The right-wing municipal lobby group “Common Sense Calgary” is apparently setting up shop in Edmonton ahead of next year’s municipal elections. But when the lobby group with ties to the United Conservative Party and the Manning Centre launched its “Common Sense Edmonton” website, someone forgot to remove all the big photos of Calgary City Hall and references to how great a city Calgary is.
The main page of the group’s Edmonton website features a counter counting down the days until the municipal election which sits on a giant backdrop of Calgary City Hall and our southern neighbour’s iconic Bow Tower. On the same page of their Edmonton website, the group praises Calgary as a city built on people, built on ideas and built on trust.
The Calgary group was founded with funding from the conservative Manning Centre (now known as the “Strong and Free Network) and its current executive director is past Wildrose Party candidate and UCP nomination candidate Megan McCaffrey. She is also the Director of Research at the Alberta Institute, a Calgary-based libertarian think tank with an almost identical website.
New legislative changes recently introduced by the UCP government would allow individuals to donate up to $30,000 to these types of political action committees during next year’s municipal election.
The United Conservative Party quashed a giant bozo-eruption in the making this week when the party asked S. Todd Beasley to withdraw his candidacy for the nomination in the new Brooks-Medicine Hat district. Beasley, who was an organizer for the anti-NDP Alberta Wide Rallies held in 2016 and is the organizer behind the pro-coal ‘Stop the Shock‘ group, was dropped from the nomination race after anti-Muslim comments were discovered on Facebook.
Beasley defended his comments, in which he called Muslims “fools who are really worshipping Satan” and “those who think a rational God would anoint a dark-age pedophile warlord as his prophet.”
A UCP spokesperson said his Facebook comments were the reason for Beasley’s disqualification, but these were not the first political controversial statements he has made in public. He openly questioned the existence of climate change when testifying to the House of Commons Environment and Sustainable Development Committee in June 2016.
Asking, or telling, Beasley to withdraw was the right choice. But it remains pretty darn concerning that a candidate with these kind of views was running for a UCP nomination in the first place and only asked to leave the race onthe day before the nomination vote began.
I am told by one well-placed UCP supporter in Medicine Hat that Beasley had enough support among the party membership in Brooks-Medicine Hat to win the nomination had he not been disqualified at the 11th hour.
Voting in the nomination contest in Brooks-Medicine Hat began today in Brooks and will conclude tomorrow in Medicine Hat. Michaela Glasgo and Dinah Hiebert are the two remaining candidates in the race.
Anderson to be nominated in Leduc-Beaumont
MLA Shaye Anderson is expected to be nominated as the New Democratic Party candidate in Leduc-Beaumont at a meeting on July 18, 2018. Anderson was first elected in 2015 and currently serves as Minister of Municipal Affairs.
NDP call on UCP to “Release the report.”
The NDP distributed a three-word media release today calling on the UCP to “Release the report” written by former PC Party president Ted Carruthers into allegations of ballot-stuffing that led to Calgary-Greenway MLA Prab Gillleaving the UCP caucus. The UCP is unlikely to release the report.
The NDP also revealed that Gill had submitted $7,245 in expenses to the Legislative Assembly to cover the cost of a banquet for UCP supporters that featured leader Jason Kenney as the speaker. MLAs are prohibited from using those funds for partisan purposes.
Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock – MLA Glenn van Dijken fended off a challenge from Monty Bauer to win the UCP nomination contest in this new district. van Dijken was elected as the MLA for Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock in 2015.
Calgary-Foothills – Former Progressive Conservative MLA Jason Luan defeated political staffer Connor Staus to secure the UCP nomination in a newly redrawn Calgary-Foothills district. Luan was MLA for Calgary-Hawkwood from 2012 to 2015.
Calgary-McCall – Usman Hahmood is seeking the UCP nomination.
Calgary-Mountain View – Caylan Ford is seeking the UCP nomination. Ford is an international affairs specialist with a background in China and human rights. She has worked as a senior policy advisor with Global Affairs Canada. Ford was a panelist at a 2018 Manning Centre conference discussion about conservative culture in Canada.
Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview – Atul Ranade has withdrawn from the UCP nomination in this district. Ranade had previously announced his candidacy and later withdrew from the UCP nomination contest in Edmonton-South.
Edmonton-City Centre – Martina Crory is seeking the UCP nomination. She is a political science student at MacEwan University and her website biography describes her as having “done major research projects highlighting the fragility of leftist academia in the context of Canadian issues such as state-led Indigenous resurgence policies, child welfare and identity politics.” She was previously seeking the federal Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Centre but withdrew from that race after past candidate James Cumming announced his candidacy.
