There are four days left until Election Day in Alberta.
Readers of the Daveberta will know I’ve been watching this Alberta election pretty closely and, while I’ve actually been watching all 87 ridings throughout the campaign, there are a few handfuls I’ve been keeping a close eye on.
Some of them will be close races and some will be won with landslides.
Here’s my list of 19 ridings I’ll be watching closely on Election Day.
With three days left until Alberta’s provincial election begins, most parties are still filling their slates of candidates. The United Conservative Party is the only party currently with a full slate of 87 candidates. The Alberta NDP have named 84 candidates and are expected to complete their slate of 87 by Sunday, April 30.
The NDP have nominated Colleen Quintal in Cardston-Siksika. Quintal is President of the NDP constituency association in Lethbridge-East and works as a staff representative with CUPE in Lethbridge.
The NDP are expected to name candidates this weekend in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, Grande Prairie-Wapiti and Taber-Warner.
The Alberta Party has named Wayne Rufiange is as their candidate in Morinville-St. Albert. Rufiange sought the Alberta Party nomination in the riding in 2019, but was defeated by former St. Albert city councillor Neil Korotash. He instead ran in Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock in the last election.
Brad Friesen is running for the Alberta Party in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo.
The Independence Party has nominated Rodney Bowen as their candidate in Central Peace-Notley.
The Wildrose Independence Party has nominated interim party leader Jeevan Mangat in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake and Mike Lorusso in Highwood.
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.
Rebuking a decision by the United Conservative Party to disqualify candidate Zulkifl Mujahid, the board of directors of the UCP constituency association in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo has voted to continue supporting him as their candidate. The motion was passed at a meeting on April 18.
Here’s the motion:
“Zulkifl Mujhid is the UCP Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo Constituency preferred candidate. He is democratically elected.”
The nomination vote followed another contentious annual general meeting that saw a slate of new candidates elected to the local constituency board of directors.
The UCP announced last week that it had disqualified Mujahid after court records revealed he is being sued for defamation by Sultan Zamman, the vice-president of fundraising for the riding’s constituency association. Zamman is seeking $250,000 in damages and a further $50,000 in special damages.
The UCP is expected to appoint a candidate to replace Mujahid before the election is officially called on May 1. But the board’s motion and the former UCP candidate’s continued posting on social media as if he is still a candidate could create some difficulty for whoever the is appointed candidate by the party.
There has been some speculation that the UCP could appoint Yao as the candidate. He is a long-time friend of the MLA from the neighbouring Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche riding, Brian Jean, and endorsed him in the 2022 UCP leadership race.
Yao appears to have spent most of the past week canvassing door-to-door with UCP MLAs running for re-election in Calgary ridings.
The election in this otherwise safe UCP riding in northern Alberta could also be made even more interesting by the entry of Wood Buffalo Municipal Councillor Funky Banjoko, who is running as an Independent candidate in the riding. Banjoko earned more votes than any other candidate running for municipal council in 2021.
Suncor laboratory technician and Unifor organizer Tanika Chaisson is expected to be nominated as the Alberta NDP candidate.
There are 37 days left until Alberta’s May 29 provincial election.
UPDATE: The UCP has appointed Tany Yao as the party’s candidate in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. With his appointment, the UCP once again have 87 candidates nominated to run in the next election (see the full list of candidates).
Subscribe to the Daveberta Substack
If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the Daveberta Substack. I am planning to share most of my writing for the upcoming Alberta election on Substack.
The UCP announced today that Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo candidate Zulkifl Mujahid was disqualified after court records revealed he is being sued for defamation by Sultan Zamman, the vice-president of fundraising for the riding’s constituency association. Zamman is seeking $250,000 in damages and a further $50,000 in special damages.
Mujahid defeated two-term MLA Tany Yao and Fort McMurray Construction Association President Keith Plowman in the UCP nomination in December 2022.
The UCP is expected to appoint a candidate to replace Mujahid before the election is officially called on May 1.
