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Alberta Politics

What lies ahead for Alberta’s political parties in 2021

With 2020 on its way out here is quick look at what might await Alberta’s political parties in 2021:

United Conservative Party: The UCP will continue pushing through a legislative agenda and ideological project that includes mass privatization of public services and public land, and big job losses for public sector workers.

Jason Kenney (source: Flickr)
Jason Kenney (source: Flickr)

The UCP’s inability to pivot off its agenda has been demonstrated clearly during the COVID-19 pandemic as Health Minister Tyler Shandro continued his fight against Alberta doctors, planned layoffs of thousands of nurses and health care workers, and schemed to privatize large swaths of the public health care system.

Kenney’s inconsistent approach to the pandemic has likely alienated him from both Albertans who would like to see more serious public health measures taken and those who think being required to wear a face-mask in public spaces is too far.

A federal election in 2021 might distract Albertans from the UCP’s mismanaging of the COVID-19 pandemic, so expect the UCP to ramp up attacks on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberals. Increasing attacks of the federal government and next year’s promised referendum on equalization and Senate nominee election could also serve as a distraction from poor economic growth and the cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline permit by incoming United States President Joe Biden.

Kenney’s approval ratings took a big hit in 2020 and the UCP has dropped considerably in the polls since 2019. If their leader looks like he has become a liability for re-election in 2023 then expect a change at the top. Conservative parties in Alberta are ruthless with leaders who stop looking like winners, just ask Don Getty, Ralph Klein, Ed Stelmach and Alison Redford.

The good news for Kenney is that he is only two years into his government’s four year term in office which leaves him with some time to turn around his political fortunes. But the clock is ticking and the tire-kickers could soon be kicking.

Alberta NDP: It is not often that political leaders in Canada are given a second chance, but despite losing the 2019 election Rachel Notley remains in firm control of her New Democratic Party.

Rachel Notley (source: Facebook)

Notley’s moderate NDP is leading or tied with the UCP is three of the four recent voter intention polls released during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and has maintained competitive fundraising levels, but the next election is still more than two years away.

The potential for strikes by public sector workers in 2021 could test the NDP’s political coalition. The NDP’s opponents will inevitably try to use any major labour disputes as a wedge between the party’s union activist wing and its more moderate and centrist supporters.

The key to an NDP victory in 2023 will be a breakthrough in Calgary, smaller urban centres like Lethbridge and Red Deer, and a small handful of suburban and rural ridings scattered across Alberta. The NDP swept those regions in 2015 and Notley has already signalled through her constant visits and social media posts that her focus in 2021 will be Calgary, Calgary, and more Calgary.

Alberta Party: Finding a new permanent leader should be the top focus of this tiny moderate conservative party. The Alberta Party has become home to a small group of disenchanted former Progressive Conservatives unhappy the combative tone and social conservative politics of the UCP. The party lost all its seats in 2019 but continues to poll around 10 per cent support in most surveys. In a two-party political environment, the Alberta Party needs to give Albertans a reason to vote for it that is beyond just not being the UCP or NDP.

Alberta Liberal Party: The Liberals not only need to find a new leader, they need to find a reason to exist. After forming Official Opposition for 19 years, the Liberal vote collapsed in 2012, saw almost all of its supporters migrate to Notley’s NDP in 2015 and lost its only seat in the Assembly in 2019. With the NDP now comfortably occupying the space held by the Liberals in the 1990s and 2000s, the Liberals need a raison d’être in Alberta.

Green Party: Yes, Alberta has a Green Party. The Greens have been issuing a steady stream of press statements that plant the party firmly to the left of the moderate NDP on climate change, the environment and pipelines. It seems unlikely that the party will make any electoral breakthroughs in the near future, but they could put pressure on the NDP to remember that it still has a progressive wing.

Wildrose Independence Party: Also looking for a new leader in 2021, the child of a merger between the Freedom Conservative Party and the Wexit group in 2020 is now led by former Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman.

