Before the collapse of the Progressive Conservative Party in 2015, being a PC Party member – or at least participating in PC Party events – was extremely normal. Normal to the point that it was barely political.
If you were a business or a non-profit that depended on government policy, you were a participator to some extent – you kind of had to be. As a decades-old political dynasty, it was the only game in town, and the political dynamic in Alberta showed it.
With more than 1,300 votes cast, Lunty defeated lobbyist Heather Feldbusch, real estate agent Nam Kular, school trustee Dawn Miller, former MLA Dave Quest, and former school trustee Karen Richert to secure the UCP nomination in the mostly suburban riding south of Edmonton.
Lunty is an intergovernmental affairs policy coordinator with the Alberta government. He previously worked as a regional organizer for the Wildrose Party and was that party’s candidate in Calgary-South East in the 2015 election, where he placed third with 29 per cent of the vote. He attempted to win the UCP nomination in the Camrose riding ahead of the 2019 election but placed behind current MLA Jackie Lovely.
Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley was nominated as her party’s candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona this past weekend. Speaking to a crowd of more than 800 supporters gathered at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Notley delivered an energetic speech that felt like a campaign kick-off for the former premier’s party.
Notley was first elected as MLA for the central Edmonton riding in 2008 and was re-elected in 2019 with 72.2 per cent of the vote. The riding has elected NDP MLAs since 1997 and the party previously held the riding from 1986 to 1993.
UCP choose Claresholm Mayor in ‘do-over’ nomination vote in Livingstone-Macleod
Town of Claresholm Mayor Chelsae Petrovic won the United Conservative Party‘s ‘do-over’ nomination vote in Livingstone-Macleod. Petrovic defeated Tanya Clemens and Don Whalen in a decisive first ballot victory. Petrovic earned 759 votes with Clemens collecting 469 votes and Whalen finishing third with 118 votes.
This is the UCP’s second time holding a nomination vote in the southern Alberta riding.
The riding was represented by former premier Jason Kenney from 2017 until his resignation in November 2022.
NDP members in the riding voted to select Venkat Akkiraj over Kim Wagner in that party’s nomination vote this week. Akkiraj is a law student and former organizer with the Ontario NDP.
City Councillor jumps into Grande Prairie UCP race
City Councillor Gladys Blackmore is the fourth candidate to enter the UCP nomination contest in Grande Prairie. Blackmore served on City Council from 2001-2010 before making an unsuccessful bids for mayor in 2010 and 2013. She returned to city council in 2021.
She joins Nolan Dyck, Larry Gibson, and Tayyab Parvez in the race to choose a UCP successor to retiring MLA Tracy Allard.
The UCP MLA for the neighbouring Grande Prairie-Wapiti riding, Finance Minister Travis Toews, has still not announced whether he plans to run for re-election. Toews is now the only remaining MLA who has not announced their plans for the May election.
Hinshaw critic wins UCP nomination in Lethbridge-West
Torry Tanner defeated Rick Dempsey to win the UCP nomination vote in Lethbridge-West. Tanner was a participant in an unsuccessful lawsuit against former Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw challenging Alberta’s COVID-19 public health restrictions.
The riding is currently represented by NDP Shannon Phillips.
Other nomination updates
Calgary-Foothills: The Alberta Party disqualified Shaoli Wang as a candidate after a series of embarrassing social media posts were revealed. Wang will instead run as an Independent candidate.
Cypress-Medicine Hat: James Finkbeiner and Justin Wright are on the ballot when UCP members vote to nominate a candidate on March 16. The riding is currently represented by Independent MLA Drew Barnes.
Edmonton-City Centre: Richard Wong is the UCP candidate in this downtown Edmonton riding.
Leduc-Beaumont: Heather Feldbusch, Nam Kular, Brandon Lunty, Dawn Miller, Dave Quest, and Karen Richert are running for the UCP nomination. A vote is scheduled for March 18.
Peace River: Nancy O’Neill is running for the Independence Party of Alberta nomination.
Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: Former Clearwater County Reeve Tim Hovenwill run as an Independent candidate. Hoven was disqualified from running for the UCP nomination against Jason Nixon last year. It was widely believed that Hoven could have defeated Nixon, who was then serving as former premier Kenney’s chief lieutenant.
The Alberta NDP leads the pack with 75 candidates nominated across the province. NDP leader Rachel Notley will be nominated as her party’s candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona at a pre-election rally at the big NDP campaign training school in Edmonton on March 11. And two candidates – Venkat Akkiraj and Kim Wagner – are vying for the NDP nomination in Calgary-Lougheed on March 14.
The remaining NDP vacancies without scheduled nomination meetings are in the ridings of Cardston-Siksika, Drayton Valley-Devon, Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, Grande Prairie, Grande Prairie-Wapiti, Highwood, Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin, and Taber-Warner.
These are mostly ridings where the NDP is seen as having little chance of winning, though NDP MLAs did represent Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville and parts of Maskwacis-Wetaskwin from 2015 to 2019.
Nominations votes are scheduled for Livingstone-Macleod (March 9, 10, 11), Calgary-Lougheed (March 13), Lethbridge-West (March 14), Cypress-Medicine Hat (March 16), and Leduc-Beaumont (March 18).
