While none of the details are clear, Notley said she believed the search was related to a Department of Health data breach that Dang reported to the government in Sept. 2021.
Dang issued a statement in response in which he reiterated Notley’s comments, saying that he believed the warrant was executed in relation to vulnerabilities of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination records website.
“In September, a concern was raised to me as a Member of the Legislative Assembly about the security of the vaccination record system,” Dang wrote. “I tested these concerns and found a security flaw did exist.
“I immediately notified Alberta Health with the relevant information so that the vulnerability could be corrected. It was resolved shortly thereafter,” wrote Dang, who studied Computing Sciences at the University of Alberta before his election as MLA in 2015.
Notley said that Dang, who was in the mountains skiing, voluntarily left the NDP Caucus until the police investigation was complete. Dang is the Official Opposition critic for Democracy and Ethics.
First elected as the NDP MLA for Edmonton-South West in 2015 and ran for re-election in the redistributed Edmonton-South in 2019.
Carol Vowk running for UCP nomination in Drayton Valley-Devon
Carol Vowk has filed papers with Elections Alberta signalling her intention to run for the UCP nomination in Drayton Valley-Devon. Vowk is Treasurer of the Drayton Valley Health Foundation and has volunteered with the Drayton Valley Air Cadets, Brazeau Snowmobile Club, and Drayton Valley Soccer.
The central Alberta riding is currently represented by Mark Smith, who was first elected as a Wildrose MLA in 2015. Smith was the centre of controversy during the 2019 election with the release of an audio recording of a church sermon he delivered which included some gross comments about “homosexual love.”
Smith was re-elected in 2019 with 71.1 per cent of the vote. He has not publicly announced whether he plans to run for re-election in 2023.
Brian Jean *is* the UCP candidate in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche
With hundreds of submissions made to the Best of Alberta Politics 2021 survey, your choices have been sorted and you can now vote in each category. Voting is open until Dec. 22, 2021 at 6:00 pm and the winners will be announced shortly after that.
2. Who was the best Alberta cabinet minister of 2021? – VOTE
Leela Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women
Ric McIver, Minister of Municipal Affairs
Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Transportation
Honourable mentions to runners-up Minister of Health Jason Copping and Minister of Finance Travis Toews. It is also worth noting that a large number of people chose to submit various versions of “none of the above.”
3. Who was the best opposition MLA of 2021? – VOTE
Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
Rachel Notley, MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona
Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge-West
Honourable mention to runners-up Edmonton-City Centre MLA David Shepherd and Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Rakhi Pancholi..
4. Who is the up and coming MLA to watch in 2022? – VOTE
Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
Brian Jean, (potentially future) MLA for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche
Rakhi Pancholi, MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud
Honourable mentions to runners-up Drumheller-Stettler MLA Nate Horner and Edmonton-South MLA Thomas Dang.
5. What was the biggest political play of 2021 in Alberta? – VOTE
Brian Jean’s political comeback
Jason Kenney’s “Open For Summer/Best Summer Ever” COVID-19 plan
Jyoti Gondek’s election as Mayor of Calgary
What was the biggest political issue of 2021 in Alberta?
In some past years this category has been a dog’s breakfast, but like last year, this year your choice was clear. COVID-19 was the clear choice of the overwhelming majority of people who submitted in this category. The global COVID-19 pandemic defined Alberta politics in 2021, with the failure of Premier Jason Kenney’s “Open For Summer” plan and the fourth wave that followed garnering the most submissions.
The leadership review had been pushed to April 2022 from fall 2022 after Kenney averted a caucus revolt over the summer.
According to recent polling, Kenney is the least popular Premier in Canada, sitting at 22 per cent approval among Albertans, and his party has floundered in the polls and fundraising for the past year.
Rachel Notley would be Premier once again if an election were held today, which will surely be a future on the minds of many UCP activists this weekend.
Kenney’s fumbling response to the COVID-19 pandemic is part of the problem, but so to is his cabinet’s decision to wage a multi-front war against everyone from Alberta’s parks, nurses and teachers while trying to open the Rocky Mountains up to open-pit coal mining.
A party that famously promised “Jobs, Economy and Pipelines” in the 2019 election has delivered everything but.
When the business of the meeting begins, special resolutions will only be able to be brought to the floor of the AGM by Kenney and one resolution being introduced by the Kenney-friendly UCP association in Edmonton-North West would increase the number of constituency associations needed to trigger an early leadership review from 1/4 of 87 to 1/3 of 87.
A list of of the 22 constituency associations who passed the motion calling for an early review shows that this is largely a rural revolt against Kenney’s leadership, likely from the unruly rural Wildrose-side of the party, which has never been satisfied to subjugate itself to to the kind of centralized leadership that the Premier would have been comfortable with in Ottawa.
The first signatory of the letter from the 22 was a name that would be quite familiar to Kenney – Jack Redekop – the current president of the Calgary-Fish Creek UCP and former president of Kenney’s won former federal electoral district association in Calgary-Midnapore.
One of the common criticisms of Kenney is that he has become detached from the party’s organization and local leadership since his election as Premier in 2019. Wildrosers who don’t like a centralized party leadership are unhappy, as are former Progressive Conservatives, who might be accustomed to more attention and access to their leadership.
The two groups have also discovered that all the things they disliked about each others politics when they were two parties are still there, except now they are in the same party.
The revolt hasn’t been limited to the party membership.
Four MLAs – Chestemere-Strathmore MLA Leela Aheer, Airdrie-Cochrane MLA Peter Guthrie, Airdrie-East MLA Angela Pitt, and Calgary-Fish Creek MLA Richard Gotfried – have either publicly called for Kenney to resign or have openly criticized his leadership. And while most of their colleagues have avoided making public comments about Kenney’s leadership, the unhappiness among UCP MLAs and their staff is palpable.
There has been a steady stream of high-profile political staffers leaving their positions in the UCP government for jobs in the private sector. This past month saw the departure of press secretary Blaise Boehmer, who levelled some pretty heavy criticisms against Kenney, and UCP Caucus executive director Brittany Baltimore, who both recently took jobs with government relations companies.
Guthrie levelled allegations to the UCP Caucus this week that Political Action Committees supporting Kenney were paying the delegate fees of supporters in order to stack the votes in favour of the Premier during the AGM.
Postmedia columnist Don Braid wrote in his most recent column that a private company was organizing to send delegates in order to curry favour with UCP cabinet ministers if Kenney survives his leadership challenges.
