Last week, he was publicly criticizing Premier Alison Redford for her over-priced $45,000 trip to South Africa (see below) and faced a threat of expulsion from the Progressive Conservative caucus. This week, coincidentally, Edmonton-Riverview PC MLA Steve Young faces a new set of revelations dating back to his time as a Sergeant with the Edmonton Police Service (EPS).
The $45,000 trip to South Africa
It’s the story that won’t disappear. People across Alberta shook their heads in disbelief when they learned the government spent $45,000 to send Ms. Redford and her executive assistant, Brad Stables, to attend Nelson Mandela‘s funeral in South Africa. Bringing Mr. Stables added an estimated $20,000 to the cost. It is unclear why he was required to travel with Ms. Redford to South Africa. Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil made the same trip for less than $1,000. He did not require an executive assistant to accompany him.
Pension changes decreed
Finance minister Doug Horner is proposing significant changes to the province’s public pension plans, which could impact the retirement security of hundreds of thousands of Albertans. But you wouldn’t have read about it in the last election. The 2012 PC Party platform, “Alberta by Design,” does not once mention the word “pension.”
A report from Auditor General Merwan Saher this month chastised the government for not properly consulting with stakeholders about the proposed changes that will impact their members. The Local Authorities Pension Plan board has not endorsed Mr. Horner’s proposed changes.
Anti-labour law blocked by the courts
Court of Queen’s Bench Mr. Justice Denny Thomasissued an injunction halting the Redford government’s controversial Bill 46. Rammed through the Assembly in December 2013, the anti-labour law allowed the Tories to circumvent a neutral arbitration process which could have awarded fair salary increase for public sector employees. Bill 46 would have imposed a salary freeze. Advanced Education minister Dave Hancock said the government will appeal the court’s decision.
“Today starts a new era in marketing for farmers,” Agriculture minister Verlyn Olson boasted in a press released in August 2012, as the federal government dismantled the Canadian Wheat Board. This week, Mr. Olson claimed he would push for greater rail system accountability.
The Wildrose opposition has been equally enthusiastic about the Canadian Wheat Board’s demise (one of its MLAs, Rick Strankman, was once charged for violating the board). But not to be outdone by Mr. Olson, Wildrose MLAs Shayne Saskiw and Drew Barnes are now hosting town hall meetings from Streamstown to Spirit River about the challenges of individual farmers are facing dealing with the large railway corporations.
When Alberta’s Legislative Assembly reconvenes in the next few months, for the first time since 1982 the title of Official Opposition will given to a caucus of MLA’s representing a party other than the New Democrats or the Liberals. Following the April 23 general election, seventeen Wildrose Party MLA’s were elected, creating the largest Official Opposition caucus since 1997 (when eighteen Liberal MLA’s were elected).
Aside from high-profile leader Danielle Smith, who was elected in Highwood, most Albertans would probably respond with blank stares if asked to name another Wildrose MLA. Over the past week, I have read biographies and scoured the internet for information about the MLA’s who, for at least the next four years, have been tasked with the responsibility of being Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in Alberta.
Only two of the four incumbent Wildrose Party MLA’s were re-elected last week. Paul Hinman, who was narrowly elected in a 2009 by-election was soundly defeated by PC candidate Linda Johnson in Calgary-Glenmore. In Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, four-term MLA Guy Boutilier, who crossed the floor to the Wildrose in 2010 after sitting for 12 years as a Progressive Conservative MLA, was unseated by municipal councillor Mike Allen. Both Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson and Calgary-Fish Creek MLA Heather Forsyth, who crossed the floor from the PCs to the Wildrose in January 2010, were re-elected.
Here is a look at the fourteen rookie MLA’s who will be joining Ms. Smith, Mr. Anderson, and Ms. Forsyth in the Wildrose Party caucus.
Drew Barnes (Cypress-Medicine Hat) Defeated two-term PC MLA Len Mitzel. Mr. Barnes is a real estate agent and co-owner of Belcore Homes, a construction company in Medicine Hat. He is the past-campaign chair and president of the Southeastern United Way. He completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Alberta in 1983.
Gary Bikman (Cardston-Taber-Warner)
Mr. Bikman is a business management consultant and co-founder of ChopStix International Franchising Inc, a fast food gourmet Chinese restaurant chain. He is the past-president of Speedy Heavy Hauling Ltd, an oilfield service company. Until recently he was a councillor and deputy mayor of the Village of Sterling. Mr. Bikman attended the first Reform Association of Canada (later the Reform Party of Canada) conference in Vancouver in 1987. His Facebook page lists him as having completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology (1968) and Master of Business Administration (1972) at Brigham Young University.
