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Alberta Politics

guest post: the real worry about election 2012.

By: Richard Liebrecht

Going into the election, the two-person caucus of Brian Mason and Rachel Notley was well known among media insiders and observers for punching above their weight in earning coverage. Having served as communications officer for the caucus, I like to think I also played a small part in that excellent coverage. You get it by being relevant and timely.

Brian Mason Alberta NDP leader 2012 Election
Brian Mason

But relevancy and timeliness weren’t required this past election. New Democrats got solid coverage everyday. As did the Liberals, PCs and Wildrose. When I say solid, as a professional public relations practitioner (read: flack), I mean uncritical, straight-up recording of events and releases. I know that some press releases were literally re-written into stories and published.

Early in the campaign, the New Democrats sent Mason into a sports store to buy an Oilers jersey. Five cameras showed up just to get tape. It was way too easy.

Had it not been for a blogger talking about conscience rights and the Wildrose, and a P.C.-connected tweeter highlighting gay-damning comments from a Wildrose candidate, the election may have been nothing but a bunch of rehashed press releases and horserace stories.

I’m not here to slam reporters, however. I count many as friends, and I formerly worked for the Edmonton Sun.

Perhaps that’s why the slack coverage of the election is in my mind easily explained – this election was the product of a dwindling media presence in this province. It’s a national and international trend that’s seeing the reporting industry shrink while economies and populations are at historically large sizes.

Danielle Smith Wildrose Party Alberta Election 2012
Danielle Smith

Firstly, newsrooms were under resourced this election. The Wildrose at times had only one reporter aboard their mammary motor coach, despite their surge in the polls. The reporters who may have been assigned to it were instead covering multiple campaigns in a day because there just weren’t enough bodies to put someone full time with each campaign.

I know that reporters had found Hunsperber’s blog, but didn’t have time to look through it extensively enough to find the trouble posting.

Secondly, editors are desperate to cover every bit of news available. Sounds good, but thanks to short staffing, they’ve been forced to choose: do original work and let some news slip by, or throw all your resources into making sure you have all the news that’s everyone else is doing. Their choice is evident when several cameras showing up for a guy buying a hockey jersey. Every station was worried they may not have the shot. And God help that editor if they tweet a picture of it 30 minutes later than another outlet. This is the blowfish act of outlets too proud to show that there’s little meat left on the bones.

Allan Hunsperger Wildrose Party Edmonton South West
Allan Hunsperger

It’s scary to think that Hunsperger’s blog may not have come to light before Election Day. Premier Smith would have had damage control to do, no doubt – but also no one to answer to for four years. The tidal wave of strategic voting may never have been triggered. Who knows what else media missed?

While a shrivelled press corps makes getting out my story as a PR flack easier, as a citizen I know that’s a dangerous state. While truth can be relative, it is relatively objective. I hope and expect media will be out there wading through the facts and opinions with genuine, untainted curiosity to expose lies and half-truths. Media, at its best, is a bulwark of accountability. When that accountability dwindles, then so too does the warning of punishment for spinning half-truths and even lies, as some dishonourable members of my profession do. Corruption and confusion come unheralded and unstoppable.

None of this is inevitable in a growth society. As news consumers, we have two important choices to make. We can decide to reward enterprising journalism with our readership, or continue to loyally follow a shrunken media into irrelevance. We can decide to pay for subscriptions to good journalism, or we can continue to live under the illusion that news is free.

Demand news with insightful analysis, interesting human perspectives, exploration of new angles and lots of background research. And pay for it.

While handfuls of journalists will continue to lose their jobs if media continues to whither, it’s you who next election may unwittingly vote for someone or something you didn’t even know you were voting for.

Richard Liebrecht (@wardofcanada) is a public relations specialist. He’s formerly communications officer for Alberta’s NDP opposition, where he consulted on communication strategy. He’s also a former staff reporter at the Edmonton Sun. He blogs at wardofcanada.blogspot.com.

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Alberta Politics

more on alberta mla extra pay and the privileges & elections committee.

2012-03-11 Alberta Politics MLA Committee Pay
Alberta MLA's at a meeting of the Privileges and Elections Committee.

More information has been relvealed about controversial $1,000 monthly payments made to Alberta MLA’s for being members of a committee that has not met for three years. Retiring Edmonton-Gold Bar Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald revealed late last week that Premier Alison Redford was briefly a member of the committee while she served as Minister of Justice & Attorney General (though Premier Redford has no recollection). It was also revealed that Liberal leader Raj Sherman sat on the committee and collected the extra pay while he was a Progressive Conservative MLA.

Alberta MLA’s are allowed to collect extra pay for a maximum of $3,500. Some opposition MLA’s, like Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MLA Rachel Notley, sit on four or five committees (and are only paid for three). Premier Redford told the Edmonton Sun that it would be up to individual MLA’s to choose whether they would return the extra pay.

Transcript of a meeting of the Privileges and Elections Committee from Monday, November 17, 2008 includes some interesting comments about the committee’s work by a three MLA’s who found themselves sitting in different political positions four years ago. Two-term Liberal MLA Bridget Pastoor (now a PC MLA) questioned the need for the committee, five-term PC MLA Heather Forsyth (now a Wildrose Party MLA) defended the committee’s work, and rookie-PC MLA Dr. Sherman (now leader of the Liberal Party) expressed honour for being invited to join the committee.

Ms Pastoor: I think I just want to get on the record with a couple of comments. This committee hadn’t met for almost 20 years, and now we’ve met two or three times and probably won’t meet again. I just feel that a lot of the work that we did – and I’m not saying that it’s not good – in committee really was probably the responsibility of the two House leaders. Prior to this, I think both our House leaders and the leader of the third party as a part of that really did a fine job, so I’m still not exactly sure why we had the large meeting when, in fact, it was the responsibility of the House leaders.

