Alberta NDP tops fundraising for 3rd quarter in a row, UCP expected to catch up in 4th quarter

Elections Alberta released the financial disclosures showing the results of political party fundraising in the third quarter of 2017.

Here are my quick thoughts on the latest fundraising numbers:

  • The NDP continue to demonstrate an impressive ability to raise money in Alberta. The NDP has raised the most of any party in the first three quarters of 2017.
  • This is the United Conservative Party’s first-ever quarter of fundraising, and I expect the party will raise significantly larger amounts in the next quarter when it has a permanent leader and when annual contribution limits reset before the first quarter of 2018.
  • This was likely the final quarter that the Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties will report any significant fundraising amounts. Both parties are now controlled by the board of directors of the UCP. Funds donated to the two parties in the third quarter cannot be transferred to the UCP or any other party.
  • The Alberta Party is attempting to position itself as a centrist alternative to the NDP and UCP, but it will not be much of a political force going into the 2019 election if it party cannot start raising significantly more funds than it has in the first three quarters of 2017. I would not be surprised if these embarrassingly low fundraising returns raise questions inside the party about the future of Greg Clark‘s leadership. I expect the influence of the Alberta Together group and the influx of former PC Party officials into the Alberta Party will force the issue at the party’s annual general meeting on November 18, 2017.
  • A number of third-party advertisers (frequently referred to by the media as Political Action Committees) raised significant amounts of funds in the third quarter. I hope to delve a little deeper in this issue in a future post.
Justice Myra Bielby is chairing Alberta's Electoral Boundaries Commission.

Alberta’s Boundary Commission recommends new Electoral Map for 2019

Photo: Justice Myra Bielby chaired Alberta’s Electoral Boundaries Commission.

The final report of the Alberta’s Electoral Boundaries Commission was released today with recommendations to redraw the province’s electoral map for the 2019, and presumably the 2023, elections.

The challenge facing the five-person commission was to redraw Alberta’s electoral boundaries to reflect growth and declining population in regions across the province. Without the ability to increase or decrease the number of constituencies from the current 87, the commission’s work was no easy task.

I was pleased to see the final report recommends new boundaries that will increase representation in the Legislature from growing communities such as Calgary, Edmonton, Airdrie, Grande Prairie, Spruce Grove, Cochrane and Chestermere.

I was pleased to see the final report incorporate a number of changes that I recommended in my initial submission in February 2017 and response to the interim report in July 2017.

In my response to the interim report, I recommend that the Commission attempt to keep districts within ten percent, and ideally within five percent, above or below the provincial average population per electoral district. The commission improved this average in the final report, with 73 of 87 districts now falling with ten percent above or below the provincial average.

The creation of the Morinville-St. Albert district north of Edmonton is an improvement from both the current boundaries and those included in the interim report. Rather than splitting the Sturgeon Valley communities like spokes in a bicycle wheel-like districts like the current Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock and Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater, drawing these communities into a common district north of Edmonton is a sensible choice.

The final report renames some of the odd district naming choices including in the interim report, such as Calgary-Airport, Edmonton-Mill Woods-East and Edmonton-Mill Woods-West.

The final report eliminates the problems with the shelter belt-like Fort Saskatchewan-St. Paul, Vermilion-Lloydminster and Stettler-Wainwright districts proposed in the interim report.

Eliminating the non-contiguous district of Wetaskiwin-Camrose and recommending the creation of a Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin district will bring together a large community of interest that was previously split into two districts. This is positive.

While the final report eliminates some troubling rural district changes that were included in the interim report, it does include some of its own odd boundary changes. Most notable is the hour-glass shaped Cardston-Siksika district that would include two large sprawling rural areas that connect through a narrow gap near Lethbridge.

The final report also recommends the elimination of the single urban Medicine Hat district in favour of creating two rurban districts, Brooks-Medicine Hat and Cypress-Medicine Hat. This may face criticism in Medicine Hat, which has had its own urban district since at least the 1960s.

Having to balance regional population growth and decline without having the ability to increase the number of districts makes the task of redrawing districts very challenging. The lines must be drawn somewhere. And while this final report will not please everyone, the commission should be commended for their hard work.

The final report will be presented to the Legislative Assembly in the fall session, which begins at the end of October, and will require the support of a majority of MLAs to be approved.

What does this mean for incumbent MLAs?

The boundary changes propose in the interim report could led to incumbent MLAs facing each other in next election.

In northwest Alberta, Grande Prairie-Smoky United Conservative Party MLA Todd Loewen could face Dunvegan-Central-Peace Notley New Democratic Party MLA Marg McCuaig-Boyd in the new Dunvegan-Notley district.

North of Edmonton, Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock UCP MLA Glenn Van Dijken could face Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater NDP MLA Colin Piquette in the new Athabasca-Barrhead district. And in northeast Alberta, three UCP MLAs – Brian Jean, Dave Hanson and Scott Cyr – will need to face the reality that only two districts will exist in their region in 2019.

