Mandel became leader of the centre-right Alberta Party in February 2018. He previously served as Mayor of Edmonton from 2004 to 2013 and as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud and Minister of Health from 2014 to 2015.
The ban also applies to Mandel’s CFO, Brian Heidecker, who previously served as CFO for numerous PC Party candidates and for Doug Griffiths’ campaign during his 2011 bid for that party’s leadership.
Sources in the party tell me this decision was a result of missed deadlines or improperly submitted paperwork filed by the candidates and their CFOs with Elections Alberta following their nomination meetings.
If the court overturns the Elections Alberta decision, this is still a pretty embarrassing situation. But if the court does not overturn the ban, the Alberta Party may be scrambling to find a new leader with only a few weeks before an election call.
NDP CFO on the banned list
Also recently included on the list is the New Democratic Party‘s Director of Operations Will Gammon, who serves as Chief Financial Officer for 9 of the party’s nominated or soon-to-be nominated candidates and 18 of the party’s registered constituency associations. Gammon’s appearance on the list appears to a result of his role a CFO for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake by-election candidate Nicole Mooney, who is also now ineligible to run as a candidate for the next 5 years.
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Meanwhile, one of Jansen’s former caucus colleagues had his political comeback halted in its tracks. Former PC MLA Steve Young was unable to secure the United Conservative Party nomination in Edmonton-Glenora last week after he and David Salopek were defeated by Marjorie Newman in the party’s nomination contest.
Young served as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Edmonton-Riverview from 2012 to 2015, when he was unseated by New Democrat Lori Sigurdson. It is unclear why Young decided to mount a comeback in the neighbouring Glenora district.
Current Edmonton-Glenora MLA Sarah Hoffman is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate at a September 12, 2018 nomination meeting. Hoffman was first elected in 2015, earning 68.5 percent of the vote. She currently serves as Deputy Premier and Minster of Health.
Young was the latest in a group of former PC MLAs defeated in the 2015 seeking to make a political comeback in 2019. Former Calgary-Hawkwood MLA Jason Luan has been nominated as the UCP candidate in Calgary-Foothills and former MLA PC MLA David Dorward has been nominated as a UCP candidate in Edmonton-Gold Bar.
Former PC MLA Janice Sarich is seeking the UCP nomination in Edmonton-Decore, which she represented from 2008 to 2015, and former Edmonton-Mill Woods MLA Sohail Quadri is running for the nomination in Edmonton-South West. Dave Quest is seeking the Alberta Party nomination in Strathcona-Sherwood Park, which he represented as a PC MLA from 2008 to 2015. And as first reported on this blog, former Liberal MLA Mo Elsalhy is seeking the Alberta Party nomination in Edmonton-South West.
Upcoming nomination meetings are being held in the following districts:
Edmonton-Ellerslie – NDP MLA Rod Loyola is expected to be nominated at an August 28, 2018 meeting in this southeast Edmonton district. Loyola was first elected in 2015, earning 61 percent of the vote.
Livingstone-Macleod – Dylin Hauser is expected to be nominated as the Liberal Party candidate in this south west Alberta district on August 23, 2018.
Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin – Three candidates are contesting the UCP nomination vote scheduled for August 23 and 30, 2018. Former Wetaskiwin City Councillor Donna Andres, former County of Wetaskiwin Councillor and Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools trustee Richard Wilson, and local business owner Sandra Kim are seeking the nomination. Kim found herself in the centre of controversy when it was revealed she had shared Facebook posts denouncing same-sex marriage.
Here are some more of the latest updates to the growing list of Alberta election nomination candidates:
Calgary-McCall – Amarjit Singh Banwait is seeking the UCP nomination.
Calgary-North East – Manjit Jaswal is seeking the UCP nomination. Jaswal is the sixth candidate to enter the UCP nomination contest in this district. Jaswal ran for the PC Party nomination in the Calgary-Cross district in 2015.
Calgary-North West – Andrew Bradley is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.
Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview – Ruby Malik is seeking the UCP nomination.
Edmonton-City Centre – Robert Philp has been acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate after Stephanie Shostak withdrew from the contest. Philip is a former judge and former Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission.
Edmonton-Mill Woods – Sophia Kahn and Muhammad Afzal are seeking the UCP nomination.
Edmonton-West Henday – Winston Leung has been acclaimed as the Alberta Party candidate.
Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland – Dale Johnson defeated Barbara Costache, Everett Normandeau, and Leah Wood to secure the UCP nomination in this new rural district northwest of Edmonton. Jerry Molnar was disqualified following the discovery of controversial social media posts. Johnson previously served as president of Whitecourt-Ste. Anne PC association and as an appointed board member of the Aspen Regional Health Authority and Credit Counselling Services of Alberta.
Lesser Slave Lake – Real estate agent Jim Sparks is seeking the UCP nomination.
Red Deer-North– Lawrence Lee and Reg Warkentin are the latestcandidates to join the race for the UCP nomination in this district. Lee has served on Red Deer City Council since 2013 and Warkentin is the policy and advocacy manager with the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce.
St. Albert – Shelley Biermanski is seeking the UCP nomination. Biermanski ran for the Wildrose Party in this district in the 2015 election and mounted an unsuccessful campaign for mayor of St. Albert in 2013.
If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at email@example.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!
