In the midst of its biggest scandal since the United Conservative Party formed government in April 2019, Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao is still vacationing in Mexico, but, according to reports, no one can get ahold of him.
Reports online say that neither the Premier Jason Kenney’s office nor the UCP caucus have been able to contact the MIA MLA. Maybe Yao turned off his cell phone to avoid any distractions and enjoy a hot holiday on the beach while the rest of us are stuck at home?
Yao is the sixth UCP MLA we know of who ignored his government’s recommendations to cancel all non-essential international travel and stay home to avoid spreading the COVID-19 virus.
Yao was first elected in 2015 as a Wildrose MLA and was re-elected under the UCP banner in 2019. He was one of three MLAs appointed to the UCP government’s “Fair Deal Panel” on Alberta autonomy in 2019.
The other UCP MLAs who ignored the COVID-19 recommendations include Minister of Municipal Affairs and Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard, Calgary-Klein MLA and parliamentary secretary Jeremy Nixon, Calgary-Peigan MLA Tanya Fir, Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn, and Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan.
Even Kenney’s own Chief of Staff, Jamie Huckabay, ignored the recommendations and recently travelled to the United Kingdom with his family.
Closer to home, it was also revealed yesterday that Energy Minister Sonya Savage recently made a trip to British Columbia to check on some recent maintenance work in her vacation home in that province.
At a press conference last Friday, Kenney said he would not remove Allard from cabinet because she technically did not break any rules by flying to Hawaii for a Christmas vacation with her family.
Former Energy minister calls on Kenney to sack sun-seeking MLAs and staffers
Adding to the growing chorus of voices calling for consequences for MLAs and political staffers flouting the public health recommendations is former Energy Minister Mel Knight. The former Grande Prairie MLA took to Facebook to call on Kenney to sack all the UCP MLAs and staffers who ignored the government’s COVID-19 advisories and went on hot holidays last month. Knight wrote that Kenney would no longer have his support if he failed to act.
Knight served as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Grande Prairie-Smoky from 2001 to 2012 and as Minister of Energy from 2006 to 2010.
Another former PC cabinet minister, Greg Stevens, told the Calgary Herald’s Don Braid that “I cannot believe how stupid and unbelievably ignorant he (Kenney) has shown himself to truly be, when the issues demand strong and principled decisions.”
“The Redford government spent more than half a million dollars on its trip to the London Olympics earlier this year, including about $113,000 in hotel rooms that were not used…” – Edmonton Journal reporter Keith Gerein
I understand the value of sending cabinet ministers on these trips to promote our province abroad and I generally believe it is in our best interest, but there reaches a certain point when return on investment needs to be demonstrated.
Over the past eleven months, Premier Redford, cabinet ministers, and backbench Tory MLAs have traveled extensively on government business. The trips have taken Alberta Government officials to five continents and more than twelve countries, including numerous trips to Washington DC, New York, and Hong Kong.
Edmonton-Centre: Young lawyerAkash Khokhar defeated Nicole Martel to win the PC nomination. In the next election, Mr. Khokhar will face Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman, who has represented the constituency since 1997.
Edmonton-Gold Bar: Past Mayoral candidate David Dorward defeated past City Council candidate Lori Jeffrey-Heany to become the PC candidate. This is Mr. Dorward’s second attempt at becoming MLA in Gold Bar. In 2008, he placed second to Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald, who will be retiring at the next election.
Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville: Strathcona County Councillor Jacquie Fenske defeated Tofield Mayor Nabil Chehayeb, former Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Jim Sheasgreen, Gene Hrabec, and Adam Kozakiewicz to become the PC candidate. Former Premier Ed Stelmach has represented this region since 1993.
UPCOMING NOMINATION MEETINGS
The PCs will be holding a packed week of nomination meetings that will see Alberta’s 40 year governing party nearly fill its entire slate of 87 candidates. Two final nomination meetings are scheduled to be held in February to replace MLAs who recently announced their retirements.
I will be away from my blog for the next week, so to earn forgiveness for my absence, here is a look at the PC nomination meetings that will be happening in the final week of January. I will provide updates when I return.
