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Alberta Politics

UCP candidate Emad El-Zein to challenge NDP leader Rachel Notley in Edmonton-Strathcona

Emad El-Zein will carry the United Conservative Party banner against Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley in Edmonton-Strathcona.

Rachel Notley Alberta NDP leader edmonton-strathcona mla
Rachel Notley (source: Rachel Notley / Facebook)

El-Zein is an engineer and business owner, and is the President of the local UCP association in Edmonton-Strathcona.

He was served as soccer coordinator and membership director of the Malmo Plains Community League.

Notley was first elected to represent Edmonton-Strathcona in 2008 and was re-elected in 2019 with 72 per cent of the vote.

Voters in the south central Edmonton riding have elected NDP MLAs in every election but one since 1986.

UCP to appoint Toews and Savage successors

Sonya Savage

The UCP has announced that it plans to appoint candidates in Grande Prairie-Wapiti and Calgary-North West to replace retiring Finance Minister Travis Toews and Environment Minister Sonya Savage. The two senior UCP ministers announced last Friday that they will not seek re-election.

Of the two, only Savage was already nominated to run in the May election.

Rumours circulated over the weekend that the UCP could appoint Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Rajan Sawhney as the UCP candidate in Calgary-North West. Sawhney has served as MLA for Calgary-North East since 2019 but announced in February 2023 that she would not run for re-election.

There is also speculation in political circles that the UCP could name Nolan Dyck as the party’s candidate in Grande Prairie-Wapiti. Dyck is currently seeking the nomination in the neighbouring Grande Prairie riding but is President of the UCP association in Grande Prairie-Wapiti and is politically close to Toews.

Liberal Party names 6 new candidates

The Liberal Party has named six new candidates, bringing the party’s total slate of candidates up to seven.

Donna Wilson Liberal Edmonton Whitemud By-Election
Donna Wilson

The slate of new candidates includes Dr. Donna Wilson, a nursing professor at the University of Alberta who’s area of research focuses on health services and health policy.

Wilson will be carrying the party’s banner in Edmonton-Whitemud, where she previously ran for the Liberals in a 2014 by-election. Back then, the Liberals were led by now-UCP candidate Dr. Raj Sherman and the Wildrose Party was led by now UCP Premier Danielle Smith. The riding is currently represented by NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi.

Wilson also ran for the Liberals in Edmonton-Riverview in the 2015 election.

Other Liberal Party candidates include:

  • Charlie Heater in Calgary-Fish Creek
  • Prince Mugisha in Calgary-North East
  • Jean Kijuli in Edmonton-Manning
  • Abdi Bakal in Edmonton-Mill Woods
  • Patricia Chizek in Lethbridge-West

Bakal and Chizek were candidates in those ridings in the 2019 election. Liberal Party leader John Roggeveen has not announced where he plans to run.

Other nomination updates

The Independence Party of Alberta has nominated Bob Blayone in Camrose, Terry Wolsey in Cardston-Siksika, David Reid in Innisfail-Sylvan LakeCorrie Toone in Livigstone-Macleod, Katherine Kowalchuk in Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, Fred Schwieger in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, Brent Ginther in Taber-Warner.

Ashley MacDonald is the Green Party candidate in Red Deer-South.

Upcoming nomination votes

With just 63 days left until Election Day, the UCP have nominated candidates in 81 of Alberta’s 87 ridings and Alberta NDP have nominated 77 candidates. The Green Party has 27 candidates, the Alberta Party has nominated 12 candidates, the Liberal Party has seven, and the Independence Party has at least seven.

Candidate nomination votes are currently scheduled for the following dates:

  • April 1 – Calgary-North East UCP
  • April 3 – Grande Prairie UCP
  • April 21 – Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville

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Alberta Politics

He’s back, again! Raj Sherman wins the UCP nomination vote in Edmonton-Whitemud

Former Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman won the United Conservative Party nomination in Edmonton-Whitemud. Sherman defeated David Masieyi and UCP Caucus staffer Varun Chandrasekar.

Rakhi Pancholi (source: Rakhi Pancholi / Facebook)
Rakhi Pancholi (source: Rakhi Pancholi / Facebook)

“I’m honoured and grateful for the opportunity to bring a positive conservative message to the community,” Sherman said in a statement released after his win. “Together, we will fight for the people of Edmonton-Whitemud and work towards a brighter future for all Albertans.”

Sherman briefly served as a Progressive Conservative MLA before becoming leader of the Alberta Liberal Party. After a short few years of attempted rebranding and a poor showing in the 2012 election (after which Danielle Smith replaced him as Leader of the Official Opposition), he resigned a few months ahead of the 2015 election.

While the UCP rolled out the red carpet for Michelle Rempel Garner to run for the party leadership in 2022 (she declined), Sherman was denied a chance to run for the UCP leadership in 2022 but he didn’t let that stop him.

Now he will face Alberta NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi in the upcoming provincial election. The riding is considered a safe seat for the NDP in this election but there is little doubt that Sherman will be a candidate to watch in the next few months.

Myles McDougall beats establishment backed nominees in Calgary-Fish Creek UCP vote

Economist Myles McDougall defeated Christina Steed and Dave Guenter to win the UCP nomination in Calgary-Fish Creek.

McDougall previously ran for the Progressive Conservative nomination in Calgary-Fish Creek in 2015 and the federal Conservative Party nomination in Calgary-Midnapore in 2017. He had an endorsement in this race from Calgary-Glenmore MLA Whitney Issik and support from Take Back Alberta-connected organizers.

Steed was endorsed by retiring MLA Richard Gotfried and former south Calgary MLA Cindy Ady. Guenter had endorsements from Finance Minister Travis Toews and local Conservative MP Stephanie Kusie.

And from Wednesday night, Albert Mazzocca defeated Jaspreet Saggu to win the UCP nominaton in Edmonton-Manning.

Upcoming nomination votes

With just more than 90 days left until Election Day, the Alberta NDP have nominated candidates in 73 of Alberta’s 87 ridings. The United Conservative Party has candidates named in 65 ridings and the Green Party has 26 candidates. The Alberta Party has nominated 6 candidates and the Liberal Party has one.