NDP MLA Trevor Horne will see his current Spruce Grove-St. Albert district absorbed into a redrawn St. Albert district and the new Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland and Spruce Grove-Stony Plain districts. Much of the areas included in these proposed districts are currently represented by NDP MLAs Marie Renaud, Erin Babcock and Oneil Carlier.

 

Why every vote matters.

Here is a good example of why every vote matters, and can make a difference, on election day.

It might be the closest election result in the province. In Smoky Lake County’s Division 2, a tie between two candidates was almost a tie between three candidates.

According to the unofficial results posted on the County’s website, Linda Fenerty earned 79 votes, Hank Kwasnycia earned 79 votes and third place finisher Johnny Cherniwchan earned 78 votes. The County posted on their Facebook page that there would be an official recount of the vote at 10:00 am on Wednesday, October 18, 2017.

I expect that the County elections officer will have a tie-breaking mechanism to use if the vote is the same after the recount.

 

Sandra Jansen (left) and Premier Rachel Notley (right) at the press conference announcing the PC MLA had crossed the floor to join the NDP.

Former Tory Sandra Jansen appointed to Notley NDP cabinet

Photo: Sandra Jansen (left) and Premier Rachel Notley (right) at the press conference announcing the PC MLA had crossed the floor to join the NDP in November 2016. (Photo from Premier Rachel Notley’s Facebook Page)

It was widely expected to happen in 2017, and today NDP MLA Sandra Jansen was sworn-in to the provincial cabinet as Minister of Infrastructure. She takes over the portfolio from veteran MLA Brian Mason, who had served as both Minister of Infrastructure and Minister of Transportation since the NDP formed government in 2015.

First elected as a Progressive Conservative in 2008, Jansen was one of ten PCs to survive the NDP orange wave of 2015. After being driven out of the PC leadership race by social conservative supporters of Jason Kenney, she crossed the floor to the NDP.

Bringing Jansen into cabinet bolsters the number of NDP cabinet ministers in Calgary, which is expected to be a critical electoral battleground in the next election. Infrastructure issues, like the construction of a new cancer centre, were key issues for voters in the last election.

The NDP swept Calgary in the last election, but they will face a very steep uphill battle to re-elected many of those MLAs in the next election.

Jansen’s appointment to the provincial cabinet means the majority of Alberta’s cabinet ministers – eleven out of twenty-one – are women.

Other recent changes to the provincial leadership include the appointment of Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville MLA Jessica Littlewood as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Trade for Small Business and Sherwood Park MLA Annie McKitrick as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Education.

Under the old PC government, appointments of Parliamentary Secretaries, or Parliamentary Assistants, were used in some cases to provide training for backbench MLA’s identified as being future cabinet minister material. In other cases, when the PCs were burdened with large caucuses, some MLAs were given with Parliamentary Secretary appointments as a way of generating busy-work for backbenchers who might otherwise cause trouble for the government leadership.

Littlewood and McKitrick are the first two Parliamentary Secretaries appointed since the NDP formed government in 2015, so it is unclear what their actual role in the government will be.

Other notable appointments include:

  • Calgary-Currie MLA Brian Malkinson was recently appointed to the provincial Treasury Board.
  • Strathcona-Sherwood Park MLA Estefania Cortes-Vargas was recently sworn in as a member of the Legislative Review Committee.
Listening to podcasts is fun.

The morning after… Post-Election radio panel on the Ryan Jespersen Show

It was a late night watching the results come in last night, but I was up early this morning to join Ryan Jespersen‘s post-election panel discussion about yesterday’s municipal election results. If you missed it this morning on 630 CHED, here is the panel discussion with myself, Jespersen, Lana Cuthbertson and Kim Krushell:

And here is Jespersen’s morning interview with Don Iveson, fresh from his landslide re-election as Mayor of Edmonton:

Edmonton Election Results – A big Iveson landslide and few City Council surprises

Photo: Don Iveson celebrates his re-election victory with his family (photo: Twitter)

As expected, Don Iveson was re-elected Mayor of Edmonton in a huge landslide with 141,182 votes – 72 percent of the total votes cast in that race – increasing his total vote count from the 2013 election. Placing a very, very distant second was perennial candidate and pro-smoker advocate Don Koziak, who earned 6.7 percent.

Jon Dziadyk Edmonton City Council Ward 3

Jon Dziadyk

Of the City Council races, the most notable ended up being the surprise defeat of incumbent councillor Dave Loken in Ward 3, who was unseated by Jon Dziadyk by 464 votes. Karen Principe placed a strong third-place in this race. Loken, who was running for his third-term on council, becomes the first incumbent councillor to lose re-election since Don Iveson defeated Mike Nickel in 2007.