Quebec MP Maxime Bernier became momentarily involved in this nomination race when Fir’s campaign sent an email to their supporters claiming Maxine Bernier had endorsed his candidate. The real Bernier responded with an email disputing the claim and instead appeared to endorse his “good friend” Watson.
Former Liberal MLA runs for Alberta Party nomination
In Edmonton-South West, former Liberal Party MLA Mo Elsalhy is seeking the Alberta Party nomination. Elsalhy was the MLA for Edmonton-McClung from 2004 and 2008 and ran for the party leadership in 2008. He attempted a comeback in 2012 but was unable unseat PC MLA David Xiao. During his time as MLA he served in various critic roles, including as Official Opposition critic for Justice and Public Safety, and Innovation and Science.
Calgary-East – Andre Chabot and Issa Mossa are the latest candidates to enter this UCP nomination contest. Chabot was a Calgary city councillor from 2005 to 2017. He placed a distant third in the October 2017 mayoral election, earning 3.08 percent of the vote. Mossa ran for Calgary city council in Ward 10 in 2017.
Calgary-Falconridge – Christopher Steeves is seeking the UCP nomination. He served as a councillor with the City of Chestermere from 2005 to 2017.
Calgary-Fish Creek – Cyndy Morin has withdrawn from the UCP nomination contest in this south Calgary district and endorsed fellow candidate Cindy Ross over incumbent MLA Richard Gotfried. Morin had already previously withdrawn from the UCP nomination contest in Calgary-North West before the nomination vote was held in that district.
Morin noted on her Facebook page that she intends to “bring a defamation suit against the NDP for blatantly publishing what they refer to as facts.” The NDP issued a press release days ago “asking the Election Commissioner of Alberta to investigate UCP nomination candidate Cyndy Morin, running in Calgary-Fish Creek, for accepting and promoting corporate donations to her campaign.”
Calgary-North – Devin Green is seeking the UCP nomination.
Calgary-North East – Rajan Sawhney is seeking the UCP nomination.
Calgary-North West – Sonya Savage defeated Jennele Giong and Cam Khan to win the UCP nomination. Savage is a pipeline lobbyist and served as the president of the Progressive Conservative Party youth wing in 1992.
Calgary-Peigan – Herjinder Saran is seeking theAlberta Party nomination.
Edmonton-City Centre – MLA David Shepherd is seeking the NDP nomination, which is scheduled to take place on September 6, 2018. Shepherd was first elected in 2015 and in 2017 was voted “MLA to watch in 2018” in the Best of Alberta Politics survey. Stephen Hammerschmidt is the latest candidate to enter the UCP nomination contest in this district.
Edmonton-Glenora – Marjorie Newman, David Salopek, and former Edmonton-Riverview PC MLA Steve Young are seeking the UCP nomination. A nomination meeting will be held on August 15, 2018.
Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood – Atul Ranade is seeking the UCP nomination. Ranade previously withdrew from UCP nomination contests in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview and Edmonton-South.
Edmonton-Manning – Dakota Drouillard is seeking the UCP nomination. Jitender Sahni has withdrawn from the Alberta Party nomination contest.
Edmonton-Meadows – Amrit Matharu has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.
Edmonton-Mill Woods – James Moore is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.
Edmonton-Riverview – MLA Lori Sigurdson has been nominated as the NDP candidate in this district. She was first elected in 2015 and currently serves as Minister of Seniors and Housing.
Edmonton-South – Inderdeep Sandhu is seeking the UCP nomination.
Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville– Marvin Olsen is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.
Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland: Don McCargar has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate. McCargar made headlines in 2016 when he put his $7.5 million Parkland County mansion for sale. The palatial home included a sauna, wet bar, six-vehicle garage, and a car wash, as well as herringbone marble tiles covering the floors and hand-painted dome murals adorning the ceilings.
Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright – Blake Prior is seeking the UCP nomination. Prior was the Progressive Conservative candidate in the Battle River-Wainwright district in the 2015 election.
West Yellowhead– Stuart Taylor is seeking the UCP nomination. Taylor was the Wildrose Party candidate in this district in the 2012 and 2015 elections. He is a former Hinton town councillor and was defeated in his bid for mayor in 2017.
If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will add them to the list. Thank you!
The United Conservative Party quashed a giant bozo-eruption in the making this week when the party asked S. Todd Beasley to withdraw his candidacy for the nomination in the new Brooks-Medicine Hat district. Beasley, who was an organizer for the anti-NDP Alberta Wide Rallies held in 2016 and is the organizer behind the pro-coal ‘Stop the Shock‘ group, was dropped from the nomination race after anti-Muslim comments were discovered on Facebook.
Beasley defended his comments, in which he called Muslims “fools who are really worshipping Satan” and “those who think a rational God would anoint a dark-age pedophile warlord as his prophet.”
A UCP spokesperson said his Facebook comments were the reason for Beasley’s disqualification, but these were not the first political controversial statements he has made in public. He openly questioned the existence of climate change when testifying to the House of Commons Environment and Sustainable Development Committee in June 2016.
Asking, or telling, Beasley to withdraw was the right choice. But it remains pretty darn concerning that a candidate with these kind of views was running for a UCP nomination in the first place and only asked to leave the race onthe day before the nomination vote began.
I am told by one well-placed UCP supporter in Medicine Hat that Beasley had enough support among the party membership in Brooks-Medicine Hat to win the nomination had he not been disqualified at the 11th hour.
