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Alberta Politics

Claresholm mayor Chelsae Petrovic the 5th candidate in Livingstone-Macleod UCP nomination race

Three months ago after the party cancelled a previous nomination contest it looked like almost nobody wanted to run for the United Conservative Party in Livingstone-Macleod. Now there are five candidates in the race to replace retiring MLA Roger Reid.

Livingstone-Macleod MLA Roger Reid and Premier Danielle Smith United Conservative Party nomination
Roger Reid and Danielle Smith (source: Roger Reid/Instagram)

Town of Claresholm mayor Chelsae Petrovic is the fifth candidate to jump into the UCP nomination contest in the sprawling south west Alberta riding, joining Tanya Clemens, Christina Lee, Kevin Todd, and Don Whalen.

Petrovic was elected to her first 4-year term as mayor in October 2021 and appears to have already collected $1000 in online donations for her nomination run.

A date for the nomination vote hasn’t been set yet but this is actually the second time the UCP has had to hold a nomination race in Livingstone-Macleod.

With Reid announcing he would not run for re-election the day after the October 31, 2022 candidate entry deadline, former People’s Party candidate and Freedom Convoy-enthusiast Nadine Wellwood was left as the lone candidate in the race. Wellwood’s supporters claimed they sold more than 800 UCP memberships in the riding but her promotion of debunked COVID-19 treatments like ivermectin and comparisons of vaccine passports to policies enacted by the Nazi Germany led the UCP to reject her acclamation.

So the UCP was left without a candidate in what was a very safe riding in 2019.

Conservationist Kevin Van Tighem is running for the NDP nomination in Livingstone-Macleod.
Conservationist Kevin Van Tighem is the NDP candidate in Livingstone-Macleod. (Source: Kevin Van Tighem/Facebook)

Overshadowing all this is the Premier of Alberta, who actually lives in the riding but was elected in a by-election elsewhere.

Danielle Smith announced in March 2022 that she would challenge Reid for the UCP nomination but after she won the party leadership he gave no indication he was interested in resigning to let her run in a by-election. Instead, Brooks-Medicine Hat MLA Michaela Frey resigned to allow Smith to run in a by-election in that riding, which she won handily.

Smith has not been officially nominated to run in either riding in the next election but the crowded race in her home riding suggests she is sticking with Brooks-Medicine Hat.

The Alberta NDP have nominated well-known conservationist Kevin Van Tighem. The author and former superintendent of Banff National Park has been an outspoken opponent of open-pit coal mining in the Rocky Mountains, an issue that drew widespread opposition from municipal leaders and ranchers in the region.

Other nomination updates

Here are some of the latest updates to the list of Alberta election nomination candidates:

Calgary-Fish Creek: The United Conservative Party will hold a nomination vote on February 23. Three candidates have entered the race: Dave Guenter, Myles McDougall, and Christina Steed. Steed has been endorsed by outgoing UCP MLA Richard Gotfried and Guenter has an endorsement from Grande Prairie-Mackenzie Conservative MP Chris Warkentin.

Calgary-Lougheed: Michelle Mather is the third candidate to enter the UCP nomination contest in this south west Calgary riding formerly represented by newly hired Bennett Jones employee Jason Kenney. Max DeGroat and Mark Fieslier are already in the race.

Calgary-Varsity: The Alberta Party will announce its candidate in this north west Calgary riding at an event on February 12.

Cypress-Medicine Hat: Cypress County Councillor Robin Kurpjuweit has dropped out of UCP nomination contest. James Finkbeiner and Justin Wright are the two candidates left in the race.

Edmonton-McClung: Past city council candidate Daniel Heikkinen and oral surgeon Terry Vankka are seeking the UCP nomination in this south west Edmonton riding. A nomination meeting is scheduled for February 10.

Edmonton-North West: Tyler Beaulac has been nominated as the Green Party candidate.

Edmonton-Whitemud: UCP Caucus staffer Varun Chandrasekar will challenge former Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman for the UCP nomination. Sherman attempted to run for the UCP leadership in 2022 but was not granted a waiver to join the race when he did not meeting the membership requirements.

Red Deer-North: Heather Morigeau is running for the Green Party. Morigeau was previously nominated as the party’s candidate in Calgary-Buffalo but withdrew from the nomination in that riding last month.

Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: Carrie Tait has a report about the Take Back Alberta-backed revolt against embattled MLA and former finance minister Jason Nixon and the right-wing group’s effort to overturn his nomination as the UCP candidate in the riding.

Sherwood Park: Sue Timanson is the Alberta Party candidate in this suburban riding just east of Edmonton. Timanson was the party’s candidate in 2019, when she earned 13.1 per cent of the vote.

Upcoming nomination meetings

Candidate nomination votes are currently scheduled for the following dates:

  • February 6 – Innisfail-Sylvan Lake NDP
  • February 10 – Edmonton-McClung UCP
  • February 13 – Drumheller-Stettler NDP
  • February 15 – Calgary-Klein NDP
  • February 15 – Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre NDP
  • February 17 – Lacombe-Ponoka UCP
  • February 23 – Calgary-Fish Creek UCP
  • February 23 – Edmonton-Whitemud UCP
  • February 25 – Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock NDP
  • February 28 – Cypress-Medicine Hat NDP

(If you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe to the Daveberta Substack and listen to the latest episode of the Daveberta Podcast). 

Categories
Alberta Politics

UCP race in Leduc-Beaumont draws 5 candidates, Take Back Alberta moves closer to taking back Jason Nixon’s nomination

There’s a crowded race for the United Conservative Party nomination just south of Edmonton.

Nam Kular and Al Luthra are the latest candidates to join Heather Feldbusch, Brandon Lunty, and Karen Richert in the race to replace retiring UCP MLA Brad Rutherford in Leduc-Beaumont.

Rutherford was elected in 2019 with 58.4 per cent of the vote. He announced his retirement from provincial politics shortly after he was appointed by Premier Danielle Smith as Government Caucus Whip and Minister without Portfolio.

The NDP have nominated paramedic Cam Heenan as their candidate. The riding was represented by NDP MLA Shaye Anderson from 2015 to 2019.

Taking Back Jason Nixon’s nomination

Jason Nixon and Jason Kenney
Jason Nixon and Jason Kenney celebrating Victoria Day in 2019.

The Take Back Alberta-stacked board of the Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre UCP association announced on Facebook that they have begun discussions to reopen the nomination in the riding. Incumbent MLA Jason Nixon‘s allies were recently voted off the board and replaced by a TBA-backed slate.

Nixon was acclaimed in March 2022 after the UCP disqualified former county councillor Tim Hoven, who many TBA supporters believed would have won the vote. It was widely believed that Hoven’s disqualification was done to protect Nixon, who was then Premier Jason Kenney’s chief lieutenant.

Nixon served as Minister of Finance in the waining days of Kenney’s government and was dropped from cabinet when Smith entered the Premier’s Office. His brother, Jeremy Nixon, is the UCP MLA for Calgary-Klein and is now the Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services.

Take Back Alberta also has its sights set on taking over the Innisfail-Sylvan Lake UCP board and reopening the candidate nomination in that riding.

Incumbent UCP MLA Devin Dreeshen , who is also the son of local Conservative Member of Parliament Earl Dreeshen, won a July 2022 nomination contest by a narrow 8-votes.

Local UCP President and the junior Dreeshen’s uncle, Charlie Moore, is defiant.

“They’re storming the castle and we’re heating up the boiling oil, I guess,” Moore told the Western Standard. “I’ve sent my troops forward to try to talk to some of the more logical ones in that group. We have to convert some of them. Surely there’s some common sense in there somewhere. They can’t all be totally extremists.”

