Categories
Alberta Politics

Calgary Stampeding: It looks like Danielle Smith is making a big comeback in the UCP leadership race

There’s not much of anything that is constant in Alberta politics these days, maybe except for the Calgary Stampede.

At least in some non-pandemic years, it’s the Northern Star of Alberta politics. It’s the must attend event for political aspirants of all stripes, from Prime Ministers to aspiring future Premiers.

The Stampede is back in full force this year, with last year’s disastrous “Best Summer Ever” disaster unfortunately an almost distant memory, even though its a big reason why we are where we are today in Alberta politics.

And for anyone watching the Stampede, even this writer from his perch in Edmonton, the race to replace Jason Kenney as Premier and leader of the United Conservative Party was on display as urbanites of all stripes dusted off their cowboys hats and plaid shirts for the week of pancake breakfasts and beer tents.

The big talk of the town this week is Danielle Smith’s unexpectedly strong comeback in the UCP leadership race.

Jim Prentice Danielle Smith Alberta Wildrose Merger PC
Former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and Premier Jim Prentice on December 17, 2014.

Most political watchers will remember her downfall after a treacherous floor-crossing nearly destroyed the Wildrose Party and helped created the conditions for Rachel Notley to lead her NDP to sweep the province in 2015. (Real political nerds will remember her time on the disastrous Calgary Board of Education from 1998 to 1999, but that’s for another column).

But what we politicos may have missed is that a lot of Albertans, including the thousands who have signed up to support her and are showing up to her campaign events in droves, remember her from her more recent role as the host of a popular talk radio show.

Smith has always been a talented political communicator, despite some high-profile flameouts.

She knows how to talk to conservatives, and it just happens there are a lot of those in Alberta.

Danielle Smith United Conservative Party leadership event Airdrie
Danielle Smith speaking to a crowd at a campaign event in Airdrie (source: Twitter)

It’s not clear how many UCP MLAs support her separatist-leaning “Alberta First” campaign or her dipping into COVID conspiracy theories, but she has nabbed at least one endorsement from the governing caucus – Airdrie-Cochrane MLA Peter Guthrie.

Smith hasn’t held a seat in the Legislature sine 2015 but she’s challenging MLA Roger Reid for the UCP nomination in Livingstone-Macleod. And recently she said she would reopen nomination contests some party activists believe were unfairly stacked in favour of Kenney loyalists, a move that is unlikely to endear her to most current UCP MLAs.

Her comeback would be the political story of the year, and while Premier Danielle Smith is far from a sure thing, she is certainly driving the narrative of the UCP leadership campaign. She’s tapped into a motivated group of Alberta conservatives unhappy with the status-quo.

Those are probably the people Kenney referred to as “lunatics.”

And they might just be the mainstream of the UCP right now.

Even the perceived frontrunner is responding to Smith.

Travis Toews (source: Twitter)
Travis Toews (source: Twitter)

Establishment favourite Travis Toews followed Smith’s lead with a milquetoast “Enough is Enough” social media meme opposing COVID-19 vaccinations. It’s not clear what message he was trying to telegraph.

It was the kind of vague response you would expect from a frontrunner campaign, wanting to respond and not offend but failing at both.

Toews also released a list of autonomist policies that read like they were copied and pasted from 2020’s Fair Deal Panel report.

Smith and Toews aren’t alone.

Brian Jean is hitting the same notes, though he’s running a sleepier than expected campaign. Still, Fort McMurray’s Golden Boy shouldn’t be underestimated.

Independent MLA Todd Loewen is also hitting the same notes on separatist and anti-COVID health measures but his chances of winning appear much less likely than the others in this pack.

Rachel Notley and St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud at the Calgary Stampede.
Rachel Notley and St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud at the Calgary Stampede. (source: Twitter)

Smith’s extreme positions are probably leaving Rachel Notley’s NDP salivating at the opportunity to run against an extremist right-wing UCP that would leave a lot of Albertans alienated.

Two months ago, Notley’s victory in Alberta’s next election looked like a sure bet, but Kenney’s resignation announcement gave his party a bump in the polls and now it’s a race.

Notley and her MLAs have basically decamped to Calgary for the summer, showing up at every event and taking every chance to door knock with their growing slate of local candidates that includes former city councillor Druh Farrell in Calgary-Bow, energy analyst Samir Kayande in Calgary-Elbow, sustainable energy expert Nagwan Al-Guneid in Calgary-Glenmore. Canadian Forces veteran Marilyn North Peigan in Calgary-Klein, and physician Luanne Metz in Calgary-Varsity.

It’s probably the closest thing Calgary has seen to a Progressive Conservative slate since 2015 but the NDP still have a lot of hard work ahead of them to convince Calgarians to vote for them en masse in 2023.

But the UCP leadership candidate the NDP might fear the most so far hasn’t been playing the same cards as Smith, Toews, Jean and Loewen.

Rebecca Schulz United Conservative Party leadership candidate
Rebecca Schulz (source: Twitter)

Rebecca Schulz is one candidate to watch.

The first-term MLA from Calgary-Shaw and former children’s service minister had already nabbed an endorsement from Rona Ambrose but the former interim Conservative Party leader is now chairing her campaign.

Schulz also released an endorsement from former Saskatchewan cabinet minister and Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers president Tim McMillan, who joined former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall in supporting her.

Schulz and her husband were political staffers in Wall’s government before moving to Calgary seven years ago and her husband worked for McMillan as VP Communications of CAPP.

It’s hard to tell where her politics are. Schulz seems more moderate than the rest of the pack, which isn’t saying much, but how much more moderate is not clear.

Along with her political establishment connections, Schulz might become a pretty appealing candidate if there are enough UCP members left who don’t want to fight the next election on COVID conspiracy theories and Alberta separatism.

At the very least, there might actually be enough Saskatchewan expats alone living in Alberta to win a leadership race.

And I would be remise if I failed to mention the other candidates who are also busy yahooing their way through the Stampede.

Rajan Sawhney is running an outsiders campaign, leaning on her years of business experience. She is also a candidate to watch.

Leela Aheer appears to be running for the leadership of a completely different party, but that hasn’t saved her from dirty tricks. Someone bought LeelaAheer.ca and is pointing it to an old Daveberta article about the nasty nomination contest she faced in 2018 (I don’t own the domain name, I swear).

Raj Sherman showed up at the Stampede with a decal-clad pickup truck and his campaign has been making robo-calls, despite being told he won’t be allowed to be on the ballot.

Former bank executive Jon Horsman is running.

And, to no one’s surprise, Village of Amisk Mayor Bill Rock dropped out, citing the high $175,000 candidate entry fee.

It’s a dog’s breakfast, and really could be anyone’s race to win.

There’s strategy at play, for sure, but as one experienced campaign strategist said to me last week, when it comes to leadership campaigns, a lot more depends on dumb luck than people think.

The UCP has announced it plans to hold Official Leadership debates in Medicine Hat on July 27 and Edmonton on August 30.

Categories
Alberta Politics

Race to replace Jason Kenney takes shape – Rajan Sawhney and Rebecca Schulz join the fray. Will Michelle Rempel Garner and Raj Sherman be next?

Hey there politics fans!

The United Conservative Party released its leadership race rule book!

UCP members will choose a replacement for Premier Jason Kenney on October 6, 2022.

