A map of tonight’s federal election results in Alberta would show a sea of Conservative Party blue, but if you zoomed in on the two largest urban centres the results are more interesting.
It looks like 29 Conservative incumbents were re-elected, many with margins of victory that are large but narrower than the party’s results in the 2019 federal election. With 71 per cent of the vote, it appears that Battle River-Crowfoot Conservative Damien Kurek was elected with the largest percentage of the vote. This is down from his 85.5 per cent of the vote in 2019. The only new Conservative candidate elected in Alberta is Laila Goodridge, a former United Conservative Party MLA who was elected in Fort McMurray-Cold Lake.
As of 11:14pm it looks like Liberal Party candidate George Chahal has been elected in Calgary-Skyview, unseating Conservative Jag Sahota in the northeast Calgary riding. In Edmonton-Centre, Liberal Randy Boissonnault sits with 33 per cent of the vote ahead of Conservative incumbent James Cumming with 31 per cent and NDP candidate Heather Mackenzie with 30 per cent. If successful in his bid for election, Boissonnault will likely join Chahal in the federal Liberal cabinet as the two Liberals from Alberta.The race in Edmonton-Centre marks a breakthrough for the NDP with Mackenzie earning the party’s best ever result in the riding.
With NDP incumbent Heather McPherson re-elected with a commanding 59 per cent in Edmonton-Strathcona, it looks like the NDP may have picked up a second seat in Edmonton. As of 11:17pm, Edmonton-Griesbach NDP candidate Blake Desjarlais was leading Conservative incumbent Kerry Diotte by 557 votes with 194 of 232 polls reporting. The NDP poured a lot of resources into Desjarlais’ campaign, with party leader Jagmeet Singh visiting the riding twice during the election and Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley and local MLAs including Janis Irwin lending their support.
The mail-in ballots could help determine the final results in Edmonton-Centre and Edmonton-Griesbach. Elections Canada starts counting those tomorrow.
The Conservative vote dropped to 55 per cent from 69 per cent in the 2019 election. The NDP vote was up to 19 per cent, a big increase from 11 per cent in 2019 and even more than the 16 per cent the NDP earned during Jack Layton‘s Orange Wave of 2011. The Liberal vote is at 15 per cent, up from 13 per cent in 2019.
The People’s Party earned 7 per cent, placing a distant second in most rural ridings but not coming anywhere close to winning a seat in the province. The separatist Maverick Party was a lot of talk but barely showed up on the radar. And Ontario MP Derek Sloan, who moved to Alberta in hopes to win a seat was defeated in Banff-Airdrie, placing fifth with 2 per cent of the vote.
But the biggest loser of the night in Alberta is Premier Jason Kenney, who’s refusal to act early and prevent the deadly fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic damaged Erin O’Toole and the federal Conservatives in the final week of the federal election. Kenney is expected to face serious questions about his leadership when United Conservative Party MLAs meet for a caucus meeting on Wednesday. There are rumours that Kenney might even resign.
There’s a chance that the federal election results in Alberta could end up being less than exciting, with the Conservatives winning most of the province’s seats, but there’s no doubt Alberta had an impact in this federal election: Premier Jason Kenney might have cost Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives their chance at forming government in Ottawa.
The former wonder kid of Canada’s conservative movement, Kenney spent a month in hiding to avoid embarrassing O’Toole only to emerge in the final few days of the campaign to drop a bomb in his federal cousin’s lap. Kenney’s Open for Summer plan that removed all public health restrictions in time for the Calgary Stampede in July led to a vicious fourth wave of COVID-19 that has seen a steep spike in new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Intensive Care Units across Alberta are filling up and Kenney has had to plead with other provinces to take our sick patients if we run out of space.
All non-emergency surgeries in Alberta are cancelled and 75 per cent of the operating rooms at the Alberta Children’s Hospital are closing because doctors and nurses are being redeployed to take care of COVID patients.
Public sector health care unions are urging Kenney to ask the federal government for help from the military and the Red Cross.
