Slava Cravcenco defeated Joseph Angeles to win the UCP nomination in Edmonton-West Henday. Cravcenco had previously run for the UCP nomination in Edmonton-South West against cabinet minister Kaycee Madu. Cravcenco is the owner of a window and door restoration company and a former champion Moldovan table tennis player. Incumbent NDP MLA Jon Carson is not seeking re-election and the NDP have nominated lawyer Brooks Arcand-Paul.
Don Golden has withdrawn from the UCP nomination contest in Grande Prairie.
Amanpreet Singh Gill defeated Sonya Virk to win the UCP nomination vote in Calgary-Bhullar-McCall. Gill owns an excavation company and is the former president of the Dashmesh Culture Centre. The north east Calgary riding is currently represented by NDP MLA Irfan Sabir.
Here are the most recent candidate nomination updates:
United Conservative Party
The UCP are actively nominating candidates across the province and by my count currently have nominations open in nine ridings. The governing party paused nominations during their leadership race in 2022 so they are playing catch up, quickly, ahead of the May 29 election day.
Calgary-Lougheed: Max DeGroat is the first person in the race to fill the vacancy left when former premier Jason Kenneyresigned as MLA for this southwest Calgary riding in November 2022. DeGroat is the former treasurer of the UCP and was Nicholas Milliken’s campaign manager in Calgary-Currie in 2019. He is a research associate with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and the former director of policy development for the Sustaining Alberta’s Energy Network, an organization formed by Kris Kinnear, who now works on special projects in Premier Danielle Smith’s office in Calgary.
De Groat is launching his campaign as a guest speaker at the Progressive Group for Independent Business luncheon on January 24. PGIB was founded by conservative activist and perennial election candidate Craig Chandler, who was recently caught up in a scandal with former justice minister Jonathan Denis.
Calgary-North East: Harjit Singh Saroya is running for the UCP nomination in the riding is currently represented by cabinet minister Rajan Sawhney. Saroya is the former chairman of the Dashmesh Culture Centre.
Cypress-Medicine Hat: Food truck owner and recent Medicine Hat city council candidate Justin Wright joins James Finkbeiner and Robin Kurpjuweit in the UCP nomination contest in this southeast Alberta riding.
Lacombe-Ponoka: Jennifer Johnson, Dusty Myrshrall, and Chris Ross will face off for the UCP nomination in a vote on February 17, 2023. Voting will take place in Ponoka in the morning and Lacombe in the afternoon of the nomination day.
Leduc-Beaumont:Heather Feldbusch and Brandon Lunty join former catholic school trustee Karen Richert in the UCP nomination contest. Feldbusch currently works for the Alberta Counsel lobbyists company and is a former UCP political staffer. She is also former trustee on the Leduc Public Library Board and is active with the federal Conservative association in Edmonton-Wetaskiwin. Lunty previously ran for the Wildrose Party in Calgary-South East in 2015 and ran for the UCP nomination in Camrose in 2018.
Parkland-Lac Ste. Anne: UCP MLA Shane Getson is running for his party’s nomination for re-election. Getson was first elected in 2019 and briefly served as the UCP Caucus’ Capital Region Caucus chairperson until he publicly accused people who accepted Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payments of wanting to eat cheezies and watch cartoons instead of working. Getson also participated in the anti-COVID 19 restriction Freedom Convoy demonstrations in downtown Edmonton.
Red Deer-South: MLA Jason Stephan announced that he plans to run for re-election and is running for the UCP nomination in Red Deer-South. He’s being challenged by Adele Poratto. Poratto ran for the UCP nomination ahead of the 2019 election and for the Progressive Conservative nomination in 2008.
At this point, the NDP have already nominated candidates in most of the ridings that are considered competitive and within their reach to win in the next election. Now, the party is mostly nominating candidates in ridings that are a more a long shot for the NDP (translation: very conservative rural ridings), but the party does not appear to be parachuting urban candidates in like they might have in previous year. They are trying to recruit local candidates, even if their chances of winning in some of these rural ridings are slim to none.
Calgary-Lougheed: Venkat Akkiraj is running for the NDP nomination. According to Akkiraj’s LinkedIn profile, he has experience with the Ontario NDP as a local campaign organizer and communications director in provincial ridings in Toronto. He recently had an article published in AlbertaViews Magazine about electoral reform.