That leaves unscheduled or unannounced UCP nominations in Grande Prairie and Grande Prairie-Wapiti (where Finance Minister Travis Toews has not announced his intentions to run for re-election), and the central Edmonton ridings of Edmonton-City Centre, Edmonton-Glenora, Edmonton-Gold Bar, Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood, Edmonton-Riverview and Edmonton-Strathcona (which are all among the safest NDP ridings in Alberta).
Former Calgary Catholic School District Trustee Pamela Rath has been nominated United Conservative Party candidate in Calgary-Mountain View. Rath served as a trustee from 2017 until her resignation in December 2022 for “personal and family matters.”
Rath’s resignation came a few months after she was censured by her trustee colleagues after being found to be in violation of the board’s code of conduct, though the nature of her alleged misconduct was never made public.
The riding has been represented by Alberta NDP MLA Kathleen Ganley since 2019 and was previously represented by Liberal MLA David Swann from 2004 to 2019.
Hogg defeated retired teacher Tim Gruber and private college founder David Martin. She has served as a trustee with the Prairie Rose Public School since 2013 and previously served as President of the Public School Boards’ Association of Alberta.
And way up north, Scott Sinclair defeated three other candidates to win the UCP nomination in Lesser Slave Lake.I’m told that Sinclair beat second place finisher Martine Carifelle by three votes. Sinclair will face Registered Nurse and former NDP MLA Danielle Larivee in the election.
Grande Prairie UCP race draws a crowd
Three more candidates – Larry Gibson, Don Golden and Tayyab Parvez – have joined the UCP nomination contest to replace retiring MLA Tracy Allard..
Gibson is an energy and utilities consultant and former chair of the Grande Prairie and District Chamber of Commerce. Golden is a realtor and former Catholic school board trustee. And Parvez is an engineer and the nephew of Calgary-North MLA Muhammad Yaseen. Nolan Dyck announced his candidacy last week.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Travis Toews is expected to announce soon whether or not he will run for re-election in the neighbouring Grande Prairie-Wapiti. Toews was first elected as MLA in 2019 and placed second to Danielle Smith in the 2022 UCP leadership race.
More nomination updates
Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock: Pastor-turned-horizontal directional driller Landen Tischerwas nominated as the NDP candidate in this sprawling riding north of Edmonton.
Calgary-Bow: Paul Godard has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Godard ran for the Alberta Party in the riding in 2019.
Calgary-Edgemont:Allen Schultz has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.
Calgary-Foothills:Shaoli Wang has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Wang previously ran for mayor in 2021 and as an Independent candidate in Calgary-Rocky Ridge in the 2019 federal election.
Camrose: Bob Blayone has announced he will run for the Independence Party of Alberta nomination in this central Alberta riding. Baylone acts as a spokesperson for the Independence Party and previously ran for town council in Peace River in 2021.
Central Peace-Notley: Lynn Lekisch is the Alberta Party candidate in this northwest Alberta riding. Lekisch ran for the NDP nomination in the riding in July 2022 but was defeated by Megan Ciurysek.
Edmonton-Castle Downs: Patrick Stewart has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.
Edmonton-Decore: Lawyer Brent Tyson has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.
Edmonton-Meadows: Amritpal Matharu defeated Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu to win the UCP nomination. Matharu is a shop manager at TJs Auto and Brakes & Tires and General Secretary of Gurdwara Millwoods.
Edmonton-West Henday: Joseph Angeles and Slava Cravcenco are on the ballot at the UCP nomination meeting on March 2.
Leduc-Beaumont: Al Luthra is no longer seeking the nomination. Heather Feldbusch, Nam Kular, Brandon Lunty, Dawn Miller, Dave Quest, and Karen Richert will be on the ballot when UCP members in the riding vote to choose a candidate on March 18.
Livingston-Macleod – Nanton town councillor Kevin Todd has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Todd had previously been seeking the UCP nomination but had a change of heart before the candidate entry deadline and choose to run for the Alberta Party instead.
Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills- Past Independence Party leadership candidate Katherine Kowalchuk is running for that party’s nomination in this central Alberta riding. Kowalchuk is connected to the COVID-skeptical Lawyers 4 Truth group and was briefly nominated as a Liberal Party candidate in Calgary-Signal Hill ahead of the 2015 federal election.
Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: Fred Schwieger is running for the Independence Party of Alberta. A nomination vote is scheduled for March 18, 19 and 20.
“March 9th of 2020 was a pivotal day for our province. It marked the first presumptive case of Covid 19 in Alberta, commencing our province’s journey into the pandemic. It marked the worst oil price crash in Alberta’s history, leaving the provincial treasury in the unimaginable position of paying other jurisdictions to take our oil. On top of that, it was the day I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It was an incredibly tough Monday – both for our province and for me personally.”
Allard was caught in the Aloha-gate scandal in December 2021 when she and her family travelled to Hawaii for a hot holiday, despite the provincial government’s COVID-19 public health recommendations against international travel. She resigned as Minister of Municipal Affairs shortly after her return from the tropical paradise.
In December 2022, Premier Danielle Smithquietly appointed Allard as Parliamentary Secretary for Civil Liberties, though it still remains unclear what her responsibilities in that role actually are.
