The cut to minimum wage for Alberta students under the age of 18 and cuts to corporate income taxes are the big topics discussed by Dave Cournoyer and guest co-host Brad Lafortune on this episode of the Daveberta Podcast.
We also discuss Attorney General Doug Schweitzer’s decision to appoint a special prosecutor to advise police investigating allegations of voter fraud in the 2017 United Conservative Party leadership race. And we answer some great questions shared by our listeners.
You can listen and subscribe to the Daveberta Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you find podcasts online. We always love to feedback from our listeners, so let us know what you think of this episode and leave a review where you download.
We always love to feedback from our listeners, so let us know what you think of this episode and leave a review where you download. You can also comment on the blog, Facebook or Twitter or send us an email at email@example.com.
Alberta’s provincial general election is on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. Voting stations on Election Day will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on April 16. Advance voting stations will be open on April 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13. Visit Elections Alberta to find the location of your voting station.
As has been widelyreportedthis week, the Alberta New Democratic Party has purposely shifted the focus of their political material onto their greatest asset, Premier Rachel Notley. The NDP began replacing the NDP logo with a Rachel Notley logo on their social media images back in April 2018, but the party recently highlighted this focus with the launch of their new RachelNotley.ca campaign website.
The move has been attacked by critics of the NDP, who claim the party is nefariously attempting to distance itself from its unpopular federal cousins. The NDP are probably trying to distance itself from the Jagmeet Singh-led federal NDP, but there is nothing nefarious about it. Campaigns always try to play to their strengths and downplay their weaknesses. This is why the NDP campaign will put Rachel Notley front-and-centre and the UCP will not be featuring Jason Kenney logos on their election lawn signs.
Putting the focus on party leaders is nothing new in Alberta politics.
In 1971, much of the Progressive Conservative Party’s advertising and messaging revolved around Peter Lougheed. The “Lougheed Team” focused on the party’s young and dynamic leader and the impressive slate of candidates that surrounded him.
While Alberta politics have certainly changed since the 1970s, Notley frequently evokes the memory of popular Lougheed in her media statements and campaign speeches.
‘Ralph’s Team’ was a slogan the PC Party used in the 1990s, putting the focus on their popular party leader, Ralph Klein. And the federal Liberal Party attempted a similar move when they placed ‘Team Martin’ logos on their campaign signs and material during the 2004 election.
As Postmedia columnist Keith Gerein wrote last week, the two main party leaders have divergent popularity among their parties own supporters. While her party is behind in the polls, Notley remains wildly popular among NDP voters.
United Conservative Party has a massive lead in the polls, but party leader Jason Kenney is much less popular than the party he now leads, which which is why Albertans will probably not spot any “Team Kenney” logos when the election is called this spring.
Almost all NDP MLA’s should know they have Notley’s leadership to thank for their electoral fortunes in the 2015 election, the same might not be said of UCP candidates and their leader in 2019. If the UCP’s strong support holds, many of that party’s candidate could be elected despite their leader’s lower approval ratings.
Any leader who’s popularity falls below that of the party they lead inevitably becomes vulnerable to leadership challenges and caucus revolts, as Don Getty, Ed Stelmach, Alison Redford, and in the dying days of his premiership, Ralph Klein, discovered. Conservatives in Alberta have been ruthless with their party leadership and rarely tolerate weaknesses that could jeopardize electoral success.
It is yet to be seen whether Kenney will fall into this category, which will probably depend on what the UCP caucus looks like after Election Day. If the UCP caucus is large, Kenney’s leadership could be secure. But as Stelmach and Klein discovered, large caucuses are impressive but can be unruly and difficult to manage. If he does fall into the traps sprung by previous Conservative premiers, look to UCP MLAs Jason Nixon, Nathan Cooper, Leela Aheer and former Wildrose leader Brian Jean to be eyeing the Premier’s chair.
Rachel Notley on the other hand might not be as vulnerable, even if the NDP is defeated in 2019. If her party does better than expected in 2019, even electing 25 or 30 MLAs, the NDP caucus and members may come to the conclusion that Notley remains their strongest asset and could be their best bet at returning to government in 2023. They could encourage her to remain party leader.
As an opposition leader, Notley would be fierce and lead an actual government-in-waiting, not something Albertans are used to having. It would also signal whether the NDP will remain in its centre-leftish position or embrace a more aggressive progressive agenda advocated by some members.
