Photo: Former Alberta PC MLAs Jacquie Fenske, Don Scott, Linda Johnson and Art Johnston
Alberta’s 2015 provincial election resulted in the election of 75 new MLAs in the 87 seat Legislative Assembly. More than two years after that historic election, a group of former Progressive Conservative MLAs put their names forward to stand in the October 16, 2017 municipal elections. Here is a quick look at how the former PC MLAs fared in their attempts to stage political comebacks:
In 2015, Scott was unseated by Wildrose leader Brian Jean and Allen was unseated by Wildroser Tany Yao. Stephen Drover, who placed second to Yao in the 2015 election as the NDP candidate, was re-elected as a Fort McMurray Public School Trustee this week.
Other former PC MLAs not so successful
In Strathcona County, former PC MLA Jacquie Fenske finished third in a five-person race that saw incumbent Mayor Roxanne Carr unseated by former federal Liberal candidate Rod Frank. This marks the third time in three consecutive elections that an incumbent mayor has been defeated in Strathcona County. Fenske had served as MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville from 2012 to 2015.
In Calgary, both former PC MLAs Linda Johnson and Art Johnston were unsuccessful in their bids to be elected to City Council. Johnson had served as MLA for Calgary-Glenmore from 2012 to 2015 and Johnston as MLA for Calgary-Hays from 2004 to 2012.
Meanwhile in Quebec, the Conservatives were unable to hold the Lac-Saint-Jean riding in a federal by-election triggered by Denis Lebel‘s resignation. The Conservatives had held the riding since 2007 but, with 236 of 264 polls reporting, the party’s candidate was placed third behind Liberal Richard Hébertand Bloc Quebecois candidate Marc Maltais. The by-election marks the first time voters in this conservative riding have elected a Liberal since 1980, when another Trudeau was Prime Minister.
It appears as though Mr. Jean was trying to be funny while playing to a hometown crowd, which is no excuse for this kind of unacceptable comment. Jokes about assaulting women, even if they are off the cuff, are not funny. He did immediately apologize, twice, and quickly sent an apology directly to Premier Notley, but it is difficult to see how he can walk back this comment.
This wasn’t a joke made by an anonymous internet troll or a roughneck after a few beers at the local bar, this comment comes from the leader of the Official Opposition who presumably wants to be the next Premier of Alberta.
Women politicians in Alberta have been the target of constant online threats and harassment, which has unfortunately become almost normalized in our current political environment. Given recent threats levelled at Ms. Notley and women cabinet ministers, Mr. Jean’s comment is a mind boggling political fumble.
The drum Mr. Jean claims to have been beating for the past 10 or 11 years is related to the level of seniors care available in Fort McMurray, an issue which has a long history of causing political controversy in that community and in the provincial capital.
Back in July 2009, Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA and former cabinet minister Guy Boutilier was ejected from from the Progressive Conservative caucus for publicly criticizing the government for not funding a new facility. Mr. Boutilier publicly accused Health Minister Ron Liepert of “talking gibberish” and then criticized Premier Ed Stelmach for not wanting a cabinet minister “who graduated from Harvard with Barack Obama.” (he later admitted that he never met Obama while at Harvard).
Staying above the fray of Alberta’s wild 2015 election campaign, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson argued in his annual State of the City Address that which ever political party forms the provincial government after the May 5 election will have to focus on the capital city.
“I’m confident that no matter what Albertans decide on May 5, together you, along with our city council will not stand for any provincial government ever forgetting about Edmonton again,” Mr. Iveson told an audience in downtown Edmonton.
At his final State of the City Address two years ago, former Mayor Stephen Mandelpublicly lambasted the Progressive Conservatives for their short-sighted funding cuts to Alberta’s colleges and universities.
“We should expect nothing less than passionate, relentless defence of this sector from our provincial representatives, who should know better than to just stand by,” Mr. Mandel said in 2013.
The Edmonton Public School Board passed a budget this week that will not include enough provincial funding to compensate for the growth in student population in September, as a result of provincial budget cuts.
“If I have one key message for parents, it would be get out there and engage your candidates. Ask them how are you going to ensure that your party will fund my school? How will you ensure that my student will be successful as well as the other students in their class?,” school board chair Michael Janztold the Edmonton Journal.
As we enter the final six days of the election, the parties will now focus their energy and resources on consolidating their support and working to get their voters out to the advance polls and on election day.
The PCs sent out a press release yesterday attacking Calgary-Bow Wildrose candidate Trevor Grover who was a candidate for the anti-free trade Canada Action Party in the 2006 federal election. If the PCs hope to win the “controversial candidate accusations game,” they should reflect on one of their own nominated candidates who was arrested and plead guilty to prostitution related charges while travelling abroad on government business in December 2013.
Advance polls will be open across the province over the next four days from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Voters unable to cast a ballot on the May 5 Election Day can now vote on April 29 and 30, and May 1 and 2.