O’Toole praised Kenney’s response to the pandemic and has refused to answer questions about it from reporters since Alberta once again declared a State of Public Health Emergency last week.
While the Conservatives are expected to sweep Alberta once again, O’Toole only visited the province once in this election campaign. He spent a morning in Edmonton during the first week of the campaign, making a policy announcement in Edmonton-Centre and stopping for a photo-op at a Jollibee’s before shuffling back to the airport for an afternoon flight to British Columbia.
But unlike recent federal elections, this time the right-wing of the political spectrum is pretty crowded in Alberta.
People’s Party leader Maxime Bernier has taken advantage of O’Toole and Kenney’s perceived political weaknesses by spending a considerable amount of time in Alberta during this election.
Appealing to groups ranging from the vaccine hesitant to indoctrinated COVID conspiracy theorists, Bernier has been attracting large crowds at his Alberta rallies. And his candidates have earned endorsements from former Conservative MP David Yurdiga and former Reform MP Cliff Breitkreuz.
Former Ontario MP Derek Sloan, who was kicked out of the Conservative Party for accepting a donation from a well-known white supremacist, has been embraced the COVID conspiracy theories as he campaigns as an Independent candidate in Banff-Airdrie with the full-support of former Conservative MP Rob Anders.
And then there’s the separatist Maverick Party led by former Conservative MP and oil industry lobbyist Jay Hill, which is still in the mix despite Alberta separatism not being the hot topic it was after the 2019 federal election.
Meanwhile, the silence coming from the United Conservative Party Caucus is deafening.
Aside from dissenting Tweets and Facebook comments from two already disgruntled backbenchers – former cabinet minister and Chestermere-Strathmore MLA Leela Aheer and Calgary-Fish Creek MLA Richard Gotfried – the predicted caucus revolt has not yet spilled out into the public. But maybe that changes if Justin Trudeau’s Liberals form government on Monday.
Directors of the UCP association in Olds-Didsbury-Three-Hills, home of Speaker and former interim leader Nathan Cooper, near unanimously passed a motion calling for a leadership review and party vice-president Joel Mullen is reported to have called for a review.
Kenney’s supporters on the UCP provincial executive headed off previous calls by scheduling leadership review at the party’s Fall 2022 convention, only months ahead of the expected 2023 provincial election.
If O’Toole does not become Prime Minister after the federal ballots are counted, he might not be the only Conservative leader looking for a new job. Kenney’s already embattled leadership could become even more tenuous.
Kerry Diotte unites the NDP in Alberta
In what is likely his biggest single achievement of his political career, Conservative candidate Kerry Diotte has succeeded in bridging the political divide between the provincial and federal NDP in Alberta.
Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was back in Alberta yesterday for his second visit to the Edmonton-Griesbach, where the party believes candidate Blake Desjarlais can unseat Diotte to pick up a second seat for the NDP.
With NDP incumbent Heather McPherson believed to be secure for re-election in Edmonton-Strathcona, the party has been pouring its resources into Griesbach.
And Singh isn’t the only party leader on the campaign trail for Desjarlais.
Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley was on the doors last week helping Desjarlais get his vote out. While Notley tried her best to avoid being involved in the 2019 federal campaign, she and about a dozen NDP MLAs, including local MLAs Janis Irwin and David Eggen have been spotted door knocking with Desjarlais.
Pipelines and the carbon tax kept the NDP cousins apart in 2019, but the possibility of defeating Kerry Diotte has brought the provincial and federal NDP together in 2021.
Liberals have their sights set on Edmonton-Centre, Mill Woods and Calgary-Skyview
The Liberals hope to reestablish a beachhead in Alberta and if they are successful it will likely be in Edmonton-Centre, Edmonton-Mill Woods or Calgary-Skyview.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau only made one brief stop in Alberta during the first week of the election campaign to speak at a rally for Calgary-Skyview candidate George Chahal.
