“I believe without a doubt that Red Deer-North, and all of Alberta, can thrive under the NDP,” Tweedle said in a statement.
“I will work to ensure our community has access to quality healthcare, a world class public education system, long-term job growth and opportunities for our children, supports and dignity for our most vulnerable, and ensure affordability for families with a competent government steering the ship.”
Tweedle is a former oilfield administrator and was a candidate for the Red Deer Public School Board in 2021.
Lawyer Andrea James has already announced her plans to run for the UCP nomination and there is speculation in political circles that former City Councillor and mayoral candidate Jeff Davison could also seek the nomination.
Calling a by-election in a safe rural seat so a potential future Premier Smith can get into the Legislative while also not calling a by-election in the already vacant riding sounds like a pretty good way of helping the UCP lose the seat in the next election.
The NDP have now nominated candidates in 55 of Alberta’s 87 electoral districts. As previously noted, it appears as though the UCP have paused the nomination process until after their new leader is selected on October 6. The Alberta Party has nominated three candidates.
So where I grew up, the Cowichan Valley, is a big resource area. My dad’s in forestry, as are a lot of people I know. And when I was born, in 1975, Tommy Douglas was our MP for one term—which I didn’t know until I got elected. So it makes sense why we were usually NDP. We were labour and blue collar, right? That said, my parents always told me, “Get informed. It doesn’t matter who you vote for but make sure you understand why.”
If successful in his nomination bid, Anderson would face Green Party MP Paul Manly when the next federal election is called. Manly was first elected in a May 2019 by-election and is the son of former NDP MP James Manly.
Anderson continues the long-tradition of Alberta politicians jumping into electoral politics in British Columbia.
Former Calgary-Bow Progressive Conservative MLA Alana DeLong was the BC Liberal candidate in Nanaimo-North Cowichan in the 2017 provincial election and the Conservative candidate in Cowichan-Malahat-Langford in the 2019 federal election.
Former cabinet minister and Red Deer-North PC MLA Stockwell Day ran in Okanagan-Coquihalla after becoming leader of the Canadian Alliance and served as MP until 2011.
One-time St. Albert NDP candidate Michelle Mungall served as the NDP MLA for Nelson-Creston from 2009 to 2020 and in various cabinet roles during this period.
Michael Charrois, who ran for the NDP in Edmonton-Castle Downs in the 2001 election, was the federal NDP candidate in North Vancouver in 2008 and 2011 and the BC NDP candidate in North Vancouver-Seymour in 2017.
Former Edmonton-Belmont NDP MLA Tom Sigurdson ran for the BC NDP nomination in Burnaby-Willingdon ahead of the 2005 provincial election.
Former Slave Lake mayor Val Meredith served as the Reform Party MP for South Surrey—White Rock—Langley and Surrey—White Rock—South Langley from 1993 to 2004. Meredith has since moved to Calgary and is now leading the candidate selection committee for the separatist Maverick Party.
Former Edmonton mayor Vincent Dantzer served as the PC MP for Okanagan North from 1980 to 1988.
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.
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.
Before entering federal politics, he was president of the India Canada Association of Calgary, ran for a City Council seat in a 1993 by-election and ran for the PC nomination in Calgary-Montrose in 1996.
Obhrai faced a brief nomination challenge from former Calgary-East PC MLA Moe Amery but he was eventually acclaimed as his party’s candidate in the October 2019 election. Amery’s son, Mickey, is now the UPC MLA for Calgary-Cross.
The Conservatives will need to select a new candidate to succeed Obhrai in the upcoming federal election.
Former Alberta MLA running for the federal Conservatives on Vancouver Island
She travelled to Alberta during the 2019 provincial election to campaign for Calgary-Bow UCP candidate Demetrios Nicolaides.
DeLong is not the first former Alberta politician to try their hand at federal politics west of the Rockies.
Former provincial treasurer Stockwell Day is perhaps the most recognizable example of former Alberta politician jumping into federal politics in British Columbia, but he is not alone. Former Edmonton mayor Vincent Dantzer served as the MP for Okanagan-North from 1980 to 1988, former Slave Lake mayor Val Meredith served as MP for Surrey-White Rock-South Langley from 1993 to 2004, and Werner Schmidt, who led Alberta’s Social Credit Party from 1973 to 1975, later served as the MP for Okanagan-Centre and Kelowna from 1993 to 2006.