Candidate nomination votes are currently scheduled for the following dates:

  • February 25 – Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock NDP
  • February 25 & 26 – Lesser Slave Lake UCP
  • February 28 – Cypress-Medicine Hat NDP
  • March 1 – Edmonton-Meadows UCP
  • March 2 – Edmonton-West Henday UCP
  • March 4 – Red Deer-South UCP
  • March 5 – Calgary-Bhullar-McCall UCP
  • March 9, 10, 11 – Livingstone-Macleod UCP
  • March 11 – Edmonton-Strathcona NDP
  • March 13 – Calgary-Lougheed UCP
  • March 14 – Calgary-Lougheed NDP
  • March 14 – Lethbridge-West UCP
  • March 18 – Leduc-Beaumont UCP

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Alberta Politics

Nomination updates: Raj Sherman trying for a political comeback at tonight’s UCP nomination vote in Edmonton-Whitemud

The United Conservative Party wouldn’t let Raj Sherman be a candidate in their leadership race but they couldn’t stop him from running for the party’s nomination in Edmonton-Whitemud.

And it’s in Edmonton-Whitemud that the Emergency Room doctor and former leader of the Alberta Liberal Party hopes to make his next political comeback.

Sherman first jumped onto the political scene back in 2008, when he was elected as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark. He briefly served as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Wellness but his time in the PC fold was short.

Sherman was removed from the PC Caucus in 2010 and briefly enjoyed an almost folk-hero status in Alberta politics before deciding to run for the Liberal Party leadership in 2011. He won on the first ballot in the party’s first (and only) open-membership vote.

Sherman was unable to mend the Liberal Party’s political wounds and only narrowly held on to his seat in the 2012 election. The moribund Liberals placed a distant third behind Alison Redford‘s PCs and Danielle Smith‘s Wildrose Party.

Sherman stepped down as Liberal leader only a few months before the 2015 election.

UCP members vote on February 23. Joining Sherman on the ballot are David Masieyi and UCP Caucus staffer Varun Chandrasekar.

Edmonton-Whitemud is currently represented by NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi and it is considered a safe NDP riding going into the next election.

UCP to choose Calgary-Fish Creek candidate

UCP members in this south Calgary riding will choose from three candidates to replace retiring MLA Richard Gotfried. Dave Guenter, Myles McDougall, and Christina Steed are seeking the nomination. Steed has the endorsement of Gotfried and former area MLA Cindy Ady. Guenter has an endorsement from Finance Minister Travis Toews and McDougall has the backing of Take Back Alberta-linked organizers. A nomination meeting is being held on February 23.

Four running for UCP in Lesser Slave Lake

Four candidates are on the ballot in the Lesser Slave Lake UCP nomination vote on February 25 and 26. Former constituency assistant Martine Carifelle, oil field operator Jerrad Cunningham, auto glass repair shop owner Scott Sinclair, and former chief Silas Yellowknee of the Bigstone First Nation are seeking the nomination to succeed retiring UCP MLA Pat Rehn.

Former MLA Danielle Larivee is running for the NDP.

Tischer running for NDP in Athbasca-Barrhead-Westlock

Pastor-turned-horizontal directional driller Landen Tischer is expected to be acclaimed as the NDP candidate in this sprawling rural riding north of Edmonton. A nomination meeting is being held on February 25.

The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA Glenn van Dijken, who fended off a nomination challenge from Westlock County Councillor Isaac Skuban late last year.

Newly nominated candidates

Edmonton-Manning: UCP voters in this north east Edmonton riding voted to select their candidate last night but the results have not yet been released. Alberto Mazzocca and Jaspreet Saggu were seeking the nomination.

Edmonton-North West: Ali Haymour was acclaimed as the UCP candidate. Haymour is a familiar name to north Edmonton voters, having previously run for City Council in 2017 and 2021, and as the Alberta Party candidate in Edmonton-Decore in 2019 and the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Castle Downs in 2008 and 2012.

Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland: UCP MLA Shane Getson has been acclaimed as his party candidate in this rural riding just north west of Edmonton. Town of Mayerthorpe Mayor Janet Jabush is now the Alberta Party candidate. Jabush has served as mayor since 2019.

Newly announced candidates

Calgary-Lougheed: Sherrisa Celis is the fifth candidate to enter the UCP nomination race in this south west Calgary riding. Celis is a program manager with· Calgary Catholic Immigration Society and ran for the UCP nomination in Calgary-Cross in 2018. Her website lists endorsements from Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao and former Calgary MLA Art Johnston. Also running for the nomination are Eric Bouchard, Max DeGroat, Mark Fiselier, and Michelle Mather.

Edmonton-Strathcona: NDP leader Rachel Notley is expected to be acclaimed as her party’s candidate at a nomination rally at NAIT on March 11. Notley was first elected in 2008 and was re-elected in 2019 with 72.27 per cent of the vote.

Withdrawn candidates

Cypress-Medicine Hat: Dustin Cartwright has withdrawn his candidacy for the Green Party in this south east Alberta riding.

Upcoming nomination votes

With just more than 90 days left until Election Day, the Alberta NDP have nominated candidates in 73 of Alberta’s 87 ridings. The United Conservative Party has candidates named in 61 ridings and the Green Party has 26 candidates. The Alberta Party has nominated 6 candidates and the Liberal Party has one.

Candidate nomination votes are currently scheduled for the following dates:

  • February 23 – Calgary-Fish Creek UCP
  • February 23 – Edmonton-Whitemud UCP
  • February 25 – Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock NDP
  • February 25 & 26 – Lesser Slave Lake UCP
  • February 28 – Cypress-Medicine Hat NDP
  • March 1 – Edmonton-Meadows UCP
  • March 2 – Edmonton-West Henday UCP
  • March 4 – Red Deer-South UCP
  • March 5 – Calgary-Bhullar-McCall UCP
  • March 13 – Calgary-Lougheed UCP
  • March 14 – Calgary-Lougheed NDP
  • March 14 – Lethbridge-West UCP

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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.


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Janis Irwin voted Best Alberta MLA for the third year in a row. Results of the Best of Alberta Politics 2022 Survey announced.

With all the votes counted, the winners of the sixth annual Best of Alberta Politics survey are:

Best Alberta MLA and Best Opposition MLA

Always a fan favourite, for the third year in a row Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Janis Irwin has been voted the Best Alberta MLA. For the first time, Irwin was voted Best Opposition MLA, knocking her leader Rachel Notley out of the spot for the first time since 2019. 

Irwin is a passionate voice in the Legislature and one of the hardest working constituency MLAs in the province.

On any given day, she can be spotted around her north east Edmonton constituency out volunteering with a community group, attending a cultural event, or just meeting with constituents. Sure this is what a lot of MLAs do, but Irwin balances her community work and politics with level of humility and humour that you don’t always see in a politician – and she’s been able to successfully translate it into a huge social media following on Instagram and Twitter. (Oh, I can’t forget to mention Oregano).

Best Alberta Cabinet Minister

Rajan Sawhney

Well-liked and respected among her colleagues, Minister of Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism Rajan Sawhney was new to politics when she was first elected in 2019 but quickly distinguished herself as a strong performer in a largely rookie cabinet.