Mrs. Forsyth: Just a comment to Bridget. I’ve been here since 1993, and this committee has been around, and I always questioned what it did. I felt the whole process very worth while. I liked the idea of the people who put together the new standing orders, et cetera, giving us, even though we didn’t win some of the battles, like I did, the opportunity to debate it and say why we support it. For example, I’ll go back. I thought it would be a good idea to have sessions in the morning. I got overwhelmingly defeated on that particular motion, but for me it was an extremely valuable process to be able to say that I was part of a committee that had the opportunity after 20 years to be able to set new rules in what’s going to be the future, hopefully for – I’m not going to say 20 years because I don’t assume that that’s going to happen. I mean, we all age.

People change. Things change.

….

Dr. Sherman: Thank you, Mr. Chair. As a new member it’s a good opportunity for the new members to learn, to see how the process works, and to sit across the table from our other colleagues. This is part of us working together. It’s been an honour for me to be here. Thank you, Mr. Chair. You’ve done a good job.

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Alberta Politics

pc party shoots the [shiraz] shariff. premier redford to appoint a new candidate in calgary-west.

As I first wrote about in yesterday’s post, former Calgary-McCall MLA Shiraz Shariff has been disqualified as the Progressive Conservative candidate in Calgary-West after complaints of voting irregularities at the recent nomination meeting.

Shiraz Shariff Calgary-West PC nominee
Shiraz Shariff

Mr. Shariff narrowly defeated former Alberta Health Services chairman Ken Hughes, who sits in Premier Alison Redford‘s inner circle and was widely seen as the front-runner in the contest. Both Mr. Shariff and Mr. Hughes entered the contest only weeks before the nomination meeting. Mr. Shariff had been seeking the nomination in Calgary-Hawkwood until late 2011, when he switched constituencies.

Posting a statement on his Facebook profile, Mr. Shariff maintained that his campaign was run fairly and was aware “a potential bias from the onset of my candidacy and during my campaign for nomination… ran even as deep as within the PC Board of Calgary West.” He called on the PC Party to begin an arbitration process to address the complaints.

“I have not been made aware of specific issues, have not been consulted in this decision, and have not been offered an arbitration process, as stated in the PC Party constitution. If there were irregularities, I request that the PC Party will make them known and address how the security of the day, guided by the leadership of the Board, could not have protected the process against these irregularities.”

In a media release yesterday quoting President Bill Smith and Executive Director Kelley Charlebois , the PC Party announced that they would ask the local board of directors in Calgary-West to submit the names of three replacement candidates for Premier Redford to select.

Farouk Adatia Calgary-Hawkwood PC candidate
Farouk Adatia

Mr. Hughes may seem like the obvious choice for the appointed candidacy, but Tory sources say that lawyer Farouk Adatia may end up being Premier Redford’s choice. Mr. Adita served as Chief Financial Officer for Premier Redford’s leadership campaign and he was recently defeated in the crowded PC nomination contest in Calgary-Hawkwood.

It may be another month before the PCs actually drop the Writ and time to hold another open nomination meeting is cut short by that party’s public deadline to nominate candidates before February 10. This weekend, the PCs are holding a pre-election campaign training school in Edmonton, which will be a pep rally to energize their activist base. At these schools, the PCs will also select three candidates to stand in the upcoming Senator-in-Waiting election, which will be held along with the general election.

The PCs also appointed candidates in two other constituencies. Emerson Mayers, who was defeated in the Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood nomination contest will run against NDP MLA Rachel Notley in Edmonton-Strathcona. Jamie Lall, who was defeated in the Calgary-McCall nomination contest will challenge Liberal MLA Kent Hehr in Calgary-Buffalo.

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Alberta Politics

alison redford to appoint a new candidate in calgary-west, say tory sources [updated].

Alberta Premier Alison Redford 2011
Premier Alison Redford

Following claims of voting irregularities at the recently held Calgary-West Progressive Conservative nomination meeting, Tory sources are saying that Premier Alison Redford may find a new candidate to carry her party’s banner in that constituency.

The hard fought nomination battle saw former Calgary-McCall MLA Shiraz Shariff shock political watchers by defeating past Alberta Health Services Chairman Ken Hughes. A former Member of Parliament, Mr. Hughes was a member of Premier Redford’s transition team and was seen as a star candidate for the PCs.

The constituency is currently represented by Finance Minister Ron Liepert, who is not seeking re-election. Sources say that the new candidate could be someone other than Mr. Hughes.

This is not Mr. Shariff’s first brush with controversy. In 2008, private-citizen Naheed Nenshi spoke to CBC about what he believed were irregularities carried out at the polls by Mr. Shariff’s campaign workers during the 2004 election. Mr. Shariff narrowly defeated Liberal Darshan Kang in that election (Mr. Kang later defeated Mr. Shariff in the 2008 election).

This would not be the first time the PCs have had to find a last minute replacement for a candidate in Calgary-West.

In 1997, Premier Ralph Klein‘s barber Mike Nasser stepped down as the PC candidate after it was revealed he was the subject of a city lawsuit and several complaints regarding his business proceedings. The runner-up from the previously held nomination meeting cut her Mexican vacation short to fly back and hold the party banner in the election. Karen Kryczka served two terms as MLA after that.

The Tories are also expected to appoint candidates to challenge popular Liberal MLA Kent Hehr in Calgary-Buffalo and NDP MLA Rachel Notley in Edmonton-Strathcona. No candidates entered the previously scheduled nomination contests in these two constituencies. Sources suggest that recent Calgary-McCall PC nomination candidate Jamie Lall will be appointed in Calgary-Buffalo. This will be the second consecutive election where the PCs have had to appoint a candidate to challenge Ms. Notley.

