Categories
Alberta Politics

new environics poll shows gary mar in the lead, alison redford in close second.

The Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald have published the results of a joint-Environics poll gauging support for Progressive Conservative leadership candidates among 800 card-carrying party members:

Province-wide
Gary Mar: 31%
Alison Redford: 20%
Doug Horner: 12%
Ted Morton: 10%
Rick Orman: 5%
Doug Griffiths: 4%
Undecided/Won’t vote: 17%

Edmonton
Gary Mar: 43%
Doug Horner: 14%
Alison Redford: 10%
Ted Morotn: 7%

Calgary
Alison Redford: 36%
Gary Mar: 22%
Ted Morton 11%
Doug Horner: 1%

It is not a big surprise to see Mr. Mar in the lead, but Ms. Redford’s support is likely to surprise a few political watchers who thought that she would be fighting for third place in this contest.

Advanced voting for the first-ballot of the leadership selection process begins today. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote on the first-ballot on September 17, the top three candidates will compete in a second-ballot vote on October 1.

Categories
Alberta Politics

ted morton aka frederick lee and the shredder.

 Ted Morton, Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidate
Ted Morton aka Frederick Lee

After a week of dodging questions from intrepid CBC reporter Charles Rusnell about a covert email alias and shredded ministerial documents, former Finance Minister Ted Morton‘s campaign for Alberta’s Progressive Conservative leadership has taken its first big hit with just more than a week before the first ballot vote.

After making ‘government transparency’ a key theme of his campaign, squeaky clean conservative Dr. Morton’s commitment to the pledge is being questioned when it was revealed that he used a covert email address under his little known full first- and middle-names “Frederick Lee” to conduct government business. It is being suggested that Dr. Morton’s covert email alias could have foiled Freedom of Information requests.

CBC discovered that correspondence and documents, including those connected to the covert email alias, were shredded or destroyed when Dr. Morton left his ministry to seek the PC leadership earlier this year.

A spokesperson for Alberta’s Information and Privacy Commissioner told the media that the Office would be launching an immediate investigation into the shredding allegations.

Dr. Morton downplayed the criticisms yesterday, but that did not stop his right-wing competitors Rick Orman and Wildrose leader Danielle Smith from tackling him in the media. Ms. Smith claimed that because the documents belonged to the people of Alberta, Dr. Morton’s staff had no right to feed them to the paper shredder on a whim.

Will these revelations hurt Dr. Morton’s chances in next week’s leadership vote? It is difficult to say. Dr. Morton has run a stealth campaign during this contest, which has focused on low-profile events and selling memberships. This is very different from his run in 2006, which publicly stressed his social conservative values on issues like same-sex marriage.

Watch for the other PC candidates to train their guns on Dr. Morton’s last minute weakness in the final week.

Categories
Alberta Politics

pc leadership candidates wade into education politics.

A photo of Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidates at an Alberta Teachers' Association forum in Banff August 2011
Alberta PC leadership candidates at the ATA conference in Banff.

Earlier this week I had the privilege of sharing some of my thoughts about the Progressive Conservative leadership contest with delegates at the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) summer conference in Banff.

On Wednesday morning, all six candidates for the PC leadership (Doug Griffiths, Doug Horner, Gary Mar, Ted Morton, Rick Orman, and Alison Redford) attended a forum organized by the ATA which gave delegates at the conference an opportunity to submit questions to the candidates on a wide variety of education issues. It said a lot about the strength and importance of the teaching profession in Alberta that all six of the candidates traveled to Banff for the day to participate in this forum.

The six candidates answered a variety of questions focusing on transformation, funding, and the future of education in Alberta. Some candidates did better than others.

Mr. Griffiths was clearly the crowd favourite. A teacher himself, he was able to speak from experience and connected well with the audience of politically active educators. This was Mr. Griffiths coming out party in the leadership contest.

Ms. Redford and Mr. Horner did well, though the general focus around “outcomes” and other buzz words used by all the candidates left an uncomfortable amount of ambiguity in the discussion. The more conservative Professor Morton and Mr. Orman were clearly sailing in unfriendly waters.