Former MLA jumps into Leduc-Beaumont UCP race
Former Progressive Conservative MLA Dave Quest is running for the UCP nomination in Leduc-Beaumont.
Quest served as the PC MLA for Strathcona from 2008 to 2012 and Strathcona-Sherwood Park from 2012 to 2015 and he has had a bit of a roundabout political journey ever since.
Quest shunned the UCP in 2019, running instead as the Alberta Party candidate in Strathcona-Sherwood Park, placing third with 13.38 per cent of the vote. He then placed a distant second in the October 2021 Strathcona County mayoral election. And he later joined the UCP fold in April 2022 when he signed a public letter in support of Premier Jason Kenney‘s leadership (Kenney announced his resignation a month later after a poor showing in party’s leadership review).
Also joining the UCP race in Leduc-Beaumont is Dawn Miller, who has served as a trustee with the St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Schools since October 2021.
Calgary-Bow: Demetrios Nicolaides was acclaimed as the UCP candidate. Nicolaides was first elected in 2019 and currently serves as Minister of Advanced Education.
Calgary-Buffalo: Dr. Astrid Kuhn was acclaimed as the UCP candidate in this downtown Calgary riding. Kuhn is a business instructor and communications consultant and previously worked as a reporter and news anchor with Global TV and CBC Television in Calgary.
Calgary-Lougheed: Eric Bouchard is the fourth candidate to join the race.
Calgary-Varsity: Well-known education advocate Dr. Angela Grace has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Grace is the fifth candidate nominated by the Alberta Party in this election cycle.
Cypress-Medicine Hat – Damyan Davis is the third candidate to join the UCP nomination in this southeast Alberta riding.
Edmonton-Whitemud: David Masieyi is the third candidate to join the UCP race in this southwest Edmonton riding.
Innsifail-Sylvan Lake – Innisfail town councillor Jason Heistad was nominated as the NDP candidate in this central Alberta riding. Heistad also serves as Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees.
Lesser Slave Lake: Silas Yellowknee, former chief of the Bigstone First Nation, is the third candidate to join the UCP nomination contest.
Livingstone-Macleod: Shauna Oseen is the sixth candidate to join the UCP nomination race in this southwest Alberta riding.
Rutherford was elected in 2019 with 58.4 per cent of the vote. He announced his retirement from provincial politics shortly after he was appointed by Premier Danielle Smith as Government Caucus Whip and Minister without Portfolio.
The NDP have nominated paramedic Cam Heenan as their candidate. The riding was represented by NDP MLA Shaye Anderson from 2015 to 2019.
Taking Back Jason Nixon’s nomination
The Take Back Alberta-stacked board of the Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre UCP association announced on Facebook that they have begun discussions to reopen the nomination in the riding. Incumbent MLA Jason Nixon‘s allies were recently voted off the board and replaced by a TBA-backed slate.
Nixon served as Minister of Finance in the waining days of Kenney’s government and was dropped from cabinet when Smith entered the Premier’s Office. His brother, Jeremy Nixon, is the UCP MLA for Calgary-Klein and is now the Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services.
Take Back Alberta also has its sights set on taking over the Innisfail-Sylvan Lake UCP board and reopening the candidate nomination in that riding.
Local UCP President and the junior Dreeshen’s uncle, Charlie Moore, is defiant.
“They’re storming the castle and we’re heating up the boiling oil, I guess,” Moore told the Western Standard. “I’ve sent my troops forward to try to talk to some of the more logical ones in that group. We have to convert some of them. Surely there’s some common sense in there somewhere. They can’t all be totally extremists.”
Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock: Landen Tischer is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate in this sprawling rural riding north of Edmonton at a February 25 nomination meeting. Check out his TikTok’s.
Calgary-North East – Inderjit Grewal has joined the UCP nomination contest in this riding currently represented by cabinet minister Rajan Sawhney. Former Dashmesh Culture Centre chairman Harjit Singh Saroya is also running for the nomination.
Cypress-Medicine Hat: Independent MLA Drew Barnesannounced he will not seek the UCP nomination to run for re-election. The former UCP was kicked out of the governing caucus in 2021 after becoming one of Kenney’s biggest internal public critics. He and now-returned UCP MLA Todd Loewen formed an unofficial UCP-caucus-in-exile during their banishment but Barnes did not return into the UCP fold when Loewen ran for the party leadership in 2022. Barnes publicly mused in 2021 about starting a rural-based political party.
Edmonton-Ellerslie: Ranjit Bath was nominated as the UCP candidate in this southeast Edmonton riding.
Here are the most recent candidate nomination updates:
United Conservative Party
The UCP are actively nominating candidates across the province and by my count currently have nominations open in nine ridings. The governing party paused nominations during their leadership race in 2022 so they are playing catch up, quickly, ahead of the May 29 election day.
Calgary-Lougheed: Max DeGroat is the first person in the race to fill the vacancy left when former premier Jason Kenneyresigned as MLA for this southwest Calgary riding in November 2022. DeGroat is the former treasurer of the UCP and was Nicholas Milliken’s campaign manager in Calgary-Currie in 2019. He is a research associate with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and the former director of policy development for the Sustaining Alberta’s Energy Network, an organization formed by Kris Kinnear, who now works on special projects in Premier Danielle Smith’s office in Calgary.