University—Rosedale Liberal candidate and former Edmonton native Chrystia Freeland visited Alberta twice to campaign with candidates in Calgary and Edmonton, including Randy Boissonnault in Edmonton-Centre and Ben Henderson in Edmonton-Mill Woods.
Also visiting Alberta during the campaign were Vancouver-South Liberal candidate Harjit Sajan, who campaigned in Calgary-Centre with Sabrina Grover, and Surrey-Newton Liberal candidate Sukh Dhaliwal, who campaigned with Henderson in Mill Woods.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson endorsed Henderson and campaigned with him in the final days of the election. The two men have served together on Edmonton City Council since 2007.
Voting stations are open from 7:30am to 7:30pm on Sept. 20, 2021.
Alberta is a pretty boring place to spend a federal election. Even as the polls shift nationally, there is a good chance the seat total could be the same as the 2019 election: 33 Conservative and one NDP.
It’s a quiet campaign.
Unlike the 2019 election, when Albertans were still riled up from that year’s April provincial election and federal campaign issues like pipelines and the carbon tax, this year feels sleepy. The majority of Albertans will surely cast their ballots again on September for the Conservative Party, but it might not be with the same level of enthusiasm and gusto as the last election.
But, if there is a chance that any seats could switch parties, here are a few of the ridings where it might happen:
Probably one of the only centres of electoral excitement in Alberta is where Conservative candidate Kerry Diotte is seeking re-election for his third-term against New Democrat Blake Desjarlais.
The NDP are hoping they can elect a second MP from Alberta and are putting that hope into Desjarlais’ campaign. Party leader Jagmeet Singh has visited the riding twice in the past month, spending an entire day campaigning in the district during the first week of the election, and pouring volunteer, financial and online advertising resources into the local campaign.
If the NDP are going to pick up a second seat in Alberta in this election, this is it.
Even NDP MLAs, who shunned the federal party in 2019, have been campaigning with Desjarlais in his bid to unseat Diotte. Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Janis Irwin, Edmonton-Glenora MLA Sarah Hoffman, Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Richard Feehan, Edmonton-South MLA Thomas Dang, Edmonton-North West MLA David Eggen, and Edmonton-West Henday MLA Jon Carson have been spotted on the campaign trail in Edmonton-Griesbach.
Full list of candidates in Edmonton-Griesbach:
Communist: Alex Boykowich
Conservative: Kerry Diotte
Green: Heather Lau
Liberal: Habiba Mohamud
Libertarian: Morgan Watson
Marxist-Leninist: Mary Joyce
NDP: Blake Desjarlais
People’s Party: Thomas Matty
Conservative James Cumming and Liberal Randy Boissonnault are facing each other for the third time since 2015. Boissonnault won the first time they face each other in 2015 and Cumming unseated him in 2019.
NDP candidate Heather MacKenzie, a former public school board trustee and past municipal candidate, is hoping to dislodge the Liberals as the main alternative to the Conservatives.
NDP vote has held firm over the past three elections, suggesting that Boissonnault’s win in 2015 and defeat in 2019 was more about voters switching between the Conservatives and Liberals than a split between the Liberals and NDP.
Toronto Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland stopped in the district at the beginning of the campaign to support Boissonnault’s bid for re-election.
Full list of candidates in Edmonton-Centre:
Conservative: James Cumming
Liberal: Randy Boissonnault
Libertarian: Valerie Keefe
Marxist-Leninist: Merryn Edwards
NDP: Heather Mackenzie
People’s Party: Brock Crocker
Conservative Tim Uppal’s main challenger is city councillor Ben Henderson, who hopped south from his long-held municipal ward to run in his federal district.
While Uppal served as an MP for many terms, this is his first time running for re-election in Edmonton-Mill Woods. He was the MP for Edmonton-Sherwood Park from 2008 to 2015.
The district was represented by Liberal MP Amarjeet Sohi from 2015 to 2019. Sohi is running for Mayor of Edmonton.