Voting in the nomination contest in Brooks-Medicine Hat began today in Brooks and will conclude tomorrow in Medicine Hat. Michaela Glasgo and Dinah Hiebert are the two remaining candidates in the race.
Anderson to be nominated in Leduc-Beaumont
MLA Shaye Anderson is expected to be nominated as the New Democratic Party candidate in Leduc-Beaumont at a meeting on July 18, 2018. Anderson was first elected in 2015 and currently serves as Minister of Municipal Affairs.
NDP call on UCP to “Release the report.”
The NDP distributed a three-word media release today calling on the UCP to “Release the report” written by former PC Party president Ted Carruthers into allegations of ballot-stuffing that led to Calgary-Greenway MLA Prab Gillleaving the UCP caucus. The UCP is unlikely to release the report.
The NDP also revealed that Gill had submitted $7,245 in expenses to the Legislative Assembly to cover the cost of a banquet for UCP supporters that featured leader Jason Kenney as the speaker. MLAs are prohibited from using those funds for partisan purposes.
Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock – MLA Glenn van Dijken fended off a challenge from Monty Bauer to win the UCP nomination contest in this new district. van Dijken was elected as the MLA for Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock in 2015.
Calgary-Foothills – Former Progressive Conservative MLA Jason Luan defeated political staffer Connor Staus to secure the UCP nomination in a newly redrawn Calgary-Foothills district. Luan was MLA for Calgary-Hawkwood from 2012 to 2015.
Calgary-McCall – Usman Hahmood is seeking the UCP nomination.
Calgary-Mountain View – Caylan Ford is seeking the UCP nomination. Ford is an international affairs specialist with a background in China and human rights. She has worked as a senior policy advisor with Global Affairs Canada. Ford was a panelist at a 2018 Manning Centre conference discussion about conservative culture in Canada.
Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview – Atul Ranade has withdrawn from the UCP nomination in this district. Ranade had previously announced his candidacy and later withdrew from the UCP nomination contest in Edmonton-South.
Edmonton-City Centre – Martina Crory is seeking the UCP nomination. She is a political science student at MacEwan University and her website biography describes her as having “done major research projects highlighting the fragility of leftist academia in the context of Canadian issues such as state-led Indigenous resurgence policies, child welfare and identity politics.” She was previously seeking the federal Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Centre but withdrew from that race after past candidate James Cumming announced his candidacy.
Edmonton-Glenora – Former PC MLA Steve Young is seeking the UCP nomination. Young represented the Edmonton-Riverview district from 2012 to 2015, before he was defeated by New Democrat Lori Sigurdson. Glenora is the neighbouring district to Riverview.
Edmonton-Manning – MLA Heather Sweet was nominated as the NDP candidate in this northeast Edmonton district. Sweet was first elected in 2015 with 71 percent of the vote.
If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for party nominations, please send me an email at email@example.com. I will add them to the list. Thank you!
I had fun talking about Alberta politics, Prab Gill’s departure from the UCP and other election candidate nomination news with Ryan Jespersen and Tom Vernon this morning on 630 CHED.
The Progressive Conservatives held their first “Super Saturday” on Feb. 21, 2015, during which contested nominations were held in seven constituencies. The handful of contested PC nominations have been overshadowed by the nearly forty acclamations by incumbent PC MLAs across the province.
The Liberal Party, still without a permanent leader after Raj Sherman‘s abrupt resignation in Jan. 2015, has opened candidate nominations in all 87 constituencies and have made notice on their website that all Liberal nominations must be complete by March 1, 2015. If the Liberals are actually able to nominate candidates in all 87 constituencies in the next seven days, it will be a busy week on this blog.
Bonnyville-Cold Lake: Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland defeated former Wildrose nomination candidate Dixie Dahlstedt in the PC nomination. Some local party members complained about the lack of multiple voting locations in the rural constituency and the police were called to the voting station after an allegedly intoxicated man caused a disturbance. A Municipal District of Bonnyville councillor told the Cold Lake Sun that alleged he was the man removed by the RCMP and he was not intoxicated. Current PC MLA Genia Leskiw is not seeking re-election.
Calgary-Buffalo: Lawyer David Khan will seek the Liberal nomination in this downtown Calgary constituency. Buffalo is currently represented by Liberal MLA Kent Hehr, who is running for the federal Liberals in Calgary-Centre, and has elected Liberals in six of the eight elections held since 1986. Mr. Khan was his party’s candidate in the 2014 Calgary-West by-election where he earned 8.5% of the vote.
Calgary-Bow: David Gamble is seeking the Liberal nomination. According to his Facebook Page, Mr. Gamble is the President and CEO of Dandly Writing and Communications.
Calgary-Cross: Seven candidates are seeking the PC nomination in this northeast Calgary constituency – Dan Singh Sidhu, Mohamed El-Rafih, Jesse Minhas, Manjit Jaswal, Hardeep Rai, Hirde Paul, and Bill Kahlon. The constituency has been represented by PC MLA Yvonne Fritz since 1993. She is not seeking re-election.
Calgary-Currie: Pat Murray is seeking the Liberal nomination. Mr. Murray was the Liberal Party candidate in Calary-Currie in the 2001 election and Calgary-North Hill in 2004 and 2008 elections. He also ran as a federal PC candidate in Calgary-Nose Hill in the 1997 federal election.
Calgary-Foothills: Electrical engineer Ali Bin Zahid is seeking the Liberal nomination to run against Premier Jim Prentice in the next election.