It will cost $150,000 to enter the race, plus an extra $25,000 good behaviour deposit.

Low rollers need not apply.

It’s not just a race to replace Kenney.

It’s a race to save the UCP from defeat against Rachel Notley‘s resurgent Alberta NDP.

And the race is starting to take shape.

The cowboy hat wearing former Finance Minister from Beaverlodge, Travis Toews, launched his campaign last week with endorsements from 23 UCP MLAs, including Energy Minister Sonya Savage and Justice Minister Tyler Shandro.

Savage and Grande Prairie-Mackenzie MP Chris Warkentin are co-chairing his campaign.

Toews is seen as the establishment favourite, which isn’t always a blessing.

Just ask Jim Dinning and Gary Mar.

Former Transportation Minister Rajan Sawhney launched her campaign yesterday with a whistle-stop tour down the QEII, starting with media events in Edmonton, Penhold and Airdrie before ending at a +700-person rally in north east Calgary.

It was a strong kick-off.

Sawhney’s campaign is being run by well-known political strategist and conservative thinker Ken Boessenkool, who worked as an advisor to former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former BC Premier Christy Clark.

Her former chief of staff (and former Daveberta Podcast co-host) Ryan Hastman is her deputy campaign manager.

Angela Pitt MLA Airdrie-East UCP
Angela Pitt (source: Facebook)

Airdrie-East MLA Angela Pitt is Sawhney’s campaign chair.

It’s an odd fit for a leadership candidate who appears to be trying to position herself as a political moderate (no word if South Tyrol-like autonomy for Alberta will be in her platform).

Pitt endorsed Brian Jean for the UCP leadership 2017, and even have him credit for her entry into politics.

This time she’s backing Sawhney.

Jean is launching his campaign at a hotel in west Edmonton tomorrow. 

Autonomy for Albertans is Jean’s slogan, not Anatomy for Albertans, as this writer first thought he read.

The former Wildrose Party leader launched his second political comeback in last year’s Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election with the singular purpose of defeating Kenney in the leadership review and run to replace him.

He’s met half his goal so far.

Another former Wildrose leader, Danielle Smith is also trying for her second political comeback after a short and disastrous stint on the Calgary Board of Education in the late 1990s and as Wildrose Party leader from 2009 until she infamously abandoned her party to join Jim Prentice’s Progressive Conservatives in 2014.

For many conservatives, especially those of the Wildrose-variety, it is a betrayal that will live in infamy.

The leadership is only one-half of Smith’s comeback attempt. 

She’s also challenging MLA Roger Reid for the UCP nomination in Livingstone-Macleod, which appears far from a safe-bet.

Rebecca Schulz United Conservative Party leadership candidate
Rebecca Schulz (source: Facebook)

First-term south Calgary MLA Rebecca Schulz stepped down as Children’s Services Minister to jump into the race.

Schulz wants to take on what she describes as “the boys club.”

She has the backing of Calgary City Councillor Dan McLean, Health Minister Jason Copping, UCP MLAs Michaela Frey and Jeremy Nixon, MPs Laila Goodridge and Stephanie Kusie, former federal Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose and former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall. 

The Wall endorsement might seem odd, but he endorsed Schulz in her bid to win the hotly contested Calgary-Shaw UCP nomination race back in 2018.

The Saskatchewan native was a spokesperson in Wall’s government before moving to Alberta in the mid-2010s, and her husband, Cole Schulz, was a ministerial chief of staff in Regina (he’s now the Vice President, Communications for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers in Calgary).

UCP MLA Leela Aheer, who was ousted from cabinet for calling on Kenney to resign, is in and wants to “defeat the machines.”

“I think Albertans will defeat the machines. They understand what the machine is. They’re frustrated with the machine,” she told reporters.

She’s also facing a strong nomination challenge in her Chestermere-Strathmore riding.

Northern Alberta UCP MLA-in-exile Todd Loewen also jumped into the race, as did Village of Amisk Mayor Bill Rock, another former Wildrose Party candidate.

But one of the big potential contenders, Calgary Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner, is playing coy. 

Maybe she’ll run. Maybe she won’t.

Her text message reply to Press Gallery Dean Don Braid was “hahahaha!”

Raj Sherman MLA
Raj Sherman

And the hot gossip in political circles today is that erratic former Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman is thinking about joining the fray. 

Sherman was first elected as a PC MLA in 2008 but was driven out of that party and scooped up the Liberal leadership in 2011. He left politics in 2015 and returned to being full-time ER doctor. 

He also donated $4,000 to the Alberta Party last year.

So it’s a scramble. It’s a dog’s breakfast.

And there could be more.

We’ll know soon enough.

July 20 is the deadline for candidates to pay up if they want to stay in the race.

The high-entry fee will quickly weed out candidates who can’t raise enough money.

August 12 is the deadline to buy a membership.

No time for the two-minute Tories who wreaked havoc against the establishment candidates in the old PC Party leadership races.

The party is also organizing debates and attendance by all candidates is mandatory.

Stragglers will risk be fined or disqualified, or both.

It’s no Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, but it’s bound to be entertaining to watch.


Liberal Party seeks new leader

The Alberta Liberal Party also announced that it will be holding their own leadership vote and choosing a new leader on September 25, 2022.

Former party leader David Khan stepped down in November 2020 after failing to win a seat in the 2019 election, marking the first time since before 1986 that the provincial Liberals not represented in the Legislature.

Party stalwart John Roggeveen has filled the spot as interim leader since March 2021.

The race has no candidates as of yet. The second place finisher from the 2017 leadership race, Kerry Cundal, is running for the Alberta Party in Calgary-Elbow.


And don’t forget to sign up for my Substack at daveberta.substack.com.

Categories
Alberta Politics

Randy Boissonnault planning a comeback in Edmonton-Centre, Erika Barootes launches Senate Nominee campaign

Randy Boissonnault announced plans to try to make a political comeback by seeking the federal Liberal Party nomination in Edmonton-Centre.

Boissonnault was elected as the Liberal MP for the district in 2015 and served Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and special advisor on LGBTQ2 issues to the Prime Minister. He was defeated by Conservative James Cumming in the 2019 election.

Rumours continue to circulate in Ottawa about the federal Liberals desire to recruit Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson to run as their candidate in Edmonton-Centre. Iveson told reporters yesterday that he has not made any decisions about his political future.

Cumming has been nominated as the Conservative candidate and former public school board trustee Heather Mackenzie is the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Centre.

Erika Barootes Senate Nominee Election Conservative
Erika Barootes

Meanwhile, lobbyist and former United Conservative Party president Erika Barootes has announced her plans to become a candidate in Alberta’s Senate Nominee election, which is scheduled to take place in conjunction with the municipal elections in October.

Barootes is the Western Vice-President of Enterprise Canada and also serves as the President of the Conservative Party association in Edmonton-Centre and the Chief Financial Officer of the UCP association in Edmonton-Glenora.

A close-ally of Premier Jason Kenney, she is endorsed by a swath of Conservative partisan luminaries, including Rona Ambrose, Heather Forsyth, Laurie Hawn and Betty Unger.

Staff Barootes
Staff Barootes

She is the granddaughter of Staff Barootes, who was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1984 and served until 1993.

The elder Barootes was the chief fundraiser for the Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan and, in 1984, he was one of the first three appointments made by Mulroney to the Senate.