Katherine Swampy was nominated as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Centre. Swampy is a councillor with the Samson Cree Nation, member of the board of directors for Peace Hills Trust, and previously ran for the NDP in the 2015 provincial and federal elections.
Nigel Logan was nomination as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Mill Woods. Logan previously ran for Edmonton City Council and has worked as a constituency assistant for Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MP Linda Duncan.
Patrick Steuber has been nominated as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-West.
Lito Velasco is seeking the Liberal nomination in Edmonton-Wetaskiwin. He is the editor of the Alberta Filipino Journal.
Artist and motivational speaker Jesse Lipscombe is seeking the Liberal nomination in St. Albert- Edmonton. Lipscombe is well known for his work with the #MakeItAwkward campaign and is the grandson of Edmonton Eskimos star player Rollie Miles.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for additions or updates related to candidate nominations in Alberta and I will add them to the list. Thank you!
When I first heard about the controversy swelling around United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney‘s former domestic arrangements, I was very reluctant to write about or event comment on the issue. It even took me a few days to be convinced that it might be more than just the political pot-shot of the week.
Kenney’s past domestic arrangements ballooned into a big political issue this week when it was revealed that, for a period of time while serving in Ottawa, the former seven-term MP and senior cabinet minister designated the basement of his parents home in a Calgary retirement community as his primary residence.
During his time in Ottawa from 1997 to 2016, Kenney appears to have always designated his primary residence in Calgary, which is to be expected even if he did not spend much time in the city during his time as a senior cabinet minister. This is probably not uncommon for a lot of MPs or cabinet ministers. But it did mean he was eligible for a $900 per month subsidy to pay for the cost of his secondary residence in Ottawa.
There is no hard evidence that Kenney actual broke any House of Commons rules – rules written by MPs for MPs – but his decision to declare his primary residence as the basement of his parents house in a Calgary retirement community is… very unusual, to say the least.
Then there is also the related issue of Kenney donating $399.00 to the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party while his primary residence was in Alberta, an act he was prohibited from doing unless he was a resident of Ontario.
The only reason Albertans are talking about this controversy, and why I am writing about it, is Ottawa-based lawyer Kyle Morrow, who for the past few months has been sharing a treasure-trove of research and political criticisms of Kenney on social media. Morrow is originally from Alberta and was the Liberal Party candidate in Lacombe-Ponoka in the 2012 provincial election. But from his political perch in Ottawa, Morrow has been researching and tweeting all sorts of tidbits and information about Kenney from his 19 years as an Ottawa politician.
The UCP and the usual cast of characters, including Postmedia columnists Licia Corbella and Rick Bell, quickly leapt to Kenney’s defence, claiming that this was an unfair personal attack by Morrow against Kenney and his elderly mother, and dismissing anyone who attacks the party leader as a victim of Kenney Derangement Syndrome.
The furious response by the UCP leads me to believe that Morrow hit a very sensitive nerve by raising this issue. Despite it already being part of Kenney’s public record from his time in Ottawa, the party clearly did not like it being talked about at all. But the tone and volume of their response has only drawn more attention to the issue.
All this political ruckus does raise the question about what a young Jason Kenney, who burst onto Alberta’s political scene in the early 1990s in the form of an aggressive anti-tax crusader, would have to say about the unusual living arrangements of his senior self. There is more than a little bit of irony that Kenney made a name for himself at the start of his political career as a fierce critic of Progressive Conservative excess, including PC MLAs who were themselves twisted in knots over their own housing expense scandal before the 1993 election.
This is not the first time Kenney has faced controversy over his MP expenses. In 2001, he was criticized for spending $121,000 on taxpayer funded flights for MPs, in part, to allegedly campaign for Stockwell Day‘s bid to retain the leadership of the Canadian Alliance.
But like that controversy, I doubt this will damage Kenney’s electoral prospects to any significant extent.
Kenney’s UCP is sitting with a mighty comfortable lead over the NDP in every public poll that has been released in the past year and the party raised a whopping $3,922,950.21 in the final four months of 2018.
And it is possible that Kenney’s critics have jumped the shark.
The fairly wonkish details that surround Kenney’s unusual housing arrangements make it difficult to explain in easy and short soundbites and will likely be lost on most Alberta voters. Some political watchers have expressed the opinion that it could be seen as a witch-hunt gone too far and an issue that allows Kenney to highlight his relationship with his family, which is not a side we have seen since the career politician jumped back into provincial politics in 2017.
