Alberta’s Progressive Future calls for Alberta NDP to distance itself from the Ottawa NDP
When I worked for the Alberta Liberal Party back in the 2000s, we had an inside joke that the Liberals could run Jesus Christ as a candidate in Wainwright and still lose. It was funny because it was probably true (the last time voters in Wainwright elected a Liberal MLA was in 1909) and was a reflection of how cynical we were that the party had any chance of actually winning any seats in rural Alberta.
I imagine more than a few Alberta NDP supporters felt the same when the results of the 2023 election started rolling in on May 29, 2023. Despite making big gains in Calgary and winning 38 seats province-wide, the party’s hopes of forming government were dashed at the city limits.
There are four days left until Election Day in Alberta.
Readers of the Daveberta will know I’ve been watching this Alberta election pretty closely and, while I’ve actually been watching all 87 ridings throughout the campaign, there are a few handfuls I’ve been keeping a close eye on.
Some of them will be close races and some will be won with landslides.
Here’s my list of 19 ridings I’ll be watching closely on Election Day.
Election outcome doesn’t appear any clearer today than it did on Day 1
We’re midway through the final week of Alberta’s election campaign and while the most recent poll from Abacus Data points to Danielle Smith’s United Conservative Party having an edge over Rachel Notley’s Alberta NDP, it will probably come down to ground game – who can get their voters out to the polls.
It feels like the closest election we’ve had in a long time.
Before the collapse of the Progressive Conservative Party in 2015, being a PC Party member – or at least participating in PC Party events – was extremely normal. Normal to the point that it was barely political.
If you were a business or a non-profit that depended on government policy, you were a participator to some extent – you kind of had to be. As a decades-old political dynasty, it was the only game in town, and the political dynamic in Alberta showed it.
The United Conservative Party leadership race is taking the spotlight but Alberta’s political parties are chugging along with candidate nominations ahead of a provincial election that is scheduled for next May but could happen anytime after the new UCP leader is chosen.
Second-term MLA Lorne Dach was nominated as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-McClung, the riding he has represented since 2015. “I will make sure that my community continues to have a champion in the legislature,” Dach said in a statement. “Alberta’s NDP has spent our time as Official Opposition listening to Albertans and what they need to build their future’s here. I am so happy for the opportunity to keep working for Edmonton-McClung, to ensure they have access to quality public healthcare, good paying jobs, and can afford the roof over their head.”
Candidate nominations are now open in four UCP held ridings: Banff-Kananaskis (MLA Miranda Rosin), Calgary-Hays (MLA Ric McIver), Calgary-North (MLA Mohammad Yaseen), and Innisfail-Sylvan Lake (MLA Devin Dreeshen).
The incumbents and challengers
UCP MLA Kaycee Madu will face a nomination challenge from Slava Cravcenco in Edmonton-South West on June 29. This is the first time in this election cycle that the UCP have allowed an incumbent to be challenged in a nomination vote. Madu currently serves as Minister of Labour and was removed from his previous role as Minister of Justice and Solicitor General after it was made public that he phoned Edmonton police chief Dale McFee after getting a districted driving ticket. Madu was first elected in 2019 with 44 per cent of the vote.
MLA Chris Nielsen is facing a challenge for the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Decore from Africa Centre executive director Sharif Haji. Nielsen was first elected in 2015. A nomination vote is being held on June 24 and 25.
The UCP has opened nominations in Edmonton-Decore. Sayid Ahmed is seeking the nomination. Ahmed is a manager in the provincial department of health and Vice President of Policy for the Alberta Advisory Board of the Conservative Black Congress of Canada. Nomination applications are due June 21, 2022.
NDP members in Edmonton-South West will choose from a pack of four candidates contesting the nomination on June 18. Business instructor and past UCP nomination candidate Ben Acquaye, behavioral specialist Chand Gul, medical clinic executive director Ali Kamal, and three-term public school trustee Nathan Ip are seeking the NDP nomination.
Brooks-Medicine Hat NDP members will nominate retired teacher and Medicine Hat Police Commission member Gwendoline Dirk at a meeting on June 23.
Edmonton-West Henday NDP members are expected to nominate lawyer Brooks Arcand-Paul at a meeting on June 29.
University of Calgary law professor Shaun Fluker defeated union activist and past candidate Steven Durrell to win the Alberta NDP nomination in Airdrie-Cochrane.
“People want a government that funds public health care and actually encourages doctors to work in Alberta, so that the people of Airdrie-Cochrane do not have to rely on urgent care centres as walk-in clinics,” said Fluker in a statement released after his nomination won.
”We also want a government that will adequately fund K-12 education so that our kids aren’t forced into overcrowded classrooms in overcrowded schools,” he said.
Fluker practiced law starting in 1996 and began teaching at the U of C in 2007. He served as Executive Director of the U of C’s Public Interest Law Clinic until 2019.