Lethbridge-East (January 26, 2012): Former Liberal MLA Bridget Pastoor is facing Lethbridge County Reeve Lorne Hickey for the PC nomination. Ms. Pastoor has represented the constituency since 2004 and cross the floor to join the PC caucus in late 2011. Lethbridge Alderman Jeff Carlson and Lethbridge Senior Citizens Origanization executive director Rob Miyashiro announced this week that they will seek the Liberal nomination (date not scheduled). The constituency has been represented by Liberal MLAs since 1993.
Edmonton-Riverview (January 27, 2012): Edmonton police office Steve Young and businessman Tom Choucair are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency has been represented by Liberal MLA Kevin Taft, who is not seeking re-election.
Edmonton-Strathcona (January 27, 2012): No candidate stepped forward to claim the nomination, though the date is still listed on the PC Party website.
Airdrie (January 28, 2012): Former Airdrie Mayor Linda Bruce, Councillor Kelly Hegg, and Michael Crawford are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency is represented by MLA Rob Anderson, who left the PC Party in 2010 to join the Wildrose Alliance.
Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock (January 28, 2012): The retirement of Speaker Ken Kowalski, who has represented this region since 1979, has attracted five candidates including Morinville Mayor Lloyd Bertschi, Westlock Town Councillor David Truckey, ministerial executive assistant Tim Schultz, and Westlock County Councillors Maureen Kubinec and Bert Seatter.
Calgary-Varsity (January 28, 2012): Former Nexen Vice-President Donna Kennedy-Glans is facing Ph.D. business student Rhiannon MacDonnell. The constituency has been represented by Liberal MLA Harry Chase since 2004. Mr. Chase is retiring at the next election.
Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo (January 28, 2012): Four candidates have lined up to earn the right to face PC-turned-Wildrose MLA Guy Boutiler as the PC candidate. Candidates include Councillor Mike Allen, teacher Andrew Highfield, Nick Sanders, and School Trustee Jeff Thompson.
Grande Prairie-Smoky (January 28, 2012): The retirement of former cabinet minister Mel Knight has sparked a three-way nomination contest that has drawn Grande Prairie County Reeve Everett McDonald,Tab Pollock, and Tom Burton.
Highwood (January 28, 2012): Associate publisher at the Okotoks Western Wheel John Barlow, John Hankins, and Okotoks Town Councillor Ed Sands are seeking the PC nomination. Wildrose leader Danielle Smith is also seeking election in this constituency.
Little Bow (January 28, 2012): Deputy Reeve of the County of Lethbridge Henry Doeve and former County Councillor John Kolk are seeking the PC nomination.
Medicine Hat (January 28, 2012): Former Alderman Darren Hirsch, retired school district superintendent Linda Rossler, and Investment Advisor Dan Hein are seeking the PC nomination to replace long-time MLA Rob Renner. Mr. Hein is the former campaign manager for Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne
Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood (January 30, 2012): Past City Council candidate Cris Basualdo and Emerson Mayers are the two candidates I have heard are seeking the PC nomination. The constituency has been represented by NDP MLA Brian Mason since 2000.
Edmonton-South West (January 30, 2012): This new constituency has drawn the candidacy of four PC nominees Charles Balenga, Tofael Chowdhury, Matt Jeneroux, and Eva Mah-Borsato.
Calgary-Buffalo (January 30, 2012): Donna Haslam is the only candidate that I am aware of who is seeking the PC nomination. The constituency has been represented by popular Liberal MLA Kent Hehr since 2008.
With an election expected to be held in the next few months and a new Premier setting a new tone, many long-time and not-so-long-time Members of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly have decided that now is time to retire or look for greener pastures.
Some of the retiring politicians have spent a decade or more in office, so before the writ is dropped I thought it would be fun to take a look at what some of them looked like in their younger years in office.
Speaker Kowalski is the longest serving MLA in the Assembly and was first elected in a 1979 by-election in the Barrhead constituency. His absence will undoubtably lead to a hotly contested PC nomination in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock. Hoping to capture the seat from the Tories is Wildrose candidate and former Alberta Report publisher Link Byfield, who has been on the hustings for more than a year.
