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Alberta Politics

Five candidates vying for ‘do-over’ NDP nomination vote in Calgary-Klein

An Alberta NDP nomination in a competitive north central Calgary riding is drawing a crowd. There are now five candidates vying to become the next NDP candidate in Calgary-Klein.

Canadian Natural Resources Limited environmental coordinator Brady Adkins is the latest candidate to join the race. Adkins joins policy analyst Mattie McMillan, Calgary Climate Hub director and past city council candidate Angela McIntyre, retired nurse and infection control professional Laurie O’Neil, and Calgary-Mountain View constituency manager Lizette Tejada.

Jeremy Nixon MLA Calgary-Klein UCP
Jeremy Nixon

The NDP held the riding from 2015 to 2019, with Craig Coolahan as MLA, but a giant blue wave and boundary changes before the last election led to the NDP losing it in 2019 to United Conservative Party candidate Jeremy Nixon by 1,697 votes.

Nixon ran as the Wildrose Party candidate in 2012 and 2015, making 2023 his fourth time running in the riding, so he’s well known to voters in the area. He’s now Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services and he’s running for re-election.

It is one of two remaining ridings in Calgary without an NDP candidate (Calgary-Lougheed is the other) and the party sees this as a key riding to win in the May 2023 election. NDP MLAs from neighbouring ridings and from Edmonton have been frequently spotted helping out local volunteers during door-to-door canvasses, but this is the NDP’s second time holding a vote to choose a candidate.

Marilyn North Peigan Alberta NDP Calgary-Klein nomination
Marilyn North Peigan

NDP members in the riding selected past city council candidate Marilyn North Peigan as their candidate in a March 2022 nomination contest, which also attracted two other candidates, McMillan and former Suncor human resources director Heather Eddy. But North Peigan’s candidacy was revoked in November 2022 after she sent out a series of tweets about the Calgary Stampede board of directors that were described as defamatory.

North Peigan later apologized for her posts, saying they were ‘untrue, disrespectful and hurtful.’

The speed of North Peigan’s disqualification was a clear signal of how serious and sensitive Rachel Notley‘s NDP are about anything that could derail their chances of making gains in Calgary in the next election.

So now the NDP are holding a second vote in a more crowded nomination race on February 15 at the Winston Heights Community Association. Whoever wins that vote will have a lot of ground to make up in a short period of time. The election is in 118 days.

Calgary-Klein is on my list of ridings to watch in 2023.


Upcoming nomination meetings

Candidate nomination votes are currently scheduled for the following dates:

  • February 6 – Innisfail-Sylvan Lake NDP
  • February 13 – Drumheller-Stettler NDP
  • February 15 – Calgary-Klein NDP
  • February 15 – Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre NDP
  • February 17 – Lacombe-Ponoka UCP
  • February 23 – Calgary-Fish Creek UCP
  • February 25 – Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock NDP
  • February 28 – Cypress-Medicine Hat NDP

The Daveberta Podcast is back, now on Substack

Daveberta Dave CournoyerA big thank you to everyone who has listened, shared and sent feedback about the newly relaunched Daveberta Podcast, now exclusively found on the Daveberta Substack.

We are very excited to be back podcasting and look forward to sharing some exciting news about the Substack soon.

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Daveberta Podcast

Episode 84: The Daveberta Podcast is back! Now on the Daveberta Substack.

The Daveberta Podcast is back after a brief 11-month semi-permanent hiatus! Enjoy the podcast and find future episodes exclusively at the podcast’s new home on the Daveberta Substack.

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Alberta Politics

He’s back, again! Former Liberal leader and aspiring UCP leadership candidate Raj Sherman running for UCP nomination in Edmonton-Whitemud

Despite being rejected as a candidate for the United Conservative Party leadership last year, former Liberal Party leader Dr. Raj Sherman is running for the UCP nomination in Edmonton-Whitemud.

Running on a leadership platform to fix the health care system, Sherman requested an exemption to run in the race for not being a party member for 6 months.

While the UCP Leadership Election Committee granted a waiver for prospective leadership candidate Michelle Rempel Garner, Sherman’s application was rejected by the UCP. But that didn’t stop him from continuing to act like an approved candidate all the way up until the final entry deadline.

The party has opened up nominations in Edmonton-Whitemud but has not signalled if they plan to let Sherman actually enter the race.

Sherman served as MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark as a Progressive Conservative from 2008 to 2010, as an Independent MLA from 2010 to 2011 and as a Liberal from 2011 to 2015. He led the Alberta Liberal Party from 2011 to 2015.

Edmonton-Whitemud has been represented by Alberta NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi since 2019, when she was elected with 49.18 per cent of the vote.

AUPE’s Heisted running for NDP nomination in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake

Jason Heistad Innisfail-Sylvan Lake NDP candidate nomination
Jason Heistad (source: AUPE)

Innisfail Town Councillor and AUPE Executive Secretary-Treasurer Jason Heistad is running for the NDP nomination in the central Alberta riding of Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.

Heistad was first elected to town council in 2010 and was re-elected in 2021 with the most votes of any councillor candidate. He was elected to his fifth term as AUPE’s Executive Secretary-Treasurer in 2021.

A nomination vote is scheduled for February 6.

The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA and cabinet minister Devin Dreeshen.

UCP MLA Pat Rehn not running for re-election

Pat Rehn and Jason Kenney during the 2019 election.
Pat Rehn and then-UCP leader Jason Kenney during the 2019 election.