In neighbouring Ward 7, Kris Andreychuk ran an incredible first-time campaign placing 165 votes behind three-term councillor Tony Caterina. Caterina saw his share of the vote drop from 42 percent in 2013 to 33 percent in this year’s election.

Three new councillors were elected in Wards without incumbents. In Ward 4, Aaron Paquette finished first in a twelve-person race with 23 percent of the vote. Sarah Hamilton earned 35 percent of the vote in a nine-person race in Ward 5 to succeed retiring one-term councillor Michael Oshry. And in Ward 9, Tim Cartmell was elected with 41 percent of the vote over four challengers.

Sarah Hamilton Ward 5 Edmonton

Sarah Hamilton

Running what appeared to be a stealth re-election campaign in Ward 8, three-term Councillor Ben Henderson was re-elected with 36 percent of the vote. This is a 38 percent drop in support from 2013, when he was re-elected with 74 percent of the vote. Challengers Kirsten Goa placed second with 22 percent, James Kosowan with 19 percent and Eli Schrader with 11 percent.

In the Public School Board races, Michael Janz was re-elected in a landslide in Ward F. With 15,671 votes and 71.4 percent of the total vote, Janz earned the most votes of any trustee and council candidate and the highest percentage of any candidate in this election except Don Iveson.

In Ward C, Shelagh Dunn earned 45 percent of the vote, unseating incumbent Orville Chubb, who earned 18 percent of the vote. In Ward D, former CBC broadcaster Trisha Estabrooks was elected with 44 percent.

In Ward G, Bridget Stirling appeared to be in a tough race for re-election, but she defeated conservative activist Tyler Duce by a 33 percent margin. Duce’s campaign had broadcast a robocall endorsement from former Edmonton-Gold Bar MLA David Dorward in the final weekend of the campaign.

And in Calgary, Naheed Nenshi appears to have been re-elected as mayor, despite recent polls that showed him 13-points behind challenger Bill Smith.

I will have more analysis of the results and what they could mean for the next four years tomorrow (after I get some sleep).

Edmonton City Hall Elections

Edmonton Election races I will be watching on Election Night

Election Day is Monday October 16, 2017. Voting stations are open from 9:00 am until 8:00 pm. Use the Where to Vote tool to find your voting station and candidate list. Authorized identification is required to vote.


With less than 36-hours left until the polls open on Alberta’s municipal Election Day, candidates and their campaign teams will be pressing hard to make sure their efforts over the past month pay off.

Here are a few Edmonton City Council races I will be watching on Election night:

Aaron Paquette Edmonton

Aaron Paquette

Ward 4: There are twelve candidates running in this northeast Edmonton Ward. Ed Gibbons has represented the area since 2001 but decided not to seek re-election. With so many candidates there is a chance that the successful candidate could be elected with a small percentage of the total vote. It is difficult to make a prediction about who will win, but one campaign that sticks out is that of well-known artist and past NDP candidate Aaron Paquette. I am also watching Alison PosteHassan Haymour, Rocco Caterina, Justin Draper, and Trisha Velthuizen in this race.

Ward 5: One-term councillor Michael Oshry decided not to seek re-election. There are nine candidates in this race, but I am predicting that Miranda Jimmy, Sarah Hamilton, and Dawn Newton, and David Xiao will place in the top four.

Ward 7: Tony Caterina is running for his fourth-term on city council and, unlike most incumbents, he has always faced strong challengers. In 2010 he was re-elected with 48 percent of the vote and in 2013 he was returned to office with 42 percent. This time around, he faces a strong challenge from Kris Andreychuk, who is running a solid campaign and has the support of the two previous second place challengers (including Caterina’s council colleague Scott McKeen, now representing Ward 6). I have also been impressed by Mimi Williams, who placed third in 2013 but is running a noticeably better organized campaign this time.

Kirsten Goa Edmonton

Kirsten Goa

Ward 8: Councillor Ben Henderson was re-elected with 84 percent of the vote in 2013 but this year he faces a much more robust challenge from three main candidates – Kirsten Goa, Eli Schrader and James Kosowan. I have spoken to a number of voters in this ward who have been confused by Henderson’s low-profile campaign and my impression is that Kirsten Goa is the candidate to watch in this race.

Ward 9: With six-term councillor Bryan Anderson retiring, this looks like it could be a four-way race between Tim Cartmell, Rob Agostinis, Sandy Pon, and Payman Parseyan.

Ward 11:  Mike Nickel will be hard to beat, but challenger Keren Tang has been running a strong and well-organized campaign. Nickel was first elected in Ward 11 in 2013, but he ran for mayor in 1998 and 2001, and later served as Councillor for Ward 5 from 2004 until he was defeated by Don Iveson in 2007.