Edmonton-Glenora – Former PC MLA Steve Young is seeking the UCP nomination. Young represented the Edmonton-Riverview district from 2012 to 2015, before he was defeated by New Democrat Lori Sigurdson. Glenora is the neighbouring district to Riverview.
Edmonton-Manning – MLA Heather Sweet was nominated as the NDP candidate in this northeast Edmonton district. Sweet was first elected in 2015 with 71 percent of the vote.
If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at email@example.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!
I had fun talking about Alberta politics, Prab Gill’s departure from the UCP and other election candidate nomination news with Ryan Jespersen and Tom Vernon this morning on 630 CHED.
Cardston-Siksika: Little Bow UCP MLA Dave Schneider told the Vauxhall Advance that he will seek re-election as the UCP candidate in the new Cardston-Siksika district. Schneider recently apologized for a statement in which he said ‘these people don’t traditionally vote‘ in reference to his Indigenous constituents. The new district includes the Siksika Nation, the Blood Tribe and the Pikani Nation, which have a combined population of more than 20,000.
The redistribution of electoral boundaries in southern Alberta could lead to incumbent UCP MLAs facing off in nomination contests. Current Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter, whose official residence is listed as Cardston, could also seek re-election in this new district.
Central Peace-Notley: UCP MLA Todd Loewen is seeking re-election in this sprawling redrawn northwestern Alberta district. Loewen was first elected in 2015 as the Wildrose MLA for Grande Prairie-Smoky. Energy Minister and NDP MLA Marg McCuaig-Boyd currently represents the Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley district and would presumably run in the same district if she seeks re-election.
Edmonton-Whitemud: According to Elections Alberta, Tunde Obasan has withdrawn his intention to seek the UCP nomination.
If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will add them to the list.
Schweitzer goes for federal nomination instead?
According to a report by Postmedia’s James Wood, past UCP leadership candidate and Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer could forgo running in the 2019 provincial election in favour of running for the federal Conservatives in Calgary-Centre in the 2019 federal election. Also considering bids for the Conservative nomination in that district are Dustin Franks and Rick Billington.
Photo: Alberta Party leader Greg Clark on the campaign trail in Calgary-Elbow in 2014. Source: Twitter.
In the latest shakeup in Alberta politics, Greg Clark announced last Friday that he would resign as leader of the Alberta Party at the party’s upcoming annual general meeting on November 18, 2017. Clark has served as party leader since 2013 and became the party’s first elected MLA in 2015 when he unseated Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Gordon Dirks in Calgary-Elbow.
With the floor-crossing of former New Democratic Party MLA Karen McPherson earlier this month, Clark had succeeded in helping double his party’s caucus. But despite generating an impressive share of media attention, Clark has been unable to raise the amounts of money the Alberta Party would need to be competitive in the next election. And even though there has been increased interest in the party’s membership since the PC Party became defunct under Jason Kenney’s leadership, the Alberta Party has not seen growth in the public opinion polls.
With the increasing influence of the Alberta Together political action committee, formed by former PC Party officials including Stephen Mandel, rumours had been circulating for months that Clark’s leadership could come to an end before the party’s annual meeting.
Now it appears the party is a new home for moderate Tories unhappy with the hard right-ward turn of the UCP under Kenney’s leadership.
As I wrote in June 2017, the Alberta Party is a blank slate with a great name, but whether or not this latest group to wander over will translate that name into electoral success is yet to be determined.
According to the Globe & Mail, the party could lean on the Alberta Together PAC for fundraising support to help offset the costs of the leadership race. This is concerning because PACs like Alberta Together fall outside of the province’s Election Finances and. Contributions Disclosure Act, which raises legitimate concerns about transparency and accountability of political fundraising and spending.
With less than 15 months until a potential election call, the urgency surrounding the leadership and the role of Alberta Together could be a reaction to signals from Premier Rachel Notley that the NDP government plans to tighten rules governing PACs before the next election.
Now that Clark has made his announcement, it is unclear if he or the Alberta Together group have a chosen candidate waiting in the wings to run for the party leadership.
McPherson has said she does not intend to run and neither does Alberta Together CEO Katherine O’Neill. It is also unclear whether Clark will re-contest the leadership he is about to resign from.