The Greens aren’t usually on the radar for most Albertans but they are putting in an effort to run candidates in the next election in both urban, rural and suburban ridings. The party has played a bit of musical chairs with some of their candidates switching ridings, like leader Jordan Wilkie switching from Banff-Kananaskis to Edmonton-Rutherford, and the latest switch listed below.
Jonathan Parks is now running for the Green Party in Calgary-Buffalo. He was previously nominated to run in the neighbouring Calgary-Currie but withdrew his candidacy in that riding earlier this month.
Today’s by-election in Brooks-Medicine Hat will determine if Premier Danielle Smith will have a seat in the Alberta Legislature, but ahead of that vote here are the latest candidate nomination updates.
Wellwood has a long history of posts on social media in which she has compared vaccine passports to Nazi Germany, promoted ivermectin as a cure for COVID-19, and spread the conspiracy theory that U.S. President Joe Biden stole the 2020 election from former president Donald Trump.
“I think her focus is not where the people of Livingstone-Macleod are focused,” Mr. Reid said in an interview when asked if he would support Ms. Wellwood. “What she has been posting and what she’s been speaking to is not addressing the broad concerns of most of the residents of this riding.”
Ms. Wellwood said she did not have time to respond to questions on Thursday.
Wellwood blamed the “party elite” in a statement saying she would appeal her disqualification.
Her appeal will be a first test of the new UCP board, which is now about half controlled by supporters of the Take Back Alberta PAC slate, which swept the elections at the recent UCP AGM. Supporters of that PAC have called for the reopening of nominations in Cardston-Sikiska and Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, where challengers to the incumbent MLAs were disqualified earlier this year for making controversial statements on social media.
Former Wildrose MLA challenges Hanson
Former Wildrose MLA Scott Cyr joins former MD of Bonnyville Reeve Greg Sawchuck in challenging MLA David Hanson for the UCP nomination in Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul.
Cyr was first elected in 2015 and did not run for re-election in 2019 after his Bonnyville-Cold Lake and Hanson’s Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills ridings were merged in the electoral boundaries redistribution. Cyr endorsed Hanson in 2018.
Fred Kreiner of Jasper and Lavone Olson of Brule are running for the NDP nomination in West Yellowhead. Olson was Yellowhead County Councillor from 2007 to 2013 and 2017 to 2021. A December 8 nomination vote has been scheduled.
Kanwarjit Singh Sandhuannounced plans to seek the UCP nomination in Edmonton-Meadows at an event at the Sultan Banquet Hall. The southeast Edmonton riding is currently represented by NDP MLA Jasvir Deol.
The UCP has opened nominations in a handful of ridings, including Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock, where UCP MLA Glenn Van Dijkenfaces a challenge from 24-year old Westlock County Councillor Isaac Skuban.
Jacob Stacey has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate in Sherwood Park. He previously announced his candidacy in Strathcona-Sherwood Park.
Jeremy Appell has some coverage and raises some questions about Marilyn North Peigan’s departure as the NDP candidate in Calgary-Klein, a key swing-riding in the next election.
And it looks like a UCP candidate who came close to winning in the last election probably won’t be running again in the next election. Former UCP candidate Karri Flatla, who ran for the party in Lethbridge-West in 2019, levelled some pretty harsh criticism at Smith on her Facebook page.
Edmonton public school board trustee Nathan Ip defeated business instructor Ben Acquaye, behavioral specialist Chand Gul, andmedical clinic executive director Ali Kamal to win the NDP nomination in Edmonton-South West.
“We are in dire need for new schools in the growing areas of Edmonton-South West,” said Ip. “Edmonton-South West is one of the fastest growing communities in Alberta with one of the youngest populations and they deserve a representative that will stand up for them.”
Ip was first elected to the school board in 2013 and currently serves as its vice-chair.
His candidacy was endorsed by former city councillor Michael Phair, former MLAs Bob Turner and Jim Gurnett, and former Alberta Party president Rhiannon Hoyle.
Edmonton-South West is the only riding in Edmonton city limits represented by a UCP MLA, current Labour Minister Kaycee Madu, who was removed from his position as Justice Minister after it became public that he personally phoned Edmonton’s police chief after getting a distracted driving ticket.
Madu faces a nomination challenge from Slava Cravcenco at a June 29 candidate selection meeting.
