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Alberta Politics

“Alberta Premier Danielle Smith?” Get used to it.

Chris Brown and I discuss the last month in the United Conservative Party leadership race, Danielle Smith’s unexpected rise to the top, and how a Smith led UCP will do against Notley’s NDP in 2023 (or sooner) on the latest episode of the Cross Border Interviews Podcast.

Watch the interview here:

Subscribe and listen to Chris Brown’s Cross Border Podcast on Apple and Spotify.

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Alberta Politics

Danielle Smith’s time on the disastrous Calgary Board of Education

With Danielle Smith‘s campaign for the United Conservative Party leadership appearing to pick up momentum, and recent endorsements from Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Devin Dreeshen, Strathcona-Sherwood Park MLA Nate Glubish, Edmonton-South West MLA  Kaycee Madu, and Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn suggesting the mood in the UCP caucus is shifting in her favour, some people have been sharing links of a series of articles I wrote 13 years ago about Smith’s time on the disastrous 1998-1999 Calgary Board of Education.

The series was published in the weeks after Smith won the Wildrose Alliance Party leadership in 2009.

Here are the full set of links for anyone interested in reading the series:

Reading it now, I see it’s a little awkwardly formatted, so please forgive this young blogger from 2009.

It’s also important to recognize that the Calgary Board of Education in those years wasn’t a gong show just because of Danielle Smith. It was a real group effort.

The board of trustees was so dysfunctional that it was fired by the provincial government.

Smith’s current beliefs and past record on public education became more relevant after last week’s UCP leadership candidates forum at the Alberta Teachers’ Association summer conference in Banff, which you can watch here:

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Alberta Politics

Kaycee Madu survives nomination challenge from Slava Cravcenco in Edmonton-South West

A few quick Alberta election candidate nomination updates:

United Conservative Party MLA Kaycee Madu fended off a nomination challenge from Slava Cravcenco in Edmonton-South West. According to a source the vote was 275 to 228 in Madu’s favour. He was the only UCP MLA elected inside Edmonton city limits in 2019.

Brooks Arcand-Paul was nominated as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-West Henday.

The NDP have scheduled a nomination meeting in Calgary-Cross on July 25, 2022. Denis Ram and Gurinder Gill are running for the nomination.

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

(And I am launching a Substack this summer. Sign up at  Daveberta Substack.)

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Alberta Politics

Sharif Haji defeats MLA Chris Nielsen in Edmonton-Decore NDP race, UCP choose Sayid Ahmed in same north Edmonton riding

Sharif Haji defeated MLA Chris Nielsen to win the Alberta NDP nomination in Edmonton-Decore.

“As a immigrant, as a black person, as a Muslim person, and as someone who has spent years working in community building, I hope to empower voices that have not always been heard in the halls of power,” said Haji. “I believe that we can all be uplifted through our collective efforts and that government has a responsibility to address the needs of all Albertans.”

Haji is the executive director of the Africa Centre and previously worked as for the provincial government’s departments of Health and Seniors and Housing. He has a master’s degree in public health from the University of Alberta.

Edmonton-Decore MLA Chris Nielsen (center) at a demonstration with members of United Nurses of Alberta
Edmonton-Decore MLA Chris Nielsen (center) at a demonstration with members of United Nurses of Alberta

Nielsen has represented the north Edmonton riding since 2015 and is the first incumbent MLA to lost their party’s nomination during this election cycle.

And also in Edmonton-Decore, Sayid Ahmed has been acclaimed as the United Conservative Party candidate. Ahmed is a manager in the provincial Department of Health and Vice President of Policy for the Alberta Advisory Board of the Conservative Black Congress of Canada.

Sayid Ahmed and UCP MLA Jordan Walker

The Edmonton-Decore riding is named after former Edmonton mayor and Liberal MLA Laurence Decore, who represented the north end riding of Edmonton-Glengarry from 1989 to 1997. The riding was renamed in his honour ahead of the 2004 election.

MLA Decore’s successors included Liberal MLAs Bill Bonner (1997-2004) and Bill Bonko (2004-2008), Progressive Conservative MLA Janice Sarich (2008-2015), and Nielsen (2015-present). 

