Update: Smith has confirmed she will run as the UCP candidate in the Brooks-Medicine Hat by-election.
Smith was already running for the UCP nomination in her home riding of Livingstone-Macleod but incumbent MLA Roger Reid has publicly shown no indication he’s not still running for the nomination against his new leader.
Already running in the riding are retired teacher Gwendoline Dirk for the Alberta NDP and Alberta Party leader Barry Morishita, who also happens to be the former Mayor of Brooks.
I’ll have more on Brooks-Medicine Hat when a by-election is called (so probably soon).
And, not wanting to get caught off-guard if Smith decides to call an early general election, here are the NDP’s upcoming nomination meetings:
– Second-term MLA David Shepard is seeking the NDP nomination to run for re-election in Edmonton-City Centre. A nomination meeting is scheduled for October 11.
– Dawn Flaata is running for the NDP nomination in Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright. A nomination meeting is scheduled for October 15.
– Amanda Chapman and Jason Curry are running for the NDP nomination in Calgary-Beddington. A nomination vote is scheduled for October 17.
– Dave Dale is running for the NDP nomination in Lacombe-Ponoka. A nomination meeting is scheduled for October 19.
– Rebecca Bousall is running for the NDP nomination in Calgary-Fish Creek. A nomination meeting is scheduled for October 20.
– Andrew Stewart is running for the NDP nomination in Calgary-Hays. A nomination meeting is scheduled for October 26.
– Caitlyn Blake is running for the NDP nomination in Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul. A nomination meeting is scheduled for October 28.
– Justin Huseby is running for the NDP nomination in Calgary-South East. A nomination meeting is scheduled for November 8.
Calgary-Fish Creek MLA Richard Gotfried has announced he will not run for re-election. Gotfried was the only rookie Progressive Conservative MLA elected in 2015, stealing the south Calgary seat from the Wildrose Party after long-time MLA Heather Forsyth retired from elected politics.
Former Calgary Economic Development vice-president Court Ellingson was nominated as the Alberta NDP candidate in Calgary-Foothills.
Calgary Transit Operator Raj Jessel was nominated as the NDP candidate in Chestermere-Strathmore.
Lawyer Cheryl Hunter Loewen was nominated as the NDP candidate in Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills.
Lawyer Andrew Stewarthas announced his plans to seek the NDP nomination in Calgary-Hays. A nomination meeting is scheduled for October 26. The riding has been represented by UCP MLA Ric McIver since 2012.
Upcoming nomination meetings
Former Red Deer City Manager Craig Curtis and past school board candidate Jaelene Tweedle are on the ballot as NDP members in Red Deer-North choose their next candidate on October 5.
MLA David Shepherd is expected to be nominated to run for re-election in Edmonton-City Centre on October 11.
More NDP nomination meetings are scheduled in Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright (October 15), Calgary-Beddington (October 17), Lacombe-Ponoka (October 19), and Calgary-Hays (October 26).
The NDP have now nominated candidates in 54 of Alberta’s 87 electoral districts. As previously noted, it appears as though the UCP have paused the nomination process until after their new leader is selected on October 6. The Alberta Party has nominated three candidates.
Former Spruce Grove city councillor Chantal Saramaga-McKenzie defeated former Parkland County mayor Rod Shaigec to secure the NDP nomination in Spruce Grove-Stony Plain.
“My parents still live here in the same house they bought in 1969. This community is in my DNA, and I will ensure it has a strong voice in the legislature,” Saramaga-McKenzie said in a statement. “I will work to ensure this community will have access to quality healthcare, long-term job growth and opportunities for our children, housing for all – especially our seniors, and to tackle the affordability crisis head on. I am ready to get to work.”
Saramaga-McKenzie is an engineer and business owner and served on city council from 2017 to 2021.
The riding is currently represented by United Conservative Party MLA Searle Turton, who is also a former Spruce Grove city councillor. He currently serves as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Energy and as the private sector union liaison for the Ministry of Labour and Immigration. He is nominated to run in the next election.