Full list of candidates in Edmonton-Mill Woods:
Communist: Naomi Rankin
Conservative: Tim Uppal
Liberal: Ben Henderson
NDP: Nigel Logan
People’s Party: Paul McCormack
It’s a long-shot but if the Liberals are able to salvage their national campaign in the next two weeks they could be in a position to pick up this district that Liberal Kent Hehr won in 2015. In this election Liberal Sabrina Grover is challenging first-term Conservative Greg McLean.
Full list of candidates in Calgary-Centre:
Christian Heritage Party: David Pawlowski
Conservative: Greg McLean
Green: Austin Mullins
Liberal: Sabrina Grover
NDP: Juan Estevez Moreno
Conservative Jag Sahota is facing a challenge from city councillor George Chahal who is running for the Liberals in this northeast Calgary district. Chahal has been endorsed by Mayor Naheed Nenshi, and a handful of city councillors including mayoral election hopefuls Jyoti Gondek and Jeff Davison.
Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau’s plane touched down just long enough for him to appear at a rally in support of Chahal during the first week of the election.
Former MLA Darshan Kang was elected as the Liberal MP in 2015 but left the Liberal caucus after allegations of sexual harassment.
Full list of candidates in Calgary-Skyview:
Centrist Party: Nadeem Rana
Conservative: Jag Sahota
Green: Janna So
Independent: Lee Aquart
Liberal: George Chahal
Marxist-Leninist: Daniel Blanchard
NDP: Gurinder Singh Gill
People’s Party: Harry Dhillon
Conservative candidate Blake Richards will probably safely coast to re-election on September 20, but the cast of conservative characters in this district make it interesting. Richards faces former Ontario Conseravtive MP Derek Sloan, who has relocated to Alberta in order to hold rallies for anti-mask and COVID conspiracy theorists, Maverick Party candidate and rodeo competitor Tariq Elnaga, People’s Party candidate Nadine Wellwood, and Independent separatist candidate Ron Voss.
Full list of candidates in Banff-Airdire:
Conservative: Blake Richards
Green: Aidan Blum
Independent: Caroline O’Driscoll
Independent: Derek Sloan
Independent: Ron Voss
Liberal: David Gamble
Maverick: Tariq Elnaga
NDP: Sarah Zagoda
People’s Party: Nadine Wellwood
The smaller right-wing parties
It has yet to be seen what kind of impact two smaller right-wing parties will have in Alberta in this election.
People’s Party leader Maxime Bernier is in Alberta this week holding a series of rallies and it seems like the right-wing populist party is gaining support among disenchanted conservatives and anti-vaxxer crowds.
Wildrose Independence Party leader Paul Hinman has been spotted at People’s Party events and Bernier also met with Cypress-Medicine Hat Drew Barnes, who currently sits as an Independent MLA after being ejected from the United Conservative Party caucus earlier in the summer. It also appears as though outgoing Fort McMurray-Cold Lake Conservative MP David Yurdiga endorsed the local People’s Party candidate in a post on his personal Facebook account.
The separatist Maverick Party is only running candidates in districts they have determined are not likely to elect a Liberal or NDP MP, which is most of Alberta, but limiting themselves to running in Conservative strongholds has probably eliminated their chances of being relevant in this election.
Former talk radio host Dave Rutherford has been joining Maverick Party interim leader Jay Hill at candidate events across the province.
O’Toole’s first stop in Alberta during the election campaign will come a day after the board of directors of the Fort McMurray-Cold Lake Conservative association released a public letter disagreeing with the party’s decision to appoint Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche United Conservative Party MLA Laila Goodridge as the district’s candidate following MP David Yurdiga’s writ day decision to not seek re-election. Yurdiga had already been nominated as the Conservative candidate earlier this year but decided to withdraw because of health reasons.