The riding located north of Calgary is currently represented by United Conservative Party MLA Peter Guthrie, who was first elected in 2019 with 65 per cent of the vote. Guthrie has been a vocal critic of Premier Jason Kenney and openly called on him to resign as UCP leader.
Boitchenko enters Drayton Valley-Devon UCP race
Real estate agent Andrew Boitchenko is the second challenger to announce plans to join the UCP nomination contest in Drayton Valley-Devon.
Boitchenko joins Carol Vowk in the nomination contest.
Incumbent UCP MLA Mark Smith has not yet public declared his intentions but it is widely believed that the two-term MLA will not run for re-election.
Lawyer and past federal Liberal candidate Kerry Cundal was nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Calgary-Elbow. The riding was represented by Alberta Party MLA Greg Clark from 2015 to 2019, and he was on hand to endorse Cundal at the meeting.
First-term NDP MLA Jasvir Deol was nominated in Edmonton-Meadows. He was elected in 2019 with 49 per cent of the vote.
Indigenous advocate and past Assembly of First Nations Chief candidate Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse was nominated as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Rutherford.
“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.
A few quick candidate nomination updates for this Saturday afternoon.
It appears that the following United Conservative Party MLAs have been acclaimed for their party’s nominations: Mickey Amery in Calgary-Cross, Nicholas Miliken in Calgary-Currie, Jason Luan in Calgary-Foothills, Tanya Fir in Calgary-Peigan, Jordan Walker in Sherwood Park, and Searle Turton in Spruce Grove-Stony Plain.
For the Alberta NDP, MLA Lori Sigurdson is running for her party’s nomination in Edmonton-Riveriew on June 7 and MLA Lorne Dach is running for his party’s nomination for re-election in Edmonton-McClung on June 8.
The Incumbent and Challenger
The NDP have scheduled a nomination meeting in Edmonton-Decore for June 25, 2022. Two-term MLA Chris Nielsen is being challenged for the nomination by Africa Centre executive director Sharif Haji.
City lawyer Michelle Baer announced this week that she is running for the Alberta NDP nomination in Red Deer-South. Baer is the Legal and Legislative Services Manager for the City of Red Deer.
“We can’t have people getting care in the back of an ambulance. We can’t have surgeries being cancelled, and people being transferred to Edmonton and Calgary,” Baer told the Red Deer Advocate.
She was referring to a recent long lineup of ambulances at the Red Deer Regional Hospital to transfer patients to deal with a surge in demand, and the need to divert surgery patients.
“We need strong advocacy in Edmonton on the things that matter,” she said.
It is unclear whether Stephan will be allowed to run for re-election as a UCP candidate if Kenney wins the leadership review, which will be announced on May 18.
Stephan was first elected in 2019 with 60.3 per cent of the vote, a landslide win against then-incumbent NDP MLA Barb Miller, who finished second with 25.5 per cent.
Lesley MacKinnon is running for the NDP nomination in Calgary-North West.
MacKinnon is the Director of Investor and Indigenous Relations with Foresight Canada and the former CEO of the Fig Tree Foundation.
Calgary-North West is currently represented by UCP MLA and Energy Minister Sonya Savage, who was first elected in 2019 with 56.7 per cent of the vote. The riding was previously represented by MLA Sandra Jansen, who was elected as a Progressive Conservative in 2012 and 2015 and crossed the floor to the NDP in 2016.
NDP race in Calgary-Glenmore heats up
Three former NDP MLAs have made duelling endorsements in the Calgary-Glenmore NDP nomination race.
Former Calgary-Currie MLA Brian Malkinson and former Calgary-Acadia MLA Brandy Payne are endorsing Jennifer Burgess for the nomination and former Calgary-Glenmore MLA Anam Kazim is endorsing Nagwan Al-Guneid.
Burgess was the 2019 campaign manager for past candidate Jordan Stein, who defeated Kazim for the NDP nomination ahead of that year’s provincial election.
Both candidates have attracted some notable endorsements.
Al-Guneid’s endorsements include Calgary-Glenmore NDP association president Bryan Weismiller, Past federal NDP candidate Kathleen Johnson, past federal Liberal Party candidate Scott Forsyth, past Alberta Party candidate Kara Levis, former Jim Prentice staffer Emma May, lawyer Jeremy Barretto, and economist Lindsay Tedds.
Burgress’ endorsements include Calgary-Glenmore NDP association past president Chris Somoya, former NDP leader Brian Mason, past federal NDP candidate Dany Allard, past mayoral candidate Jan Damery, former school trustee Julie Hrdlicka, Building Trades of Alberta executive director Terry Parker, and IBEW Local 424 vice president Scott Crichton.
NDP members in the south west Calgary riding will vote to select a candidate on May 8 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., and May 10 from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m.