Sylvan Lake town councillor challenges Dreeshen for UCP nomination
Sylvan Lake town councillor Kjeryn Dakin is challenging MLA Devin Dreeshen for the UCP nomination in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.
Dakin is owner of the Bukwildz restaurant in Sylvan Lake and was first elected to town council in 2021.
Dreeshen was first elected in a 2018 by-election and served as Minister of Agriculture & Forestry from 2019 until 2021 when he resigned after a lawsuit by a former political staffer alleged a culture of sexual harassment, defamation, and drinking at the Legislature.
He is son of Conservative MP Earl Dreeshen, who has represented the Red Deer-Mountain View riding since 2008.
The younger Dreeshan was re-elected in 2019 with 74.5 per cent of the vote.
City lawyer wins NDP nomination in Red Deer-South
City solicitor Michelle Baer defeated former MLA Barb Miller and labour council president Kyle Johnston to win the NDP nomination in Red Deer-South.
“Red Deer is the third largest city in the province, yet is often stuck between being considered a ‘big city’ or a rural area,” Baer said. “Red Deer deserves a strong voice in government to represent the distinctive issues this area faces. I’m excited for the chance to do the hard work Red Deer needs and deserves.”
Red Deer-South is currently represented by UCP MLA Jason Stephan, a vocal critic of outgoing Premier Jason Kenney, who was first elected in 2019 with 60.3 per cent of the vote.
Dang was first elected in 2015 in Edmonton-South West and ran for re-election when the electoral boundaries changed as Edmonton-South was created.
On the doors
Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, NDP leader Rachel Notley was spotted at events with Calgary-Bow candidate Druh Farrell, Calgary-Glenmore candidate Nagwan Al-Guneid, and Calgary-North East candidate Gurinder Brar this past weekend. Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Richard Feehan was also spotted on the doors with Al-Guneid.
Sherwood Park UCP MLA Jordan Walker was on the doors with UCP nomination candidate Sayid Ahmed in Edmonton-Decore last weekend. The UCP have opened nominations in the north Edmonton riding.
There is no excuse for staff treating volunteers poorly, but in every party there is almost always some level of tension between the central party and local constituency associations when it comes to candidate recruitment and nominations.
Constituency associations will have their local favorites, including long-time volunteers, while the central party will be trying to build a province-wide slate of candidates who could potentially become cabinet ministers and ridings in which to place those high-profile candidates.
When there is a lot of interest in nominations, like there is now with the NDP, tension and conflicting plans of the local and provincial efforts can sometimes flare.
The NDP need to deal with this issue quickly and decisively or risk it dogging them into the upcoming election.
The other parties
Wildrose Independence Party leader Paul Hinman has been touring the province, recently making stops at party events in Drumheller, Morningside, Drayton Valley, Leduc, Springbrook, Red Deer and Calgary.
The Green Party has formally opened applications for candidates for the next election. Green Party leader Jordan Wilkie has already announced his plans to run as a candidate in Banff-Kananaskis . Party holding an election readiness town hall on July 17 in Edmonton.
Lawyer Katherine Kowalchuk is running for the leadership of the separatist Independence Party of Alberta. Kowalchuk was briefly nominated as the Liberal candidate in Calgary-Signal Hill ahead of the 2015 federal election.
“This community is especially tired of the lack of professionalism their MLA has shown in government. They’re tired of the constant shuffling, the infighting, and the war the UCP have taken on our healthcare system,” Batten said in a statement following the nomination meeting.
“I’m here to join Rachel Notley and Alberta’s NDP on their road to fix the mess the UCP has created, ensure my community has access to public healthcare, good paying jobs, and to make sure we can trust our government again,” she said.
Shandro is currently serving as Minister of Justice and Solicitor General and will face three days of hearings in October to determine if he broke the Law Society of Alberta’s Code of Conduct.
Shandro was first elected in 2019 with 54 per cent of the vote.
UCP open nominations in Calgary-Glenmore, Calgary-West, and Edmonton-South West
Despite not knowing who will lead the UCP into the next election, the governing conservative party is continuing to nominate candidates.
The UCP announced this week that nominations are open in Calgary-Glenmore (currenty represented by UCP MLA Whitney Issik), Calgary-West (currenty represented by UCP MLA Mike Ellis) and Edmonton-South West (currenty represented by UCP MLA Kaycee Madu).
The deadline for prospective candidates to apply to run for the nomination is June 7.