Candidate nomination updates

Here are the latest updates to the growing list of Alberta election nomination candidates:

Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock: Landen Tischer is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate in this sprawling rural riding north of Edmonton at a February 25 nomination meeting. Check out his TikTok’s.

Calgary-Lougheed: Mark Fiselier is the second candidate to enter the UCP nomination contest in the riding formerly represented by Jason Kenney. Fiselier is a business development analyst and president of the UCP association in Calgary-Varsity. Max DeGroat is also running for the nomination.

Calgary-North EastInderjit Grewal has joined the UCP nomination contest in this riding currently represented by cabinet minister Rajan Sawhney. Former Dashmesh Culture Centre chairman Harjit Singh Saroya is also running for the nomination.

Cypress-Medicine Hat: Independent MLA Drew Barnes announced he will not seek the UCP nomination to run for re-election. The former UCP was kicked out of the governing caucus in 2021 after becoming one of Kenney’s biggest internal public critics. He and now-returned UCP MLA Todd Loewen formed an unofficial UCP-caucus-in-exile during their banishment but Barnes did not return into the UCP fold when Loewen ran for the party leadership in 2022. Barnes publicly mused in 2021 about starting a rural-based political party.

Edmonton-EllerslieRanjit Bath was nominated as the UCP candidate in this southeast Edmonton riding.

Livingstone-Macleod: Lawyer Christina Lee is the fourth candidate to enter the UCP nomination contest in this southwest Alberta riding. Also running are Tanya Clemens, Kevin Todd, and Don Whalen. This second nomination contest is happening after the sole candidate in the previous race, former People’s Party candidate Nadine Wellwood, was disqualified by the UCP for equating COVID-19 vaccine requirements to Germany’s Nazi regime.

Upcoming nomination meetings

Candidate nomination votes are scheduled for the following dates:

  • February 6 – Innisfail-Sylvan Lake NDP
  • February 13 – Drumheller-Stettler NDP
  • February 15 – Calgary-Klein NDP
  • February 15 – Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre NDP
  • February 17 – Lacombe-Ponoka UCP
  • February 25 – Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock NDP
  • February 28 – Cypress-Medicine Hat NDP

Daveberta Podcast now on Substack

Daveberta Dave CournoyerA big thank you to everyone who has listened, shared and sent feedback about the newly relaunched Daveberta Podcast, now exclusively found on the Daveberta Substack.

We are very excited to be back podcasting and look forward to sharing some exciting news about the Substack very soon.

Categories
Alberta Politics

UCP acclaim Laine Larson in Edmonton-Rutherford, 4th candidate enters NDP nomination race in Calgary-Klein, the Rumble in Rocky continues

With just over four months until the next provincial election, the Alberta NDP have nominated candidates in 69 of Alberta’s 87 ridings. The United Conservative Party has candidates named in 53 ridings and the Green Party has 25 candidates. The Alberta Party has nominated 3 candidates and the Liberal Party has one.

Here are the most recent candidate nomination updates:

UCP nominate Laine Larson in Edmonton-Rutherford

Laine Larson has been acclaimed as the UCP candidate in Edmonton-Rutherford. Larson is an independent contractor and the step-son of former Reform Party Member of Parliament Deborah Grey.

Larson previously ran for the UCP nomination ahead of the 2019 election. It was reported by CBC at the time that Larson had questioned vaccination science and has suggested parents may be harming their children by vaccinating them against disease.

The riding has been represented by NDP MLA Richard Feehan since 2015. Feehan is not running for re-election and the NDP have nominated Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse as their candidate. Green Party leader Jordan Wilkie is also running in the riding.

4th candidate enters NDP race in Calgary-Klein

Laurie O’Neil is the fourth candidate to enter the NDP nomination race in Calgary-Klein. O’Neil joins Mattie McMillan, Angela McIntyre, and Lizette Tejada in running for the candidacy which will be determined at a vote on February 15.

Gill enters UCP nomination in Calgary-Bhullar-McCall

Amanpreet Singh Gill is seeking the UCP nomination in Calgary-Bhullar-McCall. The riding has been represented by NDP MLA Irfan Sabir since 2015. Sabir was re-elected in 2019 with 51.7 per cent of the vote.

The riding last elected a conservative MLA in 2004. Prior to Sabir’s elected in 2015, it had been represented by Liberal MLA Darshan Kang since 2008.

Previously known as Calgary-McCall, the riding was renamed Calgary-Bhullar-McCall after the last election to honour former northeast Calgary MLA Manmeet Bhullar, who represented the former Calgary-Montrose and Calgary-Greenway ridings from 2004 until his death in 2015.

Rumble in Rocky continues. Take Back Alberta aims for Jason Nixon’s job

Right-wing activists aligned with the right-wing Take Back Alberta group have taken over the UCP constituency board elections in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre. Take Back Alberta is vocally opposed to the government’s decision to impose public health restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of the hundreds of UCP members who showed up to vote at the local AGM last week are unhappy with incumbent MLA Jason Nixon being acclaimed as the party’s candidate after challenger Tim Hoven was disqualified last year. Nixon was former Premier Jason Kenney‘s chief lieutenant and Finance Minister. He was dismissed from cabinet when Danielle Smith became Premier last October.

Smith promised during the leadership campaign that she would reopen nominations in ridings where the local constituency association voted to do so.

Take Back Alberta activists have signalled in online discussion forums that the UCP constituency board in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake is their next target. An AGM is expected to be held in that riding in February.

The riding is currently represented by MLA Devin Dreeshen, who narrowly won the UCP nomination by 8 votes in July 2022. He is the son of local MP Earl Dreeshen and many of his extended family members are reported to be currently serving on the UCP board in the riding.

Upcoming nomination meetings

Candidate nomination votes are scheduled for the following dates:

  • February 6 – Innisfail-Sylvan Lake NDP
  • February 13 – Drumheller-Stettler NDP
  • February 15 – Calgary-Klein NDP
  • February 15 – Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre NDP
Categories
Alberta Politics

The UCP field is set. Diving into the leadership race on the Cross Border Interviews Podcast.

The United Conservative Party leadership race is heating up!

I joined Chris Brown on the Cross Border Interviews Podcast this week to dive into the UCP leadership race and what the candidates and campaigns are up to.

Is Danielle Smith really the front-runner?

Does establishment-favourite Travis Toews need to catch up?

Why is Brian Jean running such a sleepy campaign?

Will Rajan Sawhney or Rebecca Schulz break through the noise?

What are Leela Aheer and Todd Loewen doing?

Did Raj Sherman really think they would let him on the ballot?

We break it all down.

Download and subscribe to the Cross Border Interviews Podcast on Apple and Spotify, or watch the interview on YouTube below.

Categories
Alberta Politics

Danielle Smith is making sure Alberta doesn’t have a boring political summer

Popular opinion would have that summer is a quiet and boring time in politics, but not so in Alberta.

I can’t remember there was a boring political summer in Alberta?

Last year was the Best Summer Ever disaster and the summer before that was the first COVID summer. Before that was the Summer of Repeal. And so on.

This summer, the most unexpected political comeback might be happening before our eyes.

In almost every aspect, former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith is defining what the United Conservative Party leadership race is about.

Following her “Alberta First” campaign slogan, Smith declared plans to introduce an Alberta Sovereignty Act to let Alberta MLAs vote on which federal laws they want the province to follow.

The other candidates responded.

Even Finance Minister Jason Nixon, a staunch Jason Kenney-loyalist, stepped in to pooh-pooh Smith’s idea (Nixon was nominated as Wildrose candidate back when Smith was still party leader).

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.

