Any good talk radio host understands that the show doesn’t belong to the host, it belongs to the listeners. And if this past weekend’s annual general meeting is any indication, talk radio host-turned-Premier Danielle Smith might be taking a similar approach as leader of the United Conservative Party.
Aside from a nod to protecting parental rights during her keynote speech, Smith largely stood out of the way as more than 3,700 delegates packed into Calgary’s BMO Centre to vote on party policy and elect a new executive board. It was an impressive crowd and probably the largest provincial political convention in Alberta’s history.
More confusing messaging about the Alberta Pension Plan
As Alberta’s United Conservative Party government continues its big $7 million advertising push to convince Albertans to leave the Canada Pension Plan and start a separate Alberta Pension Plan, Finance Minister Nate Horner told CTV’s Vassy Kapelos that the province’s decision on whether or not to hold a referendum on leaving the CPP will be based on a “high level feeling from many sources.”
The UCP board is the governing body of the organization and is made up of seventeen elected directors, party leader Premier Danielle Smith, and two non-voting MLAs who serve as Caucus liaisons. The two MLA spots, which are chosen through a vote of UCP MLAs, are currently filled by Camrose MLA Jackie Lovely and Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland MLA Shane Getson.
Half of the UCP director positions are up for election this year and the sweeping success of the slate of candidates backed by the social conservative Take Back Alberta group at last year’s AGM has fuelled a lot of speculation about what might happen in this election.
The government’s “Tell the Feds” ad campaign warns that electricity prices could quadruple and Albertans could face blackouts during -30C temperatures if the draft federal regulations are adopted.
Minister of Environment and Protected Areas Rebecca Schulz, MLA for Calgary-Shaw and 2022 UCP leadership race candidate, has been the government’s point-person in opposing the draft federal regulations.
Alberta’s United Conservative Party government opened up a new front in its fight for more provincial autonomy with a proposal to withdraw Alberta workers from the Canada Pension Plan and create an Alberta Pension Plan.
Premier Danielle Smith joined Finance Minister Nate Horner and pension engagement panel chairperson and former finance minister Jim Dinning on stage to announce a sunshine and apple pie forecast for a new Alberta Pension Plan.
It’s been a quiet, but not boring, post-election summer in Alberta
Conventional wisdom tells us that the summer months are a quiet and boring time in politics, but not so in Alberta. It’s not often there is an actual quiet and boring political summer in this province.
And last summer, one of the most unexpected political comebacks happened right before our eyes. Former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith, who had been written off by most political watchers after her disastrous decision to cross the floor in 2014, defined the summer of 2022 and the United Conservative Party leadership vote that followed.
But this year’s political summer was a fairly quiet, albeit incredibly smoky, affair.
The Alberta NDP Caucus released the list of critic roles that its roster of 38 Official Opposition MLAs have been tasked to fill.
Every NDP MLA has been assigned a role as a critic or in the caucus leadership, which is not unusual for provincial oppositions in Alberta. But, because of the unusually large size of the opposition caucus, there are more critics than cabinet ministers to shadow.
The United Conservative Party won big in Alberta’s 2019 election, taking 63 seats in the Alberta Legislature and earning 54.8 per cent of the province-wide vote. The party racked up huge margins of victory in rural ridings and swept Calgary.
It was a juggernaut.
It also wasn’t clear on that election night if the Alberta NDP would be able to recover from their defeat. It felt unlikely.
That the UCP is now neck-and-neck with the NDP in most polls with only 24 days left until the next election says a lot about the UCP’s four years as government and the NDP’s time in opposition.
It’s not what people usually call me when I meet them for the first time, but it’s what a longtime daveberta.ca reader said when I met them for the first time a few weeks ago.
But I guess it’s true.
I started tracking the names of people running for nominations to become party candidates in elections 16 years ago and have since done it for every provincial and federal election in Alberta and municipal election in Edmonton. By my count that’s 15 elections.
Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley was nominated as her party’s candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona this past weekend. Speaking to a crowd of more than 800 supporters gathered at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Notley delivered an energetic speech that felt like a campaign kick-off for the former premier’s party.
Notley was first elected as MLA for the central Edmonton riding in 2008 and was re-elected in 2019 with 72.2 per cent of the vote. The riding has elected NDP MLAs since 1997 and the party previously held the riding from 1986 to 1993.