In typical front-runner fashion, Mr. Mar said a lot without saying much. He also did not let the facts stand in the way of telling a folksy story. During the forum, Mr. Mar told the audience a story about his time as Education Minister in 1999 when his office wrote a memo to the Minister of Health. Only weeks later, he said, he was shuffled into the Health portfolio and then had to respond to his own memo (cue the laugh track). It was a folksy story, only Mr. Mar forgot to mention that he was actually shuffled from Education to become the Environment Minister in 1999. He was appointed as Health Minister over a year after he was appointed Environment Minister.

Being in the auditorium at the time, there was a few points during the forum when it felt like the candidates were on the verge of having a real discussion about the future of education. Unfortunately, most of the candidates fell back into safe and inoffensive “education is good” language.

Following the leadership candidates forum, I participated in a panel discussion with the ATA’s Dennis Theobald and Mount Royal University Professor Keith Brownsey where we engaged in a good discussion about the leadership candidates and what the political winds of change mean for the education system in Alberta. Although I had hoped that we could have had a broader conversation about the future of Alberta politics, time only allowed us to have a good discussion about what the leadership candidates had said that morning and what they might do as Premier.

Thank you to the ATA and to the teachers who participated in the discussion for a great day.

Categories
Alberta Politics

alberta [rocky mountains] bound.


Maybe it’s my down-home redneck roots, Or these dusty ‘ol Alberta boots, But like a Chinook wind keeps coming back again

I will be away from this blog for the next few days enjoying a summer sojourn in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains.

Later this week I will be attending the Alberta Teachers’ Association Summer conference in the beautiful mountain town of Banff, where I will have the privilege of sharing some of my thoughts on the state of Alberta politics and the ongoing Progressive Conservative leadership contest. I am told that all the PC leadership candidates, Doug Griffiths, Doug Horner, Gary Mar, Ted Morton, Rick Orman, and Alison Redford will also be in Banff this week to participate in a forum for the teachers at the conference.

Categories
Alberta Politics

peter sandhu endorses ted morton, lindsay blackett endorses doug horner.

I have updated the list and map of MLAs endorsing candidates in Alberta’s Progressive Conservative leadership contest. Edmonton-Manning MLA Peter Sandhu has endorsed Ted Morton‘s candidacy and Calgary-North West MLA and Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett has endorsed Doug Horner.

Gary Mar still has the most MLA endorsements with the support of 17 MLAs, Mr. Horner has the support of 13 MLAs and Mr. Morton has the support of 10 MLAs. Alison Redford and Doug Griffiths remain having the support of of their fellow MLAs each. Rick Orman has no MLA support.

Categories
Alberta Politics

alberta tories video on demand.

All the candidates for Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party, save Alison Redford and Rick Orman, have used online videos to promote their campaign. What do their videos say about how their campaigns are going so far?

Doug Griffiths: “I’m standing out in the rain” (an unfortunate metaphor for his campaign) or “My name is Doug Griffiths and I’m built Ford tough.”

Ted Morton: “My program to remove the word “Wildrose” from Alberta’s licence plates.”

Doug Horner: “Don’t I look cool when I hold this iPad2?”

Gary Mar: “If I don’t get this job, I’m a shoe in for a gig on the Food Network!”

Rick Orman: “I retired from politics 18 years ago and in my day we bought old fashioned newspaper ads. People still read newspapers, …right?”

Rick Orman Stelmach sinking ship Calgary Herald Ad
This ad appeared in the Calgary Herald
Categories
Alberta Politics

recap of the alberta progressive conservative leadership forum in vermilion.

Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership forum July 21, 2011 in Vermilion.
Alberta PC leadership candidates at the July 21, 2011 forum in Vermilion.

More than 350 Progressive Conservative supporters packed into the main hall at Vermilion’s Lakeland College Campus to hear and ask questions to the six candidates seeking the leadership of Alberta’s governing party.

Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Alison Redford in Vermilion on July 21, 2011.
Alison Redford

The format of the debate only allowed each candidate a short 30 seconds to respond to questions. Instead of encouraging direct answers, it limited the candidates responses to quick soundbites, leaving many of the questions to be simply unanswered. This visibly frustrated some of the candidates, most notably Alison Redford who attempted numerous times to delve into details only to have her mic cut off at the 30 second mark.