UPDATE: A media release from the PC Party says that Mr. Shariff is no longer the candidate in Calgary-West. Jamie Lall and Emerson Mayers have been appointed as PC candidates in Calgary-Buffalo and Edmonton-Strathcona. See the comment section of this blog post for the entire text of the media release.

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Alberta Politics

alberta election candidate update – january 2012.

As an election approaches, Alberta’s political parties are busy nominating candidates across the province. Listed below are some of the most recent updates made the list of nominated candidates, including recent Progressive Conservative nominees in Calgary-Fish Creek, Calgary-McCall, Calgary-West, Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, and Sherwood Park.

Nominated Alberta Election candidates by region - January 23, 2012
Nominated Alberta Election candidates by region - January 23, 2012
Shiraz Shariff PC Calgary-West
Shiraz Shariff

Calgary-West: Former MLA Shiraz Shariff surprised political watchers by defeating past Alberta Heath Services Chairman and former Member of Parliament Ken Hughes and Calgary Police Officer Mike Ellis to win the Progressive Conservative nomination contest. Mr. Shariff served as the PC MLA for the northeast Calgary-McCall from 1995 until 2008, when he was defeated by Liberal Darshan Kang.

Wendelin Fraser PC Calgary-Fish Creek
Wendelin Fraser

 

Calgary-Fish Creek: Mount Royal University’s former Dean of Business Wendelin Fraser defeated political blogger Joey Oberhoffner to win the PC nomination. Ms. Fraser will face off against Wildrose MLA Heather Forsyth, who crossed to the Wildrose in 2010 after serving as a PC MLA since 1993. The election contest in Fish Creek will be a gauge of both PC and Wildrose popularity in the next election.

Mohammad Rasheed PC Calgary-McCall
Mohammad Rasheed

 

Calgary-McCall: Engineer Mohammad Rasheed defeated a crowded field in the PC nomination contest that included candidates Khandaker Alam, Deepshikha Brar, Afzal Hanid, Amtul Khan, Jamie Lall, Aslam Malik, Ravi Prasad, Jagdeep Sahota, and Jangbahadur Sidhu. Mr. Rasheed will face Liberal Mr. Kang in the upcoming election.

Ty Lund PC Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre
Ty Lund

 

Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: Six-term PC MLA Ty Lund defeated challenger Jimmy Clark to win his party’s nomination. Mr. Lund was first elected in 1989 and served in a number of cabinet portfolios during Ralph Klein‘s Premiership. He began his occupation of the Tory backbenches when Ed Stelmach because Premier in 2006. His main competition in the upcoming election is expected to be landowners rights advocate and former Green Party leader Joe Anglin, who is now running for the Wildrose Party.

Cathy Olesen PC Sherwood Park
Cathy Olesen

Sherwood Park: Former Strathcona County Mayor Cathy Olesen narrowly won the PC nomination against Matthew Bissett, Brian Botterill, Helen Calahasen, Murray Hutchinson, and Susan Timanson. Ms. Oleson served as Mayor from 2004 until 2010, when she was defeated by Councillor Linda Osinchuk. Ms. Olesen will be the second former municipal official to serve as this constituency’s MLA. Retiring MLA Iris Evans served as Reeve until she was elected as an MLA in 1997.

Calgary-Glenmore: Former MLA Craig Cheffins is expected to seek the Liberal nomination. Mr. Cheffins’ briefly served as the MLA for Calgary-Elbow after winning a by-election, which was triggered by Premier Klein’s resignation in 2007. Under the new electoral boundaries, his neighbourhood of Lakeview will now be located within the boundaries of Calgary-Glenmore. Mr. Cheffins’ entry into the election will add an interesting mix to a contest which will include Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman (himself elected in a 2009 by-election) and the eventual PC nominee. Lawyer Byron Nelson and Linda Johnson are seeking the PC nomination, scheduled for January 26, 2012.

Edmonton-Calder: First reported on this blog, former Public School Trustee Bev Esslinger and current Trustee Cheryl Johner are seeking the PC nomination in this constituency following the surprise announcement by MLA Doug Elniski that he will not seek re-election. Wendy Rodgers, former Executive Assistant to Hector Goudreau, is also expected to enter the contest.

Edmonton-Castle Downs: Jeff Funnell has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.

Edmonton-Glenora: Perennial City Council candidate Don Koziak is the nominated Wildrose candidate. Mr. Koziak most recently ran in the 2010 Edmonton municipal election, placing second in a close race against Councillor Kim Krushell.

Edmonton-Mill Creek: Mike Butler has been confirmed as the Liberal candidate. This will be Mr. Butler’s fourth attempt at political office. In 2008 he was provincial NDP candidate in Edmonton-Rutherford and federal NDP candidate in Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont. In 2010, he was the federal Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont.

Edmonton-Strathcona: At the recent deadline for candidates to enter the PC nomination contest, no qualified candidates had entered the contest. The constituency is currently represented by NDP MLA Rachel Notley.

Peace River: High Level town councillor Al Forsyth has been nominated as the Wildrose candidate.

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Alberta Politics

kevin taft goes rogue with new book: follow the money.

“If Alberta increased its tax rates by $11 billion our province would still have the lowest tax rate in Canada.”

This was only one of the notable figures presented by Kevin Taft at the launch of his new book, Follow the Money, held last night at the Garneau Theatre in Edmonton. The outgoing MLA and former Liberal Party leader released his latest book along with a short film directed by award-winning director Tom Radford.

The book and the film focus on what Alberta’s reach-for-the-bottom taxation rate really means for our province and the potential that is lost when our government does not even collect its own resource revenue targets.

Follow the Money breaks down the spending patterns of the provincial government over the past 30 years by looking beyond the basic numbers and by delving into demographics that tell a deeper story about spending and revenue. Essentially, while corporate profits have skyrocketed in Alberta, the share of wealth that is invested into our public services has shrunk dramatically.