I am also watching a handful of Public School Board races, including Ward A, where incumbent Cheryl Johner is facing six challengers, Ward G, where incumbent Bridget Stiring is being challenged by conservative activist Tyler Duce, and Ward F, where my friend Michael Janz is being challenged by Yemi Philip.

Just outside of Edmonton city limits, here are some more races I will be watching:

St. Albert Mayoral Election: Councillors Cathy Heron, Cam Mackay and former councillor Malcolm Parker are running to succeed retiring Mayor Nolan Crouse. This bedroom community north of Edmonton is known for its nasty politics and divisive elections, and this year’s election was no exception. A slate of candidates, apparently friendly to Mackay, have been campaigning against the construction of a second library branch in the growing community.

Strathcona County Mayoral Election: Incumbent Roxanne Carr is facing a strong challenge from former Progressive Conservative MLA Jacquie Fenske, former mayor and past Wildrose candidate Linda Osinchuk, and past federal Liberal candidate Rod Frank.

Are there any other races I should be watching on October 16? Let me know!

Edmonton Best Selling Audreys Books

Oil’s Deep State by Kevin Taft continues to top Audreys Books’ Edmonton Bestsellers List

Here is the list of the top 10 fiction and non-fiction titles sold in Edmonton for the week ended October 8, 2017, compiled by Audreys Books and provided by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta.

Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers

  1. Oils Deep State Kevin Taft AlbertaOil’s Deep State: How the Petroleum Industry Undermines Democracy and Slows Action on Global Warming – in Alberta, and in Ottawa  –  Kevin Taft *
  2. To Hell and Back: A Former Hells Angel’s Story of Recovery and Redemption – Joe Calendino
  3. What Happened – Hillary Rodham Clinton
  4. Trudeau’s Tango: Alberta Meets Pierre Elliott Trudeau – Darryl Raymaker * +
  5. Powered by Love: A Grandmother’s’ Movement to Ends Aids in Africa – JoAnna Henry, Ilana Landsberg-Lewis, Alexis MacDonald
  6. Lightfoot – Nicholas Jennings
  7. Runaway Wives and Rogue Feminists: The Origins of the Women’s Shelter Movement in Canada – Margo Goodhand
  8. Farm to Chef: Cooking Through the Seasons – Lynn Crawford
  9. The Vietnam War: An Intimate History – Geoffrey Ward and Ken Burns
  10. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Edmonton Fiction Bestsellers

  1. This is All a Lie – Thomas Trofimuk *
  2. Slow War (Poetry) – Benjamin Hertwig
  3. Glass Houses – Louise Penny
  4. The Sun & Her Flowers (Poetry) – Rupi Kaur
  5. Bellevue Square – Michael Redhill
  6. A Legacy of Spies – John le Carré
  7. The History of Bees – Maja Lunde
  8. Manhattan Beach – Jennifer Egan
  9. Walking Through Turquoise (Poetry) – Laurie MacFayden * +
  10. A Tincture of Sunlight – Vivian Hansen * +

* Alberta Author
+ Alberta Publisher

Photo: Diana McQueen, Don Iveson, Jim Prentice and Naheed Nenshi sign the Framework Agreement that paved the way for the development of city charters on Oct. 7, 2014 (Photo source: Government of Alberta on Flickr)

Nenshi in a tight race while Iveson coasts to victory

Photo: Diana McQueen, Don Iveson, Jim Prentice and Naheed Nenshi sign the Framework Agreement that paved the way for the development of city charters on Oct. 7, 2014 (Photo source: Government of Alberta on Flickr)

With six days left until municipal election day in Alberta, the mayors in the province’s two largest cities are facing very different election campaigns.

In Edmonton, Mayor Don Iveson is expected to coast to victory, with none of his twelve challenger mounting the kind of campaign needed to unseat a popular incumbent mayor.

As I told Global News, “the two most high-profile competitors have been one candidate who talked about bringing back smoking in public places and another candidate who became notable for simply not showing up to election forums.”

The lack of challengers is not a surprise when considering Iveson’s high approval ratings through most of his first term as mayor. Not taking the lack of competition for granted, Iveson has kept up a healthy pace of campaigning and policy announcements, and has been spotted lending his support to a handful of incumbent City Councillors running for re-election – Andrew Knack in Ward 1, Dave Loken in Ward 3, Michael Walters in Ward 10 and Moe Banga in Ward 12.

Meanwhile, looking south to Alberta’s largest city, incumbent Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi appears to be in the fight of his political life. The campaign began with a showdown between Nenshi and Calgary Flames President and CEO Ken King over funding for a new hockey arena (sound familiar, Edmonton?), but the narrative shifted into a referendum on Nenshi himself.

Nenshi, who took pride in winning two previous elections by campaigning “in full sentences,” now faces a conservative establishment candidate who has forgone any deep policy proposals. Bill Smith appears to be running almost purely on an “I’m not Nenshi” platform, which appears to be satisfactory for a significant portion of the electorate unhappy with the current Mayor.