The only candidate this seemed to help was Gary Mar, who rattled out 15 second soundbites with ease. Unfortunately, this also meant that he said very little of substance during the entire evening. “Alberta is a beautiful garden of flowers”, “forged in the fire of fiscal fury”, and “opportunities in agriculture are sensational” are not exactly policy positions. His soundbite-style responses were an unfortunate distraction and, in my opinion, downplayed his intelligence.

Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Gary Mar on July 21, 2011 in Vermilion
Gary Mar

The limiting format aside, it was interesting to watch how the candidates are positioning themselves in the group. As this was the first of seven all-candidates forums planned to be held across Alberta, the candidates were fairly collegial to each other. It will be interesting to see if this changes as the September 17 first ballot vote approaches.

Each of the candidates spoke against the lay-off of over 1,000 teachers province-wide. Rick Orman accused the government of breaking its word, saying that “a deal is a deal.” Doug Griffiths compared the lay-offs to “selling the topsoil off the farm.”

When asked if any of the candidate would support provincial funding for billionaire Daryl Katz‘s planned downtown Edmonton arena, each of the candidates answered with a definitive “no.” Ted Morton led the group consensus, saying that schools and hospitals, not expensive sports facilities, should be the provincial government’s funding priorities.

Peddling another non-starter issue at the forum was a group of sad looking volunteers representing Envision Edmonton. The lobby group failed to stop the phased closure and re-development of the City Centre Airport lands during the 2010 municipal elections and has been living in a self-imposed exile in Vermilion ever since. They also failed to ask the leadership candidates any questions about their issue at the forum.

Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Doug Horner at the July 21, 2011 forum in Vermilion.
Doug Horner

Dr. Morton was the only candidate to take a more than veiled shot at the outgoing Premier Ed Stelmach, saying that the 2007 Royal Review was his party’s biggest mistake and that under his leadership the government would return to Ralph Klein-style fiscal planning. Considering that Dr. Morton was a key player in forcing Premier Stelmach to resign, it is not surprising that he took the most aggressive stance against the Premier’s agenda.

Doug Horner told the audience that he believed his party’s biggest problem has been the failure to engage their grassroots in a meaningful way. In his closing speech, he reminded the crowd about his family’s connection to the PC dynasty and the role his father, Dr. Hugh Horner, played in building the PC Party with Peter Lougheed.

This weekend, I will write a post that compares and contrasts the two leadership forums I attended this week (the other being the Liberal Party forum).

View more photos of last night’s PC leadership forum in Vermilion on Flickr.

Categories
Alberta Politics

liberal leadership candidates woo edmonton supporters.

 

Liberal leadership candidates (L-R) Bruce Payne, Raj Sherman, Laurie Blakeman, and Hugh MacDonald.
Liberal leadership candidates (L-R) Bruce Payne, Raj Sherman, Laurie Blakeman, and Hugh MacDonald.

More than 200 dedicated Liberal Party supporters piled into Edmonton’s Santa Maria Centre yesterday evening to hear candidates for their party’s leadership speak and answer questions. I attended and was surprised to discover a fairly lively evening for a traditional style all-candidates forum.

All the candidates spoke well, but I believe that the real star of the evening was the moderator, Josipa Petrunic. Ms. Petrunic was well-spoken, articulate, and did not seem to take herself too seriously. I had to ask myself a few times through the course of the evening why she was not on stage as a candidate (she did announce that she plans to stand as a candidate in the next provincial election).

The perceived front-runner, former Tory MLA Raj Sherman, was well-received by the crowd of Liberals, many who see him (rightfully or wrongfully) as a an anti-Tory folk hero. Dr. Sherman spoke well, but will need to expand his responses beyond “health care” in order to prove that he is not a one-trick policy pony.

Despite my being distracted by his uncanny resemblance to James Brolin‘s Governor Robert Ritchie, Bruce Payne spoke well. I am not convinced that he should lead the Liberals, but this experience is sure to help him as his party’s next candidate in Calgary-Varsity (replacing the retiring Harry Chase)

Edmonton-Gold Bar MLA Hugh MacDonald showed his experience with a commanding performance, abandoning his usual conspiracy theory-driven Question Period style for a more dignified pose. His knowledge of detail and experience as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee helped him throughout the evening.

