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Alberta Politics

guest post: decision time for the alberta liberals.

 

Alberta Liberal Party Leadership Candidates
Alberta Liberal Party leadership candidates (left to right) Bill Harvey, Bruce Payne, Raj Sherman, Laurie Blakeman, and Hugh MacDonald

By Justin Archer

On Saturday September 10, the Alberta Liberals will select their next leader following current leader David Swann’s resignation from the post, announced this past January.

An understanding of the dynamics that lead to the initiation of this leadership race is helpful in interpreting the parry and thrust that has played out among the candidates running to be Swann’s successor. It’s probably not quite accurate to say that Swann was forced out—he left of his own volition, but he certainly didn’t have an easy time of it throughout most of his tenure as leader. Job one for the new leader will be to unite the caucus and inspire the membership as Alberta moves ever closer to the next election.

Don Braid’s piece in the Calgary Herald last weekend was a bang-on analysis of the recent and not so recent dynamic within the Party.

I found this section particularly apropos:

“There was another flicker of losing mentality recently when MLAs and leadership candidates suddenly discovered the party has 25,000 members.

The reaction was not joy, or even a touch of pride, but claims of duplicity from candidates who thought Raj Sherman was pushing the rules.”

It has been written elsewhere that this election will be a defining moment in the history of the Party, and I don’t disagree. When Daveberta left the ALP a few years ago he explained to me how his decision was motivated by the Party’s culture that put fealty to the Liberal brand above all else. At the time I didn’t know what he meant. Perhaps I hadn’t spent enough time in the trenches to see it up close. Now, a few years later, I see that Dave was absolutely right: there are elements within the Liberal Party that would take “being a Liberal” over “being in a progressive government that shares my values and does things the way I think it ought to” ten times out of ten. It’s weird, and kind of hard to explain until you’ve seen it. But it’s there.

This leadership election is an opportunity for the Liberal Party to decide what it wants to be: a band of true believers who will always be safe in the knowledge that they remained loyal to the Liberal brand through thick and thin; or a pragmatic, progressive group of people who are willing to stretch their boundaries and open up the organization to new people, new thinking, and ultimately a shot at real relevance again.

The various potential paths for the Liberal Party have been foreshadowed during this leadership campaign. I’ve been to a few of the debates and watched the campaign closely. By my best estimation, the candidates have offered visions as such:

Laurie Blakeman: Solid traditional Liberal credentials as well as an eye towards pragmatism. A Laurie Blakeman Liberal Party would not close itself off to outsiders, and would likely make some attempt to establish consensus with the Alberta Party and the NDP.

Bill Harvey: Move the Party far to the right of its traditional space on the political spectrum, to the point where many members would no longer feel comfortable with policy positions. Harvey has a very small natural constituency within the Party. If he were to win it would be in large part due to his organizational skills.

Hugh MacDonald: A die-hard Liberal if ever there was one. MacDonald has staked out the traditional Liberal territory with a vengeance during this campaign. He is an unapologetic devotee of the brand, and has played up his Party renewal strategy of empowering constituency associations.

Bruce Payne: A kind and decent human being who doesn’t quite have the backstory that explains why he should be the Liberal Leader. If he can hold Calgary-Varsity when incumbent Harry Chase retires at the start of the next election he would make a strong Alberta Liberal MLA.

Raj Sherman: His policy strength is in health care, but he speaks frequently about the social determinants of health and the correlative relationship between government actions and social outcomes across many policy areas. Sherman’s participation is the story of this campaign. He brings strong name recognition and folk hero status to this race. However his history as a Conservative MLA makes him an unknown and perhaps unsettling quantity in some Liberal circles.

I could certainly be wrong, and in fact I usually am (just ask Premier Jim Dinning and LPC Leader Gerard Kennedy), but I think this race is essentially between Hugh MacDonald and Raj Sherman.

MacDonald represents the true believers; the ones with a Liberal tattoo. Those people who look at traditional Liberal policies like the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, multiculturalism, the right to marry who you love, environmentalism, non-violence, fiscal responsibility, and at a host of other Liberal policy positions and say “yes, I am a Liberal.” MacDonald’s supporters come from the noblest of places within the human spirit. They see a set of values that they call “Liberal”, and they won’t be pushed off that brand come hell or high water. However, the dedication to Liberalism exemplified by MacDonald supporters is myopic: though they have the best outcomes in mind, their inflexibility and inability to understand the bigger picture have trapped them in a perpetual state of being “right”, while being marginalized. And what’s the good in that?

On the other hand, Raj Sherman brings a whole new dynamic to the Liberal Party. He’s famous. He’s smart. He’s brash. He stood up to the government and lived to tell the tale. I’ve spent a fair amount of time with Raj this summer and I can attest to the fact that he is an incredibly hard worker and the most pure retail politician I’ve ever seen. He is totally comfortable in his own skin and loves being with people. During the leadership race Sherman has signed up a large number of new Party supporters, giving the ALP a big new list of people to build its constituency and campaign teams with for the next election.