De Groat is launching his campaign as a guest speaker at the Progressive Group for Independent Business luncheon on January 24. PGIB was founded by conservative activist and perennial election candidate Craig Chandler, who was recently caught up in a scandal with former justice minister Jonathan Denis.
Calgary-North East: Harjit Singh Saroya is running for the UCP nomination in the riding is currently represented by cabinet minister Rajan Sawhney. Saroya is the former chairman of the Dashmesh Culture Centre.
Cypress-Medicine Hat: Food truck owner and recent Medicine Hat city council candidate Justin Wright joins James Finkbeiner and Robin Kurpjuweit in the UCP nomination contest in this southeast Alberta riding.
Lacombe-Ponoka: Jennifer Johnson, Dusty Myrshrall, and Chris Ross will face off for the UCP nomination in a vote on February 17, 2023. Voting will take place in Ponoka in the morning and Lacombe in the afternoon of the nomination day.
Leduc-Beaumont:Heather Feldbusch and Brandon Lunty join former catholic school trustee Karen Richert in the UCP nomination contest. Feldbusch currently works for the Alberta Counsel lobbyists company and is a former UCP political staffer. She is also former trustee on the Leduc Public Library Board and is active with the federal Conservative association in Edmonton-Wetaskiwin. Lunty previously ran for the Wildrose Party in Calgary-South East in 2015 and ran for the UCP nomination in Camrose in 2018.
Parkland-Lac Ste. Anne: UCP MLA Shane Getson is running for his party’s nomination for re-election. Getson was first elected in 2019 and briefly served as the UCP Caucus’ Capital Region Caucus chairperson until he publicly accused people who accepted Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payments of wanting to eat cheezies and watch cartoons instead of working. Getson also participated in the anti-COVID 19 restriction Freedom Convoy demonstrations in downtown Edmonton.
Red Deer-South: MLA Jason Stephan announced that he plans to run for re-election and is running for the UCP nomination in Red Deer-South. He’s being challenged by Adele Poratto. Poratto ran for the UCP nomination ahead of the 2019 election and for the Progressive Conservative nomination in 2008.
At this point, the NDP have already nominated candidates in most of the ridings that are considered competitive and within their reach to win in the next election. Now, the party is mostly nominating candidates in ridings that are a more a long shot for the NDP (translation: very conservative rural ridings), but the party does not appear to be parachuting urban candidates in like they might have in previous year. They are trying to recruit local candidates, even if their chances of winning in some of these rural ridings are slim to none.
Calgary-Lougheed: Venkat Akkiraj is running for the NDP nomination. According to Akkiraj’s LinkedIn profile, he has experience with the Ontario NDP as a local campaign organizer and communications director in provincial ridings in Toronto. He recently had an article published in AlbertaViews Magazine about electoral reform.
The Greens aren’t usually on the radar for most Albertans but they are putting in an effort to run candidates in the next election in both urban, rural and suburban ridings. The party has played a bit of musical chairs with some of their candidates switching ridings, like leader Jordan Wilkie switching from Banff-Kananaskis to Edmonton-Rutherford, and the latest switch listed below.
Jonathan Parks is now running for the Green Party in Calgary-Buffalo. He was previously nominated to run in the neighbouring Calgary-Currie but withdrew his candidacy in that riding earlier this month.
The party has opened up nominations in Edmonton-Whitemud but has not signalled if they plan to let Sherman actually enter the race.
Sherman served as MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark as a Progressive Conservative from 2008 to 2010, as an Independent MLA from 2010 to 2011 and as a Liberal from 2011 to 2015. He led the Alberta Liberal Party from 2011 to 2015.
Edmonton-Whitemud has been represented by Alberta NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi since 2019, when she was elected with 49.18 per cent of the vote.
AUPE’s Heisted running for NDP nomination in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake
Innisfail Town Councillor and AUPE Executive Secretary-Treasurer Jason Heistad is running for the NDP nomination in the central Alberta riding of Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.
Heistad was first elected to town council in 2010 and was re-elected in 2021 with the most votes of any councillor candidate. He was elected to his fifth term as AUPE’s Executive Secretary-Treasurer in 2021.
A nomination vote is scheduled for February 6.
The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA and cabinet minister Devin Dreeshen.
Martine Carifelle and Scott Sinclair are seeking the UCP nomination. The NDP have nominated registered nurse Danielle Larivee, who represented the riding from 2015 to 2019 and served as a cabinet minister in Rachel Notley‘s first government.
Drumheller-Stettler: Stettler pharmacist Juliet Franklin is running for the NDP nomination in this sprawling east central Alberta riding. A nomination meeting is scheduled for February 13, 2023.
Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: Fisheries biologist Vance Buchwald is running for the NDP nomination in this sprawling west central Alberta riding. A nomination meeting scheduled for February 15, 2023. In 2021, Buchwald urged Clearwater County Council to take a stand against coal mining development near Nordegg.