Had Clark resigned four months ago, it might not be surprising to see municipal politicians like Nenshi, Edmonton mayor Don Iveson and Grande Prairie mayor Bill Given consider throwing their name in the race. But with the municipal elections having only been held on October 16, it would be difficult politically for any current municipal mayor or councillor to justify running for the leadership.
Popular 630CHED radio host Ryan Jespersen is a compelling name on the list of rumoured leadership candidates named by Postmedia columnist Don Braid. Jespersen is well-known in Edmonton and northern Alberta, well-spoken on a wide-range of issues and is not a former PC MLA – which would be an asset if he did decide to run. (He would not be the first of his family to enter Alberta politics. His great-uncle, Ralph Jespersen, served as the Social Credit MLA for Stony Plain from 1967 to 1971).
As some conservatives will meet under Preston Manning’s banner at Red Deer College, former PC supporters and the Alberta Together group will meet across town at the Radisson Hotel to consolidate their position inside the Alberta Party. A dozen notable former PC officials are running to fill the 12 positions on the party’s board of directors:
Sumita Anand served as the PC Party’s west Calgary regional director until she resigned on May 24, 2017. She had served as president of the PC association in Calgary-Foothills during and immediately following Jim Prentice’s tenure as party leader.
Denise Brunner served as the PC Party’s vice president organization. She stepped down in January 2017 after being accused of bias by Kenney’s supporters during the PC leadership race. According to Elections Alberta financial disclosures, she was Chief Financial Officer for the Edmonton-Castle Downs PC association in 2006 and currently serves as the president of Alberta Party association in Edmonton-Castle Downs.
Cole Harbin served as Executive Vice President of the PC Youth of Alberta until 2016 and as a Vice President of the PC constituency association in Lethbridge-West until 2017. He previously worked as a constituency assistant for former MLAs Doug Griffiths and former Lethbridge-West PC MLA Greg Weadick.
Jackie Clayton was recently re-elected to serve a second term on Grande Prairie City Council and is the former Peace Country regional director for the PC Party.
Shawn Pickett served as president of the PC association in Red Deer-North and Central North regional director until resigning in July 2017, referring to Kenney’s leadership bid as a “hostile takeover” of the PC Party.
Stephanie Shostak is the former north Edmonton regional director for the PC Party. Shostak now serves as the president of the Alberta Party association in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview.
Patty Wickstrom served as the PC Party’s Board Secretary until she resigned in July 2017. According to Elections Alberta financial disclosures, she previously served as president of the PC association in Calgary-Currie from 2008 to 2010.
Mr. Kenney recently purchased a membership in the PC Party, despite being widely seen as a supporter and ideological ally of the Official Opposition Wildrose Party, currently led by former MP Brian Jean.
Perhaps anticipating a threat of takeover, the PC Party recently abandoned its one-member one-vote system of choosing its leader in favour of a closed-delegate system, which forces candidates to campaign and organize in all 87 constituencies across the province.
It is unclear whether Mr. Kenney would resign as the MP for Calgary-Midnapore immediately or if he would keep one foot in federal politics until he secures a leadership position in a provincial party. Under provincial elections law, he does not need to resign his federal seat until he is a registered candidate in a provincial election.
Because of his track-record as a social conservative and Wildrose supporter, Mr. Kenney might not find a great deal of support among existing PC Party members, including the 1,001 who attended the party’s annual general meeting earlier this year. But two unite-the-right groups could provide him with a base with which to organize his PC leadership bid.
The two groups are part of a burgeoning cottage industry of anti-NDP groups, including the infamous and less polished Kudatah, that have popped up since the May 2015 election. Both the Wildrose and PC Parties have publicly rejected their overtures.
Alberta’s elections laws bar political parties from merging financial assets, meaning any actual merger between conservative parties is highly unlikely. Making things more complicated was the formation of a sixth conservative party last month – the Reform Party of Alberta. It may be a more likely scenario that a PC Party led by Mr. Kenney would apply to Elections Alberta to change its name to the Conservative Party of Alberta and urge Wildrose MLAs to run under its banner in the 2019 general election.
Cast into the opposition for the first time in 44 years, Conservatives in Alberta will need to define what their vision is for the future of our province. After decades of fiscal mismanagement, much of Alberta’s current economic situation is a result of decisions made by PC Party governments. Conservatives cannot simply expect that Albertans will forgive, forget and restore the natural governing party in 2019. Those days are gone.
Aside from his politically charged rhetoric about “free enterprise” and the bogeyman ‘bohemian Marxism‘ it remains completely unclear what Mr. Kenney’s vision for Alberta would be, besides just returning Conservatives to power. I expect we will find out more in the next few days.