Calgary-Glenmore: David Waddington is the nominated Liberal Party candidate.
Calgary-Hawkwood: Beth Barberee has been nominated as the Alberta Party candidate.
Calgary-McCall: Realtor Avinash Khangura is seeking the Liberal nomination. The constituency is currently represented by Liberal MLA Darshan Kang, who is now the federal Liberal candidate in the Calgary-Skyview constituency.
Calgary-Mountain View: Former MLA Mark Hlady defeated Mr. Prentice’s former Chief of Staff Jean-Sebastien Rioux and Lynn Moen in the PC nomination. Mr. Hlady was the MLA from 1993 until 2004, when he was unseated by the current Liberal MLA, David Swann.
Calgary-North West: First-term PC MLA and former cabinet minister Sandra Jansen defeated past city council candidate Blair Houston in the PC nomination.
Calgary-Varsity: Stephanie McLean was nominated as the NDP candidate in this northwest Calgary constituency. Ms. McLean was the NDP candidate in the recent Calgary-Elbow by-election and is also her party’s federally nominated candidate in Calgary-Confederation. Paramedic Pete Helfrich is the nominated Liberal Party candidate. Mr. Helfrich ran for the Liberals in Banff-Cochrane in the 2012 election.
Chestermere-Rockyview: Jamie Lall is challenging Wildrose-turned-PC MLA Bruce McAllister for the PC nomination. Mr. Lall was his party’s 2012 candidate in the Calgary-Buffalo constituency.
Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview: First-term NDP MLA Deron Bilous has been acclaimed as his party’s candidate in the next election.
Edmonton-Calder: Ministerial Chief of Staff Tom Bradley has been acclaimed as the PC candidate in this northeast Edmonton constituency current represented by NDP MLA David Eggen. Mr. Bradley is currently the Chief of Staff to Infrastructure Minister Manmeet Bhullar and also served as Base Commander for CFB Edmonton from 2009 to 2011 and Chief of Operations for Task Force Kandahar in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2008.
Edmonton-Meadowlark: Steve Benson is challenging former Globe & Mail reporter Katherine O’Neill for the PC nomination. Former Catholic School District Trustee Debbie Cavaliere is said to been collecting signatures to contest the Liberal nomination. In 2008, Ms. Cavaliere challenged Raj Sherman in the Meadowlark PC nomination contest before withdrawing, switching parties and unsuccessfully running against him in that year’s election as the Liberal candidate. Dr. Sherman, who joined the Liberals in 2011 after becoming leader, is not seeking re-election.
Edmonton-Strathcona: NDP leader Rachel Notley has been acclaimed as her party’s candidate in the next election. Former NDP MP Olivia Chow is scheduled to speak at Ms. Notley’s nomination meeting on March 1, 2015.
Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo: Tracy McKinnon, chairperson of the Fort McMurray Catholic School District, is challenging first-term PC MLA Mike Allen for that party’s nomination. Mr. Allen achieved national notoriety in 2013 when he was charged in a prostitution sting while on government-funded trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota. He pleaded guilty to the charge in December 2013 and paid a $500 fine and court costs. Following the incident, he sat as an Independent MLA until July 2014, when PC MLAs voted to allow him to rejoin the Government Caucus.
Medicine Hat: Wildrose-turned-PC MLA Blake Pedersen defeated former city councillor John Hamill and realtor Jeff Lanigan. Mr. Pedersen faced harsh criticism form his opponents in a recent nomination debate. “I will die on my sword before I cross the floor… people who cross the floor have no honour,” Mr. Hamill said of Mr. Pedersen.
Peace River: Debbie Jabbour is seeking the NDP nomination.
Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: Tammy Cote defeated former Lacombe County Reeve Terry Engan in the PC nomination contest. Ms. Cote is the grand-niece of former PC MLA and lieutenant-governor Helen Hunley.
Spruce Grove-St. Albert: Rus Matichuk defeated former St. Albert city councillor Neil Kortash and government spokesperson Kathleen Range to become the PC candidate. The constituency was formerly represented by former Finance Minister Doug Horner, who resigned as MLA on Jan. 31, 2015.
Seven more PC MLAs have been acclaimed, bringing the total number of acclaimed PC candidates to 39: Moe Amery in Calgary-East, Dave Rodney in Calgary-Lougheed, David Dorward in Edmonton-Gold Bar, Steve Young in Edmonton-Riverview, Jacquie Fenske in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, Greg Weadick in Lethbridge-West and Richard Starke in Vermilion-Lloydminster.
I have added these updates to the list of nominees and nomination candidates planning to run in Alberta’s next general election. Please email david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com if there are additions to the list. Thank you.
Edmonton-South West PC MLA Matt Jeneroux mused that he is “taking time to reflect” about whether he should remain in the government caucus. Edmonton-Riverview MLA Steve Young, already , is also considering leaving the PC caucus.
Government House leader Robin Campbell says that PC MLAs are free to speak their mind. But the lack of discipline in the caucus suggests the real reason is that any attempt to silence the disgruntled MLAs could lead to a mass departure from the government caucus.
At a press conference held yesterday afternoon, party president Jim McCormick gave a luke-warm support for Ms. Redford’s leadership. Mr. McCormick also sent an email to PC Party supporters, explaining that the “work plan” issued to the premier last weekend does not exist on paper. There is no plan.