Calgarian Bill Harvey took a strong conservative-angle on fiscal and social policy, made contradictory statements about government involvement in business, and never missed an opportunity to mention a certain former political leader. After hearing the policy positions espoused by this candidate, I would not be surprised to see Mr. Harvey’s name on a Wildrose lawn sign in the near future.

In my opinion, Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman was the only candidate who left the impression that she would define the Liberal Party as more than just a softer version of the Progressive Conservatives. I believe this may be the biggest challenge that will face the next Liberal leader. What place does their party have in a field that has become increasingly dominated by the PCs and Wildrose?

Switching gears, this evening I will be hitting the road eastward to attend the PC leadership forum in Vermilion to watch candidates Doug Griffiths, Doug Horner, Gary Mar, Ted Morton, Rick Orman, and Alison Redford square off in the first of many open-forums.

Visit my Flickr page to see more photos of last night’s Liberal Party forum.

Categories
Alberta Politics

after months of campaigning, the pc leadership race officially begins.

All six candidates expected to enter the Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership contest successfully filed their nomination papers, meeting yesterday’s deadline. With less than 70 days left before Alberta’s four-decade long governing party chooses its next leader, and Premier-designate, Doug Griffith, Doug Horner, Gary Mar, Ted Morton, Rick Orman, and Alison Redford will participate in a number of officially hosted open forums.

July 21: All-Candidates Forum in Vermillion
July 28: All-Candidates Forum in Grande Prairie
August 11: All-Candidates Forum in Fort McMurray
August 18: All-Candidates Forum in Medicine Hat
August 25: All-Candidates Forum in Lethbridge
September 1: All-Candidates Forum in Red Deer
September 7: All-Candidates Forum in Calgary
September 15: All-Candidates Forum in Edmonton

Advanced voting for the first-ballot will commence on September 13 and regular voting on September 17. If no candidate receives 50%+1 on the first-ballot, then the three candidates with the most votes will contest a preferential second-ballot vote October 1. If no candidate earns 50%+1 on the second-ballot, the second choice votes from the third place candidate will be redistributed among the final two candidates.

The list of MLA endorsements of PC leadership candidates is being continually updated. Recent changes include the addition of Rocky Mountain House MLA Ty Lund and Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Richard Marz, and Whitecourt-Ste. Anne MLA George VanderBurg, who have endorsed Mr. Mar. I have also removed Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Broyce Jacobs‘ endorsement of Dr. Morton, after receiving conflicting reports that he was also supporting Mr. Mar. It is also expected that Calgary-Shaw MLA Cindy Ady may soon endorse Mr. Mar.

Over the next few weeks, I will be taking a closer look at what MLA endorsements actually mean for the leadership candidates and how deep the PC Party membership has been in many of the constituencies these MLAs represent.

Categories
Alberta Politics

mla support in the alberta pc leadership contest (july 14, 2011)

Here is a preliminary list and map of MLAs who are supporting candidates in the 2011 Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership contest. Please comment below or send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com if there are additions or subtractions to be made to this list.

 

2011 Alberta PC leadership MLA support July 14 2011
Map of MLA support in the 2011 Alberta PC leadership contest.

Candidate: Doug Griffiths (1 MLA)
Kyle Fawcett (Calgary-North Hill)

Candidate: Doug Horner (12 MLAs)
Ray Danyluk (Lac La Biche-St. Paul)
Wayne Drysdale (Grande Prairie-Wapiti)
Hector Goudreau (Dunvegan-Central Peace)
Jack Hayden (Drumheller-Stettler)
Jeff Johnson (Athabasca-Redwater)
Ken Kowalski (Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock)
Genia Leskiw (Bonnyville-Cold Lake)
Len Mitzel (Cypress-Medicine Hat)
Frank Oberle (Peace River)
Luke Ouellette (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake)
Dave Quest (Strathcona)
Greg Weadick (Lethbridge-West)

Candidate: Gary Mar (11 MLAs)
Naresh Bhardwaj (Edmonton-Ellerslie)
Iris Evans (Sherwood Park)
Heather Klimchuk (Edmonton-Glenora)
Mel Knight (Grande Prairie-Smoky)
Diana McQueen (Drayton Valley-Calmar)
Ron Liepert (Calgary-West)
Thomas Lukaszuk (Edmonton-Castle Downs)
Ray Prins (Lacombe-Ponoka)
Rob Renner (Medicine Hat)
George Rogers (Leduc-Beaumont-Devon)
Lloyd Snelgrove (Vermilion-Lloydminster)