Green Party of Alberta
The Green Party has nominated Regan Boychuk in Banff-Kananaskis, Ahmad Hassan in Calgary-Falconridge, Kenneth Drysdale in Calgary-Klein, and Cheri Hawley in Edmonton-Whitemud.
Heather Morigeau has withdrawn her candidacy in Calgary-Buffalo, as has Jonathan Parks in Calgary-Currie.
The Alberta Party has opened up nominations in Calgary-Varsity. Nominations closed on January 15. If more than one candidate entered the race a nomination vote will be held on January 29, 2023.
The United Conservative Party has announced candidate nomination votes happening in St. Albert on November 26, and Drayton Valley-Devon on December 2 and 3.
In the St. Albert riding located just north of Edmonton, former mayoral candidate Angela Wood and political staffer Melissa Crane are seeking the UCP nomination. Crane is the press secretary for Minister of Technology & Innovation Nate Glubish.
The winner will challenge NDP MLA Marie Renaud in the next election. Renaud was first elected in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019 with 46.2 per cent of the vote.
UCP members just southwest of Edmonton in the Drayton Valley-Devon riding will choose from real estate agent Andrew Boitchenko, former constituency association president Carol Vowk, and Brazeau County councillor Kara Westerlundto become their next candidate.
The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA Mark Smith, who announced in September that he would not run for re-election. Smith was first elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019 with 71 per cent of the vote.
Brad Rutherford not running for re-election
Leduc-Beaumont MLA Brad Rutherfordannounced on Facebook that he will not run for re-election. The first term MLA currently serves as Government Caucus Whip and Minister without Portfolio.
Serving the families and businesses of Leduc-Beaumont has been the honour of a lifetime. Together, we have accomplished so much for our community.
A new high school in Leduc and a new Francophone K-12 school in Beaumont will support students and families for generations to come.
The 65 Avenue Interchange will create jobs and bolster economic development and growth throughout Leduc County, Leduc and the Edmonton International Airport.
Changes to the AVPA regulations will give Leduc homeowners more choices over their private property and enhance the City of Leduc’s ability to grow its downtown sector, as well as build new neighborhoods and housing opportunities.
Grants for local community groups, playgrounds, family support centres, mental health counselling services and the food bank will ensure that Leduc-Beaumont is a constituency where all Albertans can put down roots and feel supported.
I am also deeply proud of my work as Military Liaison, where I advocated for support groups, mental health research and housing for veterans. I was also happy to assist HiMARC at the University of Alberta with obtaining funding to support PTSD research and resiliency training, along with funding for Homes for Heroes transitional housing and funding for peer support groups. And through legislation, we improved job protected leave for reservists and lifted the cap on training days.
I share the success of all these initiatives with municipalities, constituents and my peers in the provincial government, as it takes buy-in from many to achieve positive outcomes.
As a police officer and as an MLA, I have dedicated my life to public service. I strongly believe that public service positions should be challenging – it’s what makes them so fulfilling. In an effort to spend more time with my young family and pursue new challenges moving forward, I have decided not to seek a second-term as MLA. I will cherish the relationships I have made with so many residents and colleagues; I know we will continue to reconnect in the future as we keep working together to build a stronger community, province and country.
I am very proud of the work our government has done to implement our platform, balance the budget and restore jobs and investment. The economy is growing, and although there are always challenges, I am optimistic about the future. I am also encouraged to see Premier Danielle Smith pursue her vision for a freer and even more prosperous Alberta, and support her in those efforts.
Thank you to my family and to all the residents of Leduc-Beaumont.
The NDP have nominated paramedic Cam Heenan as their candidate in the riding directly south of Edmonton.
The NDP leads in Edmonton with 57 per cent compared to 31 per cent for the UCP, and, in Calgary, the NDP holds 40 per cent to the UCP’s 40 per cent. Outside of the two big cities, the UCP leads with 44 per cent to the NDP’s 36 per cent.
But while the next election is scheduled to take place in May 2023, there is increasing speculation that Kenney could call an early summer or fall 2022 election if he wins the leadership review in order to clear out his growing chorus of opponents in the UCP Caucus.
The second-term MLA for Edmonton-Rutherford was first elected in 2015 and served as the NDP’s Minister of Indigenous Relations from 2016 to 2019.
Before his election, Feehan worked as a social worker, social work instructor at the University of Calgary, Vice President of Catholic Social Services, and Program Director of the Edmonton Social Planning Council.
Feehan was re-elected in 2019 with 54.8 per cent of the vote, ahead of UCP candidate Hannah Presakarchuk, who finished second with 34.7
Calgary-Glenmore: Sustainable energy development expert Nagwan Al-Guneid and communications professional Jennifer Burgess are seeking the NDP nomination scheduled for May 10, 2022.
Calgary-North: Moses Mariam is seeking the NDP nomination. Mariam is a Member Administrator at Calgary’s CommunityWise Resource Centre.
Central Peace-Notley: Fairview resident Lynn Lekisch is seeking the NDP nomination in Central Peace-Notley. She is the owner of Enviro Projects and has previously worked as an environmental project manager for various energy companies.
Part of the riding was represented by NDP MLA Marg McCuaig-Boyd from 2015 until she was defeated by UCP MLA Todd Loewen after the riding was redistributed in the 2019 election. Loewen was ejected from the UCP Caucus in May 2021 after calling for Premier Jason Kenney to resign.