Michaela Frey not running for re-election
Brooks-Medicine Hat UCP MLA Michaela Frey announced that she will not seek re-election after serving one term in the Legislature. “I’ll continue to serve until an election is called, but my motivation is that ultimately there are some things in life that are too precious – having kids is one of them,” Frey, 29, told the Medicine Hat News. “I want to focus on that … I want to be at home in Medicine Hat to do that.”
Former Newell County councillor Mara Nesbitt has already announced her plans to seek the UCP nomination. The NDP have nominated retired teacher Gwendoline Dirk. And Alberta Party leader and former Brooks mayor Barry Morishita is hoping he can reclaim a seat in the Legislature as the candidate in this riding.
Someone named S. Silver won the third place prize in the “Her Vision Inspires” essay contest that was championed by Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville UCP MLA Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk, now the Associate Minister for the Status of Women.
In her award-winning essay, which was given a $200 prize, Silver argued:
“…it is sadly popular to think Albertan children are unnecessary as we can import foreigners to replace us, this is a sickly mentality that amounts to a drive for cultural suicide…”
“to try to promote that women break into careers that men traditionally dominate is not only misguided, but it is harmful.”
“that the best approach would be to reward families for their reproductive service both with financial rewards to offset the financial burden they are taking on and with medals to symbolize their valuable achievement of having 2+ children.”
Pretty gross stuff.
After facing a pretty strong public backlash for choosing a racist and sexist essay for the award, Armstrong-Homeniuk issued a written statement saying she disagrees with it and that it shouldn’t have been chosen.
She led the committee that chose it but we don’t know why it was chosen or who else was on the committee with her.
It’s a secret.
UCP MLAs Michaela Frey and Angela Pitt told intrepid CBC reporter Michelle Bellefontainethey had nothing to do with it, as did cabinet ministers Adriana LaGrange and Tanya Fir.
We also don’t know how many essays were submitted to the contest or who “S. Silver” even is.
It’s now been removed but we don’t know how the essay was able to be published on the Legislative Assembly of Alberta website without raising some giant red flags.
Speaker Nathan Cooper said he didn’t know anything about it.
The whole thing is a big exercise in passing the buck.
It feels like the most unlikeliest of outcomes, but in Alberta politics, the unexpected is sometimes the most likely.
It’s almost as if the past ten years never happened, said one conservative friend of mine, in reference to Danielle Smith’s near-win in 2012, her spectacular fall in 2014, and the massive political realignments – Rachel Notley’s NDP winning in 2015 and the formation of the UCP in 2017 – that have shaped Alberta politics since.
But she’s back and people think she’s going to win.
She’s drawing big crowds to her events, she’s getting media attention and she just stole another MLA endorsement away from Travis Toews.
It’s possible that other candidates are selling more memberships or that the preferential ballots could tally in a way that helps other candidates but the biggest indicator that Smith is in the lead is that all the other candidates are attacking her.
Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche MLA Brian Jean, the UCP prince-in-exile, took aim at Smith’s idea to open the Port of Churchill in northern Manitoba to oil exports. It’s a perennially bad idea that never happens but never dies.
Airdrie-East MLA Angela Pitt announced on social media that she was quitting her volunteer role as Rajan Sawhney’s campaign chair, saying she needs to realign with her constituents. That feels like code for she’s worried Smith is going to win the leadership and her supporters – notably campaign chair and former MLA Rob Anderson – might be interested in challenging Pitt for the nomination in the riding.
Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan Conservative MP Garnett Genuis, who is backing Toews, took a swipe at Smith on Twitter after the party’s Medicine Hat leadership debate.
“Non-lawyer cites Wikipedia to explain novel constitutional theory. Danielle Smith is the freeman-on-the-land of this #UCPdebate. And the other candidates’ responses to her clearly show that they understand what dire consequences her success would spell for our movement,” Genuis tweeted on July 27, 2022.
Non-lawyer cites Wikipedia to explain novel constitutional theory. Danielle Smith is the freeman-on-the-land of this #UCPdebate. And the other candidates’ responses to her clearly show that they understand what dire consequences her success would spell for our movement. #abpoli
Not naming but clearly targeting Smith in an online video, Rebecca Schulz described the front-runner as “unhinged and unreasonable” and “lighting her hair on fire.”