Over the past several years the Liberal Party has been pulling in two different directions. On the one hand there are the traditional loyalists who think the Party must do the same things, but better. On the other hand there are the younger, more pragmatic activists who wish to reshape the Party in a way that will allow it to continue to be relevant in the 21st Century. MacDonald and Sherman are two nearly perfect proxy candidates for this debate.

When the Party selects a new Leader on September 10, a Raj Sherman victory will indicate a willingness to work outside the Party’s traditional comfort zone with the aim of greater electoral success, while maintaining its commitment to Liberal values and philosophy; a Hugh MacDonald victory will represent a decision to redouble efforts to build the traditional Liberal Party along the same lines that have failed for so long.

This is an important conversation for the Party to have, and I’m genuinely interested in seeing which way the Party decides to go. If nothing else, the Liberal Party leadership contest has been passionate, surprising and interesting. The Party feels exciting again, which is a step in the right direction.

—-
Justin Archer is an Edmonton-based public relations consultant and political watcher. www.archerstrategies.com.

Categories
Alberta Politics

where the votes were in the 2006 alberta pc leadership vote, where the mla support is in 2011.

Maps comparing total number of votes in the final ballot of the 2006 Alberta PC leadership contest and MLA support in the 2011 PC leadership contest.
Total number of votes in the final ballot of the 2006 Alberta PC leadership contest and MLA support in the 2011 PC leadership contest.

As Jim Dinning learned six years ago, having the support of MLAs in a leadership contest does not assure victory. The long-time front-runner in the 2006 Progressive Conservative leadership contest counted the support of over forty sitting MLAs, but on the final ballot vote, it was a low-key cabinet minister named Ed Stelmach with the initial support of nine MLAs who upset Mr. Dinning’s sure-win.

The current PC leadership contest has shown a larger diversity in choices among PC MLAs, with Gary Mar drawing the support of seventeen MLAs, Doug Horner twelve MLAs, Ted Morton nine MLAs, and one each for both Alison Redford and Doug Griffiths.

Premier Christy Clark‘s recent victory in the BC Liberal leadership contest proved that even a candidate with the support of only one-MLA can become the leader of a governing party. A downside of this scenario, as Premier Clark is said to be discovering, and as Premier Stelmach discovered, is that you still have to work with those MLAs who did not support your bid.

Support from sitting-MLAs does have its advantages if the MLA has a strong local organization and especially in rural areas, where local representatives have a different kind of relationship with municipal councils, community organizations, and local weekly newspapers than their counterparts representing big city constituencies.

The maps above compare the total number of votes in the final weekend of the 2006 PC leadership contest with the support of MLAs in 2011. The number of voting members in each constituency will change in this year’s contest, due to different candidates and a different political environment, but it is an interesting look at where the largest groupings of PC memberships were sold in that year’s contest.

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Alberta Politics

a look at the candidates lining up in the race to replace ed stelmach.

The candidates lining up to replace Premier Ed Stelmach as leader of the PC Party have been campaigning for months, yet what should be the hottest political leadership contest of the year has so far been a quiet affair. Will it take the summer months to heat up this contest, or will Albertans wait until the September 17 first ballot vote approaches before they begin to pay attention?

Here is a look at the candidates who are seeking the PC Party leadership:

A photo of Doug Griffiths, Alberta PC leadership candidate.
Doug Griifths

Doug Griffiths
Slogan: Better Alberta
Elected experience: MLA for Wainwright from 2002-2004 and Battle River-Wainwright from 2004 to present.
Released policies: Energy, Finance, Property Rights
Background: An underdog in this contest, Mr. Griffiths’ public musings have made him a pariah among some fellow conservatives and his openness to go to these uncomfortable places makes him unique when contrasted with the large contingent of comfortably-silent MLAs in the PC caucus. These musings have likely cost him a spot in cabinet, but they have also built him a solid following of supporters online.

Despite support of some rural high-rolling Tories, word on the street is that Mr. Griffiths campaign has had a challenge keeping up with fundraising compared to the other candidates in this contest. Calgary-North Hill backbencher Kyle Fawcett is the only MLA to have endorsed Mr. Griffiths. He supported Jim Dinning in the 2006 PC leadership contest.

A photo of Doug Horner, Alberta PC Leadership candidate.
Doug Horner

Doug Horner
Slogan: Let’s get it done right.
Elected experience: MLA for Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert since 2001.
Background: Calgary Tories still bitter from Jim Dinning’s defeat in 2006 will try to paint Mr. Horner with the same brush as they did Premier Ed Stelmach. Mr. Horner is a more comfortable figure than the Premier and did a decent job filling various cabinet posts, including Agriculture and Advanced Education & Technology.

The heir to a three-generation political dynasty, Mr. Horner follows in the footsteps of his grand-father Senator Ralph Horner, his uncles former MPs Jack Horner and Norval Horner, and his father former MP, MLA and deputy Premier Hugh Horner. Big shoes to fill.

Under the auspices of the grassroots Albertan group, led by advisor Brad Ferguson, Mr. Horner is embarking on a province-wide “Think Big Alberta” speaking tour with retired Canadian Forces General Rick Hillier and Vancouver 2010 Olympic Committee CEO John Furlong. The tour kicks off in Edmonton on June 22 and has stops planned in Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, and Calgary.