As the Progressive Conservative Party rushes towards an early election call, party officials are investigating nomination irregularities and allegations of bribery, reports Metro Edmonton. According to Metro, the PC Party is investigating the process that led to the acclamation of MLA Naresh Bhardwaj as the PC candidate in Edmonton-Ellerslie. Allegations of nomination irregularities have been raised by PC members in Edmonton-Decore and Bonnyville-Cold Lake.
But, as controversy surrounds some nomination contests, all parties continue to rush through the nomination process. The following list are the latest updates to the growing list of Alberta Election 2015 candidates:
Airdrie: Chris Noble is seeking the NDP nomination.
Athabasca-Redwater-Sturgeon: Colin Piquette, son of former New Democratic Party MLA Leo Piquette, is acclaimed as the NDP candidate. Mr. Piquette was the 2001 NDP candidate in the former Athabasca-Wabasca constituency, where he placed third with 9.5% of the vote.
Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock: Tristin Turner is seeking the NDP nomination. In 2014, Mr. Turner was a recipient of a Top 30 Under 30 award through the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation.
Calgary-Bow: Lawyer Byron Nelson defeated past city council candidate Chris Harper in a 214 to 136 vote for the Progressive Conservative nomination. Recently graduated Law student Alyx Nanji was Mr. Nelson’s campaign manager.
Calgary-Cross: Some north east Calgary PCs are worried that former Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson will be appointed as their party’s candidate in Calgary-Cross, despite six other candidates being in the race. As I wrote on February 25, 2015, it is widely speculated that Premier Jim Prentice could appoint Mr. Hanson as the PC candidate in this constituency.
Calgary-Currie: Shelley Wark-Martyn resigned as President of the Liberal Party today and is rumoured to be preparing to run for her party in this constituency. I am told that an odd rule in the Liberal Party bylaws does not permit party office holders from also being candidates. Ms. Wark-Martyn served as an Ontario New Democratic MPP from 1990 to 1995, during which time she also served as a cabinet minister in Premier Bob Rae‘s government.
Calgary Elbow: Educator and storyteller Catherine Wellburn is seeking the NDP nomination, which is scheduled for March 19, 2015.
Calgary-Fort: Vic Goosen has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.
Calgary-Glenmore: Terry Lo is the Alberta Party candidate and Anam Kazim is seeking the NDP nomination, scheduled for March 19, 2015.
Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill: Incumbent MLA Neil Brown defeated two challengers to secure the PC nomination. Community Shuttle Operator and University of Calgary Political Science Graduate Student Ezra Voth is the nominated Alberta Party candidate.
Calgary-Shaw: Evert Smith has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.
Calgary-Varsity: Jeremy Mroch is the nominated Alberta Party candidate. According to his website, he has “most recently been involved at the executive level in the development and commercialization of lower environmental impact energy and oilfield greening technologies.”
Cypress-Medicine Hat: Former Cypress County Reeve Bob Olson has announced he’s seeking the PC nomination for this southeast rural constituency. Also in the race is Danny Fieldberg. Former PC MLA Len Mitzel announced he will not seek the nomination.
Drayton Valley-Devon: Katherine Swampy is seeking the NDP nomination.
Edmonton-Gold Bar: University of Alberta lecturer Cristina Stasia is the nominated Alberta Party candidate. Dr. Stasia has won numerous teaching awards and is a founding board members of WAVE: Women’s Advocacy Voice of Edmonton.
Edmonton-Manning: Gurcharan Garcha is said to be running against MLA Peter Sandhu for the PC nomination in this northeast Edmonton constituency. Mr. Garcha runs the G Driving School. Adam Mounzar is seeking the Liberal Party nomination.
Edmonton Meadowlark: Registered Social Worker Jeanette de Vries will challenge Jon Carson for the NDP nomination.
Edmonton-Rutherford: Local businessman Chris Labossiere defeated Grant Mann in for the PC nomination. The constituency is currently represented by former Health Minister Fred Horne, who is not seeking re-election.
Edmonton-South West: Former Catholic School Trustee Rudy Arcilla is seeking the Liberal nomination. In 2012, Mr. Arcilla earned 15% of the vote as the Liberal candidate.
Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo: First-term MLA Mike Allen defeated Catholic School Trustee Tracy McKinnon for the PC nomination. Some PC Party members in Fort McMurray have expressed their unhappiness after they discovered local organizers scheduled candidate speeches after the voting had closed at the nomination meeting.
Medicine Hat: Teacher and past city council candidate Jim Black is the Alberta Party candidate. Mr. Black is also the Political Engagement Officer for Alberta Teachers’ Association Local 2 in the Prairie Rose School District.
Red Deer-North: Krystal Kromm is the Alberta Party candidate. Ms. Kromm is the Vice-President of Red Deer’s Downtown Business Association.
Strathcona-Sherwood Park: Educational Assistant and Taekwondo Coach Estefania Cortes-Vargas is the NDP candidate.
Strathmore-Brooks: Einar Davison is the nominated Alberta Party candidate. Mr. Davison ran for the Liberal Party in the 1997 election in the Drumheller-Chinook constituency, where he earned 15% of the vote.
Whitecourt-Ste Anne: Gunn-area cattle farmer John Bos is the nominated Wildrose Party candidate.