Candidate: Ted Morton (10 MLAs)
Moe Amery (Calgary-East)
Carl Benito (Edmonton-Mill Woods)
Evan Berger (Livingstone-Macleod)
Jonathan Denis (Calgary-Egmont)
Doug Elniski (Edmonton-Calder)
George Groenveld (Highwood)
Broyce Jacobs (Cardston-Taber-Warner)
Dave Rodney (Calgary-Lougheed)
Tony Vandermeer (Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview)
David Xiao (Edmonton-McClung)

Candidate: Rick Orman
None

Candidate: Alison Redford (1 MLA)
Art Johnston (Calgary-Hays)

Categories
Alberta Politics

did danielle smith’s wildrose peak too early?

Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and Wildrose Alliance MLAs Paul Hinman, Heather Forsyth, and Rob Anderson. January 2010.
Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and Wildrose MLAs Paul Hinman, Heather Forsyth, and Rob Anderson in January 2010.

With the departure of Premier Ed Stelmach soon upon us, and the Tories choosing a new leader this fall, has the wave that carried the Wildrose high in the polls in 2010 crested in 2011?

In 2010, the Wildrose benefited greatly from a number of high-profile Tory defections. Convinced they were riding the next wave after a narrow by-election victory in a Tory stronghold saw Paul Hinman return to the Assembly, floor-crossing Tory MLAs Rob Anderson and Heather Forsyth joined Danielle Smith‘s party in January 2010. The next month, the Wildrose were riding higher than the Tories in public opinion polls. Soon after they were joined by former PC organizer Hal Walker and banished former Tory cabinet minister Guy Boutilier. Rumours of more Tory defections were spreading like wildfire.

The high tide that was 2010 for the Wildrose led to a much more reality-based and sober 2011. Without the weather vane that was the unpopular Premier Stelmach, Ms. Smith’s Wildrose will be facing a new Progressive Conservative leader in the next general election.

Following a policy convention that reaffirmed the party’s commitment to a number of fringe conservative pet issues, a number of Tory-cum-Wildrose supporters returned to the PC Party. Dean Leask, Wildrose’s former vice-president of policy has returned to the Tory ranks, describing his now former party as “an antigrassroots movement.”

Mr. Leask is now supporting former Finance Minister Ted Morton‘s bid for the PC leadership. A number of other Wildrosers are said to have returned to the Tories to support Rick Orman‘s leadership bid.

Is the Wildrose an “anti-grassroots movement?” This is difficult to confirm, but evidence suggests that the party has handled internal disputes with a heavy-hand. Conflicts with the central party over the candidate nomination process led to the resignations of members of the board of directors in the Medicine Hat and Little Bow constituencies. Some disgruntled Wildrose supporters have put the blame on professional political operatives like Vitor Marciano, while others have complained to this blogger than MLA Mr. Anderson is “micro-managing” party affairs.

While much of the Wildrose’s future depends on who becomes the next leader of the PC Party, the high hopes of competing tête-à-tête with the PCs in the next general election may be dashed. The Wildrose have begun trending below the Tories in more reputable polls and are substantially behind the governing party in fundraising (though they are far ahead of the opposition NDP, Alberta Party, and Liberals).

The forecast of forming government anytime soon may be less optimistic, but Ms. Smith’s cadre of disgruntled conservatives appear to have positioned themselves as a permanent fixture on Alberta’s political scene, with the growing possibility that they may form the Official Opposition after the next election.

Even the once starry-eyed optimist, Ms. Smith appears to be shifting into the mode of managing the expectations of her party faithful. Instead of reaffirming previous comments that Albertans were ready to elect her party to government, she settled on a more modest comment at the Calgary Stampede this weekend, telling the Canadian Press that “after the next election there will be a large contingent of Wildrosers.”

Categories
Alberta Politics

a first ballot victory for gary mar?

 

A photo of Alberta PC candidate Gary Mar's campaign bus.
Gary Mar's campaign bus.

First ballot voting for Alberta’s Progressive Conservative leadership does not take place until September 17, but a show of force has led some politicos to begin speculating that former cabinet minister Gary Mar could be steamrolling towards a first ballot victory against his five opponents. With a flashy campaign launch, a deep war-chest, and a strong showing of support at a fundraiser attended by around 1500 supporters in Edmonton, it may not be far fetched speculation.

