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Thursday, May 31, 2007

fourteen rings to rule them all.

The official candidates list has been released for the June 12 by-elections in Calgary Elbow and Drumheller-Stettler. There are seven candidates in each race (and there's no shortage of right-wing candidates to split up the right-of-centre vote).

Al Brown, NDP
Craig Cheffins, Alberta Liberal
Jane Greydanus, Alliance
Trevor Grover, Social Credit
Brian Heninger, PC
George Read, Green
Jeff Willerton, Independent

Richard Bough, NDP
Larry Davidson, Social Credit
Tom Dooley, Alberta Liberal
Dave France, Alliance
Jack Hayden, PC
John Rew, Independent
Jennifer Wigmore, Greens

Though it's not unexpected, I'm still a little surprised at the amount of right-wing candidates that appeared out of the woodwork to run in these by-elections. Though Calgary Elbow still remains a race between Craig Cheffins and Brian Heninger, the Drumheller-Stettler race could end up having very interesting results depending on the vote split between Jack Hayden, Tom Dooley, Dave France, Larry Davidson, and Jennifer Wigmore.

(Apologies for the lame Lord of the Rings reference in the title...)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

note to self.

I'm wondering if this is what Ed Stelmach's notebook looks like...

Note to self- if the going gets rough, blame market forces!

(I wish I were the one who came up with this, but I stole it from someone far more intelligent than I. I'm sure she won't mind.)

two ads.

I thought these were pretty clever. And they're lot easier on the brain cells than the most recent ads from the other side.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

trouble in toryland.

The outgoing President of the Young Tories took a parting shot at Premier Ed Stelmach on the front page of today's Calgary Herald.

Outgoing executive members of the Alberta PC youth wing continued their assault Monday against the Tories and the Stelmach government, arguing their policies are rural, stale and ensuring a "slow death march" for the party.


The entire nine-member executive has resigned from the youth wing, largely due to the party's and government's lack of vision and attempts to muzzle young Tories, insist the former executive members.

"PC Alberta will continue its slow death march, to the beat of a rural drum and tired, stale policies," outgoing president David McColl, 26, wrote in an op-ed letter to the Herald.
There is also a surprisingly nasty letter on the front page of the YAPCA website. The Herald described the situation well.
Some of the outgoing members of the youth wing say they're disillusioned with the party's lack of vision and the way it kept the lid on their views and input. It is difficult to gauge the overall mood in the whole wing from a handful of dissenters, but what should worry Stelmach is that these are more people adding their voices to a chorus of disillusionment with his government that is growing steadily louder.
On that note, today's Herald also included a new poll showing Premier Ed Stelmach's disapproval rating in Calgary and Edmonton doubling to 29%, from 15% in January. In Calgary, the poll shows that Stelmach's disapproval rating has soared to 39% (from 18% in January) and is coming close to challenging his approval ratings of 44% in Calgary (down from 52% in January). The poll also showed that 41% of Calgarians believe Premier Stelmach is leading Alberta in the wrong direction (35% think he's taking Alberta down the right path).

Monday, May 28, 2007

warnings have been issued!

I thought this was a pretty smart ad on Alberta's affordable housing crisis and the provincial Tory government's lack of action on the issue. Credit goes to Dave Sawchuk and Q99 FM Radio in Grande Prairie for doing this one up.

Props to the daveberta reader who sent this my way.

the by-election connection.

The Prince Edward Island provincial election is today. A CRA Poll released on May 17 had the Robert Ghiz's Liberals at 49% to Premier Pat Binns Tories 42%. The Greens were at 5% and the New Democrats at 4%.

Closer to home, I spent Saturday campaigning in Calgary Elbow with Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft and candidate Craig Cheffins. Both were very well received at the doors in Elbow.

I'm still blown away by the amount of hostility the voters I spoke with held towards Premier Ed Stelmach and his cabinet. It's not just Mayor Dave Bronconnier who's unhappy with the Tories...

It's quite an excting by-election campaign. There are lawn signs everywhere as both the Alberta Liberal and Tory canadidates are campaigning hard in this riding.

Also, I can personally confirm that there is one more 'R' in Calgary Elbow than there was two weeks ago...

The By-Elections in Calgary Elbow and Drumheller-Stettler are set for Tuesday June 12.

Friday, May 25, 2007

homelessness on the radar.

The Canada West Foundation released a new survey on urban issues this morning...