In 2006 he supported Mark Norris on the first ballot and Ed Stelmach on the second ballot.

A photo of Gary Mar, Alberta PC leadership candidate.
Gary Mar

Gary Mar
Slogan: None evident, supporters on Twitter are using the hashtag #GOGARY
Elected experience: MLA for Calgary-Nose Hill from 1993 to 2004 and Calgary-Mackay from 2004 to 2007.
Released policies: Education, Municipal Funding
Background: Smart and slick, Mr. Mar’s campaign has the feel of a candidate for the United States Senate, which is not surprising considering that he has spent the past five years dining and lobbying the Washington DC political establishment on behalf of the Alberta Government. An MLA and cabinet minister from 1993 until 2007, he has been out of the public eye long enough not to be directly tied to the current PC Party administration.

Mr. Mar’s campaign carries significant support from Establishment Tories like former Finance Minister Iris Evans and current Energy Minister Ron Liepert, who rumours say has been trying to strong-arm support from other Tory MLAs. Mr. Mar’s campaign public relations are being handled by long-time government spokesperson Mark Kastner, who is still listed as Alberta Health Services Executive Director of Media Relations.

The membership list of a secret Facebook group created before Mr. Mar officially entered the PC leadership contest included Jim Dinning‘s 2006 campaign chairman Brent Shervey, Calgary-Nose Hill MLA Neil Brown, Drayton Valley-Calmar MLA Diana McQueen, Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Fred Horne, co-chair of the PC Party’s 2008 election platform committee Brenda Barootes, and pollster Janet Brown.

He supported Jim Dinning in the 2006 PC leadership contest.

A photo of Rick Orman, Alberta PC leadership candidate.
Rick Orman

Rick Orman
Slogan: The Right Choice
Elected experience: MLA for Calgary-Montrose from 1986 to 1993
Background: This blast from the past could turn into the Ron Paul of the PC leadership contest. As the MLA for Calgary-Montrose from 1986 to 1993 and third place candidate in his party’s 1992 leadership contest, Mr. Orman faded into political obscurity until making a return as a candidate in this contest. Taking aggressive positions at candidate forms and typing with a sharp wit on Twitter, he does not owe much to the PC Party in its current incarnation and has little to lose by telling PC members what the other candidates are afraid to say. It has been suggested that Mr. Orman’s candidacy poses the biggest threat to Dr. Morton.

Mr. Orman’s campaign is moving into an office recently vacated by Calgary-Centre Conservative MP Lee Richardson‘s campaign team, opening speculation that Mr. Orman’s support may not be so thin.

A photo of Justice Minister Alison Redford at the 2011 Alberta budget announcement in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Alison Redford

Alison Redford
Slogan: None.
Elected experience: MLA for Calgary-Elbow since 2008
Released policies: Democratic Renewal, Education, Energy, Health Care
Background: The only woman in this contest, Ms. Redford is not your typical Red Tory. While her campaign has so far focused on important issues like health care, education, democratic renewal, and energy policy, the safe communities initiative during her time as Justice Minister demonstrated that she is creative enough to look beyond the “tough on crime” agenda. She is also appears to be taking a page from popular Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Edmonton City Councillor Don Iveson by “campaigning in full sentences.” (This may have been influenced by her campaign strategist Stephen Carter, who was involved with Mayor Nenshi’s campaign).

Ms. Redford has only been an MLA since 2008, but her political experience is broad, ranging from serving as a Senior Policy Advisor to External Affairs Minister Joe Clark, being appointed as one of four International Election Commissioners to administer Afghanistan’s first parliamentary elections, and challenging Calgary-West MP Rob Anders for the Conservative Party nomination in 2004 (she was unsuccessful).

A photo of Ted Morton, Alberta PC leadership candidate.
Ted Morton

Ted Morton
Slogan: Alberta Proud/Proud to be Albertan
Elected experience: Senator-in-Waiting 1998 to 2004, MLA for Foothills-Rockyview from 2004 to present
Released policies: Democratic Renewal, Power Transmission
Background: The former Finance Minister and third place leadership candidate from 2006 who’s actions forced Premier Ed Stelmach to resign and this contest to begin. Many of his key organizers from his previous leadership bid have joined the Wildrose Alliance and it is questionable whether they will return to the PC Party fold if they have embraced Dr. Morton’s ideological soul-mate Danielle Smith. His time as Finance Minister hurt his conservative credentials, especially among rural landowners furious at the government’s recently passed transmission line legislation – Bill 50.

In 2006, Dr. Morton received support of Rob Anders, Myron Thompson, and Jason Kenney, who have each since quietly or loudly shown support for the Wildrose Alliance.

Expected to enter the race:

Thomas Lukaszuk
Elected experience: MLA for Edmonton-Castle Downs from 2001 to present
Background: Yet to enter the contest, rumours have been swirling for months about Minister Lukaszuk’s potential entry into this contest. He would be the only MLA from Edmonton to enter the contest and while he would be a long-shot candidate, it could help solidify his position in cabinet under the next PC Premier.