Ian Donovan (Little Bow)
Mr. Donovan farms near the hamlet of Mossleigh. He was elected to Vulcan County Council at the age of 19 and he has served for the past 16 years, including two years as Reeve. Perceived mishandling of the nomination process which selected him as the candidate led to the entire executive board of the Little Bow Wildrose Association to resign in January 2010.
Rod Fox (Lacombe-Ponoka) Mr. Fox is a sales manager for an insurance company. From 2006 to 2007 he served as a director on the Lacombe Economic Development Board and ran unsuccessfully for Lacombe municipal council in 2007. He served as President of the Conservative Party of CanadaWetaskiwin Electoral District Association from 2007 to 2010 and was Communications Director for MP Blaine Calkins during the 2011 federal election.
Jason Hale (Strathmore-Brooks)
Unseated first-term PC MLA Arno Doerksen. Mr. Hale operates a cattle farm with his family. He was a Professional Bullfighter for 10 years and is a member of the a member of the Bassano Rodeo committee and a Director on the Bassano Agricultural Society. He completed a diploma in Chemical Technology at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. He also coaches for hockey and baseball.
Bruce McAllister (Chestermere-Rockyview) Defeated senior cabinet minister and former PC leadership candidate Ted Morton. Originally from New Brunswick, Mr. McAllister is well-known for his time as the host of Global Television’s morning newscast in Calgary since 2004. Before moving to Calgary, Mr. McAllister was an anchor and reporter at CH Television in Victoria, BC. He also worked as a broadcaster in Winnipeg and Halifax.
Blake Pedersen (Medicine Hat) Mr. Pedersen has been a co-owner in an oilfield, industrial supply company since 1999.
Shayne Saskiw (Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills)
Unseated three-term MLA and cabinet minister Ray Danyluk. Mr. Saskiw studied Law at the University of Alberta with MLA Rob Anderson and practiced law in Vegreville. He was named one of “The Next 10” by Alberta Venture magazine in 2010. Mr. Saskiw served as Vice-President (Policy) of the PC Party from 2008 until January 2010, when he joined the Wildrose Party. He later served as executive director of the Wildrose Party.
Pat Stier (Livingstone-Macleod) Unseated first-term MLA and cabinet minister Evan Berger. Mr. Stier lives on his family’s ranch near DeWinton and is the President of River Canyon Enterprises Inc., which provides planning services for land use and development applications to rural land owners. He served one term on the municipal council of the M.D. of Foothills from 2004 to 2007. He was a member of the PC Party Board of Directors in Highwood from 2006 to 2009 and in 2010 became the President of the Wildrose Alliance association in that constituency. Between 1988 and 1999 he served as President of the Dunbow Road Area Residents Association.
Rick Strankman (Drumheller-Stettler) Unseated cabinet minister Jack Hayden. Mr. Strankman owns a cattle ranch and grain farm near Altario. He is the past Treasurer of the Western Barley Growers Association and is an anti-Canadian Wheat Board activist. In 1996, he was fined $1000 for taking his own wheat in his grain truck and driving it across the Canadian border into the United States. In 2000, Mr. Strankman was an unsuccessful candidate in the Canadian Wheat Board elections and in 2002 he was fined $7,500 and faced 180 days in jail after taking 756 bushels of wheat across the American border and sold it (he only served a week in jail with four other rebel farmers).
Kerry Towle (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake) Defeated three-term PC MLA and former cabinet minister Luke Ouellette. Ms. Towle is a real estate broker and was executive assistant with the now-dissolved David Thompson Health Region. She ran a turkey farming operation with her husband for five years. She attended Reeves Business College in 1992 and 1993.
Here are some of the recent additions to the list:
Chestermere-Rockyview – Global Television host Bruce McAllisteris the new Wildrose candidate in this Calgary area constituency. Disappearing from the Wildrose candidate roster is Chestermere Town Councillor Heather Davies, who was nominated as the Wildrose candidate in May 2011.
Calgary-Currie: Calgary businessman Norval Horner, a cousin of Deputy Premier Doug Horner, was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate in this constituency, which elected Liberal-turned-Alberta Party MLA Dave Taylor in 2004 and 2008. It is also expected that 2008 Progressive Conservative candidate Arthur Kent may run in this constituency as an Independent candidate.
Calgary-Klein: The Liberal Party nomination scheduled for October 15 was postponed. Candidates seeking the nomination included Vincent St. Pierre and Matthew Moody. Mr. Moody unexpectedly withdrew from the contest at the last minute.
Grande Prairie-Wapiti: Ethane Jarvis is the nominated Wildrose candidate.
Edmonton-Glenora – Former MLA Bruce Miller was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate in this constituency. Liberal insiders say that local restauranteur and artist Sheri Somerville was heavily courted to run, but declined to seek the Liberal nomination. Reverend Miller was first elected in 2004 with 35% of the vote in a close three way contest between himself, high-profile NDP candidate Larry Booi, and PC MLA Drew Hutton, and he was defeated by now-Culture Minister Heather Klimchuk in 2008 by 104 votes.