Drew Barnes Wildrose MLA Cypress Medicine Hat
Drew Barnes

While separatist sentiment appears to be waining the further time passes from the last federal election, Hinman has clamped on to the anti-mask and anti-COVID restrictions groups as his focus, appearing at demonstrations in the two cities.

A number of UCP MLAs have expressed similar views, leading some political watchers to believe that one UCP MLA in particular – Drew Barnes – could be auditioning for Hinman’s job if his public comments become too much for the UCP.

The other fringe separatist parties: The Alberta Advantage Party and Independence Party of Alberta are also looking for new leaders. Advantage Party leader Marilyn Burns, a former Wildrose supporter, resigned in the fall amid a leadership challenge and has announced plans to run for the position again. Former Wildrose constituency president Lenard Biscope is now interim leader.

Communist Party of Alberta: Carry on, Comrades.

Thoughts? What do you think awaits Alberta’s political parties in 2021?

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Alberta Politics

Pick a lane, Joe! Anglin now running for Alberta Party in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre

Former Green Party leader, Wildrose Party MLA, Independent MLA, and Progressive Conservative nomination candidate Joe Anglin has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate inRimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre months after he publicly mused about running for Derek Fildebrandt’s populist Freedom Conservative Party.

A relentless and fearless advocate with a reputation for being a lone-wolf, Anglin is one of the more colourful characters to have graced Alberta politics over the past decade.

Anglin was elected as MLA Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre in the 2012 election and first served as a Wildrose Party MLA and then as an Independent MLA until his defeat in the 2015 election.

Danielle Smith Joe Anglin Wildrose MLA Election Alberta 2012
Wildrose leader Danielle Smith with Joe Angiln during the 2012 Alberta Election.

Anglin lost the Wildrose Party nomination to Jason Nixon in 2014 and left the Wildrose Caucus shortly afterward. He attempted to mount a campaign for the PC Party nomination in the district in early 2015 but was denied entry into the race. He then ran as an Independent and earned 11.3 per cent of the vote in the 2015 election.

With service in the United States Marine Corps, the Canadian Coast Guard, and a New Hampshire police service under this belt, Anglin burst on to the political stage in the mid-2000s, leading the Lavesta Area Group in a landowners revolt against the construction of giant electrical transmission lines through rural central Alberta and soon after took over the leadership of the Alberta Greens. He earned the best result ever for a provincial Green candidate in Alberta in 2008, when he earned 22 per cent of the vote in Lacombe-Ponoka.

Jason Nixon Wildrose Rocky Mountain House Rimbey Sundre
Jason Nixon

He left the Greens soon after the election as the party dissolved. He won a seat on Rimbey Town Council and was rumoured to be considering numerous political options, including a potential jump to the then-renewed Alberta Party, but ended up joining the Wildrose Party instead.

Anglin has been on a legal crusade over the past few years as he pursued lawsuits against Alberta’s Chief Electoral Officer and Elections Alberta, alleging abuse of process and challenging financial penalties. Most recently, he asked the RCMP to investigate Nixon for alleged obstruction of justice.

His nomination as a candidate for the Alberta Party is a surprising because of his previous statements about the Freedom Conservative Party, but not surprising because of his history of party-hopping. His return to the world of electoral politics will undoubtably bring a level of entertainment value that will make this race worth watching in the upcoming election.

Anglin will face Alberta Advantage Party candidate Paula Lamoureux, Green Party candidate Jane Drummond, New Democratic Party candidate Jeff Ible and United Conservative Party candidate Jason Nixon.


