. It is also worth noting that a large number of people chose to submit various versions of “none of the above.”
3. Who was the best opposition MLA of 2021? – VOTE
Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
Rachel Notley, MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona
Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge-West
Honourable mention to runners-up Edmonton-City Centre MLA David Shepherd and Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Rakhi Pancholi..
4. Who is the up and coming MLA to watch in 2022? – VOTE
Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
Brian Jean, (potentially future) MLA for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche
Rakhi Pancholi, MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud
Honourable mentions to runners-up Drumheller-Stettler MLA Nate Horner and Edmonton-South MLA Thomas Dang.
5. What was the biggest political play of 2021 in Alberta? – VOTE
Brian Jean’s political comeback
Jason Kenney’s “Open For Summer/Best Summer Ever” COVID-19 plan
Jyoti Gondek’s election as Mayor of Calgary
What was the biggest political issue of 2021 in Alberta?
In some past years this category has been a dog’s breakfast, but like last year, this year your choice was clear. COVID-19 was the clear choice of the overwhelming majority of people who submitted in this category. The global COVID-19 pandemic defined Alberta politics in 2021, with the failure of Premier Jason Kenney’s “Open For Summer” plan and the fourth wave that followed garnering the most submissions.
On Oct. 26, 2021, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney was having a rare good day. He got the result he argued he was looking for from the province-wide Equalization Referendum and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave him the gift of appointing long-time environmental activist Steven Guilbeault as Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
Kenney’s good day lasted less than 24 hours.
In what can only be described as a bombshell story, the CBC first reported today that a former ministerial Chief of Staff is suing the Premier’s Office, “saying she suffered from a toxic workplace culture and was fired as retribution for speaking out about the problems she saw there.”
The allegations in Ariella Kimmel‘s lawsuit include sexual harassment and heavy drinking by ministers and staff in legislature offices, as well as claims that senior staff in the premier’s office fabricated rumours about her contributing to her termination, reported CBC journalist Elise von Scheel.
The CBC reported that Kimmel has filed a lawsuit against the Kenney’s office for alleged sexual harassment and defamation.
Kimmel was Chief of Staff to Minister Doug Schweitzer until February 2021 and before that worked as Director of Community Relations in the Premier’s Office and as the United Conservative Party’s Director of Outreach before the 2019 election.
Kimmel had previously worked for Kenney during his time in Ottawa as executive coordinator for multiculturalism when he was Minister of Employment and Social Development and as an assistant during his time as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
The statement of claim, which is reported in detail by CBC, makes serious allegations against numerous officials and staffers in the UCP government, including Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen.
Responding to a question in the Assembly today from Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood NDP MLA Janis Irwin, Kenney said that his office was appointing an independent review to make recommendations to revise human resource practices for political staff.
Calgary-Fish Creek UCP MLA Richard Gotfried called on the government to not wait for a review and instead immediately adopt the Respect in the Workplace program promoted by Respect Group Inc.
While none of the allegations have been proven in court, the conditions described are probably not uncommon in political offices across Canada. Kimmel’s lawsuit shines a big spotlight on a toxic workplace culture in the Legislature that needs to change immediately.
Aheer is having none of it
Chestermere-Strathmore UCP MLA Leela Aheer responded to the allegations by calling on Kenney to resign and drawing comparisons to disgraced Calgary City Councillor Sean Chu. A A former cabinet minister and UCP deputy leader, Aheer was dropped from cabinet after criticizing the UCP’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Standing at a podium in the Legislature Rotunda today, Aheer refused to stand down and appeared to be daring Kenney and her MLA colleagues to remove her from the UCP Caucus.
UCP MLAs voted to remove Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA DrewBarnes and Central Peace-Notley MLA Todd Loewen from the caucus in June following Loewen’s call for Kenney to resign.
Kenney avoided a caucus revolt and non-confidence vote last month when he agreed to push up his leadership review from fall 2022 to April 2022. That move was successful in appeasing the disorganized opposition inside the UCP Caucus, but not the party, as numerous UCP constituency associations continue to push for Kenney’s review to be held before March 1, 2022.
Kenney’s approval rating dropped to an abysmal 22 per cent last month and leaked poll results showed that 75 per cent of Albertans disapprove of the UCP government, one of the strongest disapproval ratings for an Alberta government in recent memory.