Attracting the endorsements of the PC Party establishment, including cabinet minister Iris Evans, Ron Liepert, Mel Knight, Lloyd Snelgrove, and Thomas Lukazsuk, as well as growing bevy of MLAs including Ray Prins and George Rogers. According to the newsletter Insight into Government, long-time Calgary Liberal fundraiser Daryl Fridhandler is supporting Mr. Mar’s candidacy.

Questions that were initially raised about his connections to mismanagement while Health & Wellness Minister in the late 1990s have been swept aside by Mr. Mar’s General Election-style campaign. Even the Alberta Medical Association, which has spent a considerable amount of time in the past cozying up to the Progressive Conservatives (perhaps with questionable results for its members) is promoting Mr. Mar.

His main opponents will do their best to stop Mr. Mar from rolling to a first-ballot victory. Right-wing standard bearer and former Finance Minister Ted Morton has attracted the support of Housing Minister Jonathan Denis and MLAs George Groenveld and Dave Rodney. While his campaign should not be underestimated, Mr. Morton is either on vacation or campaigning in a stealth plane. He has barely made news headlines since a highly-public row with Premier Ed Stelmach over the provincial budget led to his resignation earlier this year.

Former Deputy Premier Doug Horner is criss-crossing the province, and as the only candidate from northern Alberta (and the Edmonton region), he is likely to draw considerable regional support that Mr. Mar may find difficult to tap into. The endorsement of Lac La Biche-St. Paul MLA Ray Danyluk and more expected MLA endorsements may position Mr. Horner as the de-facto “northern opposition” to the Calgary-based Mr. Mar.

Rick Orman, a Calgary oil-man and former cabinet minister who left politics in 1993, is said to be well-funded and eating away at Mr. Morton’s support. For all his good intentions, Battle River-Wainwright MLA Doug Griffiths is said to be struggling financially, which must be disappointing for the young MLAs enthusiastic supporters, which include Calgary-North Hill MLA Kyle Fawcett.

Former Justice Minister Alison Redford may be the biggest obstacle standing between Mr. Mar’s and a first-ballot victory on September 17. A fellow Calgarian with considerable financial support and an aggressive campaign to distance herself from the unpopular administration of Premier Stelmach, Ms. Redford may challenge Mr. Mar for the support of moderates in the PC Party. Challenging Mr. Mar for the votes of these moderate PC members could deny him the base he needs to mount an early victory.

Categories
Alberta Politics

a look at the candidates lining up in the race to replace ed stelmach.

The candidates lining up to replace Premier Ed Stelmach as leader of the PC Party have been campaigning for months, yet what should be the hottest political leadership contest of the year has so far been a quiet affair. Will it take the summer months to heat up this contest, or will Albertans wait until the September 17 first ballot vote approaches before they begin to pay attention?

Here is a look at the candidates who are seeking the PC Party leadership:

A photo of Doug Griffiths, Alberta PC leadership candidate.
Doug Griifths

Doug Griffiths
Slogan: Better Alberta
Elected experience: MLA for Wainwright from 2002-2004 and Battle River-Wainwright from 2004 to present.
Released policies: Energy, Finance, Property Rights
Background: An underdog in this contest, Mr. Griffiths’ public musings have made him a pariah among some fellow conservatives and his openness to go to these uncomfortable places makes him unique when contrasted with the large contingent of comfortably-silent MLAs in the PC caucus. These musings have likely cost him a spot in cabinet, but they have also built him a solid following of supporters online.

Despite support of some rural high-rolling Tories, word on the street is that Mr. Griffiths campaign has had a challenge keeping up with fundraising compared to the other candidates in this contest. Calgary-North Hill backbencher Kyle Fawcett is the only MLA to have endorsed Mr. Griffiths. He supported Jim Dinning in the 2006 PC leadership contest.

A photo of Doug Horner, Alberta PC Leadership candidate.
Doug Horner

Doug Horner
Slogan: Let’s get it done right.
Elected experience: MLA for Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert since 2001.
Background: Calgary Tories still bitter from Jim Dinning’s defeat in 2006 will try to paint Mr. Horner with the same brush as they did Premier Ed Stelmach. Mr. Horner is a more comfortable figure than the Premier and did a decent job filling various cabinet posts, including Agriculture and Advanced Education & Technology.