Leduc-Beaumont: Paramedic Cam Heenan was nominated as the NDP candidate in Leduc-Beaumont. Heenan defeated Registered Nurse Chantelle Hosseiny to win the nomination.
“I became a paramedic because I wanted to help people. I want to see a better future for our province, and that’s what led me to wanting to join Rachel Notley’s team,” Hennan said. “I know that with her leadership, Alberta’s NDP can expand our public healthcare, invest in education, and ensure all Alberta families can afford their bills at the end of the month.”
The riding has been represented by UCP MLA Brad Rutherford since 2019 and was held by NDP MLA Shaye Anderson from 2015 to 2019.
Morinville-St. Albert: Former Sturgeon County Councillor Karen Shaw and teacher James Grondin will face off for the NDP nomination at a meeting scheduled on April 30.The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA Dale Nally, who serves as Associate Minister of Natural Gas.
Sherwood Park:Kyle Kasawski is the second candidate to enter the NDP nomination in Sherwood Park, a suburban hamlet of 71,000 people located directly east of Edmonton.
Kasawski is President of Solar People, a solar energy company, and previously worked as a Client Development Director with Alberta Municipalities and as an Instructor in the NAIT Alternative Energy Technology Program where he taught Advanced Energy System Design and Energy Economics.
“I want to help create an Alberta with an amazing, affordable, high quality of life – where our kids go to excellent public schools, access to healthcare is dependable, and we have a few bucks left over at the end of each month after paying all of the bills,” Kasawski said when reached for comment. “I want this to be a place for people to live and thrive.”
Edmonton-Mill Woods: Christina Gray was nominated as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Mill Woods. Gray has represented the riding since 2015 and served as Minister of Labour from 2016 to 2019.
Edmonton-North West: MLA David Eggen has announced his plans to run for re-election. Eggen was first elected in 2004 and served as MLA for Edmonton-Calder from 2004 to 2008 and 2012 to 2019 before being re-elected in the redrawn Edmonton-North West riding in 2019. He served as Minister of Education from 2015 to 2019. A nomination meeting is scheduled for May 18, 2022.
The UCP has opened up nominations in a handful of ridings. Nominations are now open in Calgary-Cross, Calgary-Currie, Calgary-Foothills, Calgary-Peigan, Sherwood Park and Spruce Grove-Stony Plain. Unsurprisingly, these ridings are all represented by MLAs who would be described as Kenney-loyalists.
While most of the UCP MLAs representing these ridings are expected to seek re-election, only Calgary-Cross’ Mickey Amery, Sherwood Park’s Walker and Spruce Grove-Stony Plain MLA Searle Turton have confirmed their intentions.
Turton was first elected to the Legislature in 2019 after serving three-terms on Spruce Grove City Council. He currently serves as the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Energy and the Minister of Labour and Immigration’s liaison to private sector unions, and he is the chairperson of the UCP’s Capital Region Caucus.
Meanwhile, newly elected UCP MLA, Kenney critic and leadership aspirant Brian Jean says he would reopen the UCP nomination in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre to allow disqualified candidate Tim Hoven to challenge cabinet minister Jason Nixon.
Nixon, Kenney’s chief lieutenant, was acclaimed for the UCP nomination after Hoven was disqualified by the party. Many political observers believe that Hoven was mounting a very strong challenge to Nixon in the nomination.
NDP fixated on Calgary
The NDP have been spending a lot of time in Calgary.
Rachel Notley and a group of MLAs and candidates were on hand for a nomination rally for Rosman Valencia in Calgary-East. The NDP believe significant gains in east and northeast Calgary are critical to their path to winning the next election.
NDP MLAs were also spotted door knocking in Canmore and Banff with Banff-Kananaskis candidate Sarah Elmeligi. I’m told Elmeligi was joined on the doors by Notley and MLAs Joe Ceci, Sarah Hoffman, Janis Irwin, Marlin Schmidt, Irfan Sabir and Shannon Phillips. Notley and Irwin also posted a photo on social media with Banff Mayor Corrie DiManno.
It sure feels like election season in Alberta. Or maybe it’s just Leadership Review season.
Ok. Let’s get on with the updates.
Tim Hoven and Jodie Gateman have been disqualified from the United Conservative Party nomination races in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre and Cardston-Siksika.
The right-wing municipal politicians were challenging two high-profile Jason Kenney loyalists – Government House Leader and Environment & Parks Minister Jason Nixon and Deputy Government House Leader Joseph Schow.
The party says they were disqualified because of controversial posts they shared and liked on social media.
People close to Gateman’s campaign say it was because she was accused of reposting conspiracy theories on her social media accounts.
They tell me that party staff even asked her if she was in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021. (The person I spoke with said she was visiting family in Las Vegas).
Disqualifying them avoids negative media attention from unwanted bozo-eruptions and has the added bonus of protecting two Kenney loyalists who were by most accounts considered vulnerable in the nomination.
They also both happened to be endorsed by Kenney rivals Brian Jean and Drew Barnes.
Without nomination races to keep them busy, there’s more time to focus on the April 9 leadership review in Red Deer.