When you actually look at the numbers, Alberta does not come anywhere close to having a spending problem, as some politicians on the political right would have us believe. Alberta has a revenue problem.

Perhaps one of the advantages of being an outgoing MLA is that Dr. Taft is not restricted by a party-line (nor do I have the impression that he would care to listen to a party-line). The ideas proposed in Dr. Taft’s new book clash with the new “business friendly” direction that Tory MLA-turned-Liberal leader Raj Sherman is trying to steer his party, which could make for some interesting drama in the upcoming Spring session of the Assembly.

Politics aside, Dr. Taft is doing Albertans a great service by putting these numbers on the table and opening the debate on Alberta’s resource revenue and taxation policy.

Among the more than 350 people attending the launch were MLAs Laurie Blakeman and Rachel Notley. Also present were Public School Trustees Michael Janz, Sarah Hoffman, and Heather Mackenzie.

Here are what others are saying about Follow the Money:

Sheila Pratt: Alberta ‘leaving too much on the table,’ ex-Liberal leader says

Darcy Henton: Kevin Taft wonders where the money went

Samantha Power: Follow the money New book examines where Alberta’s wealth is spent

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Alberta Politics

conzilla and the opposition robots.

Each year, the political parties represented in Alberta’s Legislative Assembly produce short videos for the Press Gallery Christmas Party. Typically funny, though not always very good, the videos are always best when they are self-depricating (everyone likes politicians that can make fun of themselves). At this year’s party, the tiny two MLA NDP caucus of Brian Mason and Rachel Notley produced a tribute to the Godzilla films titled Conzilla and the Opposition Robots.

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Alberta Politics

alberta’s 48 hour legislative lightning round

The two-day sitting of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly has come and gone with little fan fare. Despite the continental shift in the Assembly seating plan – the entire back row of the Tory caucus was sitting in the front bench this time last year – little appears to have actually changed over the past 48 hours. Here is a look at some of the issues that briefly made the news over the past two days and may pop up again when the Assembly reconvenes at the end of November:

Redford’s Maiden Speech
Premier Alsion Redford delivered her maiden speech in the Assembly since entering the Premier’s office earlier this month. Billed as a speech about the ‘global economic crisis,’ the new Premier’s words sounded more like a Speech from the Throne that a government would use as a pre-election platform (minus the Lieutenant Governor).

Premier Redford’s speech covered a wide range of pre-election issues including balancing the provincial budget by 2013-2014, eradicating the provincial debt, and supporting the construction of an oil pipeline through British Columbia to the Pacific coast. Some media outlets reported that her speech also included the continued commitment towards building more than 1,000 continuing care beds, but failed to mention that they would be constructed through public-private partnerships (P3s) and remove the caps on costs for seniors housing (visions of the Chartwell Colonel Belcher come to mind).

Liberals: Sherman accuses Liepert of giving lobbyists insider information
Liberal leader Raj Sherman came out swinging with allegations that former Energy Minister and now Finance Minister Ron Liepert and his staff were part of a back room deal that gave energy industry lobbyists an unfair advantage in applying for $310 million in taxpayer dollars.

From the Liberal media release:

Emails obtained by the Official Opposition via FOIP indicate that Liepert’s Executive Assistant worked with Williams Energy and Minister Liepert to amend the language of Williams’ press release announcing their successful bid to benefit from the new regulations prior to Cabinet making any decision. Other emails show that Williams lobbyist Lorraine Royer knew of the policy change as early as two weeks before the government announcement and was corresponding with Jay O’Neill, former Director of Communications for the Ministry of Energy (and now Director of Communications for Premier Redford).

In the background of this issue is an ongoing feud between Dr. Sherman and Minister Liepert that began while they were both PC MLAs last year. Dr. Sherman was Parliamentary Assistant to Minister Liepert while he served as Minister of Health & Wellness from 2008 to 2010.

NDP: Notley owns the affordable housing issue
Last week she called out the government after it was revealed that children in the care of the province are spending nights in homeless shelters, and this week Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MLA Rachel Notley tackled the Tories about cuts to affordable housing subsidies.

NDP leader Brian Mason held a different kind of media conference this week, adding new evidence to an old story about government plans to increase privatization in health care. The media conference was less about the present and more about positioning the NDP as the main critic of new Health & Wellness Minister Fred Horne in the future.

Wildrose: This transmission line ain’t no CBC’s Heartland
On October 19, new Energy Minister Ted Morton sent a letter to the Alberta Utilities Commission asking for the suspension of three controversial electrical transmission line developments currently in the application process. On October 21, the Alberta Utilities Commission released a media notice announcing the suspension of the three applications.

Only hours later, Premier Redford’s office declared that there had been a miscommunication, stating that one of the three proposals, the Heartland Transmission Project, was not meant to be suspended. Premier Redford ordered the supposedly arms-length commission to proceed, drawing criticism from Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman, who’s party has used the controversial projects as a wedge issue in traditional Tory voting areas.

Redford and Griffiths: Schools and Hospitals before Professional Sports Arenas
Premier Redford disappointed supporters of the proposed Katz Group Arena in Edmonton by reiterating her stance that the provincial government will not give additional money to the City of Edmonton to fill the estimated $100 million gap in funding. Premier Redford told the Edmonton Journal that “from the perspective of the provincial government, Albertans right now care about health care and education.” These comments echo those of Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths, who told the Journal on October 12 that “when it comes to the province’s limited resources we need to focus on schools and hospitals.”

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Alberta Politics

alberta candidate nomination update – october 2011 (part 2)

I have updated the list of declared and nominated candidates standing for the next Alberta provincial general election. By my count, the parties have now nominated the following number of candidates out of 87 constituencies in the next election: Alberta Party 11/87, Liberal 20/87, New Democratic Party 49/87, Progressive Conservative 39/87, Wildrose 53/87.