The unsigned letter titled as an “Official Board Press Statement” states that “The Fort McMurray-Cold Lake EDA does not support or recognize the undemocratic appointment of the current candidate. This appointment severely undermines the fundamental values of conservatives and everyone’s constitutional right to democracy. Our constituents were cheated of the opportunity to democratically select their candidate and were FORCED by the by the party on who will represent them. Many qualified candidates were not given the opportunity to apply not were their conservative views vetted by the local Board.”
Conservative sources say that the nomination rules permit the party to appoint a candidate after an election is called and that an expedited nomination meeting was not possible due the vacancy in the regional organizer position. It was expected that a nomination race in Fort McMurray-Cold Lake, even a rushed one, would be highly competitive and attract many voting members, requiring significant logistics and organizational support from the party.
The sources say the party has reached out to the disgruntled local board but has not received a response.
Goodridge is currently only facing Maverick Party candidate Jonathan Meyers, People’s Party candidate Shawn McDonald, and Green Party candidate Brian Deheer. The Liberals and NDP have not yet named candidates in the north east Alberta district.
Meanwhile, back in Edmonton, it does not look like O’Toole will be joined tomorrow by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
Kenney last appearance at a public event was a government announcement in La Crete on August 10 ahead of a UCP “town hall” fundraiser in support of Peace River UCP MLA Dan Williams that featured a the Premier and a handful of cabinet ministers.
And candidate nominations continue ahead of the expected election call. Here are some of the latest federal candidate nominations from across Alberta:
Ron Thiering has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate in Edmonton-Wetaskiwin. Thiering was the party’s 2019 candidate in the neighbouring Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan and recently lost a contested nomination in that district to Tanya Holm.
Juan Estevez is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate in Calgary-Centre on August 5.
Sandra Hunter is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-West on August 5.
Desiree Bissonnettte is seeking the NDP nomination in Lakeland and is expected to be nominated on August 5.
Gulshan Akter is seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-Confederation. A nomination meeting is scheduled for August 11. Akter is the managing director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Education and President and CEO of the Peerless Training Institute, a government-accredited private career college in Calgary. She was the NDP candidate in Calgary-West in the 2019 provincial election, where she placed second with 25.4 per cent of the vote behind United Conservative Party MLA Mike Ellis.
Carey Rutherford is the Green Party candidate in Calgary-Forest Lawn.
Melanie Hoffman is the Green Party candidate in Edmonton-Riverbend.
With an election call expected in the coming weeks or months, the Liberal Party of Canada continues to nominate candidates in Alberta.
Randy Boissonnault has been acclaimed as the Liberal Party candidate in Edmonton-Centre. Boissonnault represented the central Edmonton district in Ottawa from 2015 to 2019.
Following weeks of rumours that he was being pressured by Prime Minster Justin Trudeau to run, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson declined the chance to run as the Liberal Party candidate in Edmonton-Centre, clearing the way for Boissonnault’s nomination.
The Liberals have also recently nominated the following candidates:
Getahun Shawile in Bow River.
Habiba Mohamud in Edmonton-Griesbach. Mohamud was the party’s candidate in the 2019 election, where she placed third with 17.2 per cent of the vote.
Tariq Chaudary in Edmonton-Riverbend. Chaudary was the party’s candidate in the 2015 and 2019 election. In 2019, he placed second with 22.9 per cent of the vote.
Adam Brown in Edmonton-West
Greg Springate in St. Albert-Edmonton. Springate was the party’s candidate in the 2019 election, where he placed second with 19.1 per cent of the vote.
Odd is the Executive Director of the Alberta Environmental Network, one of the groups that spearheaded the incredibly successful “Defend Alberta Parks” campaign against the UCP government’s plans to close or privatize more than 170 provincial parks. This is her third time running as the Green Party candidate in this district.
The right-wing People’s Party has nominated Bailey Bedard in Calgary-Heritage, Thomas Matty in Edmonton-Centre and Paul McCormack in Edmonton-Mill Woods. And the separatist Maverick Party has chosen Matt Magolan in Calgary-Midnapore.
