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Friday, February 29, 2008

preventive democracy.

"After the election is over we want to make sure that every area has an equal opportunity to cast their ballots"
Ed Stelmach

Thursday, February 28, 2008

the laws of god and politics in alberta.

With only days left in the 2008 Alberta election campaign, here's a look at what's making waves...

- Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock PC MLA and Assembly Speaker Ken Kowalski is running for his ninth term as MLA and has released a series of hard hitting ads in his constituency. The ads from the Speaker of the House touched on hard hitting issues that matter to voters. They are highlighted in the first point in Kowalski's ad in this week's Morinville Mirror:

"While human beings can create laws, the laws of God must take precedence."
- Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft is talking about bringing the Legislature on the road and back to the people.

- Tory leader Ed Stelmach has clarified his position on the 300,000 jobs that he said Kevin Taft's climate change plan would cost.

On Tuesday in Calgary, the question arose again, and as Stelmach was formulating an answer, his communications adviser jumped in with some prodding: "Across Canada, make that clear, premier, Alberta and across Canada."

The Tory leader then said, "Yeah, these are 300,000 jobs across the country of Canada, and that's a small amount given the fact that 745,000 jobs rely on the oil and gas industry in the country of Canada."

- Appointed Chinook Health Board member Donna Bier is under fire for taking out an ad using her appointed position to endorse the Tory candidate running against Lethbridge-East Alberta Liberal MLA Bridget Pastoor.

- Watch out for Green candidate Joe Anglin in Lacombe-Ponoka. I'm expecting some interesting number in Anglin's race against Tory Ray Prins on Monday, March 3.

- Sherwood Park Tory Iris Evans got shrugged off by Edmonton Tory candidates on her proposed Strathcona Country veto on regional planning.

- 75% of Tory MLAs who responded to a Pembina Institute survey think that tarsands development in Fort McMurray shouldn't go unchecked, something Ed Stelmach disagrees with...

mandel at mcclung.

found its way into my inbox this week:

This month's Young McClung meeting will be held on this Thursday, February 28th, from 7-8PM at the Wolf Willow Starbucks (corner of 69ave and 170st)! We will be graced with the presence of his Worship, Mayor Stephen Mandel, who will be speaking on his role as Mayor of our city and taking questions!
*Please note that Mayor Mandel will not be taking questions regarding the 2008 Alberta provincial elections.

Young McClung is a non partisan Youth political group which runs out of the Edmonton-McClung constituency that meets monthly over coffee to discuss various topics in politics.

cro fiasco spreads to edmonton-castle downs.

The Tory CRO scandal continues after it was uncovered that the Returning Officer in Edmonton-Castle Downs is the former Executive Assistant to the current Tory MLA Thomas Lukaszuk. Earlier in the campaign, it became public that after the current Tory government ignored recommendations by the Chief Electoral Officer to clean-up Alberta's election system, lists of appointees for these positions continued to be generated by the PC Party and the Premier's Office.

In 2004, Castle Downs was the home to the closest race in the province after Lukaszuk defeated Alberta Liberal Chris Kibermanis by 3 votes after three judicial recounts.

Read previous posts on the CRO fiasco here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

strathcona veto.

Sherwood Park Tory Iris Evans believes that Strathcona County should get a veto on the newly created Edmonton-area planning board:

That contradicts Premier Ed Stelmach's government's plan to allow a new regional board to make binding decisions -- no vetoes -- on regional land-use planning and intermunicipal transit.

"Once a regional plan is approved it has to be adhered to by all," said the government statement outlining its decisions in December.

Evans said Tuesday county residents have always feared a waste-management facility would be forced upon them. Even though there's no talk of such a thing, the fear lingers, she said.
So, Evans is advocating for a change to the regional planning agreement that took so long to finally become a reality over something that no one is even talking about? Keep up the good work, Iris...

Monday, February 25, 2008

ed stelmach and the global zombie war.

Here's a bit of a look around the start of the last week of Alberta's 2008 provincial election campaign...

- Hey, Ed! You say Kevin Taft's environmental plan will cost Alberta 300,000 jobs. Where'd ya get your numbers? Kim Trynacity would like to know (Rumour has it that Ed's source also thinks that Taft's environmental plan will cause the breakdown of civilization and ignite a global zombie war).

- What would Preston think? Former Reform Party communications guru Ron Wood fires off a letter of support to the Alberta Liberals.