Everyone responded.

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.

Quackery is putting it politely.

It’s the realm of internet pseudoscience.

As my friend David Climenhaga opined, it is the Donald Trump strategy of saying outrageous stuff that appeals to the base voters and damn the consequences.

And it might be working.

Smith has now nabbed 4 MLA endorsements.

Airdrie-Cochrane’s Peter Guthrie, Calgary-Falconridge’s Devinder Toor, Lethbridge-East’s Nathan Neudorf, and Lesser Slave Lake’s Pat Rehn, who dropped his endorsement of establishment favourite Travis Toews to support Smith.

But it’s not exactly the crème de la crème of the UCP Caucus.

Toor was fined $15,000 by Elections Alberta for breaking political finance laws in 2018 and 2019, and was allegedly part of group who bullied and harassed a food truck owner in northeast Calgary.

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.

That’s just 16 days away.

The final 7

Smith might be getting the most attention but she’s not the only candidate in the race. Leela Aheer, Brian Jean, Todd Loewen, Rajan Sawhney, Rebecca Schulz and Travis Toews also made the cut. Bill Rock dropped out to endorse Jon Horsman, who dropped out, and, as expected, Raj Sherman was not allowed to run (his old job as Liberal Party leader is open though).

More separatist drama

Danielle Smith Paul Hinman Daveberta Wildrose United Conservative Party
Paul Hinman and Danielle Smith in 2010. (source: Dave Cournoyer)

If there’s one thing we can depend on Alberta’s cottage industry of fringe right-wing separatist parties to deliver, it’s drama.

It looks like Paul Hinman has been ousted as leader of the Wildrose Independence Party. The ouster comes shortly after the Independence Party of Alberta announced that merger talks with WIP broke off.

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.

Categories
Alberta Politics

The race for UCP leader on the Cross Border Politics Podcast

As the United Conservative Party leadership race begins to take shape, I joined Chris Brown on his Cross Border Interviews Podcast to talk about the race, the declared and prospective candidates, and what impact it will have on Alberta politics.

Cross Border Interviews with Chris Brown · Episode 393 – The Race For The UCP Leadership

It appears that the UCP will allow Calgary MP Michelle Rempel Garner to enter the leadership race, if she chooses, even though she has not had a current party membership for the full past six months as required (there is no doubt she is a committed Conservative partisan).

A similar request for an exemption by former Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman was denied.

Kenney’s caretaker cabinet shuffle

Outgoing Premier Jason Kenney announced a cabinet shuffle to fill in the spots left by ministers leaving to run in the race to replace him.

Changes to the caretaker cabinet, which will be in place until a new Premier takes office after the October 6 UCP leadership vote, include:

  • Minister of Environment and Parks and Acting President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance Jason Nixon becomes President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance.
  • Associate Minister of Status of Women Whitney Issik becomes Minister of Environment and Parks.
  • Calgary-South East MLA Matt Jones becomes Minister of Children’s Services.
  • Minister of Infrastructure Prasad Panda becomes Minister of Transportation.
  • Calgary-Currie MLA Nicholas Milliken becomes Minister of Infrastructure.
  • Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville MLA Jackie Armstrong Homeniuk becomes the Associate Minister of Status of Women.
  • Deputy Government Whip Brad Rutherford becomes Chief Government Whip and Minister without Portfolio.

Unsurprisingly, everyone on the list is considered a loyalist, and a few, notably Issik, Milliken, and Rutherford, are considered vulnerable to strong NDP challenges in the next election.

Issik, Jones and Armstrong Homeniuk have publicly endorsed former finance minister Travis Toews for the UCP leadership, who is widely considered the establishment favourite in the race.

Categories
Alberta Politics

The First Four: Travis Toews, Brian Jean, Danielle Smith and Todd Loewen enter the United Conservative Party leadership race

The race has started.

Four candidates have filed their intent with Elections Alberta to join the race to replace Jason Kenney as leader of the United Conservative Party:

Travis Toews: Finance Minister since 2019. MLA for Grande Prairie-Wapiti since 2019. Former president of the Canadian Cattleman’s Association. Looks comfortable in a business suit or Carhartts. Sounds like the adult in the room but is connected to a northern Alberta Bible college with some fairly backwards views about yoga and same-sex relationships. Probably one of the more hardline fiscal conservatives in the UCP cabinet. Grand champion of the 1976 4-H calf show in Hythe. Likely UCP establishment favourite.

Brian Jean United Conservative Party Leadership Wildrose
Brian Jean during his 2017 bid for the United Conservative Party leadership.

Brian Jean: Leader of the Wildrose Party from 2015 to 2017. Target of a kamikaze campaign during the 2017 UCP leadership race. MLA for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche since 2022. MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin from 2015 to 2018. MP for Fort McMurray-Athabasca from 2004 to 2014. Toyed with COVID skepticism and Alberta separatism. Jason Kenney’s worst enemy. Lawyer, businessman and Golden Boy of Fort McMurray.

Jim Prentice Danielle Smith Alberta Wildrose Merger PC
Former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and Premier Jim Prentice on December 17, 2014.

Danielle Smith: Leader of the Wildrose Party from 2009 to 2014. MLA for Highwood from 2012 to 2015. Crossed the floor to the Progressive Conservative Party in 2014. Calgary public school trustee from 1998 to 1999. Alumna of the Fraser Institute, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Calgary Herald, Global TV, and Chorus Radio. Current President of the Alberta Enterprise Group. Running for the UCP nomination in Livingstone-Macleod. Embraced COVID conspiracy theories.

Independent MLA Todd Loewen Free Alberta Strategy Separatist
Independent MLA Todd Loewen

Todd Loewen: MLA for Central Peace-Notley since 2019. MLA for Grande Prairie-Smoky from 2015 to 2019 and Wildrose candidate in the riding in 2008 and 2012. Resigned as UCP Caucus chair in 2021 after calling on Kenney to resign and was kicked out of caucus the next day. Formed a UCP Caucus-in-exile with fellow ousted MLA Drew Barnes. Drove his motorhome in the Freedom Convoy to Ottawa. Renowned in the UCP Caucus for his pancake cooking skills.

These four have registered others are expected.

Rajan Sawhney

Transportation Minister and Calgary-North East MLA Rajan Sawhney has tapped longtime conservative strategist Ken Boessenkool to run her exploratory committee.

“[W]hat this race needs right now is just not more of the same,” Sawhney told reporters in a statement.

Children’s Services Minister and Calgary-Shaw MLA Rebecca Schultz isn’t in the race yet but already has an endorsement from former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall. Schultz worked for Wall’s government before she moved to Alberta in 2016.

Government House leader and chief Kenney lieutenant Jason Nixon is rumoured to be thinking about running.

So are former cabinet ministers Leela Aheer and Devin Dreeshen.

And Calgary Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner is rumoured to be testing the waters. She would be an interesting addition to the race, though recent history has not been kind to federal politicians jumping into provincial politics in Alberta.

The party has appointed a committee that is expected to release rules, entry requirements and timelines for the leadership race before the beginning of summer.

UDPATE! Village of Amisk mayor Bill Rock has registered with Elections Alberta to run in the UCP leadership race. Rock was the Wildrose Party candidate in the Wetaskiwin-Camrose riding in the 2015 election. He was parachuted into the riding after previously nominated candidate Gordon Hatch withdrew from the race and endorsed PC MLA Verlyn Olson following Danielle Smith‘s floor-crossing.

Note: Registering as a candidate with Elections Alberta does not mean automatic approval as a candidate by the UCP. Registering with Election Alberta allows the candidates to fundraise under Alberta’s current political finance rules.