Non-Joe Anglin related nomination news

  • The NDP have nominated Melissa Langmaid in Chestermere-Strathmore. And Kyle Johnston is seeking the NDP nomination in Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills. Johnston is the former president of the Red Deer & District Labour Council and a member of United Steel Workers Local 1944 Unit 205.
  • The Alberta Party has nominated Vincent Rain in Lesser Slave Lake.
  • The Liberal Party has nominated Steve Cochan as its candidate in Edmonton-Gold Bar and Ryan Campbell in Calgary-Varsity.
  • The Green Party has nominated Stuart Andrews as its candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona.
  • Alberta Advantage Party leader Marilyn Burns will run as a candidate in Edmonton-South West.
  • The Freedom Conservative Party has nominated Regina Shakirova in Calgary-Bow and Wesley Caldwell in Camrose.
  • Eight more candidates affiliated with the Alberta Independence Party have filed their papers to run as Independent candidates:: Buster Malcolm in Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock, Thomas Manasek in Calgary-Fish Creek, Richard Fontaine in Calgary-South East, Christopher McAndrews in Calgary-Varsity, Terris Kolybaba in Edmonton-Manning, Dallas Price in Edmonton-Mill Woods, Dan Irving in Highwood, John McCanna in Lethbridge-East, and Vern Sparks in Livingstone-Macleod.

If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!


Six members of the Livingstone-Macleod UCP Constituency Association Board of Directors have walked away from the Board and the Party in recent days.

According to a report by High River Online:

“Board President Maureen Moncrieff says, for her, this has been coming for a while.

“I have not been happy with the UCP Party as a whole. I don’t like the fact that it’s supposed to be “grass roots guaranteed” and that flew out the window a month after it was told.”

She says she’s been growing disillusioned with the Party, and in particular Leader Jason Kenney, who she says promised a grass roots party, but has shown it to be anything but.

“It’s too top down, It’s not what I expected it to be. I came from the Wildrose side and it was all about being grass roots. And I’m really disappointed that there is no grass roots in the UCP Party.”

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Alberta Politics

Alberta Election Update on International Women’s Day

Photo: Women in Alberta Politics: Shannon Phillips, Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes, Rachel Notley, Leela Aheer, and Sarah Hoffman.

In honour of International Women’s Day, today’s candidate update focuses specifically on the total number of women nominated to run for Alberta’s political parties in the upcoming provincial election. Women make up the majority of our population, but they rarely come even close to being the majority in electoral politics.

The only woman leading a major political party in Alberta is Premier Rachel Notley of the New Democratic Party. Notley is also currently the longest serving woman in the Assembly, having been first elected as the MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona in 2008, and re-elected in 2012 and 2015. The second longest serving woman MLA currently in the Legislature is Sandra Jansen, who was elected as MLA for Calgary-North West in 2012.

Green Party leader Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes is the first Indigenous woman to lead a political party in Alberta. She has been nominated as her party’s candidate in Calgary-Varsity.

Marilyn Burns leads the Alberta Advantage Party.

And Naomi Rankin has the distinction of being both the first and longest serving woman leader of a registered political party in Alberta. Rankin has led the Communist Party of Alberta since 1992.

There are currently 29 MLAs who identify as women serving in the Alberta Legislature (33%), up from the previous record of 23 women MLAs (27%) in 1998. Forty-eight per cent of NDP MLAs elected in 2015 were women, and, in 2016, the majority of Alberta cabinet ministers were women.

With the next election expected to be called in the next few weeks, Alberta’s political parties are still in the process of nominating candidates. Here is a look at how many women have been nominated so far:

The NDP has nominated the most women candidates of the political parties contesting the 2019 election with 42 women (53%) out of 79 candidates already nominated to stand in the upcoming election. In 2015, the NDP nominated 45 women (51%) in their slate of 87 candidates.

The United Conservative Party has nominated 27 women (32%) out of the 83 candidates already nominated to run in the next election as of today. The UCP’s predecessor parties, the Progressive Conservative Party nominated 21 women candidates (24%) and the Wildrose Party nominated 16 women candidates (18%) in 2015.