Edmonton-Strathcona: NDP MLA Rachel Notley was nominated as her party’s candidate at a meeting attended by Vancouver-Kingsway MP Don Davies. Ms. Notley was first elected as the MLA for this constituency in 2008, earning 49% of the vote.
Red Deer-South: On October 25, the NDP are expected to nominate former five-term City Councillor Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer as their candidate.
Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater: At a nomination meeting scheduled for September 21, former Liberal caucus staffer turned NDP activist Mandy Melnyk will face Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3550 President Trudy Grebenstein for the NDP nomination.
Calgary-Buffalo: Mount Royal University Professor Lee Easton has withdrawn his name as the Alberta Party candidate in this constituency. Mr. Easton was a candidate for the Alberta Party leadership earlier this year.
Calgary-Currie: Businessman Norval Horner is seeking the Liberal nomination. Mr. Horner is a distant cousin to Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Doug Horner. The Liberals held this constituency until 2010, when two-term MLA Dave Taylor left to sit as an Independent. He later joined the Alberta Party and recently announced he would not be seeking re-election.
Calgary-East: Robin Luff was nominated as the NDP candidate at a joint-nomination meeting on September 5.
Calgary-Greenway: Al Brown was nominated as the NDP candidate at a joint-nomination meeting on September 5. Mr. Brown has run for the NDP on numerous occasions, including as their candidate in Calgary-East in the recent federal election.
Calgary-McCall: Collette Singh was nominated as the NDP candidate at a joint-nomination meeting on September 5. Ms. Singh was her party’s candidate in Calgary-Northeast in the recent federal election.
Calgary-Varsity: Cynthia Caldwell was nominated as the NDP candidate at a joint-nomination meeting on September 5.
Cardston-Taber-Warner: On September 17, businessman Doug Cooper and Village of Sterling Deputy Mayor Gary Bikman will contest the Wildrose nomination. Former nomination candidate David Wright withdrew his name from the contest and endorsed Mr. Bikman. The constituency was represented by Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman from 2004 until 2008 (Mr. Hinman now represents Calgary-Glenmore).
Drumheller-Stettler – What was originally shaping up to be a five person Wildrose nomination contest has dwindled down to a two person race. Still left in the contest are Rick Strankman and Doug Wade. The three other candidates, Dave France, Chris Warwick, and Patrick Turnbull, dropped out of the race when they did not meet the necessary qualifications required by their party.
Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview: Businessman Don Martin is seeking the Wildrose nomination.
Edmonton-Decore: Real Estate agent Ed Ammar is the nominated Liberal candidate in the constituency named for former Liberal Party leader Laurence Decore. Liberal MLAs Mr. Decore, Bill Bonner, and Bill Bonko represented the area from 1989 until 2008, when former School Board Trustee Janice Sarich captured it for the PCs.
Edmonton-Ellerslie: Community activist Chinwe Okelu is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. founder of Young and Associates, an Edmonton-based company that facilitates mediation and negotiations. He has run for City Council numerous times and his connections as a former Liberal Party supporter will create an interesting dynamic in this contest, in which former MLA Bharat Agnihotri is also running.
Edmonton-Glenora: Former NDP MLA Ray Martin is seeking his party’s nomination in this constituency. He was his party’s leader from 1984 until 1994, Mr. Martin was the MLA for Edmonton-Norwood from 1982 until 1993 and Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview from 2004 until 2008. He has also ran for federal office in 1997, 2000, 2008, and 2011.
Edmonton-Mill Creek: Mike Butler is seeking the Liberal nomination. Mr. Butler ran for the federal Liberals in Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont in the 2011 election and for the NDP in the same federal riding in the 2008 election. He also ran for the NDP in Edmonton-Rutherford in the 2008 provincial election.
Lethbridge-West: Activist and writer Shannon Phillips defeated James Moore to capture the NDP nomination on September 11. Ms. Phillips has received high-profile endorsements from Stephen Lewis and Naomi Klein.
St. Albert: Local businessman Tim Osborne was acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate.
Calgary-Currie: Alberta Party MLA Dave Taylor has announced that he will be retiring at the next election. This is not a complete surprise, but it is not good news for the new party, who will lose their only incumbent MLA at the next election. Mr. Taylor was first elected as a Liberal in 2004 and left that party to sit as an Independent in 2010. He joined the Alberta Party in 2011.
Drumheller-Stettler: Hanna Town Councillor Chris Warwick has withdrawn his nomination for the Wildrose candidacy in this constituency. Candidates Dave France, Rick Strankman, and Patrick Turnbull remain declared in the nomination contest,.