Categories
Alberta Politics

Honourable Alberta cabinet ministers bestow upon themselves title and fancy letters to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee

God Save the Queen!

Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her 70th year on the Throne this year.

In honour of this most Royal occasion, Premier Jason Kenney introduced Bill 1: Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Recognition Act back on February 22.

Queen Elizabeth II

It was the United Conservative Party government’s flagship bill of the 2022.

The new law creates a scholarship for Alberta students, a medal to recognize the work of outstanding Albertans, and a for-life “Honourable” title and “ECA” post-nominal letters for all living current and former Alberta cabinet ministers.

Wait.

What?

Yes, you read that right.

To celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s seventy years as Queen of Canada and Sovereign of the British Commonwealth , Kenney introduced a bill that gives current and former cabinet ministers the ability to call themselves “Honourable” for the rest of their lives.

As far as I know Alberta might be only province to have done this.

As the head of government, Premiers have always been able to hold their “Honourable” title for life, but not regular cabinet ministers.

Until now.

Provincial cabinet ministers get to call themselves “Honourable” while they are in office as a sign of respect for the office they hold while they hold it, but that used to be it.

It’s an honour to be a cabinet minister but it’s not something they would take for life.

Not like those British Lords who pass on titles and positions to their children.

Back to Alberta.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1952.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1952.

The home of Honourable Jason Kenney, PC, ECA.

The ECA stands for Executive Council of Alberta by the way.

That’s the formal name of the cabinet.

The PC stands for Privy Council. 

That’s a real title that comes with responsibility.

The Privy Council Office is the central agency of the Government of Canada which acts as the secretariat to the Cabinet of Canada.

Kenney was sworn into the Privy Council when he was a federal cabinet minister.

The Alberta title is an automatic thing for people in cabinet now and anyone who used to be in cabinet.

“Who cares, Dave?” you say?

I guess it’s not really a big deal.

It’s just a monarchist vanity project.

It’s not like Kenney is wandering the halls of the Legislature crying “Hail Britannia!” while brandishing a broadsword to bestow knighthoods.

But it’s weird and it’s something that no normal Albertan was asking for.

I doubt many people on the streets of Rocky Mountain House or downtown Calgary were clamouring for a new law to let our politicians hold titles for life. 

I’m no monarchist.

I believe the monarchy is an outdated institution that should probably be abolished. 

But I also think Alberta politicians voting to give themselves titles for life is a strange way to honour a Queen who has spent seventy years serving honourably in a very difficult role.

It mostly flew under the radar but two NDP MLA did take notice.

They got sharp responses from the UCP, who never explained why they were even doing this.

“That’s certainly not something that anybody has raised to me as their top priority” said Edmonton-Whitemud NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi said in the Legislature.

“I certainly think it’s coming at an interesting time, considering that there are a number of members of the current cabinet who are having their qualifications and their expertise and their temperament questioned,” Pancholi continued.

“I think that’s at odds with what most Albertans believe in terms of what honorary means, and it’s an interesting timing on this government’s part,” she concluded.

When Edmonton-Castle Downs NDP MLA Nicole Goehring questioned it, UCP deputy government house leader and Kenney acolyte Joseph Schow was quick to jump on her with a Point of Order. 

“I guess this is a touchy subject when it comes to the title “honourable” for life,” Goehring replied. 

“This piece of legislation is doing just that. It’s providing a space to have the title for life alongside building up students and recognizing their contributions to the province,” she said. “It just seems ridiculous that the two of these things are going together.”

No kidding.

It’s the law now.

So, to all the students who receive the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee scholarships, congratulations.

To all the Albertans who are honoured with the awards, thank you for your service.

And to all the Honourable current and former cabinet ministers, ECA, who have now been bestowed with their new title, enjoy it, I guess.


I know I’ve mentioned this before, but please feel free to sign up for the Daveberta Substack.

Categories
Alberta Politics

Jason Kenney is a bad Premier.

There is no doubt that Jason Kenney changed the face of Alberta politics when he jumped into provincial politics in 2017.

He succeeded in leading the merger of the Wildrose opposition with the Progressive Conservatives remanent into the United Conservative Party.

And, for a period, he was able to convince the two warring factions to put aside their differences and focus on a higher goal: winning the 2019 election.

And it worked.

At least it did for a time.

The UCP won a big majority, but quickly discovered that all those things the PCs and Wildrosers didn’t like about each other still existed, but now they were in the same party.

Last night, Kenney announced his plans to step down as UCP leader after getting a weak 51.4 per cent endorsement an acrimonious, divisive and drawn-out leadership review.

How did we get here so fast?

The COVID-19 pandemic definitely derailed Kenney and his party, but that wasn’t his only mistake.

Let’s look back at the chaos of the past three years.

Kenney’s much promoted Open for Summer plan in 2021 alienated a large swath of Albertans who were uncomfortable with removing public health restrictions so quickly and haphazardly just for the Calgary Stampede.

Rachel Notley’s NDP were riding high in the polls and fundraising, and to a lot of Albertans it looked like Kenney was dropping the COVID-19 restrictions to fast to save his party’s fortunes and his own leadership.

But being forced to backtrack and reintroduce restrictions when COVID-19 cases and deaths predictably skyrocketed and hospitals and ICUs overflowed only served to alienate a growing group right-wing populists and Freedom Truckers who were then highly motivated to defeat Kenney in the leadership review.

Despite flirting with right-wing populism before the 2019 election and during his time as Premier, Kenney is not a populist.

Kenney is probably far more comfortable discussing the works of Ludwig von Mises in the salons of the Manhattan Institute than driving a big blue truck around rural Alberta.

He sold Albertans, and conservative activists, a bill of goods that he could not deliver on.

But again, it wasn’t just COVID-19 that sealed his fate in the leadership review

If Kenney had not been so deeply unpopular with Albertans and if the UCP hadn’t been trailing the NDP in almost every poll since late 2020, he would have had a stronger hand to play.

But he didn’t.

Let’s look at why.

Somewhere along the line Kenney and his ministers began to believe that the big electoral mandate they got in 2019 meant they could impose their platform with abandon and, perhaps fatally, not have to listen to Albertans who started pushing back.

While Kenney’s opponents were always going to oppose his plans to privatize health care and schools, it wasn’t just NDP partisans who pushed back.

It was normal Albertans.

And Kenney didn’t seem to realize this.

Kenney and Environment & Parks Minister Jason Nixon’s plans to close and sell more than 140 provincial parks sparked a province-wide lawn sign campaign that crossed the partisan divide.

After months of actively dismissing and attacking opponents of these plans, the UCP government was forced to back down.

The UCP’s eagerness to open the Rocky Mountains to open-pit coal mining produced a similar backlash.

Kenney and Energy Minister Sonya Savage pushed forward, again dismissing the opposition, which included dozens of southern Alberta municipal councils and country music artists like Corb Lund, Paul Brandt and Terri Clark, until they were forced to back down.

Kenney and Health Minster Tyler Shandro picked big fights with nurses and doctors during the pandemic, which almost certainly undermined public confidence in the government’s ability to handle the pandemic.

Kenney and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange were almost engaged in daily fights with teachers, even when the safety of children during the pandemic was the biggest concern for almost every Alberta parent.

Alberta can already be a notoriously difficult place to govern, but at times it looked like the UCP was actively trying to make it more difficult.

And then there were the scandals.

The kamikaze campaign.

The RCMP investigation.

Shandro yelling at a doctor in his driveway.

Justice Minister Kaycee Madu phoning the chief of police after getting a traffic ticket.

Lawsuits alleging of drinking and sexual harassment of political staff by cabinet ministers.

Alohagate.