While this story did not originate from the New Democratic Party, it does fit with the hit-a-week the governing party has been launching at Kenney for more than the past year. And while there is hope among the NDP that the growing number of controversies will develop into a narrative around Kenney and the UCP, none of the individual controversies, even ones that are easier to explain, appear to be hitting the intended target.
These two major election defeats shattered many common beliefs about politics in Alberta and Canada. In both cases, Conservative parties were defeated by parties promising moderate progressive platforms that included tax increases and significant increases to public infrastructure investment and explicit commitments to run deficit budgets, for at least the short-term period in the case of the NDP. In Alberta, both the PC Party and NDP promised various tax increases.
On the final Sunday of the federal election campaign, Mr. Trudeau spoke to an energetic crowd of more than 2,000 supporters in the Edmonton-Mill Woods riding, home of now elected Liberal MP Amarjeet Sohi. During his speech, he explained to the crowd that if the Liberals were elected on Oct. 19, that they would raise taxes by asking Canada’s wealthiest income earners “to pay just a little bit more.”
If these words sounded familiar to anyone in the crowd, it’s because they might have heard Ms. Notley deliver nearly the exact same message five months earlier when speaking to similarly energized crowds during the provincial election. And they in both cases, the message resonated with the crowd, and on election day with voters.
These tax increases and other changes brought in by the NDP have not been without their critics, some more vocal and violent than others. But perhaps the biggest irony of these criticisms is that even with the tax increases brought in by Ms. Notley’s NDP, corporate and small business tax rates are still lower than they were when Mr. Day served in Premier Ralph Klein‘s cabinet.
While taxes might not have been the only issue that drove voters to the polls, it didn’t drive them away. These two elections have shattered the myth cultivated by conservative politicians, newspaper columnists, think tanks and lobby groups for decades that promising to increase taxes is political kryptonite.
As Rachel Notley proved on May 5 and Justin Trudeau showed on Oct. 19, voters in 2015 are willing to reward political leaders who present smart, sensible and responsible plans for increased taxation and government revenue.
There are 84 days until the October 19, 2015 federal election. Here is the latest news from federal candidate nomination updates in ridings across Alberta.
Calgary-Confederation: Noel Keough has entered the NDP nomination contest. He will face Arti Modgill, Kirk Heuser and Marc Power. Dr. Keough is an assistant professor of urban design at the University of Calgary. Earlier this year Dr. Keough withdrew his name from the ballot as the Green Party candidate in Calgary-Klein to endorse provincial NDP candidate Craig Coolahan. Mr. Coolahan defeated Progressive Conservative MLA Kyle Fawcett by 40.2% to 26.6%.
Calgary-Heritage: Artist and country music singer Matt Masters Burgener is seeking the NDP nomination to run against Prime Minister Stephen Harper in southwest Calgary. Mr. Burgener is the son of former PC MLA Jocelyn Burgener, who represented Calgary-Currie from 1993 to 2001.
Calgary-Midnapore: Three candidates will contest the Liberal Party nomination scheduled for July 28. Candidates include Haley Brown, Harbaksh Sekhon and Tanya MacPherson. Mr. Sekhon was the Liberal candidate in Calgary-Hawkwood in the recent provincial election.
Edmonton-Riverbend: Registered Nurse Ruth Alexander,Meheret Worku and University of Alberta Engineering Professor Brian Fleck is seeking the NDP nomination. Dr. Fleck was the provincial NDP candidate in Edmonton-Whitemud in 2004. Edmonton realtor Sandy Pon has entered the Conservative Party nomination contest triggered by the retirement of Member of Parliament James Rajotte. Also contesting the nomination are former PC MLA Matt Jeneroux and past Wildrose candidate Ian Crawford.
Edmonton-West: Former Edmonton Public School Trustee Heather MacKenzie defeated hotel manager Jim Hill to win the NDP nomination. Ms. Mackenzie represented west Edmonton’s Ward E on the public school board from 2010 to 2013. She has been endorsed by Catholic School Trustee Patricia Grell, former public trustee Dave Colburn and current public trustee and former NDP MLA Ray Martin.
Lakeland: Duane Zaraska has been nominated as the NDP candidate in this northeast Alberta rural riding. Mr. Zaraska is Vice-President of Region 2 of the Metis Nation of Alberta.