Schulz’s video announced that Calgary-Midnapore MP Stephanie Kusie has joined Rona Ambrose as campaign co-chair.
Trying to out-co-chair her opponents is an odd strategy, and is a role that is usually left to the backrooms, but it’s pretty clear that Schulz is trying desperately to position herself as the ABD – Anybody but Danielle – candidate in the UCP race – especially for conservatives not enthralled by Toews beige and boring campaign.
Toews’ establishment-favourite campaign appears to be losing steam.
Having to fight back criticisms about Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s six-figure bonus undermined his claim of being fiscally responsible. And he lost the support of another UCP MLA this week when Strathcona-Sherwood Park MLA Nate Glubish, the Minister of Service Alberta, abandoned Toews and switched his endorsement to Smith.
In almost any other mainstream conservative leadership race, even in Alberta, Smith’s promotion of conspiracy theories and snake oil COVID cures, promises to impose unconstitutional laws, and more would probably disqualify her on the ballots of a lot of conservatives.
But this unruly UCP appears to be a very different beast than the old Progressive Conservative Party it absorbed six years ago. And Smith has used her decades of experience in politics and media to fine tune a message that appeals to a motivated chunk of today’s UCP base.
This most unexpected of outcomes is a surprise when you consider the rules of the leadership race were almost designed to quell an insurgent campaign.
The high entry fee ($175,000), signature requirements (1,000) and early membership cut off date (August 12) were designed for an establishment candidate.
Of course this is all about who sells the most memberships, and some candidates might be out there quietly selling a ton of memberships, but the early cutoff date means the days of the “two-minute Tories” who propelled Ralph Klein, Ed Stelmach and Alison Redford into the Premier’s Office are long gone.
Ideological conservatives hated it, but anybody being able to walk into the voting station on voting day and buy a membership ensured the PC Party constantly reinvented itself as a big tent party – arguably the biggest success of its 43 years of uninterrupted power.
But Smith isn’t campaigning to lead a big tent and a lot of people think she’s going to pull it off.
Lawyer Andrea James is running for the United Conservative Party nomination in Calgary-Elbow.
James holds law degrees from the University of Calgary, the University of Houston, and a master’s degree in Tax Law from the Osgoode School of Law at York University. She is a founder and principal of Jamesco LLP, a boutique corporate and tax law firm.
Current UCP MLA Doug Schweitzer has announced he will not seek re-election. The NDP nominated energy analyst Samir Kayande and the Alberta Party named lawyer Kerry Cundal as its candidate. Before Schweitzer’s election in 2019, the riding was represented by Alberta Party MLA Greg Clark.
Former County Councillor challenging MLA Michaela Frey in Brooks-Medicine Hat
Nesbitt is a former County of Newell councillor, constituency assistant for a former MLA Lyle Oberg and is a member of the UCP board of directors in the southeast Alberta riding. Nesbitt was defeated by Arno Doerksen in a bid for the Progressive Conservative Party nomination in Strathmore-Brooks in 2008.
The NDP nominated retired teacher Gwendoline Dirk and the Alberta Party nominated its leader and former Brooks mayor Barry Morishita.
Prasad Panda nominated in Calgary-Egmont
Prasad Panda secured the UCP nomination in Calgary-Egmont. The newly appointed Transportation Minister first entered cabinet in 2019 and was first elected as a Wildrose MLA in the Calgary-Foothills by-election held after former premier Jim Prentice resigned on election night in 2015. He was re-elected in the redrawn Calgary-Egmont in 2019.
Panda previous ran as the Wildrose Party candidate in Calgary-Northern Hills in 2012 and 2015.
The NDP nominated Julia Hayter as its candidate.
Horsman and Sherman jump into UCP leadership race
There are two more candidates declaring their plans to enter the UCP leadership race: former Alberta Treasury Branches Vice President Jon Horsman and former PC MLA and Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman.
The cowboy hat wearing former Finance Minister from Beaverlodge, Travis Toews, launched his campaign last week with endorsements from 23 UCP MLAs, including Energy Minister Sonya Savage and Justice Minister Tyler Shandro.