A number of candidates are contesting regional director positions, including Sundre-resident Heidi Overguard, who was appointed by the UCP government to the Board of Directors of Alberta Health Services in Nov. 2019.
Meanwhile, UCP members will be lining up at the microphone to debate policies about cancel culture, private health care, private schools, and hydrogen, among other issues. The CBC reported that Kenney’s office instructed staffers to vote down policies “introducing a provincial sales tax, relocalizing 911 dispatch, a moratorium on new coal exploration and development on the eastern slopes of the Rockies and creating a revenue-neutral Alberta carbon tax to replace the federal backstop.”
This weekend’s convention will be a much different affair from the party’s last in-person annual general meeting after it’s big win in the 2019 election.
Kenney will surely be focused on rallying the party to give him one more chance ahead of next spring’s review, but don’t expect to hear many of the celebratory rallying cries we heard two years ago. The party no longer feels like it is united and it is certainly not the one big conservative happy family that Kenney helped establish in 2017.
The UCP AGM starts at the Grey Eagle Resort & Casino in Calgary on Friday, Nov. 19 and will wrap up on Sunday, Nov. 21.
Alberta is a pretty boring place to spend a federal election. Even as the polls shift nationally, there is a good chance the seat total could be the same as the 2019 election: 33 Conservative and one NDP.
It’s a quiet campaign.
Unlike the 2019 election, when Albertans were still riled up from that year’s April provincial election and federal campaign issues like pipelines and the carbon tax, this year feels sleepy. The majority of Albertans will surely cast their ballots again on September for the Conservative Party, but it might not be with the same level of enthusiasm and gusto as the last election.
But, if there is a chance that any seats could switch parties, here are a few of the ridings where it might happen:
Probably one of the only centres of electoral excitement in Alberta is where Conservative candidate Kerry Diotte is seeking re-election for his third-term against New Democrat Blake Desjarlais.
The NDP are hoping they can elect a second MP from Alberta and are putting that hope into Desjarlais’ campaign. Party leader Jagmeet Singh has visited the riding twice in the past month, spending an entire day campaigning in the district during the first week of the election, and pouring volunteer, financial and online advertising resources into the local campaign.
If the NDP are going to pick up a second seat in Alberta in this election, this is it.
Even NDP MLAs, who shunned the federal party in 2019, have been campaigning with Desjarlais in his bid to unseat Diotte. Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Janis Irwin, Edmonton-Glenora MLA Sarah Hoffman, Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Richard Feehan, Edmonton-South MLA Thomas Dang, Edmonton-North West MLA David Eggen, and Edmonton-West Henday MLA Jon Carson have been spotted on the campaign trail in Edmonton-Griesbach.
Full list of candidates in Edmonton-Griesbach:
Communist: Alex Boykowich
Conservative: Kerry Diotte
Green: Heather Lau
Liberal: Habiba Mohamud
Libertarian: Morgan Watson
Marxist-Leninist: Mary Joyce
NDP: Blake Desjarlais
People’s Party: Thomas Matty
Conservative James Cumming and Liberal Randy Boissonnault are facing each other for the third time since 2015. Boissonnault won the first time they face each other in 2015 and Cumming unseated him in 2019.
NDP candidate Heather MacKenzie, a former public school board trustee and past municipal candidate, is hoping to dislodge the Liberals as the main alternative to the Conservatives.
NDP vote has held firm over the past three elections, suggesting that Boissonnault’s win in 2015 and defeat in 2019 was more about voters switching between the Conservatives and Liberals than a split between the Liberals and NDP.
Toronto Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland stopped in the district at the beginning of the campaign to support Boissonnault’s bid for re-election.
Full list of candidates in Edmonton-Centre:
Conservative: James Cumming
Liberal: Randy Boissonnault
Libertarian: Valerie Keefe
Marxist-Leninist: Merryn Edwards
NDP: Heather Mackenzie
People’s Party: Brock Crocker
Conservative Tim Uppal’s main challenger is city councillor Ben Henderson, who hopped south from his long-held municipal ward to run in his federal district.
While Uppal served as an MP for many terms, this is his first time running for re-election in Edmonton-Mill Woods. He was the MP for Edmonton-Sherwood Park from 2008 to 2015.
The district was represented by Liberal MP Amarjeet Sohi from 2015 to 2019. Sohi is running for Mayor of Edmonton.
Full list of candidates in Edmonton-Mill Woods:
Communist: Naomi Rankin
Conservative: Tim Uppal
Liberal: Ben Henderson
NDP: Nigel Logan
People’s Party: Paul McCormack
It’s a long-shot but if the Liberals are able to salvage their national campaign in the next two weeks they could be in a position to pick up this district that Liberal Kent Hehr won in 2015. In this election Liberal Sabrina Grover is challenging first-term Conservative Greg McLean.
Full list of candidates in Calgary-Centre:
Christian Heritage Party: David Pawlowski
Conservative: Greg McLean
Green: Austin Mullins
Liberal: Sabrina Grover
NDP: Juan Estevez Moreno
Conservative Jag Sahota is facing a challenge from city councillor George Chahal who is running for the Liberals in this northeast Calgary district. Chahal has been endorsed by Mayor Naheed Nenshi, and a handful of city councillors including mayoral election hopefuls Jyoti Gondek and Jeff Davison.
Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau’s plane touched down just long enough for him to appear at a rally in support of Chahal during the first week of the election.
Former MLA Darshan Kang was elected as the Liberal MP in 2015 but left the Liberal caucus after allegations of sexual harassment.
Full list of candidates in Calgary-Skyview:
Centrist Party: Nadeem Rana
Conservative: Jag Sahota
Green: Janna So
Independent: Lee Aquart
Liberal: George Chahal
Marxist-Leninist: Daniel Blanchard
NDP: Gurinder Singh Gill
People’s Party: Harry Dhillon
Conservative candidate Blake Richards will probably safely coast to re-election on September 20, but the cast of conservative characters in this district make it interesting. Richards faces former Ontario Conseravtive MP Derek Sloan, who has relocated to Alberta in order to hold rallies for anti-mask and COVID conspiracy theorists, Maverick Party candidate and rodeo competitor Tariq Elnaga, People’s Party candidate Nadine Wellwood, and Independent separatist candidate Ron Voss.
Full list of candidates in Banff-Airdire:
Conservative: Blake Richards
Green: Aidan Blum
Independent: Caroline O’Driscoll
Independent: Derek Sloan
Independent: Ron Voss
Liberal: David Gamble
Maverick: Tariq Elnaga
NDP: Sarah Zagoda
People’s Party: Nadine Wellwood
The smaller right-wing parties
It has yet to be seen what kind of impact two smaller right-wing parties will have in Alberta in this election.