The Alberta Party has nominated 22 women (30%) in their slate of 71 candidates nominated as of today. And the Liberal Party, with 26 candidates currently nominated, has nominated 10 women candidates (38%). Eight of the 17 candidates currently nominated by the Green Party are women (47%).

The Freedom Conservative Party slate of 11 candidates includes no women, and the Alberta Advantage Party has nominated 1 woman candidate out of 9 nominated candidates as of today.

Number of women candidates by party in the previous 3 elections

2019 election (as of March 8, 2019)
NDP: 42 of 79 – 53%
Green Party: 8 of 17 – 47%
Liberal: 10 of 26 – 38%
UCP: 27 of 83 – 32%
Alberta Party: 22 of 71 – 30%
Alberta Advantage Party: 1 of 9 – 11%
Freedom Conservative: 0 of 11 – 0%

2015 election
NDP: 45 of 87 – 51%
Alberta Party: 9 of 36 – 25%
PC: 21 of 87 – 24%
Liberal: 11 of 56 – 19%
Wildrose: 16 of 86 – 18%

2012 election
NDP: 40 of 87 – 45%
Alberta Party: 6 of 21 – 28%
PC: 22 of 87 – 25%
Liberal: 18 of 87 – 20%
Wildrose: 11 of 87 – 12%

2008 election
NDP: 38 of 83 – 45%
Liberal: 22 of 82 – 26%
PC: 17 of 83 – 20%
Wildrose: 6 of 61 – 9%

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Alberta Politics

NDP nominate 7 new candidates, Jordan Stein defeats MLA Anam Kazim in Calgary-Glenmore

Photo: Jordan Stein (pictured) defeated MLA Anam Kazim to secure the NDP nomination in Calgary-Glenmore. (photo source: @Jordan.Stein.Alberta on Instagram)

We are in the zone. As of February 1, 2019, Albertans are now living in the campaign period where an election can be called any day until May 31, 2019.

The New Democratic Party had a big nomination weekend, selecting candidates in 7 districts across the province. With candidates nominated in 52 districts, the NDP are now 35 candidates away from a full-slate in all 87 districts.

Anam Kazim NDP MLA Calgary Glenmore
Anam Kazim

In the southwest district of Calgary-GlenmoreJordan Stein defeated MLA Anam Kazim to win the NDP nomination. Stein is a former coffee shop owner, flight attendant with WestJet and employee engagement consultant with Air North.

Kazim was first elected in 2015 with a 6-vote margin of victory over Progressive Conservative MLA Linda Johnson. Kazim was one of 9 NDP candidates under the age of 30 to be elected in 2015.

Kazim is the second incumbent NDP MLA to lose a candidate nomination contest in this election cycle. MLA Marie Renaud defeated MLA Trevor Horne to secure the NDP nomination in St. Albert in December 2018.

Stein will face United Conservative Party candidate Whitney Issik, Alberta Party candidate Scott Appleby, and Green Party candidate Allie Tulick when the election is called.

Here are the six other NDP nominations that have been held over the past few days:

Airdrie-Cochrane: Steven Durrell was chosen as the party’s candidate in Airdrie-Cochrane. Durrell is a Telus dispatcher and trustee for the Telus Corporation pension plan. He has been a shop steward for the United Steelworkers. He was a target of UCP leader Jason Kenney this past weekend, as the conservative leader mocked Durrell for being a 19-year old. Durrell is a 29-year-old father of three.

Steven Durrell Airdrie Cochrane NDP election alberta
Steven Durrell

This new district north of Calgary includes areas currently part of the Airdrie, Banff-Cochrane, and Chestermere-Rockyview districts.

Calgary-Beddington: Amanda Chapman is a communications consultant and former communications coordinator with AIDS Awareness Calgary.

Calgary-Edgemont:  Julia Hayter was a constituency assistant to recently resigned Calgary-Varsity MLA Stephanie McLean. She was seeking the NDP nomination in McLean’s former district until Anne McGrath entered the contest and was chosen as her party’s candidate.