Edmonton-Castle Downs: Former pharmaceutical employee John Oplanich is the nominated Wildrose candidate in this north Edmonton constituency. Mr. Oplanich ran for Edmonton City Council in 2010, placing third in Ward 3.
While Lethbridge’s two constituencies have traditionally been a close fought battleground between the Progressive Conservatives and Liberals (voters in Lethbridge-East have elected Liberal MLAs since 1993, including former party leader Ken Nicol and current MLA Bridget Pastoor), the area has seen substantial growth for the NDP. In the May 2011 federal election, NDP candidate Mark Sandilands earned an unheard-of strong 27% of the vote, mostly concentrated within Lethbridge city limits. When the votes from the federal election are overlaid on the Lethbridge-West provincial boundaries, the NDP earned around 38% of the vote in the provincial constituency.
The constituency is currently represented by first-term MLA and Advanced Education & Technology Minister Greg Weadick.
Calgary-Buffalo: First-term MLA Kent Hehr has been acclaimed as the Liberal Party candidate. Mr. Hehr was elected in 2008 with 48% of the vote. The Wildrose have acclaimed former QR77 radio host Mike Blanchard as their candidate. Mr. Blanchard had originally sought his party’s nomination in the new constituency of Calgary-Nose Hill-Mackay, but was defeated by Roy Alexander.
Drayton Vally-Devon: Town of Drayton Valley Councillor Dean Shular has been acclaimed as the Wildrose candidate in his constituency. Mr. Shular was first elected to Town Council in 2007.
Drumheller-Stettler: A fifth candidate has joined the Wildrose nomination contest in this east central Alberta constituency. Drumheller Jeweler and FreemasonDoug Wade in Drumheller-Stettler. As reported on this blog in July, Dave France, Rick Strankman, Chris Warwick, and Patrick Turnbull are also seeking the Wildrose nomination.
Edmonton-Meadowlark: Local Wildrose activist Rick Newcombe was acclaimed as the Wildrose candidate in this west Edmonton constituency. Mr. Newcombe had originally sought his party’s nomination in Edmonton-Whitemud, but stepped aside in favour of Ian Crawford. The area is currently represented by former Tory MLA Raj Sherman, who is currently a candidate for the Liberal Party leadership.
Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: He denied it on June 9, but on July 10 landowners rights advocate and Rimbey Town Councillor Joe Anglin submitted his papers to become a candidate for the Wildrose nomination in this constituency. The former Alberta Green Party leader is facing Rocky Mountain House Town Councillor Sheila Mizera and past-president of the local Wildorse Association Ed Wicks.
Sherwood Park-Strathcona: Two candidates have put their names forward for the Wildrose nomination in this constituency. Strathcona County Councillor Jason Gariepy and Paul Nemetchek. Councillor Gariepy made headlines last years when he was sanctioned after sending an email critical of a press release quoting local MLAs Iris Evans and Dave Quest. Mr. Nemetchek was campaign manager for former Reform Party MP Ken Epp.
West Yellowhead: Alberta Party leader Glenn Taylor has been officially nominated as his party’s candidate in the sprawling west Alberta constituency of West Yellowhead.
Mr. Taylor was first elected as the Mayor of the Town of Hinton in 2004 and ran as a candidate for the NDP in this constituency in 1997. I am told that Mr. Taylor will be leaving his position as Mayor this fall to focus full-time on the party’s leadership.
Calgary: The NDP are expected to hold a round of joint-nomination meetings for candidates in Calgary later this month.
Calgary-Buffalo: Liberal MLA Kent Hehr is expected to be acclaimed at his party’s nomination on August 2. Mr. Hehr was first elected in the 2008 general election with 48% of the vote. This constituency has been mentioned as one that Gary Mar could stand in if he wins the Progressive Conservative leadership this Fall.
Drumheller-Stettler: The Drumheller Mail. is reporting three candidates preparing to seek the Wildrose nomination. Dave France was the Alberta Alliance and later Wildrose Alliiance candidate in the 2004 and 2008 General Elections and the 2007 By-Election. Rick Strankman was until recently the local constituency President. Chris Warwick is serving his third-term on Hanna town council. Not mentioned in the article is Patrick Turnbull, who launched a campaign website earlier this year.
Edmonton-McClung: Carrie Kohan is seeking the Wildrose nomination. She is the founder of Mad Mothers Against Pedophiles, was the recipient of the YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Advocacy 2010, and on her Facebook Page she describes herself as the “Erin Brockovich of Canada.”
Edmonton-Meadowlark: Rick Newcombe is seeking the Wildrose nomination. Mr. Newcombe recently withdrew from the Wildrose nomination in Edmonton-Whitemud, leaving Ian Crawford to be acclaimed.