He can sometimes be brash and over-confiendent, but Nenshi has done a lot over the past seven years to help reshape more than a few preconceived notions about Calgary and Alberta into a more modern, progressive and urban place.

While I am told by Calgarians that the race is expected be close, I am very skeptical of a recent poll showing Smith with a huge lead over Nenshi. Recent news that bailiffs were recently poised to seize the property of Smith’s law firm over a defaulted loan worth nearly $25,000 could dampen the challenger’s momentum in the final week of the campaign.

Unlike Iveson, who is expected to coast to victory on October 16, Nenshi and his team will need to work overtime for the next six days to secure his third term in office.


Nenshi and Iveson shared the stage to deliver the 10th Annual Hurtig Lecture on the Future of Canada held at the University of Alberta in 2015.

Pierre Trudeau Peter Lougheed Alberta NEP

The rise and fall of (Pierre) Trudeaumania in Alberta

Trudeau's Tango Alberta Darryl Raymaker

Trudeau’s Tango

There is perhaps no greater myth in Alberta politics than that the National Energy Program, which all Albertans are told to believe brought untold devastation to the oil sector and salted the earth for the federal Liberals in this province for decades to come.

Looking beyond the myth, most Albertans might be surprised to learn that by the time the NEP was launched, it had already been twelve years since the (Pierre) Trudeau Liberals had last elected an MP in Alberta.

Long-time Calgary Liberal Darryl Raymaker does his share of myth-busting as he delves into a period of political optimism, generational changes and missed opportunities that swept through Alberta in the late 1960s and early 1970s in his new book, Trudeau’s Tango. Alberta Meets Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

An active member of the Liberal Party of Canada at the time, Raymaker’s book is rich with stories and anecdotes from the offices of party insiders and the trenches of the campaign trail during the Trudeaumania election of 1968. That election saw a federal Liberals breakthrough in Alberta, with four MPs elected, but a long-string of missteps and mistakes led to the party being shut out in the province four years later (and not electing another MP from Alberta until 1993).

Raymaker provides useful insight into the fraught relationship between the four Alberta Liberal MPs and their Ottawa masters, between Trudeau and Calgary’s nouveau rich oil industry, as well as the federal party’s reaction to the shifting ground that led Peter Lougheed‘s Progressive Conservatives to unseat the long-governing Social Credit Party in 1971.

One of the most fascinating stories Raymaker includes in his book is about the failed attempt to negotiate a political coalition between the federal Liberals and the provincial Social Credit Party. The political coalition was an attempt to solidify federal Liberal gains and keep Lougheed’s Tories at bay. The marriage negotiations failed, and as Raymaker argues, helped drive many traditional federal and provincial Liberals into Lougheed’s big-tent PC Party.

The institutional memory that Raymaker shares in this book is invaluable to anyone wanting to understand the politics of a period that had a significant impact on Alberta’s politics in the following decades.

While the context may be different, the book provides some parallels to today’s Alberta politics –  the electoral breakthrough by the (Justin) Trudeau Liberals in 2015, Trudeau’s friendly relationship with the government of NDP Premier Rachel Notley, and the ongoing political battles over oil pipelines and climate change.

Darryl Raymaker will be launching Trudeau’s Tango in Edmonton on Tuesday, at a free event open to the public at Audreys Books on Jasper Avenue. Edmonton-Centre Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault will be sharing a few words at the event and facilitating a discussion after Raymaker’s talk.

Edmonton Book Launch of Trudeau’s Tango
Audreys Books, 10702 Jasper Avenue
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The Energy East Blame Game. Who blames who?

Today’s announcement by the TransCanada Corporation that it would no longer pursue the construction of the Energy East Pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Saint John, New Brunswick triggered a storm of statements, accusations and criticisms from politicians trying to drive their political narratives.

While the reasons for the TransCanada Corporation withdrawing its plans are likely influenced more by economics than by politics, there will certainly be political implications for the politicians – like Premier Rachel Notley – who have tethered their governing agenda to the approval of pipeline projects.

So, politics being politics, here is a quick look at who is blaming who for the demise of the Energy East Pipeline:

The TransCanada Corporation blames existing and likely future delays caused by the National Energy Board regulatory process, associated costs and challenging “issues and obstacles” facing the project.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley blames “a broad range of factors that any responsible business must consider.”

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant doesn’t blame the TransCanada Corporation, but recognizes “recent changes to world market conditions and the price of oil have negatively impacted the viability of the project.”

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall blames Justin Trudeau, the federal government, and Montreal mayor Denis Coderre.

Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr blames the decision to cancel the pipeline project as a business decision.

Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer blames Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Alberta Liberal MPs Randy Boissonnault, Amarjeet Sohi and Kent Hehr blame “current market challenges related to world market conditions and lower commodity prices.

Calgary Conservative MP Michelle Rempel blames “Liberal ideological opposition to the wealth and prosperity of western Canada, to the detriment of the nation as a whole.”

United Conservative Party interim leader Nathan Cooper blames the Alberta NDP.

UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean blames Rachel Notley, Justin Trudeau and Denis Coderre.

UCP leadership candidate Jason Kenney blames the Alberta NDP carbon-tax and social license, and the Trudeau Liberals. He later also blames Denis Coderre.

UCP leadership candidate Doug Schweitzer blames Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley.

Alberta Party leader Greg Clark blames the Alberta NDP.

Alberta Liberal leader David Khan blames economic factors, describing the decision as “a business decision by TransCanada based on current economic and political realities.”

UCP MLA Drew Barnes blames Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

UCP MLA Prasad Panda blames the Alberta NDP’s carbon tax.

Karen McPherson Jamie Kleinsteuber Calgary NDP MLA

MLA Karen McPherson bids farewell to the Alberta NDP

Photo: Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill MLA Karen McPherson (right) and Calgary-Northern Hills MLA Jamie Kleinsteuber (left). Source: Facebook

There have been a lot of changes on the opposition side of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly this year, but today marked the first time since 2015 that we saw a decline in the number of MLAs on the government side.

Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill MLA Karen McPherson unexpectedly announced on social media this morning that she was leaving the governing New Democratic Party caucus in order to sit as an Independent MLA. Elected in the Orange Wave that swept Alberta in 2015, McPherson has kept a relatively low profile in the Assembly while serving as chairperson of the Standing Committee on Private Bills.

In a statement that in parts sounded somewhat similar to what former UCP MLA Rick Fraser wrote last month when he announced he was sitting as an Independent MLA, McPherson wrote:

“Alberta, in fact the world, is changing quickly and I believe our political processes need to reflect these shifts. Continuing to do politics the way it’s being done will lead to further polarization. We are missing the middle where we have more in common with each other than we are different. Albertans need political choices that inspire them, not scare them.”

McPherson’s letter was short on details but included statements about the need to transform the health care and education system and the role of technology in the economy, including expanding high speed internet to all rural communities (she also mentioned this in a promotional video produced by the NDP caucus in July 2016).

As a backbench MLA, McPherson’s departure is not likely to have any significant impact on the functions of the government. But it does mark the most significant breach of party discipline the NDP has experienced during their first term in government. To their credit, Rachel Notley‘s NDP have done an impressive job enforcing MLA discipline in the government caucus, avoiding the kind of embarrassing bozo-eruptions that have plagued the Conservative opposition benches over the past two years.

Despite her low-profile and her insistence that the decision was made without malice, McPherson’s departure does add fuel to the narrative that the NDP is weak in Calgary, which is expected to be a key electoral battleground in the next election.


SHOCKER: Callaway endorses Kenney

If McPherson’s announcement came out of nowhere, the decision by Jeff Callaway to drop out of the United Conservative Party leadership race to endorse Jason Kenney was the exact opposite. Most political watchers I have spoken with believe that Callaway’s only real reason for entering the UCP leadership race was to attack Brian Jean on Kenney’s behalf.

Edmonton Best Selling Audreys Books

Oil’s Deep State by Kevin Taft tops Audreys Books’ Edmonton Bestsellers List this week

Here is the list of the top 10 fiction and non-fiction titles sold in Edmonton for the week ended October 1, 2017, compiled by Audreys Books and provided by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta.

Oils Deep State Kevin Taft AlbertaEdmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers

  1. Oil’s Deep State: How the Petroleum Industry Undermines Democracy and Slows Action on Global Warming – in Alberta, and in Ottawa  –  Kevin Taft *
  2. The Unravelling: How our caregiving safety net came unstrung and we were left grasping at threads, struggling to plait a new one – Clem & Olivier Martini * +
  3. Runaway Wives and Rogue Feminists: The Origins of the Women’s Shelter Movement in Canada – Margo Goodhand
  4. \What Happened – Hillary Rodham Clinton
  5. The Dwindling: A Daughter’s Caregiving Journey on the Edge of Life – Janet Dunnett
  6. Finding Gobi: A Little Dog With a Very Big Heart – Dion Leonard, Craig Borlase
  7. Run, Hide, Repeat: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood – Pauline Dakin
  8. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Harari
  9. Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone – Brené Brown
  10. In Search of A Better World: A Human Rights Odyssey – Payam Akhavan

Edmonton Fiction Bestsellers

  1. Miriam’s Secret (Childrens) – Debby Waldman *
  2. This is All A Lie – Thomas Trofimuk *
  3. The Alice Network – Kate Quinn
  4. Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood
  5. Glass Houses – Louise Penny
  6. Annie Muktuk and Other Stories – Norma Dunning * +
  7. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  8. One Brother Shy – Terry Fallis
  9. This Was a Man – Jeffrey Archer
  10. Walking Through Turquoise (Poetry) – Laurie MacFayden * +

*Alberta Author
+ Alberta Publisher

We will not be divided.