He supported Jim Dinning in the 2006 leadership contest.

Categories
Alberta Politics

updated: nomination updates – alberta election.

With the federal election behind us, it is now time to turn attention towards the quiet preparation happening in the run up to the next provincial election. I have updated the growing list of declared and nominated candidates for the next provincial election and below are some of the interesting nominations and contests that I have been following. If you have any updates or know of any candidates that are missing from the list, please comment in the section below.

Calgary-Bow: Three term PC MLA Alana DeLong is facing a nomination challenge from Lars Lehmann at a May 14 nomination meeting. Mr. Lehmann may be the only candidate to also have a profile on IMDB.com, where he is listed as a Production Director for a number of films including Calgary-based Exit Wounds, and others including Rat Race (starring Whoopi Goldberg, John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson, and Seth Green among others). Ms. DeLong has sat in the Government backbenches since being elected and gained media attention for her brief entry into the PC leadership contest in 2006 (she dropped out and endorsed Jim Dinning before the vote was held).

Calgary-McCall: The Wildrose Alliance nomination scheduled for May 7 has been suspended until the party can address a number of irregularities in the local membership list. The hotly contested nomination has drawn at least three candidates, Grant Galpin, Khalil Karbani, Deepshikha Brar. McCall has been represented by Liberal MLA Darshan Kang since 2008.

UPDATED: Calgary-South East: Two-term PC MLA Art Johnston is facing a nomination challenge from Paramedic Rick Fraser in this new constituency. Mr. Fraser is the former President of CUPE 3421, the Calgary Paramedics Union. Mr. Johnston has served as the MLA for Calgary-Hays since 2004.

Calgary-Varsity: Justin Anderson was nominated as the Wildrose Alliance candidate after defeating challengers Kevin Dick and Brian Sembo. Mr. Anderson is the brother of Airdrie-Chestermere Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson and Town of Crossfield Mayor Nathan Anderson. The riding has been held by retiring Liberal MLA Harry Chase since 2004. The Liberals have nominated Union Representative Bruce Payne.

Edmonton-Manning: Former Mayoral candidate Daryl Bonar is the Wildrose Alliance candidate in this north east Edmonton constituency. Mr. Bonar, a Community Relations Officer with the Canadian Forces, is a good catch for the Wildrose, who had yet to attract anything close to a “star candidate” in Edmonton. Manning is currently held by first term PC MLA Peter Sandhu, who was elected with 35% of the vote in 2008.

Edmonton-Rutherford: The first constituency to have a nominated candidate from each of the main political parties. This full-ballot was complete with the nomination of Michael Walters as the Alberta Party candidate in April. Mr. Walters is that party’s Provincial Organizer and previously served as an organizer for the Greater Edmonton Alliance, a coalition of community associations, church groups, and labour unions. Also on the ballot will be first-term PC MLA Fred Horne, former Liberal MLA Rick Miller, NDP candidate Melanie Samaroden, and second-time Wildroser Kyle McLeod.

Edmonton-Riverview: Arif Khan was nominated as the Liberal candidate in the constituency being vacated by former party leader Kevin Taft at the next election. Mr. Khan is a consultant and western Vice President of Condo Store Inc. Riverview has been represented by Liberal MLAs since 1997.

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake: Penhold Town Councillor Danielle Klooster is seeking the Alberta Party candidacy in this central Alberta constituency. It will be an uphill battle for Ms. Klooster, as voters gave incumbent PC MLA Luke Ouellette 62% support in the 2008 election.

Leduc-Beaumont: In a contested nomination, two-term PC MLA George Rogers fended off a spirited nomination challenge from Leduc Alderman Dominic Mishio. According to the Leduc Representative, Mr. Rogers earned 826 votes to Mr. Mishio’s 625 votes. Mr. Mishio’s candidacy was seen by some political watchers as an opportunity to rejuvenate the PC caucus, where Mr. Rogers has sat as a backbencher since he was first elected.

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Alberta Politics

gary mar’s peeps – supporters secret facebook group revealed.

Gary Mar resigned today from his position as Alberta’s Representative in Washington DC, fuelling the speculation that the former cabinet minister will soon join the Progressive Conservative leadership contest.

Some of the more recent rumours predicting Mr. Mar’s entry into the leadership contest were based around a late February meeting of supporters, including Klein-era political operator Rod Love.

More concrete proof of Mr. Mar’s candidacy landed in my email inbox this afternoon when a reader emailed me a screenshot of a Secret Group on Facebook, named Gary Mar’s Peeps.” It appears as though this secret Facebook gathering place for Mr. Mar’s supporters has been up and running for the past month. Its content includes links to news stories, blog posts, and questions from group members ranging from where to send campaign donations to how to respond to chatter on Twitter.

A screenshot of "Gary Mar's Peeps" Secret Group on Facebook.