The Looking West 2007 Survey finds that the majority of urbanites in western Canada and Toronto rate reducing homelessness as a high priority, and that they tend to favour increased affordable housing and increased programs and services for homeless people over an increase in shelter beds as a solution to homelessness. In addition, the survey finds that many urbanites feel that governments are doing a poor job addressing urban social issues such as poverty.
According to the survey, 68.8% of Edmontonians and 66.9% of Calgarians surveyed identified "reducing homelessness" as a 'very high priority' or 'high priority.' The survey also showed that only 17.6% of Edmontonians and 23.4% of Calgarians surveyed believed that governments were doing a 'good job' or 'very good job' addressing social issues (38.4% of Edmontonians and 34.9% of Calgarians surveyed believed that governments were doing a 'poor job' or 'very poor job' at addressing this issue).

Though I'm still fairly skeptical of surveys and polls, I do find these numbers quite interesting. With the affordable housing in Alberta becoming harder to find, I can only see this issue becoming more important in the future.

Read the survey here

Thursday, May 24, 2007

roster change.

The Edmonton City Council election roster looks like it's up for a bit of a bench change after the October elections.

Councillors who have announced they are not seeking re-election include Janice Melnychuk (Ward 3), Michael Phair (Ward 4), and Terry Cavanaugh (Ward 6). Councillors who have announced (or are expected to announce) their intentions for re-election include Linda Sloan (Ward 1), Karen Leibovici (Ward 1), Kim Krushell (Ward 2), Ron Hayter (Ward 2), Ed Gibbons (Ward 3), Jane Batty (Ward 4), Bryan Anderson (Ward 5), Mike Nickel (Ward 5), and Dave Thiele (Ward 6).

Council hopefuls lining up for October 2007 include Don Iveson (Ward 5), Ben Henderson (Ward 4), Amarjeet Sohi (Ward 6), Chinwe Okelu (Ward 6), Ton Caterina (Ward 3), and Donna Finucane (Ward 5).

The Mayoral election is expected to be a cake-walk for popular incumbent Mayor Stephen Mandel. Other Mayoral candidates that I know of include Dave Loken (who placed third in the 2004 Ward 2 Election) and perenial candidate Dave Dowling.

Mandel's popularity still amazes me. I know Liberals, Conservatives, and New Democrats who all have no problem supporting declaring their support for him. He's done an amazing job solidifying his support. Though I believe Mandel has been doing a superb job as Mayor, I tend to believe that public reaction to his performance has been boosted by the nine-years of the mediocre Bill Smith Mayorship.


I heard that Mr. Heninger removed his campaign office sign today...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

best headquaters ever!

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Pogessive Consevative candidate for Calgay-Elbow...

Monday, May 21, 2007

olympic ambassador-extraordinary and pleni-potentiary?

I wouldn't have thought Ed Stelmach would be one to create random patronage positions, but seeing as how the position of Alberta's Ambassador to the United States is already taken...

It was reported last week that former Tory leadership candidate Mark Norris is being touted as Alberta's Ambassador-Extraordinary and Pleni-potentiary to the Olympics.

Norris served as the PC MLA for Edmonton McClung and Economic Development Minister from 2001 until 2004. In the 2004 provincial election, Norris was defeated by Alberta Liberal Mo Elsalhy.

Norris placed 6th in the 2006 Alberta Tory leadership race, garnering 6.9% of the vote and endorsed Ed Stelmach during the second round of voting.

"One of Canada's top experts on the Olympics questioned why Alberta needs a promoter, since enthusiasm for the Winter Games is already high here, and many Albertans are likely to visit the West Coast for the events without the government having to drum up interest.

"I don't think you have to. I think there's some motive going unexplained, to create a whole post for that," said Bob Barney, founding director of International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario.

He said Olympic host cities routinely name ambassadors, but he's never heard of a position like that in outside jurisdictions."

Sunday, May 20, 2007

May 20, 2007

I hope everyone is having a good weekend. It's rained over the past couple of days in Edmonton, but thankfully it's not raining today. Here's a bit of a roundup from a busy week.

- Long-time Ward 6 Edmonton City Councillor Terry Cavanagh announced that after 27 years on Council he won't be seeking re-election in the October 2007 Municipal Elections. In April, Ward 4 City Councillor Michael Phair also announced that he won't be seeking re-election this Fall. Also, Dave Dowling is running for Mayor again...

Also, make sure to check out the Edmonton Municipal Politics blog.

- The Alberta Teacher's Association rebuffed Tory Education Minister Ron Liepert's Pension liability proposal.

- The Calgary Elbow and Drumheller-Stettler by-elections continue this week.