Lesser Slave Lake UCP MLA Pat Rehn is not running for re-election. It’s not a surprise but a confirmation of what a lot of people thought would happen.

Danielle Larivee NDP Lesser Slave Lake
Danielle Larivee

The one-term MLA was ejected from the UCP Caucus in January 2021 after taking a trip to Mexico in defiance of his own government’s COVID-19 travel recommendations.

Local municipal officials also called on Rehn to resign for being invisible in the riding and allegedly spending more time focusing on his business interests in Texas than on being MLA for Lesser Slave Lake.

Rehn was allowed to rejoin the UCP Caucus in July 2021 and he endorsed Danielle Smith in the party’s 2022 leadership race.

Martine Carifelle and Scott Sinclair are seeking the UCP nomination. The NDP have nominated registered nurse Danielle Larivee, who represented the riding from 2015 to 2019 and served as a cabinet minister in Rachel Notley‘s first government.

More nomination updates

With just over four months until the next provincial election, the Alberta NDP have nominated candidates in 69 of Alberta’s 87 ridings. The UCP have candidates named in 52 ridings and the Green Party has 25 candidates. The Alberta Party has nominated 3 candidates and the Liberal Party has one.

Here are more of the latest nomination updates from across Alberta:

United Conservative Party
Alberta NDP
  • Calgary-Klein: Mattie McMillan, Angela McIntyre and Lizette Tejada are running for the NDP nomination in Calgary-Klein on February 15.
  • Drumheller-Stettler: Stettler pharmacist Juliet Franklin is running for the NDP nomination in this sprawling east central Alberta riding. A nomination meeting is scheduled for February 13, 2023.
  • Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: Fisheries biologist Vance Buchwald is running for the NDP nomination in this sprawling west central Alberta riding. A nomination meeting scheduled for February 15, 2023. In 2021, Buchwald urged Clearwater County Council to take a stand against coal mining development near Nordegg.
Green Party of Alberta
  • The Green Party has nominated Regan Boychuk in Banff-Kananaskis, Ahmad Hassan in Calgary-Falconridge, Kenneth Drysdale in Calgary-Klein, and Cheri Hawley in Edmonton-Whitemud.
  • Heather Morigeau has withdrawn her candidacy in Calgary-Buffalo, as has Jonathan Parks in Calgary-Currie.
Alberta Party

The Alberta Party has opened up nominations in Calgary-Varsity. Nominations closed on January 15. If more than one candidate entered the race a nomination vote will be held on January 29, 2023.


Subscribe to the Daveberta Substack

Daveberta Dave CournoyerSubscribe to the Daveberta Substack and get my regular Alberta politics column, like my recent columns about the Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, delivered straight into your email inbox.

I have some fun and exciting news to share about the Substack coming soon, so don’t miss out.

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Alberta Politics

Vote in the Best of Alberta Politics 2022 Survey – Vote for the Top 3

With thousands of submissions made to the sixth annual Best of Alberta Politics 2022 survey, your choices have been sorted and you can now vote for the top 3 choices in each category. Voting is open until Dec. 22, 2022 at 8:00 pm and the winners will be announced shortly after at daveberta.ca. Thank you to everyone who voted.

Here are the top choices in each category:

1. Who was the best Alberta MLA of 2022? – VOTE

  • Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
  • Rachel Notley, MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona
  • Jordan Walker, MLA for Sherwood Park

Honourable mentions to runners-up Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Rakhi Pancholi and Central Peace-Notley MLA Todd Loewen.

2. Who was the best Alberta cabinet minister of 2022? – VOTE

  • Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism
  • Travis Toews, Minister of Finance
  • Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations

Honourable mention to runner-up Minister of Health Jason Copping.

3. Who was the best opposition MLA of 2022? – VOTE

  • Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
  • Rachel Notley, MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona
  • Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge-West

Honourable mention to runners-up Edmonton-City Centre MLA David Shepherd and Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Rakhi Pancholi.

4. Who is the up and coming MLA to watch in 2023? – VOTE

  • Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
  • Rakhi Pancholi, MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud
  • Danielle Smith, Premier and MLA for Brooks-Medicine Hat

Honourable mentions to runners-up Calgary-Shaw MLA Rebecca Schulz.

5. Who is the candidate to watch in the 2023 election? – VOTE

Candidates to watch in 2023 Alberta Election Nagwan Al-Guneid Brooks Arcand-Paul Denis Ram
Nagwan Al-Guneid, Brooks Arcand-Paul, and Denis Ram (source: AlbertaNDP.ca)
  • Nagwan Al-Guneid, NDP candidate in Calgary-Glenmore
  • Brooks Arcand-Paul, NDP candidate in Edmonton-West Henday
  • Denis Ram, NDP candidate in Calgary-Peigan

Honourable mentions to Edmonton-South NDP candidate Rhiannon Hoyle and Edmonton-Rutherford Green Party candidate Jordan Wilkie.

6. What was the biggest issue of 2022? – VOTE

  • The crisis in the health care system
  • Inflation/Cost of Living
  • The Alberta Sovereignty Act

7. What was the biggest political play of 2022 in Alberta? – VOTE

  • Danielle Smith winning the UCP leadership
  • Jason Kenney losing the UCP leadership
  • The Alberta Sovereignty Act

Subscribe to the Daveberta Substack

Daveberta Dave CournoyerSubscribe to the Daveberta Substack and get my regular Alberta politics column, like my recent columns about the Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, delivered straight into your email inbox.