Savage and Grande Prairie-Mackenzie MP Chris Warkentin are co-chairing his campaign.
Toews is seen as the establishment favourite, which isn’t always a blessing.
Former Transportation Minister Rajan Sawhney launched her campaign yesterday with a whistle-stop tour down the QEII, starting with media events in Edmonton, Penhold and Airdrie before ending at a +700-person rally in north east Calgary.
It was a strong kick-off.
Sawhney’s campaign is being run by well-known political strategist and conservative thinker Ken Boessenkool, who worked as an advisor to former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former BC Premier Christy Clark.
Her former chief of staff (and former Daveberta Podcast co-host) Ryan Hastman is her deputy campaign manager.
Airdrie-East MLA Angela Pitt is Sawhney’s campaign chair.
It’s an odd fit for a leadership candidate who appears to be trying to position herself as a political moderate (no word if South Tyrol-like autonomy for Alberta will be in her platform).
Pitt endorsed Brian Jean for the UCP leadership 2017, and even have him credit for her entry into politics.
This time she’s backing Sawhney.
Jean is launching his campaign at a hotel in west Edmonton tomorrow.
Autonomy for Albertans is Jean’s slogan, not Anatomy for Albertans, as this writer first thought he read.
The former Wildrose Party leader launched his second political comeback in last year’s Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election with the singular purpose of defeating Kenney in the leadership review and run to replace him.
He’s met half his goal so far.
Another former Wildrose leader, Danielle Smith is also trying for her second political comeback after a short and disastrous stint on the Calgary Board of Education in the late 1990s and as Wildrose Party leader from 2009 until she infamously abandoned her party to join Jim Prentice’s Progressive Conservatives in 2014.
For many conservatives, especially those of the Wildrose-variety, it is a betrayal that will live in infamy.
The leadership is only one-half of Smith’s comeback attempt.
She’s also challenging MLA Roger Reid for the UCP nomination in Livingstone-Macleod, which appears far from a safe-bet.
First-term south Calgary MLA Rebecca Schulz stepped down as Children’s Services Minister to jump into the race.
Schulz wants to take on what she describes as “the boys club.”
She has the backing of Calgary City Councillor Dan McLean, Health Minister Jason Copping, UCP MLAs Michaela Frey and Jeremy Nixon, MPs Laila Goodridge and Stephanie Kusie, former federal Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose and former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall.
The Wall endorsement might seem odd, but he endorsed Schulz in her bid to win the hotly contested Calgary-Shaw UCP nomination race back in 2018.
The Saskatchewan native was a spokesperson in Wall’s government before moving to Alberta in the mid-2010s, and her husband, Cole Schulz, was a ministerial chief of staff in Regina (he’s now the Vice President, Communications for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers in Calgary).
Northern Alberta UCP MLA-in-exile Todd Loewen also jumped into the race, as did Village of Amisk Mayor Bill Rock, another former Wildrose Party candidate.
But one of the big potential contenders, Calgary Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner, is playing coy.
Maybe she’ll run. Maybe she won’t.
Her text message reply to Press Gallery Dean Don Braid was “hahahaha!”
And the hot gossip in political circles today is that erratic former Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman is thinking about joining the fray.
Sherman was first elected as a PC MLA in 2008 but was driven out of that party and scooped up the Liberal leadership in 2011. He left politics in 2015 and returned to being full-time ER doctor.
He also donated $4,000 to the Alberta Party last year.
So it’s a scramble. It’s a dog’s breakfast.
And there could be more.
We’ll know soon enough.
July 20 is the deadline for candidates to pay up if they want to stay in the race.
The high-entry fee will quickly weed out candidates who can’t raise enough money.
August 12 is the deadline to buy a membership.
No time for the two-minute Tories who wreaked havoc against the establishment candidates in the old PC Party leadership races.
The party is also organizing debates and attendance by all candidates is mandatory.
Stragglers will risk be fined or disqualified, or both.
It’s no Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, but it’s bound to be entertaining to watch.