The Calgary-North East MLA leaned on her years of business experience to launch an outsider campaign for the United Conservative Party leadership in 2022, but it wasn’t enough to break through in a campaign that was defined by the front-runner, Danielle Smith.

Up and Coming MLA to Watch

Rakhi Pancholi (source: Rakhi Pancholi / Facebook)

Edmonton-Whitemud NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi continues to distinguish herself as a smart and well-spoken member of the opposition.

This is Pancholi’s third year winning in this category, demonstrating that a lot of people are interested in watching her political trajectory and probably won’t stop until she either becomes a cabinet minister after next year’s election or goes on to lead her party at some point in the future. 

Candidate to Watch in 2023

Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, Brooks Arcand-Paul, Linda Duncan and Blake Desjarlais at the nomination campaign launch in Edmonton-West Henday.
Brooks Arcand-Paul (second from the left) with Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, Linda Duncan and Blake Desjarlais at the nomination campaign launch in Edmonton-West Henday. (Source: Instagram)

First Nations lawyer and Edmonton-West Henday NDP candidate Brooks Arcand-Paul was voted the Candidate to Watch in 2023. The University of Ottawa law graduate is the in-house legal counsel for the Alexander First Nation, located just north of Edmonton. As part of the NDP’s slate of new candidates, he’s running in the west Edmonton riding being vacated by retiring two-term NDP MLA Jon Carson.

Biggest issue of 2022

The crisis in the health care system was overwhelmingly voted the biggest political issue of 2022 in Alberta, and there shouldn’t be any confusion why.

The lingering effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the dramatic impact of respiratory illnesses on children’s hospitals in Calgary and Edmonton have made national headlines. Shortages of nurses and doctors have created a staffing crisis in hospitals and health centres in every corner of Alberta.

The current crisis guarantees that health care will be one of the top issues on the minds of Albertans heading into the 2023 election.

Biggest political play of 2022

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced he is stepping down as leader of the United Conservative Party after receiving 51.4% support in the party's leadership review.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced he is stepping down as leader of the United Conservative Party after receiving 51.4% support in the party’s leadership review.

It was almost Shakespearean. Jason Kenney losing the leadership of the UCP – the party he nurtured from its birth – was voted the biggest political play of 2022. Kenney pulled together the Wildrose and Progressive Conservatives parties (which won the 2017 award in this category) with the goal of defeating the NDP in 2019 but it wasn’t long after his big electoral success that his party started to turn on him.

The COVID-19 pandemic derailed Kenney’s premiership but his divisive rhetoric and decision to firmly plant himself on the unpopular side of some big issues left him with few allies when his party and a small army of anti-vaxx activists mobilized against him. In the end, even 51.4 per cent in the leadership review wasn’t enough to save his political career.


Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to everyone who voted in this year’s survey. There is a lot of negativity in politics, so I started the annual Best of Alberta Politics survey back in 2017 as a way to give followers of provincial politics a chance to recognize and reward some of the best people involved in Alberta politics.


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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

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Honourable Alberta cabinet ministers bestow upon themselves title and fancy letters to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee

God Save the Queen!

Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her 70th year on the Throne this year.

In honour of this most Royal occasion, Premier Jason Kenney introduced Bill 1: Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Recognition Act back on February 22.

Queen Elizabeth II

It was the United Conservative Party government’s flagship bill of the 2022.

The new law creates a scholarship for Alberta students, a medal to recognize the work of outstanding Albertans, and a for-life “Honourable” title and “ECA” post-nominal letters for all living current and former Alberta cabinet ministers.

Wait.

What?

Yes, you read that right.

To celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s seventy years as Queen of Canada and Sovereign of the British Commonwealth , Kenney introduced a bill that gives current and former cabinet ministers the ability to call themselves “Honourable” for the rest of their lives.

As far as I know Alberta might be only province to have done this.

As the head of government, Premiers have always been able to hold their “Honourable” title for life, but not regular cabinet ministers.

Until now.

Provincial cabinet ministers get to call themselves “Honourable” while they are in office as a sign of respect for the office they hold while they hold it, but that used to be it.

It’s an honour to be a cabinet minister but it’s not something they would take for life.

Not like those British Lords who pass on titles and positions to their children.

Back to Alberta.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1952.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1952.

The home of Honourable Jason Kenney, PC, ECA.

The ECA stands for Executive Council of Alberta by the way.

That’s the formal name of the cabinet.

The PC stands for Privy Council. 

That’s a real title that comes with responsibility.

The Privy Council Office is the central agency of the Government of Canada which acts as the secretariat to the Cabinet of Canada.

Kenney was sworn into the Privy Council when he was a federal cabinet minister.

The Alberta title is an automatic thing for people in cabinet now and anyone who used to be in cabinet.

“Who cares, Dave?” you say?

I guess it’s not really a big deal.

It’s just a monarchist vanity project.

It’s not like Kenney is wandering the halls of the Legislature crying “Hail Britannia!” while brandishing a broadsword to bestow knighthoods.

But it’s weird and it’s something that no normal Albertan was asking for.

I doubt many people on the streets of Rocky Mountain House or downtown Calgary were clamouring for a new law to let our politicians hold titles for life. 

I’m no monarchist.

I believe the monarchy is an outdated institution that should probably be abolished. 

But I also think Alberta politicians voting to give themselves titles for life is a strange way to honour a Queen who has spent seventy years serving honourably in a very difficult role.

It mostly flew under the radar but two NDP MLA did take notice.

They got sharp responses from the UCP, who never explained why they were even doing this.

“That’s certainly not something that anybody has raised to me as their top priority” said Edmonton-Whitemud NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi said in the Legislature.

“I certainly think it’s coming at an interesting time, considering that there are a number of members of the current cabinet who are having their qualifications and their expertise and their temperament questioned,” Pancholi continued.

“I think that’s at odds with what most Albertans believe in terms of what honorary means, and it’s an interesting timing on this government’s part,” she concluded.

When Edmonton-Castle Downs NDP MLA Nicole Goehring questioned it, UCP deputy government house leader and Kenney acolyte Joseph Schow was quick to jump on her with a Point of Order. 

“I guess this is a touchy subject when it comes to the title “honourable” for life,” Goehring replied. 

“This piece of legislation is doing just that. It’s providing a space to have the title for life alongside building up students and recognizing their contributions to the province,” she said. “It just seems ridiculous that the two of these things are going together.”

No kidding.

It’s the law now.

So, to all the students who receive the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee scholarships, congratulations.

To all the Albertans who are honoured with the awards, thank you for your service.