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Alberta Politics

Keith Plowman challenging UCP MLA Tany Yao in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, Hassan Bokhari joins Calgary-North NDP nomination race

Keith Plowman is challenging MLA Tany Yao for the United Conservative Party nomination in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. A nomination meeting has been scheduled for December 4.

“The last major announcement that we had with provincial money in Fort McMurray was Willow Square and that was with the NDP government,” Plowman told Fort McMurray Today. “I’m concerned that, with the amount of money and oil royalties that go out of Fort McMurray to the rest of the province, it’s a little disappointing that we don’t have more of that money coming back to Fort McMurray.”

Plowman is the President of the Fort McMurray Construction Association and was a candidate for Athabasca County Council in October 2021.

He is a director of the Athabasca Chamber of Commerce and his biography on that organization’s website says he “moved to Athabasca in 2010” and resides “on a small farm in the Forfar area.”

Yao was first elected as a Wildrose Party candidate in 2015 and was re-elected under the UCP banner in 2019 with 71 per cent of the vote.

Bokhari second candidate to enter Calgary-North NDP race

Hassan Bokhari NDP Calgary-North Nomination Candidate
Hassan Bokhari (source: Hassan Bokhari/Facebook)

Real estate agent Hassan Bokhari is the second candidate to enter the Alberta NDP nomination in Calgary-North.

Bokhari joins Moses Mariam in the nomination contest. A nomination meeting is scheduled for December 17.

The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA Muhammad Yaseen.

The NDP also added two new members to their slate of candidates last week: Justin Huseby in Calgary-South East and Denis Ram in Calgary-Peigan.

Wellwood disqualification upheld

Danielle Smith and Nadine Wellwood United Conservative Party Take Back Alberta
Premier Danielle Smith and Nadine Wellwood at the Take Back Alberta hospitality suite at the UCP AGM (source: Nadine Wellwood/Twitter)

The UCP has upheld the disqualification of Nadine Wellwood as a nomination candidate in Livingstone-Macleod.

As reported by the CBC, Wellwood had advocated for debunked COVID-19 treatments like ivermectin and compared vaccine passports to policies enacted by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime.

Wellwood claimed to have sold 800 UCP memberships in the southwest Alberta riding and was the only candidate in the race after MLA Roger Reid withdrew the day after the entry deadline.

Third candidate joins Calgary-Elbow UCP race

Lawyer Chris Davis joins Jon Horsman and Andrea James in the UCP nomination contest in Calgary-Elbow.

Davis was a candidate for Calgary City Council in 2017 and ran for the party’s nomination in the riding in 2018 and was defeated by Doug Schweitzer.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Davis has worked as Senior Manager of Legal Services for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo since 2020.

Schweitzer resigned as MLA on August 31, 2022 and because Premier Danielle Smith refused to call a concurrent by-election when she ran in Brooks-Medicine Hat the riding’s seat in the Legislature will remain vacant until the May 2023 election.

A nomination vote is being held on December 3.

Other nomination updates

  • Joan Chand’oiseau is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate in Calgary-West at a nomination meeting on November 16.
  • The UCP have opened nominations in Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin. The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA Rick Wilson.

Seen on the doors

Karen Shaw Rachel Notley Morinville-St. Albert NDP candidate
Karen Shaw with Rachel Notley and a campaign volunteer canvassing in Morinville on November 12 (source: Rachel Notley/Twitter)

NDP leader Rachel Notley and MLAs Marie Renaud and Lorne Dach joined local candidate Karen Shaw and volunteers for an afternoon of door-knocking in Morinville-St. Albert this past weekend.

Shaw is a former four-term Sturgeon County Councillor. The NDP see the riding north of Edmonton as a must-win in the next election. The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA Dale Nally.

Total nominated candidates

The NDP have nominated candidates in 64 of Alberta’s 87 ridings. The UCP have candidates named in 36 ridings and the Green Party has 18 candidates. The Alberta Party has nominated 3 candidates and the Liberal Party has one.

Here are the scheduled upcoming nominations:

  • November 16 – Calgary-West NDP
  • November 20 – Airdrie-East NDP
  • November 23 – Livingstone-Macleod NDP
  • November 26 – St. Albert UCP
  • December 2 & 3 – Drayton Valley-Devon UCP
  • December 3 – Calgary-Elbow UCP
  • December 4 – Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo UCP
  • December 8 – West Yellowhead NDP
  • December 17 – Calgary-North NDP

I am building a list of candidates running for party nominations, so if you are seeking a nomination and would like you name added to the list please let me know. Thanks!

(Subscribe to the Daveberta Substack and get my bi-weekly Alberta politics column delivered straight into your email inbox)

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Alberta Politics

Notley’s NDP leads in Q3 fundraising report

Elections Alberta disclosures from the third financial quarter of 2022 released today show Rachel Notley‘s NDP raised $1,435,563.94 , which is slightly more than the party raised in the second quarter of 2022.

The United Conservative Party, now led by Danielle Smith reported $974,640.57 in fundraising, a jump from the $521,175.21 raised in the last quarter. The resignation of Jason Kenney and the party’s leadership race may have sparked the interest and support of donors who had been financially withholding their support in previous months.

The Pro-Life Alberta Political Association placed third again this quarter, raising $51,126.94. The party was formed in 2017 after a group of of anti-abortion activists renamed the old Social Credit Party after taking it over in 2016. The party operates as a political action committee with the ability to issue generous tax receipts for political donations.