With the current situation in flux, here are four possible scenarios that could play out over the next few weeks:
Redford resigns – Pressure from her caucus and party results in Ms. Redford resigning as Premier of Alberta and leader of the PC Party. The disgruntled MLAs remain in the government caucus. An interim premier, possibly Deputy Premier Dave Hancock, is appointed and a leadership contest is scheduled. MLAs hope that a new leader can reinvent and reenergize their aging party before the next election.
Redford stays, more MLAs leave – Ms. Redford and her loyalists resist the pressure from disgruntled MLAs and supporters calling for the premier’s resignation. Some of the ten MLAs, possibly as many as ten, leave the PC caucus to sit as Independent MLAs, causing a severe rift in the party and the caucus.
“Kumbaya” – The disgruntled MLAs resolve their issues with Ms. Redford and she pledges to change her leadership style in order to improve her relationship with her caucus and party. The Tory dynasty continues as peace and harmony is returned to the government benches.
Conflict continues – Ms. Redford refuses to resign and the disgruntled MLAs continue to voice their discontent with the premier’s leadership style. The party and caucus are torn apart in the political fight. Wildrose leader Danielle Smith rejoices and leads her party to win the 2016 election.
Blasting the culture of entitlement that has engulfed the 43-year governing Progressive Conservative Party, Calgary-Varsity MLA Donna Kennedy-Glans announced on Monday that she was leaving the government caucus to sit as an Independent MLA. Ms. Kennedy-Glans is the second MLA to leave the PC caucus this month, but unlike the departure of Calgary-Foothills MLA Len Webber, she did not have a well-known history of dissatisfaction with the party’s leadership.
Since being elected, however, and particularly since joining Cabinet, I am increasingly convinced that elements of this 43-year old government are simply unable to make the changes needed to achieve that dream of a better Alberta. – Donna Kennedy-Glans
The now-former Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy was a star PC candidate in the 2012 election, and was seen as a rising star within the caucus. A former vice-president of Nexen, Ms. Kennedy-Glans decision to leave the PC caucus carries a significant amount of weight in Calgary’s corporate oil establishment, and her departure is a blow to Ms. Redford’s party.
Over the past 43 years, the PC Party has survived, and dominated, by reinventing itself with each new leader. As such, the PC Party has transformed drastically since the principled Peter Lougheed first led it to victory in 1971. Tied to its current unpopular leadership, the PC Party faces a serious identity crisis, but the crisis is deeper than its current leader. As a natural governing party for more than four decades, the PC Party in 2014 has become tired, arrogant and absent of real principles.
Albertans have an overwhelmingly low opinion of Ms. Redford’s character and they are scratching their heads wondering why the party has not yet compelled her to resign. Her aloof reaction to scandals over her personal use of government planes and travel expenses have overshadowed the government’s entire agenda over the past two months.
The PC Party had an opportunity to send Ms. Redford packing last year, when instead they handed her a 77% approval vote in her leadership review.
Now left with no official mechanism to remove her as leader, her opponents and her potential successors are forced to useeagerly using more public and more embarrassing methods to pressure Ms. Redford to resign.
Update: This morning on CBC Edmonton AM, Edmonton-South West PC MLA Matt Jeneroux mused that he is “taking time to reflect” about whether he should remain in the government caucus.
After spending two months avoiding having to pay the costs of her $45,000 trip to South Africa, Premier Alison Redford called a press conference late yesterday to announce she would reimburse the government for costs of sending herself and her executive assistant Brad Stables to South Africa in December 2013.
Ms. Redford argued that because she had apologized for the cost of the South Africa trip, Albertans were ready to forgive her, even if she did not repay the cost. Recent polls showing the premier with a 20% approval rating suggested otherwise.
Responding to their leader’s dwindling popularity, Progressive Conservative MLAs have pushed back. Calgary-Foothills MLA Len Webber announced today that he was leaving the PC caucus to sit as an Independent, citing Ms. Redford’s record as the reason for his departure. There is little love between the premier and this MLA, who is currently campaigning to become the federal Conservative candidate in Calgary-Confederation.
“I hope this will be a catalyst, a domino effect and that others will follow to have the premier gone,” Mr. Webber told the Calgary Herald.
Rumours about disgruntled MLAs have been circulating for months, but today, news reports suggest that up to 18 or 20 PC MLAs were ready to revolt against the premier. Feeding these rumours was the noticeable absence of Labour minister Thomas Lukaszuk from this week’s big LRT funding announcement, at which he was the only Edmonton-area PC MLA not in attendance.
Feeding the unrest is the obvious double standard Ms. Redford held between herself and her party’s MLAs. More than a few PC MLAs were insulted by Ms. Redford’s decision during the last election to force them to pay out of pocket for payments received from the infamous no-meet committee. And in February 2013, Ms. Redford fired Calgary MLA Christine Cusanelli from cabinet after another travel expenses scandal, even though she had immediately repaid the cost before the story became public.
Ms. Redford’s own MLAs may be more eager to see her depart than the opposition. While Wildrose leader Danielle Smith is never hesitant to criticize Ms. Redford, her party is hoping the premier’s scandals will cause irreparable damage to the PC Party brand before the next election. A new leader would force the opposition to build a new strategy and the give the PC Party an opportunity to reinvent itself before the 2016 election.
Will paying the costs of the South Africa trip be enough to save Ms. Redford’s political career? It might, but it also might also be too little, too late. Albertans will applaud her decision to pay back the costs of this trip, but they might not easily forget how much pressure it took to convince Ms. Redford to write the cheque.