A map of tonight’s federal election results in Alberta would show a sea of Conservative Party blue, but if you zoomed in on the two largest urban centres the results are more interesting.
It looks like 29 Conservative incumbents were re-elected, many with margins of victory that are large but narrower than the party’s results in the 2019 federal election.
With 71 per cent of the vote, it appears that Battle River-Crowfoot Conservative Damien Kurek was elected with the largest percentage of the vote. This is down from his 85.5 per cent of the vote in 2019.
The only new Conservative candidate elected in Alberta is Laila Goodridge, a former United Conservative Party MLA who was elected in Fort McMurray-Cold Lake.
As of 11:14pm it looks like Liberal Party candidate George Chahal has been elected in Calgary-Skyview, unseating Conservative Jag Sahota in the northeast Calgary riding.
In Edmonton-Centre, Liberal Randy Boissonnault sits with 33 per cent of the vote ahead of Conservative incumbent James Cumming with 31 per cent and NDP candidate Heather Mackenzie with 30 per cent.
If successful in his bid for election, Boissonnault will likely join Chahal in the federal Liberal cabinet as the two Liberals from Alberta.The race in Edmonton-Centre marks a breakthrough for the NDP with Mackenzie earning the party’s best ever result in the riding.
With NDP incumbent Heather McPherson re-elected with a commanding 59 per cent in Edmonton-Strathcona, it looks like the NDP may have picked up a second seat in Edmonton. As of 11:17pm, Edmonton-Griesbach NDP candidate Blake Desjarlais was leading Conservative incumbent Kerry Diotte by 557 votes with 194 of 232 polls reporting.
The NDP poured a lot of resources into Desjarlais’ campaign, with party leader Jagmeet Singh visiting the riding twice during the election and Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley and local MLAs including Janis Irwin lending their support.
The mail-in ballots could help determine the final results in Edmonton-Centre and Edmonton-Griesbach. Elections Canada starts counting those tomorrow.
The Conservative vote dropped to 55 per cent from 69 per cent in the 2019 election. The NDP vote was up to 19 per cent, a big increase from 11 per cent in 2019 and even more than the 16 per cent the NDP earned during Jack Layton‘s Orange Wave of 2011. The Liberal vote is at 15 per cent, up from 13 per cent in 2019.
The People’s Party earned 7 per cent, placing a distant second in most rural ridings but not coming anywhere close to winning a seat in the province. The separatist Maverick Party was a lot of talk but barely showed up on the radar.
Ontario MP Derek Sloan, who moved to Alberta in hopes to win a seat was defeated in Banff-Airdrie, placing fifth with 2 per cent of the vote.
But the biggest loser of the night in Alberta is Premier Jason Kenney, who’s refusal to act early and prevent the deadly fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic damaged Erin O’Toole and the federal Conservatives in the final week of the federal election.
There’s a chance that the federal election results in Alberta could end up being less than exciting, with the Conservatives winning most of the province’s seats, but there’s no doubt Alberta had an impact in this federal election: Premier Jason Kenney might have cost Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives their chance at forming government in Ottawa.
The former wonder kid of Canada’s conservative movement, Kenney spent a month in hiding to avoid embarrassing O’Toole only to emerge in the final few days of the campaign to drop a bomb in his federal cousin’s lap. Kenney’s Open for Summer plan that removed all public health restrictions in time for the Calgary Stampede in July led to a vicious fourth wave of COVID-19 that has seen a steep spike in new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Intensive Care Units across Alberta are filling up and Kenney has had to plead with other provinces to take our sick patients if we run out of space.
All non-emergency surgeries in Alberta are cancelled and 75 per cent of the operating rooms at the Alberta Children’s Hospital are closing because doctors and nurses are being redeployed to take care of COVID patients.
Public sector health care unions are urging Kenney to ask the federal government for help from the military and the Red Cross.
O’Toole praised Kenney’s response to the pandemic and has refused to answer questions about it from reporters since Alberta once again declared a State of Public Health Emergency last week.
While the Conservatives are expected to sweep Alberta once again, O’Toole only visited the province once in this election campaign. He spent a morning in Edmonton during the first week of the campaign, making a policy announcement in Edmonton-Centre and stopping for a photo-op at a Jollibee’s before shuffling back to the airport for an afternoon flight to British Columbia.