Upon his retirement, Speaker Kowalski is expected to collect $1,271,600 in transition allowance, and it is suspected that he may also collect $54,000 per year from the now-defunct MLA pension that was dissolved in 1992. His retirement announcement takes place before a review of MLA salaries and benefits, led by retired Justice John Major, can take place.
Nominated Alberta election candidates by region. December 8, 2011
The sudden burst of retirement announcements by Stelmach-era cabinet ministers has prompted a flurry of nomination activity in constituencies that could be considered Tory strongholds (where winning the PC nomination is typically the toughest fight):
Banff-Cochrane: Mayor Truper McBride is expected to enter the PC nomination contest in this mountain/foothills constituency today. Current PC MLA and former cabinet minister Janis Tarchukannounced this week that she will seek re-election, though some political watchers expect the former cabinet minister to retire when the next election is called.
Grande Prairie-Smoky: Grande Prairie County Reeve Everett McDonaldis seeking the PC nomination. The constituency is currently represented by MLA and former cabinet minister Mel Knight, who is not seeking re-election.
Vermilion-Lloydminster: Dr. Richard Starke is seeking the PC nomination, which is being left vacant by retiring MLA and former cabinet minister Lloyd Snelgrove.
Aside from the constituencies represented by retiring former cabinet ministers, here are other updates to the list of declared and nominated election candidates:
Calgary-Buffalo: The NDP are expected to acclaim Rebecca Eras as their candidate on December 13
Calgary-Cross: The NDP are expected to acclaim Reinaldo Conterras on December 13. Mr. Conterras replaces previously nominated candidate Preet Sihota, who withdrew his candidacy for personal reasons.
Calgary-Currie: Five prospective nomination candidates were testing the waters at a recent Meet and Greet event organized by the Calgary-Currie PC association. Potential nominees noted to have attended the event include former MLA and Alderman Jon Lord, Stefan Spargo, Chair of the Calgary International Children’s Festival Charity Callahan, former Calgary-McCall constituency president Dale Galbraith, school principalChristine Cusanelli, and past-President of the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association Brian Holtby.
Calgary-Glenmore: The PC nomination has been scheduled for January 28, 2012. Linda Johnson has declared her candidacy for the nomination.
Calgary-Hays: Former Alderman and recent Mayoral candidate Ric McIver defeated incumbent MLA Art Johnston to nab the PC nomination. This is the second time that Mr. Johnston, the parliamentary assistant to Premier Alison Redford, has lost a nomination contest this year. In May 2011, he was defeated by Rick Fraser in the Calgary-South East PC nomination.
Calgary-Mountain View: Lawyer Cecilia Low has announced her intention to seek the PC nomination, which has yet to be officially scheduled.
Calgary-North West: The NDP are expected to acclaim Brian Malkinson as their candidate on December 13.
Edmonton-Gold Bar: Liberal Party members nominated Josipa Petrunic as their candidate earlier this week (read more about Ms. Petrunic here). The PC nomination date has been scheduled for January 25, 2012. Past candidate David Dorward is the only candidate to have declared his candidacy.
Edmonton-Whitemud: The NDP are expected to acclaim Muriel Stanley Venne as their candidate on December 13.
Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo: After circulating a rumour about a secret nomination meeting, Wildrose MLA Guy Boutilier has decided that he will seek his party’s nomination in the new Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo constituency.
Leduc-Beaumont: Perennial political candidate Hana Razga is seeking the NDP nomination. Ms. Razga recently ran for Edmonton City Council in Ward 8.
The Progressive Conservatives have opened their nomination process, leading a number of candidates to declared their interest in opposition held constituencies. This first wave out of the floodgates have allowed me to update the list of declared and nominated candidates for the next provincial election:
Calgary-Buffalo: Dawna Haslam announced on her Facebook profile that she will be seeking the Progressive Conservative nomination in this downtown constituency. Buffalo has been represented by Liberal MLA Kent Hehr since 2008, and has been represented by both opposition and government MLAs over the past twenty years.