Liberal Party seeks new leader
The Alberta Liberal Party also announced that it will be holding their own leadership vote and choosing a new leader on September 25, 2022.
Former party leader David Khanstepped down in November 2020 after failing to win a seat in the 2019 election, marking the first time since before 1986 that the provincial Liberals not represented in the Legislature.
“This community is especially tired of the lack of professionalism their MLA has shown in government. They’re tired of the constant shuffling, the infighting, and the war the UCP have taken on our healthcare system,” Batten said in a statement following the nomination meeting.
“I’m here to join Rachel Notley and Alberta’s NDP on their road to fix the mess the UCP has created, ensure my community has access to public healthcare, good paying jobs, and to make sure we can trust our government again,” she said.
Shandro is currently serving as Minister of Justice and Solicitor General and will face three days of hearings in October to determine if he broke the Law Society of Alberta’s Code of Conduct.
Shandro was first elected in 2019 with 54 per cent of the vote.
UCP open nominations in Calgary-Glenmore, Calgary-West, and Edmonton-South West
Despite not knowing who will lead the UCP into the next election, the governing conservative party is continuing to nominate candidates.
The UCP announced this week that nominations are open in Calgary-Glenmore (currenty represented by UCP MLA Whitney Issik), Calgary-West (currenty represented by UCP MLA Mike Ellis) and Edmonton-South West (currenty represented by UCP MLA Kaycee Madu).
The deadline for prospective candidates to apply to run for the nomination is June 7.
These three MLAs certainly fall in the Kenney camp of the UCP.
It remains unclear whether the party will allow two former UCP MLAs, and big Kenney critics, Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes and Central Peace-Notley MLA Todd Loewen, to rejoin and run under the UCP banner in the next election.
Loewen has publicly mused about running for the party leadership.
Longtime teacher running for NDP nomination in Brooks-Medicine Hat
Dirk spent 33 years teaching in different school systems, including the last 13 years of her career at Medicine Hat College. She is a member of the Medicine Hat Police Commission and ran for the Medicine Hat Public School Board in 2021.
Her spouse, Peter Mueller, ran for the NDP against Drew Barnes in the neighbouring Cypress-Medicine Hat riding in the 2019 election.
The NDP have scheduled a nomination meeting for June 23.
The riding is currently represented by first-term United Conservative Party MLA Michaela Frey. Alberta Party leader and former Brooks mayor Barry Morishita was nominated as his party’s candidate last week.
Former MLA Barb Miller enters NDP race in Red Deer-South
Former MLA Barb Miller will challenge city lawyer Michelle Baer for the NDP nomination contest in Red Deer-Southon June 18, 2022.
Miller represented the riding from 2015 to 2019. Before her election in 2015 she worked as a cashier at Safeway and was President of the Red Deer and District Labour Council.
Miller was defeated by UCP MLA Jason Stephan in the 2019 election.
More nomination news
Edmonton-Meadows MLA Jasvir Deol and Edmonton-Rutherford nomination candidate Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse will be nominated as NDP candidates on May 28.
The Alberta Party will nominate lawyer and past provincial Liberal Party leadership candidate Kerry Cundal in Calgary-Elbow on May 29.
University of Calgary Associate Law Professor Shaun Fluker and union activist and past candidate Steve Durrell are seeking the NDP nomination in Airdrie-Cochrane. A nomination meeting is being held on May 30.
And in Livingstone-Macleod, where first-term MLA Roger Reid is being challenged by UCP leadership aspirant and former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith, the town council of High River this week voted for a permanent ban on new coal exploration and development in the Rocky Mountains.
Morishita was Mayor of Brooks from 2016 to 2021 and was first elected as a city Councillor in 1998. He was President of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association from 2017 to 2021 and became leader of the Alberta Party in September 2021.
Then-party leader Stephen Mandel was defeated in his bid for election in Edmonton-McClung, as were incumbent Alberta Party MLAs Greg Clark in Calgary-Elbow and Rick Fraser in Calgary-South East.
This is Morishita’s second time running for provincial office.
In 2001, he finished second with 15 per cent of the vote in Strathmore-Brooks as the Liberal Party candidate behind then-Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Lyle Oberg.