The heir to a three-generation political dynasty, Mr. Horner follows in the footsteps of his grand-father Senator Ralph Horner, his uncles former MPs Jack Horner and Norval Horner, and his father former MP, MLA and deputy Premier Hugh Horner. Big shoes to fill.

Under the auspices of the grassroots Albertan group, led by advisor Brad Ferguson, Mr. Horner is embarking on a province-wide “Think Big Alberta” speaking tour with retired Canadian Forces General Rick Hillier and Vancouver 2010 Olympic Committee CEO John Furlong. The tour kicks off in Edmonton on June 22 and has stops planned in Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, and Calgary.

In 2006 he supported Mark Norris on the first ballot and Ed Stelmach on the second ballot.

A photo of Gary Mar, Alberta PC leadership candidate.
Gary Mar

Gary Mar
Slogan: None evident, supporters on Twitter are using the hashtag #GOGARY
Elected experience: MLA for Calgary-Nose Hill from 1993 to 2004 and Calgary-Mackay from 2004 to 2007.
Released policies: Education, Municipal Funding
Background: Smart and slick, Mr. Mar’s campaign has the feel of a candidate for the United States Senate, which is not surprising considering that he has spent the past five years dining and lobbying the Washington DC political establishment on behalf of the Alberta Government. An MLA and cabinet minister from 1993 until 2007, he has been out of the public eye long enough not to be directly tied to the current PC Party administration.

Mr. Mar’s campaign carries significant support from Establishment Tories like former Finance Minister Iris Evans and current Energy Minister Ron Liepert, who rumours say has been trying to strong-arm support from other Tory MLAs. Mr. Mar’s campaign public relations are being handled by long-time government spokesperson Mark Kastner, who is still listed as Alberta Health Services Executive Director of Media Relations.

The membership list of a secret Facebook group created before Mr. Mar officially entered the PC leadership contest included Jim Dinning‘s 2006 campaign chairman Brent Shervey, Calgary-Nose Hill MLA Neil Brown, Drayton Valley-Calmar MLA Diana McQueen, Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Fred Horne, co-chair of the PC Party’s 2008 election platform committee Brenda Barootes, and pollster Janet Brown.

He supported Jim Dinning in the 2006 PC leadership contest.

A photo of Rick Orman, Alberta PC leadership candidate.
Rick Orman

Rick Orman
Slogan: The Right Choice
Elected experience: MLA for Calgary-Montrose from 1986 to 1993
Background: This blast from the past could turn into the Ron Paul of the PC leadership contest. As the MLA for Calgary-Montrose from 1986 to 1993 and third place candidate in his party’s 1992 leadership contest, Mr. Orman faded into political obscurity until making a return as a candidate in this contest. Taking aggressive positions at candidate forms and typing with a sharp wit on Twitter, he does not owe much to the PC Party in its current incarnation and has little to lose by telling PC members what the other candidates are afraid to say. It has been suggested that Mr. Orman’s candidacy poses the biggest threat to Dr. Morton.

Mr. Orman’s campaign is moving into an office recently vacated by Calgary-Centre Conservative MP Lee Richardson‘s campaign team, opening speculation that Mr. Orman’s support may not be so thin.

A photo of Justice Minister Alison Redford at the 2011 Alberta budget announcement in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Alison Redford

Alison Redford
Slogan: None.
Elected experience: MLA for Calgary-Elbow since 2008
Released policies: Democratic Renewal, Education, Energy, Health Care
Background: The only woman in this contest, Ms. Redford is not your typical Red Tory. While her campaign has so far focused on important issues like health care, education, democratic renewal, and energy policy, the safe communities initiative during her time as Justice Minister demonstrated that she is creative enough to look beyond the “tough on crime” agenda. She is also appears to be taking a page from popular Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Edmonton City Councillor Don Iveson by “campaigning in full sentences.” (This may have been influenced by her campaign strategist Stephen Carter, who was involved with Mayor Nenshi’s campaign).