UCP choose Claresholm Mayor in ‘do-over’ nomination vote in Livingstone-Macleod
Town of Claresholm Mayor Chelsae Petrovic won the United Conservative Party‘s ‘do-over’ nomination vote in Livingstone-Macleod. Petrovic defeated Tanya Clemens and Don Whalen in a decisive first ballot victory. Petrovic earned 759 votes with Clemens collecting 469 votes and Whalen finishing third with 118 votes.
This is the UCP’s second time holding a nomination vote in the southern Alberta riding.
The riding was represented by former premier Jason Kenney from 2017 until his resignation in November 2022.
NDP members in the riding voted to select Venkat Akkiraj over Kim Wagner in that party’s nomination vote this week. Akkiraj is a law student and former organizer with the Ontario NDP.
City Councillor jumps into Grande Prairie UCP race
City Councillor Gladys Blackmore is the fourth candidate to enter the UCP nomination contest in Grande Prairie. Blackmore served on City Council from 2001-2010 before making an unsuccessful bids for mayor in 2010 and 2013. She returned to city council in 2021.
She joins Nolan Dyck, Larry Gibson, and Tayyab Parvez in the race to choose a UCP successor to retiring MLA Tracy Allard.
The UCP MLA for the neighbouring Grande Prairie-Wapiti riding, Finance Minister Travis Toews, has still not announced whether he plans to run for re-election. Toews is now the only remaining MLA who has not announced their plans for the May election.
Hinshaw critic wins UCP nomination in Lethbridge-West
Torry Tanner defeated Rick Dempsey to win the UCP nomination vote in Lethbridge-West. Tanner was a participant in an unsuccessful lawsuit against former Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw challenging Alberta’s COVID-19 public health restrictions.
The riding is currently represented by NDP Shannon Phillips.
Other nomination updates
Calgary-Foothills: The Alberta Party disqualified Shaoli Wang as a candidate after a series of embarrassing social media posts were revealed. Wang will instead run as an Independent candidate.
Cypress-Medicine Hat: James Finkbeiner and Justin Wright are on the ballot when UCP members vote to nominate a candidate on March 16. The riding is currently represented by Independent MLA Drew Barnes.
Edmonton-City Centre: Richard Wong is the UCP candidate in this downtown Edmonton riding.
Leduc-Beaumont: Heather Feldbusch, Nam Kular, Brandon Lunty, Dawn Miller, Dave Quest, and Karen Richert are running for the UCP nomination. A vote is scheduled for March 18.
Peace River: Nancy O’Neill is running for the Independence Party of Alberta nomination.
Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: Former Clearwater County Reeve Tim Hovenwill run as an Independent candidate. Hoven was disqualified from running for the UCP nomination against Jason Nixon last year. It was widely believed that Hoven could have defeated Nixon, who was then serving as former premier Kenney’s chief lieutenant.
“I’m honoured and grateful for the opportunity to bring a positive conservative message to the community,” Sherman said in a statement released after his win. “Together, we will fight for the people of Edmonton-Whitemud and work towards a brighter future for all Albertans.”
Now he will face Alberta NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi in the upcoming provincial election. The riding is considered a safe seat for the NDP in this election but there is little doubt that Sherman will be a candidate to watch in the next few months.
Myles McDougall beats establishment backed nominees in Calgary-Fish Creek UCP vote
Economist Myles McDougall defeated Christina Steed and Dave Guenter to win the UCP nomination in Calgary-Fish Creek.
McDougall previously ran for the Progressive Conservative nomination in Calgary-Fish Creek in 2015 and the federal Conservative Party nomination in Calgary-Midnapore in 2017. He had an endorsement in this race from Calgary-Glenmore MLA Whitney Issik and support from Take Back Alberta-connected organizers.
Steed was endorsed by retiring MLA Richard Gotfried and former south Calgary MLA Cindy Ady. Guenter had endorsements from Finance Minister Travis Toews and local Conservative MP Stephanie Kusie.
And from Wednesday night, Albert Mazzocca defeated Jaspreet Saggu to win the UCP nominaton in Edmonton-Manning.
And it’s in Edmonton-Whitemud that the Emergency Room doctor and former leader of the Alberta Liberal Party hopes to make his next political comeback.
Sherman first jumped onto the political scene back in 2008, when he was elected as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark. He briefly served as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Wellness but his time in the PC fold was short.
Sherman was removed from the PC Caucus in 2010 and briefly enjoyed an almost folk-hero status in Alberta politics before deciding to run for the Liberal Party leadership in 2011. He won on the first ballot in the party’s first (and only) open-membership vote.