Brooks-Medicine Hat is a natural place for Morishita to run in the next election, but it will be an uphill battle. Incumbent United Conservative Party MLA Michaela Frey was elected in 2019 with 60 per cent of the vote.
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The United Conservative Party has opened candidate nominations in four ridings held by MLAs loyal to Premier Jason Kenney.
Dates for nomination meetings haven’t been announced but a February 28 deadline for candidates to put their names forward has been announced for Calgary-South East (represented by MLA Matt Jones), Calgary-Shaw (represented by Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz), Cardston-Siksika (represented by UCP Caucus Whip Joseph Schow) and Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre (represented by Environment & Parks Minister and Government House leader Jason Nixon).
Farmer Tim Hoven has announced his plans to challenge Nixon for the nomination and will be launching his campaign at the James River Community Hall on Feb. 17. Hoven was a municipal councillor in Clearwater County from 2017 until his defeat in the 2021 election.
Nurse Tonya Ratushniak running for NDP nomination in Camrose
Registered Psychiatric Nurse Tonya Ratushniak is seeking the NDP nomination in the Camrose riding.
“I’m running to become the next NDP candidate in Camrose because mental health, I believe, will be the next wave we need to address. I have the education, passion and experience to ensure the needs of mental health are no longer ignored. No longer thought of as the ugly stepchild of the healthcare system.”
“I see firsthand how rural mental health services have been eroded by UCP policies,” she said. “Wait times have become so long that many problems go undiagnosed, treatment centers have been closed and mental health beds have been reduced.”
Ratushniak works at St. Mary’s Hospital in Camrose as a Mental Health Therapist and serves as the President of the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses.
She was the federal NDP candidate in the 2021 election in Battle River-Crowfoot, where she placed second and earned 9.8 per cent of the vote.
Saad Siddiq running for UCP nomination in Edmonton-South
Engineer Saad Siddiq is seeking the UCP nomination in Edmonton-South.
“The UCP party is at a cross roads about its identity and I firmly believe that Millennials and Gen-Z representation must be there to make sure our voices are heard,” Siddiq said. “It’s about time we take the charge into our own hands and make Alberta affordable, a place where you have the freedom to exercise your rights and make your own choices and a symbol of tolerance for everyone living in this province and beyond.”
Siddiq is a 24-year old oil and gas engineer who graduated from the University of Calgary in 2020 and has been involved in the Conservative Student Association.
The riding is currently represented by Independent MLA Thomas Dang, who was first elected in 2015 and 2019 under the NDP banner. He left the NDP Caucus in December 2021 after the RCMP executed a search warrant of his house.
Alberta Party leader running in Brooks-Medicine Hat
Alberta Party leader Barry Morishita confirmed on this week’s episode of the Daveberta Podcast that he plans to seek his party’s nomination to run in his home riding when the next election is called. Morishita served as Mayor of the City of Brooks from 2016 to 2021 and served on city council from 1998 to 2004 and 2010 to 2016. The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA Michaela Frey.
Public school teacher second candidate in Calgary-East NDP race
Public school teacher Rosman Valencia is seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-East.
“I’m running to ensure the voice of our communities in Calgary-East can be heard and be a part of the decision making in shaping Alberta’s future,” said Valencia. “Not only has the UCP’s response to Covid-19 been a daily challenge for us in the classroom, but I also see families struggling with UCP increases to their expenses like insurance, income tax, and electricity. That’s the last thing families need right now.”
Rosman holds a Bachelor of Secondary Education from the Philippine Normal University-Manila and became a teacher in Alberta through the University of Calgary’s Bridge to Teaching Program.
International Avenue Business Revitalization Zone executive director Alison Karim-McSwiney is also seeking the NDP nomination.
Here are a few other nomination updates:
Calgary-Elbow: Energy analyst Samir Kayande has been acclaimed as the NDP candidate. The party will hold an official nomination meeting on March 5. Kayande announced his candidacy in November 2021.
Calgary-North East: Gurinder Brar is expected to be acclaimed as the NDP candidate at a February 17 nomination meeting. Brar announced his candidacy in January 2022.