The 87 members of the invite-only Facebook group are an interesting camp of PC Party members. Some of the notable names in the members list include Jim Dinning‘s 2006 campaign chairman Brent Shervey, Calgary-Nose Hill MLA Neil Brown, Drayton Valley-Calmar MLA Diana McQueen, Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Fred Horne, former PC Youth President Courtney Luimes (who is currently the Executive Assistant to Energy Minister Ron Liepert), Airdrie-Chestermere PC Association President Janice Harrington, co-chair of the PC Party’s 2008 election platform committee Brenda Barootes, and pollster Janet Brown.

A person’s membership in a Facebook may not necessary translate into an official endorsement, but the exclusivity of this invite-only secret group may suggest that its members have a higher level of commitment towards Mr. Mar than if it were a regular public Facebook Group.

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Alberta Politics

choosing a new captain of the mothership.


Happier times in the PC Caucus when Ted Morton and Dave Hancock held hands and sang Kumbaya.

Former Finance Minister Ted Morton believes that he is the best person to bring conservatives back to the PC “mothership,” but that is not stopping the speculation of who will challenge him in the contest to fill his party’s top job.

Stelmach’s McGarry
Rarely in the spotlight, Premier Ed Stelmach‘s Chief of Staff Ron Glen spoke with the Calgary Herald about his boss’ resignation announcement and the politics of the past week.

Vote a vote for Jim in 2011?
Completely ruling out returning to politics when asked last Tuesday, former Finance Minister and 2006 PC leadership contest front-runner Jim Dinning was less committal later in the week. Many Tories I have spoken with in the past week tell me that while they would love Mr. Dinning to return to politics, that they believe it is unlikely that the University of Calgary Chancellor will seek his party’s leadership.

Two more candidates?
Edmonton-Leduc Conservative MP James Rajotte is said to be considering a bid for the PC leadership. First elected as a Canadian Alliance MP for Edmonton-Southwest in 2000, Mr. Rajotte . He was the Ottawa roommate of Rahim Jaffer in the 1990s, when he worked as the legislative assistant for Edmonton-Strathcona MP Hugh Hanrahan and Surrey-North MP Margaret Bridgeman, and later as executive assistant to Edmonton MP Ian McClelland. Mr. Rajotte is currently the chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance.

First elected as the MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud in 1997, Minister Dave Hancock placed fifth out of eight candidates with 7,595 votes on the first ballot of his party’s 2006 leadership contest. He endorsed Premier Stelmach on the second ballot. Minister Hancock has served as Minister of Justice, Health, Advanced Education, and Education (among others) and has been a PC Party insider since serving as Youth President in the 1970s.

In his current role as Education Minister, Hancock encouraged Trustees, parents, administrators, and others to think big about the future of the education system. This process had encouraged good among education system participants until recently, when the government attempted to renegotiate an already agreed upon contract with Alberta’s teachers.

The right time for Griffiths?
A leadership bid by Battle River-Wainwright MLA Doug Griffiths is not only gaining support in internet polls. Metro Calgary columnist DJ Kelly wrote a column last week suggesting that the outspoken and insightful Mr. Griffiths might be the best candidate for the job.

Benitomania or Benitolution?
Tongue in cheek campaign or the next big political shift? Paula Simons examines the political career of Edmonton-Mill Woods PC MLA Carl Benito and the recent online chatter about him.

Categories
Alberta Politics

quotes in response to ed stelmach’s resignation.

On his decision to not run in the next election:

Premier Ed Stelmach told the Fort Saskatchewan Record: “I got to thinking when I was interviewing the MLAs coming in and asking them for a five year commitment,” he said. “Another five years would put me close to 65 and I know there’s many politicians older than that and doing well, but that would have been 30 years of public service.

“Having served the constituency for many years. I feel good in terms of what we’ve been able to accomplish, in terms of improved infrastructure, whether it be Fort Saskatchewan, Vegreville or the communities in between.

“I know it’s time for a change and politics is demanding, and will be increasingly demanding, and that’s why I made the decision.”

Party insiders on the next leadership contest:

PC Party Executive Director Pat Godkin told Sun Media that “there is no timeline whatsoever” in place for a leadership contest.

PC Party President Bill Smith told iNews880 that “I think more along the lines we’re looking at spring and summer.”

Ralph Klein’s former Chief of Staff Rod Love told Global News: “You know there’s 68 members in the caucus, a lot of the names are well known about who might be in, who might be out.”

Potential candidates::

Deputy Premier Doug Horner told the St. Albert Gazette: “I was asked the question whether or not I would consider it and my response honestly is, well yeah, you’re going to consider it but it doesn’t mean I’m going to do it just yet.”

Former Finance Minister and current University of Calgary Chancellor Jim Dinning on CKNW Radio in Vancouver: “While I still have the passion and the interest, I do not want to run for that job.”

Finance Minister Ted Morton told the Calgary Herald: I have not made that decision. It is still, as I said (Tuesday), inappropriate for you guys to ask those questions and inappropriate for me to answer.”

Justice Minister Alison Redford told the Calgary Herald: “It might be something in the future that I’ll consider. Whether that is imminent or not I just don’t know at this time. That’s my honest answer.”