- Ed Stelmach pulls out the Ken Lay card in the final week of the campaign, but a Tory insider thinks Stelmach is playing from the wrong deck:

"Taft is not the problem -- it's the 18 per cent undecided that's the problem," the Conservative said. "They've got to be running a campaign in the final week to get the undecided off the couch."

"Now that you have their undivided attention, start talking about your campaign, your candidates and what you will do. Don't send out bulletins obsessing about Taft."

- Some are more equal than others. Why are rural Albertans worth more than city folk?

- Keep it classy, folks. Aman Gill, Alberta Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Mill Creek, is the target of racist vandalism.

- Calgary-Egmont is the "Baskin Robbins of the Conservative Party."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

new podcast.

I've uploaded a new podcast, this time recapping Thursday night's Leaders' Debate.

alberta election 2008: calgary-currie.

Created in 1971, Calgary-Currie was a reliably Progressive Conservative stronghold until 2004.

From 1993 to 2001, Tory Jocelyn Burgener easily held this Currie for her party. In 2001, Burgener was replaced by PGIB-backed Calgary Alderman Jon Lord. Lord was easily elected as a Tory in that election. In 2004, Currie was home to a high profile race when the Alberta Liberals attracted high-profile candidate Dave Taylor, a popular QR77 Radio host in Calgary. With a strong campaign and a slight redistribution of Currie's boundaries (taking in Liberal-friendly areas of Calgary-Buffalo), Taylor defeated Lord by over 500-votes. In 2008, Currie is seen as one of the hot races in Calgary as both the Alberta Liberals and Tories are fighting hard for this constituency...

Before he was first elected in 2004, Taylor was a well-known radio host on QR77, and had also been involved in the Feed the Hungry Dinner at St. Mary’s Cathedral and with the Christmas Hamper Program at McDougall United Church. Since being elected in 2004, Taylor has served Alberta Liberals Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister of Advanced Education and Housing. I worked closely with Taylor while I was Chair of the Council of Alberta University Students last year in fighting against former-Advanced Education Minister Denis Herard's move to de-legislate Alberta's tuition policy (which now allows the PCs to change Alberta's tuition policy in a closed-door cabinet meeting, rather than allowing public debate in the Legislature). Though I've had people tell me that Taylor's aggressive style rubs them in wrong way, the same people have also said that they think he's a hard working MLA (apparently, Rod Love does as well...).

PC candidate Arthur Kent was a correspondent for NBC when he made a name for himself as the "Scud Stud" during the first Persian Gulf War in 1990-91. Kent graduated from Carleton University and worked as an independent journalist until joining NBC. He left NBC in 1992 and worked for a number of international media outlets since then. Though he benefited from initial excitement when he was first nominated as Currie's Tory candidate, Kent's shine quickly wore off following his faux-public dispute with Ed Stelmach (Kent is being a little more strategic in his "anti-Ed" strategy than one former Tory candidate). Kent wasn't helped when the National Post's Don Martin took aim at the "Scud Dud" early in the campaign. It doesn't look like the bad publicity is hampering Kent, as he continues his campaign against Taylor (to his credit, Kent is also hosting a video blog on his website).

NDP candidate Marc Power is a University of Calgary Political Science graduate, social activist, and debater. As much as it pains me to give advice to an ND candidate, here's my bit of advice for Power: you look like a good candidate and would probably do well in a constituency where the NDs stand a chance (ie: probably not in Calgary). Unfortunately, in this race, Power is easily overshadowed by the two high profile Alberta Liberal and PC candidates.

Alberta Alliance candidate Ken Mazeroll is a sheet metal worker who, according to his online biography, is blue-collared and proud of it. The Greens candidate is Graham MacKenzie.

Between 2004 and 2006, Currie's population grew by 24.64%, bringing over 6,000 new registered voters to this constituency. Currie's diversity makes this an interesting constituency: 24.1% of Currian families have income levels about $100,000 and 29.3% have income levels lower than $40,000. Also interesting is that 45% of Currie voters are between the age of 25 to 44.

Robin Darsi was appointed Calgary-Currie's returning officer after he lost the bid for the Tory nomination against Kent.

