Brooks Mayor Barry Morishita has been acclaimed as leader of the Alberta Party.
“As a compassionate leader and experienced community builder, I believe that a new, fresh approach to politics is what Albertans need right now and that the Alberta Party is the vehicle to drive that positive change,” Morishita said in a press statement released by the party.
Morishita was first elected to Brooks City Council in 1998 and became Mayor of Brooks in 2016 after previous mayor Martin Shields was elected as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Bow River.
He was elected President of the Alberta Urban Municipality Association in 2017 and was a vocal critic of the United Conservative Party government’s overhaul of municipal election laws, going so far as to describe relations between municipalities and then-Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu as “broken.”
This is not his first foray into provincial politics. Like other leaders of the Alberta Party, Morishita’s past political experience was as a member of another political party.
He ran for Nancy MacBeth‘s Alberta Liberals in Strathmore-Brooks in 2001, placing second with 15.5 per cent of the vote behind Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Lyle Oberg. He had previously been active with the Liberal Party as a delegate to the convention that chose Laurence Decore as party leader in 1988.
He also made a $300 donation to the PC Party in Strathmore-Brooks in 2014.
The small moderate conseravtive political party broke through into the Legislature in 2015 when leader Greg Clark, who worked as a Liberal Caucus staffer in his youth, was elected in Calgary-Elbow. Despite growing its popular vote, the party was shut out of the Legislature in 2019 under the leadership of former Edmonton mayor and PC cabinet minister Stephen Mandel.
The Alberta Party has languished in obscurity since the 2019 election, with interim leader Jacquie Fenske, a former PC MLA from Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, holding the reins until a permanent leader was named.
According to a report from the Morinville News, former Morinville Mayor and past AUMA President Lisa Holmes and former Battle River-Wainwright PC MLA Doug Griffiths are part of Morishita’s transition team.
The challenges facing Morishita and his party are steep:
Make his party relevant. Rachel Notley‘s NDP have led in the polls since November 2020 and have a commanding lead in fundraising. It is going to be challenging for the Alberta Party to convince Albertans who want Jason Kenney out of the Premier’s Office that they are the credible alternative.
Winning a seat in the next election and getting his party back into the Legislature. Brooks-Medicine Hat will be the natural place for Morishita to run but it will be an uphill climb to win in the lopsidedly conservative voting district currently represented by UCP MLA Michaela Glasgo.There will also be a by-election held in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche in the next six months following the resignation of Laila Goodridge, who is running in the federal election.
The party announced on Twitter that it has nominated three incumbent MPs in Alberta:
Martin Shields in Bow River. Sheilds was first elected in 2015 and previously served as mayor of the City of Brooks.
Tom Kmiec in Calgary-Shepard. Kmiec was first elected in 2015 and has served as Chair of the National Conservative Caucus since September 2020.
Ron Liepert in Calgary-Signal Hill. Liepert was first elected to the House of Commons in 2015 after defeating six-term MP Rob Anders in the Conservative Party nomination contest. Liepert was the Progressive Conservative MLA for Calgary-West from 2004 to 2012 and served in cabinet as the minister of finance, health, education and energy.
Former leadership candidate Rick Peterson is running for the Conservative Party nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona. New Democrat MP Heather McPherson was elected in 2019 and is the only non-Conservative MP in the province. The riding was previously represented by NDP MP Linda Duncan, who was first elected in 2008.
Raised in Grande Prairie, Peterson studied at the University of Alberta in the 1970s and spent much of his career as a financial advisor and investor in British Columbia.
Peterson was briefly touted by party insiders in media reporters as a potential replacement for Stephen Harper after the federal Conservative Party’s disappointing results in the 2004 election campaign. He filed nomination papers to run for the federal Conservative nomination in Vancouver-Quadra in 2006 but withdrew in 2007, citing interference from the Prime Minister’s Office in the nomination process.
Peterson later ran for the BC Liberal Party nomination in Vancouver-Fairvew in 2008 and was later considered a potential candidate for Mayor of Vancouver in 2011 but withdrew from the Non-Partisan Association nomination contest before the election.