Calgary-Foothills: Sameena Arif is active with the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association. A teacher who immigrated from Pakistan to Canada with her family in 2004, Arif’s story was highlighted in an article on one of the Government of Alberta’s official websites in 2012.

Calgary-Hays: Tory Tomblin is a primary care paramedic with Alberta Health Services and was a candidate for the Calgary Board of Education in Wards 12 & 14 in the 2017 election.

Julia Hayter NDP candidate Calgary Edgemont Alberta
Julia Hayter

Camrose: Morgan Bamford is the Acting Supervisor of Indigenous Relations with the City of Edmonton and is the co-founder of Bamford & Henbest Research and Consulting Partners Ltd. He is vice-president of the board of directors of Volunteer Alberta.

The NDP have scheduled candidate selection meetings in Calgary-North on February 4, 2019, in Edmonton-Whitemud on February 7, 2019, and in Calgary-West, Cypress-Medicine Hat, and Edmonton-South West on February 9, 2019.

The contested NDP nomination race between Melissa Byers and Todd Russell in Grande Prairie was initially scheduled to take place on February 3, 2019 but has been rescheduled to February 19, 2019. 

Alberta Advantage Party

The Wildrose Party-offshoot Alberta Advantage Party has nominated former Wolf Creek School Division trustee Paula Lamoureux as its candidate in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre. This is considered one of the most conservative voting areas in Alberta and is currently represented by UCP MLA Jason Nixon

Marilyn Burns, the leader of the small right-wing party, will be holding a series of town hall meetings in Pincher Creek, Brooks, and Calgary in February 2019.

Freedom Conservative Party

Rick Northey Airdrie East Freedom Conservative Party election alberta
Rick Northey

Rick Northey has been nominated as the Freedom Conservative Party candidate in Airdrie-EastNorthey is the former president of the Airdrie UCP and Wildrose Party associations. He resigned from that UCP board in June 2018, saying he was unhappy with what he maintained was a secretive cash transfer of $16,000 from the local Wildrose Party association to the Alberta Fund political action committee in late 2017. Nothey accused UCP MLA Angela Pitt of “outright intimidation” in trying to get him to stop asking questions about it. He will now face Pitt in the provincial election.

Valerie Keefe has withdrawn plans to seek the FCP nomination in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood.

The FCP has opened nomination contests in Airdrie-Cochrane, Calgary-North West, Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, and Leduc-Beaumont.

If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!

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Alberta Politics

Stephen Mandel wins Alberta Party leadership. Alberta Advantage Party acclaims Marilyn Burns as leader.

Former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel, 72, is the new leader of the Alberta Party.

Kara Levis Alberta Party
Kara Levis

Mandel was elected on the first ballot with 66 percent of the vote, defeating Calgary lawyer Kara Levis, who placed second with 18 percent, and Calgary-South East MLA Rick Fraser, who placed third with 16 percent. 4,613 of the party’s 6,443 members participated in the vote.

Mandel served as mayor of Edmonton from 2004 to 2013 and as a city councillor from 2001 to 2004. He represented the Edmonton-Whitemud district as a Progressive Conservative MLA from 2014 to 2015 and was Minister of Health until his defeat in 2015 to New Democrat Dr. Bob Turner.

He has said he will run in the next election in the Edmonton-McClung district, currently represented by New Democratic Party MLA Lorne Dach.

The Alberta Party currently has three Calgary MLAs in the 87 MLA Legislative Assembly. It is widely rumoured that lone-PC MLA Richard Starke could cross the floor to join the Alberta Party caucus this spring. Starke was endorsed by Mandel in last year’s PC Party leadership race.

While the Alberta Party has framed itself as a “centrist” alternative to the two main political parties in the province – the NDP and the UCP – the party’s policies reveal it to be a conservative party in a similar vein as the old PC Party.