Dr. Sunil Sookram running for Senate
A fourth candidate has put their name forward to run in Alberta’s Senate Nominee election, which will take place on the same day as the province’s municipal elections on October 18, 2021.
University of Alberta Hospital emergency medicine physician and former AHS EMS Medical Director Dr. Sunil Sookram has filed his papers to run as an Independent candidate.
The northeast Calgary district was represented by Liberal MP Darshan Kang from 2015 until he left the Liberal caucus in 2017 following allegations of sexual harassment. The former two-term Liberal MLA sat as an Independent until his term was complete and did not seek re-election in 2019.
Rick Peterson out of Conservative race in Edmonton-Strathcona
It appears as though former Conservative Party leadership candidate Rick Peterson is no longer seeking his party’s nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona. While neither Peterson nor the party have made any official public statement, Conservative Party sources say that he was disqualified from the race by the central party.
It now appears likely that his opponent, Tunde Obsan, the only other candidate in the race, will be acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona. Obasan was the 2019 United Conservative Party candidate in Edmonton-South and is an audit manager with the provincial Department of Alberta Treasury Board and Finance.
Edmonton-Strathcona is currently represented by NDP MP Heather McPherson.
Don Iveson running in Edmonton-Centre?
Rumours continue to circulate that Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson could seek the federal Liberal nomination in Edmonton-Centre. Rumours about Iveson jumping into federal politics have been around for years, but his decision to not seek re-election as mayor and the proximity to an impending federal election has given new fuel to the speculation.
Iveson was first elected to City Council in 2007 and has served as Mayor since 2013. He is currently the chairperson of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Big City Mayors’ Caucus.
Former Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault, who represented the district from 2015 to 2019, has already announced his intentions to seek his party’s nomination.
The NDP have nominated Shawn Gray in Edmonton Riverbend.
Austin Mullins is now running for the Green Party nomination in Calgary-Centre. Mills had previously announced his intentions to seek the party’s nomination in Banff-Airdire, where he ran in 2019.
The right-wing People’s Party have nominated Dennis Trepanier in Battle River-Crowfoot, Edward Gao in Calgary-Confederation, Jonathan Hagel in Calgary-Midnapore, Kyle Scott in Calgary-Nose Hill, Michael Knoll in Calgary-Shepard, Brent Kinzel in Edmonton-West, Brigitte Yolande Maria Cecelia in St. Albert-Edmonton, and Murray MacKinnon in Sturgeon River-Parkland.
The party has also nominated two time Wildrose Party candidate Darryl Boisson in Peace River-Westlock and is expected to nominate Ben Whyte in Calgary-Rocky Ridge at a meeting on July 29.
The separatist Maverick Party has nominated Orrin Bliss in Bow River, Annelise Freeman in Calgary-Heritage, Josh Wylie in Foothills, and Physical Education and Social Studies teacher Todd Muir in Yellowhead.
The only exception to the wave of unchallenged nominations is in Edmonton Strathcona, where Tunde Obasan and Rick Peterson are seeking the Conservative nomination to challenge New Democratic Party MP Heather McPherson, who was also acclaimed, in the next federal election. This is the only district in Alberta not currently represented by a Conservative MP.
Meanwhile, there is a surprise east of Edmonton. Two candidates have announced their plans to seek the Liberal Party nomination in the Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan district east of Edmonton. Tanya Reeb Holm and Ron Thiering are seeking the nomination at a meeting scheduled for June 22, 2021. Thiering was acclaimed as the party’s candidate in this riding in 2019 and finished in third place with 9.9 per cent in that year’s federal election.
Incumbent Member of Parliament Garnett Genuis has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate.
John Kuhn has been nominated as the separatist Maverick Party candidate. Kuhn was elected as mayor of the southern Alberta town of Bassano in 2007 but resigned four months later.
Banff-Airdrie: MP Blake Richards has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. Richards was first elected in 2008. Tariq Elnaga has been nominated as the Maverick Party candidate. Elnaga is Vice President of the Cochrane Roping Club and the Chute Experience Director with the Airdrie Pro Rodeo.