The uniquely-Albertan election is being held to select a list of nominees to be appointed to the Senate of Canada when there are vacancies in Alberta’s delegation. Only Progressive Conservative and Conservative Prime Ministers have recognized the election and recommended the appointment of nominees chosen in Alberta’s Senate Nominee elections.

Barootes is the second candidate to announce plans to enter the Senate Nominee election after Duncan Kinney, executive director of Progress Alberta, announced in April 2021.

Categories
Alberta Politics

All 33 Conservative MPs acclaimed in Alberta. Liberals have contested nomination in Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan

All 33 incumbent Members of Parliament representing the Conservative Party from Alberta have been acclaimed as candidates to run in the next federal election.

The only exception to the wave of unchallenged nominations is in Edmonton Strathcona, where Tunde Obasan and Rick Peterson are seeking the Conservative nomination to challenge New Democratic Party MP Heather McPherson, who was also acclaimed, in the next federal election. This is the only district in Alberta not currently represented by a Conservative MP.

Meanwhile, there is a surprise east of Edmonton. Two candidates have announced their plans to seek the Liberal Party nomination in the Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan district east of Edmonton. Tanya Reeb Holm and Ron Thiering are seeking the nomination at a meeting scheduled for June 22, 2021. Thiering was acclaimed as the party’s candidate in this riding in 2019 and finished in third place with 9.9 per cent in that year’s federal election.

Incumbent Member of Parliament Garnett Genuis has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate.

John Kuhn has been nominated as the separatist Maverick Party candidate. Kuhn was elected as mayor of the southern Alberta town of Bassano in 2007 but resigned four months later.

Here are the other candidates updates:

Banff-Airdrie: MP Blake Richards has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. Richards was first elected in 2008. Tariq Elnaga has been nominated as the Maverick Party candidate. Elnaga is Vice President of the Cochrane Roping Club and the Chute Experience Director with the Airdrie Pro Rodeo.

Battle River-Crowfoot – Doug Karwandy has been nominated as the Maverick Party candidate.

Calgary-Centre: Sabrina Grover is seeking the Liberal Party nomination in this central Calgary district. Grover is a Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer Nutrition International and Principal of Provoke Public Relations. She was active in the Progressive Conservative Party in the mid-2010s. The district was represented by Liberal MP Kent Hehr from 2015 to 2019. Michael Pewtress is running as an Independent candidate in this district.

Calgary Forest Lawn: MP Jasraj Singh Hallan has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. Hallan was first elected in 2019.

Calgary Heritage – MP Bob Benzen has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. Benzen was first elected in the 2017 by-election held to replace former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Calgary Nose Hill: Jessica Dale-Walker is seeking the Liberal Party nomination.

Calgary Rocky Ridge: Dave Robinson has been nominated as the Maverick Party candidate.

Calgary Skyview: Harry Dhillon has been nominated as the People’s Party candidate.

Calgary Signal Hill: Ajay Coop has been nominated as the Maverick Party candidate.

Edmonton Centre: MP James Cumming has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. Cumming was first elected in 2019 when he defeated Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault.

Edmonton Griesbach: MP Kerry Diotte has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. Diotte served one-term on city council before he was elected to the House of Commons in 2015.

Edmonton Riverbend: MP Matt Jeneroux has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. Jeneroux was first elected as MP in 2015 and previously served as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Edmonton-South West from 2012 to 2015. Shawn Gray is seeking the NDP nomination, which is scheduled to take place on June 15.

Edmonton West: MP Kelly McCauley has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. McCauley was first elected in 2015.

Edmonton Wetaskiwin: Tyler Beauchamp has been nominated as the People’s Party candidate. Travis Calliou no longer running as a Veterans Coalition Party candidate. 

Foothills: MP John Barlow has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. Barlow was first elected in 2015.

Grande Prairie-Mackenzie: Benita Pedersen has been nominated as the People’s Party candidate.

Lakeland: MP Shannon Stubbs has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. Stubbs was first elected in 2015 and has been rumoured to a potential candidate for the leadership of the United Conservative Party if Premier Jason Kenney does not survive his current leadership challenges.

Lethbridge: Kimberley Dawn Hovan has been nominated as the People’s Party candidate.

Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner: Brodie Heidinger has been nominated as the People’s Party candidate.

Peace River-Westlock: MP Arnold Viersen has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. Gail Ungstad has been nominated as the NDP candidate. Colin Krieger is the Maverick Party candidate.

Red Deer-Lacombe: MP Blaine Calkins has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. Calkins was first elected in 2006.

Red Deer-Mountain View: Jared Pilon no longer running as Independent. He’s a Libertarian candidate. Mark Wilcox has been nominated as the Maverick Party candidate.

Sturgeon River-Parkland: Dane Lloyd has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. Lloyd was first elected in a 2017 by-election to replace former Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose.

Yellowhead: MP Gerald Soroka has been acclaimed as the Conservative Party candidate. He was first elected in 2019.

Categories
Alberta Politics

Three Conservative MPs acclaimed and past leadership candidate Rick Peterson running in Edmonton-Strathcona

With a minority parliament in Ottawa and the possibility a federal election could be called at anytime, the Conservative Party of Canada has begun nominating candidates for the next federal election in Alberta.

The party announced on Twitter that it has nominated three incumbent MPs in Alberta:

  • Martin Shields in Bow River. Sheilds was first elected in 2015 and previously served as mayor of the City of Brooks.
  • Tom Kmiec in Calgary-Shepard. Kmiec was first elected in 2015 and has served as Chair of the National Conservative Caucus since September 2020.
  • Ron Liepert in Calgary-Signal Hill. Liepert was first elected to the House of Commons in 2015 after defeating six-term MP Rob Anders in the Conservative Party nomination contest. Liepert was the Progressive Conservative MLA for Calgary-West from 2004 to 2012 and served in cabinet as the minister of finance, health, education and energy.
RIck Peterson Edmonton-Strathcona
RIck Peterson, running for the Conservative Party of Canada nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona. (Photo source: Facebook)

Former leadership candidate Rick Peterson is running for the Conservative Party nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona. New Democrat MP Heather McPherson was elected in 2019 and is the only non-Conservative MP in the province. The riding was previously represented by NDP MP Linda Duncan, who was first elected in 2008.

Raised in Grande Prairie, Peterson studied at the University of Alberta in the 1970s and spent much of his career as a financial advisor and investor in British Columbia.

Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona
Heather McPherson

As a long-time member of the Progressive Conservative Party in British Columbia and member of the PC Canada Fund, Peterson considered a run for the PC Party leadership race in 2002. While he eventually declined to run, he did go so far as to speak alongside other party leadership hopefuls, including Peter MacKay, Scott Brison and Jim Prentice, at a party fundraiser in Toronto in 2002. He instead served as co-chair of Andre Bachand‘s leadership campaign.

Peterson was briefly touted by party insiders in media reporters as a potential replacement for Stephen Harper after the federal Conservative Party’s disappointing results in the 2004 election campaign. He filed nomination papers to run for the federal Conservative nomination in Vancouver-Quadra in 2006 but withdrew in 2007, citing interference from the Prime Minister’s Office in the nomination process.

Peterson later ran for the BC Liberal Party nomination in Vancouver-Fairvew in 2008 and was later considered a potential candidate for Mayor of Vancouver in 2011 but withdrew from the Non-Partisan Association nomination contest before the election.