About 2,000 Albertans from every corner of the province braved the -33C windchill yesterday to defend their modest pension plans at a rally in Edmonton’s Churchill Square. Many municipal and provincial employees are concerned that Finance minister Doug Horner‘s proposed changes to Alberta’s public sector pension plans could impact their retirement security.
Despite rhetoric about ‘gold-plated pension plans,’ the average full pension under the Local Authorities Pension Plan is only $15,000 per year.
After receiving a tip about a suspicious record in the Alberta Government Flight Manifests, I asked Ms. Redford on Twitter why a government plane flew empty to Palm Springs and returned to Calgary with her, her daughter and two members of her security detail onboard in April 2013.
Ms. Redford did not respond to my tweet, but her communications director Stefan Baranski did. He explained that the flight brought the premier back to Alberta from her vacation home in order to attend former premier Ralph Klein‘s memorial service.
While the cost of the $9,200 flight to and from Palm Springs is not as salacious as Ms. Redford’s $45,000 flight to South Africa, it is unclear why the premier did not return to Alberta on one of the many commercial flights available in the six days before the memorial service.
Speech from the Throne & Budget A Speech from the Throne will open the spring sitting of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly today at 3:00 p.m. The 2014 provincial budget will be tabled by Mr. Horner on the afternoon of Thursday, March 6.
NDP to nominate the first candidate of the 2016 election
As was first reported last week on this blog, the Alberta NDP will hold a candidate nomination meeting on March 4 in the Edmonton-Riverview constituency. The NDP are expected to nominate Lori Sigurdson, manager of professional affairs with the Alberta College of Social Workers, as their candidate. The constituency is currently represented by PC MLA Steve Young.
When former cop Steve Young was elected as the MLA for Edmonton-Riverview, it was considered to be a huge coup for the Progressive Conservatives. With Mr. Young as their candidate, the Tories succeeded in scooping the traditionally Liberal voting constituency previously represented by popular MLA Kevin Taft.
All indications suggest that Mr. Young has worked hard in his constituency since this election and most people who have met him, including this writer, will agree that he is a nice guy. And he had a bright political career ahead of him.
But as an MLA, and during his time as the Government Whip, he has been of mixed value to the governing Tories. Sometimes he has even been a source of embarrassment for the government.
The CBC reported this week that Mr. Young was under investigation by the RCMP while he was the PC candidate in the 2012 election. The CBC report stated that he “did not publicly disclose the criminal investigation and he also refused to cooperate with the RCMP after he resigned from the Edmonton Police Service.”
According to the CBC, the RCMP investigated Mr. Young’s and other officers involvement in the release of private information about a young offender as part of a public relations campaign. The young offender recently filed a lawsuit against Mr. Young and his former colleagues.
Mr. Young was criticized for his handling of a confusion confrontation between PC MLAs and Ms. Redford after the group of backbenchers on an MLA committee voted to recreate the MLA transition allowances that the premier publicly cancelled during the 2012 election.
As Government Whip, he helped Ms. Redford deal with the unrest in the PC caucus, but in December 2013, the premier suddenly dropped him from cabinet before he was even officially appointed.
One week after announcing that Mr. Young would serve as the Associate Minister for Public Safety, he was quietly removed from the list of ministers at the swearing-in ceremony. It was later suggested that he was dropped from cabinet because his involvement in an incident and investigation involving a taser during his time as a police officer.
With the recent news reports about the RCMP investigation during the last election, can Ms. Redford can allow Mr. Young to remain as part of the government? His criticism of Ms. Redford’s lavish travel costs may have bought him some time, but, according to one political insider, his opponents are already building a case to have him ejected from the PC caucus.
NDP to nominate Riverview candidate next week
Next week, the Alberta New Democrats are expected to nominate Lori Sigurdson as their candidate in Edmonton-Riverview for the 2016 election. As their first officially nominated candidate, the NDP hope the early start will help them build on their strong third-place finish in the last election (where Ms. Sigurdson tripled her party’s support in the constituency). With Mr. Young providing more ammunition for his election opponents each day, the NDP (and the Liberals) will have plenty of ammunition to use over the next two years.
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.
Because politics are unpredictable, forecasting the future can be a tricky business for pundits, but here is a list of a dozen Alberta MLAs worth watching in 2014.
Manmeet Bhullar (Calgary-Greenway): An up and comer in the PC ranks, Mr. Bhullar was rewarded for his time as the competent Service Alberta minister with an appointment as the minister of the downsized Human Services department. Tasked with the difficult challenge of spinning hundreds of foster care deaths into a positive story for the government, Mr. Bhuller is already on his way to becoming a media darling.
Deron Bilous (Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview): A rising star in the 4 member NDP caucus, the 38 year old first-term MLA has proven himself to be a well-spoken addition to the opposition benches. Entering his second year in the Assembly, Mr. Bilous could become a more prominent public face for his party. It is no surprise that he is continually named by New Democrats as a future leader of Alberta’s tiny and scrappy social democratic party.
Kent Hehr (Calgary-Buffalo): Serving his second-term as the MLA representing downtown Calgary, the talented Mr. Hehr is faced with a difficult question: are his political talents best served by sticking with the stuck-in-the-mud Liberal Party? His 2012 guest post on this blog supporting cooperation by centre-left parties caused a stir but was quickly shot down by his party’s leadership. With Alberta’s five Liberal MLAs acting more like a group of independents who share office space than representatives of a unified political movement, I wouldn’t be shocked if Mr. Hehr considers his alternatives in 2014.