NDP nominate retired teacher in Brooks-Medicine Hat

Gwendoline Dirk was nominated as the NDP candidate in Brooks-Medicine Hat. The retired school teacher currently serves on the Medicine Hat Police Commission.

“All of the communities in this area face unique challenges, and that can change from town to town and even from farm to farm,” Dirk said. “We need folks in the legislature that are listening and collaborating with these communities to address the challenges they face, and I am confident I can be that voice on Rachel Notley’s team.”

Camrose UCP open nominations

Jackie Lovely MLA Camrose UCP
Jackie Lovely

The UCP have opened nominations in Camrose, where first term MLA Jackie Lovely is facing a challenge from Beaver County Reeve Kevin Smook. Lovely was elected in Camrose in 2019 after running as the Wildrose Party candidate in Edmonton-Ellerslie in 2012 and 2015. Smook ran as the Alberta Party candidate in Camrose in 2019.

The UCP have also set June 29 as the date of the nomination meeting in Edmonton-South West. Labour Minister Kaycee Madu is being challenged by window and door restoration company owner and former champion Moldovan table tennis Slava Cravcenco.

And in the neighbouring riding to the north, Edmonton-West Henday, the NDP are expected to acclaim lawyer Brooks Arcand-Paul as their candidate at a June 29 nomination meeting.

On the doors

NDP leader Rachel Notley and Edmonton-North West MLA David Eggen were spotted doorknocking with candidate Diana Batten in Calgary-Acadia.

Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Janis Irwin and St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud joined Lethbridge-West Shannon Phillips at Lethbridge pride celebrations this weekend.

UCP leadership candidate Travis Toews was doorknocking with MLA Josephine Pon in Calgary-Beddington.

Toews campaign did not respond to questions from the media about his stance on womens’ access to abortion services following the repeal of Roe v. Wade in the United States.

Anti-abortion activist MP Arnold Viersen, celebrated the decision by the US Supreme Court last week. Viersen has reportedly endorsed Toews in the UCP leadership race.


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

(And, I know I’ve said this before but feel free to sign up for the Daveberta Substack.)

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Alberta Politics

Nathan Ip wins Edmonton-South West NDP nomination vote, Kjeryn Dakin challenging UCP MLA Devin Dreeshen in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake

Edmonton public school board trustee Nathan Ip defeated business instructor Ben Acquaye, behavioral specialist Chand Gul, and medical 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

Michelle Baer (source: Michelle Baer on Twitter)

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. 

Thomas Dang wants back in

Edmonton-South MLA Thomas Dang (source: Facebook)
Edmonton-South MLA Thomas Dang (source: Facebook)

Edmonton-South MLA Thomas Dang wants to rejoin the NDP Caucus after being told that no criminal charges will be pressed against him after he breached an Alberta Health website. Dang left the NDP Caucus in December 2021 after the RCMP executed a search warrant of his house and he has been sitting as an Independent MLA ever since.

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

Sayid Ahmed and Jordan Walker (source: Sayid Ahmed on Instagram)

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. 

Former NDP volunteers speak out

Notley recently responded to criticism from former NDP volunteers that party staff have been heavy-handed with candidate nominations and have treated volunteers poorly. Notley has promised an investigation

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.

Parties generally find a way to balance this out, but from time to time conflict bubbles out into public, as we saw recently when 15 former constituency presidents signed a letter raising concerns about the nomination process.

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.

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

(And, I know I’ve said this before but feel free to sign up for the Daveberta Substack.)

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Alberta Politics

Candidate nomination races heat up as UCP leadership race takes the spotlight

The United Conservative Party leadership race is taking the spotlight but Alberta’s political parties are chugging along with candidate nominations ahead of a provincial election that is scheduled for next May but could happen anytime after the new UCP leader is chosen.

As of today, the Alberta NDP has nominated 31 candidates, the UCP has nominated 23, and two Alberta Party candidates have been nominated.