Culture and Community Spirit Minister Lindsay Blackett told the Calgary Herald: You always have to consider it,” he said shortly after hearing of Stelmach’s decision, “and see what level of support there is for you to try to do something like that. But I’m also mindful I’ve only been on the game for three years.”

Alberta Mayors:

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel told CTV Edmonton: “I was a huge fan of the premier. He was a fine, fine man who was I think a great representative of the Province of Alberta. I wish him and his wife the best.”

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi told the Calgary Herald: “Right now I think it’s not time to think about politics. It is time to think about Premier Stelmach’s legacy as a really decent human being and a really dedicated public servant.”

Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling told the Red Deer Advocate: “This government and Mr. Stelmach have done a good job of recognizing that municipalities are the engines of the economy. Stelmach came from municipal politics so he understood the revenue sharing and imbalance of revenue for municipalities.”

Opposition Parties comment:

Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith told the Edmonton Journal: “Make no mistake, the reason I ran for leadership of the Wildrose party was to replace Ed Stelmach as premier of this province… “I think it’s too late at this point for the PCs to recover any of their former glory. … We think the next election will be a time for Albertans to turn the page on this Tory dynasty. It’s been in power for 40 years and it’s a new chapter.”

Liberal leader David Swann told the Edmonton Journal: “Everything will be on a holding pattern in the ministries to wait until direction comes from the party leader. Without clear leadership — in fact, division at the top — for what really needs to happen in terms of fixing health care, there will be a polarizing from those who want to see more private services provided to pick up the gap and those who feel that the primary problem is in leadership and management.”

Alberta Party acting leader Sue Huff told the Edmonton Journal: “I think it’s time for Albertans to really decide what it is they want for the future, for their children, for their grandchildren, and decide if we really want extreme right-wing politics to decide the day.”

NDP leader Brian Mason told the Edmonton Journal: “The Alberta Tories can’t be trusted to protect public health care. They have repeatedly sought to bring in more private care under various leaders, and leaked documents show they are planning it again. They run the least competent government in Canada. That’s the real problem.”

Categories
Alberta Politics

transparency rules.

The cover of this week's SEE Magazine in Edmonton.

While announcing the dates of their upcoming leadership contest last week, the Alberta Party also released the contest rules, which include some interesting and encouraging requirements for candidates to release and make public a list of financial donors to their campaign.

A condition of candidacy is that a candidate for election as Leader shall consent to full disclosure of all donations, receipts and expenses related to the campaign, including:

(i) an interim report on the same, in the form adopted by the convention rules committee which shall be filed by the Official Agent of the candidates with the Convention Rules Committee 14 days in advance of Voting Day; and
(ii) a final report on the same, which shall be filed by the Official Agent of the candidate with the Convention Rules Committee within 30 days after voting day

The donor information contained in both the interim and final reports referred to in (5) above will be posted by the Alberta Party to its website (Candidates are urged to post donor information, for the knowledge of the public, on a real time basis).

There are no laws governing political party leadership contest in Alberta and each party has the opportunity to be as transparent or closed-door as they decide when it comes to financial contributions and making public the names of campaign donors.

Progressive Conservative
There were no rules requiring candidates in the 2006 PC leadership contest to release the names of their financial donors, but this did not stop some from making their donor lists public.

Candidates Jim Dinning, Dave Hancock, and Mark Norris released varying versions of donors lists, some which included specific donation amounts for each donor and some listing donors in categories between donation sizes. Current Finance Minister Ted Morton refused to make public a list of donors who supported his bid to become Leader of the PC Party.

The contest winner, now-Premier Ed Stelmach released a partial list of financial contributors to his leadership campaign, keeping secret the names of 80 donors whose contributions made up 15% of the $1.1 million raised by his leadership campaign. The partially released list allowed the media and opposition parties to later point out fairly obvious conflict-of-interests, but the remaining eighty donors remain secret.

While not committing to implement any changes in the short-term, PC Party President Bill Smith has publicly committed to have a system in place to monitor and make public who donates cash to their leadership campaigns for his party’s next leadership campaign.

Liberal Party
Candidates in the December 2008 Liberal leadership contest were required to provide the Party with a list of donors who had contributed to their campaign. The donors lists were then posted on the Liberal Party website. The section of the Liberal Party website that had listed these donors was removed when that Party relaunched their website late last year.

New Democratic Party
I was not able to find any current information on whether candidates for the leadership of Alberta’s NDP would be required to release a list of financial contributions. The last time the Alberta NDP held a contested leadership race was in 1996, so it is possible that in the absence of a campaign over the past 15 year that these rules do not exist.

Wildrose Alliance
Leadership candidates in the 2009 contest were not required to release a list of their financial contributors. Leadership contest winner and current Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith claims to have raised $250,000 for her leadership campaign, but has refused to release the names of her donors. Ms. Smith told the Edmonton Journal after her election in 2009 that she would not make public a list of her donors because they “are afraid of repercussions by this government.”

Alberta’s former Chief Elections Officer, Lorne Gibson, proposed in 2009 that the Elections Finances Act be amended to include a section governing political party leadership finances. Mr. Gibson’s contract was not renewed by a PC MLA dominated legislative committee soon after the recommendations were made.