Calgary-Currie 2008 Election candidates

Alberta Liberal - Dave Taylor
Green - Graham MacKenzie
ND - Marc Power
PC - Arthur Kent
Wildrose Alliance - Ken Mazeroll
Calgary-Currie Past-Election Results
Dave Taylor, Lib - 5,046
x Jon Lord, PC - 4,412
Kim Warnke, Grn - 813
Robert Scobel, NDP - 468
Ken Mazeroll, AA - 348
Voter Turnout: 45.3%

Jon Lord, PC - 6,922
Pat Murray, Lib - 2,667
Garth Mundle, NDP - 1,114
J. Bruce Miller, Ind - 434
Voter Turnout: 48.3%

x Jocelyn Burgener, PC - 5,952
Mairi Matheson, Lib - 3,636
Liz Blackwood, NDP - 712
Jeff Townsend, SC - 610
Richard Shelford, NL - 109
Voter Turnout: 49.1%

Friday, February 22, 2008

weekly youtube roundup.

Here's a quick look at some of the Alberta 2008 election-related YouTube videos that caught my attention this week. If you come across some good ones, email me the link at and I'll post them next Friday.

Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman on CityTVs Breakfast Television

Calgary Alderman Druh Farrell endorses Calgary-Foothills Alberta Liberal candidate Mike Robinson in this video.

The PC-Elections Officials fiasco continues as CBC Calgary has uncovered another story, this time in Calgary-McCall...

Wildrose Alliance Leader Paul Hinman delivers a zinger...

And finally, the makers of "No Plan" have brought Albertans a sequel - "Money."

Click here to check out more YouTube videos.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

alberta election 2008: analyizing the charisma hour (aka leaders' debate 2008).

(This post was cross-posted with more comment at CBC YouCast, so check it out!)

Overall, I don't believe that there was clear winner of tonight's debate. To varying degrees all of the leaders looked pretty uncomfortable in this debate, though do I believe that each of them can walk away with something to be proud of:

Tory leader Ed Stelmach survived the debate. Walking into this debate, the expectations for Stelmach were so low that even if he did moderately well, it would be seen as a win for him. For the most part, Stelmach remained calm and did better than I had expected. Though he could have broken out of his cardboard form and smiled more (or shown any sign of emotion for that matter), I think surviving this debate can be counted as a personal win for the Tory leader (though not a win or the PC Party). With the debate over, Stelmach probably feels like the world has been lifted from his shoulders (until tomorrow morning when campaigning resumes, that is).

Alberta Liberal Kevin Taft tried to portray a positive image. He was calm and composed for most of the debate, though there were times where it seems like he came close to going off message. Throughout the debate it was clear that Taft was picking his fights carefully, but he should have been more aggressive in challenging Stelmach. He did his best to appear Premier-like, but I'm not sure if he was able to ignite the spark that Albertans were looking for in this debate. To his credit, Taft didn't let Brian Mason get under his skin and only snapped back at Mason once, which was a feat considering how aggressive Mason was attacking him.

New Democrat leader Brian Mason played his role well as the relentless attack dog of the debate. Though he did spend time attacking Stelmach, it seemed like Mason spent most of the debate attacking Taft, which isn't surprising considering that the NDP will need to take support away from the Liberals if they are going to gain any seats. I don't think that Mason accomplished his implied goal of knocking Kevin Taft out of the debate, but I do think he succeeded in staying on target.

I've never realized until tonight how similar Wildrose Alliance leader Paul Hinman looks like Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Going into this debate, I didn't really have any expectations for Hinman, but I believe he performed well and may just have succeeded in drawing a chunk of right-wing voters away from the Tories to his Wildrose Alliance.

Not invited to the debate was Alberta Green Leader George Read. Read will be releasing his response to the debate via YouTube, so I encourage everyone to check it out.

Has this debate helped undecided voters make their decision? Has this debate helped voters change their minds on who to vote for? I'd bet no, but I'm not taking any bets in this election.

Check out more reactions from Calgary Grit, ES Nation, Election Notebook, Joel Kom, and AlbertaTory.

post-debate poll.

I've posted a post-debate poll on the sidebar... voter early and vote often...

welcome to the charisma hour! live-blogging alberta's leaders' debate.

Welcome to liveblogging of the 2008 Alberta Leaders' Debate.

6:28 PM: It looks like the Mr. McLean and Mr. Markusoff from the Edmonton Journal's Election Notebook will be giving me a run for my money as those two intrepid journalists try their hand at liveblogging the debate.

Game on, Gentlemen!

6:39PM: We need change. Change. Change. Change. I think the leaders have said "change" at least 50 times by this point.

You can comment on CBC.

6:41 PM: Short commercial break... thoughts so far? After a short technical glitch, I finally have the debate on fully...