And to all the Honourable current and former cabinet ministers, ECA, who have now been bestowed with their new title, enjoy it, I guess.


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Brooks Arcand-Paul running for NDP nomination in Edmonton-West Henday, UCP MLAs rally for Jeremy Nixon in Calgary-Klein

Brooks Arcand-Paul is running for the Alberta NDP nomination in Edmonton-West Henday.

Arcand-Paul launched his candidacy in the west Edmonton riding the day after two-term MLA Jon Carson announced he would not run for re-election.

“Albertans deserve leaders who care about people, Arcand-Paul said in a statement.

“The NDP have a proven record that they really care about all people. The last few years have presented our communities with unprecedented challenges, and the UCP government has failed us at every turn. It’s time for government to work for all Albertans, rather than against them. From rising insurance and utility rates, cuts to education and healthcare, we cannot afford another UCP term. ”

Arcand-Paul is the in-house legal counsel for the Alexander First Nation, located about a 25-minute drive northwest of Edmonton, and Vice President of the Indigenous Bar Association.

His launch event included endorsements from Edmonton-Griesbach MP Blake Desjarlais, former Edmonton-Strathcona MP Linda Duncan and Edmonton-Rutherford NDP nomination candidate Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse.

The date for a nomination meeting has not yet been announced.

The battle for Calgary heating up

The NDP need to sweep Alberta’s largest city if they want to win the next election, and vulnerable Calgary United Conservative Party MLAs know it. Rachel Notley has been spending a lot of time in Calgary and NDP MLAs have been spending nearly every spare minute knocking on doors in the city. 

Jeremy Nixon (centre with the lawn sign) and UCP MLAs and volunteers in Calgary-Klein.
Jeremy Nixon (centre with the lawn sign) and UCP MLAs and volunteers in Calgary-Klein. (source: Instagram)

A group of UCP MLAs were spotted door-knocking in Calgary-Klein to support first-term UCP MLA Jeremy Nixon, who is facing a strong challenge from NDP candidate Marilyn North Peigan.

Calgary-Currie MLA Nicholas Milliken, Calgary-Edgemont MLA Prasad Panda, Calgary-Beddington MLA Josephine Pon, and Calgary-East MLA Peter Singh were on the doors this weekend with Nixon and party volunteers. 

The NDP held a similar door-knocking blitz in the riding with MLAs and dozens of volunteers earlier in the year.

Meanwhile, Edmonton-Whitemud NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi was recently doorknocking with NDP candidate Julia Hayter in Calgary-Edgemont, and Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Janis Irwin was busy campaigning with Rosman Valencia in Calgary-East.

And Notley was in Calgary for Druh Farrell’s nomination meeting in Calgary-Bow and to join Calgary-Falconridge candidate Parmeet Singh Boparai and Calgary-Bhullar-McCall MLA Irfan Sabir at Nagar Kirtan celebrations.


Upcoming nomination meetings

  • Edmonton-North West NDP: May 18, 2022
  • Calgary-Acadia NDP: May 26, 2022
  • Edmonton-Meadows NDP: May 28, 2022
  • Edmonton-Rutherford NDP: May 28, 2022
  • Brooks-Medicine Hat AP: May 25, 2022
  • Calgary-Elbow AP: May 29, 2022
  • Airdrie-Cochrane NDP: May 30, 2022
  • Edmonton-Riverview NDP: June 7, 2022
  • Edmonton-McClung NDP: June 8, 2022
  • Strathcona-Sherwood Park NDP: June 9, 2022
  • Edmonton-South West NDP: June 18, 2022
  • Edmonton-Decore NDP: June 25, 2022

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!

(And, I know I’ve said this before but feel free to sign up for the Daveberta Substack.)

Categories
Alberta Politics

Richard Bruneau wins NDP contest in Camrose, Walker-McKitrick rematch being set up in Sherwood Park, NDP MLAs flock to Battleground Calgary

‘Three candidates are contesting the NDP nomination contest in Camrose’ are not a series of words I imagined writing even a year ago, yet here we are.

Business owner and former diplomat Richard Bruneau defeated Registered Psychiatric Nurse Tonya Ratushniak and educational assistant and recent city council candidate Wyatt Tanton to win the NDP nomination in Camrose. 

“When attending Augustana their motto was ‘to lead and to serve,’ and this is my vision of how I would like to lead and lift people up in the community. A vision I believe Alberta’s NDP embodies,” Bruneau said in a press release announcing his win. “The UCP has not been serving the people of Alberta, and the pandemic highlighted the short-signed failures of UCP policy. Camrose deserves better than the UCP.”

Jackie Lovely MLA Camrose UCP
Jackie Lovely

Bruneau is a bookstore owner, farmer, former lecturer at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus and a former Canadian diplomat who served in Afghanistan, Jordan and Palestine. He lives with his family on a cattle farm.

Bruneau was joined by Edmonton-North West MLA David Eggen at the nomination meeting and by Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Janis Irwin at a meet and greet in Camrose today.

The riding is currently represented by United Conservative Party MLA Jackie Lovely, who was first elected in 2019 with 65.2 per cent of the vote. This was Lovely’s third attempt at winning a seat in the Legislature, the first two being as the Wildrose Party candidate in Edmonton-Ellerslie in 2012 and 2015. 

Lovely is being challenged for the UCP nomination by Beaver County Reeve Kevin Smook, who earned 12.8 per cent of the vote as the Alberta Party candidate in the riding in 2019.

The previous Wetaskiwin-Camrose riding was represented by NDP MLA Bruce Hinkley from 2015 to 2019 before it was redistributed into the current riding. Hinkley ran for re-election in the neighbouring Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin riding and was defeated by UCP candidate Rick Wilson.

Walker-McKitrick rematch being set up in Sherwood Park

Jordan Walker MLA Sherwood Park UCP
Jordan Walker

First-term UCP MLA Jordan Walker is seeking his party’s nomination for re-election in Sherwood Park.

The UCP backbencher was first elected in one of the closer races in Edmonton’s surrounding suburbs in 2019 by narrowly unseating NDP MLA Annie McKitrick. 

The stage is being set for a rematch in 2023, with McKitrick announcing last week that she plans to seek the NDP nomination to challenge Walker in the next election. This is a riding the NDP will need to win to form government. 

Gurinder Singh Gill running for NDP nomination in Calgary-Cross

Gurinder Singh Gill is seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-Cross. Gill previously ran as the federal NDP candidate in Calgary-Skyview in the 2019 and 2021 elections. He placed third with 16.2 per cent of the vote behind victorious Liberal George Chahal and incumbent Conservative MP Jag Sahota in the last federal election.