Alberta Advantage Party acclaims leader

Marilyn Burns Alberta Advantage Party
Marilyn Burns

Meanwhile, much further to the fringe populist right, Edmonton lawyer Marilyn Burns has been acclaimed as leader of the anti-UCP Alberta Advantage Party.

A co-founder of the Wildrose Party and vocal critic of the UCP, Burns was the only candidate in the race. She was a candidate for the leadership of the Alberta Alliance Party in 2005 and was a candidate for that party in Stony Plain in the 2004 election.

The party is in the process of registering but is not yet recognized as an official party by Elections Alberta.

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Alberta Politics

Derek Fildebrandt and Don MacIntyre out of the UCP caucus. Alberta Advantage Party picks a new leader on Feb. 24, 2018.

Photo: Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt in happier days as he joined Jason Kenney on the eve of his victory in the 2017 PC Party leadership race. (Photo credit: @pcyouthalberta on Twitter)

Derek Fildebrandt is out of the United Conservative Party Caucus for good, according to a statement issued by party leader Jason Kenney last week.

Leela Aheer Wildrose MLA Chestermere Rockyview
Leela Aheer

Fildebrandt pleaded guilty in a Didsbury court house last week to illegally shooting a deer on private property and he was fined $3,000.

The former official opposition finance critic was a rising star in Conservative partisan circles until his political career crashed in August 2017 when he was forced to leave the UCP Caucus after a series of embarrassing scandals.

Fildebrandt arrived in Alberta in 2012 to work as a Canadian Taxpayers Federation spokesperson and he was elected to the Legislative Assembly as the Wildrose Party MLA for Strathmore-Brooks in 2015.

As an Independent MLA for Strathmore-Brooks, Fildebrandt now must decide what is next for his political career. A significant redistribution of the electoral boundaries divides his current district into the new Brooks-Medicine Hat, Chestermere-Strathmore and Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills districts.

If he had been allow to rejoin the UCP caucus, he would have faced an uphill battle to win the nomination against popular incumbent Leela Aheer, who currently represents Chestermere-Rockyview and has declared her intentions to seek the UCP nomination in Chesteremere-Strathmore. Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills is currently represented by UCP MLA Nathan Cooper, who is also expected to seek re-election.

Don MacIntyre MLA
Don MacIntyre

Also departing the UCP caucus last Friday afternoon was Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Don MacIntyre, who announced on Twitter that he was “Resigning from politics today to focus on our family.” Mainstream media outlets published a flurry of reports explaining the reason for the MLA’s unexpected departure soon after his announcement, but those stories were quickly removed.

I expect we will learn more about the nature of MacIntyre’s departure soon.

It was also unclear whether MacIntyre, a member of his party’s Rural Crime Task Force and one of his caucus’ fiercest climate change deniers, has just resigned from the UCP Caucus or whether he has also resigned as the MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake. If he has resigned as MLA, a by-election would required to be called in this heavily conservative voting rural central Alberta district by August 2018.

Penhold town councillor and local constituency association co-president Mike Walsh has already registered his intentions to seek the Innisfail-Sylvan Lake UCP nomination for the expected 2019 general election.


Alberta Advantage Party leadership vote on Feb. 24, 2018

Marilyn Burns Alberta Advantage Party
Marilyn Burns

They are not even officially registered as a political party, but members of the group calling themselves the Alberta Advantage Party are electing their first permanent leader on Feb. 24, 2018.

Information on the party’s website is vague, but posts on their Facebook page suggest that Marilyn Burns, a co-founder of the Wildrose Party and critic of the UCP, is the only candidate in the race. Burns was a candidate for the leadership of the Alberta Alliance Party in 2005 and was a candidate for that party in Stony Plain in the 2004 election.

Gil Poitras, who served as Chief Financial Officer for the Alberta Party in 2013 and 2014, has been serving as interim leader of the Alberta Advantage Party.

(hat tip to @edwinmundt for bringing this to my attention)