Red Deer-Lacombe: Registered Nurse Doug Hart is expected to enter the NDP nomination contest. As the NDP candidate in Lacombe-Ponoka in provincial election, Mr. Hart finished with 30.1% behind Wildrose candidate Ron Orr with 35.7%. Mr. Hart will face former provincial NDP candidate Katherine Swampy for the nomination.
Red Deer-Mountain View: Lawyer Gary Wanless is seeking the NDP nomination. Mr. Wanless was the lawyer for Red Deer lawyer Robert Goddard, who, in 1999, filed a defamation lawsuit against former MLA and federal party leader Stockwell Day for comments he made in a letter to a local newspaper. Mr. Wanless has withdrawn his name from the NDP nomination contest. Public School Trustee Dianne McCauley is seeking the NDP nomination.
St. Albert-Edmonton: Aretha Greatrix is challenging Darlene Malayko for the NDP nomination. Ms. Greatrix is the Chair of the Wicihitowin Circle of Shared Responsibility and Stewardship and a member of a working group of Mayor Don Iveson’s Poverty Elimination Task Force.
I have added these updates to the list of nominees and nomination candidates planning to run in Canada’s 2015 general election in Alberta. Please email david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com if there are additions to the list. Thank you.
“If Alberta can deliver a budget, why can this minister of finance not,” Liberal MP Scott Brison asked of Finance Minister Joe Oliver, who was absent from the House of Commons today. Opposition Members of Parliament have been chastizing the Conservatives for refusing to set a date for when this year’s federal budget will be released even after Alberta and Saskatchewan have released their provincial budgets.
In the Conservative-heartland of Alberta, despite months of doom and gloom warnings triggered by low oil prices, Progressive Conservative Premier Jim Prentice and Finance Minister Robin Campbell did not present the budget filled with the massive across the board cuts many Albertans were expecting.
The PCs are once again running a deficit budget, as Alberta has in every budget since 2008, even during times when oil prices were high. Despite the Ralph Klein-era mythology of Alberta as a deficit adverse province, it has become the norm in provincial financing.
Funding cuts to health care and education will not have a positive impact on Albertans. Politicians claim the cuts will not impact front-line services but it is unclear how cuts like this can not impact the front-line services that Albertans depend on. Although the price of oil has declined, our provincial population is still growing and demand for health and education services has not decreased.
“We’re going to see more students arriving at the school doorsteps with no new money provided to educate them,” Edmonton Public School Board chairperson Michael Janz told Metro Edmonton. “I don’t think this is a good news budget for Edmonton public schools.”
The budget introduces a new health care levy, which appears to be similar to a health care premium that existes until the PCs cancelled the tax in 2009. Despite its name, the previously incarnation of health care premiums were directed into the province’s general revenue pool, not directly towards the health care budget.
The single-rate 10 percent flat-tax, a strange and short-sighted policy championed by former Finance Ministers Steve West and Stockwell Day in the early 2000s, appears to have been died. Minor tax rate increases are being introduced for Albertans earning more than $100,000 and $250,000 annually. According to the Parkland Institute, the flat-tax reduced government revenue by $5 billion annually from pre-2001 rates.
Sin taxes, gas taxes and user fees increased in the budget mean life will become a little more expensive for drinkers, smokers and drivers in Alberta. A previously existing alcohol tax was implemented then almost immediately reversed in the 2009 budget, which reduced government revenues by $180 million per year.
Personal taxes and fees are increasing but Alberta’s low corporate taxes will not be increased. Despite having the lowest corporate taxes in the country by far, for Conservatives there appears to never be a good time to raise taxes for corporations.
When the economy is slower, Conservatice politicians argue tax increases would cause corporations to layoff workers. When the economy is booming, politicians argue tax increases would cause corporations to stop investing.
The truth is that Alberta could raise tax rates by $11 billion annually and would still have the lowest tax rate in Canada.
In Alberta, we hear a lot from our political leaders about tough economic times, even when times are prosperous. In advance of an expected spring election, our politicians are managing voters’ expectations and positioning themselves to take credit as ‘prudent fiscal managers’ when the world-wide price of oil inevitably increases.
Without the massive cuts that were expected, it could be tough for the opposition parties to campaign against this budget in the upcoming election. After four decades in power, it is difficult to envision the PC Party actually fixing Alberta’s long-standing revenue problems, but this budget will not stand in the way of Mr. Prentice easily extending his party’s next four years as government.