Peterson moved to Spruce Grove, Alberta after the leadership race in order to run for the Conservative Party nomination in Sturgeon River-Parkland following Rona Ambrose‘s retirement. His nomination bid was unsuccessful but he stayed in Alberta and founded the conservative advocacy group Suits and Boots.
He ran for the federal Conservative Party leadership again in 2019 but he withdrew his candidacy and endorsed Peter MacKay. And in 2020, he announced his plans to run for the Conservative Party nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona.
The date of the nomination contest in Edmonton-Strathcona has not yet been announced.
I am now tracking candidates running for federal party nominations in Alberta ahead of the next election. If you know any candidates that are not on the list, please leave a comment or email me at email@example.com. Thank you.
O’Leary will be joined by former Conservative MP Tim Uppal who will moderate the chat. Uppal represented the Edmonton-Sherwood Park riding from 2006 until 2015 when he switched ridings and was defeated by Liberal candidate Amarjeet Sohi in Edmonton-Mill Woods in October 2015.
O’Leary does not have the support of any sitting MPs from Alberta but has gained support from Uppal and former PC MLA Ken Hughes. O’Leary was widely mocked online last year after writing an open letter to Premier Rachel Notley pledging to invest $1 million to Alberta economy if she would resign (it is not known if the letter was sent by O’Leary from his home in Massachusetts).
Federal NDP skip Alberta in leadership debate schedule
Although we are still years away from the next round of municipal, provincial and federal elections in Alberta, a handful of provincial and municipal by-elections will be held in the first half of 2016.
Calgary-Greenway provincial by-election
The death of Progressive Conservative MLA Manmeet Bhullar on Nov. 23, 2015 means that a by-election will be held to choose the next MLA for the Calgary-Greenway constituency early this year. According to provincial elections laws, a by-election will need to take place before the end of May 2016.
This by-election will be the second held since the May 2015 provincial general election. The by-election will test whether the PCs have the ability and appeal to hold on to one of their nine remaining seats in the Legislative Assembly. Both the New Democratic Party and Wildrose Party will be looking to win this by-election as well in order to marginalize the PCs and add to their own caucus strength.
I have created a dedicated webpage to track the candidates running in Calgary-Greenway by-election.
The election of Martin Shields as the Conservative MP for Bow River on Oct. 19, 2015 has triggered a Jan. 18, 2016 by-election to fill the Mayor’s chair in the City of Brooks. Councillor Barry Morishita and lawyer Sarah Bisbee are running for mayor and seven candidates are running for the council seat made vacant by Mr. Morishita.
Speaking at a fundraiser during the mayoral election campaign, Ms. Leibovici is reported to have said that Edmonton “would grind to a halt” if voters did not choose her as mayor. Her mayoral bid was managed by prominent Progressive Conservative insiders Hal Danchilla and Catherine Keill.
Hotelier Kelly McCauley was acclaimed as the Conservative candidate in Edmonton-West, but not without controversy. During the nomination race, Edmonton-McClung PC MLA David Xiaowas disqualified from the contest by the Conservative Party National Council (Mr. Xiao was defeated in this month’s provincial election).
The federal NDP have not yet nominated a candidate but as a result of the May 5 provincial election NDP candidates were elected with large margins in the four constituencies that overlap the federal Edmonton-West riding. Those new NDP MLAs include Jon Carson in Edmonton-Meadowlark, Lorne Dach in Edmonton-McClung, Thomas Dang in Edmonton-South West, and Sarah Hoffman in Edmonton-Glenora.
If Ms. Leibovici does run in Edmonton-West, she will add to a growing trend of municipal politicians running for federal office in the October 2015 federal election. Three-term Edmonton city councillor Amarjeet Sohi is the nominated federal Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Mill Woods, former Edmonton councillor Kerry Diotte is the Conservative candidate in Edmonton-Griesbach, Hinton Town Councillor Ryan Maguhn is running for the Liberals in Yellowhead and City of Brooks Mayor Martin Shields is the Conservative candidate in Bow River.
I have made the following updates to the list of nominees and nomination candidates planning to run in Alberta’s next provincial election. Please email david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com if you have additions to the list. Thank you.