Here are what all of Alberta’s political parties are reporting they fundraised in the third quarter of 2022:

Alberta NDP: $1,435,563.94
United Conservative Party: $974,640.57
Pro-Life Alberta Political Association: $51,126.94
Alberta Party: $25,358.41
Liberal Party: $18,014.50
Independence Party of Alberta: $12,683.50
Green Party: $2,073.88
Wildrose Independence Party: $227.70
Alberta Advantage Party: $77.00

The Buffalo Party. Communist Party and Reform Party reported no money raised in July, August or September of 2022.

Report doesn’t tell the whole story, on purpose

Changes made by the UCP to political finance laws in 2021, money raised by constituency associations are no longer included in the quarterly disclosures. Constituency-level fundraising is now reported annually.

These disclosures released today show the full amount the NDP has fundraised because they report all their fundraising activity through the central party.

The other parties, including the UCP, report their constituency-level fundraising separately. So this disclosure, for example, would not include the funds raised by the Lacombe-Ponoka and Red Deer-North UCP constituency associations from their annual Derby fundraiser.

It is also unclear how much of funds were collected by the UCP in their leadership race, including membership sales and the $150,000 candidate entrance fee. I expect this will be disclosed in the party’s annual report to Elections Alberta, which should be released in early 2023.


Daveberta Substack reaches 1200 subscribers

A big thank you to everyone who has subscribed to the Daveberta Substack. We reached 1,200 subscribers yesterday!

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Alberta Politics

Danielle Smith wins the United Conservative Party leadership race, becomes Alberta’s next Premier

I’m back,” were the first words to come out of Danielle Smith‘s mouth when she reached the podium after winning on the sixth ballot of the United Conservative Party leadership race.

It’s the political comeback story of the year, one that might only be surpassed by Rachel Notley if she is able to lead the NDP back into power in next year’s election.

It’s a win but it’s not the strong overwhelming mandate that Smith’s supporters have been boasting about over the past few weeks.

More on this soon over on the Daveberta Substack, but until then here’s are the results.

First ballot

  • Danielle Smith – 41.3%
  • Travis Toews – 29.4%
  • Brian Jean – 11%
  • Todd Loewen – 7.7%
  • Rebecca Schulz – 6.9%
  • Rajan Sawhney – 2.1%
  • Leela Aheer – 1.6%

Second ballot

  • Danielle Smith – 41.4%
  • Travis Toews – 29.7%
  • Brian Jean – 11.3%
  • Todd Loewen – 7.7%
  • Rebecca Schulz – 7.3%
  • Rajan Sawhney – 2.7%

Third ballot

  • Danielle Smith – 41.7%
  • Travis Toews – 30.4%
  • Brian Jean – 12.1%
  • Todd Loewen – 8.0%
  • Rebecca Schulz – 7.8%

Fourth ballot

  • Danielle Smith – 46.2%
  • Travis Toews – 31.9%
  • Brian Jean – 13.5%
  • Todd Loewen – 8.4%

Fifth ballot

  • Danielle Smith – 47.7%
  • Travis Toews – 37.4%
  • Brian Jean – 14.8%

Sixth ballot

  • Danielle Smith – 53.7%
  • Travis Toews – 46.2%
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Alberta Politics

“Alberta Premier Danielle Smith?” Get used to it.

Chris Brown and I discuss the last month in the United Conservative Party leadership race, Danielle Smith’s unexpected rise to the top, and how a Smith led UCP will do against Notley’s NDP in 2023 (or sooner) on the latest episode of the Cross Border Interviews Podcast.

Watch the interview here:

Subscribe and listen to Chris Brown’s Cross Border Podcast on Apple and Spotify.

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Alberta Politics

Alberta is calling. Answer the phone if you dare.

RING RING.

CANADA: Hello?

JASON: Hi there, it’s Premier Jason Kenney calling to tell you about how affordable houses are in Alberta.

CANADA: Ok, cool, eh.

JASON: Salaries are higher and we have mountains and a big mall. We also…

BEEP BEEP

CANADA: Just a minute Jason I have another call.

DANIELLE: Hi, this is Danielle Smith the front runner to become the next Premier of Alberta. I’m calling to warn you that Justin Trudeau, international bankers and Greta Thunberg are building an army of climate change police to take away your trucks.

CANADA: Sorry, what?

DANIELLE: That’s why I’m going to pass a law that lets Alberta ignore federal laws.

CANADA: …what…?

DANIELLE: We need your vote, except if you’re a secret communist, then you’re not welcome in Alberta.

CANADA: uh….

BEEP BEEP

CANADA: Danielle I’m going to put you on hold.

Hello?

TRAVIS: Hi, this is Travis Toews. I’m calling to tell you that Justin Trudeau’s climate change police are trespassing on your farm.

CANADA: Uh, I think that’s what Danielle Smith already called me about. 

TRAVIS: [silence]

CLICK.

BEEP BEEP.

BRIAN: Hi, this is Brian Jean. I want to talk to you about Alberta Autonomy.

CANADA: Sorry, you want to talk to me about your anatomy?

BRIAN. No. Autonomy.

CANADA: Um, ok. Like separatism?

BRIAN: No, autonomy.

CANADA: Um, ok…

BEEP BEEP.

JASON: Hi, it’s Jason Kenney calling again. Have you thought about moving to Alberta?

CANADA: Uh, yeah, about that, I think we’re going to wait to see how things turn out next May. Do you have Rachel’s number?