“Rat-free, PST-free and Liberal-free” has been a Conservative mantra in Alberta since the reign of Pierre Elliott Trudeau. But is this trifecta now in jeopardy?
The decline of government revenues caused by the drop in the price of oil has once again sparked the discussion around resource diversification and tax increases in Alberta. And with talk of economic doom and gloom, Premier Jim Prentice is managing expectations and preparing Albertans for the upcoming provincial budget and likely a Spring provincial election.
Will the budget include deep funding cuts or tax increases? Under most circumstances, deep budget cuts would be the natural choice for the long-governing Progressive Conservatives, but there is growing speculation that Mr. Prentice could be softening the ground for the introduction of a Provincial Sales Tax (PST) in Alberta.
At a 2013 provincial fiscal summit, economist Bob Ascah suggested that a 1 per cent sales tax could raise $750 million in annual revenue for the provincial government. Diversifying income sources with a five or six per cent sales tax could help soften the blow of the dreaded $7 billion gap that Mr. Prentice has warned will face the provincial budget if oil prices do not increase by next year.
Late last year, Mr. Prentice declared in a speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce that he would not consider introducing a PST, but the Premier has changed his tune in 2015, saying that everything is on the table.
In the aftermath of the last major economic downturn in June 2008, when the price of oil dropped from a high of $145 per barrel in July to a low of $30 per barrel in December 2008, PC cabinet ministers like Doug Griffithsopenly mused about PST. When prices increased, resource royalties once again poured in provincial coffers and Alberta’s political class moved away from the PST discussion.
Facing a decline in the price of oil in 1984, Premier Peter Lougheed publicly mused about introducing a sales tax, but did not act on it.
The Alberta Taxpayer Protection Act, introduced by Premier Ralph Klein in 1995, states that a referendum must be held before a Provincial Sales Tax can be introduced. The PCs have shown in the past that they have no problem sweeping away old laws like this one. In 2009, the PC government amended their much touted Fiscal Responsibility Act which prohibited deficit budgets in order to pass a deficit budget.
Relying on a boom-bust economy, a real lack of long-term financial planning has been the biggest weakness of the 43-year governing PC Party.
The introduction of a PST would be a bold and courageous move – one that could land Mr. Prentice in Alberta’s history books beside statesmen like Mr. Lougheed and Ernest Manning. And while under normal circumstances this would be a kiss of death to a Premier’s political career, we may now be witnessing a once in a lifetime opportunity to introduce a sales tax.
The Wildrose Opposition is both leaderless and in complete disarray, and the opposition New Democrats and Liberals could have a difficult time protesting a move that could majorly diversify the government’s revenue stream. And with the departure of Derek Fildebrandt late last year, the local Tax Outrage Industry is lacking a major spokesperson.
As reported on David Climenhaga‘s blog, Conference Board of Canada chief economist Glen Hodgson also weighed in on Alberta’s tax dilemma: “Not having a provincial consumption or sales tax is highly popular and has been great politics, but it denies the provincial government a steady and stable source of revenue through the business cycle.”
To get a grasp of how embarrassingly low our tax rates current are in Alberta, Kevin Taft in his 2012 book, Follow the Money, says that Alberta could increase its tax rates by $11 billion and would still have the lowest tax rate in Canada.
Critics will argue that a sales tax would unfairly penalize low income Albertans, and they are right. The government should also scrap the short-sighted flat tax and return to a real progressive income tax system. Alberta is currently the only province with a Flat Tax, the odd-ball brain child of former Treasurer Stockwell Day.
While Albertans look with envy at Norway’s $900 billion petroleum fund, it could be decades before our government imposes meaningful increases in natural resource royalties. The PCs bowed to political pressure from the oil and gas industry and paid a significant political price when trying to implement meaningful increases to resource revenues in the late 2000s.
The strongest opposition to the introduction of a PST may come from inside the PC caucus. Many PC MLAs are said to be unconvinced that Albertans would support a PST, and the presence of 11 anti-tax former Wildrose MLAs in the government caucus could stiffen the opposition from within. Skeptical MLAs would probably be correct that they will receive a blowback from Albertans in the short-term, but the right decisions are not necessarily the most popular when they are initially implemented. And without a credible government-in-waiting, now could be the the only time the PCs could implement a PST.