While Notley remaining in the party leadership beyond a 2019 loss may go against some of the common popular opinion about former premiers, past NDP premiers Allan Blakeney of Saskatchewan and Dave Barrett in British Columbia both led their parties into elections following defeats. Barrett even went on to have a career in federal politics and nearly became leader of the federal NDP in 1989.
I am probably getting ahead of myself, as this year’s election has not even been officially called, but scenarios like these are certainly something that many political watchers are thinking about.
We had such a good conversation with Jamil that we didn’t get to our mailbag this week. Thank you to everyone who sent us questions, we will answer them in an extra long mailbag segment in our next episode.
Here are my quick thoughts on the latest fundraising numbers:
The United Conservative Party raised more than $1 million for the second quarter in a row, demonstrating the dominant conservative party’s ability to raise significantly larger amounts than any of the other parties. There is no doubt that the UCP is an impressive fundraising machine and will not be hurting for money when the next election is called.
The New Democratic Party raised $676,446.91 in this quarter, which is $237,000 more than the party raised in the same quarter in 2017 and a drop from the $856,960 raised in the last quarter. The NDP continues to lag behind the UCP in terms of total fundraising, but the governing party is around $500,000 ahead in total annual fundraising from where it was during last year’s third quarter.
The Alberta Party saw its fundraising totals drop by almost $100,000 compared to last quarter, leaving the third-place party with $28,915 in fundraising reported in the third quarter.
The total number of donations collected by Alberta’s political parties in 2017 and 2018 is somewhat complicated by the fact that donations collected during by-election periods from November 16, 2017 to February 14, 2018, and from June 14 to July 12, 2018 are counted separately from the regular quarterly reports.
During the by-election period that ended on February 14, 2018, the NDP collected $886,591.29 , the UCP collected $840,794.02, and the Liberal Party collected $61,662.19. The financial reports from the by-election period in June and July 2018 has not yet been released but will include funds raised by the parties during that period that might not be included in the third quarter financial disclosure released last week.
Pro-UCP PAC flush with car dealership cash
Not limited by donations laws banning corporate donations that apply to political parties, two pro-UCP Third Party Political Advertisers, known colloquially as Political Action Committees, are flush with cash.
The AAFund raised $261,500.00 in the third quarter of 2018 and a total of $915,454.77 in the first three quarters of 2018. Shaping Alberta’s Future raised $275,000 in the third quarter of 2018, of which at least $170,000 came from car dealerships across the province.
In his letter, Robinson noted Kenney would roll back personal and corporate taxes, freeze minimum wage and explore lower wages for young workers, and cancel all reforms the NDP have made the the Labour Code, Occupational Health & Safety and Workers’ Compensation Board.
Robinson wrote that the MDA board voted to solicit its dealer members to contribute to Shaping Alberta’s Future. The letter noted that the “MDA’s goal donation is $1,000,000.00” and that “each MDA dealership write a cheque in the amount of $5,000.00.”
The President of the MDA is Denis Ducharme, who served as the PC MLA for Bonnyville-Cold Lake from 1997 to 2008.
Speaking to Postmedia columnist Keith Gerein, Shaping Alberta’s Future executive director David Wasyluk denied that the UCP and the pro-UCP PAC have been collaborating. Wasyluk was until recently the spokesperson for the right-wing BC Liberal Party and a research officer for the BC Liberal Party caucus before that party was removed from government in 2017.
Elections Alberta disclosures also show that Edmonton philanthropist Stanley Milner is of the largest individual donors of the AAFund and Shaping Alberta’s Future, having donated around $88,000 to the two pro-UCP political action committees.
The primary contacts for each group are also provided by Elections Alberta. The primary contact for the AAFund is Edmonton lawyer and former Wildrose Party executive director Jonathan Wescott, who is the Principal of the Alberta Counsel lobby firm. The primary contract for Shaping Alberta’s Future is Douglas Nelson, who was previously listed as the Chief Financial Officer for Jason Kenney’s now defunct Third Party Political Advertisers, the Alberta Victory Fund.
“The Redford government spent more than half a million dollars on its trip to the London Olympics earlier this year, including about $113,000 in hotel rooms that were not used…” – Edmonton Journal reporter Keith Gerein
I understand the value of sending cabinet ministers on these trips to promote our province abroad and I generally believe it is in our best interest, but there reaches a certain point when return on investment needs to be demonstrated.
Over the past eleven months, Premier Redford, cabinet ministers, and backbench Tory MLAs have traveled extensively on government business. The trips have taken Alberta Government officials to five continents and more than twelve countries, including numerous trips to Washington DC, New York, and Hong Kong.