The east Calgary riding is currently represented by UCP MLA Mickey Amery, who was elected in 2019 with 54.2 per cent by unseating NDP cabinet minister Ricardo Miranda, who finished second with 37.3 per cent.

Amery is the son of Moe Amery, who represented the neighbouring Calgary-East riding from 1993 until his defeat in the 2015 election.

MLA Guthrie endorses Danielle Smith’s challenging Roger Reid

Peter Guthrie MLA Airdrie-Cochrane UCP Communism
Peter Guthrie

Airdrie-Cochrane UCP MLA Peter Guthrie has endorsed former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith’s bid for the UCP nomination in Livingstone-Macleod. Smith is challenging Guthrie’s caucus colleague Roger Reid for the nomination. 

Smith is wasting no time making her mark in UCP circles as she eyes the nomination and the party leadership.

Tonight she will join Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan, a vocal Kenney critic, and former Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson to discuss the “Free Alberta Strategy.” And on April 23 she is joining Independent MLA Todd Loewen for a “Politics Uncensored” event in Three Hills.

Loewen is a former UCP Caucus chair who booted from the UCP Caucus in May 2021 after he publicly called on Premier Jason Kenney to resign.

Meanwhile, demonstrating how much bad blood remains between Smith and many UCP activists as a result of the 2014 Wildrose floor crossings, a Twitter account run by staff in Kenney’s office attacked Smith (and Brian Jean) by proclaiming that “I’ve always found it surprising that two people whose only track record is losing general elections, somehow feel they have all the answers.”

The “@UniteAlberta” twitter account is run by Deputy Director of  Government Communications and Speechwriter Harrison Fleming, who is currently on leave to work on Kenney’s leadership campaign.

Other senior staff on leave to work on their boss’s leadership review campaign are Chief of Staff Pam Livingston, Executive Director of Communications and Planning Brock Harrison, and Issues Manager Chad Hallman. 

Meanwhile, the former Wildrose leader and Kenney-foe has been sworn-in as an MLA the Legislature. Newly elected Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche MLA Brian Jean has rejoined UCP Caucus he left in 2018.

CBC reporter Michelle Bellefontaine tweeted today that Jean said Kenney has not spoken to him since he was elected as a UCP MLA in March.

NDP MLAs flock to Calgary

Rakhi Pancholi NDP Edmonton Whitemud
Rakhi Pancholi

Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Rakhi Pancholi will be nominated as her party’s candidate for re-election tonight.

“This community has shared with me their wisdom, their experiences, their hopes, and have trusted me to be their voice in the legislature,” said Pancholi. “I want to continue to work hard to help the families of this community – and across Alberta – seize the opportunities available for us to have a strong economic recovery.”

And with the next provincial election just over a year away, she, like most NDP MLAs, are spending a lot of time in Calgary – the expected battleground of the next election.

Janet Eremenko, Rachel Notley, and Rakhi Pancholi.

Pancholi was spotted door knocking in Calgary-Acadia with nomination candidate and Registered Nurse Diana Batten, and with NDP leader Rachel Notley and local candidate Janet Eremenko in Calgary-Currie.

Notley has been spending a lot of time in Calgary, including on the doors this week with Calgary-Edgemont candidate Julia Hayter. Notley will be headlining an April 9 nomination rally in Calgary-East where teacher Rosman Valencia is expected to be acclaimed.

Eggen was spotted door-knocking with MLA Joe Ceci in Calgary-Buffalo and candidate Gurinder Brar in Calgary-North East

Irwin and Edmonton-Glenora MLA Sarah Hoffman are planning to join NDP nomination candidate Marilyn North Peigan on the doors this weekend in the Tuxedo Park neighbourhood in Calgary-Klein. Irwin is also scheduled to spend time door-knocking with Eremenko in Calgary-Currie and Hayter in Calgary-Edgemont.


The following nomination meetings have been scheduled.

• Calgary-East NDP: April 9, 2022
• Edmonton-Mill Woods NDP: April 10, 2022
• Leduc-Beaumont NDP: April 13, 2022
• Morinville-St. Albert NDP: April 30, 2022
• Calgary-Glenmore: May 10, 2022

Categories
Alberta Politics

Nomination Updates: UCP cancels rumbles in Rocky and Cardston, disqualifies Tim Hoven and Jodie Gateman

I take a few days off and there’s a million new candidate nomination updates.

It sure feels like election season in Alberta. Or maybe it’s just Leadership Review season.

Ok. Let’s get on with the updates.

Tim Hoven and Jodie Gateman have been disqualified from the United Conservative Party nomination races in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre and Cardston-Siksika.

The right-wing municipal politicians were challenging two high-profile Jason Kenney loyalists – Government House Leader and Environment & Parks Minister Jason Nixon and Deputy Government House Leader Joseph Schow.

The party says they were disqualified because of controversial posts they shared and liked on social media.

People close to Gateman’s campaign say it was because she was accused of reposting conspiracy theories on her social media accounts.

They tell me that party staff even asked her if she was in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021. (The person I spoke with said she was visiting family in Las Vegas).

Disqualifying them avoids negative media attention from unwanted bozo-eruptions and has the added bonus of protecting two Kenney loyalists who were by most accounts considered vulnerable in the nomination.

They also both happened to be endorsed by Kenney rivals Brian Jean and Drew Barnes.

Without nomination races to keep them busy, there’s more time to focus on the April 9 leadership review in Red Deer.

Gateman is now shifting her attention to getting as many of her supporters to vote against Kenney at the April 9 leadership review in Red Deer.

They are renting buses.

Maybe someone will call in and ask Kenney about it on his debut radio show this weekend?

A new poll from ThinkHQ shows that 64 per cent of Albertans and 59 per cent of UCP voters want Kenney gone.

More on that later. Now back to the nomination updates.

For the UCP:

  • It hasn’t been announced yet, but is appears that Calgary-Shaw MLA Rebecca Schulz and Calgary-South East MLA Matt Jones will be acclaimed as the UCP candidates in their ridings.
  • MLA Josephine Pon is running for the UCP nomination in Calgary-Beddington. Pon was first elected in 2019.
  • MLA Mickey Amery is running for the UCP nomination in Calgary-Cross. Amery was first elected in 2019.
  • MLA Peter Singh is running for the UCP nomination in Calgary-East. Singh was first elected in 2019.
  • Legislative Assembly Speaker MLA Nathan Cooper is running for the UCP nomination in Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills. Cooper was first elected in 2015.
  • MLA Dan Williams is running for the UCP nomination in Peace River. Williams was first elected in 2019.
  • Service Alberta Minister and MLA Nate Glubish is running for the UCP nomination in Strathcona-Sherwood Park. Glubish was first elected in 2019.