The Sky Palace patio party.

Betting and losing $1.3 billion on the Keystone XL Pipeline.

And the theatrics.

The Energy War Room staffed by UCP-insiders.

The late and over budget Allan Inquiry into nefarious foreign interference that found nothing illegal.

A referendum about equalization that was always going to be ignored by Ottawa, and ironically, was ignored by most Albertans.

The never ending legal challenges against the federal government.

And then there’s the curriculum.

Pledging during the 2019 campaign to take ideology and politics out of the draft K-12 curriculum, Kenney’s government injected new levels of weird and outdated ideology.

Panned by teachers, reviled by curriculum experts, and mocked internationally as age-inappropriate, outdated, Eurocentric, jargon-riddled, inaccurate, unconcerned with developing critical thinking skills, and rife with plagiarism, is how columnist David Climenhaga described it.

And then there’s that thing about Kenney’s grandfather, Mart Kenney, showing up in the curriculum, which felt like weird pandering by the programme’s authors.

We never got a glimpse into who Kenney really is or anything about his life outside of politics really.

Aside from politics, we don’t really know what makes him tick.

We know he rented a room in mother’s basement, enjoys listening to Gregorian chants and is a devout Roman Catholic, but that’s almost all we were allowed to see.

Not that we are owed any more.

Politicians deserve their privacy but Kenney’s weird blank slate outside of politics probably contributed to him being not very relatable to most Albertans.

So it becomes a trust thing.

Kenney is popular with many white collar conservatives and former staffers in Ottawa who have fond memories of his two decades as a determined opposition critic and hard-working cabinet minister.

Many of them see him a kind of Philosopher King of Canadian Conservatism.

But whatever charm worked inside the Queensway didn’t translate in the Premier’s Office.

Maybe being a trusted lieutenant to Prime Minster Stephen Harper was a quite different job than being Premier of Alberta?

Someone who has known Kenney for a long time once told me that they believed one of his biggest weaknesses is that he still saw Alberta politics through a 1990s lens.

I’m not sure I totally believe that but I think there’s a hint of truth to it.

And it might be why he has misread Albertans so badly over the past three years.

Kenney got his start in Alberta politics in the early 1990s as the founding spokesperson of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

It was a heady time for deficit hawks and social conservatives, and Kenney frequently engaged in very public quarrels with then-Premier Ralph Klein over government expenses.

The young conservative activist with a trademark Nixonian five-o’clock shadow pioneered the CTF soundbite machine with great success.

It’s where he cut his teeth in politics.

Thirty-years later, Kenney will soon be ending the latest phase of his political career in the same building where he started.

But this time he might not be coming back.


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Alberta Politics

51.4% isn’t enough. Jason Kenney stepping down as UCP leader.

Premier Jason Kenney is done.

Kenney stunned political watchers by announcing he is stepping down as leader of the United Conservative Party after getting the support of only 51.4 per cent of members in the leadership review.

He had claimed last week that 50%+1 was enough for him to stay, but that obviously wasn’t enough.

It wouldn’t have worked.

It was the weakest of mandates.

UCP President Cynthia Moore speaking about the leadership review process.

Winning by such a narrow margin was probably the worst case scenario for Kenney.

With 51.4 per cent there is no way Kenney could have confidently walked into tomorrow morning’s UCP Caucus meeting and commanded the loyalty of the party’s MLAs.

There’s no way he could have demanded his opponents fall in line or leave the party. 

So, he’s resigning. 

The UCP is deeply divided and the leadership race was and acrimonious end to Kenney’s three years in the Premier’s Office.

But he might have been the biggest obstacle standing in the way of the party moving forward in any positive way with one year left before the provincial election.

The aggressive and in-your-face reactions from Kenney and his political staff to any criticism of his agenda has made him deeply unpopular with almost every single voting demographic in Alberta. 

And it dragged down his party.

UCP returning officer Rick Orman announcing the results of the leadership review.

Kenney leaving avoids the inevitably showdown between him and his opponents in caucus that would have likely divided the party even further.

He’ll leave that showdown to someone else.

Now the UCP will have to choose a new leader. 

It’s not clear whether Kenney will resign immediately and be replaced by an interim leader or whether he will stay on as Premier until a leadership race is held. 

We’ll find out soon. 

Names that immediately come to mind for potential interim leaders are Nate Horner, Sonya Savage, Nathan Neudorf, Ric McIver, Rajan Sawhney and Nate Glubish – all MLAs who probably won’t run for the permanent job.

And that’s where things get interesting, or troubling, depending on your point of view. 

While Kenney was unpopular across the board, his biggest critics inside his party come from the unruly political-right – and they are mostly unhappy with how he handled the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kenney called them “lunatics.”

Former Wildrose leaders Brian Jean and Danielle Smith and exiled UCP MLA Drew Barnes probably fall pretty neatly into this column. 

They both want the job. 

Then there’s the Kenney loyalists.

Doug Schweitzer endorsed Kenney last week. He’s expected to run.

Jason Nixon is Kenney’s chief lieutenant. He’s said to be eying the job.

Travis Toews is also in Kenney’s inner circle. He’s said to have supporters who have been quietly preparing a run for months.

And then there’s Members of Parliament Shannon Stubbs and Michelle Rempel Garner. They haven’t said they’d run, but their names get mentioned when you talk to UCP supporters.

There will be others.

Kenney didn’t specifically say he wouldn’t try to reclaim his job in a leadership race. But even if his political career isn’t over, it seems unlikely right now that he’d try to reclaim the UCP leadership.

It’s an unceremonious result for the popular former federal cabinet minister and darling of movement conservatives who jumped into provincial politics six years ago to build a new conservative party.

It is a big change from three years ago, when Kenney led the newly minted UCP to defeat Rachel Notley’s NDP and win a big majority government.

On that election night he looked unstoppable.

Long gone are the days when anyone in Alberta politics is unstoppable.


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Alberta Politics

The biggest question in Alberta politics: Will Jason Kenney win the UCP leadership review?

“Hey Dave, is Jason Kenney going to win the leadership review?”

It’s a question I get asked a lot these days.

My answer?

I don’t know.

Anyone who tells you different probably has a personal or career stake in the game.

What was supposed to be a big in-person vote in Red Deer back in April turned into a province-wide mail in vote. And that loud swooshing sound you heard wasn’t the sound of a late winter Chinook but the sound of the goal posts moving.

And there’s strong feelings on both sides of this fight.

Kenney’s opponents are outspoken. Especially the ones inside his own United Conservative Party caucus.

MLAs Brian Jean, Leela Aheer, Angela Pitt, Peter Guthrie, Jason Stephan, and Dave Hanson.

Plus Drew Barnes, Todd Loewen and friends.

They all want Kenney gone. They think the UCP is going to lose the next election to Rachel Notley’s NDP if he stays on as leader.

His former central Alberta organizer David Parker is leading Take Back Alberta, a group dedicated to defeating Kenney in the leadership review.

His former spokesperson Blaise Boehmer has become one of his biggest critics.

One former staffer has even taken him to court.

But the loyalists working in the Premier’s Office in Edmonton think his critics are bunch of clowns.

It’s a gong show.

Kenney says of his recent interactions with normal Albertans: “100% of the people who came up to me unprompted say things like: We’re behind you Jason, keep up the good work.”

Yeah, ok there, Mr. 22-per cent Approval Rating.

He spins a lot of yarn.

Kenney once claimed that he didn’t impose stricter COVID-19 public health restrictions because of a crying Venezuelan refugee who claimed the fled socialism.

The Venezuelan woman who believed she was used as part of Kenney’s argument remembers her encounter with the premier as much less dramatic.