According to a report released by Public Interest Alberta, there are currently three Provinces that require party leadership contestants to release names of their financial backers. In Ontario, leadership candidates are required to report from the time of the official call of the contest until two months after the vote and then within six months of the contest’s completion. In Manitoba and British Columbia, leadership contestants are required to report a list of their financial contributions and donors thirty days after the end of the contest.

Categories
Alberta Politics

goodbye for now, jim prentice.

Jim Prentice (photo credit: k-ideas Photo license: Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike)

I do not regularly pay too much attention to federal politics, so I was surprised to learn yesterday that Environment Minster and Calgary Member of Parliament Jim Prentice was suddenly resigning to become Vice-Chairman of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (apparently most Ottawa-watchers were surprised by the move).

What surprised me most about Mr. Prentice was his ability to handle the environment portfolio, the Conservative’s most toxic ministerial portfolio (no pun intended) without destroying his own political credibility among moderates. I am one of many Canadians who was less than impressed with our federal government’s lackluster participation and irresponsible handling of the COP15 Summit in Copenhagen, but I was impressed from a political standpoint with how well Mr. Prentice managed his role.

There is already mounds of speculation about what Mr. Prentice’s political future holds and there have been some consistent rumors about his political future that I have heard over the past few years (if we assume that his departure is only a sojourn until the next political opportunity presents itself).

1) Going Provincial: I know more than just a few Red Tories who see Mr. Prentice as the heir to Jim Dinning‘s dauphin throne. As a popular MP and long-time PC Party supporter, Mr. Prentice would be well positioned to be the moderate “Calgary candidate” in the next Progressive Conservative leadership contest.

I have no doubt that he would almost immediately receive the support of top level Tory organizers in Calgary, especially those weary of Finance Minister Ted Morton or another candidate from northern Alberta. His entry into provincial politics would also be interesting if he did run in the Calgary-Mountain View constituency, which is currently represented by Liberal leader David Swann (Mr. Prentice was the PC candidate in Mountain View in the 1986 provincial election).

2) Going Federal: As Environment Minister, Jim Prentice took on the most difficult political file for the Conservatives without looking like a buffoon or seriously damaging his own political reputation. Being from Calgary might actually hurt him in the next Conservative Party leadership contest (both Stephen Harper and Preston Manning represented Calgary ridings), but a few years working in the private sector could help to distance him from Prime Minister Harper’s government.

Calgary-Centre North

Not surprisingly, attention has already turned to some of the rumors circulating about what will happen if a by-election is held in Calgary-Centre North before the next federal general election. Former Mayor Dave Bronconnier and former Ontario MP Robert Nault (who now lives in Calgary) are two names that I almost immediately heard rumoured for the Liberal Party nomination after yesterday afternoon’s resignation. Four names that are already being circulated for possible Conservative candidates are former Alderman Ric McIver, former Mayoral candidate Barb Higgins, current Calgary-Foothills MLA Len Webber, and recent Aldermanic candidate Sean Chu. Rumours aside, under the current circumstances it is difficult to believe that a by-election in this riding would produce anything but another Conservative MP.

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alberta politics notes 6/17/2010

This descriptive photo of Finance Minister Ted Morton was taken from the Alberta Chamber of Commerce website.

– Premier-in-Waiting Ted Morton was joined by Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand this week while rallying against a National Securities registry. According to a recent Angus Reid survey, 48% of Albertans are open to a National Securities Regulator, 23% supported the current model (and I am betting that close to 100% did not know the difference between the two).
– Liberal leader David Swann has joined Minister Morton and Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith in opposing the National Securities Regulator.
– Former Premier-in-Waiting Jim Dinning is now the Chancellor of the University of Calgary.
– Alberta’s representative in Washington DC Gary Mar is spending his time promoting the oilsands in the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
– Culture & Community Spirit Minister Lindsay Blackett has apologized for describing Canadian television as “shit” and “crap.” It was rude and condescending for Minister Blackett to say those things during a panel discussion at the Banff World Television Festival, but there was a certain refreshing quality to his honesty.
– I was saddened to hear of the passing of my former MLA Dave Broda. Mr. Broda served as the MLA for Redwater from 1997 to 2004.
– Federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is in Edmonton on June 19. Dan Arnold has written a good article about why the federal Liberals should focus on the West.
Equal Voice Alberta is hosting a workshop on June 23 for women considering running for municipal council or school board trustee. Panelists include Councillor Janice Melnychuk, retiring Edmonton Public School Board Trustee Sue Huff, former Ward 4 campaign manager Sarah Crummy.
– Independent Calgary-Currie MLA Dave Taylor is hosting a town hall forum with Calgary Sun columnist Rick Bell and QR77 radio host Dave Rutherford on June 22. Topic: Do Alberta’s Political Parties represent you?
– The United Nurses of Alberta has recommended the ratification of a new provincial contract. The new three-year agreement would provide a commitment to hire at least 70% of new nursing graduates, no rollbacks from the previous agreement, and a six percent pay increase over three years (two percent productivity increase in the second year and a four percent increase in the third year).