Here are the latest updates:

The incumbents

  • Second-term MLA Lorne Dach was nominated as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-McClung, the riding he has represented since 2015. “I will make sure that my community continues to have a champion in the legislature,” Dach said in a statement. “Alberta’s NDP has spent our time as Official Opposition listening to Albertans and what they need to build their future’s here. I am so happy for the opportunity to keep working for Edmonton-McClung, to ensure they have access to quality public healthcare, good paying jobs, and can afford the roof over their head.”
  • Whitney Issik UCP Calgary-Glenmore MLA candidate
    Whitney Issik

    UCP MLA Mike Ellis was nominated in Calgary-West and UCP MLA Whitney Issik was nominated in Calgary-Glenmore.

  • Candidate nominations are now open in four UCP held ridings: Banff-Kananaskis (MLA Miranda Rosin), Calgary-Hays (MLA Ric McIver), Calgary-North (MLA Mohammad Yaseen), and Innisfail-Sylvan Lake (MLA Devin Dreeshen).

The incumbents and challengers

  • UCP MLA Kaycee Madu will face a nomination challenge from Slava Cravcenco in Edmonton-South West on June 29. This is the first time in this election cycle that the UCP have allowed an incumbent to be challenged in a nomination vote. Madu currently serves as Minister of Labour and was removed from his previous role as Minister of Justice and Solicitor General after it was made public that he phoned Edmonton police chief Dale McFee after getting a districted driving ticket. Madu was first elected in 2019 with 44 per cent of the vote.
  • Sharif Haji Edmonton-Decore NDP nomination candidate
    Sharif Haji (source: Dave Cournoyer)

    MLA Chris Nielsen is facing a challenge for the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Decore from Africa Centre executive director Sharif Haji. Nielsen was first elected in 2015. A nomination vote is being held on June 24 and 25. 

The challengers

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

(And, I know I’ve said this before but feel free to sign up for the Daveberta Substack.)

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Alberta Politics

MLA Rod Loyola facing two challengers for NDP nomination in Edmonton-Ellerslie, Jackie Lovely running for UCP nomination in Camrose

Edmonton-Ellerslie NDP MLA Rod Loyola announced on Facebook that he is planning to run for his party’ nomination, and re-election. Loyola was first elected in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019 with 50.9 per cent of the vote. He placed third in the race for the NDP leadership in 2014.

Loyola is facing a challenge from Manpreet Singh Tiwana and psychologists association president Judi Malone.

Lovely re-election bid in Camrose

Jackie Lovely’s re-election announcement as reported by The Tofield Mercury newspaper.

United Conservative Party MLA Jackie Lovely has announced her plans to seek her party’s nomination to run for re-election. Lovely was first elected in Camrose in 2019 and previously ran as the Wildrose Party candidate in Edmonton-Ellerslie in 2012 and 2015.

She is facing a nomination challenge from Beaver County Reeve Kevin Smook, who ran in the last election as an Alberta Party candidate.

A date for the nomination meeting hasn’t been announced.

The NDP have nominated business owner and former diplomat Richard Bruneau in Camrose.

Madu faces challenger in Edmonton-South West

The deadline to enter the UCP nomination races in Calgary-Glenmore, Calgary-West and Edmonton-South West is today.

Acclamations are expected for Whitney Issik in Calgary-Glenmore and Mike Ellis in Calgary-West, but UCP MLA Kaycee Madu could face a challenge in Edmonton-South West.

Slava Cravcenco

Slava Cravcenco is challenging Madu for the nomination in Edmonton-South West.

Cravcenco is a former champion table tennis player who competed with the Moldavian Table Tennis National team and in 2013 became Canada’s champion as an Ontario Table Tennis Association team member.

He moved to Canada from Moldova in 2010 and now works as CEO of Window Mart Inc, a window and door renovation company.

The NDP are holding a nomination meeting in Edmonton-South West on June 18, 2022. College instructor Ben Acquaye, behavioral specialist Chand Gul, Shifa Medical Clinic executive director Mohammad Ali Kamal, and three-term public school trustee Nathan Ip are seeking the NDP nomination.