These three MLAs certainly fall in the Kenney camp of the UCP.
It remains unclear whether the party will allow two former UCP MLAs, and big Kenney critics, Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes and Central Peace-Notley MLA Todd Loewen, to rejoin and run under the UCP banner in the next election.
Loewen has publicly mused about running for the party leadership.
Longtime teacher running for NDP nomination in Brooks-Medicine Hat
Dirk spent 33 years teaching in different school systems, including the last 13 years of her career at Medicine Hat College. She is a member of the Medicine Hat Police Commission and ran for the Medicine Hat Public School Board in 2021.
Her spouse, Peter Mueller, ran for the NDP against Drew Barnes in the neighbouring Cypress-Medicine Hat riding in the 2019 election.
The NDP have scheduled a nomination meeting for June 23.
The riding is currently represented by first-term United Conservative Party MLA Michaela Frey. Alberta Party leader and former Brooks mayor Barry Morishita was nominated as his party’s candidate last week.
Former MLA Barb Miller enters NDP race in Red Deer-South
Former MLA Barb Miller will challenge city lawyer Michelle Baer for the NDP nomination contest in Red Deer-Southon June 18, 2022.
Miller represented the riding from 2015 to 2019. Before her election in 2015 she worked as a cashier at Safeway and was President of the Red Deer and District Labour Council.
Miller was defeated by UCP MLA Jason Stephan in the 2019 election.
More nomination news
Edmonton-Meadows MLA Jasvir Deol and Edmonton-Rutherford nomination candidate Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse will be nominated as NDP candidates on May 28.
The Alberta Party will nominate lawyer and past provincial Liberal Party leadership candidate Kerry Cundal in Calgary-Elbow on May 29.
University of Calgary Associate Law Professor Shaun Fluker and union activist and past candidate Steve Durrell are seeking the NDP nomination in Airdrie-Cochrane. A nomination meeting is being held on May 30.
And in Livingstone-Macleod, where first-term MLA Roger Reid is being challenged by UCP leadership aspirant and former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith, the town council of High River this week voted for a permanent ban on new coal exploration and development in the Rocky Mountains.
“We will not believe that result. We will not accept it, but we won’t even believe it, because our own polling here within our constituency is 72 per cent against Premier Kenney,” Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills president Rob Smith told CTV.
There’s a whole cabal of UCP MLAs who probably share Smith’s cynicism.
If Kenney wins he’ll have to decide the fate of his biggest critics in his own party.
What happens to Brian Jean? Leela Aheer? Angela Pitt? Jason Stephan? Peter Guthrie?
Cast them out and they’ll form another conservative party.
And then the UCP might as well drop the U.
So there’s the problem. Even if Kenney wins he still loses.
It’s a win-lose or lose-lose scenario.
It’s going to be a wild ride.
The UCP leadership review is probably going to take up most of the political oxygen in Alberta over the next few days, so I just wanted to note a few candidate nomination developments:
Former federal Liberal candidate and provincial Liberal leadership candidate Kerry Cundalis running for the Alberta Party nomination in Calgary-Elbow. She ran for the Alberta Liberal Party leadership in 2017 and joined the Alberta Party shortly afterward. A nomination meeting is scheduled for May 28, 2022.
Former cabinet minister David Eggen will be acclaimed as the Alberta NDP candidate in Edmonton-North West on May 18. Eggen is the second longest serving MLA currently in the Legislature, having represented Edmonton-Calder from 2004 to 2008 and 2012 to 2019, and Edmonton-North West from 2019 to the present.
“Hey Dave, is Jason Kenney going to win the leadership review?”
It’s a question I get asked a lot these days.
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.
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?
Do normal UCP members?
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.”
Sign up for the Daveberta Substack
I’m trying something new. I’m hoping to share some thoughts on Alberta politics and history on a new Substack and share the platform with some pretty smart people.
A few quick candidate nomination updates for this Saturday afternoon.
It appears that the following United Conservative Party MLAs have been acclaimed for their party’s nominations: Mickey Amery in Calgary-Cross, Nicholas Miliken in Calgary-Currie, Jason Luan in Calgary-Foothills, Tanya Fir in Calgary-Peigan, Jordan Walker in Sherwood Park, and Searle Turton in Spruce Grove-Stony Plain.