I have added these updates to the list of nominees and nomination candidates planning to run in Alberta’s next general election. Please email david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com if there are additions to the list. Thank you.
The Progressive Conservatives held their first “Super Saturday” on Feb. 21, 2015, during which contested nominations were held in seven constituencies. The handful of contested PC nominations have been overshadowed by the nearly forty acclamations by incumbent PC MLAs across the province.
The Liberal Party, still without a permanent leader after Raj Sherman‘s abrupt resignation in Jan. 2015, has opened candidate nominations in all 87 constituencies and have made notice on their website that all Liberal nominations must be complete by March 1, 2015. If the Liberals are actually able to nominate candidates in all 87 constituencies in the next seven days, it will be a busy week on this blog.
Bonnyville-Cold Lake: Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland defeated former Wildrose nomination candidate Dixie Dahlstedt in the PC nomination. Some local party members complained about the lack of multiple voting locations in the rural constituency and the police were called to the voting station after an allegedly intoxicated man caused a disturbance. A Municipal District of Bonnyville councillor told the Cold Lake Sun that alleged he was the man removed by the RCMP and he was not intoxicated. Current PC MLA Genia Leskiw is not seeking re-election.
Calgary-Buffalo: Lawyer David Khan will seek the Liberal nomination in this downtown Calgary constituency. Buffalo is currently represented by Liberal MLA Kent Hehr, who is running for the federal Liberals in Calgary-Centre, and has elected Liberals in six of the eight elections held since 1986. Mr. Khan was his party’s candidate in the 2014 Calgary-West by-election where he earned 8.5% of the vote.
Calgary-Bow: David Gamble is seeking the Liberal nomination. According to his Facebook Page, Mr. Gamble is the President and CEO of Dandly Writing and Communications.
Calgary-Cross: Seven candidates are seeking the PC nomination in this northeast Calgary constituency – Dan Singh Sidhu, Mohamed El-Rafih, Jesse Minhas, Manjit Jaswal, Hardeep Rai, Hirde Paul, and Bill Kahlon. The constituency has been represented by PC MLA Yvonne Fritz since 1993. She is not seeking re-election.
Calgary-Currie: Pat Murray is seeking the Liberal nomination. Mr. Murray was the Liberal Party candidate in Calary-Currie in the 2001 election and Calgary-North Hill in 2004 and 2008 elections. He also ran as a federal PC candidate in Calgary-Nose Hill in the 1997 federal election.
Calgary-Foothills: Electrical engineer Ali Bin Zahid is seeking the Liberal nomination to run against Premier Jim Prentice in the next election.
Calgary-Glenmore: David Waddington is the nominated Liberal Party candidate.
Calgary-Hawkwood: Beth Barberee has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.
Calgary-McCall: Realtor Avinash Khangura is seeking the Liberal nomination. The constituency is currently represented by Liberal MLA Darshan Kang, who is now the federal Liberal candidate in the Calgary-Skyview constituency.
Calgary-Mountain View: Former MLA Mark Hlady defeated Mr. Prentice’s former Chief of Staff Jean-Sebastien Rioux and Lynn Moen in the PC nomination. Mr. Hlady was the MLA from 1993 until 2004, when he was unseated by the current Liberal MLA, David Swann.
Calgary-North West: First-term PC MLA and former cabinet minister Sandra Jansen defeated past city council candidate Blair Houston in the PC nomination.
Calgary-Varsity: Stephanie McLean was nominated as the NDP candidate in this northwest Calgary constituency. Ms. McLean was the NDP candidate in the recent Calgary-Elbow by-election and is also her party’s federally nominated candidate in Calgary-Confederation. Paramedic Pete Helfrich is the nominated Liberal Party candidate. Mr. Helfrich ran for the Liberals in Banff-Cochrane in the 2012 election.
Chestermere-Rockyview: Jamie Lall is challenging Wildrose-turned-PC MLA Bruce McAllister for the PC nomination. Mr. Lall was his party’s 2012 candidate in the Calgary-Buffalo constituency.
Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview: First-term NDP MLA Deron Bilous has been acclaimed as his party’s candidate in the next election.
Edmonton-Calder: Ministerial Chief of Staff Tom Bradley has been acclaimed as the PC candidate in this northeast Edmonton constituency current represented by NDP MLA David Eggen. Mr. Bradley is currently the Chief of Staff to Infrastructure Minister Manmeet Bhullar and also served as Base Commander for CFB Edmonton from 2009 to 2011 and Chief of Operations for Task Force Kandahar in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2008.
Edmonton-Meadowlark: Steve Benson is challenging former Globe & Mail reporter Katherine O’Neill for the PC nomination. Former Catholic School District Trustee Debbie Cavaliere is said to been collecting signatures to contest the Liberal nomination. In 2008, Ms. Cavaliere challenged Raj Sherman in the Meadowlark PC nomination contest before withdrawing, switching parties and unsuccessfully running against him in that year’s election as the Liberal candidate. Dr. Sherman, who joined the Liberals in 2011 after becoming leader, is not seeking re-election.