- I saw the film Radiant City on Wednesday night. Playing at the Princess II Theatre on Whyte, Radiant City is a documentary filmed in Calgary highlighting the problems emanating from the post-WWII suburban boom. Anyone who’s traveled to either Calgary or Edmonton in the past 5 years will see that these two cities are now dealing with many of these issues. I'd stronly recommend that more people go and see this film.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

a 3 dressed up as a 9.

This is why I chose to stay away from today's affordable housing rally at the Alberta Legislature:

"Was it a housing rally or a commercial for the New Democratic Party?

Most of the 300 or so on hand for the protest Thursday at noon at the legislature didn’t seem to mind much, but a few weren’t cheering as the third party used the rally to introduce candidates in the next provincial election and slam the oppositon Liberals with as much vigour as the government.

“I didn’t realize the NDP was going to do a rally here, I thought it was for housing. That’s really why I actually came down,” said Dave, a young married guy who wouldn’t give his last name. Dave and his wife have been evicted twice in the last two years for condo conversion and recently saw his rent go up $450.
Grandstanding, anyone?

kevin taft on affordable housing.

Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft on Affordable Housing

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

calgary elbow by-election.

The by-election in Calgary Elbow was called yesterday and it is anticipated to be a hotly contested race between Alberta Liberal Craig Cheffins and PC candidate Brian Heninger. The by-election is set for June 12.

As the affordable housing crisis and the battle between Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier and Tory Premier Ed Stelmach play out (almost daily) on the front pages of Calgary's dailies, these issues will likely play a big part in the Calgary Elbow campaign

Other nominated candidates include Social Credit candidate Trevor Grover, Alberta Alliance candidate Jane Greydanus (Ms. Greydanus has also authored 2063 posts on the Project Alberta webboard under the profile name "First Lady" and is engaged to former Alberta Independence Party leader Cory Morgan), and Green Party leader George Read. The mighty New Democrats have yet to announce their candidate.

Calgary Elbow was created in 1971 and MLA's have included David Russell (1971-1989) and Ralph Klein (1989-2007). Here are the election results since 1989.

Ralph Klein, PC - 6,958
Stephen Brown, Liberal - 4,938
Allison Roth, Greens - 668
Diana-Lynn Brooks, Alliance - 488
Becky Kelley, NDP - 345
Trevor Grover, SC - 69
Lloyd Blimke, Ind 51

Ralph Klein, PC - 10,213
Harold Swanson, Liberal - 4,533
Mathew Zachariah, NDP - 369
Monier Rahall, Ind - 166

Ralph Klein, PC - 8,237
Harold Swanson, Liberal - 5,195
Lera Shirley, SC - 421
Shawn Christie, NDP - 307
Frank Haika, NLP - 75

Ralph Klein, PC - 10,061
Madeleine King, Liberal - 6,142
Eileen Teslenko, NDP - 617
Steve Tobler, SC - 312
Miel Gabriel, Ind - 101
Bruce Hansen, NL - 85

Ralph Klein, PC - 4,505
Gilbert Clark, Liberal - 3,682
David Jones, NDP - 719
Larry Heather, Ind - 174

drumheller-stettler by-election.

The by-election in Drumheller-Stettler was called yesterday to replace former Finance Minister Shirley McClellan following her resignation in January 2007. The by-election is set for June 12.

Candidates include Alberta Liberal Tom Dooley, a local rancher and former County Councillor and Deputy Reeve. The Alberta Liberals didn't nominate a candidate in this riding during the 2004 election, so it should be interesting to see how a well-known candidate like Dooley places.

PC candidate Jack Hayden is a consultant and a former County Reeve. Hayden was also a rural organizer in Tory Premier Ed Stelmach's leadership campaign.

Alberta Alliance candidate Dave France was his party's candidate in the 2004 election and was also, according to the Alliance Press Release, nominated as the Alliance candidate in December 2007. The Alliance's support in Drumheller-Stettler will be telling as to whether the Alliance is really dying, as has been suggested (I've heard a rumour that Alliance leader and MLA Paul Hinman is seeking the PC nomination in Cardston-Taber-Warner).

Water has become a growing issue in rural Alberta and in the Drumheller area - especially since the proposed development of a shopping complex and racetrack at Balzac would divert water from the Red Deer River which flows through Drumheller for the time being (see more here)

Other nominated candidates include Social Credit candidate Larry Davidson, Green candidate Jennifer Wigmore, and New Democratic candidate Richard Bough.

Drumheller-Stettler was created in 2004 and includes portions of the former Drumheller-Chinook and Lacombe-Stettler ridings. Here are the results from the last election.