He then defected to the BC Conservative Party in 2012 and briefly launched a campaign to win his new party’s nomination in Vancouver-Quilchena before withdrawing from that race and announcing his plans to seek the party leadership instead. He was defeated by Dan Brooks in a divisive two-way race in 2014.

He then ran for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada in 2017, placing 12th in a crowded race of 14 candidates.

Peterson moved to Spruce Grove, Alberta after the leadership race in order to run for the Conservative Party nomination in Sturgeon River-Parkland following Rona Ambrose‘s retirement. His nomination bid was unsuccessful but he stayed in Alberta and founded the conservative advocacy group Suits and Boots.

He ran for the federal Conservative Party leadership again in 2019 but he withdrew his candidacy and endorsed Peter MacKay. And in 2020, he announced his plans to run for the Conservative Party nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona.

The date of the nomination contest in Edmonton-Strathcona has not yet been announced.


I am now tracking candidates running for federal party nominations in Alberta ahead of the next election. If you know any candidates that are not on the list, please leave a comment or email me at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. Thank you.

Categories
Alberta Politics Daveberta Podcast

Episode 50: Supervised Consumption Services in Alberta with Dr. Elaine Hyshka

Dr. Elaine Hyshka, assistant professor at the University of Alberta School of Public Health, joins Dave Cournoyer to discuss supervised consumption clinics in Alberta and the flaws in the United Conservative Party government’s recent review of the facilities on the latest episode of the Daveberta Podcast.

Elaine shares her insights into the history of harm reduction and recovery efforts in Alberta, how these programs help Albertans, and what the future of supervised consumption clinics might be in Alberta.

The Daveberta Podcast is a member of the Alberta Podcast Network, powered by ATB. The Alberta Podcast Network includes more than 30 great made-in-Alberta podcasts.

You can listen and subscribe to the Daveberta Podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotifyStitcher, or wherever you find podcasts online. We love feedback from our listeners, so let us know what you think of this episode and leave a review where you download.

As always, a big thank you to our producer Adam Rozenhart for all his hard work in making the show sound so great.

Find us on TwitterInstagram, Facebook, or you can email us at podcast@daveberta.ca. Thanks for listening!

Recommended reading/listening:

Categories
Alberta Politics

Kenney is the closest thing the Conservatives have to a “Svengali-like genius”

Six weeks after the federal election, Andrew Scheer has resigned as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, raising instant speculation about who might enter the contest to replace him.

Rona Ambrose
Rona Ambrose

While there does not appear to be an obvious heir apparent, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney‘s name immediately comes to mind as a potential successor. But is appears as though Kenny could just be a visitor in Ottawa for the foreseeable future.

Kenney told Postmedia columnist Don Braid yesterday he had “absolutely no intention” of running for the leadership and offered what appears to be an early endorsement of former interim party leader Rona Ambrose.

In response to rumours of his federal ambitions, Kenney told Postmedia’s  Stuart Thomson that “I should be flattered that they think I’m some kind of Svengali-like genius.” The thing is, Kenney is probably the closest thing to a Svengali the Conservatives have. Whether you believe he a brilliant political operator with good intentions or a sinister political beast plotting to smash his growing list of enemies likely depends on whether you are his ally or opponent (ask Rachel Notley and Brian Jean). But there is no doubt he is a skilled career politician.

He also checks a whole bunch of boxes on the list of Conservative constituency groups.

Kenney started his political career as a social conservative anti-abortion activist at a private Roman Catholic university in San Francisco. He returned to Canada to become a founder of the anti-tax Canadian Taxpayers Federation. He spent 19 years in Ottawa as a Member of Parliament and, after briefly losing some favour with the party during Stockwell Day‘s disastrous time as leader of the Canadian Alliance, proved to be a loyal solider to Stephen Harper and worked his way into a senior cabinet role. And he has deep connections to conservative think-tanks like the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (recently merged with the Fraser Institute) and New York City-based Manhattan Institute.

In less than two years, Kenney commandeered Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party and merged its membership with its decade-old bitter enemy, the Wildrose Party, by winning the United Conservative Party leadership. He then led the party to win the 2019 election. Plus, he, or his closest advisors, were not above testing the limits of what was acceptable in order to win. And since entering the Premier’s Office, he has been a master of sowing chaos and creating crisis in order to implement his political program.

Kenney is respected by Conservative partisans and, as long as he can keep up his winning streak, will remain one of the most prominent leaders of the Conservative movement in Canada.

Or maybe I’m just giving him too much credit.

Winning as a Conservative in Alberta is a much easier task than winning in other parts of Canada, including populous regions like Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto. Kenney’s whistle-stop tour through Ontario during the federal election resulted in dismal returns for Conservative candidates, and a recent poll shows his approval ratings in Alberta have plummeted by 15-points since his government tabled an unpopular provincial budget, which serves as a reminder that while he is a skilled politician, he is not invincible.

Which is why he might be reluctant to jump back into federal politics.

Being premier of a large province is certainly a more influential office, at least it is in 2019, and comes with more prestige than being leader of the official Opposition in Ottawa. But staying in Alberta means he is not one-step away from becoming Prime Minister of Canada, which many people still speculate is his goal.

Categories
Alberta Politics

United Conservatives selecting candidates in Calgary-North and Lethbridge-East on Feb. 9

Photo: Calgary-North UCP candidates Devin Green, Tanis Fiss, Paul Frank, Jun Lin, and Muhammad Yaseen.

United Conservative Party members will choose their party’s candidates in Calgary-North and Lethbridge-East on February 9, 2019.

In Calgary-North, Devin Green, Tanis FissPaul FrankJun Lin, and Muhammad Yaseen are seeking the UCP nomination. Tommy Low and Manpreet Sidhu have withdrawn from the contest. 

Yaseen is the former president of the Calgary-Northern Hills Progressive ConservativesFiss works in the oil and gas industry and moved to Alberta from BC in 2003 to establish a Calgary-based office for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. And Frank previous ran for the federal Conservative Party nominations in Calgary-Rocky Ridge in 2014 and Calgary-Heritage in 2017 and ran as an Independent candidate in Alberta’s 2012 Senator-in-Waiting election

Fiss is endorsed by former federal Conservative Party interim leader Rona Ambrose and Frank is endorsed by city councillor Joe Magliocca, Conservative MPs Len Webber, Michelle Rempel, Pat Kelly, and former Calgary-Fort PC MLA Wayne Cao

Lethbridge East UCP nomination candidates: Nathan Neudorf, Kimberly Lyall, Bryan Litchfield, Robin James and Angela Zuba
Lethbridge East UCP nomination candidates: Nathan Neudorf, Kimberly Lyall, Bryan Litchfield, Robin James and Angela Zuba

In Lethbridge-EastRobin JamesBryan LitchfieldKimberly LyallNathan Neudorf and Angela Zuba are seeking the UCP nomination.