For the NDP:

  • Dave Cournoyer and Rakhi Pancholi the day before the 2019 election was called.
    Dave Cournoyer and Rakhi Pancholi the day before the 2019 election was called.

    MLA Irfan Sabir has been nominated to run for re-election in the recently renamed Calgary-Bhullar-McCall. Sabir was first elected in 2015.

  • MLA Rakhi Pancholi has announced her plans to run for the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Whitemud. Pancholi was first elected in 2019.
  • MLA Christina Gray is running for the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Mill Woods. Gray was first elected in 2015 and served as Minister of Labour from 2015 to 2019.
  • Respected energy analyst Samir Kayande is now the NDP candidate in Calgary-Elbow.
  • Canmore town councillor Tonya Foubert is the fourth candidate to join the NDP nomination contest in Banff-Kananaskis.
  • Director Business Renewables Centre Canada director Nagwan Al-Guneid is the second candidate to enter the NDP nomination race in Calgary-Glenmore. They join communications consultant Jennifer Burgess in the race.
  • Registered Nurse Diana Batten is running for the NDP nomination in Calgary-Acadia.
  • Rosman Valencia is now the only candidate seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-East after Alison Karim-McSwiney withdrew from the contest.
  • Registered Nurse Chantelle Hosseiny and paramedic Cameron Heenan are seeking the NDP nomination in Leduc-Beaumont.
  • Teacher James Grondin is the second candidate to enter the NDP nomination race in Morinville-St. Albert. Former Sturgeon County Councillor Karen Shaw joined the race in Dec. 2021.

Here are the upcoming nomination meetings that have been scheduled:

  • Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland NDP: March 12, 2022 
  • Lesser Slave Lake NDP: March 13, 2022
  • Calgary-Shaw UCP: March 21, 2022
  • Calgary-South East UCP: March 21, 2022
  • Cardston-Siksika UCP: March 21, 2022
  • Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre UCP: March 23, 2022
  • Calgary-Edgemont UCP: March 24, 2022
  • Calgary-Klein UCP: March 24, 2022
  • Drumheller-Stettler UCP: March 24, 2022
  • Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville UCP: March 24, 2022
  • Peace River UCP: March 24, 2022
  • St. Albert NDP: March 24, 2022
  • Calgary-Klein NDP: March 26, 2022
  • Banff-Kananaskis NDP: March 27, 2022
  • Calgary-Beddington UCP: March 29, 2022
  • Calgary-East UCP: March 29, 2022
  • Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills UCP: March 29, 2022
  • Strathcona-Sherwood Park UCP: March 29, 2022
  • Camrose NDP: April 3, 2022
  • Edmonton-Whitemud NDP: April 7, 2022
  • Calgary-East NDP: April 9,2022
  • Edmonton-Mill Woods NDP: April 10, 2022
Categories
Alberta Politics

Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election takes a backseat to Red Deer UCP Leadership Review

The people of Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche waited six whole months for Premier Jason Kenney to call a by-election to choose their next MLA.

That’s an eternity in politics.

But the by-election in the northern Alberta boom town isn’t really about the people who actually live there.

It’s about who leads the United Conservative Party.

Former Wildrose leader Brian Jean is running as an anti-Kenney UCP candidate.

Jean beat Kenney’s favourite in a December nomination vote and has made no secret his desire to replace him as leader.

In fact, every candidate in this by-election is running against Kenney. It’s the reason why the Premier won’t be seen anywhere near Fort McMurray before the March 15 vote.

But Jean’s focus isn’t really on Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche.

It’s on Red Deer.

The by-election is a proxy war ahead of the UCP’s April 9 leadership review.

Jean loyalist Vitor Marciano was in Bonnyville last month with local MLA Dave Hanson talking about why UCP members should dump Kenney.

“On April 9, we’re voting out a tyrant,” former Kenney organizer David Parker said at the meeting.

You can listen to it here.

Parker was Kenney’s Central Alberta organizer in the 2017 leadership race. 

Now, Parker is the executive director of Take Back Alberta, a political action committee created to defeat Kenney in the leadership review.

Until recently, Parker was Vice President of Business Development for Higher Ground Medica.

The President and CEO of the Oyen-based Cannabis company is Jeff Callaway.

Yep. That Jeff Callaway.

Alberta politics is a very small world.

Another front in the challenge to Kenney’s leadership is raging on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains in the sprawling Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre riding. 

Jean joined exiled former UCP MLA Drew Barnes in backing former county councillor Tim Hoven against MLA Jason Nixon in the UCP nomination race.

“Tim Hoven has stepped up to do a brave thing,” Jean said in his Facebook video endorsement of Hoven.

Nixon is a heavy hitter in Kenney’s inner circle.

He’s the Government House Leader and Minister of Environment & Parks. 

The Giant from Sundre backed Kenney over Jean in the UCP’s 2017 leadership race – an endorsement that was a critical moment in that contest.

His absence in the Legislature last week was conspicuous.

Rumour is that Nixon was busy driving around his riding campaigning for the nomination.

In the deep south, Jean has endorsed Vulcan County councillor Jodie Gateman in the Cardston-Siksika UCP nomination race.

Gateman is the long-time conservative activist challenging UCP Deputy Government House Leader Joseph Schow, another well-known Kenney loyalist.

“She stepped up because she sees the need to change things in the UCP, the need to bring renewal and take the party back to its original sense of purpose,” Jean said in his endorsement of Gateman.

Back up in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, where the by-election is actually happening, NDP candidate Ariana Mancini is busy hitting the doors.

The local elementary school teacher has been joined on the campaign trail by Edmonton NDP MLAs Rakhi Pancholi, Richard Feehan and David Eggen.

“Folks in Fort McMurray have had enough of the drama and the infighting in the UCP,” Mancini said at her February 15 campaign launch.

“We need a government that is focused on families and businesses here in our community,” Mancini said.

Rachel Notley’s NDP are putting in an effort but it’s a long-shot for them. The last time voters in this part of Alberta elected a New Democrat was 1986.

Jean is the favourite to win but by-elections are a funny thing.

Enter Paul Hinman on stage right.

Another former Wildrose Party leader, Hinman is now leading the separatist Wildrose Independence Party.

He’s also running in the by-election.

Hinman and Jean are competing for the love of the Freedom Convoy supporters by promoting conspiracy theories about COVID-19, the World Economic Forum and the Emergency Measures Act.

Hinman has a history of winning by-elections (well ok, one).

After losing his seat in Cardston-Taber-Warner in 2008 he shocked political watchers by winning a by-election one year later in posh Calgary-Glenmore.