Gateman is now shifting her attention to getting as many of her supporters to vote against Kenney at the April 9 leadership review in Red Deer.
A new poll from ThinkHQ shows that 64 per cent of Albertans and 59 per cent of UCP voters want Kenney gone.
More on that later. Now back to the nomination updates.
For the UCP:
It hasn’t been announced yet, but is appears that Calgary-Shaw MLA Rebecca Schulz and Calgary-South East MLA Matt Jones will be acclaimed as the UCP candidates in their ridings.
MLA Josephine Pon is running for the UCP nomination in Calgary-Beddington. Pon was first elected in 2019.
MLA Mickey Amery is running for the UCP nomination in Calgary-Cross. Amery was first elected in 2019.
MLA Peter Singh is running for the UCP nomination in Calgary-East. Singh was first elected in 2019.
Legislative Assembly Speaker MLA Nathan Cooper is running for the UCP nomination in Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills. Cooper was first elected in 2015.
MLA Dan Williams is running for the UCP nomination in Peace River. Williams was first elected in 2019.
Service Alberta Minister and MLA Nate Glubish is running for the UCP nomination in Strathcona-Sherwood Park. Glubish was first elected in 2019.
For the NDP:
MLA Irfan Sabir has been nominated to run for re-election in the recently renamed Calgary-Bhullar-McCall. Sabir was first elected in 2015.
MLA Rakhi Pancholi has announced her plans to run for the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Whitemud. Pancholi was first elected in 2019.
MLA Christina Gray is running for the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Mill Woods. Gray was first elected in 2015 and served as Minister of Labour from 2015 to 2019.
Respected energy analyst Samir Kayande is now the NDP candidate in Calgary-Elbow.
Canmore town councillor Tonya Foubert is the fourth candidate to join the NDP nomination contest in Banff-Kananaskis.
Director Business Renewables Centre Canada director Nagwan Al-Guneid is the second candidate to enter the NDP nomination race in Calgary-Glenmore. They join communications consultant Jennifer Burgess in the race.
Registered Nurse Diana Batten is running for the NDP nomination in Calgary-Acadia.
Rosman Valencia is now the only candidate seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-East after Alison Karim-McSwiney withdrew from the contest.
Registered Nurse Chantelle Hosseiny and paramedic Cameron Heenan are seeking the NDP nomination in Leduc-Beaumont.
Teacher James Grondin is the second candidate to enter the NDP nomination race in Morinville-St. Albert. Former Sturgeon County Councillor Karen Shawjoined the race in Dec. 2021.
The Buffalo Party of Alberta is officially registered with Elections Alberta.
The party leadership includes leader John Molberg (a past Wildrose Party donor), President Sharon Smith (who in Leduc-Beaumont as a Wildrose candidate in 2015 and a UCP nomination candidate in 2018), and Chief Financial Officer Jenny Walker (the former chairperson of the separatist Wexit Alberta group, which merged with the Freedom Conservative Party to become the Wildrose Independence Party in July 2020).
When reached for comment, the administrator of the Buffalo Party’s Facebook page responded that party organizers collected more than 13,000 signatures to achieve registered party status.
While bearing the same name as the openly separatist Buffalo Party of Saskatchewan (formerly known as Wexit Saskatchewan), the person said the party has “no legal connection with any other political organisation federal or in other provinces.”
The also denied being a separatist party:
“We are not a separatist party. For Albertans whose sole priority is separatism, there are several separatist options to choose from, however the Buffalo Party of Alberta is not it.”
“The Buffalo Party of Alberta, while sharing some similar principles such as increased Alberta autonomy and decentralised decision making, are distinctly Albertan, and will represent Albertan views. We have no legal connection with any other political organisation federal or in other provinces.”
It isn’t really a saying in Alberta politics but maybe it should be: When a Premier is in trouble, the cabinet gets growing.
That’s what we saw today as embattled Premier Jason Kenney made a major expansion of the provincial cabinet.
It is being described as a post-pandemic reset but today’s cabinet shuffle and expansion probably has more to do with internal turmoil in the UCP Caucus than any actual reset in the government’s agenda. Problem-creating ministers like Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and Environment & Parks Minister Jason Nixon remain firmly in place.
Kenney, who eagerly declared the COVID-19 pandemic over in Alberta on July 1, has seen his approval ratings and his party’s popularity plummet as it mismanaged its response to the pandemic and pushed forward with an unpopular political agenda that included opening the Rocky Mountains to open-pit coal mining, a backward draft curriculum for kids, and aggressive attacks against doctors and nurses.
Kenney’s unpopularity now appears to be spilling over into the federal scene and dragging down the federal Conservative Party’s support in Alberta, which a string of polls show at a historic low.
Kenney is so unpopular that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was able to openly mock him at a press conference in Calgary yesterday and there was no public backlash in defence of the provincial Conservative leader.
Facing dissent from inside and outside his caucus and party, Kenney has taken the predictable route of previous Alberta premiers who were in political trouble and expanded his cabinet. Appointments to cabinet posts come with the prestige of a ministerial title, office and staff, a hefty pay hike and are seen as a way to reward a premier’s supporters – and punish dissenters.