People’s Party leader Maxime Bernier is in Alberta this week holding a series of rallies and it seems like the right-wing populist party is gaining support among disenchanted conservatives and anti-vaxxer crowds.
Wildrose Independence Party leader Paul Hinman has been spotted at People’s Party events and Bernier also met with Cypress-Medicine Hat Drew Barnes, who currently sits as an Independent MLA after being ejected from the United Conservative Party caucus earlier in the summer. It also appears as though outgoing Fort McMurray-Cold Lake Conservative MP David Yurdiga endorsed the local People’s Party candidate in a post on his personal Facebook account.
The separatist Maverick Party is only running candidates in districts they have determined are not likely to elect a Liberal or NDP MP, which is most of Alberta, but limiting themselves to running in Conservative strongholds has probably eliminated their chances of being relevant in this election.
Former talk radio host Dave Rutherford has been joining Maverick Party interim leader Jay Hill at candidate events across the province.
Singh started the day with a health care announcement outside the East Edmonton Health Centre with Desjarlais, Edmonton-Strathcona MP Heather McPherson and a group of nurses and health care workers.
During his announcement Singh criticized the Liberals for not doing enough to improve affordability of long-term care and hold the corporations that run long-term care centres to account after outbreaks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He voted against getting rid of profit from long-term care, making it clear he would rather protect the interests of the for-profit, billion-dollar corporations that profit off the backs of seniors, rather than putting seniors first,” Singh said.
This puts Justin Trudeau, who made his own seniors care announcement in Victoria today, in a difficult position of not wanting to engage in an important but largely provincial issue that could sour relations with other provincial governments, like Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.
As noted in my previous post, unlike the last federal election campaign, Alberta NDP MLAs are campaigning alongside some federal NDP candidates in this election.
Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Janis Irwin, Edmonton-Glenora MLA Sarah Hoffman, and Edmonton-South MLA Thomas Dang were at an afternoon rally outside the Bellevue Community Hall where a crowd of NDP supporters gathered to cheer on Singh, Desjarlais and other areas candidates, including Edmonton-Centre candidate and former public school board trustee Heather Mackenzie.
This is a significant shift in federal-provincial NDP relations, which were much frostier during the 2019 federal election when the dominant issues were the carbon tax and pipelines.
In another sign of changing times, Singh used his visit to Alberta to leverage the declining popularity of Premier Jason Kenney, especially on his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his decision to attack frontline nurses, doctors, and health care workers.
Kenney has been conspicuously missing from the campaign trail, scheduling a vacation instead (when he returns he will be without a Principal Secretary, as Larry Kaumeyer is leaving the Premier’s Office to become the new head of Ducks Unlimited).
While Kenney will likely pop up campaigning for a candidate somewhere, it is a considerable difference from 2019 when the Alberta Premier spent an entire week campaigning for Conservative Party candidates in Ontario and Manitoba.
In 2019, Kenney was seen as an asset for Andrew Scheer. In 2021, he might be a liability for Erin O’Toole.
Trudeau touches down in Calgary-Skyview
Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau’s plane touched down in Calgary tonight to make a quick campaign stop in support of Calgary-Skyview candidate and City Councillor George Chahal.
“With the right representation, we can build prosperous communities. We need to diversify our economy, invest in infrastructure like we did with Airport Trail and the Green Line and we must continue to do so with public infrastructure such as the expansion of the Blue Line, Arts Common, and the development of the multi-sport fieldhouse at the Foothills Athletic Park,” said Chahal in a press release following the event.
Voters in the district, in which the Calgary International Airport is located, elected former Liberal MLA Darshan Kang in 2015 and Conservative Jag Sahota in 2019.
Banff gets a new kind of tourist
Supported by former Conservative MPs Rob Anders and Eric Lowther, Ontario MP Derek Sloan announced his plans to run as an Independent candidate in Banff-Airdrie.
The first-term former Conservative from southeast Ontario has been travelling around Alberta for the past month speaking at rallies of anti-vaxxer and COVID-19 conspiracy theorists.
The political tourist claims he wants to “Make Alberta Great Again.”
Sloan will challenge Conservative MP Blake Richards, who was re-elected in 2019 with 71.09 per cent of the vote.
Candidates say the dumbest things
We have not entered the “airing of dumb things candidates have said on social media” phase of the federal election campaign. The Conservative Party released a statement from Calgary-Nose Hill candidate Michelle Rempel Garner attacking Liberal candidate Jessica Dale-Walker for a March 2020 tweet that said “Fit in or fuck off. We Alberta need to start fitting in. Because quite frankly, we are not as superior as our government touts.”
Dale-Walker responded, in a tweet: My tweet last summer was thoughtless and wrong. Thats certainly not how i feel today. I want to be absolutely clear I am double vaccinated and I believe all Canadians, who can, should be. If my brash comments caused anyone to think otherwise, I apologize.”
Hugo Charles has been nominated as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Wetaskiwin.
Kelly Green has been nominated as the Green Party candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona.
The Libertarian Party has nominated Morgan Watson in Edmonton-Griesbach and MalcolmStinson in Edmonton-Strathcona.
The People’s Party has nominated Jacob Cohen in Calgary-Centre, Dwayne Holub in Calgary-Forest Lawn, Ron Vaillant in Calgary-Shepard, Nicholas Debrey in Calgary-Signal Hill, Brock Crocker in Edmonton-Centre, Martin Halvorson in Edmonton-Manning, Jennifer Peace in Edmonton-Riverbend, Wesley Janke in Edmonton-Strathcona, Daniel Hunter in Foothills, Shawn McLean in Grande Prairie-Mackenzie, Ann McCormack in Lakeland, Mardon Day in Red Deer-Lacombe, Kelly Lorencz in Red Deer-MountainView, John Wetterstrand in Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan, and Michael Manchen in Yellowhead,
With an election call expected in the coming weeks or months, the Liberal Party of Canada continues to nominate candidates in Alberta.
Randy Boissonnault has been acclaimed as the Liberal Party candidate in Edmonton-Centre. Boissonnault represented the central Edmonton district in Ottawa from 2015 to 2019.
Following weeks of rumours that he was being pressured by Prime Minster Justin Trudeau to run, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson declined the chance to run as the Liberal Party candidate in Edmonton-Centre, clearing the way for Boissonnault’s nomination.