Lori Sigurdson secures NDP nomination in Edmonton-Riverview

Edmonton-Riverview NDP MLA Lori Sigurdson was nominated as the NDP candidate in her riding at a meeting tonight.

“I am so incredibly thankful that Edmonton-Riverview has put their faith in me to continue representing and advocating for a community that is so important to me,” Sigurdson said in a statement released after her nomination.

“Folks in my community, and across the province, have been struggling due to the policy choices of the UCP. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue working for my community, and for a brighter future that includes all Albertans.”

Sigurdson was first elected in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019 with 55.9 per cent of the vote. She served as Minister of Labour from 2015 to 2016 and Minister of Seniors and Housing from 2016 to 2019.

More candidate nomination news:

  • Edmonton-McClung NDP MLA Lorne Dach will be nominated on June 8.
  • Strathcona County Councillor and former school principal Bill Tonita is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate in Strathcona-Sherwood Park at a June 9 meeting.
  • The NDP have scheduled a nomination meeting in Edmonton-West Henday on June 29, 2022. Lawyer Brooks Arcand-Paul is running for the nomination to succeed two-term MLA Jon Carson, who announced last month that he will not run for re-election.

Upcoming nomination meetings

  • Edmonton-McClung NDP: June 8, 2022
  • Strathcona-Sherwood Park NDP: June 9, 2022
  • Edmonton-South West NDP: June 18, 2022
  • Red Deer-South NDP: June 18, 2022
  • Brooks-Medicine Hat NDP: June 23, 2022
  • Edmonton-Decore NDP: June 25, 2022
  • Edmonton-West Henday NDP: June 29, 2022

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

(And, I know I’ve said this before but feel free to sign up for the Daveberta Substack.)

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Alberta Politics

NDP choose RN Diana Batten in Calgary-Acadia, UCP push ahead with nominations in Calgary and Edmonton

The Alberta NDP nominated Registered Nurse Diana Batten in Calgary-Acadia.

“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.

United Conservative Party MLA Tyler Shandro has confirmed he plans to run for re-election in Calgary-Acadia.

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

Jason Kenney and Kaycee Madu (source: YouTube)
Jason Kenney and Kaycee Madu (source: YouTube)

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

Retired teacher Gwendoline Dirk is seeking the 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

Barb Miller MLA Red Deer South
Barb Miller

Former MLA Barb Miller will challenge city lawyer Michelle Baer for the NDP nomination contest in Red Deer-South on 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.

And here are the upcoming candidate nomination meetings:

  • Edmonton-Meadows NDP: May 28, 2022
  • Edmonton-Rutherford NDP: May 28, 2022
  • Calgary-Elbow AP: May 29, 2022
  • Airdrie-Cochrane NDP: May 30, 2022
  • Edmonton-Riverview NDP: June 7, 2022
  • Edmonton-McClung NDP: June 8, 2022
  • Strathcona-Sherwood Park NDP: June 9, 2022
  • Edmonton-South West NDP: June 18, 2022
  • Red Deer-South NDP: June 18, 2022
  • Brooks-Medicine Hat NDP: June 23, 2022
  • Edmonton-Decore NDP: June 25, 2022
Categories
Alberta Politics

Jason Kenney is a bad Premier.

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

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

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

And it worked.

At least it did for a time.

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

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

How did we get here so fast?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But he didn’t.

Let’s look at why.

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

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

It was normal Albertans.

And Kenney didn’t seem to realize this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then there were the scandals.

The kamikaze campaign.

The RCMP investigation.

Shandro yelling at a doctor in his driveway.

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

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

Alohagate.

The Sky Palace patio party.

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

And the theatrics.

The Energy War Room staffed by UCP-insiders.

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

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

The never ending legal challenges against the federal government.

And then there’s the curriculum.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not that we are owed any more.

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

So it becomes a trust thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s where he cut his teeth in politics.

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

But this time he might not be coming back.


Sign up for the Daveberta Substack

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Alberta Politics

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

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

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

Here we go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Danielle Larivee NDP Lesser Slave Lake
Danielle Larivee

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

The NDP recently held contested nomination votes in two ridings.