But Kenney’s staffers loudly trumpet his good deeds.

Three loyal cabinet ministers – Ric McIver, Jason Nixon and Doug Schweitzer – told Kenney’s critics that they have to fall in line if he wins.

That’s doubtful.

If Kenney had the ability to silence his critics and re-unite his “United” Conservative Party he would have done that two years ago.

That ship has sailed.

Scratch that. The ship is leaking.

But is it going to sink?

Even if Kenney is a hot mess of a premier, he’s a still skilled campaigner, and that’s basically what he’s been doing for the past few months – campaigning.

He can even be, dare I say, dangerously charming on the campaign trail.

Kenney does get public support from some conservatives outside Alberta.

They see him as a kind of Philosopher King of Canadian conservatism.

Conservative pundit Sean Speer wrote a long defence of the beleaguered Kenney in the National Post praising his policy agenda.

But commentary by out-of-Alberta conservatives, who probably have fond memories of Kenney’s two decades in Ottawa, almost always omit how intentionally and aggressively divisive he has been since stepping into the Premier’s Office.

Albertans who oppose, or even just dare to criticize, his government’s policies have been routinely derided and attacked by Kenney.

Are you an Albertan who opposed closing and selling provincial parks?

Then you’re a radical urban eco-marxist.

Did you oppose open-pit coal mining in the Rocky Mountains?

Then you must be a radical urban eco-marxist who votes NDP (can you imagine telling that to a 5th generation cattle rancher from southern Alberta?).

You get the drift.

So, do Albertans see Kenney as the conservative philosopher king that his out-of-province admirers do?

Lol. No.

Do normal UCP members?

Definitely not.

Will Kenney win on May 18?

Will he get more than 50 per cent of the vote?

Your guess is probably as good as mine.

Will the deep divisions inside the UCP be healed?

Not a chance.

As veteran political columnist Graham Thomson signed off in a recent column, “No matter what happens that day, Alberta’s already wild politics will just get wilder.”


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Alberta Politics

Nothing new under the prairie sun – Danielle Smith running for UCP nomination in Livingstone-Macleod, and many more nomination updates

Alberta politics never takes a break, but sometimes I do. I was away last week having a great time facilitating a communications planning course at the Winter Labour School, an annual conference for working Albertans organized by the Alberta Federation of Labour and Canadian Labour Congress.

But now I’m back, and upon my return a growing mountain of candidate nomination news was awaiting me.

Here we go.

Probably the biggest news happened today: former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith is jumping back into provincial politics by taking a run at the United Conservative Party nomination in Livingstone-Macleod, a riding currently represented by UCP MLA Roger Reid. She even says she could run for the party leadership if Jason Kenney loses the upcoming leadership review.

Smith has been around Alberta politics for a while, working for lobby groups including the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, writing newspaper columns, hosting television and radio shows, briefly serving as a school trustee in Calgary, and most notably, serving as the leader of the Wildrose Party from 2009 until 2014.

After a heartbreaking defeat in the 2012 election, she led most of her caucus to join Jim Prentice‘s Progressive Conservatives in 2014 (which ended in disaster for conservatives but ended up being quite the boon for Rachel Notley‘s NDP in the next year’s election).

Crossing the floor secured Smith a spot in the governing PC Caucus but she was unable to secure the PC nomination in the Highwood riding she had represented since 2012, so she did not run for re-election in 2015.

Boundary changes ahead of the 2019 election moved her home town of High River into the Livingstone-Macleod riding.

Smith has been a frequent critic of the province’s COVID-19 public health measures and routinely promoted Hydroxychloroquine as a remedy for the coronavirus (a remedy that has been widely discredited).

I have no doubt I’ll have more to write about this later, but now let’s move on to where most of the nomination action has been happening – the Alberta NDP:

Danielle Larivee NDP Lesser Slave Lake
Danielle Larivee

– MLA Marie Renaud was nominated in St. Albert. Renaud was first elected in 2015 and serves as Official Opposition Community & Social Services, and Francophone Issues critic.
Danielle Larivee was nominated in Lesser Slave Lake. Larivee was the MLA for this riding from 2015 to 2019 and served as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Minister of Children’s Services. She is a Registered Nurse and currently serves as First Vice-President of United Nurses of Alberta.
Oneil Carlier was nominated in Parkland-Lac Ste. Anne. Carlier was MLA for this riding from 2015 to 2019 and served as Minister of Agriculture and Forestry from 2015 to 2019.

The NDP recently held contested nomination votes in two ridings.

Sarah Elmeligi is seeking the NDP nomination in Banff-Kananaskis
Sarah Elmeligi

Sarah Elmeligi defeated Canmore town councillor Tanya Foubert, bank manager Gavin McCaffrey, and condo manager Mark Tkacz to become the NDP candidate in Banff-Kananaskis. Elmeligi is a professional biologist and conservation and land-use planner. She currently runs her own consulting company but from 2016 to 2019 she worked as a Parks Facility Planner with the Kananaskis Region and from 2009 to 2013 was a Senior Conservation Planner with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – Southern Alberta Chapter.

Marilyn North Peigan defeated Heather Eddy and Mattie McMillan to become the NDP candidate in Calgary-Klein. North Peigan is a member of the Blackfoot Confederacy and is a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, where she trained as a field medic with Toronto EMS and was stationed with Edmonton Field Ambulance. She is vice-chair of the Calgary Police Commission and was a candidate for city council in Calgary’s 2021 municipal elections.

Nathan Ip NDP Edmonton-South West
Nathan Ip

Three-term Edmonton Public School Board trustee Nathan Ip is the fourth candidate to enter the NDP nomination contest in Edmonton-South West.

Joining Ip at his campaign launch were former city councillor Michael Phair and former city council candidate and past Alberta Party president Rhiannon Hoyle. He is also endorsed by former NDP MLAs Bob Turner and Jim Gurnett, and Public School Boards Association of Alberta past president Patty Dittrick.

Also running for the NDP nomination in Edmonton-South West are Ben Acquaye, Chand Gul, and Mohammad Ali Masood Kamal. The riding is currently represented by UCP cabinet minister Kaycee Madu.

University of Calgary Associate Law Professor Shaun Fluker is the second candidate to join the NDP nomination contest in Airdrie-Cochrane.

“Albertans deserve a compassionate government that will exercise positive and responsible leadership on energy and environmental policy”, Fluker said in a press release announcing his candidacy. “The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly revealed that the UCP has no ability to lead when it matters.”

Union activist and past candidate Steve Durrell is also running for the nomination in Airdrie-Cochrane.

Manpreet Singh Tiwana and Psychologists’ Association of Alberta President Judi Malone are seeking the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Ellerslie. Two-term NDP MLA Rod Loyola has not yet announced whether he plans to run for re-election.

Former MLA Annie McKitrick is running of the NDP nomination in Sherwood Park. McKitrick represented the riding from 2015 to 2019 and ran for Mayor of Strathcona County in the 2021 elections.

Amanda Chapman is seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-Beddington. Chapman is a communications consultant and former communications coordinator with AIDS Awareness Calgary. She ran for the NDP in the riding in 2019, finishing second with 35.7 per cent off the vote.

Now back to the governing UCP, who are twisting themselves into pretzels ahead of Kenney’s fast approaching leadership review (more on that very soon).

UCP nominations have been a lot quieter since the party disqualified challengers Jodie Gateman in Cardston-Siksika and Tim Hoven in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre.