The Liberals have also recently nominated the following candidates:
Getahun Shawile in Bow River.
Habiba Mohamud in Edmonton-Griesbach. Mohamud was the party’s candidate in the 2019 election, where she placed third with 17.2 per cent of the vote.
Tariq Chaudary in Edmonton-Riverbend. Chaudary was the party’s candidate in the 2015 and 2019 election. In 2019, he placed second with 22.9 per cent of the vote.
Adam Brown in Edmonton-West
Greg Springate in St. Albert-Edmonton. Springate was the party’s candidate in the 2019 election, where he placed second with 19.1 per cent of the vote.
Odd is the Executive Director of the Alberta Environmental Network, one of the groups that spearheaded the incredibly successful “Defend Alberta Parks” campaign against the UCP government’s plans to close or privatize more than 170 provincial parks. This is her third time running as the Green Party candidate in this district.
The right-wing People’s Party has nominated Bailey Bedard in Calgary-Heritage, Thomas Matty in Edmonton-Centre and Paul McCormack in Edmonton-Mill Woods. And the separatist Maverick Party has chosen Matt Magolan in Calgary-Midnapore.
Dr. Sunil Sookram running for Senate
A fourth candidate has put their name forward to run in Alberta’s Senate Nominee election, which will take place on the same day as the province’s municipal elections on October 18, 2021.
University of Alberta Hospital emergency medicine physician and former AHS EMS Medical Director Dr. Sunil Sookram has filed his papers to run as an Independent candidate.
I spoke with CTV Edmonton about the bizarre development in Edmonton’s mayoral election between former City Councillor Michael Oshry and current Councillor Mike Nickel. Nickel tweeted a screenshot of a private message sent to him by Oshry saying he was “likely in” as a candidate for the mayoral race and asking Nickel if he would support him. Nickel’s tweet was sent to generate attention to his own campaign for mayor, but also serves as a warning to anyone planning to send him an email or private message – it might not stay private for long.
Diana Steele has announced her plans to run for mayor. Steele is the President of the Crestwood Community League and Coordinator, Volunteer Services and Communications for the Pilgrims Hospice Society.
There have also been a number of candidates who have announced their plans to run for Edmonton City Council in the newly redrawn and renamed Wards:
Dene: Youth, Child and Refugee Advocate Gerard Mutabazi Amani is running in this north east Edmonton ward.
Townsend is the President of the Parkdale-Cromdale Community League and owner of The Briefing Room. He was the provincial Liberal Party candidate in Lesser Slave Lake in the 2012 election and in Edmonton-Whitemud in the 2015 election.
pihêsiwin: First-term councillor Tim Cartmell announced his plans to run for re-election in this newly redrawn ward. Cartmell made the announcement on his constituent email list.
sipiwiyiniwak: Giselle General announced on Facebook that she plans to run in this new south west ward. General is the Volunteer and Communications Coordinator with the Edmonton Community Legal Centre and the author of the FlipinaYEG blog.
Sspomitapi: Rashpal Sehmby is planning to run in this south east Edmonton ward. Sehmby is a postal worker and currently the Health & Safety officer for C.U.P.W. Edmonton Local 730.
I am once again tracking candidates who have announced their plans to run for Mayor, City Council and School Board in Edmonton. If I am missing anyone on the list, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment and let me know. Thanks!
These bills are part of a series of election bills that are expected to also include future bills allowing for the recall of MLAs, municipal politicians and school trustees, citizen initiated referendums, and major changes to provincial election laws.
The three bills introduced this week provide more opportunities for Albertans to vote for candidates and on issues, but they also claw back important transparency and accountability rules implemented by the previous New Democratic Party government less than two years ago.
It has almost been 50 years since the last time a province-wide plebiscite was initiated by the Alberta government. Bill 26 would allow the provincial government to hold referendums on non-constitutional issues, like creating an Alberta Pension Plan or deciding if we should remain on Daylight Saving Time. Providing an opportunity for Albertans to cast ballots on important issues can be a powerful tool to engage voters, but the timing and wording of such votes can also be intentionally manipulative.
The bill allows third-party groups, colloquially known as political action committees, to spend up to $500,000 on advertising up from the current $150,000 limit. Third-party groups that spend less than $350,000 on advertising during a referendum would not be required to file financial statements with Elections Alberta.
Schweitzer did not hold a press conference to announce the bill, so it is unclear why he chose to include such a massive gap in transparency.
Changes to municipal election laws included in Bill 29 are being framed by Madu as helping “level the playing field” for new candidates running for municipal councils and school boards by not allowing incumbents to carry over campaign war chests between elections and increasing the amount candidates can spend ahead of the election period from $2,000 to $5,000.
Bill 29 raises the election period donation limit from $4,000 back up to $5,000 and allows candidates to self-finance their campaign up to $10,000, reversing a number of changes made by the NDP government in 2018 that have not had a chance to be tested in a municipal election campaign.
Madu’s bill would also make it legal for wealthy individuals to donate up to $5,000 each to as many candidates as they want in any municipal or school board election across the province, effectively removing the cap on individual donations.
Eliminating the ability of incumbents to store campaign surpluses in war chests for future elections might lower the amount of cash on hand at the beginning of an election campaign. But in Edmonton at least, only two city councillors – Sarah Hamilton and Ben Henderson – reported having surpluses of more than $10,000 at the end of the 2017 election, suggesting that war chests are not necessarily a significant issues in the capital city.
Raising the donation limit could strengthen the advantage of incumbents with name recognition and developed political networks running against challengers who may be seeking political office for the first time.
The advantage of name recognition that helps incumbents get re-elected in large numbers at the municipal level is a feature that predates any of the changes to municipal election finance laws introduced by the previous NDP and Progressive Conservative governments over the past decade. The incumbent advantage even existed when there were no donation limits.
Bill 29 removes the requirement that candidates disclose their donors ahead of election day, which allows voters to see who is financially supporting candidates before they head to the ballot box.
The bill also removes spending limits for third-party groups before the start of the election period, allowing groups like Calgary’s infamous Sprawl Cabal of land developers free reign to spend unlimited amounts of money on advertising before May 1, 2021.
Madu’s Bill 29 introduces big money back into municipal elections under the guise of fairness and without creating any of the structural changes required to design a real competitive electoral environment at the municipal level.