Calgary-Bow: Troy Millingtonannounced on Twitter that he will seek the Alberta Party nomination. Mr. Millington was the Alberta Party candidate in the 2014 Calgary-West by-election.
Calgary-Cross: Alyx Nanji has now declared his intentions to seek the PC nomination in this east Calgary constituency (he initially announced he would seek the PC nomination in Calgary-Bow). Mr. Nanji is a former staffer to PC MLA Ted Morton and recently completed a degree at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law. Also in Calgary-Cross, Ricardo Miranda will seek the New Democratic Party nomination scheduled for Feb. 21, 2015.
Calgary-Lougheed: Mihai Ion is seeking the NDP nomination scheduled for Feb 21, 2015.
Calgary-Shaw: Graham Sucha is seeking the NDP nomination scheduled for Feb 21, 2015.
Cardston-Taber-Warner: Municipal District of Taber Reeve Brian Brewinis challenging Wildrose-turned-PC MLA Gary Bikman for the PC nomination. Mr. Brewin was first elected to Taber municipal council in 1998 and has been endorsed by Brooks Mayor Martin Shields (nominated federal Conservative candidate in Bow River) and former PC MLA Bob Bogle.
Former MLA Paul Hinman is said to be considering a run for the Wildrose nomination. Mr. Hinman was the MLA for this constituency from 2004 to 2008 and Calgary-Glenmore from 2009 to 2012.
Strathmore-Brooks: Former Canadian Taxpayers Federation lobbyist Derek Fildebrandt announced this week that he will run for the Wildrose Party in this southern rural constituency. Last year, Mr. Fildebrandt was rumoured to be eyeing the Wildrose nomination in Calgary-Bow. The constituency is currently represented by MLA Jason Hale, a former Wildrose MLA who crossed the floor to the Progressive Conservatives in December 2014. Update: Update: The Brooks Bulletin reports that County of Newell Reeve Molly Douglass will challenge Mr. Hale for the PC nomination.
Whitecourt-Ste. Anne: Oniel Carlier is seeking the NDP nomination scheduled for Feb 27, 2015. Carlier is a Regional Representative at Public Service Alliance of Canada.
In my nearly ten years writing about politics in Alberta on this blog, 2014 was easily the most exciting. The sheer number of scandals, controversies, fumbles and resignations made for new content on a daily basis. If I had the time and resources, I could have easily written three or four posts a day for most of the year. As this year comes to an end, I took a look through this year’s posts and compiled a list of the top ten political moments in Alberta of 2014. Thank you for reading and enjoy the list.
10. Take a hike, Rob Anders
After 17 years as one of the most hyper-conservative politicians in Ottawa, Member of Parliament Rob Anders was finally shown the door by Conservative Party members. In April 2014, Mr. Anders lost a hotly contested Conservative Party nomination race in Calgary-Signal Hill to former Progressive Conservative MLA Ron Liepert. His second attempt at a nomination was in the rural riding of Bow River outside Calgary, where Mr. Anders was defeated by Brooks Mayor Martin Shields.
9. Auditor General on Climate Change A July 2014 report from Auditor General Merwan Saher found no evidence that the Department of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development properly monitored the performance of the PC Government’s climate change strategy, which was first implemented in 2008. The report uncovered serious problems with the province’s expensive Carbon Capture and Storage strategy. Mr. Saher’s report found that the total emissions reductions from the CCS program was expected to be less than 10% of what was originally anticipated. The Auditor General also reported that Alberta was unlikely to meet its 2020 targets to reduce carbon emissions.
5. Liberal near win in Fort McMurray-Athabasca
What should have been a sleepy federal by-election in the heart of Alberta’s Oil Belt turned into a race when Liberal Kyle Harrietha challenged Conservative David Yurdiga for the June 30, 2014 vote to replace retiring MP Brian Jean. Running an energetic campaign, Mr. Harrietha increased his party’s support from 10% in 2011 to 35.3%, placing less than 1,500 votes behind Mr. Yurdiga. The Liberal also defeated his Tory challenger in Fort McMurray, no small feat in the land of the oil sands. The two candidates will face off once again in the new Fort McMurray-Cold Lake riding when the next federal election is held in 2015.