Edmonton-Strathcona: NDP leader Rachel Notley has been acclaimed as her party’s candidate in the next election. Former NDP MP Olivia Chow is scheduled to speak at Ms. Notley’s nomination meeting on March 1, 2015.
Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo: Tracy McKinnon, chairperson of the Fort McMurray Catholic School District, is challenging first-term PC MLA Mike Allen for that party’s nomination. Mr. Allen achieved national notoriety in 2013 when he was charged in a prostitution sting while on government-funded trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota. He pleaded guilty to the charge in December 2013 and paid a $500 fine and court costs. Following the incident, he sat as an Independent MLA until July 2014, when PC MLAs voted to allow him to rejoin the Government Caucus.
Medicine Hat: Wildrose-turned-PC MLA Blake Pedersen defeated former city councillor John Hamill and realtor Jeff Lanigan. Mr. Pedersen faced harsh criticism form his opponents in a recent nomination debate. “I will die on my sword before I cross the floor… people who cross the floor have no honour,” Mr. Hamill said of Mr. Pedersen.
Peace River: Debbie Jabbour is seeking the NDP nomination.
Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: Tammy Cote defeated former Lacombe County Reeve Terry Engan in the PC nomination contest. Ms. Cote is the grand-niece of former PC MLA and lieutenant-governor Helen Hunley.
Spruce Grove-St. Albert: Rus Matichuk defeated former St. Albert city councillor Neil Kortash and government spokesperson Kathleen Range to become the PC candidate. The constituency was formerly represented by former Finance Minister Doug Horner, who resigned as MLA on Jan. 31, 2015.
Seven more PC MLAs have been acclaimed, bringing the total number of acclaimed PC candidates to 39: Moe Amery in Calgary-East, Dave Rodney in Calgary-Lougheed, David Dorward in Edmonton-Gold Bar, Steve Young in Edmonton-Riverview, Jacquie Fenske in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, Greg Weadick in Lethbridge-West and Richard Starke in Vermilion-Lloydminster.
I have added these updates to the list of nominees and nomination candidates planning to run in Alberta’s next general election. Please email david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com if there are additions to the list. Thank you.
Alberta MLAs will return to the Legislature for a spring sitting on March 10, 2015, the Progressive Conservative Party plans to have candidates nominated in all 87 constituencies by March 15, 2015 and Finance Minister Robin Campbell is expected to introduce a provincial budget in late March. It would be hard to find stronger indicators that an April 2015 provincial general election is on the horizon.
And as the PC Party plans to hold 35 nomination meetings on a February 21 “Super Saturday,” candidates have already begun to step up to run for nominations. The quickly approaching deadline and impending election will also force incumbent MLAs whether they will seek another term in the Legislative Assembly.
In Lethbridge-East, PC MLA Bridget Pastoorannounced this week that she would not seek re-election. The departure of the three-term MLA, who was elected as a Liberal in 2004 and 2008 before crossing the floor in 2011, will make Lethbridge-East a race to watch in the next election. Before Ms. Pastoor’s floor crossing, the constituency had been represented by Liberal MLAs since 1993.
In the heart of oil sands country, Fort McMurray-Conklin MLADon Scott and Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Mike Allen announced they will once again seek the PC nominations in their constituencies. Mr. Allen may face a nomination challenge following his controversial first term, which included being arrested on prostitution related charges while on a government trip to Minneapolis, USA and his resulting time as an Independent MLA. He was fined $500 plus court costs after pleading guilty and was allowed to rejoin the PC caucus.
In Airdrie, the retirement of PC-turned-Wildrose-returned-PC MLA Rob Anderson has led to speculation that 2012 PC candidate and city councillor Kelly Hegg and Mayor Peter Brown may seek the PC nomination.
In Medicine Hat, Wildrose-turned-PC MLA Blake Pedersen could face two challengers for the PC nomination. Former city councillor John Hamill, 77, has expressed interest in the nomination, as has 2012 PC candidate Darren Hirsch.
“My sense is that people are angry and upset and I know that the people of the constituency want somebody that they can believe in — that they trust,” Mr. Bearchell told the Olds Albertan in response to Mr. Rowe’s floor crossing on Dec. 17, 2014.
Wildrose Party raised $1,572,159.26 in the first two quarters of 2014, slightly down from their $1,625,290.94 raised during the same period in 2013. The PCs, despite their recent internal turmoil, are claiming $1,406,924.81 raised by the party in the first half of 2014, up from the $1,237,607.50 raised in the same period in 2013.
As the Edmonton Journal’s Graham Thomson wrote in his column yesterday, “[t]he issue here is not that the PCs are bad at raising money, it’s that the Wildrose party is proving particularly good at raising money.”
Not included in these numbers are funds raised at the constituency level, where the Tories raised more than the Wildrose. This should not be a surprise, as the PC Party has 59 MLAs who form the government. That the Wildrose Party has only 17 MLAs and has continues to be successful at party level fundraising remains troubling for the long-governing PCs.
While the Tories continue to show heavy reliance on large corporate donations to fill their coffers, a significant percentage of Wildrose funds come from individual donations in amounts less than $250.00.