Here are some of the recent additions to the list:

Chestermere-Rockyview – Global Television host Bruce McAllister is the new Wildrose candidate in this Calgary area constituency. Disappearing from the Wildrose candidate roster is Chestermere Town Councillor Heather Davies, who was nominated as the Wildrose candidate in May 2011.

Drumheller-Stettler: Rick Strankman was nominated as the Wildrose candidate after defeating jeweller Doug Wade in a contested race. A third candidate, past-candidate Dave France called foul against his party after he was disqualified from the nomination at the last minute.

Calgary-Hays: Former Libertarian Party of Canada leader Dennis Young also says he was unfairly disqualified from the Wildrose nomination in this sprawling south east Calgary constituency.

Calgary-Currie: Calgary businessman Norval Horner, a cousin of Deputy Premier Doug Horner, was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate in this constituency, which elected Liberal-turned-Alberta Party MLA Dave Taylor in 2004 and 2008. It is also expected that 2008 Progressive Conservative candidate Arthur Kent may run in this constituency as an Independent candidate.

Calgary-Klein: The Liberal Party nomination scheduled for October 15 was postponed. Candidates seeking the nomination included Vincent St. Pierre and Matthew Moody. Mr. Moody unexpectedly withdrew from the contest at the last minute.

Grande Prairie-Wapiti: Ethane Jarvis is the nominated Wildrose candidate.

Edmonton-Glenora – Former MLA Bruce Miller was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate in this constituency. Liberal insiders say that local restauranteur and artist Sheri Somerville was heavily courted to run, but declined to seek the Liberal nomination. Reverend Miller was first elected in 2004 with 35% of the vote in a close three way contest between himself, high-profile NDP candidate Larry Booi, and PC MLA Drew Hutton, and he was defeated by now-Culture Minister Heather Klimchuk in 2008 by 104 votes.

Edmonton-Strathcona: NDP MLA Rachel Notley was nominated as her party’s candidate at a meeting attended by Vancouver-Kingsway MP Don Davies. Ms. Notley was first elected as the MLA for this constituency in 2008, earning 49% of the vote.

Red Deer-South: On October 25, the NDP are expected to nominate former five-term City Councillor Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer as their candidate.

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Alberta Politics

alberta candidate nomination update – september 2011.

I have updated the list of declared and nominated candidates standing in the next provincial election.

Airdrie: The Airdrie City View is reporting that former Airdrie Mayor Linda Bruce is volunteering for Gary Mar‘s PC leadership campaign, adding to the speculation that she may seek the PC nomination to challenge Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson.

Janis Tarchuk, PC MLA Banff-Cochrane, Alberta
Is Janis Tarchuk hanging up her hat?

Banff-Cochrane: Transport worker Jamie Kleinsteuber has been nominated as the Alberta NDP candidate in this mountain constituency. Incumbent PC MLA Janis Tarchuk is being tight lipped about whether she will seek re-election. Ms. Tarchuk was first elected in 1997 and served in cabinet until she was dropped from cabinet in 2010.

Calgary-Currie: Alberta Party MLA Dave Taylor has announced that he will be retiring at the next election. This is not a complete surprise, but it is not good news for the new party, who will lose their only incumbent MLA at the next election. Mr. Taylor was first elected as a Liberal in 2004 and left that party to sit as an Independent in 2010. He joined the Alberta Party in 2011.

Calgary-Mackay-Nose HillCollin Anderson has been nominated as the NDP candidate in this north Calgary constituency. Ms. Anderson ran in the recent federal election as the NDP candidate in Calgary-Nose Hill and in the 2008 provincial election in Calgary-North West. has served in positions with Telecommunications Workers Union and the Calgary & District Labour Council.

Calgary-McCall: Depending on who you believe, the Wildrose either disqualified them for breaking the nomination rules or they quit, but candidates Deepshikha Brar, Khalil Karbani, and Braham Luddu are no longer eligible to run for that party. Candidate Grant Galpin appears to be the only candidate left standing.

Drumheller-Stettler: Hanna Town Councillor Chris Warwick has withdrawn his nomination for the Wildrose candidacy in this constituency. Candidates Dave France, Rick Strankman, and Patrick Turnbull remain declared in the nomination contest,.

Edmonton-Castle Downs: Former pharmaceutical employee John Oplanich is the nominated Wildrose candidate in this north Edmonton constituency. Mr. Oplanich ran for Edmonton City Council in 2010, placing third in Ward 3.

Edmonton-McClung: Varscona Theatre executive director John Hudson has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in this west Edmonton constituency.

Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MLA Rachel Notley
NDP MLA Rachel Notley

Edmonton-Strathcona: NDP MLA Rachel Notley is expected to be acclaimed at a nomination meeting planned for October 11. Vancouver-Kingsway NDP Member of Parliament Don Davies is the guest speaker.

Lethbridge-West: Candidates Shannon Phillips and James Moore will face-off in a contested NDP nomination meeting on September 11.

Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills: The race to replace retiring Progressive Conservative MLA Richard Marz is on. Mountain View County councillor and former reeve Al Kemmere has announced his candidacy to seek the PC nomination. Mr. Kemmere is also a director for the Association of Alberta Rural Municipalities and Districts.

Also seeking the nomination is William Stevenson, who has been endorsed by PC leadership candidate Ted Morton and Wild Rose Member of Parliament Blake Richards.

St. Albert: Former St. Albert alderman James Burrows is the nominated Wildrose candidate. Liberal Party activist Alex Bosse is seeking his party’s nomination.

Sturgeon-St. Albert: Linda Robinson, co-chair of the Indigenous Peoples caucus of the NDP, is seeking her party’s nomination in this constituency. Ms. Robinson works for the Alberta Federation of Labour.

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Alberta Politics

two years later, alberta’s third-party advertising laws are still not proclaimed.