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Alberta Politics

Into the Wilderness. Nobody wants to lead the Alberta Liberal Party

“This Leadership Race is an exciting opportunity to build our party, debate ideas, discuss strategy and reach out to Albertans,” wrote Alberta Liberal Party president Helen Mcmenamin in a June 13 statement on the party website.

“They are looking for leadership they can trust to tackle the issues of today and the challenges of tomorrow.”

Albertans might be looking for leadership to tackle the issues of today and the challenges of tomorrow but they won’t find it from the Alberta Liberal Party, at least not right now.

Last Friday’s 5:00 p.m. deadline for candidates to enter the leadership race came and went without any announcement. Anyone who was watching assumed there were just no candidates in the race.

That proved to be the case. 

Mcmenamin issued another statement yesterday. 

“As no candidates have stepped forward the Leadership race has concluded with no permanent Leader being selected,” she wrote.

It’s a blow to an already much diminished political party.

It’s not something I take pleasure writing about. It’s actually kind of sad.

Some current and former Liberal activists I’ve reached out to over the past few days point to in-fighting and a party executive controlled by a small group of people. Some say the current group is too loyal to the former leader and not open to new ideas. Some say they will just appoint a new interim leader of their choice.

The smaller the stakes the bigger the fight, right?

The Liberals have no MLAs and got less than 1 per cent of the province-wide vote in 2019. 

That’s the party’s worst result since 1940, and even then they managed to elect 1 MLA.

They have struggled raising money and have been without a permanent leader since David Khan resigned in 2020.

Being leader of the Alberta Liberal party right now is not even a thankless job, it’s whatever the next level is after thankless.

And the party has really been without a purpose for a while.

It wasn’t too long ago that the Liberal Party formed the Official Opposition in Alberta. This was the party of Nick Taylor, Laurence Decore, Grant Mitchell and Kevin Taft. And it’s MLAs included Bettie Hewes, Sheldon Chumir, Mike Percy, Gary Dickson, Frank Bruseker, Howard Sapers and Laurie Blakeman – people who’s impact on politics is still felt today.

The space occupied by the Liberals shifted quite a bit over the decades.

Decore’s Liberals witnessed the party’s greatest success in 75 years when it came within a whisker of forming government in 1993. A record 32 Liberal MLAs formed the largest official opposition in Alberta history.

But an informal alliance with socially conservative Reform Party activists and its deficit hawk policies made for an awkward transition to an opponent of some of those same policies when they were implemented by Klein in the mid-1990s.

The party recalibrated under Mitchell in 1997 and was able to hold on to its seats in Edmonton, but 2001 represented a major blow when the party then led by Klein rival Nancy MacBeth was reduced to 7 MLAs and saddled with a million dollar debt.

The party rebounded under Kevin Taft’s leadership in 2004 when they regained much of their support in Edmonton and made important breakthroughs in Calgary.

Albertans were tiring of Klein and shopping around.

Despite winning an important by-election in Calgary-Elbow in 2007, the Liberals lost a lot of ground when facing Ed Stelmach’s PCs in 2008. It turned out the PCs brilliant “Change that works for Albertans” message did a better job of capturing the Obama-theme than “It’s Time.”

It was all downhill for the Liberals after that election.

By this point the Alberta Liberal Party had become less of a cohesive political party and more a coalition of independent-minded and locally popular MLAs. 

Former PC MLA turned Liberal leader Raj Sherman was squeezed out of 2012’s two way race between Alison Redford’s PCs and Danielle Smith’s Wildrose.

Liberal voters flocked to the PC Party.

Then they flocked to the NDP in Orange Wave of 2015.

Party leader David Swann survived on the strength of his personal popularity but the Liberals were washed out.

And today any political territory the Liberal Party once occupied is now held by Rachel Notley’s NDP and, to a much lesser extent, the Alberta Party.

It’s hard to point to any laws or policies passed by Notley’s NDP in government and now proposed in opposition that would be meaningfully different from what the Liberals (and in some cases from the old PCs) would do.

And most federal Liberals in Alberta are supporting Notley or have abandoned provincial politics entirely. 

It’s difficult to see how the Liberals can dig themselves out of their current hole, at least in the foreseeable future.

Maybe they are waiting for the NDP to collapse?

They might have to wait a while and every day they wait they sink into further irrelevance.

The Liberals are in the wilderness now.


Note: I was a member of the Alberta Liberal Party from 1999 to 2009. I sat on constituency association boards, I organized fundraisers, I knocked on a lot of doors, and worked for the party in various roles, including as Communications Coordinator from 2006 to 2008. During the 2008 election I worked with a group of MLAs and former cabinet ministers who were preparing the Liberal Party’s transition plan to form government (we were nothing if not optimistic). 

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Alberta Politics

NDP President Peggy Wright first out of the gate in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview nomination

Alberta NDP provincial president Peggy Wright is the first candidate to declare plans to enter the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview. Her announcement on Facebook comes only days after third-term MLA Deron Bilous announced he will not seek re-election.

Wright has served as the party’s provincial president since 2016 and previously served as president of the NDP constituency association in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview, where she was involved in Bilous’ election campaigns. She previously served as president of the NDP’s youth wing.

And Wright has deep connections to the NDP.

Her father Keith Wright helped Grant Notley found the Youth Cooperative Commonwealth Federation Club at the U of A in the 1959, which was nicknamed “Notley’s Motley Crew,” according to Howard Leeson’s biography of Notley. Her father ran as the CCF candidate in Strathcona-Centre in the 1959 provincial election and was elected president of the national NDP youth wing in 1961.