The Tories continue to show signs of weakness in constituencies represented by Wildrose MLAs. The Medicine Hat PC Association has not raised any funds since 2012 and the Innisfail-Sylvan Lake Tories claimed $300.00 in the second quarter of 2014, its first revenue since 2012.
Meanwhile, the Wildrose Party appears to be dormant in two important northern constituencies – Fort McMurray-Conklin and Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. According to financial disclosures, the two Wildrose constituency associations have not raised any funds since 2012, when PC-turned-Wildrose MLA Guy Boutilier was unseated by Tory Mike Allenin Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo.
Looking at the other parties, the NDP showed positive growth as their fundraising numbers increased by more than $26,000 from last year to $273,214.50 in the first half of 2014. The Liberals continue to be stuck in fourth place in the fundraising department, only raising $181,385.56 in the first half of 2014.
Police said he answered an online ad placed by undercover police, agreeing to pay two women $200 for sex. He was arrested and charged with a gross misdemeanour but pleaded guilty in December to a lesser misdemeanour of trying to hire prostitutes. He was fined $500, ordered to pay another $500 in court fees and sentenced to one-year of probation. His probation expires Dec. 18. (Edmonton Journal)
From a jail cell in Minnesota in July 2013 Mr. Allen did not deny the allegations, he admitted to his mistakes and voluntarily resigned from the PC caucus. As for his readmission into government, perhaps the MLAs in the PC caucus believe that one-year banishment into the opposition benches was punishment enough for Mr. Allen’s indiscretions.
Joe Anglin Out What is Joe Anglin to do? After losing the Wildrose Party nomination in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre last weekend, some political watchers have speculated that he might join the Alberta Party, others believe he could run as an Independent candidate in the next election. He has yet to let his intentions known.
Wildrose leader Danielle Smith cheekily suggested he should run in Edmonton, which would be akin to Stephen Harper saying Rob Anders should run for re-election in Toronto. A one man wolf pack, Mr. Anglin is a liability for any party in the rigid system of party discipline that exists in our political system. And the closer a party gets to power, like the Wildrose is, the more rigid they become with their MLAs and candidates.
Is it uncommon for incumbent politicians to lose party nomination races? In Alberta, yes. In fact, there are only a handful of examples I can remember from recent history in Alberta politics:
– First-term MLA Carl Benitowas defeated by Sohail Quadri in the Progressive Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Mill Woods in 2012, Mr. Benito ran as an Independent in that year’s election. He placed fifth of six candidates with 480 votes (3.9%).
– PC MLA Art Johnston lost two nominations in advance of the 2012 election – to Rick Fraser in Calgary-South East and Ric McIver in Calgary-Hays. Mr. Johnston retired from politics after the election was held.
– Then-Leduc mayor George Rogers upset two-term MLA Albert Klapstein in the PC nomination in Leduc before the 2004 election. Mr. Klapstein retired from politics after the election was held.
– Two-term MLA Tony Abbott was defeated for the PC nomination in Drayton Valley-Calmar by then-Drayton Valley mayor Diana McQueen before the 2008 election. Mr. Abbott retired rather than run for another party or as an Independent.
“Alleged death threats, implied bribes, constituency association ambushes and supposed Progressive Conservative Party skulduggery,” is how a Red Deer Advocate report described the unexpectedly interesting Wildrose Party nomination in the Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre constituency.
First-term MLA Joe Anglin is being challenged for his nomination by former local Wildrose president Jason Nixon.
Mr. Anglin is long-time rabble-rouser who set the political landscape on fire by organizing mass opposition to the construction of electrical transmission lines through vast swaths of central Alberta. Briefly the leader of Alberta’s Greens, he grabbed the Wildrose nomination before the 2012 election and unseated six-term PC MLA Ty Lund, who was first elected to political office in the region in 1980.
The Wildrose nomination in the riding immediately south of Edmonton is shaping up to be a race. The contest already has attracted three candidates and more are expected to enter the race.
First to enter the race is Patrick Kobly, son of former Beaumont mayor Ken Kobly and fiancee of Nicky Walker, chief of staff to Independent MLAs Mike Allen and Len Webber.
Jackie Lovely, a former Wildrose Caucus staffer and past president of the Summerside Community League, is also seeking the nomination in Leduc-Beaumont. Ms. Lovely ran for the Wildrose Party in Edmonton-Ellerslie in the 2012 election, placing second behind PC MLA Naresh Bhardwaj, earning 3,249 votes (24% of the vote).
Ironworker Joel Hamilton is running for the Wildrose nomination in Leduc-Beaumont and has declared on his Facebook page that he “will fight Edmonton’s Annexation of Nisku, the Airport and of the Beaumont expansion area.”
Retired Colonel John Fletcher is seeking the Wildrose nomination in Calgary-Elbow. It is expected that current Progressive Conservative MLA and former Premier Alison Redford could resign to allow Jim Prenticeto run in a by-election shortly after he wins the PC leadership race in September.