Alberta should strive to remain rat-free forever, but on the revenue front, we need to break our dependency on resource revenues that cripple our provincial government each time there is a hiccup in the market.
The controversial appointment of unelected Gordon Dirks as Education minister caught many Albertans by surprised this week. As the former chairman of the Calgary Board of Education, he is well-known to educators in that city, but not to the rest of Alberta. Before moving to Calgary, he served as a Progressive Conservative MLA in the Saskatchewan Legislature from 1980 to 1986 (during that time he was a minister in Premier Grant Devine’s cabinet).
In a the comment section of a previous column, a reader asked whether I knew of any other examples of politicians who have served in more than one provincial legislature, or in more than one province’s cabinet. It is not uncommon for politicians to serve as MLA or municipal politician in one province and then jump into a different level of politics in another (i.e.: Tommy Douglas, Stockwell Day, Val Meredith and Glen Murray, to name a few), but the jump from provincial politics in one jurisdiction to provincial politics in another is much less common.
Gulzar Cheema served as a Liberal MLA in Manitoba from 1988 to 1993 and later was elected to serve in the British Columbia Legislature from 2001 to 2004. Clive Tanner was a Yukon MLA in 1970s and was later elected as the B.C. Liberal MLA for Saanich North and the Islands in the 1991 election.
While I am sure there may be more, in Alberta’s political history, I found two examples.
Duncan Marshall was an MLA in Alberta from 1909 to 1921 (where he served as Minister of Agriculture) and an MPP in Ontario from 1934 to 1937 (where he also served as Minister of Agriculture). He was appointed to the Senate by William Lyon Mackenzie King in 1938.
Alexander Mackay served in Ontario’s Legislature from 1902 to 1913 and in Alberta’s Legislature from 1913 to 1920. He was leader of the Official Opposition Liberals in Ontario from 1907 to 1911 and later served as Alberta’s first Health Minister.
There are a few more recent examples of individuals who have tried to be elected in provincial legislatures in different provinces, but have been unsuccessful. For example, Michelle Mungall was the NDP candidate in St. Albert in the 2001 provincial election and, in 2009, she was elected as the NDP MLA for Nelson-Creston in B.C. And Roger Coles was a Yukon MLA and leader of the territorial Liberal Party in the 1980s. He later ran as a Liberal in Drayton Valley-Calmar in Alberta’s 2001 election.
If Mr. Dirks is successfully elected to the Alberta Legislature in an upcoming by-election, his name will be added to the small group of inter-provincial political jumpers in Canadian history.
It is suspected that Mr. Dirks will either run in a by-election in Calgary-Elbow, until recently represented by former Premier Alison Redford, or in another, safer constituency, for the PC Party. Some political watchers have predicted that Calgary-West MLA Ken Hughes may resign to allow Mr. Dirks to run in a by-election in that constituency.
(Thank you to all the daveberta.ca readers who helped me compile this list)
In advance of the impending by-election (or by-elections), I have taken a look at the nine provincial by-elections that have been held over the past twenty-years in Alberta.
Only two of the nine by-elections have resulted in constituencies changing hands between different political parties. Those two by-elections, Calgary-Elbow in 2007 (won by Liberal Craig Cheffins) and Calgary-Glenmore in 2009 (won by the Wildroser Paul Hinman), were followed by general elections which resulted in PC candidates recapturing the seats for their party.
With the exception of Edmonton-Highlands, which elected current NDP leader Brian Mason in a 2000 by-election, PC candidates were elected in each of the other eight constituencies in the following general election.
In the six by-elections where there had previously been a PC MLA, the governing party saw its percentage of the vote decline. This occurred most drastically in the 2009 Calgary-Glenmore by-election, where the PC candidate support dropped by 24.7% compared to the previous general election (the Wildrose saw its share of support increase by 28.8% in that by-election).
Voter turnout ranged from a low of 20.4% in the 2000 Red Deer-North by-election, held to replace PC MLA Stockwell Day who resigned to run for the leadership of the Canadian Alliance, to 45.5% in the 1996 Redwater by-election, held to replace Liberal MLA Nick Taylorwho had been appointed to the Canadian Senate.
Mr. Prentice has publicly said that he plans to run in a by-election in his home city of Calgary, but not in former Premier Alison Redford‘s now unrepresented Calgary-Elbow constituency. Third-term PC MLA Neil Brown has said that he would resign to allow the new premier to run in a by-election in the Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill constituency.