Bill 29 also removes all references to the Election Commissioner, a housekeeping item necessitated by the controversial firing of the Commissioner by the UCP government in November 2019. In its place, the bill creates a Registrar of Third Parties, though it is unclear if the person holding this title would have the legal investigative authority of the now defunct Election Commissioner.
In past elections many municipalities simply did not have the resources available to enforce municipal election finance rules, so in some cases complaints were simply left uninvestigated.
Some of these changes were expected and were included in the UCP’s 2019 election platform, others were necessitated by inconsistencies in the changes made by the NDP in 2018, and some have come completely out of left-field.
Alberta’s election laws should be dynamic and designed to encourage and facilitate participation by voters and candidates, not to hide the identities of those who would spend money influencing election campaigns.
Overall, these bills could probably be summed up as one step forward for democracy and two steps back for transparency and accountability.
Changes coming to provincial election laws
These changes are likely a taste of what is to come from the recently appointed Select Special Democratic Accountability Committee. Chaired by Cardston-Siksika UCP MLA Joseph Schow, the committee will review Alberta’s Election Act and the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act within the next six months and has be tasked with answering a series of questions submitted by Schweitzer within four months.
Along with Schow, the committee membership includes Drumheller-Stettler MLA Nate Horner, Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard, Calgary-Buffalo MLA Joe Ceci, Edmonton-South MLA Thomas Dang, Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche MLA Laila Goodridge, Calgary-Klein MLA Jeremy Nixon, Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Rakhi Pancholi, Highwood MLA R.J. Sigurdson, Drayton Valley-Devon MLA Mark Smith and Edmonton-Manning MLA Heather Sweet.
Photos: Leela Aheer, John Archer, Greg Clark, Devin Dreeshen, Sarah Hoffman, Danielle Larivee, Rachel Notley, Janis Irwin, Rakhi Pancholi, Shannon Phillips (source: Legislative Assembly of Alberta website)
With more than 500 submissions made to the Best of Alberta Politics 2019 survey, your choices have been sorted and you can now vote in each category. Voting is open until Dec. 14, 2019 at 11:59 pm and the winners will be announced on the special year-end episode of the Daveberta Podcast on Dec. 16, 2019.
An honourable mention to Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge-West who placed a strong fourth in total submissions. Notley was last year’s winner in this category.
Who was the best Alberta cabinet minister of 2019? – Vote
Leela Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women
Sarah Hoffman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks
Honourable mentions to Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Devin Dreeshen and Minister of Finance Travis Toews, who placed a close forth and fifth in this category. Former Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson was last year’s winner in this category.
Former Calgary-Elbow MLA Greg Clark was last year’s winner in this category.
Who is the up and coming MLA to watch in 2020? – Vote
Devin Dreeshen, MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake
Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood
Rakhi Pancholi, MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud
An honourable mention to Edmonton-South MLA Thomas Dang, who placed a strong fourth in the first round of voting. Jessica Littlewood, former MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, was last year’s winner in this category..
Who was the best candidate who didn’t win in the 2019 Alberta election? – Vote
John Archer, NDP candidate in Edmonton-South West
Greg Clark, Alberta Party candidate in Calgary-Elbow
Danielle Larivee, NDP candidate in Lesser Slave Lake
An honourable mention to Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville NDP candidate Jessica Littlewood, and Leduc-Beaumont NDP candidate Shaye Anderson, who tied for fourth place in this category..
What was the biggest political issue of 2019 in Alberta? – Vote
Economy and jobs
Firing the Elections Commissioner
Turkey farm hostage taking
There were a lot of submissions in this category, so we decided to give you a chance to vote on the top four in this category.
What was the biggest political play of 2019 in Alberta?
This category is usually a dog’s breakfast, but this year your choice was clear. So we have declared the biggest political play of 2019 in Alberta was the United Conservative Party government firing of Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson. The UCP government’s omnibus Bill 22 dissolved the Office of the Election Commissioner, who was in the midst of investigating and issuing fines for violations of Alberta’s elections laws during the UCP leadership race in 2017.
Government watch-dog Democracy Watch has called on the RCMP to investigate the firing of the Election Commissioner and wants a special prosecutor appointed to oversee the investigation to ensure there is no political interference.
MLA Thomas Dang was nominated as the New Democratic Party‘s candidate in the new Edmonton-South district. Dang was first elected as the MLA for Edmonton-South West in the 2015 election.
Dang received a considerable amount of media attention in 2017 when he tabled the Alberta Standard Time Act, a private members’ bill which would have ended the observance of Daylight Savings Time in Alberta. While the idea was fairly popular among the public, strong pushback by Alberta’s two professional hockey teams and a major Alberta-based airline company are believed to be what stalled the bill before it could complete second reading in the Assembly.
Getson is a manager of a pipeline construction and maintenance company. He will face NDP MLA and Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Oneil Carlier and Alberta Party candidate Don McCargar.
Speaker Wanner not seeking re-election
Medicine Hat NDP MLA Bob Wanner announced that he will not be seeking re-election when the next vote is called. Wanner, who was elected as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in 2015, was first elected in 2015, earning 38 percent of the vote. He previously ran for the NDP in this district in the 1993 election. The current Medicine Hat district faces a significant redistribution in the next election and has been redrawn into the new Brooks-Medicine Hat and Cypress-Medicine Hat districts.
Fildebrandt nominated as a Fildebrandt Party candidate
Freedom Conservative Party MLA and leader Derek Fildebrandt was nominated as his party’s candidate in the Chestermere-Strathmore district. Fildebrandt was first elected as a Wildrose MLA in 2015 and is now expected to face his former caucus colleague Leela Aheer in the next election.
With Christmas less than one week away, nominations appear to have ended for 2018, but the first few months of 2019 are expected to included a flurry of nomination activity. The UCP have eight remaining districts in which to nominate candidates and the NDP have already scheduled nomination contests in January in Airdrie-Cochrane, Maskwaskis-Wetaskiwin, Morinville-St. Albert, Sherwood Park, and Spruce Grove-Stony Plain.
Calgary-Bow – Paul Godard defeated Frank Penkala to secure the Alberta Party nomination in this northwest Calgary district.
Calgary-North East – Gurbachan Brar defeated Roop Rai to secure the NDP nomination in this district. Brar is the former President of the Punjabi Likhari Sabha and is a former Broadcaster at RED FM 106.7.
Camrose – Morgan Bamford is seeking the NDP nomination in this central Alberta district. Bamford is the Acting Supervisor of Indigenous Relations with the City of Edmonton and is the co-founder of Bamford & Henbest Research and Consulting Partners Ltd. He is vice-president of the board of directors of Volunteer Alberta.