Wright’s mother, Kathleen Wright, was a longtime NDP activist and stood as a provincial candidate in Edmonton-Gold Bar in 1979 and Edmonton-Avonmore in 1982.

They were both awarded lifetime memberships in the party in 2018.

The NDP had held Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview since 2012, when Bilous was first election, and past NDP MLAs for the riding include Ray Martin (2004-2008) and Ed Ewasiuk (1986-1993).

UPDATE: The NDP have scheduled a nomination meeting in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview on September 14. 

Other nomination updates:

Upcoming nomination meetings

  • August 18 – Red Deer-North UCP
  • September 7 – Calgary-North West NDP
  • September 10 – Edmonton-Ellerslie NDP
  • September 11 – Lethbridge-West NDP
  • September 14 – Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview NDP
  • September 15 – Calgary-Mountain View NDP
  • September 17 – Edmonton-Gold Bar NDP

I am tracking candidates and building a list of people running for nominations to run in Alberta’s next provincial election. If you know of someone running, please post a comment below or email me at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. Thank you!

(I am launching a Substack. Sign up at  Daveberta Substack)

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Alberta Politics

Jackie Lovely wins close UCP nomination vote in Camrose, NDP MLA Deron Bilous not running for re-election in Edmonton-Beverly Clareview

MLA Jackie Lovely fended off a strong challenge from Beaver County Reeve Kevin Smook to narrowly secure the United Conservative Party nomination in Camrose.

Lovely has served as MLA for the central Alberta riding since 2019 and was appointed parliamentary secretary to the Associate Minister of Status of Women in November 2021. She previously ran as the Wildrose Party candidate in Edmonton-Ellerslie in 2012 and 2015.

Smook was first elected to council council in 2013 and was the Alberta Party candidate in Camrose in 2019.

Lovely admitted today that she was the only other person to join MLA Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk on an awards committee that selected a sexist and racist essay for a third place prize. In a written statement Lovely said she regretted the decision but was not available to answer any questions about why she chose the essay (or whether she actually read it before giving the $200 prize). There were only 5 essays submitted for the Her Vision Inspires essay contest.

Response to Lovely’s nomination on social media was largely muted, with the notable exception of Haydn Place, the acting chief of staff to Minister of Infrastructure Nicholas Milliken, who tweeted: “Glad the former Alberta Party candidate was defeated by a long-term UCP/Wildrose activist like Ms Lovely.” 

Deron Bilous not running for re-election

Deron Bilous NDP MLA Edmonton Beverly Clareview
Deron Bilous with his original NDP MLA colleagues, David Eggen, Rachel Notley and Brian Mason, following the party’s then-breakthrough in 2012. (Source: Facebook)

After three-terms in the Legislature, NDP MLA Deron Bilous announced today that he will not run for re-election in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview. The former NDP economic development minister was first elected in 2012 by unseating Progressive Conservative MLA Tony Vandermeer. 

“It has been an honour to serve as the member for Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview for the past 10 years, but after much consideration, I have decided not to seek re-election,” Bilous said in a statement. 

“I am incredibly proud of everything the NDP has accomplished during our time in government and as an opposition caucus, but the time has come for me to pursue new adventures in the private sector.” 

“I would like to thank my constituents, volunteers, and party members for their support over the last decade. Together, we have built a stronger community in Beverly-Clareview.”

The working-class north east Edmonton riding has a long-history of NDP representation, with former party leader Ray Martin representing the riding from 2004 to 2008 and former city councillor Ed Ewasiuk holding the riding from 1986 to 1993. Bilous was re-elected in 2019 with 50 per cent of the vote.

No candidates have declared their intentions to run for the NDP nomination but names that immediately began circulating in political circles include former school trustee Michelle Draper, city councillor Aaron Paquette, recent city council candidate Cori Longo, and past federal NDP candidate Charmaine St. Germain.

Kathleen Ganley running for re-election in Calgary-Mountain View NDP

MLA and former justice minister Kathleen Ganley is seeking her party’s nomination for re-election in Calgary-Mountain View.

Ganley was first elected in Calgary-Buffalo in 2015 and hopped across the river to run in Mountain View after the riding boundaries were redrawn for the 2019 election (allowing former Calgary-Fort MLA Joe Ceci to run for re-election in Buffalo). She was re-elected in 2019 with 47.3 per cent of the vote.

  • Applications to run for the UCP nomination in Highwood close at 5:00 pm on August 12.
  • Three candidates – Michael Lisboa-SmithLesley MacKinnon, and Shiraz Mir – are running for NDP nomination in Calgary-North West scheduled for September 7.
  • David Cloutier is running for NDP nomination in Calgary-Shaw. The riding is currently represented by UCP leadership candidate Rebecca Schulz and was held by NDP MLA Graham Sucha from 2015 to 2019.
  • The showdown between UCP leadership candidate Leela Aheer and political opponents in her Chestermere-Strathmore continues on August 27 at the riding association’s next annual general meeting.

Upcoming nomination meetings

  • August 18 – Red Deer-North UCP
  • September 7 – Calgary-North West NDP
  • September 10 – Edmonton-Ellerslie NDP
  • September 15 – Calgary-Mountain View NDP
  • September 17 – Edmonton-Gold Bar NDP

I am tracking candidates and building a list of people running for nominations to run in Alberta’s next provincial election. If you know of someone running, please post a comment below or email me at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. Thank you!