Sherman was unable to mend the Liberal Party’s political wounds and only narrowly held on to his seat in the 2012 election. The moribund Liberals placed a distant third behind Alison Redford‘s PCs and Danielle Smith‘s Wildrose Party.
Four candidates are on the ballot in the Lesser Slave Lake UCP nomination vote on February 25 and 26. Former constituency assistant Martine Carifelle, oil field operator Jerrad Cunningham, auto glass repair shop owner Scott Sinclair, and former chief Silas Yellowknee of the Bigstone First Nation are seeking the nomination to succeed retiring UCP MLA Pat Rehn.
Tischer running for NDP in Athbasca-Barrhead-Westlock
Pastor-turned-horizontal directional driller Landen Tischer is expected to be acclaimed as the NDP candidate in this sprawling rural riding north of Edmonton. A nomination meeting is being held on February 25.
The riding is currently represented by UCP MLA Glenn van Dijken, who fended off a nomination challenge from Westlock County Councillor Isaac Skuban late last year.
Newly nominated candidates
Edmonton-Manning: UCP voters in this north east Edmonton riding voted to select their candidate last night but the results have not yet been released. Alberto Mazzocca and Jaspreet Saggu were seeking the nomination.
Edmonton-North West: Ali Haymour was acclaimed as the UCP candidate. Haymour is a familiar name to north Edmonton voters, having previously run for City Council in 2017 and 2021, and as the Alberta Party candidate in Edmonton-Decore in 2019 and the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Castle Downs in 2008 and 2012.
Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland: UCP MLA Shane Getson has been acclaimed as his party candidate in this rural riding just north west of Edmonton. Town of Mayerthorpe Mayor Janet Jabush is now the Alberta Party candidate. Jabush has served as mayor since 2019.
Edmonton-Strathcona: NDP leader Rachel Notley is expected to be acclaimed as her party’s candidate at a nomination rally at NAIT on March 11. Notley was first elected in 2008 and was re-elected in 2019 with 72.27 per cent of the vote.
Cypress-Medicine Hat:Dustin Cartwright has withdrawn his candidacy for the Green Party in this south east Alberta riding.
Today, I met with Premier Smith to inform her that I will not be seeking the nomination and re-election for Calgary-North East. I will continue to serve as the MLA for Calgary-North East until the end of this mandate.
Serving as the MLA for this constituency and as a Minister of several portfolios, under both the Honourable Jason Kenney and Honourable Premier Smith, has been a tremendous honour and a great privilege. I thank both of these great leaders for the opportunities they have afforded me to serve in their Cabinets. I continue to be a strong supporter of Premier Smith and her leadership and I look forward to the United Conservative Party forming government again after May of this year.
I would like to thank my colleagues, my team, my supporters and most of all, my family for their unconditional and unwavering support over the past many years.
Finally, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to my constituents in Calgary-North East for placing their trust and faith in me as their MLA.
Sawhney was first elected to the Legislature in 2019 and has since served as Minister of Community & Social Services from 2019 to 2021 and Minister of Transportation from 2021 until 2022. She ran for the UCP leadership in 2022, finishing sixth on the first and second ballots. She was appointed Minister of Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism in October 2022.
Despite Myshrall having endorsements from UCP Justice Minister Tyler Shandro, Highwood MLA R.J. Sigurdson and former Ponoka mayor Larry Henkelman, sources tell me that Johnson won with more than 70 per cent of the votes cast.
Wood Buffalo municipal councillor Funky Banjoko is running as an independent candidate in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. “Each of these parties all have their own good ideas. But right now, there’s so much division,” Banjoko told Fort McMurray Today. “I want to run as an independent for the benefit of residents of this region and not for ideologies or politics.”
Marketing company owner Nolan Dyckis running for UCP nomination in Grande Prairie. Dyck also serves as a the Connections Manager at the Peace River Bible Institute. Current UCP MLA Tracy Allard is not running for re-election.
Ali Haymour is running for the UCP nomination in Edmonton-North West. Haymour will be a familiar name to north Edmonton voters, having previously run for City Council in 2017 and 2021, and as the Alberta Party candidate in Edmonton-Decore in 2019 and the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Castle Downs in 2008 and 2012.
Also of note, Central Peace-Notley UCP MLA Todd Loewen is hosting a February 25 fundraiser for St. Albert UCP candidate Angela Wood at the Fox Creek Community Hall in his northern Alberta riding.
This kind of thing is not unheard of. Earlier this month, supporters in Edmonton hosted a fundraiser for Calgary-Glenmore NDP candidate Nagwan Al-Guneid.