Drayton Valley-Devon – Ronald Brochu is seeking the Liberal Party nomination. Brochu was the Liberal Party candidate in Edmonton-Gold Bar in the 2015 election, earning 3.1 percent of the vote.
Edmonton-Castle Downs – MLA Nicole Goehring is seeking the NDP nomination for re-election in this north Edmonton district. Goehring was first elected in 2015, earning 64.5 percent of the vote. Goehring’s main challenger in the next election is expected to be Ed Ammar, a UCP activist who ran for the Liberal Party in Edmonton-Decore in the 2012 election.
Edmonton-North West – Brandon Teixeira has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate in this district.
Edmonton-West Henday – Leah McRorie has been nominated as the Liberal Party candidate in this west Edmonton district. McRorie is a certified facilitator with the Alberta Caregivers Association.
Leduc-Beaumont – Coreina Hubert’s candidacy for the Alberta Party nomination is listed by Elections Alberta as not having been accepted by the party or constituency association. Hubert is the third candidacy to depart the Alberta Party nomination contest in this district, leaving Robb Connolly as the sole candidate. Connolly previously attempted to seek the Alberta Party nomination in the neighbouring Strathcona-Sherwood Park.
This nomination contest was contentious, with questions about the eligibility of Fordand former MLAMark Hlady in the contest. Ford’s candidacy was ultimately accepted and Hlady, who represented his district as a Progressive Conservative MLA from 1993 to 2004 and as the PC Party candidate in 2015, was not approved by the UCP to run.
According to Postmedia, one woman in Calgary-East “said she was solicited by Singh at his auto shop while getting her vehicle repaired last July, and soon after discovered her credit card number had been used to purchase a party membership.”
Calgary-Falconridge – Parmeet Singh was nominated as the NDP candidate in this northeast Calgary district.
Edmonton-South West – Kaycee Madu defeated Kevin Greco and former PC MLA Sohail Quadri to secure the UCP nomination on December 6, 2018.
Livingstone-Macleod – Roger Reid defeated Nathan Neudorf and Thomas Schneider to win the UCP nomination on December 8, 2018. Reid is the owner of Tim Hortons franchises in Nanton and Claresholm. He is the second Tim Horton’s franchaise owner to win a UCP nomination, along with Grande Prairie UCP candidate Tracy Allard.
Sherwood Park – Jordan Walker defeated Maureen Gough, Sean Kenny, and Len Thom to secure the UCP nomination in Sherwood Park. Walker is a conservative party activist and an Assessment Consultant in the Alberta Department of Labour.
Upcoming nomination meetings
With the end of the year approaching, Alberta’s political parties have begun winding down nomination meetings scheduled for this year. By the end of 2018, the UCP will have nominated candidates in 77 of Alberta’s 87 districts, the NDP will have nominated candidates in 33 districts, and the Alberta Party in around 50 districts. Here are the remaining nomination meetings being held in 2018:
December 12, 2018 – Richard Dempsey, Karri Flatla, and George Rigaux are seeking the UCP nomination in Lethbridge-West.
December 12, 2018 – Two NDP MLAs are challenging each other for their party’s nomination in the newly redrawn St. Albert district. Current Spruce Grove-St. Albert MLA Trevor Horne and current St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud are seeking the NDP candidacy. Both MLAs were first elected in 2015.
Renaud has been endorsed by eleven of her caucus colleagues, including Stony Plain MLA Erin Babcock, Calgary-Hawkwood MLA Michael Connolly, Calgary-Klein MLA Craig Coolahan, Calgary-Bow MLA Deborah Drever, Lethbridge-East MLA Maria Fitzpatrick, Edmonton-Castle Downs MLA Nicole Goehring, Edmonton-Ellerslie MLA Rod Loyola, Sherwood Park MLA Annie McKitrick, Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA Colin Piquette, Edmonton-Centre MLA David Shepherd, and Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Bob Turner.
December 13, 2018 – NDP MLA Thomas Dang is expected to be nominated as his party’s candidate in Edmonton-South. Dang was first elected in 2015 in Edmonton-South West, where he earned 53 percent of the vote and unseated PC MLA Matt Jeneroux.
December 15, 2018 – Manwar Khan and Keli Tamaklo are seeking the Alberta Party nomination in Edmonton-Manning. Tamaklo is a former member of Edmonton Police Commission, Vice-Chair of the Africa Centre, and former Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of High Prairie. Khan is a Business Coordinator in the provincial Department of Community and Social Services and founded Do Not Be a Bystander, after witnessing and attempting to intervene to prevent a murder on Edmonton’s LRT.
December 15, 2018 – “Mulligan!” Shane Getson and Leah Wood are facing off in the second UCP nomination contest in Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland. A previous nomination contest held in August 2018 resulted in a win for Onoway business owner Dale Johnson, who was later disqualified after the UCP discovered he was alleged to have paid $5,584.60 to an employee he fired with whom he was in a romantic relationship. A former member of the UCP interim board of directors, Wood was widely seen as the establishment favourite in the first contest and is in a similar position in this second nomination contest.
December 16, 2018 – Gurbachan Brar and Roop Rai are seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-North East. Brar is the former President of the Punjabi Likhari Sabha and is a former Broadcaster at RED FM 106.7. Rai is a constituency assistant to Calgary-McCall NDP MLA Irfan Sabir and was her party’s candidate in the 2016 by-election in Calgary-Greenway. In that contest she earned 20.17 percent of the vote in a competitive four-way race that saw PC candidate Prab Gill win with 27.7 percent.
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!
Photo: Jason Kenney and Tunde Obasan (source: Facebook)
Government audit manager Tunde Obasan defeated three-term City Councillor Mike Nickel and chiropractor William Farrell to secure the United Conservative Party nomination in the new Edmonton-South district. Three other candidates, Atul Ranade, Inderdeep Sandhu, and Payman Paresan, withdrew from the contest before the vote.
Nickel, who said in June 2018 that “I’ve done as much as I can do from a council seat,” will now presumably remain on city council until the 2021 municipal election.
Former MLA disqualified in Calgary UCP contest
Former Progressive Conservative MLA Mark Hlady has been disqualified from the UCP nomination contest in Calgary-Mountain View.
The former MLA wrote in a message to supporters that he was disqualified over a dispute over the date of purchased of his UCP membership. Hlady claims that the UCP made an exception in a similar situation with another candidate, who he does not name but is almost certainly a reference to nomination candidate Caylan Ford.