James is the Chief Administrative Officer of the Lethbridge Housing Authority. Litchfield is a Facility Services project manager with the City of Lethbridge and director of the Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Association. Lyall is a motivational speaker and consultant and was founding president of the local UCP association and previously served as president of the local Wildrose Party association. Neudorf re-entered the UCP nomination contest in this district in December 2018 after dropping out to run for the UCP nomination in the Livingstone-Macleod district located west of Lethbridge, but was unsuccessful in that contest. Zuba is a Development Manager for Lethbridge College and prior to that was the CEO for the Canadian Home Builders Association

Lyall is endorsed by UCP MLA Nathan Cooper, Leela Aheer, and Pat StierNeudorf is endorsed by Roger Reid, UCP Candidate for Livingstone Macleod and former Lethbridge city councillor Tom Wickersham, and Conservative MP Rachael Harder. 

Following these two nomination contests, the UCP will have six districts remaining where the party has not selected a candidate ahead of the next election. The remaining districts are Edmonton-Ellerslie, Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood, Edmonton-Meadows, Edmonton-Mill Woods, Edmonton-Strathcona, and Red Deer-South.


Liberals nominate two candidates in Calgary

The Alberta Liberal Party has nominated Jaroslav Giesbrecht in Calgary-Peigan and Vesna Samardzija in Calgary-Shaw, bringing the party to a slate of 17 candidates in 87 districts.

If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!

Note: The original version of this article did not include Angela Zuba as a nomination candidate in Lethbridge-East. This has been corrected.

Categories
Alberta Politics

David Shepherd secures NDP candidacy in Edmonton-City Centre, Laurie Mozeson beats Steve Thompson in Edmonton-McClung UCP contest

Photo: David Shepherd accepts the NDP nomination in Edmonton-City Centre (source: David Shepherd on Twitter)

Edmonton-Centre MLA David Shepherd secured the New Democratic Party nomination in the newly redrawn and slightly renamed Edmonton-City Centre district at a packed nomination meeting last night in downtown Edmonton. Shepherd was first elected in 2015 after unseating five-term Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman, and in 2017 he was voted “MLA to watch in 2018” in the Best of Alberta Politics survey.

Laurie Mozeson UCP Edmonton McClung Alberta Election 2019
Laurie Mozeson

Laurie Mozeson defeated past-Wildrose Party candidate Steve Thompson to win the United Conservative Party nomination in the southwest district of Edmonton-McClung yesterday. Mozeson is a long-time prosecutor with the federal and provincial governments and was appointed as a citizenship judge in 2012 by then federal immigration minister Jason Kenney.

A November 2012 report by the Hill Times noted Mozeson’s daughter, Marlee, had worked in Kenney’s office as an intern and special assistant, and later worked as assistant to Chungsen Leung, Kenney’s parliamentary secretary for multiculturalism. Her son, Jonah, had previously worked as communications director for Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose.

Her daughter-in-law, Jamie Mozeson, is now the director of operations at the UCP caucus and ran for the federal Conservative nomination in the Sturgeon River-Parkland district in 2016.

Mozeson will face Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel in the next election. Mandel is his party’s nominated candidate, lives in the district, and represented it as City Councillor from 2001 to 2004, and then as Mayor of Edmonton from 2004 to 2013. Incumbent NDP MLA Lorne Dach has not yet announced he plans for re-election.

UCP vote in Calgary-Fish Creek today

UCP members living in Calgary-Fish Creek will choose their next candidate today. Incumbent MLA Richard Gotfried is facing a challenge from Cindy Ross. Gotfried was first elected in 2015 as a Progressive Conservative, stealing the seat away from the Wildrose Party. This race has been contentious to say the least.

Richard Gotfried MLA UCP Calgary Fish Creek Alberta Election 2019
Richard Gotfried

Lawyer Cyndy Morin withdrew from the contest in mid-August and endorsed Ross over Gotfried. Morin accused Gotfried of attacking her on social media and stated on her Facebook page that “Mr. Gotfried is not the kind of leader that I would want to continue to represent the party or Albertans.”

The NDP released a screenshot of a Facebook Post showing Ross making derogatory statements against Muslims in regards to the construction of a new Mosque in Fort McMurray. What a better place to have a mosque. Right in the middle of our greatest asset,” the screenshot showed Ross saying in 2015. “This is a bit of like jailing the bank robber in the bank vault.”

Ross has since apologized for the statement.

Meanwhile, Gotfried is the kind of MLA who stands on the floor of the Alberta Legislature and attacks the NDP by comparing people leaving Alberta to refugees fleeing Bolshevik Russia and Moaist China. As I wrote in May 2017, it takes a special amount of partisan and ideological gymnastics to draw connections between brutal and tyrannical dictatorships and a freely elected democratic government in Alberta, but Gotfried did it.

So, good luck with this, Calgary-Fish Creek Conservatives.

Wilson wins UCP nod in Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin

Richard Wilson Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin UCP Alberta Election 2019
Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson defeated business owner Sandra Kim and former Wetaskiwin City Councillor Donna Andres to secure the UCP nomination in the newly redrawn Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin district in central Alberta. Wilson served as a Wetaskiwin County Councillor from 1992 to 2007, a Trustee with the Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools from 1993 to 1998, and as chairman of Crossroads Regional Health Authority from 1996 to 2003.

According to a CBC report, Wilson earned 335 votes, Andres earned 267 votes, and Kim earned 191 votes. Kim found herself in the centre of controversy when it was revealed she had shared Facebook posts denouncing same-sex marriage.

Leduc-Beaumont UCP vote set for September 8

UCP members in Leduc-Beaumont will choose from three candidates at a nomination vote being held on Saturday, September 8, 2018. Sharon Smith, Brad Rutherford and Scott Wickland. Smith ran for the Wildrose Party in this district in the 2015 election, placing second with 29 percent of the vote. Rutherford is a former Edmonton police officer and previously ran for the federal Conservative Party nomination in Edmonton-West ahead of the 2015 election. He was president of the Leduc-Beaumont UCP and the federal Edmonton-Wetaskiwin Conservative association.

Incumbent MLA Shaye Anderson was nominated as the NDP candidate in his district on July 18, 2018. Anderson was first elected in 2015 and currently serves as Minister of Municipal Affairs.

If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!


Former UCP Chief of Staff now working for the Alberta Party Caucus

Kevin Weidlich Alberta Party UCP Chief of Staff
Kevin Weidlich

It appears that Kevin Weidlich is now serving as Chief of Staff to the Alberta Party Caucus. From 2015 to 2017, Weidlich worked as Chief of Staff at the Progressive Conservative Caucus and then the consolidated UCP Caucus.

Weidlich was replaced by Garry Keller as CoS of the UCP Caucus on an interim basis in August 2017, but then appeared to be replaced permanently by Nick Koolsbergen when Kenney imported a group of political staffers from Ottawa in January 2018.

Weidlich served as campaign manager in Doug Horner‘s bid for the PC Party leadership in 2011Weidlich is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Armed Forced Reserves and served as commander of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment for three years until 2017.

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Alberta Politics

Three candidates drop out of Peace River UCP race, showdown in Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock, and a Sweet nomination in Edmonton-Manning

The number of candidates in the United Conservative Party nomination contest in the sprawling northwest district of Peace River has dropped from five to two.

Daniel Williams UCP Peace River
Daniel Williams

Lisa Wardley, deputy reeve of Mackenzie County, and Dan Williams, who worked as a political staffer for Jason Kenney, are the two remaining candidates in the contest after three other candidates, Kelly Bunn, Donald Lee, and Shelly Shannon, dropped out over the past few weeks.