For the Alberta NDP, MLA Lori Sigurdson is running for her party’s nomination in Edmonton-Riveriew on June 7 and MLA Lorne Dach is running for his party’s nomination for re-election in Edmonton-McClung on June 8.
The Incumbent and Challenger
The NDP have scheduled a nomination meeting in Edmonton-Decore for June 25, 2022. Two-term MLA Chris Nielsen is being challenged for the nomination by Africa Centre executive director Sharif Haji.
City lawyer Michelle Baer announced this week that she is running for the Alberta NDP nomination in Red Deer-South. Baer is the Legal and Legislative Services Manager for the City of Red Deer.
“We can’t have people getting care in the back of an ambulance. We can’t have surgeries being cancelled, and people being transferred to Edmonton and Calgary,” Baer told the Red Deer Advocate.
She was referring to a recent long lineup of ambulances at the Red Deer Regional Hospital to transfer patients to deal with a surge in demand, and the need to divert surgery patients.
“We need strong advocacy in Edmonton on the things that matter,” she said.
It is unclear whether Stephan will be allowed to run for re-election as a UCP candidate if Kenney wins the leadership review, which will be announced on May 18.
Stephan was first elected in 2019 with 60.3 per cent of the vote, a landslide win against then-incumbent NDP MLA Barb Miller, who finished second with 25.5 per cent.
Lesley MacKinnon is running for the NDP nomination in Calgary-North West.
MacKinnon is the Director of Investor and Indigenous Relations with Foresight Canada and the former CEO of the Fig Tree Foundation.
Calgary-North West is currently represented by UCP MLA and Energy Minister Sonya Savage, who was first elected in 2019 with 56.7 per cent of the vote. The riding was previously represented by MLA Sandra Jansen, who was elected as a Progressive Conservative in 2012 and 2015 and crossed the floor to the NDP in 2016.
NDP race in Calgary-Glenmore heats up
Three former NDP MLAs have made duelling endorsements in the Calgary-Glenmore NDP nomination race.
Former Calgary-Currie MLA Brian Malkinson and former Calgary-Acadia MLA Brandy Payne are endorsing Jennifer Burgess for the nomination and former Calgary-Glenmore MLA Anam Kazim is endorsing Nagwan Al-Guneid.
Burgess was the 2019 campaign manager for past candidate Jordan Stein, who defeated Kazim for the NDP nomination ahead of that year’s provincial election.
Both candidates have attracted some notable endorsements.
Al-Guneid’s endorsements include Calgary-Glenmore NDP association president Bryan Weismiller, Past federal NDP candidate Kathleen Johnson, past federal Liberal Party candidate Scott Forsyth, past Alberta Party candidate Kara Levis, former Jim Prentice staffer Emma May, lawyer Jeremy Barretto, and economist Lindsay Tedds.
Burgress’ endorsements include Calgary-Glenmore NDP association past president Chris Somoya, former NDP leader Brian Mason, past federal NDP candidate Dany Allard, past mayoral candidate Jan Damery, former school trustee Julie Hrdlicka, Building Trades of Alberta executive director Terry Parker, and IBEW Local 424 vice president Scott Crichton.
NDP members in the south west Calgary riding will vote to select a candidate on May 8 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., and May 10 from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m.
‘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.
Alberta’s Intensive Care Units and hospitals are full of COVID-19 patients and the province now has more than half of the active cases of the deadly disease in Canada. School boards like the Edmonton Public School Board are reporting hundreds of young students have contracted the virus, forcing dozens of schools to shut down in-person classes and move to virtual classrooms. And 34 more Albertans died because of COVID-19 yesterday.
But what was the most important issue for a group of Alberta MLAs this week?
With help from the libertarian Alberta Institute, former Progressive Conservative-turned-Wildrose-turned Progressive Conservative MLA and online talk show host Rob Anderson launched the “Free Alberta Strategy,” announcing a manifesto that declares Alberta a “sovereign jurisdiction” and, among other things, would allow the province to just ignore federal laws it doesn’t like.
Anderson was joined at the online press conference by United Conservative Party MLAs Angela Pitt (who is also the Deputy Speaker of the Legislature) and Jason Stephan, and Independent MLAs Drew Barnes and Todd Loewen. The latter two MLAs were ejected from the UCP Caucus in May 2021 after losing confidence in Premier Jason Kenney’s leadership, a sentiment that Pitt echoed during this press conference.