Calgary-Hays: Long-time Alderman and defeated Mayoral candidate Ric McIver is seeking the PC nomination in this south east Calgary constituency. Mr. McIver will face current MLA Art Johnston and former PC constituency President Alex Girvin. First elected to the Assembly in 2004, Mr. Johnston was defeated by Rick Fraser in the May 2011 nomination contest for the new Calgary-South East constituency.
Calgary-Hawkwood: Former MLA Shiraz Shariff is said to be seeking the PC nomination in this new north west Calgary constituency. Mr. Shariff was first elected as the MLA for Calgary-McCall in a 1995 by-election and served until he was defeated by Liberal Darshan Kang in 2008.
Calgary-Varisty: Former Nexen senior executive Donna Kennedy-Glans is seeking the PC nomination. Readers may remember Ms. Kennedy-Glans for her unsuccessful bid to wrestle the Calgary-West federal Conservative nomination from ultra-conservative Member of Parliament Rob Anders in 2010. The nasty contest saw conservative pundit Ezra Levant descend on Ms. Kennedy-Glans labelling her a “Liberal saboteur.” Seeking the PC nomination in Calgary-Varsity may be less of a bloodsport.
Varisty has been represented by Liberal MLA Harry Chase since 2004 and with his retirement, the Liberals have nominated Carpenters’ Union leader Bruce Payne to carry their flag. This will be a race to watch.
Edmonton-Centre: The NDP have rescheduled their nomination meeting to November 9, 2011. Past federal candidate Nadine Bailey is expected to be acclaimed.
Edmonton-South West: Matt Jeneroux is seeking the PC nomination in this new constituency which will be created from parts of the Edmonton-McClung and Edmonton-Whitemud constituencies in south west Edmonton.
Grande Prairie-Smoky: Three-term PC MLA Mel Knight has announced that he will not seek re-election. No candidates have officially declared themselves in the contest to replace Mr. Knight as the PC candidate, but some names of potential candidates being suggested include City of Grande Prairie Alderman Kevin O’Toole, Greenview Councillor Tom Burton, and Grande Prairie County Reeve Everett Macdonald.
Duane Stevenson has entered the Wildrose Party nomination contest in Grande Prairie-Smoky, challenging Todd Loewen. Mr. Stevenson is the General Manager of Nitehawk Recreation Area.
West Yellowhead: The Wildrose has nominated forester Stuart Taylor as their candidate. Mr. Taylor is not to be confused with the other Mr. Taylor nominated to stand in this constituency Alberta Party leader and Mayor of Hinton Glenn Taylor.
Here is a preliminary list and map of MLAs who are supporting candidates in the 2011 Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership contest. Please comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if there are additions or subtractions to be made to this list.
Candidate: Doug Horner (12 MLAs) Ray Danyluk (Lac La Biche-St. Paul)
Wayne Drysdale (Grande Prairie-Wapiti)
Hector Goudreau (Dunvegan-Central Peace)
Jack Hayden (Drumheller-Stettler)
Jeff Johnson (Athabasca-Redwater)
Ken Kowalski (Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock)
Genia Leskiw (Bonnyville-Cold Lake)
Len Mitzel (Cypress-Medicine Hat)
Frank Oberle (Peace River)
Luke Ouellette (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake)
Dave Quest (Strathcona)
Greg Weadick (Lethbridge-West)
Candidate: Gary Mar (11 MLAs)
Naresh Bhardwaj (Edmonton-Ellerslie)
Iris Evans (Sherwood Park)
Heather Klimchuk (Edmonton-Glenora)
Mel Knight (Grande Prairie-Smoky)
Diana McQueen (Drayton Valley-Calmar)
Ron Liepert (Calgary-West)
Thomas Lukaszuk (Edmonton-Castle Downs)
Ray Prins (Lacombe-Ponoka)
Rob Renner (Medicine Hat)
George Rogers (Leduc-Beaumont-Devon)
Lloyd Snelgrove (Vermilion-Lloydminster)
Candidate: Ted Morton (10 MLAs)
Moe Amery (Calgary-East)
Carl Benito (Edmonton-Mill Woods)
Evan Berger (Livingstone-Macleod)
Jonathan Denis (Calgary-Egmont)
Doug Elniski (Edmonton-Calder)
George Groenveld (Highwood)
Broyce Jacobs (Cardston-Taber-Warner)
Dave Rodney (Calgary-Lougheed)
Tony Vandermeer (Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview)
David Xiao (Edmonton-McClung)
His main opponents will do their best to stop Mr. Mar from rolling to a first-ballot victory. Right-wing standard bearer and former Finance Minister Ted Morton has attracted the support of Housing Minister Jonathan Denis and MLAs George Groenveld and Dave Rodney. While his campaign should not be underestimated, Mr. Morton is either on vacation or campaigning in a stealth plane. He has barely made news headlines since a highly-public row with Premier Ed Stelmach over the provincial budget led to his resignation earlier this year.