We will not be divided” was the message delivered by political leaders in Edmonton and Alberta after an apparent terrorist attack that began with the attempted murder of an Edmonton police officer outside a Friday night football game at Commonwealth Stadium.

While it is too soon to tell what the longer-term impacts of this weekend’s incident will be, it is hopeful that our leaders have stepped up with calls of vigilance, love and solidarity, rather than vengeance and fear.

“We will not give in to hate, we will not give in to discrimination and we will not give in to terrorism,” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley told a crowd of hundreds gathered at a vigil organized by the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council.

We will not be divided.

Here are the statements made by Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Premier Notley:

Mayor Don Iveson:

We​ ​have​ ​all​ ​been​ ​tested​ ​by​ ​this​ ​attack:​ ​Edmontonians​ ​of​ ​every​ ​faith,​ ​Edmontonians​ ​of every​ ​culture,​ ​and​ ​especially​ ​the​ ​Edmontonians​ ​who​ ​protect​ ​and​ ​serve​ ​us​ ​every​ ​day have​ ​been​ ​tested.

But​ ​we​ ​have​ ​already​ ​shown,​ ​and​ ​we​ ​continue​ ​to​ ​show​ ​here​ ​tonight,​ ​where​ ​we​ ​stand.​ ​We stand​ ​together,​ ​all​ ​faiths,​ ​all​ ​cultures,​ ​We​ ​will​ ​not​ ​be​ ​divided.

Radical​ ​violence​ ​is​ ​about​ ​creating​ ​panic,​ ​sewing​ ​divide​ ​-​ ​we​ ​can​ ​either​ ​succumb​ ​to​ ​that, or we​ ​can​ ​rise​ ​above​ ​it.

In​ ​the​ ​last​ ​24​ ​hours,​ ​we​ ​have​ ​shown​ ​what​ ​we​ ​are​ ​made​ ​of.​ ​That​ ​Canadians,​ ​and especially​ ​Edmontonians,​ ​are​ ​filled​ ​with​ ​compassion​ ​and​ ​love​ ​for​ ​the​ ​victims,​ ​for​ ​our​ ​first responders,​ ​and​ ​for​ ​all​ ​our​ ​fellow​ ​Edmontonians.

This​ ​love​ ​and​ ​faith​ ​will​ ​be​ ​tested​ ​in​ ​the​ ​days​ ​ahead.​ ​You​ ​may​ ​start​ ​to​ ​hear​ ​persistent whispers​ ​or​ ​even​ ​shouts​ ​about​ ​certain​ ​faiths​ ​and​ ​groups​ ​in​ ​this​ ​strong,​ ​diverse community​ ​of​ ​ours.

I​ ​urge​ ​all​ ​of​ ​you​ ​to​ ​reject​ ​that​ ​hateful​ ​line​ ​of​ ​thinking​ ​by​ ​holding​ ​this​ ​loving​ ​thought​ ​in your​ ​heart:​ ​we​ ​are​ ​strong,​ ​stronger​ ​together,​ ​and​ ​we​ ​will​ ​not​ ​be​ ​divided.

It’s​ ​understandable,​ ​still,​ ​for​ ​us​ ​to​ ​be​ ​worried​ ​about​ ​our​ ​safety.​ ​That’s​ ​exactly​ ​what​ ​the forces​ ​of​ ​of​ ​extremism​ ​want.​ ​However,​ ​all​ ​evidence​ ​so​ ​far​ ​points​ ​to​ ​this​ ​being​ ​an isolated​ ​act​ ​by​ ​a​ ​single​ ​individual.​ ​And​ ​remember,​ ​too,​ ​that​ ​our​ ​well-trained, well-equipped,​ ​and​ ​courageous​ ​Edmonton​ ​Police​ ​members​ ​are​ ​out​ ​there​ ​working​ ​for​ ​us every​ ​day.

Your​ ​safety​ ​—​ ​each​ ​and​ ​every​ ​one​ ​of​ ​you​ ​—​ ​will​ ​continue​ ​to​ ​be​ ​foremost​ ​in​ ​our​ ​minds as​ ​we​ ​work​ ​to​ ​support​ ​our​ ​law​ ​enforcement​ ​agencies.