The Alberta Institute is led by former New Zealand political activist and Manning Centre researcher Peter McCaffrey. He also happens to be married to the institute’s former director of operations and past UCP nomination candidate Megan McCaffrey, who is now working as the Chief of Staff in Barnes’ and Loewen’ UCP Caucus-in-exile.
Legislative Assembly Speaker Nathan Cooper was also in attendance but was described as being an observer rather than a participant in the press conference.
Calling for a type of sovereignty-association with the rest of Canada, Anderson brought up a number of perennial ideas like an Alberta police force and pension plan, but then connected them to a whole swath of bad ideas that would either create needless bureaucracy or just be plain unconstitutional.
The group pled with reporters not to describe their group as separatists, but it is hard not to think of it as anything else.
It is hard to think of a more tone deaf time to fly the separatist flag in Alberta.
The actual separatist party earned 1.3 per cent in Alberta in the federal election held last week and the UCP government last week sent out a desperate plea for health care support from Ottawa and other provinces to deal with the COVID-19 fourth wave.
Just as tone deaf is Kenney’s province-wide referendum on October 18 asking Albertans to vote yes if they want the equalization formula removed from Canada’s constitution – a referendum that no one is talking about because of the COVID-19 crisis.
The one person who wasn’t at the online press conference, but who might as well have been there in spirit (literally), was Premier William Aberhart, who himself pushed through unconstitutional laws in the 1930s that would nationalize banks and force newspapers to publish government propaganda.
When the Lieutenant Governor at the time refused to sign one of his unconstitutional laws, Aberhart chained the doors and evicted the vice-regal representative from of his official residence in Government House.
UCP MLA backs down on criticism of AHS, Kenney faces leadership review and offers no new plan to stop COVID
UCP vice-president Joel Mullan was fired by the board yesterday after calling for Kenney to face a leadership review, which has now been scheduled for April 2022.
Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland UCP MLA Shane Getson back pedalled on his attempts to shift blame for the overcapacity ICUs on Alberta Health Services President Dr. Verna Yiu, likely as a ploy to push more privatization of the public health care system.
Kenney joined Health Minister Jason Copping and Justice Minister Kaycee Madu yesterday not to announce further public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 but to announce the government will ban protests outside of hospitals in reaction to anti-vaccine and COVID-19 conspiracy theorist rallies that were held two weeks ago.With none of these rallies having been held in weeks, some political watchers are wondering if the protest ban is actually being aimed at health care workers who could take job action in the coming months.
In 2018, she was the chair of the Innisfail-Sylvan Lake UCP nomination committee ahead of that year’s by-election and ran as a “Team Grassroots” slate candidate for the Central Alberta director on the United Conservative Party’s board of directors.
Her husband, Gary, unsuccessfully sought the UCP nomination against Jason Stephan in Red Deer-South in 2019 (Pam Davidson ran against Stephan’s sister-in-law, Laura, in the 2017 municipal election in Red Deer County).
Davidson notes on her website that she is running for the Conservative Party nomination for the Senate Nominee election. It is unclear whether the Conservative Party of Canada has released any details or information about the nomination contest, but Davidson’s website says you must have a valid Conservative Party members by July 29, 2021 to vote in the nomination contest.
This is the first time since Senate Nominee elections were first held in 1989 that candidates can run under a federal party banner. In previous Senate Nominee elections candidates were only allowed to run as a provincial party candidate or an Independent candidate.
The new Senate Election Act introduced in 2019 allows candidates to list their federal party affiliation on the ballot, though it is unclear whether the federal party’s will actually have any control over who is listed as affiliated with them on the ballot.
The Conservative Party of Canada is currently the only federal party with representation in the Senate. All other Senators sit as Independent or members of a smaller caucus that are unaffiliated with a political party.
The uniquely-Albertan election is being held to select a list of nominees to be appointed to the Senate of Canada when there are vacancies in Alberta’s delegation. Only Progressive Conservative and Conservative Prime Ministers have recognized the election and recommended the appointment of nominees chosen in Alberta’s Senate Nominee elections.
Other already declared candidates are Progress Alberta executive director Duncan Kinney and lobbyist and former UCP President Erika Barootes.
A handful of UCP MLAs, including two cabinet ministers, are now publicly calling on the Kenney to apologize for breaking COVID-19 public health restrictions by hosting a boozy Sky Palace patio party that was caught on camera.