There has also been some speculation that Calgary-Klein MLA Kyle Fawcett could resign to allow Mr. Prentice to run in a constituency overlapped by his former federal riding of Calgary-Centre North.
It is not uncommon for government leaders to have advance staff, but in this case, like so many of the decisions that led to Ms. Redford’s downfall, it appears to have been done in secret (the cost of the staffer and their travel was not included in the publicly available travel expenses disclosures).
If advance work was indeed required, and there are reasons why this could be the case, it is hard to understand why the Premier’s Office would not simply hire the services of a consultant in the country or city Ms. Redford was planning to visit. Was it really necessary to hire a dedicated employee for this task?
Similar comments were made by Ms. Redford during her run for the PC Party leadership and during the 2012 election. Soon after, the PC government turned on public sector workers, threatening to legislate the contracts of teachers and public service employees and attacking their pensions. Mr. Prentice will need to follow his words with actions.
Mr. Prentice also said he will accelerate the construction of new school buildings, a promise that was originally made by Ms. Redford, but recently downplayed by Infrastructure Minister Wayne Drysdale last week. In a stunning admission, Mr. Drysdale told the media that the P3 (Public-Private Partnership) option for building the new schools was too expensive.
But when it comes to governance of the education system, it is not clear what role Mr. Prentice believes locally elected school boards and municipalities should play in this decision making process, as they face intense growth pressures to raise new schools and shutter others.
Another prime target for a demotion in Mr. Prentice’s cabinet is Finance Minister Doug Horner, whose budget reporting structure was today the target of an open-letter from a group of retired Tory politicians.
During the campaign, Mr. Barlow faced severe opposition from Canada’s gun lobby for his defence of RCMP actions during last year’s flood in High River. The National Firearms Association waded into the debate and urged Conservatives to support Ms. Mathieson and Mr. Rowland.
Mr. Barlow was the Progressive Conservative candidate in Highwood in the 2012 election, where he faced off against Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith. In that race, he earned 8,159 votes to Ms. Smith’s 10,094 votes.
Dustin Fuller is the first person to declare a candidacy for the Liberal nomination in Macleod. Wascana Liberal MP Ralph Goodale is expected to visit the Macleod next week for a meet and greet in Okotoks. Mr. Goodale will also attend an event in Calgary-Centre.
A nomination date has not yet been announced, but the cutoff to purchase a Liberal membership to vote in the contest is March 13, 2014.
Hoping to gain support in the by-election, the Liberals have focused resources on the diverse and energy rich northern Alberta riding. Liberal MPs Rodger Cuzner and Marc Garneauwill headline a $250 a plate fundraising dinner in Fort McMurray on March 18. Last month, Labrador Liberal MP Yvonne Jones visited Fort McMurray to meet with local members.
Meanwhile, rumours continue to circulate about whether former PC turned Wildrose MLA Guy Boutilier will jump into federal politics as the Conservative candidate. Tim Moenannounced last week that he plans to run for the Libertarian Party nomination.
Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan Conservative activist Garnett Genuis is the first candidate to enter the Conservative nomination in the new Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan riding.
Mr. Genuis was the 2012 Wildrose Party candidate in Sherwood Park, and is a vice-president of a polling company and the executive director for Parents for Choice in Education, a pro-Charter school lobby group whose board of directors includes former Wildrose candidates John Carpay and Andrew Constantinidis. Mr. Genuis has been endorsed by former MPs Ken Epp and Stockwell Day.
Canada’s next federal election is scheduled to be held on October 19, 2015. I have been maintaining a list of candidates who have announced their intentions to seek nominations and run in the next federal election in Alberta ridings. Please contact me at david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com for additions or updates related to candidate nominations in Alberta.
Three years before the next provincial election, a public debate tour might not be where you would expect to find the leaders of two political parties. Breaking convention, Wildrose Party leader DanielleSmith and Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason are joining forces to bring provincial politics to college and university campuses across Alberta. In the second of a planned seven stops, the two leaders stood at their podiums in front of a crowd of 400 at the University of Alberta last night to debate the future of Alberta.
It made me wonder when was the last time one party leader faced another in such a public arena and reflect on how this format is more humanizing than the sterile television studio we typically watch our political leaders debate in. Needless to say, it was a highly entertaining evening.
Ms. Smith and Mr. Mason playfully sparred over issues facing the energy sector, pipelines, the economy, post-secondary education, health care and public services.