A political comeback for Hinman up north would be an earthquake for Alberta politics.

A split on the increasingly unhinged political right could give the increasingly moderate NDP a chance to run up the middle to a win.

When the history books are written, the Fort McMuray-Lac La Biche by-election might just be a footnote in the chapter about the April 9 leadership review.

Or maybe, just maybe, the results on March 15 will grab the attention of Albertans. 


Candidates in the March 15 Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election.

  • Marilyn Burns, Alberta Advantage Party
  • Brian Deheer, Independent
  • Abdulhakim Hussein, Liberal Party
  • Michelle Landsiedel, Alberta Party
  • Ariana Mancini, Alberta NDP
  • Steven Mellott, Independence Party
  • Brian Jean, United Conservative Party
Categories
Alberta Politics

Former City Councillor Druh Farrell running for NDP in Calgary-Bow, UCP MLAs Prasad Panda and Rebecca Schulz running for re-election

The NDP have attracted a big name to run against United Conservative Party Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides. Former City Councillor Druh Farrell announced on social media today that she plans to seek the Alberta NDP nomination in Calgary-Bow.

“As a born and raised Albertan I can no longer stand by as the government attacks our education and healthcare systems, makes everyday life more expensive, and proposes devastating changes to our wild places,” Farrell said in her online announcement.

Farrell served on city council for 20 years before retiring from municipal politics last October. She was a leading progressive voice in Calgary’s municipal debates during her time as Councillor, making her a frequent target of right-wing commentators and political action committees.

Nicolaides was elected in 2019 with 55 per cent of the vote, unseating NDP MLA Deborah Drever, who placed second with 34 per cent.

Other nomination updates:

  • Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz is running for re-election in Calgary-Shaw. The UCP nomination meeting is scheduled for March 21. Shultz was first elected in 2019 with 65 per cent of the vote.
  • Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda running for re-election in Calgary-Edgemont. The UCP nomination meeting is scheduled for March 24. He was first elected in a 2015 by-election in Calgary-Foothills to replace former Premier Jim Prentice, and was re-elected in the new riding in 2019 with 52 per cent. If nominated he will face a re-match with NDP candidate Julia Hayter
  • Gurinder Brar has been nominated as the NDP candidate in Calgary-North East.
  • Richard Bruneau third candidate to enter NDP nomination contest in Camrose. Bruneau is a bookstore owner, farmer and former Canadian diplomat who served in Afghanistan, Jordan and Palestine.
  • The Medicine Hat News reports on nomination news in Brooks-Medicine Hat and Cypress-Medicine Hat.
  • The Green Party will not be running a candidate in the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election. Party leader Jordan Wilkie told the Cross Border Interveiws Podcast that the Greens will be sitting this one out.
  • UCP candidate Brian Jean appears to be more focused on ousting Jason Kenney at the April 9 leadership review and less focused on the by-election he is running in

It certainly feels like Alberta’s political parties have shifted into campaign mode, despite the next election expected to be a year away.

NDP leader Rachel Notley was joined by an army of MLAs and volunteers for a day-long canvass in the Strathcona-Sherwood Park riding east of Edmonton. MLAs David Eggen and Lorne Dach were spotted with volunteers canvassing door to door in Edmonton-South West, and MLA Richard Feehan was door-knocking with volunteers in Calgary-Foothills and with candidate Janet Eremenko in Calgary-Currie this week. Up north, MLA Rakhi Pancholi spent most of the week campaigning alongside NDP candidate Ariana Mancini in the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election. 

And candidate nomination are ramping up. Here are the upcoming nomination meetings that have been scheduled: 

  • Calgary-Elbow NDP: March 5, 2022
  • Calgary-Bhullar-McCall NDP: March 10, 2022
  • Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland NDP: March 12, 2022 
  • Lesser Slave Lake NDP: March 13, 2022
  • Calgary-Shaw UCP: March 21, 2022
  • Calgary-South East UCP: March 21, 2022
  • Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre UCP: March 21, 2022
  • Calgary-Edgemont UCP: March 24, 2022
  • Calgary-Klein UCP: March 24, 2022
  • St. Albert NDP: March 24, 2022
  • Calgary-Klein NDP: March 26, 2022
  • Camrose NDP: April 3, 2022
Categories
Alberta Politics

The Ides of March by-election in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche is a Wildrose blast-from-the-past

March 15 – the Ides of March – is the day voters in the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche riding will go to the polls to choose their new MLA.

Premier Jason Kenney waited until the very last day possible to call a by-election to replace former MLA Laila Goodridge, who resigned six months ago to run in last year’s federal election. Waiting this late to call a normal by-election would be very unusual, but this is no normal by-election.

United Conservative Party members in the northern Alberta riding rejected Kenney’s favoured nomination candidate in favour of Brian Jean, the former leader of the Wildrose Party and former MLA and MP who is openly calling on Kenney to resign.

The animosity between Kenney and Jean is well-known in Alberta, with the former having launched a Kamikaze campaign against the latter in the 2017 UCP leadership race.

Jean dropped out of provincial politics in 2018, resigning as MLA for the former Fort McMurray-Conklin riding when he was not given a spot in Kenney’s shadow cabinet. But retirement didn’t suit him, and it wasn’t long before he was regularly chirping at Kenney on social media and in the newspaper editorial pages.

He now has the UCP nomination in a normally safe UCP riding and he is openly organizing and fundraising in an effort to dump Kenney at the April 9 leadership review in Red Deer.

With no pro-Kenney candidates on the March 15 ballot, don’t expect the Premier or any cabinet ministers to be visiting the riding in the next 28-days.

MLA Rakhi Pancholi and NDP candidate Ariana Mancini (source: Twitter)
MLA Rakhi Pancholi and NDP candidate Ariana Mancini (source: Twitter)

Rachel Notley‘s NDP have nominated Fort McMurray school teacher and past candidate Ariana Mancini as their choice in the by-election. And while Mancini remains an underdog in this race, she has been joined over the past few months by a steady stream of NDP MLAs travelling north to visit the riding.

Edmonton-Whitemud NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi was in Fort McMurray today for Mancini’s campaign launch.

While the NDP have been riding high in the poll and are flush with cash, this will be a tough riding for them to win. The UCP earned 66 per cent of the vote in 2019 and the last time voters in this area elected a New Democrat was in 1986, when Leo Piquette won in Athabasca-Lac La Biche.

But, never say never. By-elections can sometimes produce unpredictable results.

While the Kenney-Jean rivalry is the main theme going into the by-election, the candidacy of another former Wildrose Party leader makes this race even more unusual.