Drayton Valley-Devon Daniel Walton, owner of the Easyford meat packing company, is seeking the Wildrose nomination. This was one of the few rural constituencies where the PC candidate earned a majority of the votes cast in the 2012 election. PC MLA Diana McQueen was elected for a second term with 51.6% of the vote.
Edmonton-Mill Woods Laura Thibert, Edmonton Catholic School District trustee announced on Twitter that she will seek the Wildrose nomination in Edmonton-Mill Woods. Ms. Thibert was first elected in 2010 and was re-elected in 2013 with 47% of the vote.
Edmonton-South West Tim Grover is seeking the Wildrose nomination. A business consultant, Mr. Grover was the Get Out The Vote chairman for Karen Leibovici’s mayoral campaign in 2013.
The NDP nominated researcher Shannon Phillips as their candidate in Lethbridge-West. The NDP hope that with some hard work Ms. Phillips can build on her 2012 results, when she boosted her party’s support to 29%, up from 10% in the 2008 election. Those 2012 results placed Ms. Phillips ahead of the Wildrose candidate and just over 1,000 votes behind PC MLA Greg Weadick.
Former Strathcona County mayor Linda Osinchuk was nominated as the Wildrose candidate in Sherwood Park. Ms. Osinchuk was first elected mayor in 2010, defeating incumbent mayor Cathy Oleson, who is now the PC MLA for Sherwood Park.
I am maintaining an updated list of candidates seeking party nominations to stand in Alberta’s next provincial election. Please email david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com if there are additions to the list.
This year was a tumultuous time in Alberta politics. What does 2015 have in store for Albertans?
December 20, 2014
Story by: Dirk Pranter, Edmonton Journal-Sun
Building the next Alberta
With the new year just weeks away, speculation is rampant Albertans could go to the polls early next year, less than four years after the last provincial election.
Premier Alison Redford returned to Alberta this week between stops in Washington D.C. and Beijing, fuelling the rumours of the impending election. While in the province, she joined Deputy Premier Mike Allen in announcing the construction of new schools in Airdrie, Edmonton, Calgary, Grande Prairie, Grimshaw, and High River.
It is the sixth new school announced this month by Redford’s government as part of a promise to build 50 schools and modernize 70 more by 2016.
The schools announcement coincided with the launch of a new government advertising campaign titled “Building the Next Alberta.”
“Building the Next Alberta is different than Building Alberta,” a Redford spokesperson said, “it’s about Building the Next Alberta.”
When asked why the blue and orange colour patterns on the government billboards spell the words ‘re – elect,’ the spokesperson would only say that “a limited colour pallette” was responsible for the design.
Wildrose on the rise
Concluding another year of incredible fundraising returns, the Wildrose Party led by Danielle Smith is hoping for good tidings in the new year. Recent polls show the official opposition party in a dead heat with the PCs in Calgary and rural Alberta.
In anticipation of an early election the Wildrose campaign bus rolled into Edmonton this week without incident.
University of Red Deer professor of political science Rick Dunderland believes the early launch sends a message that the Wildrose war chest is overflowing with cash from this past year’s fundraising efforts.
“With such successful fundraising this year, the Wildrose has decided not to wait for the Redford Tories to call the election,” Dunderland said.
Interim leader Laurie Blakeman took up the reigns of the Liberal Party since Raj Sherman announced he will run for the federal Liberals in the Edmonton-West riding.
Hoping that Justin Trudeaumania with also translate into Raj Shermanmania, Sherman said his experience as an Emergency Room Doctor will make him a strong voice for Edmonton in Ottawa.
After a surprise surge in support in this year’s federal by-election in southern Alberta’s Macleod riding, the Liberals are hoping to make gains in Alberta.
Meanwhile, merger negotiations are underway between the provincial Liberals, the Alberta Party, and the Green Party to run a joint slate of candidates in the next election. Sources indicate the slate could be called “the Green Liberalbertans.”
NDP now pro-pipeline
Planning to spend more time in the Okanagan with his wife and family, NDP leader Brian Mason announced his retirement from politics after serving twenty-five years in provincial and municipal elected office. The NDP leadership vote, scheduled for early 2015 has attracted the interest of the party’s three other MLAs and a handful of outsiders. No candidates have officially entered the race.
Many Alberta New Democrats were shocked at their federal leader’s sudden change of heart on pipeline development this month. With Thomas Mulcair’s NDP poised to form government in next year’s federal election, the federal NDP released a new pro-pipeline policy book.
“The difference now is that, instead of just saying what we don’t like about the old pipelines, we’re also saying why we’re in favour of more pipelines,” Mulcair told reporters in a year end press conference.
As the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline moves forward at a brisk pace, energy industry experts are relieved that the project’s future is not likely to be threatened with a change of government in Ottawa.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesperson called the ploy a cynical move. “No one supports pipelines more than strong, stable, majority Conservative governments in Ottawa,” she said.
Whatever it takes, Wildrose Party activists are expected to moderate the tone of their policies at their weekend policy convention in the booming central Alberta city of Red Deer. A delicate and sometimes shaky coalition of libertarians and social conservatives (among other groups), Alberta’s official opposition party will learn from the mistakes they made in the 2012 election. On the cusp of victory, offensive remarks made by social conservative candidates in Calgary and Edmonton scared many moderate Albertans to support the long-governing Progressive Conservatives at the ballot box.