On so many issues, it was refreshing to see two distinct opinions being debated. It was also refreshing that, for a change, the long-governing Progressive Conservatives were not always the centre of attention. Highlighting the point of the debate tour, Mr. Mason urged the crowd to “think past the PC government,” reminding them that he was in Grade 11 when the Tories first formed government in Alberta.
On government spending, Mr. Mason cleverly pledged his party would not raise taxes, but reversing tax cuts implemented by former Tory finance ministers Stockwell Day and Steve West. Ms. Smith affirmed that new pipelines would help Alberta restore its revenue stream, and worried that the government was becoming too centralized, especially in health care and potentially in post-secondary education.
“I’m not an expert in post-secondary education, but guess what, neither is Thomas Lukaszuk.” – Danielle Smith
On the topical issue of pipelines, Mr. Mason reaffirmed his party’s support for refining bitumen in Alberta, rather than creating refinery jobs in Texas and China. Ms. Smith avoided commenting on the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines, instead focusing on the Energy East proposal that would pump oil from Alberta to New Brunswick (which Mr. Mason said he also supports).
While it may seem odd that the two opponents would so comfortably share the stage, there is method to this strategy. After recent budget cuts and government scandals, the two parties are betting that Albertans will be less enamoured with Premier Alison Redford‘s Tories when the next election approaches.
If the Wildrose wants to defeat the Tories in the next election, they not only need to steal votes away from the four-decade old political dynasty, they need other parties to do so as well. While the Wildrose does not have a strong base of support in Edmonton, the NDP are well-positioned to steal votes away from the Tories in the provincial capital (the NDP increased their vote share in Edmonton from 18% in 2008 to 21% in 2012).
If this sounds a tad familiar, there are some parallels that can be drawn to the strategy used by Conservative leader Stephen Harper and NDP leader Jack Layton to destroy Paul Martin‘s Liberal Party in the mid-2000s (except in this case, the Martin Liberals are the Redford Tories).
In 1935, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ hit song “Cheek to Cheek” topped the music charts and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers became the first western Canadian team to win the Grey Cup. It was also the year that the Social Credit Party formed government in Alberta.
Fresh from celebrating the party’s 21st consecutive election win, Premier Rob Anderson will join party faithful this weekend to celebrate the Social Credit Party’s 77th year in government.
Long abandoned are the social credit monetary policies that defined the party when it formed government in 1935. Social Credit in 2012 embraces what political watchers have called the Conservatism of the New Albertan Century.
“One of the regular talking points of the Official Opposition is to claim that after 77 years of Socred rule, the province of Alberta is some grim, dark, horrible place to live,” said Premier Anderson. “It’s entirely untrue, of course. And it doesn’t say much for the Opposition that they say such terrible things about this great province.”
“Alberta is the best place to live, work and play in Canada,” said the Premier.
Only once in the party’s 77 year history has it faced the threat of electoral defeat.
While the history books record Premier Harry Strom as the great conciliator of Canadian confederation, he led the dynasty to its narrowest victory the 1971 election. New to the office, Strom fought back young Peter Lougheed‘s liberal-minded Progressive Conservatives, leading his party to form a small majority government.
Four years later, Strom led Social Credit to a decisive victory over the Tories.
Many historians credit Social Credit’s survival in 1971 to the failure of the Daylight Savings Time plebiscite.
Lingering in the opposition benches in the 41 years since 1971, the PC Party has been unable to topple the long-standing government.
Current PC Party leader Raj Sherman has called the Social Credit Party old and out of touch.
“The simple fact is that over the past 77 years the government has backed itself into a corner on revenue and desperately needs to find a way to return to solid financial ground,” said Sherman, an emergency room doctor.
“While Albertans deserve to have a say in all matters of public policy, I am troubled by this administration’s penchant for government by polling – particularly when they are so selective about the feedback that they choose to heed,” said Sherman.
NDP leader Rachel Notley has called on Premier Anderson to tear down the economic “Firewall” that divides Alberta from the rest of Canada. “Too often the Socreds make poorly studied, reactionary decisions based on industry lobbying”, said Notley.
“As things stand now, we are closing our eyes, crossing our fingers, and hoping for the best,” Notley said. “Albertans deserve better,” said Notley.
Albertans can follow the weekend’s celebrations using the Twitter hashtag #after77years.