It passed third reading in the Legislative Assembly in 2009, but Bill 205: Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure (Third Party Advertising) Amendment Act has yet to be proclaimed into law.

No Plan Albertans for Change Ad Ed Stelmach
A shot from the infamous "No Plan" ad from the 2008 election.

Introduced as a Private Member’s Bill by Airdrie-Chestermere PC (and now Wildrose) MLA Rob Anderson in 2009, Bill 205 was a reaction to the “No Plan” advertisements launched by the “Albertans for Change” coalition of unions before the 2008 election, which targeted Premier Ed Stelmach. The ads had little effect on the result of that election, which saw Premier Stelmach’s Tories hold 72 of 83 constituencies, but it did contribute to the longer-term narrative that he may have not had a plan.

Unlike a similar law in British Columbia that limits the amount which third-parties can spend on election campaigns, Alberta’s law would limit the amount that can be contributed to a third-party advertising account which has to be registered with the Chief Electoral Officer.

An account must be opened if a third-party group plans to spend $1000 or more on advertising during the election period. Contribution limits mirror the provincial political party financing, which allows for $15,000 outside of election periods and $30000 during election periods. The yet to be proclaimed legislation does not restrict how much third parties can spend, only how much money individuals can contribute to them, as is the case with political parties.

Crossing all sorts of partisan divides, Mr. Anderson’s Bill 205 was supported by New Democrat MLAs Brian Mason and Rachel Notley, who oppose all third-party financing in election campaigns. The legislation was strongly opposed by then-Wildrose Alliance leadership candidate Danielle Smith and opposition Liberal MLAs. Calgary-McCall MLA Darshan Kang suggested that the legislation could be struck down in the courts for violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Edmonton-Gold Bar MLA Hugh MacDonald called the piece of legislation “not fair ” and “not balanced.”

Two years later, with a new leader of the Progressive Conservatives (and Premier-designate) being selected in the Fall and a provincial election expected soon after that, it is suspicious that this law has yet to be proclaimed. With the rise of the Wildrose in 2010 (and the plateauing of their support in 2011), it makes this political watcher wonder whether the Tories wanted to keep their third-party options open in case of a tight election.

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Alberta Politics

politicos march in edmonton’s 2011 pride parade.

Tens of thousands of Edmontonians packed the streets of downtown on Saturday  for the first major festival event of the summer – Edmonton’s Pride Parade. Held the same day as the City Centre Market and the Al Fresco Block Party on 104 Street, our city’s downtown core into a vibrant and very fun day-long party. The Pride Parade that kicked off the day was also an opportunity for politicos of most stripes (no blue coloured political signs spotted) to fly their flags and have some fun celebrating Pride Week. Here are some photos of some of the politicos who joined in the festivities:

A photo of myself and my dog Max at the 2011 Pride Parade in Edmonton.
Max and I marched with the Alberta Party crew in the parade.
A photo of City Councillor Don Iveson in Edmonton's 2011 Pride Parade.
City Councillor Don Iveson with MLA Laurie Blakeman in the background (Photo credit: britl. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
A photo of the Alberta Party crew at Edmonton's 2011 Pride Parade.
The Alberta Party crew, including Edmonton-Glenora candidate Sue Huff and Edmonton-Rutherford candidate Michael Walters.
A photo of City Councillor Ben Henderson in Edmonton's 2011 Pride Parade.
City Councillor Ben Henderson (Photo credit: britl. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
A photo of NDP MLA Rachel Notley and David Eggen in Edmonton's 2011 Pride Parade.
Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MLA Rachel Notley and Edmonton-Calder candidate David Eggen. (Photo credit: britl. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Categories
Alberta Politics

updated: alberta candidate nomination updates – june 2011.

The summer months are here and while the Progressive Conservatives and Liberals are preoccupied with choosing new leaders, the Wildrose Alliance are focusing on nominating a swath of candidates across the province. Here are some updates to the list of candidate nominations happening across Alberta:

Travis Olson, Wildrose Alliance candidate in Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater
Travis Olson, Wildrose Alliance candidate in Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater

Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater: Travis Olson was nominated as the Wildrose candidate on June 3, defeating Smoky Lake County Councillor Lori Danyluk, Thorhild social worker Lauri Genert and Sturgeon County Mayor Don Rigney in a mail-in ballot nomination contest. Athabasca-Redwater PC MLA Jeff Johnson has been nominated as his party’s candidate.

Calgary-Bow: Tim Dyck and John Hilton-O’Brien are vying for the Wildrose Alliance nomination. Mr. Hilton-O’Brien was the Alberta Alliance candidate in Grande Prairie-Wapiti in the 2004 election. PC MLA Alana DeLong has been nominated as her party’s candidate.

Calgary-Currie: Carrie Adolph was nominated as the Wildrose Alliance candidate defeating Sonja Chycoski. Ms. Adolph will face Alberta Party MLA Dave Taylor, who has represented this constituency since 2004.

Calgary Fort: The Wildrose Alliance is now without a candidate after Bob McInnis withdrew his candidacy for personal and professional reasons.

Calgary-Hays: Former Wildrose Alliance nomination candidate Wendi Moore appears to have withdrawn from the contest and is now supporting real estate agent Gene Sarmaga, who is facing Libertarian Party of Canada leader Dennis Young.

A photo of Cory Morgan, nomination candidate for the Wildrose Alliance in Wildrose Cory Morgan Calgary Klein North Hill
Former separatist leader Cory Morgan is a Wildrose Alliance nomination candidate in Calgary-Klein.

Calgary-Klein: Recent Aldermanic candidate Jeremy Nixon and former Alberta separatist leader Cory Morgan are seeking the Wildrose Alliance nomination scheduled for June 29. This will be Mr. Morgan’s fourth attempt at provincial elected office, having run as a candidate for the Alberta Independence Party in Banff-Cochrane in 2001, the Separation Party of Alberta in Highwood in 2004, and the Wildrose Alliance in Calgary-Mountain View in 2008.

Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill: The host of the popular CHQR radio show Calgary Today Mike Blanchard and Roy Alexander are seeking the Wildrose Alliance nomination in this constituency at a June 13 meeting.

Calgary-Northern Hills: Prasad Panda was nominated as the Wildrose Alliance candidate on May 27, 2011. Mr. Panda replaces previously nominated candidate Harpreet Nijjar, who withdrew from the nomination earlier this year. Calgary-Mackay PC MLA Teresa Woo-Paw has been nominated as her party’s candidate.

Cardston-Taber-Warner: This constituency was represented by now-Calgary-Glenmore Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman from 2004 until 2008. Dave Wright and Stirling businessman Doug Cooper are seeking that party’s nomination.

Mike Blanchard, Wildrose Alliance nomination candidate in Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill
Mike Blanchard, Wildrose Alliance nomination candidate in Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill

Chestermere-Rockyview: It would appear that Chestermere Town Councillor Heather Davies defeated Said Abdulbaki to become the Wildrose Alliance candidate in that constituency.

Edmonton-Centre: Four-term Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman was acclaimed as her party’s candidate on May 15. The Wildrose Alliance has nominated Barb de Groot, the Executive Director/Registrar of the College of Alberta Professional Forest Technologists.

Edmonton-Decore: The Wildrose Alliance has nominated lawyer Chris Bataluk as their candidate.

Edmonton-Glenora: Former Alberta Party acting-leader Sue Huff is expected to be acclaimed as her party’s candidate in this constituency. PC MLA Heather Klimchuk has been nominated as her party’s candidate.

A photo of Cindy Olsen, Edmonton Catholic School District Trustee
Catholic School Trustee Cindy Olsen is considering a run for NDP in Edmonton-Manning, according to unnamed source.

Edmonton-Manning: According to an unnamed source, Edmonton Catholic School District Trustee Cindy Olsen is strongly considering seeking the NDP nomination in this constituency, which is one of five in the province where the NDP candidate placed second in 2008. (UPDATE: Ms. Olsen announced this morning that she will seek the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Manning. See media release and confirmation from Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MLA Rachel Notley in the comments below) Already seeking the nomination is Mike Scott, who was the Edmonton-Sherwood Park NDP candidate in the recent federal election (and is also formerly known as Mike Koala on 100.3 FM The Bear). The NDP has scheduled their nomination meeting for June 27.

Edmonton-Whitemud: Rick Newcombe and Ian Crawford are seeking the Wildrose Alliance nomination. Although this will be Mr. Crawford’s first time seeking a Wildrose nomination, he has run unsuccessfully for City Council numerous times since 1992, for the Reform Party nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona in 1993, for the PC nominations in Edmonton-Rutherford and Edmonton-Ellerslie in 1993, for the Canadian Alliance in Edmonton-Southeast nomination in 2000, and for the PC nomination in Edmonton-Meadowlark in 2007 against Raj Sherman and Debbie Cavaliere. PC MLA Dave Hancock has been nominated as his party’s candidate.

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake: Developer Rod English and real estate broker Kerry Towle are seeking the Wildrose Alliance nomination, which is scheduled to happen on June 16.

Joe Anglin is seeking the Wildrose Alliance nomination in Rocky Mountain House-Sundre
The Rimbey Review reports that Joe Anglin is seeking the Wildrose Alliance nomination in Rocky Mountain House-Sundre

Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills: Village of Beiseker Mayor Bruce Rowe was acclaimed as the Wildrose Alliance candidate.

Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: The Rimbey Review is reporting that Rocky Mountain House Town Councillor Sheila Mizera and Rimbey Town Councillor Joe Anglin are seeking the Wildrose Alliance nomination. Mr. Anglin is well-known as a vocal advocate for landowners rights and earned 23% of the vote as the 2008 Green Party candidate in Lacombe-Ponoka. He served briefly as the Leader of the Alberta Green Party until it was dissolved in 2009.

UPDATE: I have received an email from Mr. Anglin in in regards to the news he is seeking the Wildrose Alliance nomination: “I have been fishing in the Yukon for the last two weeks. Just returned today. This is news to me. I have not made any such announcement.

Whitecourt-Ste. Anne: Whitecourt Town Councillor Maryann Chichak was announced as her party’s candidate on May 20. PC MLA George VanderBurg has been nominated as his party’s candidate.

Am I missing anyone? Post a comment below or send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com.


Categories
Alberta Politics

2010 in review: alberta politics.

This past year has been a fascinating one in Alberta politics. We have felt the rise of a new political opposition, witnessed more floor crossings than in decades, and a long-serving government that is trying desperately to find a direction. What have the changes in the past year meant for Alberta’s political players and what will it mean for them in 2011?
Progressive Conservatives
The challenges facing the PC Party on the eve of 2011 are similar to the challenges they faced a year ago. During the mid and late 1990s, the PCs were driven by an all-consuming desire to defeat the provincial deficit and debt. Once those goals were accomplished in the mid-2000s, the PCs lost their driving force. As in 2009, they continued to drift through 2010, without a defining purpose.

To say that the government was on auto-pilot in 2010 might be too generous a description because even that assumes that the ship is purposefully being steered in one direction. This is not to say that the PCs have driven Alberta into the ground. Alberta is still one of the most economically vibrant regions in Canada, but even the biggest optimist would admit that with a lack of strong leadership an institutional mediocrity has begun to define the leadership of Premier Ed Stelmach.

Protecting the reputation of the oil sands has become a raison d’aitre for many cabinet ministers, including Premier Stelmach and Environment Minister Rob Renner, but issues like health care have overshadowed these environmental issues on a domestic level. The firing of Alberta Health Services CEO Stephen Duckett along with a public shaming by the ER Doctors, and a very public battle with Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Dr. Raj Sherman over Emergency Room wait-times turned the Tories to damage control mode late in 2010.