Battle River-Crowfoot – Doug Karwandy has been nominated as the Maverick Party candidate.
Calgary-Centre: Sabrina Grover is seeking the Liberal Party nomination in this central Calgary district. Grover is a Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer Nutrition International and Principal of Provoke Public Relations. She was active in the Progressive Conservative Party in the mid-2010s. The district was represented by Liberal MP Kent Hehr from 2015 to 2019. Michael Pewtress is running as an Independent candidate in this district.
Calgary Forest Lawn: MP Jasraj Singh Hallan has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. Hallan was first elected in 2019.
Calgary Heritage – MP Bob Benzen has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. Benzen was first elected in the 2017 by-election held to replace former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Calgary Nose Hill: Jessica Dale-Walker is seeking the Liberal Party nomination.
Calgary Rocky Ridge: Dave Robinson has been nominated as the Maverick Party candidate.
Calgary Skyview: Harry Dhillon has been nominated as the People’s Party candidate.
Calgary Signal Hill: Ajay Coop has been nominated as the Maverick Party candidate.
Edmonton Centre: MP James Cumming has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. Cumming was first elected in 2019 when he defeated Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault.
Edmonton Griesbach: MP Kerry Diotte has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. Diotte served one-term on city council before he was elected to the House of Commons in 2015.
Edmonton Riverbend: MP Matt Jeneroux has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. Jeneroux was first elected as MP in 2015 and previously served as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Edmonton-South West from 2012 to 2015. Shawn Gray is seeking the NDP nomination, which is scheduled to take place on June 15.
Edmonton West: MP Kelly McCauley has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. McCauley was first elected in 2015.
Edmonton Wetaskiwin: Tyler Beauchamp has been nominated as the People’s Party candidate. Travis Calliou no longer running as a Veterans Coalition Party candidate.
Foothills: MP John Barlow has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. Barlow was first elected in 2015.
Grande Prairie-Mackenzie: Benita Pedersen has been nominated as the People’s Party candidate.
Eleven days have passed since Alberta’s provincial election in which Albertans voted in droves and gave our province its first ever one-term government. That alone provides a lot of reflect on, but there is so much more.
Having taken a much-needed vacation after the election (I was on an early flight out of the country on the morning following election night), I now have some thoughts on the results and what they could mean for Alberta and the political parties.
First, the voter turnout was high. The official results of the election were released this week, showing that 64 per cent of eligible voters in Alberta participated in the election. This is down from the previous voter turnout numbers released by Elections Alberta before the count was official that showed a 71 per cent turnout. While the numbers are not as fantastic as 71 per cent, this election marks the highest turnout since the 1982 election, which was 66 per cent.
The high turnout in advance voting, in particular the “vote anywhere” ballots that allowed Albertans to vote at any advance polling station in the province, was remarkable. More than 700,000 votes were cast at the advance polls, with more than 260,000 of them being “vote anywhere” advance ballots. This was the first time this option was allowed in an Alberta election, and it appears that many Albertans liked the option of voting anywhere during the 5-days of advance voting.
The United Conservative Party elected 63 MLAs and earned a remarkable 1,040,004 votes, the highest of any political party in Alberta’s history. That party’s 54.9 per cent is the highest earned by a political party since the Progressive Conservatives in the 2001 election. It appears as though much of the UCP’s popular vote was boosted by significant landslide victories in rural districts across the province, making rural MLAs a powerful force in the UCP caucus.
While the internal politics of this relatively new party are still evolving, incoming-premier Jason Kenney has a strong mandate to implement his incoming government’s agenda. Kenney has said he will appoint a cabinet by the end of April and hold a session of the Legislative Assembly in May, kicking off what he previously described as a “Summer of Repeal.” Kenney has pledged to dismantle many of the NDP’s flagship programs, including the Climate Leadership Plan and Energy Efficiency Alberta.