Doug Horner (Spruce Grove-St. Albert): As Alberta’s Finance minister, Mr. Horner is tasked to deliver the Redford Government’s 2014 budget. An already expected budget deficit will be intensified as the government directs billions of dollars towards fixing the damage caused by last summer’s floods in southern Alberta. His future leadership aspirations could be at risk as he tries to balance funding for public programs with pressure from the conservative right to cut spending in Canada’s wealthiest province.
Fred Horne (Edmonton-Rutherford): As Health minister, Mr. Horne has imposed drastic administrative changes in Alberta Health Services, including firing the entire AHS board of directors and overseeing the departure of two consecutive AHS CEOs. Confusion inside the health care system has intensified as he continues to assert more political control over the province-wide health authority. It remains unclear what Mr. Horne’s new political control means for AHS. Maybe Albertans will find out in 2014?
Ken Hughes (Calgary-West): A close confident of Alison Redford, the former Energy minister was shuffled to Municipal Affairs to quell conflict created by the previous minister with rural leaders and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi. Having returned to electoral politics in 2012 after a 19 year hiatus (he served as the PC MP for Macleod from 1988 to 1993), he faces the challenge of fulfilling the province’s promise to create special big city charters for Calgary and Edmonton.
Thomas Lukaszuk (Edmonton-Castle Downs): As deputy premier and Advanced Education minister during last year’s budget cuts, Mr. Lukaszuk became the Redford government’s most recognizable face in the media. Now as Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour, he occupies a role that will see him undoubtably clash with the province’s public service unions. Two unions have already launched court challenges against the province’s new anti-labour laws. This likely will not stop the rumours that Mr. Lukaszuk hopes to one day become his party’s next leader and the next Premier of Alberta.
Diana McQueen (Drayton Valley-Devon): After serving as Alberta’s Environment minister (also known as the junior Energy minister), Ms. McQueen should be well versed in the portfolio she was appointed to in December’s cabinet shuffle. Some political watchers are skeptical of her ability to handle the all-important energy file and face upcoming debates on climate change and oilsands pipelines. Can she handle the pressure?
Shayne Saskiw (Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills): Rising star in the Wildrose official opposition and a potential future leader if Danielle Smith does not lead her party to victory in 2016. The young lawyer from rural Alberta is articulate and partisan, which I anticipate will lead him to play an even more prominent role in the opposition over the next year.
Kerry Towle (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake): A tough and outspoken critic of the government, Ms. Towle has become a familiar face of the Wildrose official opposition. As human services critic, she will face-off against Mr. Bhullar in the next session of the Assembly, which could be an entertaining pairing to watch. A good spokesperson and only one of three women in her party’s 17 MLA caucus, she could play a key role in softening her party’s hard-edged conservative reputation.
Len Webber (Calgary-Foothills): The former cabinet minister was shuffled to the backbenches after Ms. Redford became leader of the PC Party. With half of his PC MLA colleagues now sitting in some type of cabinet seat, you have to wonder what Mr. Webber did to deserve his permanent banishment. The government praised his private members bill to create an agency to coordinate organ and tissue donations, but will that be enough to keep him in the PC fold? Rumour has it that he is eyeing a federal Conservative nomination for the 2015 election. Steve Young (Edmonton-Riverview): Wronged by the premier and cast to the backbenches before he could officially enter a cabinet position he had been promised, Mr. Young’s future role in the PC caucus could be interesting. As a member of the conservative wing of the PC Party, he could cause trouble for the PC establishment in the backbenches. Elected to represent a traditionally Liberal-voting constituency that has been hit hard by university budget cuts, he could be vulnerable in the next election, which is why I don’t expect him to sit quietly for the next two years.
As reported yesterday on this blog, rumours that Ms. Redford would shuffle her cabinet before the Christmas break began to intensify this week. Today, those rumours proved to be true.
Built around the government’s “Building Alberta” slogan, today’s Government of Alberta press release boasts a new cabinet that will focus on “innovation and economic growth.” And it signals a growth in numbers of Ms. Redford’s cabinet as well. The size of the cabinet will now be 30 MLAs, up from 27 MLAs in the previous cabinet. There are a total of 59 MLAs in the Progressive Conservative caucus.
Here is a description of some major changes in Alberta’s provincial cabinet:
Dave Hancock: Appointed Deputy Premier and moved from Human Services to Innovation and Advanced Education. Moving Mr. Hancock back to the Advanced Education portfolio he filled from 2004 to 2006 likely signals that Ms. Redford recognizes the need to repair the damage done to Alberta’s colleges and universities under its previous minister. The deep budget cuts imposed by Ms. Redford’s government in 2012 damaged both the post-secondary education system and the government’s relationship the leaders in that system. A well-known policy wonk and party loyalist, Mr. Hancock will be tasked with smoothing over those hard feelings.
Thomas Lukaszuk: The bull-dog of the Progressive Conservative caucus lost his Deputy Premier title and is moved from Enterprise & Advanced Education to a new Jobs, Skills, Training, and Labour portfolio. As Ms. Redford’s ‘heavy-hand’ in cabinet, it is likely that Mr. Lukaszuk will be tasked with imposing controversial new laws on Alberta’s public sector unions.