But unlike recent federal elections, this time the right-wing of the political spectrum is pretty crowded in Alberta.
People’s Party leader Maxime Bernier has taken advantage of O’Toole and Kenney’s perceived political weaknesses by spending a considerable amount of time in Alberta during this election.
Appealing to groups ranging from the vaccine hesitant to indoctrinated COVID conspiracy theorists, Bernier has been attracting large crowds at his Alberta rallies. And his candidates have earned endorsements from former Conservative MP David Yurdiga and former Reform MP Cliff Breitkreuz.
Former Ontario MP Derek Sloan, who was kicked out of the Conservative Party for accepting a donation from a well-known white supremacist, has been embraced the COVID conspiracy theories as he campaigns as an Independent candidate in Banff-Airdrie with the full-support of former Conservative MP Rob Anders.
And then there’s the separatist Maverick Party led by former Conservative MP and oil industry lobbyist Jay Hill, which is still in the mix despite Alberta separatism not being the hot topic it was after the 2019 federal election.
Meanwhile, the silence coming from the United Conservative Party Caucus is deafening.
Aside from dissenting Tweets and Facebook comments from two already disgruntled backbenchers – former cabinet minister and Chestermere-Strathmore MLA Leela Aheer and Calgary-Fish Creek MLA Richard Gotfried – the predicted caucus revolt has not yet spilled out into the public. But maybe that changes if Justin Trudeau’s Liberals form government on Monday.
Directors of the UCP association in Olds-Didsbury-Three-Hills, home of Speaker and former interim leader Nathan Cooper, near unanimously passed a motion calling for a leadership review and party vice-president Joel Mullen is reported to have called for a review.
Kenney’s supporters on the UCP provincial executive headed off previous calls by scheduling leadership review at the party’s Fall 2022 convention, only months ahead of the expected 2023 provincial election.
If O’Toole does not become Prime Minister after the federal ballots are counted, he might not be the only Conservative leader looking for a new job. Kenney’s already embattled leadership could become even more tenuous.
Kerry Diotte unites the NDP in Alberta
In what is likely his biggest single achievement of his political career, Conservative candidate Kerry Diotte has succeeded in bridging the political divide between the provincial and federal NDP in Alberta.
Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was back in Alberta yesterday for his second visit to the Edmonton-Griesbach, where the party believes candidate Blake Desjarlais can unseat Diotte to pick up a second seat for the NDP.
With NDP incumbent Heather McPherson believed to be secure for re-election in Edmonton-Strathcona, the party has been pouring its resources into Griesbach.
And Singh isn’t the only party leader on the campaign trail for Desjarlais.
Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley was on the doors last week helping Desjarlais get his vote out. While Notley tried her best to avoid being involved in the 2019 federal campaign, she and about a dozen NDP MLAs, including local MLAs Janis Irwin and David Eggen have been spotted door knocking with Desjarlais.
Pipelines and the carbon tax kept the NDP cousins apart in 2019, but the possibility of defeating Kerry Diotte has brought the provincial and federal NDP together in 2021.
Liberals have their sights set on Edmonton-Centre, Mill Woods and Calgary-Skyview
The Liberals hope to reestablish a beachhead in Alberta and if they are successful it will likely be in Edmonton-Centre, Edmonton-Mill Woods or Calgary-Skyview.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau only made one brief stop in Alberta during the first week of the election campaign to speak at a rally for Calgary-Skyview candidate George Chahal.
University—Rosedale Liberal candidate and former Edmonton native Chrystia Freeland visited Alberta twice to campaign with candidates in Calgary and Edmonton, including Randy Boissonnault in Edmonton-Centre and Ben Henderson in Edmonton-Mill Woods.
Also visiting Alberta during the campaign were Vancouver-South Liberal candidate Harjit Sajan, who campaigned in Calgary-Centre with Sabrina Grover, and Surrey-Newton Liberal candidate Sukh Dhaliwal, who campaigned with Henderson in Mill Woods.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson endorsed Henderson and campaigned with him in the final days of the election. The two men have served together on Edmonton City Council since 2007.
Voting stations are open from 7:30am to 7:30pm on Sept. 20, 2021.