4. The October mini-election Four by-elections on October 27, 2014 provided Albertans with a mini-election less than two months after Mr. Prentice became premier. Triggered by the resignations of former premiers Ms. Redford and Mr. Hancock and PC MLAs Ken Hughes and Len Webber, the votes allowed Mr. Prentice to win a seat in the Assembly along with PC candidates Stephen Mandel, Gordon Dirks and Mike Ellis. The opposition Wildrose had hoped to win at least two of the by-elections, but were upstaged by the NDP in Edmonton-Whitemud and an insurgent Alberta Party in Calgary-Elbow.
3. Jim Prentice becomes Premier
After a first-ballot victory in a lack-lustre and uninspiring leadership contest, Jim Prentice started his time in office with a bang. After being sworn-in, Mr. Prentice implemented a swift de-Redfordization agenda, with daily announcements undoing some of his predecessors more unpopular policies and decisions. Purging Redford era cabinet ministers, selling the government’s fleet of aircraft, keeping the Michener Centre open, backing down from controversial changes to public sector pension plans and cancelling the botched license plate redesign were all no-brainers, but they projected an image of the new premier as a competent chief executive in command. Arguably, Mr. Prentice’s only missteps in his first few months in office were his aborted Gay-Straight Alliances bill and the unease caused after he tactfully dismantled the Official Opposition (see #2 below). Despite his success in distancing himself from Ms. Redford, the main thrust of Mr. Prentice’s government – promoting pipelines and the oil sands abroad – remains the same as hers.
2. Wildrose floor crossings
For four years, PCs told Albertans not to trust those kooky and scary Wildrosers. At the same time, the Wildrosers told Albertans not to trust those crooked and corrupt PCs. But in November and December 2014, Mr. Prentice’s PC Caucus accepted 11 Wildrose MLAs into their ranks, including Official Opposition leader Danielle Smith. The caucus merger, which was either in negotiations for months or sparked by the Wildrose by-election loss (depending on which story you believe),was encouraged by Conservative Godfather Preston Manning (Mr. Manning later apologized for his role). The floor crossing gutted the Official Opposition, left with 5 MLAs and enraged Wildrose supporters, who started a “Recall Danielle” campaign in her Highwood constituency. Five-term Calgary MLA Heather Forsyth stepped in as interim leader until a permanent leader can be chosen in 2015.
1. The spectacular fall of Alison Redford
“Mistakes were made” were some of the last public words Albertans heard from premier Alison Redford before she resigned as MLA for Calgary-Elbow in August 2014. Albertans have never seen a political career crash and burn this badly. A $45,000 flight to South Africa, use of the government plane to return from Palm Springs, alleged fake passenger bookings to ensure her and her staff had the planes to themselves, a secretly constructed private penthouse known as the Skypalace, and long trips to exotic destinations overseas are just some of the allegations of misuse of power she faced prior to her resignation. Months after her resignation, the Auditor General reported the existence of an “aura of power around Premier Redford and her office.”
Alberta’s first woman premier started her time in office with great promise and many Albertans believed she signalled the beginning of a new, more progressive, era in our province. Ms. Redford quickly proved those believers wrong with deep funding cuts to colleges and universities and attacks on public sector workers and their collective bargaining rights.
But as all Albertans know, owning a pickup truck and holding offensive social conservative views are not mutually inclusive. So we all breathed a sign of relief when Mr. Anders was defeated in the Conservative’s Bow River nomination contest this weekend by Martin Shields, mayor of the City of Brooks.
Licking his wounds after a second defeat, what can we expect Mr. Anders do next? Without a political party to support him in the next election, what is Mr. Anders next move?
Here are a few of the options available to him:
1) Take a hint and take a hike: Mr. Anders should probably take a break from politics, but he probably will not. He might end up working as a commenter with Sun News talk show host Ezra Levant, as a political advisor for some right-wing lobby group, or as an advisor to another socially conservative MP in Ottawa.
By the time the next federal election is called in October 2015, Mr. Anders will have spent 18 of his 42 years on Earth as a Member of Parliament (he was first elected when he was 24 years old). He knows nothing but life in politics.