Members of the UCP Board of Directors in the district, including Hlady’s CFO, Dean Brawn, filed a complaint last month with the party over Ford’s membership status.
Hlady also claimed in his email that while the UCP disqualified him from the race, the party asked Elections Alberta to list him as having withdrawn on their website.
He represented Calgary-Mountain View in the Alberta Legislature from 1993 to 2004 and was the PC candidate in the 2015 election.
Schreiner seeking re-election in Red Deer
NDP MLA Kim Schreiner is seeking her party’s nomination for re-election in Red Deer-North. Schreiner was elected in 2015 in a 4-way race with 29.4 percent of the vote (Wildrose candidate Buck Buchanan earned 24.6 percent and PC Christine Moore earned 22.7 percent and Liberal Michael Dawe earned 19.3 percent).
And in Calgary-Falconridge, Parmeet Singh Boparai is challenging Paramjit Singh Mann for the NDP nomination. Boparai is the former president of the Dashmesh Culture Centre.
November 21, 2018 – Jim Black is expected to be nominated as the Alberta Party candidate in Brooks-Medicine Hat. Black was the Alberta Party candidate in Medicine Hat in the 2015 provincial election, where he earned 5.7 percent of the vote.
November 21, 2018 – MLA Richard Feehan is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Rutherford. Feehan was first elected in 2015, earning 63.9 percent of the vote. He now serves as Minister of Indigenous Relations and Deputy Government House Leader.
November 23, 2018 – MLA David Eggen is expected to be nominated as the NDP candidate in the new district of Edmonton-North West. Eggen has represented the Edmonton-Calder district from 2004 to 2008 and 2012 to the now. He currently serves as Minister of Education.
November 21 & 24, 2018 – There is a Wildrose Stomp in Camrose with four of the five candidates seeking the UCP nomination having run under the Wildrose Party banner in a past election. Former Edmonton-Ellerslie Wildrose candidate Jackie Lovely, former Strathcona-Sherwood Park Wildrose candidate Rob Johnson, former Calgary-South East Wildrose candidate Brandon Lunty, and former Wetaskiwin-Camrose Wildrose candidate Trevor Miller will face casino manager Dawn Anderson.
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!
Banff-Kananaskis – Miranda Rosin and restaurant owner Scott Winograd are seeking the UCP nomination.
Calgary-Acadia – NDP MLA Brandy Payne announced last week that she will not be seeking re-election in 2019. Payne was first elected in 2015 when she unseated former Justice Minister Jonathan Denis. She has served as Associate Minister of Health since 2016. David Guenter is seeking the UCP nomination.
Calgary-Beddington – Randy Kerr is seeking the UCP nomination.
Calgary-Elbow – Lawyer and former UCP leadership candidate Doug Schweitzer is seeking the UCP nomination in Calgary-Elbow. Schweitzer placed third in last year’s UCP leadership contest and if he wins his party’s nomination, he will face off against Alberta Party MLA Greg Clark in the next election.
Calgary-Foothills – Former Progressive Conservative MLA Jason Luan is seeking the UCP nomination. Luan served as MLA for Calgary-Hawkwood from 2012 to 2015, when he was unseated by NDP candidate Michael Connolly. The Foothills district is currently represented by UCP MLA Prasad Panda, who was first elected as a Wildrose candidate in a 2016 by-election to replace former MLA Jim Prentice.
Calgary-Hays – Two-term MLA Ric McIver is seeking re-election as the UCP candidate. McIver was elected in 2012 and 2015 as a Progressive Conservative and sought that party’s leadership in 2014.
Calgary-Klein – Two time Wildrose candidate Jeremy Nixon is seeking the UCP nomination. Nixon ran in this district under the Wildrose banner in 2012 and 2015. He is the brother of Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Jason Nixon.
Calgary-Piegan – Andrew Griffin and Jeevan Mangat are seeking the UCP nomination. Mangat was the Wildrose Party candidate in Calgary-Fort in the 2015 election.
Calgary-West – MLA Mike Ellis is seeking re-election under the UCP banner. Ellis was elected in a 2014 by-election and the 2015 general election as a PC candidate.
Cardston-Siksika – Joseph Schow and Marc Slingerland are challenging MLA Dave Schneider for the UCP nomination in this newly redrawn southern rural district that largely covers the areas included in the current Cardston-Taber-Warner and Little Bow districts. Slingerland was a Christian Heritage Party candidate in the 2006, 2008 and 2011 federal elections and the 2015 federal by-election in Foothills.
Drayton Valley-Devon – MLA Mark Smith is seeking the UCP nomination. Smith was first elected in 2015 as a Wildrose Party candidate.
Drumheller-Stettler – Nathan Horner is seeking the UCP nomination in this district, which is currently represented by UCP MLA Rick Strankman.
Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview – NDP MLA Deron Bilous is seeking his party’s nomination to run for re-election. Bilous was first elected in this district in 2012 and was re-elected in 2015. He was one of four NDP incumbents to run in the 2015 election and currently serves as Minister of Economic Development and Trade.
Edmonton-Whitemud – Nawaz Panhwer is seeking the UCP nomination. Panhwer is Infrastructure Manager for the Town of Redwater and the former VP Finance of the PC Association in the district. His nomination is being endorsed by MPs Matt Jeneoroux, Kerry Diotte, and Michael Cooper, and former PC MLAs Naresh Bhardwaj and Sohail Quadri.
Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville – Campbell Pomeroy is seeking the Alberta Party nomination.
Leduc-Beaumont – Sharon Smith is seeking the UCP nomination. Smith ran for the Wildrose Party in this district in the 2015 election. She placed second with 29 percent of the vote.
Lethbridge-West – George Rigaux and Rick Dempsey are seek the UCP nomination. Rigaux was the chief organizer for the Reform Party in British Columbia ahead of the 1997 federal election. He is reported to have resigned from that position before the election after the media reported him making controversial comments about the role played by the Sikh community in party nominations that year.
Morinville-St. Albert – Gibbons town councillor Amber Harris has announced plans to seek the UCP nomination. Harris made news in November 2017 when she raised concerns on Facebook about the construction of gender-neutral washrooms at the Sturgeon Composite High School.
Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin – Business owner Sandra Kim has announced plans to seek the UCP nomination.
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.
DST was introduced in Alberta after a 1971 province-wide plebiscite resulted in 386,846 votes (61.47%) in favour of adopting the change. This followed the first plebiscite, which took place in 1967 and resulted in a narrow defeat for the Daylight Saving Time change (248,680, or 51.25%, against the change).