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.

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chancellor jim dinning.

Message from Joanne Cuthbertson, Chancellor of the University of Calgary

I write today to share exciting news about the search for the University of Calgary’s 12th Chancellor.

This morning, the University of Calgary Senate voted to approve Alberta community builder Jim Dinning as the next Chancellor of the University of Calgary, effective July 1.

When it comes to serving our community, there are few people as passionate and accomplished as Jim Dinning. Jim’s experience, the value he places on post-secondary education, and his strong ties to the corporate, government and non-profit sectors make him an outstanding choice for Chancellor. I believe he will leave his mark on the bold future that lies ahead for the University of Calgary.

I would like to thank the members of the Joint Committee for Chancellor Selection for their commitment and dedication to the process of finding my successor.

It is an exciting time of growth and opportunity for the University of Calgary. I am honored to have been Chancellor of this great university for the last four years. As a graduate of the University of Calgary, it has been particularly meaningful. My passion and commitment for this university will continue and I look forward to staying connected and cheering for your every success under the leadership of our new president Elizabeth Cannon, Chancellor Dinning, the Board of Governors and the rest of the university leadership.

Please join me in congratulating Mr. Dinning on his new role and welcoming him to the University of Calgary community.

Sincerely,

Joanne Cuthbertson
Chancellor, University of Calgary
2006-2010

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alberta politics notes 5/13/2010

– Alberta’s new Lieutenant Governor was officially installed this week. Colonel (Retired) Donald Ethel is one of Canada’s most decorated Peacekeepers.
Alberta’s three remaining Senators-in-Waiting have voiced their opposition to Premier Ed Stelmach‘s decision to suspend the Fall 2010 Senate elections.
– Premier Stelmach is travelling to Asia with BC Premier Gordon Campbell and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall. Liberal leader David Swann will be in Edmonton for his party’s policy convention this weekend. NDP leader Brian Mason is travelling to Calgary.
– Former PC Finance Minister Jim Dinning was recently interviewed by the Globe & Mail.
– Edmonton Councillor Dave Thiele will not seek re-election in the October Municipal elections. Councillor Thiele was first elected in 1998. In the 2007 election, Councillor Thiele was re-elected with 23.4% of the vote in the hotly contested race between five candidates.
– I have been told that Harvey Voogd is collecting signatures to run as a candidate in the new Ward 7. In 2007. Mr. Voogd was the third place candidate in Ward 3. If he does run in Ward 7, Mr. Voogd will face off against Brendan Van Alstine, who has been campaigning for almost a year.
Heather Mackenzie has announced her candidacy for the Edmonton Public School Board in Ward G. Sadly, one-term Ward C Trustee Sue Huff will not seek re-election.
– Former Saskatchewan MLA Gordon Dirks and former Calgary-West PC MLA Karen Kryczka will not run for re-election to the Calgary Board of Education.
Edmonton-Strathona NDP MP Linda Duncan has been voted Edmonton’s “Most effective politician” in his year’s SEE Magazine rankings. Runners up are City Councillor Don Iveson (who has placed in the top three since being elected in 2007) and Edmonton-Centre Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman.
– Congratulations to CBC Edmonton Reporter Kim Trynacity, who has been nominated for a Canadian Journalism Award (h/t @PABsurvivor)

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Helena Guergis Linda Duncan Rahim Jaffer

top 40 under 40: rahim jaffer.

Rahim Jaffer and Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a 2008 election photo.

Edmonton’s Avenue Magazine has once again opened nominations for their annual Top 40 under 40 list. The magazine asks readers to introduce Edmontonians under the age of 40 who are making a difference in their city. Past nominees have included young community activists, business leaders, lawyers, and artists. When thinking about who to nominate for this year’s Top 40 Under 40, one name came mind that we should not forget.

Name of the Nominee: Rahim Jaffer

Nominee Job Title: Former Member of Parliament, co-founder Green Power Generation Corp.

Why are you nominating this person for the 2010 Top 40 Under 40?
As a young business leader, Rahim skyrocketed into a successful political career in 1997 as the Reform Party MP for the hip district of Edmonton-Strathcona. At the age 25, Rahim was the first Shia Ismaili elected to the Canadian Parliament. Known as “the life of the party,” Rahim was also a frequenter and strong supporter of entertainment establishments in both Edmonton and Ottawa.

Jim Dinning campaigns with Rahim Jaffer in 2006.

Rahim showed outstanding leadership in new management strategies as an MP, including allowing his staff to act beyond their full potential. Rahim was actively involved in party politics in Alberta and his alliteration on the floor of the House of Commons made him a favourite among his caucus colleagues. He served on many important Parliamentary Committees and as Chairman of the Conservative caucus from 2006 to 2008.

Rahim’s eleven year political career was cut short in 2008 by an insurgent socialist campaign supporting Linda Duncan. In true Edmontonian fashion, he did not let the setback get him down and eloped with his fiancee Helena Guergis the day after his defeat. The former Edmonton MP has made national headlines this year for his new business ventures in Ontario, which included a collaboration with a well-known Toronto-based businessman.