Bunn announced his withdrawal in a Facebook post citing disillusionment with Kenney’s “Grassroots Guarantee” and what he describes as a top heavy approach to candidate nominations. Lee withdrew citing a lack of support. And Shannon announced her departure from the contest by endorsing Williams.

In a post on Facebook, Wardley criticized the locations of the voting stations chosen by the UCP nomination committee for the July 31 and August 1, 2018 vote as “not representative of the largest Riding in the Province.”

Wardley wrote that the voting stations “do not lend to fairness, accessibility or the importance and value of all of our communities and citizens. Does not take into account the working communities that we host (with the early day hours in High Level), the lack of public transportation to and from communities, the addition of three new communities to the riding… or really anything else that is specific to this region other than hitting the three largest urban centers.”

Disclaimer: The polling stations and times have been decided by the Local Nominating Committee for the Constituency…

Posted by Lisa Wardley, Mackenzie County Councilor & Northern Advocate on Wednesday, July 11, 2018

When contacted by this writer, Wardley said she was shocked when she learned that the nomination committee chose only three voting stations in the largest urban centres of the large rural district – Peace River, High Level and La Crete.

The new Peace River district. UCP voting stations circled in blue.
The new Peace River district. UCP voting stations circled in blue. (Click to enlarge)

All our communities and members are important and distance, accessibility to polling stations, travel time, workforce demographics, fairness are just some of the criteria that needed to be added to the mix when deciding,” Wardley wrote, saying that she would like to see voting stations in more communities and the voting period extended by one day.

For readers not familiar with this district, it would take more than 5 hours to drive from the northern most community of Indian Cabins to the southern more community of Reno.

UCP members in this district will vote to choose their candidate on July 31, 2018 in Peace River from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and August 1, 2018 in High Level from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and La Crete from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The Peace River district is currently represented by New Democratic Party MLA Debbie Jabbour. Jabbour was first elected in 2015, earning 39 percent of the vote. She currently serves as Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees in the Legislative Assembly.

Showdown in Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock

Incumbent UCP MLA Glenn van Dijken will face a challenge from farmer Monty Bauer in a nomination meeting on July 14 in the new district of Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock. van Dijken was first elected as a Wildrose Party candidate in 2015 in the Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock district. His opponent is being supported by former area Member of Parliament Brian StorsethBauer ran against Jeff Johnson for the Progressive Conservative nomination in Athabasca-Redwater in 2007.

A Sweet nomination in Edmonton-Manning

MLA Heather Sweet is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate in this northeast Edmonton district on July 14, 2018. Sweet was first elected in 2015, earning 71 percent of the vote in a district that had swung between the PCs and Liberals in previous elections. She currently serves as Deputy Chair of Committees in the Legislative Assembly.

Citizenship judge appointed by Kenney seeks UCP nomination

Laurie Mozeson is seeking the UCP nomination in the southwest district of Edmonton-McClung. Mozeson is a long-time prosecutor with the federal and provincial governments and was appointed as a citizenship judge in 2012 by then federal immigration minister Jason Kenney.

A November 2012 report by the Hill Times noted Mozeson’s daughter, Marlee, had worked in Kenney’s office as an intern and special assistant, and later worked as assistant to Chungsen Leung, Kenney’s parliamentary secretary for multiculturalism. Her son, Jonah, had previously worked as communications director for Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose.

Her daughter-in-law, Jamie Mozeson, is now the director of operations at the UCP caucus and ran for the federal Conservative nomination in the Sturgeon River-Parkland district in 2016.

Gill resigns as deputy whip over ballot-snatching allegations

Current Calgary-Greenway MLA Prab Gill has resigned as UCP caucus deputy whip following allegations of ballot-snatching at the founding meeting of the Calgary-North UCP association. Gill has announced he is seeking the UCP nomination in the Calgary-North East district.

Here are some of the other latest updates to the list of candidates running for party nominations ahead of the 2019 Alberta provincial general election:

Calgary-BeddingtonDaniel Kostak has announced his withdrawal from the UCP nomination contest and he has endorsed Randy Kerr.

Calgary-Bow – Eldon Siemens is seeking the UCP nomination.

Calgary-Currie – Terry Devries is seeking the UCP nomination. Devries was the Wildorse Party candidate in this district in the 2015 election, where he placed third with 20 percent of the vote behind New Democrat Brian Malkinson and PC MLA Christine Cusanelli.

Calgary-FalconridgeDevinder Toor is seeking the UCP nomination. Toor was the Wildrose Party candidate in the 2016 by-election and 2015 general election in Calgary-Greenway.

Calgary-Foothills: UCP members in this district will vote to choose their candidate on July 14, 2018. Former Calgary-Hawkwood PC MLA Jason Luan and federal Conservative political staffer Connor Staus are seeking the nomination.

Calgary-McCall – Jangbahadur Sidhu is seeking the UCP nomination.

Calgary-North – Tanis Fiss, Manpreet Sidhu and Muhammed Yassen are seeking the UCP nomination.

Calgary-Peigan – Andrew Griffin has withdrawn from the UCP nomination contest. Griffin has previously worked as a constituency assistant for Kenney.

Calgary-VarsityBeth Barberree has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Barberree was the Alberta Party candidate in Calgary-Hawkwood in the 2015 election. Grace Lane is seeking the UCP nomination.

Edmonton-DecoreAli Haymour has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Haymour ran for Edmonton City Council in 2017 and was the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Castle Downs in 2008 and Edmonton-Decroe in 2012.

Edmonton-Rutherford – Arnold D’Souza is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.

Edmonton-Strathcona – Jovita Mendita is seeking the UCP nomination. Mendita is a real estate agent with the Melnychuk Group. This district has been represented by Premier Rachel Notley since 2008.

Leduc-Beaumont – Scott Wickland is seeking the UCP nomination.

Lesser Slave LakeBrenda Derkoch is seeking the UCP nomination.

Red Deer-SouthRyan McDougall has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.

St Albert – Rodney Laliberte is seeking the UCP nomination. Laine Matoga was withdrawn his name from the UCP nomination contest.t

Sherwood ParkSue Timanson has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. Timanson ran for the PC nomination in Sherwood Park in 2012 and 2015, and she is a former regional director of the PC Party.

Strathcona-Sherwood Park – Robb Connelly will challenge former PC MLA Dave Quest for the Alberta Party nomination in this district east of Edmonton.

If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!

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Alberta Politics

UCP draws huge crowds, huge controversy to its first policy convention

(Photo credit: @Alberta_UCP on Twitter)

With more than 2,500 party members in attendance, this weekend’s United Conservative Party founding convention was one of the biggest political events in Alberta’s recent memory. It was a big show of force for the official opposition party, which continues to dominate in the polls and fundraising.

Ric McIver
Ric McIver

The convention should have been a victory lap for Jason Kenney after forcing the merger of the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties and winning the new party’s leadership. Instead, the big story of the convention is how it was derailed by a membership base weirdly obsessed with Gay-Straight Alliances.

Fifty-seven percent of convention delegates voted in favour of a policy that would out students who join Gay-Straight Alliances. Supporters of the policy claimed it was about parental rights, but that did not stop three MLAs from going to mic to plead with UCP members to end the madness.