Since forming the official opposition with 17 MLAs, Ms. Smith has led a disciplined front-bench that has in many cases driven the government’s agenda, or at the least frustrated government ministers unaccustomed to their aggressive style. Implementing tactics used by the Ottawa Conservatives, the Wildrose have been relentless in their opposition to the forty-two year old governing PC Party.
Fighting back against the Wildrose, or at least trying to, Tory environment minister Diana McQueen emerged from her legislature office yesterday to attack Wildrose leader Danielle Smith’s position on climate change. While Ms. Smith’s party is undoubtably weak on environmental issues, especially on the important climate change file, the Tory government’s environmental record is not much better. While the Alberta government is doing more on this file than it has in a decade, its plan appears to be propped up by snippets of truth and focus group tested sound bites.
The Wildrose are looking for second chances and there is opportunity for them. With drastic cuts to education and post-secondary education, constant political meddling in the health care system and fears that public sector pension changes may negatively impact the retirement prospects of hundreds of thousands of Albertans, Alison Redford’s Tories threaten to alienate the electoral coalition of moderate voters (including many former Liberal voters) who helped them narrowly win re-election. Shooting from their hips (and frequently missing their targets), cabinet ministers Thomas Lukaszuk, Jeff Johnson, Fred Horne, and Doug Griffiths often confuse their own confidence with arrogance. The Tories do not give any impression that they were humbled by their near-defeat in last year’s election.
Some Tories may point to the electoral success of Premier Ralph Klein following his drastic budget cuts in the early 1990s, but this is a very different political environment, and I am sure that most Albertans would agree that Ms. Redford is no Mr. Klein.
A recent poll from Leger Marketing, for what it’s worth three years before the next election, shows Ms. Redford’s and Ms. Smith’s parties competing with mid-30 percent range support. The poll also shows that more than half of Albertans disagree with the government’s performance, but the Wildrose’s support in the polls suggests voters have not settled on an alternative.
This weekend and over the next three years, the Wildrose Party could look to Saskatchewan for inspiration. Stalled for years in the opposition benches, the conservative Saskatchewan Party undertook a move to modernize its image and policies when Brad Wall became the party leader in 2004. The unruly coalition of Tories and Liberals led by a former Reform Party MP had been unable to defeat the institutionalized New Democrats, who dominated in that province’s major cities. Under the smart and savvy Mr. Wall, the Sask Party modernized, and slowly began to encroach into NDP held urban constituencies.
After his party finally defeated in NDP in 2007, the conservative Mr. Wall has become one of Canada’s most popular provincial leaders. Like the NDP did to the Sask Party, and the Tories did to the Wildrose in 2012, Albertans can expect to be berated by rounds of “ooga booga, the Wildrose is scary” ads in the next election. The part that will be missing from those ads is that many, if not most, current Wildrose supporters were sitting comfortably in the Tory camp until about three years ago.
Wildrose success is not entirely about policy. Planting the seeds of doubt in Ms. Redford’s ability to run an honest government will also be key to the Wildrose Party’s success in the next election. Ms. Redford’s tendency to avoid controversy by hiding the truth or bending the facts is something that many political watchers have noted. Her office’s decision to block requests to release details of more than $2 million in severance packages given to former premier’s office staffers planted one seed of doubt. Her actions, her words, and people she surrounds herself have planted others. Two bad seeds that might not go away, controversial former PC MLAs Mike Allen and Peter Sandhu, are expected to apply for re-entry into the Government Caucus.
And the Wildrose do not just need Tory voters to vote for them, they also need former New Democrat and Liberal voters to return to their prior allegiances (a key reason behind Ms. Smith’s province-wide debate tour with NDP leader Brian Mason).
So, it’s clear the Wildrose needs to moderate the tone of their policies to attract new voters, but they can also benefit greatly from the seeds of doubt that the Redford Tories appear to be planting each week.
After being arrested in a prostitution sting in St. Paul, Minnesota, Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Mike Allen resigned from the Progressive Conservative caucus. For the time-being, Mr. Allen will remain an Independent MLA, as police in St. Paul have yet to place charges against him. Barring charges and a conviction, Mr. Allen could reasonably be expected to complete his term in Legislative Assembly, albeit sitting outside the PC caucus.
The opposition, including Airdrie Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson, have been calling on Mr. Allen to resign as MLA. If, by chance, Mr. Allen did resign as MLA, voters in the northern Alberta constituency would choose a new representative in a by-election.
In 2012, Mr. Allen was elected with 3,609 votes (49%), defeating Wildrose MLA Guy Boutilier, who earned 3,164 votes (42.9%). A unique election, Mr. Boutilier served as a PC MLA since his first election in 1997 until he left the Tory caucus in 2009 and joined the Wildrose in 2010. According to Elections Alberta financial reports, Mr. Allen’s campaign spent $72,825 in the campaign, compared to Mr. Boutilier’s $65,457.