The large UCP caucus only includes one MLA with previous provincial cabinet experience, Calgary-Hays MLA Ric McIver, so the learning curve will be steep for those appointed by Kenney next week. But like the NDP when it formed government in 2015, the UCP in 2019 will be bolstered by legions of career political staffers migrating to Alberta over the next few months.
Kenney is expected to continue to focus on his three key talking points from the election campaign – jobs, economy and pipelines – which is also expected to include a heavy does of political rhetoric aimed at Ottawa, Justin Trudeau, and anyone from outside Alberta who dares criticize the oil and gas sector (which will certainly keep Kenney busy).
The social conservative issues that dogged Kenney and many now elected UCP MLAs will not be his focus, but the social conservative groups who make up critical elements of his electoral coalition will expect to be rewarded for their loyalty. This could potentially create a difficult balancing act over the next four years.
The New Democratic Party was unable to get re-elected into government, but earned 619,147 votes, the party’s highest ever vote total. The larger voter turnout and consolidation of conservative votes around UCP candidates meant the NDP only earned 32.7 per cent of the vote and elected 24 MLAs, which is still one of the largest elected opposition caucuses in Alberta’s history. The NDP vote was heavily concentrated within Edmonton city limits, delivering the party all but one of the capital city’s electoral districts.
Outgoing-Premier Rachel Notley has pledged to stay on as party leader, which is a positive outcome for the NDP after its election defeat. Notley is the party’s strongest asset and is probably key to why the party formed government in 2015 and was not decimated in this election.
While the NDP sometimes tends to act like it is more inclined for life on the opposition benches, the new official opposition caucus will only have 3 MLAs who previously served in opposition (Notley, Edmonton-North West MLA David Eggen and Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview MLA Deron Bilous). This is the first time the NDP will form official opposition since its previous tenure in the role from 1982 to 1993.
A struggle for the new NDP caucus and for the NDP internally will be to decide whether it wants to remain the centre-leftish liberal-like party it was in government or whether it should return to something closer to its social democratic roots.
While I have a hard time expecting the NDP’s advocacy for oil pipelines to waver, the party has the opportunity to present a strong alternative to the UCP on issues ranging from climate change to support for strong public services like health care and education. Support for pipelines might be the biggest challenge the NDP will have to reconcile with if it wants to be seen as a serious advocate for action against climate change.
The Alberta Party lost all 3 of its seats in the Assembly despite having high-profile former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel at its helm. The Alberta Party increased its popular vote to 9.1 per cent but none of its candidates came close to being elected. Even in Calgary-Elbow, popular opposition MLA and former party leader Greg Clark fell more than 3,000 votes short of being re-elected.
This result should prompt some serious internal discussions about what role the moderate conservative party plays in Alberta politics, especially as it now has no presence in the Assembly.
For the first time in 33 years the Liberal Party has no presence in the Assembly. Leader David Khan performed well in the televised leaders’ debate and was expected to have a shot at being elected in Calgary-Mountain View, the seat being vacated by retiring four-term Liberal MLA David Swann. But when the votes were counted Khan finished in fourth place with 5.6 per cent. The party only fielded 51 candidates and earned 18,546 votes, which translated into 1 per cent of the vote.
The Liberals will continue to exist on paper but for all intents and purposes the party that formed the official opposition from 1993 to 2012 has ceased to exist as a political force in Alberta.
Disgruntled former Wildrose and UCP MLA Derek Fildebrandt’s Freedom Conservative Party barely registered on the electoral radar. Running candidates only 24 districts, the populist-UCP spinoff finished with 9,945 votes province-wide. Fildebrandt finished a distant third in Chestermere-Strathmore, 61 per cent behind UCP MLA Leela Aheer.
Despite the crushing loss, Fildebrandt carries no shortage of political ambition. My bet is that he will show on a ballot as a People’s Party of Canada candidate in the October 2019 federal election.
I am planning on taking a closer look at the district and regional level results over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for more analysis and commentary about the results of Alberta’s election.