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

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

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

Nathan Ip NDP Edmonton-South West
Nathan Ip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following nomination meetings have been scheduled.

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


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

 

Categories
Alberta Politics

OIL IS BACK, ALBERTA IS OPEN FOR SPRING AND OPEN FOR ELECTION SEASON

The price of oil is way up and COVID-19 public health restrictions are gone in Alberta.

Premier Jason Kenney and United Conservative Party cabinet ministers have fled the big cities and are hopping across the province making big spending announcements.

Grande Prairie. Red Deer. Acme. Hospitals. Schools. Airports. Childcare centres.

There is almost money for everything again. Unemployment is still high but government coffers are flush with oil revenues.

It feels like election season in Alberta.

The next provincial election is supposed to be just over a year away.

Bill 81 passed last year sets the next election day for the third Monday in May. That’s May 29, 2023. The bill was signed by Lieutenant Governor Salma Lakhani in December but it hasn’t been proclaimed into law by the Kenney cabinet.

Kenney could call a Hail Mary early election this year but with Rachel Notley’s NDP leading in every poll since November 2020, it would be a big gamble. The UCP could lose big.

Notley’s NDP are recruiting good candidates and have a lot more money in the bank than Kenney’s UCP, which has struggled to fundraise over the past two years.

But an early election would take advantage of high oil prices, boosted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine that has given Kenney a chance to shift back to talking about oil and pipelines. Plus, Kenney is keen to project a sense of optimism that the COVID pandemic might actually be over (for now, at least).

And a really early election could be a way to avoid that pesky April 9 leadership review in Red Deer.

‘Give all Albertans a chance to vote in the leadership review!’, Kenney could say.

A super early election would let Kenney punt out the growing chorus of opponents in his own caucus and avoid the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election (so long, Brian Jean!).

Kenney would still have a lot to answer for. He’s still sitting on an unpopular coal mining report the government was forced to write after nearly all Albertans rose up against open-pit coal mining in the Eastern Slopes.

Plus the draft education curriculum, a big fight with doctors, abandoned plans to privatize and sell provincial parks, and that $1.3 billion gambled on Donald Trump’s re-election.

New Labour Minister Kaycee Madu is still in cabinet after trying (and failing) to ‘interfere in the administration of justice’ after getting distracted driving ticket. And new Justice Minister Tyler Shandro is facing a code-of-conduct hearing at the Law Society.

While Kenney has callously used the Ukraine crisis as a pitch for Canadian oil, one big country dependent on Russian oil and gas, Germany, is talking about abandoning fossil fuels all together.

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner has referred to renewable electricity sources as “the energy of freedom.”

But Kenney’s audience isn’t Germany or investment funds in New York. His primary audience is UCP voters in Alberta.

Back to the early election talk.

Maybe that’s what Pam Livingston is already working on?

The Premier’s chief of staff is on a leave of absence to make sure he wins the leadership review, but with party nominations heating up – notably in ridings held by Kenney loyalists – shifting into election campaign mode might be a natural transition.

City UCP MLAs are worried about the NDP, and rightfully so, but rural MLAs are mostly worried about a challenge from the populist right.

An early election could catch challengers like the Wildrose Independence Party off-guard, robbing them of a full year to organize and recruit candidates.

“But Dave,” you say, an early election call didn’t go so well for Kenney’s conservative predecessor in the Premier’s office.

That’s true.

Premier Jim Prentice led a calcified Progressive Conservative dynasty to get trampled in the 2015 Orange Wave election that broke the mold of Alberta politics. It’s probably a warning Kenney should heed.

The NDP could win big and Notley could become the first Premier in Alberta’s history to return after being defeated. It would be a big deal.

Notice that Kenney’s language has shifted in the past month?

After years of using divide and conquer tactics on almost every issue, the most divisive and unpopular premier in Alberta’s recent history is making a desperate appeal for “unity.”

He needs a big shift – and a big shovel to dig himself out of the giant hole he has spent the past three years digging.

Whether he is actually campaigning for the April 9 leadership review or setting up Albertans for an early election, gambling might be Kenney’s only option if he wants to stay in the Premier’s office. Otherwise he might as well book the U-Haul.