If I were the Conservative Party, I would sternly warn him that he would be severely unwelcome to run in another riding. If I were the opposition New Democrats or Liberals, I would encourage him to keep on running.
3) Run as an Independent or for another party. His own party has rejected him twice, so he could decide to mobilize his social conservative followers to inflict revenge and damage on a party that no longer wants him in Ottawa.
Mr. Anders would not likely win if he ran as an Independent, or even as another party’s candidate (perhaps, the Christian Heritage Party), but he could exert revenge by becoming a major nuisance for Mr. Liepert in Calgary-Signal Hill.
4) Go back to the USA. With the 2016 presidential elections around the corner, maybe Mr. Anders could pull out his old Pinocchio nose and start applying for jobs south of the border.
Three years before Mr. Anders was elected as the MP for Calgary-West, he worked as a political agitator for the Republican Party in the United States. In the video below, he demonstrates his political talents while trying to embarrass Oklahoma Democratic Party Senate candidate Dave McCurdy.
Premier Jim Prentice announced this week that five-term Conservative Member of Parliament Rob Merrifield would be appointed as Alberta’s representative in Washington D.C. Mr. Merrifield’s resignation from the House of Commons means that a federal by-election will need to be called in the Yellowhead riding by March 17, 2015. This would be the fourth federal by-election in Alberta since the 2011 general election.
Media have been banned from attending the forums of the Conservative nomination forums in the Bow River riding. This is no doubt to spare the Conservative Party of the embarrassment of having Mr. Anders on their ballot in that riding.
Last week, the Medicine Hat News reported an embarrassing exchange at a forum in that riding’s nomination contest which saw two social conservative candidates debating gay-rights and women’s access to abortion.
Local Conservative member Brian De Jontold the Brooks Bulletin that there has been “no substance” at the Bow River forums anyway.
An “Anybody But Xiao” (ABX) campaign is heating up in this new west Edmonton riding. With candidate Brad Rutherford dropping out and throwing his support behind Kelly McCauley, a group of local Conservatives are trying to prevent Edmonton-McClung Progressive Conservative MLA David Xiao from winning the nomination.
But Mr. Xiao has his supporters. Former Edmonton mayor and newly appointed provincial health minister Stephen Mandel, former Premier Ed Stelmach, Justice minister Jonathan Denis and Infrastructure minister Manmeet Bhullar have all pledged their endorsements to Mr. Xiao.
Conservative candidate Joan Crockett sent a shot across the bow of popular Calgary-Buffalo Liberal MLA Kent Hehr’s campaign last week. In a column in the Calgary Herald, Ms. Crockatt claimed that Mr. Hehr has done little as an MLA to help with flood recovery in Calgary’s central neighbourhoods (also naming him in the same sentence as disgraced former Premier Alison Redford).
Mr. Hehr, who is seeking the Liberal nomination in the riding told the told Herald reporter James Wood that “it’s politics.” “Joan and I are going to have a lot of time to discuss the issues and she’s just getting an early jump on it,” Mr. Hehr said.
Most Edmontonians probably would not have noticed when Official Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair and 96 New Democratic Party MPs descended on the city for their caucus meeting earlier this month. But while the NDP MPs did appear to spend most of their time behind closed doors, they did take a notable break to help out a local candidate in east Edmonton’s new Griesbach riding.
Confirming what many believed to be inevitable, six-term Conservative MP Peter Goldring announced that he will not seek re-election. Mr. Goldring has endorsed Omar Tarchichi over former mayoral candidate Kerry Diotte in the nomination contest to replace him. Curiously, for a governing party’s candidate, Mr. Tarchichi’s campaign has chosen “Rise Up” as its slogan. It is unclear what Mr. Tarchichi plans to rise up against.
Two candidates have stepped forward to run for the Conservative nomination in the new Lakeland riding after three-term backbencher Brian Storseth announced he was retiring from federal politics.
Shannon Stubbs is a former Wildrose caucus staffer and ran for the party in the 2012 provincial election (collecting 5,800 votes in the Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville riding). She is also the wife of popular Lac La Biche-Two Hills-St. Paul Wildrose MLA Shayne Saskiw(they were married today – congratulations!)