Shirley McClellan, PC - 6,770
Dave France, Alliance - 1,413
Richard Bough, NDP - 890
Eileen Walker, Alberta Party - 616
David Carnegie, Separation Party - 465
Mary-Lou Kloppenburg, Social Credit - 279

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

in the spirit of accountability and transparency.

In the spirit of accountability and transparency, I thought it was important that I take the next step in my blogging lifetime and lay something out for public consumption: my identity.

Now, to be clear, I've always assumed that anyone with a single shred of investigative knowledge would have the ability to use google and take the 2-5 minutes to figure out who I am (see example), but for those who haven't (and I'm not sure how many of my readers this includes), I have decided to expose my real life identity to you.

So, in this spirit, my name is David Cournoyer. I am a University of Alberta Political Science student.

I am the immediate past-Vice President (External) of the University of Alberta Students' Union and immediate past-Chair of the Council of Alberta University Students.

I am also working for the Alberta Liberals starting this summer. This being the case, I will do my best not descend this blog any further into the realm of partisan hackery than it has already traveled.

So, that's it.

alberta's housing crisis continues to explode.

As Alberta's affordable housing crisis continues to explode, a new poll has been released by the Calgary Herald detailing Albertans attitudes towards rent control:

Big city support for rent control

A new poll finds that a majority of Albertans in the province's two largest cities overwhelmingly support rent controls, which have been rejected by the Tory government.

An Ipsos-Reid survey provided exclusively to the Herald Monday found 78 per cent of home owners and 92 per cent of renters in Calgary and Edmonton support having government limits to rent increases.

"Some landlords are gouging and that's not fair," said Calgarian Daniel Johnson, 60, who recently received notice that rent for his one bedroom apartment is jumping to $1,075 from $575. He said although he understands that there needs to be moderate housing price increases, he strongly supports rent controls.

Renters are citizens just like everybody else and they are afforded no rights under the current system," said Johnson, who is working to establish a tenants group in Calgary. "If there was balance throughout it would be better.

Don Braid hits it right on the mark in his article in today's Herald:

The Tories have 19 MLAs from Calgary, one-third of their entire majority.

Theoretically, the government should be well-informed about what's going on in the city, and how people are feeling.

Too often, though, MLAs who pass on the gritty news from the inner city are ignored. The ones who win a happy reception are more ideological Tories who say what the inner circle wants to hear.

Renters and homeowners are not feeling so ideological. They want a solution to the rent crisis.

dropping the writ.

By-Elections in Calgary Elbow and Drumheller-Stettler were called this afternoon.

Writ Day: June 12.

More detailed post coming soon.


Here's what the media is saying about the June 12 By-Elections in Calgary Elbow and Drumheller-Stettler:

Maclean's: Cracks in Tory Monolith
Calgary Sun: Candidates off and running in Calgary Elbow and Grit feels Tories on a De-Klein
Edmonton Sun Grits anxious for Calgary Elbow
CBC: Alberta By-Elections to be held in June
770 CHQR: Former Klein Strategist Fears Riding May Go To Liberals

Monday, May 14, 2007

fresh rocky mountain air.

Apologies for my absence, but I've been enjoying the beautiful Rocky Mountains for the past week.

Stay tuned for a return to a regular blogging schedule.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

criss-crossing the floor.

Dan Backs, the Independent MLA from Edmonton Manning who was kicked out of the Alberta Liberal caucus last November is seeking the Tory nomination in that riding. Backs will be running against former PC MLA Tony Vandermeer for the nomination (Backs narrowly defeated Vandermeer in 2004).

MacEwan College Political Science Professor Chaldeans Mensah described the situation perfectly:

Chaldeans Mensah, who teaches political science at MacEwan College, said Backs is "a bit opportunistic" since his prospects of re-election are slim as an independent.
The Alberta Liberals will soon nominate Edmonton Lawyer Sandeep Dhir in Edmonton Manning. I was actually quite excited when I heard Sandeep was running as I know he will be a great candidate and MLA. His community experience includes serving as President of the Edmonton Inner City Housing Society, and involvement with the Theatre Network Society and the Law Society of Alberta.

Rumour has it that Ward 3 City Councillor Janice Melnychuk is considering carrying the New Democrat flag. But more recent rumours suggest Melnychuk is having second thoughts about jumping to the provincial scene to attempt to join the four-man New Democrat caucus. Melnychuk would be a strong candidate, but I wouldn't blame her for wanting to stick to City Council.