The past twenty years of turmoil in conservative politics in Alberta has given us a few clear examples of how cabinets grow when premier’s find themselves in political trouble.
Premier Ralph Klein’s cabinet grew from a slim 17 in 1992 to an expanded 24 by the time he resigned in 2006 after his party’s membership gave him a weak 55.4 per cent endorsement in a leadership review.
Klein’s successor, Premier Ed Stelmach, started with a cabinet of 19 ministers in 2006 only to expand it to 23 by the time he resigned in the face of a caucus revolt in 2011.
But perhaps most famously, Premier Alison Redford’s cabinet grew from 21 in 2011 to 29, including 10 associate ministers, in 2013, representing almost half of the Progressive Conservative Caucus. There was a running joke at the time that if a PC MLA wasn’t in cabinet they must have done something really wrong.
Yesterday Kenney’s cabinet had 22 cabinet ministers and associate ministers. Today, Kenney’s cabinet has 26.
I bet it grows again in a few months.
Shuffled around …
Jason Luan, MLA Calgary-Foothills, is moved from Associate Minister of Additions and Mental Health to become Minister of Community and Social Services. Luan served as MLA for Calgary-Hawkwood from 2012 until his defeat in the 2015 election to NDP candidate Michael Connolly. Luan returned to the Legislature in 2019.
Ric McIver, MLA Calgary-Hays, keeps his role as Minister of Municipal Affairs but loses his dual role of Minister of Transportation. McIver took over Municipal Affairs when former minister Tracy Allard was removed from cabinet following her COVID rule breaking hot holiday to Hawaii in December 2020. McIver was first elected as a PC MLA in 2012 and previously served as an alderman on Calgary City Council from 2001 to 2010.
Rajan Sawhney, MLA Calgary-North East, leaves her current role as Minister of Community and Social Services to become Minister of Transportation. Sawhney is seen by many political insiders as an up and comer in the UCP cabinet.
Muhammad Yaseen, MLA Calgary-North, leaves his role as Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration to become the Associate Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism reporting to Minister of Labour and Immigration Jason Copping. Yasseen is a former president of the Pakistan Canada Association of Calgary and was first elected as an MLA in 2019.
New in cabinet…
Mike Ellis, MLA Calgary-West, leaves his role as UCP Caucus Whip to become Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. Ellis was first elected in a 2014 by-election and was only one of a handful of PC MLAs re-elected in 2015.
Nate Horner, MLA Drumheller-Stettler, becomes Associate Minister of Rural Economic Development reporting to Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer. Horner is the grandson of former Member of Parliament Jack Horner and the cousin of former deputy premier Doug Horner.
Whitney Issik, MLA for Calgary-Glenmore, becomes the Associate Minister of Status of Women reporting to newly appointed Minister of Culture and Status of Women Ron Orr. Issik will also serve as UCP Whip. She was first elected in 2019 and was a longtime PC Party volunteer, serving as campaign manager for Jim Prentice during his brief run for the federal PC Party nomination in Calgary-Southwest in 2002, as a constituency assistant to former Calgary-Mountain View MLA Mark Hlady, and as policy co-chair of the federal PC Party during the 2000 federal election.
Ron Orr, MLA Lacombe-Ponoka, becomes Minister of Culture. Orr once declared that legalizing cannabis would spark a communist revolution and he wrote on Facebook in May 2021 that Kenney was raised by God to be leader of Alberta and public health restrictions are just as bad as getting COVID. Before his election as a Wildrose MLA in 2015 he worked as a Baptist Minister in Alberta and British Columbia.
Back in cabinet is Tanya Fir, MLA Calgary-Peigan, as Associate Minister of Red Tape Reduction. Fir was surprisingly dropped from her role as Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism in August 2020. Fir was one of the UCP MLAs caught travelling on a hot holiday in December 2020, breaking the government’s public health restrictions.
Out of cabinet…
Leela Aheer, MLA Chestermere-Strathmore and UCP Deputy Leader, has lost her cabinet role as Minister of Culture and Status of Women. Her departure from cabinet is probably retribution for her publicly calling on Kenney to apologize after he and other senior cabinet ministers were caught breaking the government’s COVID-19 restrictions by holding a boozy dinner party on the balcony of the Sky Palace. Aheer also criticized Kenney for his tone-deaf defence of Sir John A Macdonald following the discovery of unmarked graves of children at former Indian Residential School sites.
Grant Hunter, MLA Taber-Warner, loses his position as Associate Minister of Red Tape Reduction. Hunter is currently on a province-wide ministerial tour of northeast Alberta with Justice Minister Kaycee Madu and Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. Hunter was the only cabinet minister from south of Calgary.
Other non-cabinet changes today included:
Joseph Schow, MLA Cardston-Siksika, the current the deputy government whip becomes deputy government house leader. Brad Rutherford, MLA Leduc-Beaumont, becomes deputy government whip.
After 6 months without a permanent Chief of Staff, Premier Kenney has named his Deputy Chief of Staff Pam Livingston to the role. Livingston started working in the Premier’s Office in January 2021 after the resignation of Jamie Huckabay, who was caught in the international holiday scandal.
Interim Chief of Staff Larry Kaumeyer returns to his previous role as Principal Secretary in the Premier’s Office.