The photos of Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon and Finance Minister Travis Toews, and senior political staff dining at a booze filled table atop the penthouse patio of the notorious Sky Palace circulated on social media this week.
Kenney and company were clearly breaking the government’s own public health restrictions. But, instead of admitting they made a mistake and moving on, the Premier’s political staff jumped on social media to aggressively attack anyone who criticized their leader, claiming they did not break any rules.
Kenney’s comments were incredibly insensitive in light of the discovery of the remains of 215 children buried at a former Residential School in Kamloops. Kenney’s comments prompted strong responses from the Confederation of Treaty Six First Nations and the Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta.
Minister of Community and Social Services Rajan Sawhney, the UCP MLA for Calgary-North East, also called on Kenney to apologize for his boozy Sky Palace patio party.
“If they have committed a mistake, they must accept it openly. (The) photo clearly speaks,” Sawhney said on RED 106.7 FM in Calgary.
Meanwhile, Red Deer-South UCP MLA Jason Stephan is calling on the Kenney government to launch a public inquiry into the cost of its public health restrictions.
In this case, the attempted coverup was probably worse than the crime. Most Albertans would probably have accepted a quick apology from Kenney and his senior cabinet ministers for the rule breaking that so obviously occurred in the photos.
Kenney’s inability to admit that he made a mistake, and his staff’s overly aggressive attacks on anyone who pointed out what was clearly happening in the photos, has only given his opponents in the UCP caucus another reason to publicly criticize him.
Alberta politics moves at a mile a minute and there’s no time to waste. On this episode of the Daveberta Podcast, we dive into the United Conservative Caucus rebellion against mild public health restrictions to fight COVID-19 and challenges to Premier Jason Kenney’s leadership, the controversial draft K-6 curriculum, and the government’s toxic relationship with Alberta doctors and public sector unions.
The Daveberta Podcast is a member of the Alberta Podcast Network: Locally grown. Community supported. The Alberta Podcast Network includes dozens of great made-in-Alberta podcasts.
You can listen and subscribe to the Daveberta Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you find podcasts online. We love feedback from our listeners, so let us know what you think of this episode and leave a review where you download.
New cases of COVID-19 are on the rise and the third wave of the global pandemic is hitting Alberta, but that did not deter a group of nearly 20 United Conservative Party MLAs from publicly speaking out against the provincial government’s implementation of mild public health restrictions in response.
Like the virus, the group of COVID critics inside the UCP Caucus has grown exponentially from the original six-pack of MLAs who publicly spoke out against public health measures at the beginning of March. The public letter signed by 15 UCP MLAs criticized Premier Jason Kenney for moving back to Step 1 of the province’s mild public health measures in response to the spike in new cases, which is largely a result of a vicious new variant of the deadly virus.
The letter signed by the 15 MLAs was soon after endorsed by Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright MLA Garth Rowswell and West Yellowhead MLA Martin Long, who also serves as the parliamentary secretary for small business. Also signalling support for the letter’s intentions was Calgary Member of Parliament Michelle Rempel-Garner, who serves as the Official Opposition Health Critic in Ottawa.
Peace River MLA Dan Williams, a long-time Kenney acolyte from Ottawa, did not endorse the letter but posted a video on social media criticizing the decision by Alberta Health Services to close down the rebel GraceLife Church, which had been holding in-person services in defiance of the government’s public health orders. He was joined in this call by Ontario MP Derek Sloan, who was kicked out of the federal Conservative caucus for his extreme social conservative views.
That the leaders of the UCP caucus mutiny appear to largely be from the former Wildrose caucus, or Wildrose-wing of the party, is not surprising. The former opposition party was notoriously raucous and unwilling to bow to the kind of centralized party leadership that Kenney would have become accustomed to during his many years in Ottawa.
It was also clear during Kenney’s press conference on Tuesday that he expected a negative reaction from his caucus. A significant portion of Kenney’s lecture was dedicated to managing MLAs expectations and acknowledging the differences of opinion in his caucus. Difference of opinion is one thing, but this is something entirely different.
The public health restrictions that Alberta fell back to earlier this week are nothing close to what restrictions have looked like in jurisdictions that have actually implemented lockdowns. Alberta schools are still open for in-person classes, and Albertans can still gather with up to 10 people outside, go shopping for non-essential items, get a haircut or a massage, dine or have drinks on a restaurant patio, and exercise at a gym with a personal trainer.