The following UCP MLAs have been acclaimed for their nominations: Josephine Pon in Calgary-Beddington, Peter Singh in Calgary-East, Prasad Panda in Calgary-Edgemont, Jeremy Nixon in Calgary-Klein, Rebecca Schulz in Calgary-Shaw, Matt Jones in Calgary-South East, Joseph Schow in Cardston-Siksika, Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, Nathan Neudorf in Lethbridge-East, Dale Nally in Morinville-St. Albert, Nathan Cooper in Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, Jason Nixon in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, and Nate Glubish in Strathcona-Sherwood Park.

This is a big change from nominations ahead of the last election, which saw many competitive UCP nominations and many, many NDP acclamations. So far this time it’s been the opposite.

The following nomination meetings have been scheduled.

Camrose NDP: April 3, 2022
Edmonton-Whitemud NDP: April 7, 2022
Calgary-East NDP: April 9,2022
Edmonton-Mill Woods NDP: April 10, 2022
Leduc-Beaumont NDP: April 13, 2022
Morinville-St. Albert NDP: April 30, 2022
Calgary-Glenmore: May 10, 2022


I am tracking candidates and building a list of people running for nominations to run in Alberta’s next provincial election. If you know of someone running, please post a comment below or email me at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. Thank you!

 

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Alberta Politics

Nomination Updates: UCP cancels rumbles in Rocky and Cardston, disqualifies Tim Hoven and Jodie Gateman

I take a few days off and there’s a million new candidate nomination updates.

It sure feels like election season in Alberta. Or maybe it’s just Leadership Review season.

Ok. Let’s get on with the updates.

Tim Hoven and Jodie Gateman have been disqualified from the United Conservative Party nomination races in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre and Cardston-Siksika.

The right-wing municipal politicians were challenging two high-profile Jason Kenney loyalists – Government House Leader and Environment & Parks Minister Jason Nixon and Deputy Government House Leader Joseph Schow.

The party says they were disqualified because of controversial posts they shared and liked on social media.

People close to Gateman’s campaign say it was because she was accused of reposting conspiracy theories on her social media accounts.

They tell me that party staff even asked her if she was in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021. (The person I spoke with said she was visiting family in Las Vegas).

Disqualifying them avoids negative media attention from unwanted bozo-eruptions and has the added bonus of protecting two Kenney loyalists who were by most accounts considered vulnerable in the nomination.

They also both happened to be endorsed by Kenney rivals Brian Jean and Drew Barnes.

Without nomination races to keep them busy, there’s more time to focus on the April 9 leadership review in Red Deer.

Gateman is now shifting her attention to getting as many of her supporters to vote against Kenney at the April 9 leadership review in Red Deer.

They are renting buses.

Maybe someone will call in and ask Kenney about it on his debut radio show this weekend?

A new poll from ThinkHQ shows that 64 per cent of Albertans and 59 per cent of UCP voters want Kenney gone.

More on that later. Now back to the nomination updates.

For the UCP:

  • It hasn’t been announced yet, but is appears that Calgary-Shaw MLA Rebecca Schulz and Calgary-South East MLA Matt Jones will be acclaimed as the UCP candidates in their ridings.
  • MLA Josephine Pon is running for the UCP nomination in Calgary-Beddington. Pon was first elected in 2019.
  • MLA Mickey Amery is running for the UCP nomination in Calgary-Cross. Amery was first elected in 2019.
  • MLA Peter Singh is running for the UCP nomination in Calgary-East. Singh was first elected in 2019.
  • Legislative Assembly Speaker MLA Nathan Cooper is running for the UCP nomination in Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills. Cooper was first elected in 2015.
  • MLA Dan Williams is running for the UCP nomination in Peace River. Williams was first elected in 2019.
  • Service Alberta Minister and MLA Nate Glubish is running for the UCP nomination in Strathcona-Sherwood Park. Glubish was first elected in 2019.

For the NDP:

  • Dave Cournoyer and Rakhi Pancholi the day before the 2019 election was called.
    Dave Cournoyer and Rakhi Pancholi the day before the 2019 election was called.

    MLA Irfan Sabir has been nominated to run for re-election in the recently renamed Calgary-Bhullar-McCall. Sabir was first elected in 2015.

  • MLA Rakhi Pancholi has announced her plans to run for the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Whitemud. Pancholi was first elected in 2019.
  • MLA Christina Gray is running for the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Mill Woods. Gray was first elected in 2015 and served as Minister of Labour from 2015 to 2019.
  • Respected energy analyst Samir Kayande is now the NDP candidate in Calgary-Elbow.
  • Canmore town councillor Tonya Foubert is the fourth candidate to join the NDP nomination contest in Banff-Kananaskis.
  • Director Business Renewables Centre Canada director Nagwan Al-Guneid is the second candidate to enter the NDP nomination race in Calgary-Glenmore. They join communications consultant Jennifer Burgess in the race.
  • Registered Nurse Diana Batten is running for the NDP nomination in Calgary-Acadia.
  • Rosman Valencia is now the only candidate seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-East after Alison Karim-McSwiney withdrew from the contest.
  • Registered Nurse Chantelle Hosseiny and paramedic Cameron Heenan are seeking the NDP nomination in Leduc-Beaumont.
  • Teacher James Grondin is the second candidate to enter the NDP nomination race in Morinville-St. Albert. Former Sturgeon County Councillor Karen Shaw joined the race in Dec. 2021.

Here are the upcoming nomination meetings that have been scheduled:

  • Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland NDP: March 12, 2022 
  • Lesser Slave Lake NDP: March 13, 2022
  • Calgary-Shaw UCP: March 21, 2022
  • Calgary-South East UCP: March 21, 2022
  • Cardston-Siksika UCP: March 21, 2022
  • Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre UCP: March 23, 2022
  • Calgary-Edgemont UCP: March 24, 2022
  • Calgary-Klein UCP: March 24, 2022
  • Drumheller-Stettler UCP: March 24, 2022
  • Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville UCP: March 24, 2022
  • Peace River UCP: March 24, 2022
  • St. Albert NDP: March 24, 2022
  • Calgary-Klein NDP: March 26, 2022
  • Banff-Kananaskis NDP: March 27, 2022
  • Calgary-Beddington UCP: March 29, 2022
  • Calgary-East UCP: March 29, 2022
  • Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills UCP: March 29, 2022
  • Strathcona-Sherwood Park UCP: March 29, 2022
  • Camrose NDP: April 3, 2022
  • Edmonton-Whitemud NDP: April 7, 2022
  • Calgary-East NDP: April 9,2022
  • Edmonton-Mill Woods NDP: April 10, 2022
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Alberta Politics

Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election takes a backseat to Red Deer UCP Leadership Review

The people of Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche waited six whole months for Premier Jason Kenney to call a by-election to choose their next MLA.

That’s an eternity in politics.

But the by-election in the northern Alberta boom town isn’t really about the people who actually live there.

It’s about who leads the United Conservative Party.

Former Wildrose leader Brian Jean is running as an anti-Kenney UCP candidate.

Jean beat Kenney’s favourite in a December nomination vote and has made no secret his desire to replace him as leader.

In fact, every candidate in this by-election is running against Kenney. It’s the reason why the Premier won’t be seen anywhere near Fort McMurray before the March 15 vote.

But Jean’s focus isn’t really on Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche.

It’s on Red Deer.

The by-election is a proxy war ahead of the UCP’s April 9 leadership review.

Jean loyalist Vitor Marciano was in Bonnyville last month with local MLA Dave Hanson talking about why UCP members should dump Kenney.

“On April 9, we’re voting out a tyrant,” former Kenney organizer David Parker said at the meeting.

You can listen to it here.

Parker was Kenney’s Central Alberta organizer in the 2017 leadership race. 

Now, Parker is the executive director of Take Back Alberta, a political action committee created to defeat Kenney in the leadership review.