If​ ​I’m​ ​worried​ ​about​ ​one​ ​thing,​ ​it’s​ ​this:​ ​it’s​ ​a​ ​refugee​ ​child​ ​going​ ​to​ ​daycare​ ​tomorrow and​ ​feeling​ ​scared.​ ​But​ ​if​ ​we​ ​find​ ​it​ ​within​ ​ourselves​ ​to​ ​care​ ​for​ ​that​ ​child​ ​in​ ​the​ ​coming days​ ​and​ ​months​ ​and​ ​years,​ ​that​ ​person​ ​will​ ​look​ ​back​ ​on​ ​this​ ​moment​ ​and​ ​have​ ​felt supported​ ​-​ ​and​ ​included​ ​as​ ​part​ ​of​ ​our​ ​community.​ ​But​ ​I​ ​can’t​ ​do​ ​that​ ​for​ ​them​ ​alone, our​ ​police​ ​service​ ​cannot​ ​do​ ​that​ ​for​ ​them​ ​alone,​ ​and​ ​their​ ​family​ ​cannot​ ​do​ ​that​ ​for​ ​them alone.

We​ ​must​ ​do​ ​this​ ​all​ ​together.​ ​That​ ​is​ ​why​ ​we​ ​cannot​ ​be​ ​divided.

Therefore​ ​we​ ​will…​ ​all​ ​of​ ​us…​ ​continue​ ​to​ ​reject​ ​racism,​ ​continue​ ​to​ ​reject​ ​islamophobia,and​ ​continue​ ​to​ ​reject​ ​radicalization​ ​in​ ​all​ ​its​ ​forms.​ ​Because​ ​we​ ​will​ ​not​ ​be​ ​divided.

Premier Rachel Notley:

“The horrific events last night in downtown Edmonton have left us shocked and angry. It’s left us shocked at the indiscriminate cruelty and angry that someone might target their hatred at places where we gather with our families and friends.

“Our first responders are incredible people. Thank you to each and every one of our police officers, paramedics and firefighters who put their lives on the line to keep us safe. Thank you, also, to the women and men who dropped everything to help their fellow Albertans. Your bravery in moments of fear and your compassion in moments of chaos are what’s very best about us.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and their loved ones, and with everyone who witnessed last’s violence.

“As we learn more about what happened last night, I encourage everyone to remain vigilant and to listen to law enforcement authorities.

“Hatred has no place in Alberta. It’s not who we are. We are in this together and together we are stronger than any form of hate.”

You’ll be surprised who is on Elections Alberta’s list of banned candidates

A ruling by Court of Queen’s Bench Mr. Justice William Tilleman has lifted a ban imposed on past election candidate Jamie Lall, allowing him to run in the next provincial election if he chooses. Section 57 of Alberta’s Election Act allows the Chief Elections Officer to deem an individual as prohibited from being nominated as a provincial election candidate for a period of eight or five years if they fail to file the proper financial statements with Elections Alberta following the election.

Hugh Sommerville

Hugh Sommerville

Before changes were made to Alberta’s elections laws in 1983, the head of Elections Alberta had the authority to rule individuals indefinitely ineligible to stand for provincial office if they failed to submit their financial returns on time. Three individuals are still listed as being indefinitely ineligible to run as a candidate.

“These things can happen when you’re 22 years old, and get talked into running,” wrote Hugh Sommerville in an email to the publisher of this website. The respected Drumheller-based lawyer was surprised to learn that 38 years after he stood as a provincial election candidate, he is still listed by Elections Alberta as being indefinitely ineligible to run again.

Sommerville has been elected to the board of the Law Society of Alberta and was appointed to the Alberta Health Services Board of Directors in 2015, but in 1979 he ran as a candidate for the New Democratic Party in the Three Hills constituency. He earned 222 votes.

Jamie Lall PC Chestermere Rocky View

Jamie Lall

“I ended up being ineligible because my campaign spent absolutely no money, and my campaign manager left the province for employment in Saskatchewan without filing papers to say that,” Sommerville wrote. “I was working in Fort McMurray at the time, and my mail was being sent to the family farm. By the time I actually received notice that my campaign manager had neglected to file, I was already on the naughty list,” he wrote.

The other two past candidates listed as indefinitely ineligible are Claire Williscroft, another NDP candidate in the 1979 election, and Barry Cook, an Independent candidate in the 1982 election.

“I suppose I should look into whether it is possible to get my name off the list after 38 years,“ Sommerville wrote, noting that he has no intention of running in any future provincial election.

As for Lall, he is now a member of the United Conservative Party but says he is not sure if he will run in the next provincial election, expected to be held in 2019.


Included on the list of individuals prohibited from running or serving as chief financial officers until May 9, 2024, are Edmonton City Council candidates Tony Caterina and Rocco Caterina. The senior Caterina, Tony, ran as a Progressive Conservative the 2015 election, and his son Rocco, served as his chief financial officer.

Tony Caterina told Metro Edmonton in June 2016 that he filed his financial disclosures, but was unable to retire an $11,000 deficit he incurred during the campaign.