Categories
Alberta Politics

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

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

Jodie Gateman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ben Acquaye Edmonton-South West NDP Nomination
Ben Acquaye

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

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

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

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

Two more UCP MLAs running for re-election

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

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

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

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

Here are the upcoming nomination meetings that have been scheduled:

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

MLA Chris Nielsen plans to run for re-election in Edmonton-Decore, Mohammad Ali Kamal second candidate in Edmonton-South West NDP contest

When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But as Albertans bask in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter by-election in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche (which must be called by February 15 – in 4 days).

Until then, here are the latest candidate nomination updates:

MLA Chris Nielsen announced today that he plans to seek the Alberta NDP nomination in Edmonton-Decore and run for re-election in the next provincial election.

“The past 7 years have been an incredible time for me. The chance to represent the outstanding residents of Edmonton-Decore has been an honour, privilege and incredible learning experience,” Nielsen said in a statement posted on social media. “…the work is not finished yet … there is much more to do.”

Nielsen was first elected in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019 with 47.5 per cent of the vote, defeating United Conservative Party candidate Karen Principe (who was elected to Edmonton City Council in October 2021). He currently serves as the Official Opposition critic for Red Tape Reduction.

Before his election in 2015, Nielsen worked as a shipping receiver at the Lucerne Foods ice cream with UFCW Local 401.

Sayid Ahmed is seeking the UCP nomination in the north Edmonton riding.

Mohammad Ali Kamal seeks NDP nomination in Edmonton-South West

Mohammad Ali Kamal is seeking the NDP nomination in Edmonton-South West.

“SW Edmonton, the place for growing families, trails, and tranquility should be served by a community worker who can relate to the people of this riding, compared to the incumbent Kaycee Madu who would not follow the law that he is supposed to represent as the provinces law minster, and as a result is now a suspended justice minister,” Kamal said in a press release.

Kamal is the Executive Director of the Shifa Medical Clinic, Treasurer of the Alberta Association of Clinic Managers, Director of the Duggan Mother’s Day soccer Tournament, and a NCCP certified soccer coach.

Kamal joins Chand Gul as the second candidate seeking the NDP nomination in this riding.

The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA Kaycee Madu, who is on leave from his role as Minister of Justice and Solicitor General following allegations that he phoned Edmonton Police Service Chief Dale McFee receiving a traffic ticket for driving distracted in a school zone.

Second NDP nomination candidate in Calgary-East

Educator Rosman Valencia has filed papers with Elections Alberta to seek the NDP nomination in Calgary-East. International Avenue Business Revitalization Zone executive director Alison Karim-McSwiney is also seeking the NDP nomination.

Calgary-East has been represented by United Conservative Party MLA Peter Singh since 2019. Singh was elected with 49.7 per cent of the vote over New Democrat Cesar Cala, who finished second with 32.1 per cent.

(Today’s intro with inspiration from Phil Connors)

Categories
Alberta Politics

It’s a wild ride. Alberta politics and the road to the next election on the Cross Border Podcast

Cross Border Interviews with Chris Brown · Episode 316 – Road To 2023

Alberta politics can be a wild ride, and last week I had the pleasure of chatting with Chris Brown from the Cross Border Interviews Podcast about some of the big issues in our province ahead of the next provincial election.

We covered a lot of ground, including the recent scandal involving Edmonton-South West United Conservative Party MLA Kaycee Madu, the leadership challenges faced by Premier Jason Kenney, the role of Brian Jean in the upcoming Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election, and the most likely paths to victory for Kenney and Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley in 2023.

Categories
Alberta Politics

Rules for you but not for Madu: Justice Minister’s phone call to police chief ties the UCP in knots

It wouldn’t be a January in Alberta without freezing rain and a big political scandal.

As the province comes to grips with the rise and spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Alberta’s United Conservative Party government has tied itself in knots over a distracted driving ticket.