The PCs had initially hoped to turn health care as one of their positive stories of 2010 and promised one of the most important pieces of health care legislation in decades. The flagship Alberta Health Act was initially created to bring all health care laws under one piece of legislation, but once it made it to the Assembly floor, it was watered down to include a non-binding health charter and empowering the Health Minister to make more decisions in closed door cabinet meetings, rather than through Legislative votes.

In a number of year end interviews, Premier Stelmach has already begun managing expectations for 2011, stating that the provincial budget deficit may not be paid down until 2013, which creates an interesting political environment for an election expected in March 2012. The Premier has also stated that he will shuffle his cabinet in early 2011 in advance of the next election.

The next year will give the PCs an opportunity to mend some fences in their former stronghold of Calgary. The election of Mayor Naheed Nenshi in October 2010 could create a new cooperative tone between the Premier and the Mayor of Alberta’s largest city (a relationship that was not kind to the Premier when Dave Bronconnier was Mayor). If the PCs are unable to regain lost ground in Calgary, they might begin asking what, or who, caused their decline in support, and whether the reason responsible should be replaced.

Liberals
After being elbowed to the sideline by the growing narrative of the Wildrose Alliance as the next government-in-waiting in 2010, the Liberal Party’s biggest challenge in 2011 is to be relevant. Unable to defeat the PCs after 17 years as the Official Opposition, the Liberal Party has started to look and feel like yesterday’s opposition party.

The party has paid down its enormous debt and the caucus has released a series of new policies, but under David Swann‘s leadership the party has been unable to show any momentum as it slipped to third place in nearly every poll in 2010.

The departure of Calgary-Currie MLA Dave Taylor in April 2010 hurt the Liberals and I am told that many of the party’s traditional big donors in Edmonton are not pleased with the current leadership or Dr. Swann’s last minute appeal for cooperation with other opposition parties. With up to three of the party’s eight MLAs planning on retiring at the next election, the party is hoping to draw on a number of former MLAs defeated in the 2008 election to bolster its slate in the next election. Not exactly the sign of renewal that they will need to build momentum.

Wildrose Alliance
The past year has been a spectacular one for the Wildrose Alliance. With four MLAs, that party now has the third largest caucus in the Assembly, the most charismatic leader, Danielle Smith, a slew of staffers and organizers who have fled the PCs, a growing membership, and a group of 26 already nominated candidates knocking on doors across the province. The annual fundraising reports expected to be released by Elections Alberta in March 2011 will reveal another part of this party’s story in 2010 and will show if they will be able to compete with the PC Party’s multi-million dollar war chest.

The Wildrose Alliance is becoming more adept at using political wedge issues to draw out the weakness of the governing PCs. For example, where the PCs will never admit that they have ever attempted to increase privatization of our public health care system, the Wildrose Alliance is much more open with their desire to introduce private insurance and private providers (of course, their arguments around private health care delivery hit a bump in the road when they decided to defend the bankrupt Health Resource Centre in Calgary).

On the municipal front, Ms. Smith briefly entered the City Centre Airport redevelopment debate and received a stunning rebuke from Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel. While Ms. Smith’s entry into the debate does not appear to have helped that cause, it did give her party the opportunity to organize in their weakest region of the province (a maneuver that appears to have paid off).

A party cannot grow this fast without bumps along the road and the Wildrose has had a few. A few months ago, the entire Board of Directors of that party’s Little Bow Constituency Association resigned over allegations of central party interference in the nomination contest that selected Ian Donovan over Kevin Kinahan in November 2010. This week, the Board of Directors of the Medicine Hat Wildrose Constituency Association resigned over the acclamation of candidate Milvia Bauman.

New Democratic Party
The NDP are well… the NDP. The party’s two MLAs, Brian Mason and Rachel Notley, were vocal opponents in the Assembly this year and the party hosted a reasonably well-attended policy conference. The NDP Caucus released some positive policy this year, but rather than offering a constructive alternative to the current government the two MLAs fell back into the comfortable opposition attack-dog position.

The party shows very little signs of serious growth in the polls outside its traditional areas of support, but they are in a position to benefit from a weakened Liberal Party inside Edmonton’s city limits. Barring a change in leadership, which could see Ms. Notley or former MLA David Eggen step up, the NDP may have missed their window of opportunity to broaden their support beyond a handful of Edmonton constituencies a number of years ago.

Alberta Party
After the merger of the old Alberta Party with the Renew Alberta group in late 2009, the new Alberta Party has experienced huge growth.

Through the Big Listen process, the party attracted many disenchanted Tories, Liberals, New Democrats, former Greens, and independents to its ranks and has grown to nearly 1000 member in just one year. The party has been bolstered through the presidency of Chris Labossiere and in a smart move the party hired community organizer Michael Walters as their provincial organizer in Spring 2010. This still-growing party is expected to have over 40 constituency associations organized by the end of January 2011.

Acting Leader Sue Huff replaced leader Edwin Erickson in November 2010 and a full leadership contest will be launched in January 2011. A few potential candidates have already stepped up, including Hinton Mayor Glenn Taylor and Calgarian Chris Tesarski. The Alberta Party received a boost in public and media interest in October 2010, when many of its key organizers helped vault Naheed Nenshi to the Mayoralty in Calgary.

As an active member of this party, I see the Alberta Party’s big challenge of 2011 to move past the Big Listen to the next step of initiating some Big Action.

Categories
Alberta Politics

the sergeant – an alberta politics spoof.

Thanks to the Alberta NDP Caucus for posting their video from the annual Press Gallery Christmas Party on YouTube. Thanks to the NDP,  Wildrose Alliance Caucus, and Independent MLA Raj Sherman for sharing their sense of humour with Albertans. This video is hilarious.