Ms. Redford has only been an MLA since 2008, but her political experience is broad, ranging from serving as a Senior Policy Advisor to External Affairs Minister Joe Clark, being appointed as one of four International Election Commissioners to administer Afghanistan’s first parliamentary elections, and challenging Calgary-West MP Rob Anders for the Conservative Party nomination in 2004 (she was unsuccessful).

A photo of Ted Morton, Alberta PC leadership candidate.
Ted Morton

Ted Morton
Slogan: Alberta Proud/Proud to be Albertan
Elected experience: Senator-in-Waiting 1998 to 2004, MLA for Foothills-Rockyview from 2004 to present
Released policies: Democratic Renewal, Power Transmission
Background: The former Finance Minister and third place leadership candidate from 2006 who’s actions forced Premier Ed Stelmach to resign and this contest to begin. Many of his key organizers from his previous leadership bid have joined the Wildrose Alliance and it is questionable whether they will return to the PC Party fold if they have embraced Dr. Morton’s ideological soul-mate Danielle Smith. His time as Finance Minister hurt his conservative credentials, especially among rural landowners furious at the government’s recently passed transmission line legislation – Bill 50.

In 2006, Dr. Morton received support of Rob Anders, Myron Thompson, and Jason Kenney, who have each since quietly or loudly shown support for the Wildrose Alliance.

Expected to enter the race:

Thomas Lukaszuk
Elected experience: MLA for Edmonton-Castle Downs from 2001 to present
Background: Yet to enter the contest, rumours have been swirling for months about Minister Lukaszuk’s potential entry into this contest. He would be the only MLA from Edmonton to enter the contest and while he would be a long-shot candidate, it could help solidify his position in cabinet under the next PC Premier.

He supported Jim Dinning in the 2006 leadership contest.

Categories
Alberta Politics

alberta politics notes 5/13/2011

Hancock astray on Education
Parents are holding a “don’t drop the ball” stop the cuts rally at the Legislature on May 29, calling on Minister Dave Hancock to stop layoffs in schools that would affect the quality of K-12 education in Alberta. In a recent interview with CBC Radio, Minister Hancock said that class sizes had little effect on a child’s education and the education students looking for jobs as teachers in Alberta would need to slug it out. The recent Education budget cuts mixed with his recent comments raises the question about how much influence Minister Hancock actually has among his PC cabinet colleagues.

Minister Hancock participated in a flash mob earlier this week…

Tears in Tory wallpaper
Two-term Calgary-Hays MLA Art Johnston was defeated by Rick Fraser in his attempt to be his party’s candidate in the new Calgary-South East constituency. With a low-turnout for PC nominations, Mr. Johnston was defeated 78-74. Mr. Johnston now has the option of seeking the PC nomination in the redrawn Calgary-Hays.

As noted in a post last week, three-term PC backbencher Alana DeLong is facing a nomination challenge from Lars Lehmann that will take place on May 14.

Tough guy Rick Orman
Billing himself as “The Right Choice” for the job of PC Party leader, former cabinet minister Rick Orman has some tough talk for his party.

Alberta’s NDP Bill 208: Guaranteeing Public Healthcare for Our Future
NDP MLA Brian Mason introduced Bill 208 in the final days of the Spring sitting of the Assembly. The NDP are billing this piece of legislation as a law that would “shield public health care from the attacks it is facing.”

Liberals appoint Interim leader
The Liberal Party approved their leadership contest rules last weekend and appointed outgoing leader David Swann as the interim leader until the contest, set to conclude on September 10, chooses a new leader. Edmonton MLA Laurie Blakeman is kicking off her leadership campaign on May 15.

Energy Superboard
Energy Minister Ron Liepert must like something about Superboards that he is not telling us.

Categories
Alberta Politics

rick orman joins alberta pc leadership contest.

As recently reported by Mark Lisac‘s Insight newsletter, and now confirmed by a tweet from Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Doug Horner, former MLA Rick Orman has joined the PC leadership contest.

For anyone new to Alberta in the past 17 years or under the age of 30 who may not be familiar with Mr. Orman (myself included), he served as the MLA for Calgary-Montrose from 1986 to 1993. He was the Minister of Labour during the 1988 Nurses Strike and placed third in the 1992 PC leadership contest, behind Ralph Klein and Nancy Betkowski.

Eric Young is the former President of the PC Party and was also recently rumoured to be a potential candidate.