These two major election defeats shattered many common beliefs about politics in Alberta and Canada. In both cases, Conservative parties were defeated by parties promising moderate progressive platforms that included tax increases and significant increases to public infrastructure investment and explicit commitments to run deficit budgets, for at least the short-term period in the case of the NDP. In Alberta, both the PC Party and NDP promised various tax increases.
On the final Sunday of the federal election campaign, Mr. Trudeau spoke to an energetic crowd of more than 2,000 supporters in the Edmonton-Mill Woods riding, home of now elected Liberal MP Amarjeet Sohi. During his speech, he explained to the crowd that if the Liberals were elected on Oct. 19, that they would raise taxes by asking Canada’s wealthiest income earners “to pay just a little bit more.”
If these words sounded familiar to anyone in the crowd, it’s because they might have heard Ms. Notley deliver nearly the exact same message five months earlier when speaking to similarly energized crowds during the provincial election. And they in both cases, the message resonated with the crowd, and on election day with voters.
These tax increases and other changes brought in by the NDP have not been without their critics, some more vocal and violent than others. But perhaps the biggest irony of these criticisms is that even with the tax increases brought in by Ms. Notley’s NDP, corporate and small business tax rates are still lower than they were when Mr. Day served in Premier Ralph Klein‘s cabinet.
While taxes might not have been the only issue that drove voters to the polls, it didn’t drive them away. These two elections have shattered the myth cultivated by conservative politicians, newspaper columnists, think tanks and lobby groups for decades that promising to increase taxes is political kryptonite.
As Rachel Notley proved on May 5 and Justin Trudeau showed on Oct. 19, voters in 2015 are willing to reward political leaders who present smart, sensible and responsible plans for increased taxation and government revenue.
On February 21, Rus Matichukcelebrated his victory over former city councillor Neil Korotash and government spokesperson Kathleen Range in the Progressive Conservative nomination contest in Spruce Grove-St. Albert. But yesterday, the PC Party announced that due to “errors” in the voting process a second vote will need to be held on March 14, 2015.
“It has been found that 4 ballots were cast by individuals ineligible to vote. The riding has been directed by PC Alberta to have this vote redone as the votes for the candidates was very close,” PC nominations committee chairperson Carol Stewart told the St. Albert Leader.
Calgary-Klein: Noel Keough, professor in the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary, is running for the Green Party.
Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill: Ako Ufodike, PhD Management student in Accounting at the University of Calgary, is challenging MLA Neil Brown for the PC nomination.
Calgary-Varsity: University of Calgary Students’ Union Vice-President Academic Hana Kadri has announced plans to seek the PC nomination. Also rumoured to be eyeing the PC nomination is Sam Shaw, former President of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton and current vice-president of the right-wing Manning Centre.
Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley: Former Member of Parliament Albert Cooper, school principal Nigel McCarthy, Donnelly-area farmer Rhonda Clarke-Gauthier, and Edmonton-base lawyer Gordon Andreiuk have entered the PC nomination contest to replace retiring MLA Hector Goudreau. Mr. Cooper, who served as the PC MP for Peace River from 1980 to 1993, was previously seeking the federal Conservative nomination in the new Peace River-Westlock constituency, but has now switched his focus to provincial politics.
Edmonton Beverly-Clareview: Articling law student Harman Kandola is seeking the PC nomination. Mr. Kandola is also the Executive Director of the Punjabi Sports Association Summer Soccer Camps.
Edmonton-Castle Downs: Nicole Goehring was acclaimed as the New Democratic Party candidate in this northwest Edmonton constituency.
Edmonton-Meadowlark: Former school trustee Debbie Cavaliere will face Dan Bildhauer in the Liberal Party’s March 3 nomination contest. Mr. Bildhauer is also seeking the federal Liberal nomination in Edmonton-West. Businessman Tom Choucair has joined the PC nomination contest. Mr. Choucair unsuccessfully sought the PC nomination in Edmonton-Riverview before the 2012 election.
Edmonton-Mill Creek: Liberal organizer Harpreet Gill is seeking the Liberal nomination. Mr. Gill is the co-founder of the Asianvision news magazine and sits on the boards of the provincial and federal Liberal Parties in Alberta.
I have added these updates to the list of nominees and nomination candidates planning to run in Alberta’s next general election. Please email david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com if there are additions to the list. Thank you.