(I am launching a Substack. Sign up at  Daveberta Substack

Categories
Alberta Politics

Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk’s essay fiasco and getting used to Premier Danielle Smith.

The problem with taking a break from writing about Alberta politics of a few days is that it becomes almost impossible to decide what to write about.

This week is no exception.

So here I go.

Let’s start with the essay contest.

Oh boy.

Someone named S. Silver won the third place prize in the “Her Vision Inspires” essay contest that was championed by Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville UCP MLA Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk, now the Associate Minister for the Status of Women.

S. Silver’s award winning essay.

In her award-winning essay, which was given a $200 prize, Silver argued:

“…it is sadly popular to think Albertan children are unnecessary as we can import foreigners to replace us, this is a sickly mentality that amounts to a drive for cultural suicide…”

“to try to promote that women break into careers that men traditionally dominate is not only misguided, but it is harmful.”

“that the best approach would be to reward families for their reproductive service both with financial rewards to offset the financial burden they are taking on and with medals to symbolize their valuable achievement of having 2+ children.”

Whoa. Yeah.

Pretty gross stuff.

After facing a pretty strong public backlash for choosing a racist and sexist essay for the award, Armstrong-Homeniuk issued a written statement saying she disagrees with it and that it shouldn’t have been chosen.

She led the committee that chose it but we don’t know why it was chosen or who else was on the committee with her.

It’s a secret.

UCP MLAs Michaela Frey and Angela Pitt told intrepid CBC reporter Michelle Bellefontaine they had nothing to do with it, as did cabinet ministers Adriana LaGrange and Tanya Fir.

We also don’t know how many essays were submitted to the contest or who “S. Silver” even is.

It’s now been removed but we don’t know how the essay was able to be published on the Legislative Assembly of Alberta website without raising some giant red flags.

Speaker Nathan Cooper said he didn’t know anything about it.

The whole thing is a big exercise in passing the buck.

Moving on, for now.

Nate Glubish and Danielle Smith (source: Twitter)

“Premier Danielle Smith. Get used to it.”

Those seven words from longtime political writer Graham Thomson seem to sum up how a lot of people are thinking the UCP leadership will end.

It feels like the most unlikeliest of outcomes, but in Alberta politics, the unexpected is sometimes the most likely.

It’s almost as if the past ten years never happened, said one conservative friend of mine, in reference to Danielle Smith’s near-win in 2012, her spectacular fall in 2014, and the massive political realignments – Rachel Notley’s NDP winning in 2015 and the formation of the UCP in 2017 – that have shaped Alberta politics since.

But she’s back and people think she’s going to win.

She’s drawing big crowds to her events, she’s getting media attention and she just stole another MLA endorsement away from Travis Toews.

It’s possible that other candidates are selling more memberships or that the preferential ballots could tally in a way that helps other candidates but the biggest indicator that Smith is in the lead is that all the other candidates are attacking her.

Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche MLA Brian Jean, the UCP prince-in-exile, took aim at Smith’s idea to open the Port of Churchill in northern Manitoba to oil exports. It’s a perennially bad idea that never happens but never dies.

Airdrie-East MLA Angela Pitt announced on social media that she was quitting her volunteer role as Rajan Sawhney’s campaign chair, saying she needs to realign with her constituents. That feels like code for she’s worried Smith is going to win the leadership and her supporters – notably campaign chair and former MLA Rob Anderson – might be interested in challenging Pitt for the nomination in the riding.

Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan Conservative MP Garnett Genuis, who is backing Toews, took a swipe at Smith on Twitter after the party’s Medicine Hat leadership debate.

“Non-lawyer cites Wikipedia to explain novel constitutional theory. Danielle Smith is the freeman-on-the-land of this #UCPdebate. And the other candidates’ responses to her clearly show that they understand what dire consequences her success would spell for our movement,” Genuis tweeted on July 27, 2022.

Not naming but clearly targeting Smith in an online video, Rebecca Schulz described the front-runner as “unhinged and unreasonable” and “lighting her hair on fire.”

Schulz’s video announced that Calgary-Midnapore MP Stephanie Kusie has joined Rona Ambrose as campaign co-chair.

Trying to out-co-chair her opponents is an odd strategy, and is a role that is usually left to the backrooms, but it’s pretty clear that Schulz is trying desperately to position herself as the ABD – Anybody but Danielle – candidate in the UCP race – especially for conservatives not enthralled by Toews beige and boring campaign.

Toews’ establishment-favourite campaign appears to be losing steam.

Having to fight back criticisms about Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s six-figure bonus undermined his claim of being fiscally responsible. And he lost the support of another UCP MLA this week when Strathcona-Sherwood Park MLA Nate Glubish, the Minister of Service Alberta, abandoned Toews and switched his endorsement to Smith.

In almost any other mainstream conservative leadership race, even in Alberta, Smith’s promotion of conspiracy theories and snake oil COVID cures, promises to impose unconstitutional laws, and more would probably disqualify her on the ballots of a lot of conservatives.

But this unruly UCP appears to be a very different beast than the old Progressive Conservative Party it absorbed six years ago. And Smith has used her decades of experience in politics and media to fine tune a message that appeals to a motivated chunk of today’s UCP base.

This most unexpected of outcomes is a surprise when you consider the rules of the leadership race were almost designed to quell an insurgent campaign.

The high entry fee ($175,000), signature requirements (1,000) and early membership cut off date (August 12) were designed for an establishment candidate.