“This is about outing gay kids,” said Calgary-Hays UCP MLA Ric McIver as he pleaded with party members not to pass the policy. “Don’t be called the Lake of Fire party, I’m begging you. This will really severely hurt our chances at winning. Don’t do that to yourself.”

“When we’re talking about freedoms, that means all people’s freedoms. That means making sure that children have safe spaces in schools,” urged Chestermere-Rockyview UCP MLA Leela Aheer.

But the pleas from the MLAs were not enough to change the minds of members, including a well organized contingent of social conservatives, at the convention.

The debate over this motion came only days after Edmonton’s Pride Festival Society rejected the UCP’s application to march in this year’s pride parade. A similar application was rejected by Calgary’s Pride festival in August 2017.

Even though it was Kenney’s comments about Gay-Straight Alliances that reignited this issue back in March 2017, he now says he won’t implement the policy if he becomes premier.

It could, and probably will, be argued that Kenney’s denouncement of this policy contradicted his “Grassroots Guarantee” that the party membership will determine the party’s policies. Kenney used the “guarantee” as a way of circumventing any substantive policy debates during the 2017 UCP leadership contest.

It is not clear what other member-endorsed policies Kenney will choose to ignore if and when he becomes Alberta’s next premier.

UCP members also adopted policies to eliminate the carbon tax, reintroduce a flat tax, increase privatization in health care and education, and require parental consent for invasive medical procedures on a minor (this motion was cheered by anti-abortion groups).

All things considered, it is hard to imagine that Rachel Notley‘s New Democrats could have hoped for a better outcome this weekend.

One Big Conservative Family

An underreported story of this weekend’s convention is the very close relationship between the UCP and the Conservative Party of Canada.

The presence of a federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer as a keynote speaker would have been unheard of at any provincial party convention in recent years. Scheer was joined at the convention by a number of Conservative MPs, and former leader Rona Ambrose, who spoke at the convention on a panel about women in politics.

The relationship between the federal and provincial conservative parties has always been complex, but it has been exceptionally complicated over the past three decades. The rise of the Reform Party and collapse of the federal PC Party in the early 1990s meant there was no formal alliance between the dominant federal and provincial conservative parties in Alberta for many years.

Almost as soon as the Conservative Party of Canada was formed in 2003, the Alberta Alliance, and later the Wildrose Alliance and Wildrose Party split the provincial conservative movement, leaving federal Conservative MPs divided in their loyalties for the PC and Wildrose parties.

While most of the focus has been on the Wildrose-PC merger, Kenney’s “unity” extends to the federal party as well.

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Alberta Politics

The Forgotten By-Election in Sturgeon River-Parkland

Photo: Liberal candidate Brian Gold and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a campaign event in Spruce Grove on October 20, 2017. (Source: Twitter)

Overshadowed by this past Monday’s municipal elections, the federal by-election in Sturgeon River-Parkland scheduled for October 23, 2017 could be described as the forgotten by-election. I drove through Sturgeon County and the town of Morinville this week and spotted only a few Conservative, Liberal and Christian Heritage party signs scattered on the sides of the highways alongside the soon-to-be collected municipal election signs.

It was easy to forget that the by-election was evening happening.

Dane Lloyd Conservative Sturgeon River Parkland
Dane Lloyd

Along with the municipal election, the lack of general interest in the by-election could also be a result of its widely predicted outcome – a landslide victory by Conservative Dane Lloyd.

The district re-elected Conservative MP Rona Ambrose with 70 percent of the vote in 2015. And even though Ambrose’s handpicked successor, Jamie Mozeson, was surprisingly defeated in the party’s nomination race, the outcome will likely be similar, albeit with a much lower voter turnout. This is a reliably Conservative voting area of Alberta and any candidate running under that party’s banner can expect to be easily elected.

Lloyd, a 26-year old political staffer for St. Albert-Edmonton Conservative MP Michael Cooper, earned media attention during the nomination race after calling for a “no body, no parole” law. He has also expressed some very conservative political views online about feminism and firearms.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer made a campaign stop in the district on October 10, 2017.

His party’s prospects aside, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a visit to the district on October 20, 2017 to campaign alongside Liberal Party candidate Brian Gold.

Shawna Gawreluck NDP Sturgeon River Parkland
Shawna Gawreluck

At a campaign event in a pizza parlour in Spruce Grove, the district’s largest community, Trudeau told supporters: “I know you’re going to be talking to families and you can talk to them about the fact that the first thing we did was lower taxes for the middle class and raise them for the wealthiest one per cent. You can talk about the fact, as (Gold) said, we approved pipelines that the previous government couldn’t get done.”

Trudeau deserves credit for the visit. The Liberal leader appears to have personally campaigned alongside his party’s candidates in every by-election since becoming leader, including in past by-elections in Calgary, Foothills, Fort McMurray, and Yellowhead.

While New Democratic Party candidate Shawna Gawreluck has not had a visit from her party’s new leader, Jagmeet Singh, she has had the support of Edmonton-Strathcona MP Linda Duncan and Spruce Grove-St. Albert MLA Trevor Horne. Christian Heritage Party candidate Ernest Chauvet also had a visit from his party’s leader, Rod Taylor.

Sturgeon River-Parkland by-election.
Sturgeon River-Parkland

Voting stations will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m on Monday, October, 23, 2017. You can use the Elections Alberta online tool to locate your polling station.

Here are the list of candidates and their social media links:

Christian Heritage Party: Ernest Chauvet (Facebook)
Conservative: Dane Lloyd, (Facebook, Twitter)
Liberal: Brian Gold (Facebook, Twitter)
NDP: Shawna Gawreluck (Facebook, Twitter)

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Alberta Politics

Sturgeon River-Parkland by-election competing with Alberta’s municipal elections

As if voters won’t already have enough candidates knocking on their doors with Alberta’s municipal elections scheduled for October 16, 2017, a federal by-election will be held in the Sturgeon River-Parkland electoral district with a vote on October 23.

It is widely expected that whoever wins the Conservative Party of Canada candidate nomination will be easily elected as the riding’s next Member of Parliament. And with the by-election being held one week after the municipal elections, voter fatigue could lead to a record low turnout in this by-election.

I plan to pay particular attention to this by-election over the next few weeks, as it is where I grew up and where my family originally settled and homesteaded in the 1890s.

Here is a look at the candidates running in the by-election and for party nominations:

Conservative Party

Jamie Mozeson Conservative Sturgeon River-Parkland
Jamie Mozeson

Initially scheduled for mid-October, the Conservative Party moved its nomination meeting dates to September 23, 2017 in Stony Plain and September 24, 2017 in Morinville.

Four candidates are seeking the Conservative Party nomination: local party organizer Jamie Mozeson, recently relocated Vancouver businessman Rick Peterson, and political staffers Dane Lloyd and Luke Inberg (Note: I haven’t seen Luke in years, but our families lived down the street from each other in Morinville and we worked together at the St. Albert IGA while we were both studying in University. I can’t speak to his politics today, but I remember him as a nice guy back then).

Mozeson’s website lists endorsements from former riding MP Rona Ambrose, former Stony Plain MLA Ken Lemke, and sitting Conservative MPs Michelle Rempel, Matt Jeneroux, Tom Kmeic, Garnett Genuis, and Arnold Vierson.