Separatist party leader Paul Hinman with supporters in Fort McMurray.
Separatist party leader Paul Hinman (centre) with supporters in Fort McMurray.

Former Wildrose Party leader Paul Hinman now leads and is running in the by-election for the Wildrose Independence Party – a party that not only promotes Alberta separatism from Canada, but, judging from its social media feeds, embraces a vast range of right-wing internet conspiracy theories.

The grandson of former provincial treasurer Edgar Hinman, the younger Hinman was the Alberta Alliance MLA for Cardston-Taber-Warner from 2004 to 2008 before surprising political watchers by winning a 2009 by-election in posh Calgary-Glenmore. He led the Alliance and Wildrose Alliance from 2005 until resigning in 2009 to make way for Danielle Smith.

Hinman endorsed Jean for the Wildrose Party leadership in 2015 and Kenney for the UCP leadership in 2017 after cancelling his own bid to lead the new party.

Now he leads the separatist Wildrose Independence Party, which was created by a merger of the Freedom Conservative Party and the Wexit Alberta group in July 2020. 

But that’s not where the Wildrose blast-from-the-past ends in this by-election!

Marilyn Burns Alberta Advantage Party Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election
Marilyn Burns

Running under the banner of the right-wing Alberta Advantage Party is party leader Marilyn Burns.

Burns was a candidate for the Alberta Alliance Party in Stony Plain in 2004 and ran against Hinman for the Alliance leadership way back in 2005. She was later part of a small group of Wildrosers who campaigned against the merger with the Progressive Conservative Party before helping found the Alberta Advantage Party.

Burns led the Alberta Advantage Party into the 2019 election and resigned soon after amid a leadership challenge and announced plans to run for the position again. She now appears to once again be party leader.

The second separatist candidate in the by-election, the Independence Party of Alberta‘s Steven Mellott, has never led or tried to lead the Wildrose Party (as far as I am aware).

Alberta Party leader Barry Morishita told the Daveberta Podcast that was driving to Fort McMurray this week to meet with prospective candidates.

The other parties have yet to name their candidates.

I think this is going to be a wild ride, folks.

Categories
Alberta Politics

Janis Irwin voted Best Alberta MLA for the second year in a row. Results of the Best of Alberta Politics 2021 Survey revealed.

With more than 2,000 votes cast this past week, the winners of the fifth annual Best of Alberta Politics 2021 survey are:

Best Alberta MLA: Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highands-Norwood

Always a fan favourite, for the second year in a row Janis Irwin has been voted Best Alberta MLA. Irwin is a hard-working MLA in the Assembly and in her constituency, and her sense of humour (and her social media star cat, Oregano) has endeared her to politicos on both sides of the aisle.

Leela Aheer ALberta MLA
Leela Aheer (Source: Twitter)

Best Alberta Cabinet Minister: Leela Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women

Nurturing a reputation as an affable politician, Leela Aheer proved herself to be on the right side of public opinion in Alberta when she spoke out against Premier Jason Kenney and called on him to resign. The MLA for Chestermere-Strathmore was booted from cabinet for speaking out against Kenney, but that probably only further endeared her to the growing majority of Albertans who disapprove of the Premier’s performance.

That Aheer remains a member of UCP Caucus after openly calling on Kenney to resign is also a testament to how well-liked she is by her UCP MLA colleagues.

Rachel Notley (source: Facebook)

Best Opposition MLA: Rachel Notley, MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona

For the third year in a row, Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley has been voted Best Opposition MLA. Notley continues to be her party’s greatest asset and, if the polls and party fundraising returns are any indication, might stand a good chance at leading her party to form government when the next election is held in 2023.

If Notley’s party is successful in 2023, she would be the first former Premier to return to that office in Alberta’s history.

Rakhi Pancholi NDP Edmonton Whitemud
Rakhi Pancholi

Up and Coming MLA to Watch in 2022: Rakhi Pancholi, MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud

A tireless advocate for childcare since she was first elected in 2019, Rakhi Pancholi has been voted Up and Coming MLA to Watch for a second year in a row.

Pancholi is smart and well-spoken, and has been tough and tenacious in her calls for affordable and accessible childcare for Alberta families.

Jyoti Gondek Mayor Calgary
Jyoti Gondek

Best Political Play of 2021: Jyoti Gondek‘s election as Mayor of Calgary

Jyoti Gondek defied public expectations and a motivated conservative establishment to win Calgary’s mayoral election in October 2021, becoming the first woman to be elected mayor of Alberta’s largest city.


The annual Best of Alberta Politics survey was started in 2017 as a way to give followers of Alberta politics a chance to recognize the best players in Alberta politics.

Listen to our year-end episode of the Daveberta Podcast where guests Adrienne King and Matt Solberg share their picks for the Best of Alberta Politics in 2021.

Thank you to the more than 2,000 people who voted in this year’s survey and for everyone who read this website and listened to the Daveberta Podcast this year.

Categories
Alberta Politics

Vote in the Best of Alberta Politics 2021 Survey

With hundreds of submissions made to the Best of Alberta Politics 2021 survey, your choices have been sorted and you can now vote in each category. Voting is open until Dec. 22, 2021 at 6:00 pm and the winners will be announced shortly after that.

Here are the top choices in each category:

1. Who was the best Alberta MLA of 2021? – VOTE

  • Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
  • Rachel Notley, MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona
  • Rakhi Pancholi, MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud

2. Who was the best Alberta cabinet minister of 2021? – VOTE

  • Leela Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women
  • Ric McIver, Minister of Municipal Affairs
  • Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Transportation

Honourable mentions to runners-up Minister of Health Jason Copping and Minister of Finance Travis Toews. It is also worth noting that a large number of people chose to submit various versions of “none of the above.”

3. Who was the best opposition MLA of 2021? – 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 2022? – VOTE

  • Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
  • Brian Jean, (potentially future) MLA for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche
  • Rakhi Pancholi, MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud

Honourable mentions to runners-up Drumheller-Stettler MLA Nate Horner and Edmonton-South MLA Thomas Dang.

5. What was the biggest political play of 2021 in Alberta? – VOTE

  • Brian Jean’s political comeback
  • Jason Kenney’s “Open For Summer/Best Summer Ever” COVID-19 plan
  • Jyoti Gondek’s election as Mayor of Calgary

What was the biggest political issue of 2021 in Alberta?

In some past years this category has been a dog’s breakfast, but like last year, this year your choice was clear. COVID-19 was the clear choice of the overwhelming majority of people who submitted in this category. The global COVID-19 pandemic defined Alberta politics in 2021, with the failure of Premier Jason Kenney’s “Open For Summer” plan and the fourth wave that followed garnering the most submissions.