Of course this is all about who sells the most memberships, and some candidates might be out there quietly selling a ton of memberships, but the early cutoff date means the days of the “two-minute Tories” who propelled Ralph Klein, Ed Stelmach and Alison Redford into the Premier’s Office are long gone.

Ideological conservatives hated it, but anybody being able to walk into the voting station on voting day and buy a membership ensured the PC Party constantly reinvented itself as a big tent party – arguably the biggest success of its 43 years of uninterrupted power.

But Smith isn’t campaigning to lead a big tent and a lot of people think she’s going to pull it off.

Categories
Alberta Politics

Friday Night Action in Alberta Politics – Doug Schweitzer’s out, Rod Shaigec and Sonya Savage are in.

There’s rarely a dull Friday night in Alberta politics!

Doug Schweitzer resigns from UCP cabinet and is leaving politics

Doug Schweitzer announced he is resigning as Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation and later this month will resign as MLA for Calgary-Elbow.

Despite running for the United Conservative Party leadership in 2017, Schweitzer bowed out of this year’s race after endorsing Premier Jason Kenney in the June leadership review. He announced soon after that he would not seek re-election as MLA but his sudden resignation announcement at least eight months ahead of the next election comes as a surprise – and opens the possibility of a by-election in Calgary-Elbow before the next general election.

It would be the third by-election in Calgary-Elbow in the last 16 years – the others being held because of the resignations of former MLAs (and premiers) Ralph Klein in 2007 and Alison Redford in 2014.

The 2007 by-election shocked political watchers when Liberal Craig Cheffins won, and in 2014, Alberta Party leader Greg Clark narrowly lost to Calgary school trustee and former Saskatchewan MLA Gordon Dirks. Clark defeated Dirks in the election the following year but was defeated by Schweitzer in 2019.

Already seen as a possible pick-up in the next election, the Alberta NDP nominated energy analyst Samir Kayande and have poured resources and volunteers into the riding to support his bid.

The Alberta Party has chosen lawyer and former Liberal Party leadership candidate Kerry Cundal to carry their banner, and her candidacy will be a test of how much of the party’s support in 2015 was a credit to Greg Clark’s personal popularity.

Lawyer Andrea James announced her plans to seek the UCP nomination back in June.

Mark Calgary-Elbow down on your list of ridings to watch.

Former Mayor running for NDP nomination in Spruce Grove-Stony Plain

Former Parkland County Mayor Rod Shaigec is the second candidate to enter the NDP nomination contest in Spruce Grove-Stony Plain. Shaigec joins former Spruce Grove City Councillor and mayoral candidate Chantal Saramaga-McKenzie in the race.

“We need responsible and accountable government that puts Albertans and communities first. We need an honest, hard-working leader whose integrity is beyond reproach – that leader is @RachelNotley,” Shaigec wrote on Twitter

Shaigec served three-terms as Mayor of Parkland County from 2010 to 2021, and chose not to run for re-election last year to give himself time to recover from a traumatic tractor accident in 2020.

The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA Searle Turton, who is already nominated to run for his party in the next election.

Sonya Savage acclaimed in Calgary-North West

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage releases the final report of the Public Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns.
Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage releases the final report of the Public Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns.

Sonya Savage has been acclaimed as the UCP candidate in Calgary-North West. Savage was first elected in 2019, succeeding NDP MLA Sandra Jansen, who was elected as a Progressive Conservative in 2012 and 2015 but crossed the floor to the NDP in 2017 and became Minister of Infrastructure. Jansen did not run for re-election in 2019.

Savage has served as Minister of Energy since 2019 and is co-chair of Travis Toews’ leadership campaign. 

Before her election, Savage was known as a lawyer and lobbyist for the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association but many years before that she was a PC Party activist. 

“The philosophy we’re looking for is somebody who’s very conservative, less government, more individual responsibility, but also somebody who is progressive who’s backing the unity deal. We want to hear how they’re going to renew and urbanize the party,” said Savage, then known as Sonya Nerland, to Calgary Herald reporter Joan Crockatt on Sept. 19, 1992.

Savage ended up backing Energy Minister Rick Orman in the 1992 leadership race, along with future premier Jim Prentice, who was Orman’s campaign chair.

Orman placed third in the race and dropped out before the Dec. 2, 1992 second ballot to endorse Nancy Betkowski.

Savage would later co-chair Orman’s second campaign for the PC Party leadership in 2011. Orman dropped out after placing fifth on the first ballot and endorsed Gary Mar, who was then defeated by Alison Redford (who was the PC Party Youth President ten years before Savage).

(Am I the only one who’s starting to feel like Alberta politics is just a rotating cast of 20 characters?)

Three candidates – Michael Lisboa-Smith, Lesley MacKinnon, and Shiraz Mir – are running for the yet to be scheduled NDP nomination in Calgary-North West.

Categories
Alberta Politics

The UCP field is set. Diving into the leadership race on the Cross Border Interviews Podcast.

The United Conservative Party leadership race is heating up!

I joined Chris Brown on the Cross Border Interviews Podcast this week to dive into the UCP leadership race and what the candidates and campaigns are up to.

Is Danielle Smith really the front-runner?

Does establishment-favourite Travis Toews need to catch up?

Why is Brian Jean running such a sleepy campaign?

Will Rajan Sawhney or Rebecca Schulz break through the noise?

What are Leela Aheer and Todd Loewen doing?

Did Raj Sherman really think they would let him on the ballot?

We break it all down.

Download and subscribe to the Cross Border Interviews Podcast on Apple and Spotify, or watch the interview on YouTube below.