Until recently, Parker was Vice President of Business Development for Higher Ground Medica.

The President and CEO of the Oyen-based Cannabis company is Jeff Callaway.

Yep. That Jeff Callaway.

Alberta politics is a very small world.

Another front in the challenge to Kenney’s leadership is raging on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains in the sprawling Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre riding. 

Jean joined exiled former UCP MLA Drew Barnes in backing former county councillor Tim Hoven against MLA Jason Nixon in the UCP nomination race.

“Tim Hoven has stepped up to do a brave thing,” Jean said in his Facebook video endorsement of Hoven.

Nixon is a heavy hitter in Kenney’s inner circle.

He’s the Government House Leader and Minister of Environment & Parks. 

The Giant from Sundre backed Kenney over Jean in the UCP’s 2017 leadership race – an endorsement that was a critical moment in that contest.

His absence in the Legislature last week was conspicuous.

Rumour is that Nixon was busy driving around his riding campaigning for the nomination.

In the deep south, Jean has endorsed Vulcan County councillor Jodie Gateman in the Cardston-Siksika UCP nomination race.

Gateman is the long-time conservative activist challenging UCP Deputy Government House Leader Joseph Schow, another well-known Kenney loyalist.

“She stepped up because she sees the need to change things in the UCP, the need to bring renewal and take the party back to its original sense of purpose,” Jean said in his endorsement of Gateman.

Back up in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, where the by-election is actually happening, NDP candidate Ariana Mancini is busy hitting the doors.

The local elementary school teacher has been joined on the campaign trail by Edmonton NDP MLAs Rakhi Pancholi, Richard Feehan and David Eggen.

“Folks in Fort McMurray have had enough of the drama and the infighting in the UCP,” Mancini said at her February 15 campaign launch.

“We need a government that is focused on families and businesses here in our community,” Mancini said.

Rachel Notley’s NDP are putting in an effort but it’s a long-shot for them. The last time voters in this part of Alberta elected a New Democrat was 1986.

Jean is the favourite to win but by-elections are a funny thing.

Enter Paul Hinman on stage right.

Another former Wildrose Party leader, Hinman is now leading the separatist Wildrose Independence Party.

He’s also running in the by-election.

Hinman and Jean are competing for the love of the Freedom Convoy supporters by promoting conspiracy theories about COVID-19, the World Economic Forum and the Emergency Measures Act.

Hinman has a history of winning by-elections (well ok, one).

After losing his seat in Cardston-Taber-Warner in 2008 he shocked political watchers by winning a by-election one year later in posh Calgary-Glenmore.

A political comeback for Hinman up north would be an earthquake for Alberta politics.

A split on the increasingly unhinged political right could give the increasingly moderate NDP a chance to run up the middle to a win.

When the history books are written, the Fort McMuray-Lac La Biche by-election might just be a footnote in the chapter about the April 9 leadership review.

Or maybe, just maybe, the results on March 15 will grab the attention of Albertans. 


Candidates in the March 15 Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election.

  • Marilyn Burns, Alberta Advantage Party
  • Brian Deheer, Independent
  • Abdulhakim Hussein, Liberal Party
  • Michelle Landsiedel, Alberta Party
  • Ariana Mancini, Alberta NDP
  • Steven Mellott, Independence Party
  • Brian Jean, United Conservative Party
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Alberta Politics

UCP MLA Joseph Schow faces nomination challenge from Vulcan County Councillor Jodie Gateman in Cardston-Siksika. College business instructor Ben Acquaye joins Edmonton-South West NDP race

Vulcan County Councillor Jodie Gateman is challenging MLA Joseph Schow for the United Conservative Party nomination in Cardston-Siksika. Gateman appears to have the support of the Take Back Alberta group, which is organizing against Premier Jason Kenney ahead of the April 9 leadership review in Red Deer. 

Jodie Gateman

Gateman was elected to Vulcan County Council in 2021 and was the UCP’s first Vice President Communications from 2018 to 2019. Her previous political experience includes working as a campaign manager for Reform Party Member of Parliament Grant Hill in 1997 and 2000.  

A 2009 profile in the Calgary Herald described Gateman as a the then-principal and executive director of Green Learning Academy (a private school in Calgary that years later went bankrupt) and a graduate of the University of Dallas and American Intercontinental University.

Schow was first elected in 2019 and currently serves as the Deputy Government House Leader, a position that plants him firmly in the Kenney loyalist camp. Before his election as MLA he ran for the federal Conservative nomination in Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner and before that worked for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan Conservative MP Garnett Genuis.

A nomination meeting has been scheduled for March 21, 2022.

Like former Clearwater County Councillor Tim Hoven, who is challenging Government House Leader and Environment & Parks Minister Jason Nixon for the UCP nomination in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, Gateman’s social media feeds suggest her political views are solidly on the right-wing of the UCP.

Former UCP nomination candidate enters NDP contest in Edmonton-South West

Lakeland College business instructor Ben Acquaye is the third candidate to join the NDP nomination contest in Edmonton-South West.

Ben Acquaye Edmonton-South West NDP Nomination
Ben Acquaye

“Families, businesses and communities are under stress, and as a province we have a lot of challenges ahead of us,” Acquaye said in a statement announcing his candidacy. “I am convinced in the leadership of Rachel Notley to steer us through these times to a more diversified economy that allows working families and communities to thrive.”

In 2018, Acquaye ran for the UCP nomination in Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright, a contest that was won by current MLA Garth Rowswell.

Acquaye joins Chand Gul and Mohammad Ali Kamal in the NDP nomination contest.

The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA and Minster of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu, who stepped back from his ministerial duties last month.

Two more UCP MLAs running for re-election

Jackie Homeniuk Armstrong UCP MLA Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville
Jackie Homeniuk-Armstrong

MLA Jackie Homeniuk-Armstrong is running the the UCP nomination in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville. Homeniuk-Armstrong was first elected in 2019 after unseating NDP MLA Jessica Littlewood. She is the chair for the Advisory Council on Alberta-Ukraine Relations, and chair of the UCP Skilled Trades Caucus. A nomination meeting has been scheduled for March 24, 2022.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Rural Economic Development Nate Horner is seeking the UCP nomination in Drumheller-Stettler. The rancher from Pollockville and scion of one of Alberta’s most prominent political families was first elected in 2019. A nomination meeting has been scheduled for March 24, 2022.

The UCP has also opened nominations in five more ridings: Calgary-Beddington (represented by Minister of Seniors and Housing Josephine Pon), Calgary-East (represented by MLA Peter Singh), Lethbridge-East (represented by UCP Caucus chair Nathan Neudorf), Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills (represented by Speaker and former UCP interim leader Nathan Cooper), and Sherwood Park (represented by MLA Jordan Walker) Strathcona-Sherwood Park (represented by Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish).

Here are the upcoming nomination meetings that have been scheduled:

  • Calgary-Elbow NDP: March 5, 2022
  • Calgary-Bhullar-McCall NDP: March 10, 2022
  • Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland NDP: March 12, 2022 
  • Lesser Slave Lake NDP: March 13, 2022
  • Calgary-Shaw UCP: March 21, 2022
  • Calgary-South East UCP: March 21, 2022
  • Cardston-Siksika UCP: March 21, 2022
  • Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre UCP: March 21, 2022
  • Calgary-Edgemont UCP: March 24, 2022
  • Calgary-Klein UCP: March 24, 2022
  • Drumheller-Stettler UCP: March 24, 2022
  • Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville UCP: March 24, 2022
  • St. Albert NDP: March 24, 2022
  • Calgary-Klein NDP: March 26, 2022
  • Camrose NDP: April 3, 2022