There is no doubt a lot of Albertans are frustrated about how the provincial government has handled the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Kenney government has not helped itself by releasing a string of confusing and inconsistent public health measures and messaging to Albertans about the government’s response.
While public opinion polling suggests many Albertans would like the government to impose stronger measures to stop the spread of the deadly virus, there is a loud minority who want to see the current restrictions lifted.
It is yet to be seen whether the revolt will extend beyond this strongly worded letter, but there is little doubt these MLAs are actively undermining the work being done by public health professionals and health care workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The caucus revolt is probably a reflection of deepening regional and partisan divides in Alberta, with most of the COVID Caucus MLAs representing largely rural and small town districts. It is notable that no UCP MLAs from Calgary, so far the hardest hit in the third wave, have publicly joined the revolt.
It also suggests that the United Conservative Party is not as united as its leader would like Albertans to believe.
Kenney’s personal approval ratings and support for his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic plummeted over the past 13 months, and his party has floundered in the polls, finishing behind Rachel Notley’s NDP in a handful of recent voter opinion polls. The rise of the separatist Wildrose Independence Party in rural Alberta has some backbench UCP MLAs nervously looking over their right shoulders.
In some ways, the revolt probably serves as a welcome distraction to some in the UCP from the never ending string of scandals and policy failures, most recently the failure to stop the Carbon Tax at the Supreme Court, the loss of $1.5 billion of public money when the Keystone XL Pipeline was cancelled, the failure to sign a new contract with Alberta doctors, the retreat on open-pit coal mining, and the open rebellion by parents against the draft K-6 curriculum.
Under normal circumstances it would be hard to believe that this kind of caucus revolt would happen on a day when more than 1,300 new cases of COVID were reported and doctors are calling for a circuit breaker response, but in today’s world of Alberta politics, it would be harder to believe this would happen if the UCP were not floundering so deeply in the polls.
It has come to the attention of this Author that a number of influential government officials and Members of the Legislative Assembly have brought scandal to the highest seat in the land.
Sir Jamie Huckabay, the loyal right hand of Lord Jason Thomas Kenney, the Premier of Alberta, left the province and sailed to Great Britain in contravention of government rules requesting the good people of Alberta to remain at home.
If he had only kept his seat firmly planted in Alberta his scandal could have been avoided!
But alas, Sir Jamie was not alone.
Whilst most of polite society cancelled their festive gatherings in light of the latest pandemic, a handful of government ministers and deputies absconded to the tropics!
Accompanied by a large host of valets carrying numerous valises, the deputies appeared eager to enjoy a reprieve from the frigid weather and dry atmosphere of the prairies in December.
And with the waterways yet to be frozen over, off they sailed!
Until today, Lady Tracy Allard of La Grande Prairie was the newest Minister of the Crown, debuting in great fashion last August. She was widely seen as an up and coming star in an overcast sky, but her decision to flee Alberta for the Hawaiian Islands has led to a quick end to her political career. She was summarily sacked amid large fanfare.
Lord Kenney and his associates are said to have been barraged with the sort of commentary from the public that cannot be printed in an honourable publication such as this.
It is said that even Lady Danbury, forced by circumstance to cancel her annual Solstice Ball, had penned a strongly worded letter to Lord Kenney’s principal secretary.
Lady Allard is back in town, along with Misters Jeremy Nixon, Pat Rehn, and Jason Stephan, and Lady Tanya Fir. Marquess Tany Yao remains unaccounted for.
The Marquess absconded from his seat at Fort McMurray-on-the-Clearwater and appears to be incommunicado with the outside world from his retreat on the Mexican coast, much to the chagrin of Lord Kenney in Edmonton.
But despite the cold’s tendency to turn one’s nose a rather unattractive shade of red, Lord Kenney’s colour was likened to a sheet of white as he defended the now former-Minister Allard on Friday last.
This Author cannot help but wonder whether Lord Kenney’s decision to sack the whole lot was too little and too late, or whether it will appease the masses clamoring for a sacrifice.
One can only wonder if this incident will compel Lord Kenney, who has suffered from a bout of unpopularity locally, to finally leave the provincial town and return to the comfort of the capital in Ottawa.
Or perhaps, he is content with the situation at hand? Not every politician desires popularity, after all.
To any readers who do not understand the references in this post, please watch Bridgerton on Netflix. Viewer discretion is advised.