After a twelfth-place finish in the Conservative Party’s recent leadership race, Peterson relocated moved from Vancouver to Spruce Grove in order to run in this by-election. His campaign has adopted an oil derrick as their logo, likely to demonstrate how Albertan he has become since moving back to the province a few months ago.

New Democratic Party

Shawna Gawreluck NDP Sturgeon River Parkland
Shawna Gawreluck

Medical laboratory technologist and small business owner Shawna Gawreluck is expected to be acclaimed as the New Democratic Party candidate at a nomination meeting on September 21 at the Elks Social Hall in Spruce Grove.

Christian Heritage Party

Ernest Chauvet defeated Kevin Schulthies in a nomination meeting to become the Christian Heritage Party candidate in early September. Chauvet earned 690 votes as his party’s candidate in this riding during the 2015 federal election.

Liberal Party

While i have not been able to find any information on who might run as the Liberal Party candidate in this by-election, the party has scheduled a nomination meeting on Sept. 21 at the Border Paving Athletic Centre in Spruce Grove. The party does appear to have shown some activity in the riding. A tweet was posted showing Halifax Liberal MP Andy Fillmore campaigning with local party supporters on Sept. 8.

Update: The St. Albert Gazette reports that Brian Gold will be acclaimed as the Liberal Party candidate in Sturgeon River-Parkland. Gold ran in the 2015 election in the Edmonton Griesbach riding and finished third with 10,387 votes.

 

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Alberta Politics

Mid-week Alberta Politics Roundup

Photo: Kent Hehr with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Calgary Stampede in July 2017. (Photo from Kent Hehr’s Facebook Page)

It has been a busy week for me, so without the time to write a full column-type post, here is a quick summary of what I have been watching in Alberta politics over the past few days.

Calgary MP moved in Trudeau cabinet shuffle

Calgary-Centre Member of Parliament Kent Hehr was appointed Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities this week as part of a fairly significant shuffle in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet. Hehr had previously served as Minister of Veterans Affairs, a post he had held since his election in 2015. Though the move is viewed as a demotion at worst or a lateral move at best, there is no indication that the shuffle was a reflection on Hehr’s performance as minister, which appeared to fulfill competently.

As a former amateur athlete and leader in the Canadian Paraplegic Association, Hehr appears to be a good fit for this role.

While the Minister of Sports is traditionally seen as a junior level position in cabinet, the prospect of Calgary bidding for the 2026 Winter Olympics and Canada joining with the United States and Mexico in a bid to co-host the 2026 World Cup could increase its political importance.

Meanwhile, Calgary-Skyview Liberal MP Darshan Kang announced he would take a medical leave of absence due to stress caused by allegations of sexual harassment that have dogged the federal politician over the past few weeks.

Alberta MPs in Ottawa Shadow Cabinet

Following this week’s federal cabinet shuffle, Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer announced a new roster of Official Opposition critics. Alberta Conservative MPs in the shadow cabinet include: International Development critic Ziad Aboultaif, Agriculture and Agri-Food critic John Barlow, Status of Women critic Rachael Harder, Science critic Matt Jeneroux, National Revenue critic Pat Kelly, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship critic Michelle Rempel, and Natural Resources critic Shannon Stubbs.

NDP Minister continues his Coal Tour

Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous continues his town hall tour of Alberta’s coal communities this week. In the Town of Hanna, Bilous and mayor Chris Warwick announced $450,000 in funding create Community Action Teams led by the Cactus Corridor Economic Development Corporation to focus on initiatives identified in a report by the Hanna Climate Change Strategy Task Force.

While Bilous left Hanna with more questions than answers, he deserves some credit for traveling to these communities holding these town halls – something the NDP government should have done two years ago.

UCP candidate calls on Alberta to national Manitoba port

Jeff Callaway was looking to generate headlines for his United Conservative Party leadership campaign, and he succeeded with his proposal for the Alberta government to nationalize and build a pipeline to access Manitoba’s Port of Churchill. Federal NDP leadership candidate Niki Ashton, who is the MP for  Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, called on the federal government to nationalize the port of Churchill in Dec. 2016.

Low federal NDP membership numbers in Alberta

Speaking of the federal NDP, the party released the breakdown of membership numbers by province ahead of its September leadership vote. Despite having one of only two NDP governments in the country, the federal NDP only recorded having 10,188 members in Alberta, compared to 52,200 in Ontario and 31,974 in British Columbia.

The low participation rate may have a lot to do with the deep political divide between the Alberta NDP and its federal and provincial counterparts over the expansion and construction of oil pipelines, which is a priority for Rachel Notley’s government. To my knowledge, no Alberta NDP MLAs have released public endorsements for any of the federal NDP leadership candidates.

Garry Keller joins the UCP caucus

Until recently he was rumoured to be eyeing the federal Conservative nomination in the upcoming Sturgeon River-Parkland by-election, but it was announced today that Garry Keller, a former chief of staff to Rona Ambrose, would join the United Conservative caucus as a special advisor.

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Alberta Politics

Sturgeon River-Parkland by-election to replace Rona Ambrose to be called by end of 2017

A federal by-election will be held in Sturgeon River-Parkland in the coming months following the resignation of Conservative Member of Parliament Rona Ambrose. Ambrose served as MP for this riding from 2015 to 2017 and as MP for the now defunct Edmonton-Spruce Grove riding from 2004 to 2015.

A by-election must be called by December 31, 2017.

This is a very safe Conservative riding.

Ambrose earned 43,220 votes in the October 2015 election, compared to 9,586 votes for Liberal Travis Dueck, 6,166 for New Democrat Guy Desforges, 1,875 votes for Green Brendon Greene and 690 for Christian Heritage candidate Ernest Chauvet.

In order to find a competitive race in this riding, you have to go all the way back to a 1986 by-election, when parts of the riding were included in the former Pembina riding. In that year’s by-election, Progressive Conservative Walter Van de Walle narrowly edged out New Democrat and former Edmonton mayor Ivor Dent by 274 votes.

No doubt an indication of their political strength in the riding, the Conservatives appear to be the only party with an active candidate nomination race underway. Here is a look at the candidates, both declared and prospective:

  • According to her online biography, Conservative Party activist Jamie Mozeson has worked as a political staffer in the offices of a few prominent Conservative politicians, including former Stony Plain MLA Stan Woloshyn, Edmonton MP Mike Lake, Premier Jim Prentice and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. She recently served as Alberta Regional Organizer and Target Seat Manager during the 2015 election.
  • Vancouver businessman Rick Peterson placed 11th out of 13 candidates in the recent Conservative Party leadership race and is reported to be considering running for the Conservative Party’s nomination in this by-election. According to recent comments posted on Twitter, he is moving to Edmonton this month, presumably to run in the by-election.
  • Garry Keller does not appear to have officially announced his candidacy, but there was speculation by Ottawa media following Ambrose’s resignation that he might run in the by-election. Keller, who is from Stony Plain, served as Ambrose’s chief of staff and previously served as chief of staff for Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird. He worked as Legislative Assistant to former area MP John Williams from 1997 to 2006.

Ambrose appointed to blue ribbon NAFTA Panel

It was announced today that Ambrose will be appointed to the Canadian government’s North American Free Trade Agreement advisory panel ahead of renegotiation discussions with the United States and Mexico. Ambrose joins 12 other panelists, including Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff, fellow former Conservative MP James Moore, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley‘s former Chief of Staff Brian Topp.