Ms. Stubbs will face Lewis Semashkewich, an Aspen View Public School Board trustee. The Athabasca Advocate reported that Mr. Semashkewich is calling for the construction of a new oil refinery in that corner of the province.
Lawyer Tom O’Leary is seeking the Liberal nomination in the new Edmonton-Riverbend riding.
Edmonton-Strathcona Len Thom will carry the Conservative banner against NDP MP Linda Duncan in the next election. The lawyer of and provincial PC Party constituency president was acclaimed at a nomination meeting this week.
Sources say that controversial Member of Parliament Rob Anders is preparing to run for the Conservative Party of Canada nomination in new rural Bow River riding east of Calgary. The six-term MP has represented Calgary-West since 1997 but lost a heated Conservative nomination contest in the new Calgary-Signal Hill riding to former Progressive Conservative MLA Ron Liepert in April 2014.
It had been speculated that Mr. Anders could run in the neighbouring riding of Calgary-Rocky Ridge. It is unclear whether Mr. Anders, who has the endorsement of senior cabinet minister Jason Kenney, will be approved by the Ottawa Tories as their candidate in this new riding.
The Lethbridge -> Medicine Hat Shuffle
Almost as soon as Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne announced that he will retire at the next election, neighbouring MP Jim Hillyer jumped into the nomination race to replace him. The controversial Mr. Hillyer, who has represented the Lethbridge riding since 2011, had initially announced he would run against Mr. Payne for the Conservative nomination in the redrawn Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner, but was then sternly directed by his Ottawa bosses not to challenge a fellow MP. But once Mr. Payne announced his retirement, Mr. Hillyer jumped back into the Medicine Hat race.
As a nomination challenger, he faces Dan Hein, the former president of the local Conservative association and former the campaign manager for Mr. Payne in 2011.
Fort McMurray-Cold Lake
Fresh off the by-election campaign trail in Fort McMurray-Athabasca, the Liberals are expected to nominateKyle Harrietha as their candidate in their candidate in Fort McMurray-Cold Lake on July 26 (the current riding boundaries will change when the next federal election is called). Conservative Member of Parliament David Yurdiga is expected to be automatically acclaimed as his party’s candidate because of the recent by-election.
The Liberals will hold a nomination meeting on August 7, 2014 where party members will have their choice of three candidates – entrepreneur Randy Boissonnaultand lawyers Don Padget and Harold Robinson.
On July 15, Conservatives gathered for what was described as a “soft launch” event for James Cumming, President and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, in support of his potential campaign for the Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Centre. Current MP Laurie Hawn has announced his plans to retire at the next election.
Edmonton-Strathcona Liberal activist Wendy Butler, artist Heather Workman(aka Lady Dolphin), and lawyer Eleanor Olszewski are running for the Liberal nomination in this south central Edmonton riding. Lawyer and Edmonton-Gold Bar Progressive Conservative association president Len Thom is seeking the Conservative nomination. The riding has been represented by NDP MP Linda Duncan since 2008.
On May 5, Valerie Kennedy was acclaimed as the Green Party candidate in Edmonton-Riverbend. Ms. Kennedy was the Green Party candidate in Edmonton-Leduc in 2011. where she earned 2,896 votes (4.87% of the votes cast).
Local hotel manager Kelly McCauley has jumped into the Conservative contest in this new west Edmonton riding. Before moving to Edmonton, Mr. McCauley was the president of the Victoria Conservative association. He now faces Edmonton-McClung PC MLA David Xiaoand Edmonton Police Constable Brad Rutherford for the nomination.
MP Mike Lake defeated Leduc County mayor John Whaley for the Conservative nomination in this new mostly-south of Edmonton riding. A third candidate, Mohinder Banga was disqualified shortly before the nomination vote was held.
Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan Four candidates are contesting the Conservative nomination in this new east-of-Edmonton riding. Past Wildrose candidate Garnett Genuis, Bee Clean Building Maintenance vice president Randy Moore, Telus employee and retired Canadian Forces Major Joe Theberge, and 2013 Strathcona County municipal candidate Nicole van Kuppeveld.