In the 2012 Elections Alberta financial disclosures, the PC constituency association in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo reported net assets of $11,438.40. The Wildrose constituency association listed $549.58 in net assets at the end of 2012.
Low voter turnout, 34%, in the 2012 general election suggests that many voters in the constituency are undeclared or unidentified by the parties.
Despite electing candidates in both Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo and neighbouring Fort McMurray-Conklin (where Tory Don Scott defeated Wildrose candidate Doug Faulkner), the Wildrose candidates earned strong second place finishes in the 2012 election.
Fort McMurray Today reports Mr. Boutilier remains silent on a possible comeback, but a by-election triggered by a Tory sex scandal would be the ideal scenario an opposition politician could hope for.
A Liberal base in Fort McMurray, which elected MLA Adam Germain in the 1993 election, has near completely eroded with that party earning 3% of the vote in both constituencies. The NDP saw a spike of support in constituency in the the 2001 election, but have not had much success in the three elections held since.
Who would the Tories look to for a by-election candidate? Would any of Mr. Allen’s challengers in last year’s PC nomination step up? Candidates in last year’s PC nomination race included Andrew Highfield, Nick Sanders, and school trustee Jeff Thompson. Popular Wood Buffalo mayor Melissa Blake, who is seeking re-election in this year’s municipal vote, would be seen as a star candidate for any party and could easily fill a top cabinet position if elected into government.
A rash of automobile accidents caused deaths on the busy highway 63 put heavy pressure on the governing Tories last year. The heavy pressures of a being boom-town have created many unique growth and social challenges in this northern Alberta community that could easily become an issue in a locally-focused by-election.
But Premier Alison Redford‘s Tories may want to avoid an embarrassing by-election defeat. Two of the three most recent provincial by-elections held in Alberta have resulted in opposition parties electing candidates in formerly government-held constituencies.
Mike Allen is the second MLA to resign from the Progressive Conservative caucus since last year’s election.The Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA resigned today from the Tory caucus after he was arrested in a prostitution sting in St. Paul, Minnesota.
This was Mr. Allen’s fourth trip to the United States as an official representative of the Alberta Government since he was elected. In 2012, he attended conferences in Cleveland, Ohio and Madison, Wisconsin and in 2013 he attended a conference in Washington state as a representative of the Premier’s Standing Committee on Resource Stewardship.
“Today, I informed the Chief Government Whip of a legal incident that I have been involved in. Pending resolution of this incident, I have resigned from the government caucus and all legislative committee effective immediately. I apologize to my family, my friends, my constituents, my colleagues, my staff, and to all Albertans for the embarrassment I have caused in failing to live up to the standards expected of me and the standards I expect of myself. I made this mistake as a result of a profound lapse in my personal judgment. It is a mistake for which there are no excuses and for which I accept full responsibility. This is deeply embarrassing moment and all I can say is that I am sorry and I humbly ask for forgiveness. I will work long and hard to regain the trust of the many I have let down.”
Mr. Allen was first elected in 2012, defeating former Tory cabinet minister-tuned-Wildrose MLA Guy Boutilier. In 2012, he was appointed by Premier Alison Redford as the special advisor to the Minister of Transportation for highway 63.
Mr. Allen is the second MLA to resign from the governing Tory caucus since the 2012 election. In May 2013, Edmonton-Manning MLA Peter Sandhuresigned from the PC caucus after a CBC investigation revealed that a company owned by the politician had accumulated a trail of unpaid debt and that he made a false statement in a sworn affidavit.
On June 25, Jonathan Bikman was elected in a Village of Stirling by-election to replace former Mayor Gary Bikman, who is now the Wildrose MLA for Cardston-Taber-Warner. Mr. Bikman received 78 votes, runner-up Coralee Leeson received 60 votes, and Ron Bore received 23 votes.
Mr. Alexander finished with 304 votes, defeating Jen Heaton with 187 votes, Bev Williamson with 94 votes, and Alec Babich with 40 votes.
Westlock County By-Election
On June 25, Jim Wiese was elected in a Westlock County by-election to replace newly elected Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock PC MLA Maureen Kubinec. Mr. Wiese won with 134 votes. The runner-up was Herb Smerychynski, who took 40 votes. Cal Busby came in third with 23 votes.
As I first mentioned in a previous post, the election of municipal politicians as Members of the Legislative Assembly in the recent provincial election has triggered a handful of municipal by-elections across Alberta. Most of these municipalities have now set dates for by-elections to fill these vacant positions.
Contesting the two vacant council positions in the Town of Canmore are Jason Best, Karen Greene, Brian Hyland, former Canadian Rockies School Trustee Shirley Ketterer, Sean Krausert, Occupy Calgary participant James Louden, current Canadian Rockies School Trustee Vi Sandford, recent PC nomination candidate Rob Seeley, and Victor Zablotni. The candidate in this contest with the most unique background may be Mr. Krausert, an improv actor and former lawyer who also worked as an educator in Sierra Leone, where he helped rehabilitate former child soldiers through a theatre program.
June 25 is the super Monday of municipal by-elections with five separate votes happening across the province.