Wood Buffalo municipal councillor Funky Banjoko is running as an Independent candidate in the northern Alberta riding. Suncor laboratory technician and Unifor organizer Tanika Chaisson is running for the NDP nomination.
More nomination updates
The Green Party has nominated Robin George in Edmonton-Riverview and Cameron Jefferies in St. Albert.
Chitra Bakshi has withdrawn as the Green Party candidate in Edmonton-Mill Woods.
Yao was first elected to represent the riding in 2015 as a Wildrose Party candidate and was re-elected in 2019 under the UCP banner. A former paramedic, he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Health on October 24, 2022.
Yao has the dubious distinction of being one of six UCP MLAs caught in December 2020 and January 2021 travelling on a hot holidays (he was in in Mexico), while the Alberta government was advising Albertans to stay home to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
In 2020, Yao introduced a private members bill to allow private-f0r-profit plasma clinics to operate in Alberta. He accused critics of his bill of wanting to harvest organs from people without consent.
Yao is the second MLA and first UCP MLA to lose a nomination vote in this election cycle. NDP MLA Chris Nielsenlost his nomination to Sharif Haji in Edmonton-Decore in June 2022.
The United Conservative Party announced the nominations of incumbent MLAs Peter Guthrie in Airdrie-Cochrane, Angela Pitt in Airdrie-East, Jason Copping in Calgary-Varsity, and Todd Loewen in Central Peace-Notley.
Calgary-Elbow: Lawyer Chris Davis defeated past city council candidate Cornelia Weibe and lawyer Andrea James to win the UCP nomination. Recent UCP leadership candidate Jon Horsman had announced his candidacy in the race but did not appear on the ballot. The riding not been represented in the Legislature since former UCP MLA Doug Schweitzerresigned on August 31, 2022.
Calgary-Lougheed: Former premier Jason Kenney has resigned as MLA for the southwest Calgary riding. Kenney was first elected as MLA in a 2017 by-election and was re-elected in 2019.
Drayton Valley-Devon: Real estate agent Andrew Boitchenko defeated former constituency president Carol Vowk and Brazeau County Councillor Kara Westerlund to secure the UCP nomination. Boitchenko ran for the UCP nomination in 2018 but was defeated by UCP MLA Mark Smith. Smith is not running for re-election in 2023.
Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview: Felix Amenaghawon, Lana Palmer and Luke Suvanto are seeking the UCP nomination. A nomination vote is scheduled for December 20.
Edmonton-Mill Woods: Raman Athwal has been nominated as the UCP candidate.
Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo: MLA Tany Yao is facing Zulkifl Mujahid and construction association CEO Keith Plowman in the UCP nomination in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. Voting for the nomination closes at 9:00 p.m. tonight. UPDATE: Mujahid defeated Yao and Plowman to win the UCP nomination.
St. Albert: Past mayoral candidate Angela Wood defeated ministerial press secretary Melissa Crane to win the UCP nomination.
And as noted in the Alberta Today newsletter, Ontario political staffer Pierçon Knezic has been hired as the UCP’s Director of Election Readiness.
Livingstone-Macleod: Conservationist and author Kevin Van Tighem was nominated as the Alberta NDP candidate in Livingstone-Macleod. Van Tighem is the former Superintendent of Banff National Park and he has been an outspoken critic of the UCP government’s plans to allow open-pit coal mining in the Rocky Mountains.
The Green Party has nominated Catriona Wright in Calgary-South East and Ernestina Malheiro in Edmonton-Gold Bar, Kristina Howard in Edmonton-West Henday, Taylor Lower in Lacombe-Ponoka, and Tegra-Lee Campbell in Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright.
Upcoming nomination meetings
Here are the scheduled upcoming nominations:
December 4 – Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo UCP
December 8 – West Yellowhead NDP
December 9 & 10 – Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock UCP
December 10, 11, 12 – Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul UCP