Former Deputy Premier Doug Horner is criss-crossing the province, and as the only candidate from northern Alberta (and the Edmonton region), he is likely to draw considerable regional support that Mr. Mar may find difficult to tap into. The endorsement of Lac La Biche-St. Paul MLA Ray Danyluk and more expected MLA endorsements may position Mr. Horner as the de-facto “northern opposition” to the Calgary-based Mr. Mar.
Rick Orman, a Calgary oil-man and former cabinet minister who left politics in 1993, is said to be well-funded and eating away at Mr. Morton’s support. For all his good intentions, Battle River-Wainwright MLA Doug Griffiths is said to be struggling financially, which must be disappointing for the young MLAs enthusiastic supporters, which include Calgary-North Hill MLA Kyle Fawcett.
Former Justice Minister Alison Redford may be the biggest obstacle standing between Mr. Mar’s and a first-ballot victory on September 17. A fellow Calgarian with considerable financial support and an aggressive campaign to distance herself from the unpopular administration of Premier Stelmach, Ms. Redford may challenge Mr. Mar for the support of moderates in the PC Party. Challenging Mr. Mar for the votes of these moderate PC members could deny him the base he needs to mount an early victory.
This cleverly edited video does not cast a very flattering light on Sustainable Resource Development Minister Mel Knight and Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette as they crashed a presentation being hosted by landowners rights advocate Joe Anglin.
The video does highlight the pressure that rural Tory MLAs are feeling from landowners rights advocates, many of whom are now supporters of the Wildrose. The Wildrose have successfully exposed this cleavage in Tory support by turning this into a key wedge issue in many rural areas of the province.
This morning I enjoyed free pancakes and coffee with around 1000 other Edmontonians at Premier Ed Stelmach‘s 2010 Capital Ex Pancake Breakfast on the south lawn of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly Building. Below are some of the photos I snapped in between my first and second servings of pancakes at 7am this morning. You can see more photos from this morning on the Flickr set Premier’s Capital Ex Pancake Breakfast 2010.
The PCs have dealt with competitive elections in the two major urban areas (Edmonton and Calgary), but the threat of a Wildrose insurgency across Alberta would be cause for great concern and is likely the reason behind Premier Stelmach’s posturing over rural over-representation.
Earlier this week, I posted the poll-by-poll results from the 2008 provincial election for Calgary and Edmonton, and (once again thanks to reader Alan Hall) posted below are the 2008 results superimposed over the proposed boundaries from the interim report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission. A listing of the interim ridings with the 2008 results and margins are also posted below. If the political environment continues to change before the expected 2012 election, the past electoral results could mean very little, but until that time, these maps provide an interesting view of the previous election and what could be in 2012:
Going political and trying to head off the insurgent Wildrose Alliance at the hard-conservative pass was one goal of today’s shuffle. This explains the appointment of Ted Morton as Finance Minister. If he can survive in Finance, Premier Stelmach may have just anointed Morton as his unofficial successor. Minister Morton will have a high-profile new role, but much of the Government’s financial levers will remain held by Stelmach-loyalist and Treasury Board President Lloyd Snelgrove.
Newly appointed Housing and Urban Affairs & Housing Minister Jonathan Denis is known as nice guy, but also as a pretty comfortable hyper-partisan. Some people I have spoken with expect him to fulfil a political role similar to his former business partner, Pierre Poilievre.