The area covered by Edmonton Manning has been represented by three parties over the past 21 years. As Edmonton Belmont it elected NDP MLA Tom Sigurdson (1986-1993). Since being created in 1993, Edmonton Manning has elected one Tory MLA - Tony Vandermeer (2001-2004) - and three Liberal MLA's - Peter Sekulic (1993-1997), Ed Gibbons (1997-2001), and the breifly Liberal Dan Backs (2004-2006). Regardless, Edmonton Manning will be a hard fought race as it will likely be hotly contested by all three parites.

On another note, it's been rumoured that Alberta Alliance leader Paul Hinman is trying to negotiate his way into the PC caucus...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

everyone needs a place to live.

Only a week after Premier Ed Stelmach ruled out using rent control to deal with the skyrocketing cost of housing and then changed his mind, PC Party delegates forced Stelmach to change his position another 180 degrees to turn against the use of rent control (again):

In the [PC] party's annual general meeting, delegates rejected a motion to adopt the resolutions of an all-party legislature committee that had urged Premier Ed Stelmach's Tory government to adopt rent controls.
Meanwhile, as Stelmach continues to not act on the issue, it seems like Albertans are being left to dry in a climate of skyrocketing rent costs.

Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft
has been continuing to hammer the Stelmach Tories on the issue.
Liberal Leader Kevin Taft says both Premier Ed Stelmach and Housing Minister Ray Danyluk got farm support payments last year.

Taft says its ironic that they take farm support cheques but wont help people struggling with soaring housing costs by imposing rent controls.

He says some Albertans are being forced to sleep in their cars and trucks because soaring rents and a shortage of housing.
Edmonton City Councillor Michael Phair responded
"It's very misguided," Phair said. "There are many people who rent across the province who will be quite disappointed that the [PC] party didn't take a different course of action."
Long-time Calgary Alderman Joe Ceci responded:
"I think it's indicative of the fact that the grassroots of the Tory party doesn't have the best interests of low-income people in mind," he said.
It seems that the Stelmach Tories have found themselves squarely on the wrong side of an explosive issue.

As someone who presented recommendations to the Affordable Housing Task Force earlier this year, it's disappointing to see that the Provincial government hasn't taken a strong leadership role on the issue.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

11:19 PM.

I'll defer to Dan for the time being (see #3)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

losing a fight.

Alberta's Tories are holding their annual convention in Edmonton this weekend and I'm sure it will be less exiciting than last year's convention.

As the Tory convention is going on in Edmonton, the waves of discontent continue to spill out on to the front pages of the Calgary dailies as Mayor Dave Bronconnier continues his massive assault on the rural-based Tory government of Premier Ed Stelmach. On the affordable housing issue, I think Bronconnier is clearly in the right. This is a province-wide issue that requires provincial leadership, not scattered municipal projects.

Graham Thomson has some interesting commentary on how Stelmach has shot himself in the foot over the affordable housing issue:

But then some Calgary journalists began poking at Stelmach. Why was he so upset with the story of one Edmonton woman? Didn't he realize Calgary tenants have been hit by huge rent increases for months?

That's when Stelmach unwittingly unholstered the gun and took aim at himself.

"I wasn't aware of anybody getting a $1,000 increase," he said. Bang.

The Calgary journalists were gobsmacked. They have been writing stories about Calgarians being hit by $1,000 rent increases since last August. There have been so many of those stories that journalists have stopped reporting on them and have moved on to heartbreaking tales of tenants being gouged by $2,000 a month rent hikes.

And here's Stelmach saying he's not aware of what's going on in Alberta's largest city. He tried to look compassionate but ended up looking clueless.

If Calgarians thought the new premier was too much of a northerner before, they must be thinking he's from Inuvik today.

This will only add to Stelmach's troubles in Calgary. For weeks, he's been hammered by Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier who feels betrayed by the new provincial budget. Bronconnier says there are so many strings attached to municipal grants the city is effectively hog- tied when it comes to spending money on necessary projects such as LRT expansions.

The Stelmach government, says Bronconnier, obviously doesn't understand the city's issues.

Bronconnier is wildly popular in Calgary. Stelmach is not.
Does this remind you of something?

Stelmach's position on affordable housing was made even more confusing when he did a complete 180 on his government's position on rent controls (See: May 3 and flip to May 5).

I don't know about you, but all this tension will sure make the upcoming by-elections in Calgary Elbow and Drumheller-Stettler interesting and leaves the opportunity open for Kevin Taft's Alberta Liberals to make more inroads into Calgary.