Dale McFee, Edmonton Police Chief
Dale McFee, Edmonton Police Chief

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced last Monday night that Edmonton-South West MLA Kaycee Madu would “step back” from his role as Minister of Justice and Solicitor General following reports that ten months ago the Justice Minister phoned Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee after he was issued a ticket for distracted driving in a school zone.

The decision to ask Madu to “step back” and be temporarily replaced by Energy Minister Sonya Savage until an independent investigator can look into the issue, is far from the firing that many Albertans were calling for after news of the scandal was broken by intrepid CBC reporters Elise von Scheel and Janice Johnston.

Madu’s decision to call McFee was inappropriate and showed a stunning lack of judgement. The Minister should have known better to bring up the specific personal matter. Even if he didn’t ask the chief to rescind the ticket and wanted to discuss other issues, as Madu claims, it is impossible to ignore the power dynamic of making this call.

Elise von Scheel
Elise von Scheel

Following the release of the story by the CBC, Madu issued his own statement saying he did mention his ticket to the Chief but he wanted to raise concerns about racial profiling and whether he was being spied on by the Edmonton Police Service, similar to how officers of the Lethbridge Police Service were caught spying on former cabinet minister Shannon Phillips.

Shortly after Madu’s office released his statement, Kenney issued his own separate statement on Twitter, which made it look like the Premier’s and Madu’s offices weren’t even closely coordinating their responses to the scandal.

Kenney announced in his stream of tweets that the government was hiring an independent investigator, but a week later it is still unclear who the independent investigator will be and what exactly that person will be investigating. 

Both Madu and McFee have agreed the phone call happened, and it should be clear that the government does not need to pay someone to point out that a pretty big line was crossed.

Shannon Phillips NDP MLA Lethbridge West
Shannon Phillips

Will the investigator investigate whether the distracted driving ticket was valid? Madu and McFee disagree about whether the ticket was just, though the Justice Minister chose not to challenge the ticket in traffic court (which is another big issue) and he paid the fine.

Or will Kenney’s investigator investigate whether Madu was a victim of racial profiling or a target of a political conspiracy by members of the Edmonton Police Service?

Institutional racism is definitely a problem in Alberta’s police forces, and the shocking revelations of abuse of power by police officers in Lethbridge are nothing to dismiss, but it definitely seems that Madu statement shocked a few months of life into an embarrassing political scandal that could have been put to rest in a week or two.

If the allegations levelled by Madu against the Edmonton Police Service are as serious as he claims, it is hard to imagine why the government would not have acted on this 10 months ago, rather than sitting idle until the CBC broke the story.

Don Braid Calgary Herald Postmedia
Don Braid

Postmedia columnist Don Braid wrote that “the ticket episode was widely known in cabinet circles and talked about in jocular tones.”

Braid also wrote that senior cabinet ministers including Ric McIver and Jason Nixon and senior staffers like Pam Livingston (now Kenney’s Chief of Staff), Larry Kaumeyer (then Kenney’s Principal Secretary and now CEO of Ducks Unlimited Canada), and Matt Wolf (Kenney’s former director of issues management) were aware of the incident. Kenney said he was aware of the ticket but avoided answering whether he knew about Madu’s phone call to Chief McFee.

The government’s failure to act in response to the scandal 10 months ago and its fumbling reaction when it was made public last week certainly does not inspire confidence in how Madu or the UCP government would oversee the provincial police force they are hoping to replace to RCMP with in much of Alberta.

Janet Brown Calgary Pollster
Janet Brown

This is only one of the latest scandals that reeks of the kind of entitlement that brought down the old Progressive Conservative regime in 2015.

It was only one year ago that Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard resigned from cabinet and Kenney was forced to demote a handful of UCP MLAs who chose to flout the government’s public health travel advisories and fly off to hot holidays in Hawaii and Mexico.

And only three months ago, Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen, a noted Kenney loyalist, resigned from cabinet after a former staffer filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, defamation, heavy drinking, and a toxic workplace culture in the Legislature Building.

As pollster Janet Brown tweeted this weekend, “elitism and entitlement are the kryptonite of the right!” And right now, Kenney is slipping and sliding on a skating rink made of kryptonite.