Manmeet Bhullar: Moved from Service Alberta to Human Services. This is a big promotion, as Human Services is a large ministry that represents a multitude of components of government services. Mr. Bhullar performed well as Minister of Service Alberta, but this portfolio will present a significant challenge to the new minister.
Diana McQueen: Moved from Environment & Sustainable Resource Development to Energy. With an increased focus on the government’s agenda to support the Keystone XL, Enbridge Northern Gateway and Energy East pipelines, the capable Ms. McQueen is well-armed with arguments to use in advocating for these projects in Canada and the United States.
Robin Campbell: Moved from Aboriginal Relations to Environment & Sustainable Resource Development, a high-profile position which is closely linked with the Energy portfolio. He is also now the Government House leader, a role that has been filled by Mr. Hancock for quite some time.
Doug Griffiths: Demoted from Municipal Affairs to Service Alberta. As Municipal Affairs Minister, Mr. Griffiths stumbled through the high profile items in his portfolio, making his demotion almost inevitable. As minister of the tiny Service Alberta department, Mr. Griffiths will have less chance to embarrass the government and an opportunity to redeem himself in cabinet.
Ken Hughes: Moved from Energy to Municipal Affairs. While this move could easily be seen as a demotion, Mr. Hughes, a trusted confident of Ms. Redford’s, will have an important role in repairing the provincial government’s strained relationship with its municipal leaders – both in the large cities and rural municipalities.
Frank Oberle: Promoted from Associate Minister of Services for Persons with Disabilities to a full-cabinet position as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. Mr. Oberle previously served as Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security and Minister of Sustainable Resource Development.
Wayne Drysdale: Moved from Infrastructure to Transportation, replacing Ric McIver.
Ric McIver: Moved from Transportation to Infrastructure, replacing Wayne Drysdale.
Steve Young: Left his position as Government Whip to become Associate Minister of Public Safety, a new position.
Donna Kennedy-Glans: Departed the backbenchers to become Associate Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, a new position.
George VanderBurg: Appointed the Government Whip. Lost his position as Associate Minister of Seniors. Mr. VanderBurg had previously served as Minister of Government Services, Minister of Seniors, and Acting Minister of Innovation and Science.
A curious addition to the list of cabinet positions in the press release included the Progressive Conservative Caucus Chair, Maureen Kubinec. This appears to be a new addition to the cabinet, though the release was unclear what role this MLA will have at the cabinet table, as there now only remain 29 PC MLAs not included in the list of cabinet positions.
In a strange departure from the non-partisan politics of civic elections, it appeared for a moment today that three main candidates in Edmonton’s mayoral election were headlining a fundraiser for a Progressive Conservative Party constituency association. Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths was even slated as its host.
Once the event came to the attention of the general public, it appears to have fallen apart.
First, Mr. Griffiths withdrew from hosting the event, probably a wise move for a minister who will have to work with whichever candidate is elected. Then, mayoral candidate Don Iveson announced on Twitter that he was withdrawing from the forum. An organizer inside the Iveson campaign said a miscommunication led them to believe the candidate forum would be separate of the fundraising program for the evening.
.@Paulatics I will NOT be participating in any partisan #ableg fundraising #yegvote event. It was not clear to me it was a fundraiser. (1/2)
According to the Edmonton-Riverview PC Party website (see above for screenshot), mayoral candidates Kerry Diotte, Karen Leiboviciand Mr. Ivesonwere to participate in a forum as part of a $150 per ticket fundraiser for the local PC Party association at the posh Mayfair Golf & Country Club on October 9. Visitors to the website are invited to fill out an online form to purchase tickets and receive a tax receipt for their political donation.
At the fundraiser candidates would be asked “How will the new Mayor get along with Alberta’s Progressive Conservative government?”
Outgoing mayor Stephen Mandel was critical of Premier Alison Redford‘s Tories after they implemented deep budget cuts to post-secondary institutions in this year’s provincial budget. The 2013/2014 provincial budget cut cut $147 million in funding to Alberta’s post-secondary education system. The budget cuts have forced colleges and universities across Alberta to cut staff, programs, and enrolment in order to deal with the financial shortfall.
Edmonton-Riverview is currently represented by PC MLA and Government Whip Steve Young, who was elected in last year’s election. The University of Alberta exists within the boundaries of Edmonton-Riverview and many academic staff live in the constituency.
It seems unusual that the candidates would agree to step into a partisan event in the middle of a non-partisan election campaign, but it may speak to how far each of the main three mayoral contenders are willing to go to seek out potential voters.
Still, it is concerning to this political watcher that the three candidates would be willing to have their names used as a pitch for a provincial political party event. And not just any political party, the governing party.
While this could certainly raise the ire of partisans affiliated with the Wildrose, New Democrats and Liberals, after more than forty years on continuous PC Party majority governments, there is a reality that whoever gets elected will have to work with them for at least the next three years.
The Progressive Conservatives earned 40% of the vote in Edmonton and hold twelve of the capital city’s nineteen provincial constituencies (one former Tory, Edmonton-Manning MLA Peter Sandhu, now sits as an Independent).
Update: Mr. Young announces the mayoral forum is now cancelled:
Decided not to include a #yeg mayoral debate on Oct 9 event. We only wanted to promote discussion. Good luck to all candidates.
The only reason that we agreed to participate it because our opponents agreed to. We’re not participating. We will debate our opponents on the issues anywhere, anytime on any subject. We have more experience than they have because this election matters.