It has been almost two weeks since Alberta Premier Danielle Smithnamed her new 24-member cabinet and a lot of ink has been spilled dissecting what the appointments could mean for the start of the United Conservative Party’s second term as government and the next four years.
There are big challenges facing the new cabinet, especially for ministers appointed to high-profile positions. But what caught my attention among the appointments was the return of two former cabinet ministers who were pushed into the backbenches when Smith entered the Premier’s Office last October.
There are four days left until Election Day in Alberta.
Readers of the Daveberta will know I’ve been watching this Alberta election pretty closely and, while I’ve actually been watching all 87 ridings throughout the campaign, there are a few handfuls I’ve been keeping a close eye on.
Some of them will be close races and some will be won with landslides.
Here’s my list of 19 ridings I’ll be watching closely on Election Day.
After a weekend of campaign kick-off rallies in Calgary and Edmonton, Premier Danielle Smith is expected to visit Lieutenant Governor Salma Lakhani today to ask that the Legislature be dissolved and a provincial election be held on May 29.
This will be Alberta’s 31st provincial general election since the province was formed in 1905, and it is also expected to be one of the most competitive in recent memory.
Toor’s first term as a UCP backbencher was not short of controversy.
In June 2020, CBC reported that the owners of two popular food trucks claimed they were being bullied and harassed by residents who didn’t want them there, including Toor.
He was hit with a $15,000 fine from Elections Alberta in July 2021 for violating five sections of the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act. And in September 2021, Alberta Health Services issued a closure order for a Gleichen hotel owned by Toor.
Toor was one of only a handful of UCP MLAs to support Danielle Smith in her bid to win the party’s leadership and he was rewarded in October 2022 with an appointment as Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism.
This is a riding the NDP believe they can flip. It is on my list to watch.
Four in Livingstone-Macleod UCP race, former candidate now running for Alberta Party
It looked like there might be six or seven candidates in the race but when the nomination papers were handed in, there were only four candidates contesting the ‘do-over‘ UCP nomination Livingstone-Macleod.
This was an extremely difficult decision to make, and I didn’t make it lightly. However, after being involved more closely with the party, I found that some of my values, morals and ethics were just not aligning as much as they used to.
Constituency office manager Lizette Tejada defeated four other candidates to win the NDP nomination in this hotly contested Calgary riding. This was the party’s second time holding a nomination contest in the riding. Brady Adkins, Angela McIntyre, Mattie McMillan and Laurie O’Neil were the other candidates in the race.
All quiet in Grande Prairie-Wapiti
What’s one of the big questions being asked in Alberta political circles this week?
The rancher-accountant and UCP leadership race runner-up has been silent on his plans for the next election and the party has not released any news about nominating a candidate in his Grande Prairie-Wapiti riding.
Will Toews bow out of provincial politics after tabling the spring budget? We’ll find out soon.
Calgary-Bhullar-McCall: Sonya Virk joins Amanpreet Singh Gill in the UCP nomination race in this north east Calgary riding. Virk is a former member of the Alberta Party provincial board. A vote is scheduled for March 5.
Edmonton-Glenora: Shannon Berry and Amit Batra are seeking the UCP nomination. Batra previously ran as a Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Calder in 2015, was active in Wexit Alberta and, until recently, served as a director of the Wildrose Independence Party.
Edmonton-McClung: Daniel Heikkinen defeated Terry Vankka to win the UCP nomination. Heikkinen was a candidate for Edmonton City Council in October 2021.
Edmonton-Manning: Alberto Mazzocca and Jaspreet Saggu are seeking the UCP nomination. A nomination vote is scheduled for February 22, 2023.
Lethbridge-West: Rick Dempsey and Torry Tanner are seeking the UCP nomination. Dempsey ran for the nomination in 2018. Tanner was named in an unsuccessful lawsuit against former Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw challenging Alberta’s COVID-19 public health restrictions. A nomination vote is scheduled for March 14.
Lesser Slave Lake: Martine Carifelle, Jerrad Cunningham, Scott Sinclair, and Silas Yellowknee are seeking the UCP nomination. A vote is being held on February 25 and 26.
Calgary-Lougheed: Venkat Ravulaparthi and Kim Wagner are seeking the NDP nomination. A nomination vote is scheduled for March 14.
Drumheller-Stettler: Pharmacist Juliet Franklin was nominated as the NDP candidate. This was the only riding where the NDP candidate placed 4th in the 2019 election.
Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: Fisheries biologist Vance Buchwald was nominated as the NDP candidate.
Julian Schulz has been nominated as the Green Party candidate in Edmonton-Glenora. Two of the party’s nominated candidates have withdrawn their candidacies: Brandy Kinkead in Calgary-Edgemont and Lucas Bevan in Sherwood Park.
An Alberta NDP nomination in a competitive north central Calgary riding is drawing a crowd. There are now five candidates vying to become the next NDP candidate in Calgary-Klein.
Canadian Natural Resources Limited environmental coordinator Brady Adkins is the latest candidate to join the race. Adkins joins policy analyst Mattie McMillan, Calgary Climate Hub director and past city council candidate Angela McIntyre, retired nurse and infection control professional Laurie O’Neil, and Calgary-Mountain View constituency manager Lizette Tejada.
Nixon ran as the Wildrose Party candidate in 2012 and 2015, making 2023 his fourth time running in the riding, so he’s well known to voters in the area. He’s now Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services and he’s running for re-election.
It is one of two remaining ridings in Calgary without an NDP candidate (Calgary-Lougheed is the other) and the party sees this as a key riding to win in the May 2023 election. NDP MLAs from neighbouring ridings and from Edmonton have been frequently spotted helping out local volunteers during door-to-door canvasses, but this is the NDP’s second time holding a vote to choose a candidate.
NDP members in the riding selected past city council candidate Marilyn North Peigan as their candidate in a March 2022 nomination contest, which also attracted two other candidates, McMillan and former Suncor human resources director Heather Eddy. But North Peigan’s candidacy was revoked in November 2022 after she sent out a series of tweets about the Calgary Stampede board of directors that were described as defamatory.
North Peigan later apologized for her posts, saying they were ‘untrue, disrespectful and hurtful.’
The speed of North Peigan’s disqualification was a clear signal of how serious and sensitive Rachel Notley‘s NDP are about anything that could derail their chances of making gains in Calgary in the next election.
So now the NDP are holding a second vote in a more crowded nomination race on February 15 at the Winston Heights Community Association. Whoever wins that vote will have a lot of ground to make up in a short period of time. The election is in 118 days.
Calgary-Klein is on my list of ridings to watch in 2023.
Here are the most recent candidate nomination updates:
UCP nominate Laine Larson in Edmonton-Rutherford
Laine Larson has been acclaimed as the UCP candidate in Edmonton-Rutherford. Larson is an independent contractor and the step-son of former Reform Party Member of Parliament Deborah Grey.
Larson previously ran for the UCP nomination ahead of the 2019 election. It was reported by CBC at the time that Larson had questioned vaccination science and has suggested parents may be harming their children by vaccinating them against disease.
Laurie O’Neil is the fourth candidate to enter the NDP nomination race in Calgary-Klein. O’Neil joins Mattie McMillan, Angela McIntyre, and Lizette Tejada in running for the candidacy which will be determined at a vote on February 15.
Gill enters UCP nomination in Calgary-Bhullar-McCall
Amanpreet Singh Gill is seeking the UCP nomination in Calgary-Bhullar-McCall. The riding has been represented by NDP MLA Irfan Sabir since 2015. Sabir was re-elected in 2019 with 51.7 per cent of the vote.
The riding last elected a conservative MLA in 2004. Prior to Sabir’s elected in 2015, it had been represented by Liberal MLA Darshan Kang since 2008.
Previously known as Calgary-McCall, the riding was renamed Calgary-Bhullar-McCall after the last election to honour former northeast Calgary MLA Manmeet Bhullar, who represented the former Calgary-Montrose and Calgary-Greenway ridings from 2004 until his death in 2015.
Rumble in Rocky continues. Take Back Alberta aims for Jason Nixon’s job
Many of the hundreds of UCP members who showed up to vote at the local AGM last week are unhappy with incumbent MLA Jason Nixon being acclaimed as the party’s candidate after challenger Tim Hoven was disqualified last year. Nixon was former Premier Jason Kenney‘s chief lieutenant and Finance Minister. He was dismissed from cabinet when Danielle Smith became Premier last October.
Smith promised during the leadership campaign that she would reopen nominations in ridings where the local constituency association voted to do so.
Take Back Alberta activists have signalled in online discussion forums that the UCP constituency board in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake is their next target. An AGM is expected to be held in that riding in February.
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.