While the time change is anecdotally unpopular, a CBC report suggested that lobbyists representing big-box stores, sporting and recreational goods manufacturers, barbecue and charcoal retailers, shopping malls and golf courses remain big supporters of Daylight Saving Time.
National Post columnist Colby Cosh chimed in today, taking a totally reasonable if it’s not broken why fix it? approach to the debate.
Since it was introduced in Alberta, there have been a handful of attempts by opposition critics and government backbenchers to abolish the practice or at least raise concerns about Daylight Saving Time.
In 1978, Spirit River-Fairview MLA and New Democratic Party leader Grant Notley tabled a petition in the Assembly from 36 constituents “living in an area of the province that comes closest to having the midnight sun,” which called on the government to hold a referendum or plebiscite at the time of the next provincial election.
In 1983, Walt Buck, an Independent former Social Credit MLA representing the Clover Bar constituency, asked in Question Period whether the Progressive Conservative government “if any studies have been done as to the feasibility of leaving daylight saving time year-round?”
Premier Peter Lougheed was quick on his feet with a non-response to Buck, “I have to admit I haven’t had a question on that subject since possibly 1972, and I would be somewhat concerned to ask the Minister of Agriculture or the Minister of Economic Development. So the question is quite properly directed to me. I’ll have to take consideration and decide who will be the fortunate person to whom I delegate the answer.”
Lacombe PC MLA Ronald Moore introduced private members’ bill in 1991 and 1992 which proposed the adoption of daylight saving time year-round. Both bills were introduced into the Assembly but did not make it further than first reading and were not debated.
In March 2015, Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville PC MLA Jacquie Fenske tabled a petition organized by Ruby Kassian calling for an end to Daylight Saving Time. More than year later, in December 2016, Vermilion-Lloydminster PC MLA Richard Starketabled a petition urging the government to introduce legislation to repeal the Daylight Saving Time Act and require the observance of Central Standard Time in Alberta.
Daylight Saving Time now longer than it was in 1972
The first Daylight Saving Time was observed in Alberta at 2:00 a.m. on the last Sunday in April in 1972.
In 2006, Justice Minister Ron Stevens introduced Bill 4: Daylight Saving Time Amendment Act, which moved the start of Daylight Saving Time to the second Sunday in March and ending the first Sunday in November. This was in response to the same change made by the United States Congress in 2005.
Despite its past reputation, Alberta politics has become extraordinarily unpredictable over the past decade. This makes forecasting the future a very tricky business for political pundits. As is tradition on this blog, each December I sit down by the open fire and pen a list of Alberta MLAs that I will be watching closely in the new year. Beyond the obvious choices, like Premier Rachel Notley or Finance Minister Joe Ceci, I try to look into the government and opposition benches to see who could make the news next year.
Here is my list of MLAs to watch in 2017:
Shannon Phillips (Lethbridge-West): The implementation of Alberta’s much lauded and much derided Climate Leadership Plan will be central to the government’s agenda in 2017. Navigating attacks against the incoming carbon tax, which led to the approval of two oil pipelines, will be critical to the success of the plan. Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips will also have to navigate the politics of replacing Alberta’s dirty coal fired power plants with renewable electricity generation, which could include potentially controversial hydro electric dam projects in northern Alberta.
Sarah Hoffman (Edmonton-Glenora): Now as Alberta’s Deputy Premier, Sarah Hoffman continues to prove that she is one of the toughest MLAs in the government benches. She has managed to navigate her role as Health Minister, a large and challenging department, and continue to serve as Ms. Notley’s chief political lieutenant. As I noted in last year’s list, she is a contender for strongest member of cabinet, and I place her in the “future Premier material” category.
Sandra Jansen (Calgary-North West): The former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister who crossed the floor to join the NDP in November 2016 could find herself with a cabinet post in 2017. Speculation is rampant that Ms. Notley could shuffle the cabinet early next year. Appointing Ms. Jansen as Minister of Energy could help shore up NDP support in Calgary, especially with the recent approval of two oil pipelines. Or perhaps she could replace embattled Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir?
Brian Jean (Fort McMurray-Conklin): What lies ahead for the leader of the Wildrose Party? After Mr. Kenney succeeds in his hostile takeover of the PC Party leadership in May 2017, Mr. Jean might be the only obstacle standing in the way of the two parties merging. He saved his party from the electoral abyss in 2015, but the well-meaning Fort McMurray politician will face significant pressure from his party and the federal Conservatives to step aside to let Mr. Kenney take over. It seems unlikely that his leadership will survive 2017.
Richard Starke(Vermilion-Lloydminster): If PC Party members want to preserve their party, rallying behind the MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster might be their only, and last, chance. Standing in opposition to Mr. Kenney’s hostile takeover, Mr. Starke appears to understand that his party’s success over the past four decades was not based in rigid ideology but in the ability to build a big tent that invited conservatives, moderates and liberals to the table. If he cannot win, then 2017 will be the final year for the PC Party in Alberta.
Thomas Dang (Edmonton-South West): Alberta’s youngest MLA could become known as the Daylight Saving Time Slayer in 2017. He announced this week that he plans to introduce a private members’ bill in the spring session of Assembly that would abolish the unpopular annual time-shift.
Christina Gray (Edmonton-Mill Woods): Labour Minister Christina Gray is not the most high profile cabinet minister but she is charged with steering some of the NDP government’s important policy changes. This fall she introduced reforms to Alberta’s electoral finance laws, and next year she will face the government’s much-needed review of the Workers’ Compensation Board, expected changes to the Labour Relations Code and implementation of Occupational Health & Safety rules under the controversial Bill 6 farm safety law.
Jessica Littlewood (Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville): She had a rough time while serving as chair of the Special Select Committee on Ethics and Accountability, but the trial by fire was more than most of her rookie MLA colleagues have experienced. Despite the committee fumble, Ms. Littlewood stands out as a well-spoken and articulate member of the NDP caucus. A junior cabinet position could be in her future.
David Swann (Calgary-Mountain View): The ernest and hardworking interim leader of the Liberal Party will step down from that role in June 2017. It is not clear who will succeed Dr. Swann, who is currently Alberta’s only Liberal MLA (he is serving his fourth-term as MLA for Calgary-Mountain View), which makes it difficult to predict what his role will be in a Liberal Party led by someone from outside the Legislature.
Compare this list of Alberta MLAs to watch to previous lists from 2016, 2015 and 2014.