6:44 PM: For some blatantly partisan Tory liveblogging, make sure to check out my friend Blake's blog at albertatory.

6:45 PM: Kim Trynacity asked a question to Taft about health care. Taft gives a decent answer. Hinman responds, talking about incentives for hospitals? C'est quoi? Innovative ideas... sure. Ed Stelmach is talking about a health care high school...

6:49 PM: Paul Hinman says "I agree with Mr. Mason" and tears a hole in the space time continuum.

6:53 PM: CalgaryGrit and Joel Kom are liveblogging too.

6:54 PM: This is a pretty disappointing debate so far...

6:58 PM: I'm watching the CBC coverage. Duane Bratt from Mount Royal College is on talking about the back to back health care questions. I feel like I'm watching TSN... the coverage style is fun...

7:00 PM: Segment #3 is beginning! Let's get some more questions! "Convince the viewers that you are a leader and a strong leaders for Alberta!" IN 30 SECONDS! GO!

7:01 PM: Kevin Taft: "Charisma never built a hospital or balanced a budget."

7:02 PM: Stelmach isn't actually doing that bad. So far, they've all been cut off. Brian Mason: "My wife thinks I'm charismatic."

7:05 PM: Phew! All the leaders think Alberta's a great place... it's a pretty unfair question to ask for responses in 30 seconds...

7:08 PM: Graham Thomson to Kevin Taft: Is it time for a policy to slow down the oilsands and Alberta's heated economy? Taft gives a pretty solid response, need to pace development and respect the environment.

Stelmach is attacking Jean Chretien!!!

7:11 PM: Hinman attacks Stelmach: you're not listening to industry, you're listening to your heart. Brian Mason sob story... it's about the little people, not big oil. Stelmach cares about the little people - Alberta is a beacon of hope.

7:14 PM: As I predicted, Stelmach is doing better than people predicted (which really isn't saying much considering the expectations were pretty low). He answered the leadership question pretty well, but has stumbled on other questions. Mason has been pretty aggressive. Taft is staying collective and picking his fights, but needs to get in there more.

7:18 PM: Taft: "If you protect the environment, you protect jobs and the economy." Taft did a pretty solid job answering the question on the environment.

7:20 PM: Stelmach is sticking to his script, but isn't really animated. He should show more emotion.

Brian Mason is spending most of his time attacking Kevin Taft. Taft fires back at Mason for flip flopping the NDP position on emission caps.

7:29 PM: I just did an interview with Global Edmonton for a mid-debate reaction. Check me out on the 11pm news!

7:34 PM: I'm sitting with a bunch of crazy New Democrats while I watch this (including Sherwood Park NDP candidate Katherine Hay).

7:36 PM: Stelmach: "A ten year plan to get rid of homelessness is ambitious."

7:46 PM: So far, I think Taft and Mason are doing the best, but in two very different ways. Taft is keeping composed and together with his message. Mason is spending most of his time on the attack. Stelmach in the meanwhile is sitting back as Mason goes after Taft. Stelmach is doing better than I thought he would. He's staying on message, but remains a mysterious cardboard, he needs to show some more life or any kind of emotion. Not sure there is a clear winner yet...

Thoughts? Comments?

7:55 PM: Closing remarks!

Brian Mason used his time to attack the Liberals, Conservatives, and Big Corporations.

Stelmach: We believe in free enterprise, everyone else believes in government control.

Hinman: People can spend money better than politicians and bureaucrats. Don't be fooled by the other parties. Wildrose Alliance is a common sense option.

Taft: Last closing remarks. Time for Alberta to take its place. 37-years is enough of one government. Time for a change.

Best closing line of the night: Mount Royal Poli Sci Prof Duanne Bratt: "well... Ed Stelmach got through the debate."

More detailed comment and analysis coming soon...

alberta election 2008: the leaders' debate.

Tonight is the only Leaders' Debate of the 2008 Alberta Provincial Election. The debate will be televised on CBC, CTV, and Global from 6:30-8pm. Here's my rundown of what to watch for from the party leaders:

Ed Stelmach, Progressive Conservatives: It is no secret that Ed Stelmach is not a strong public speaker. Many political watchers have been predicting that his debate performance will mirror the first week of the Tory campaign, I am going to disagree. Though I don't think Stelmach is a decent debater by any stretch of the imagination, I do think that because the expectations are so low for him that an even moderately okay performance by Stelmach will be seen as a win for him (regardless of how painful the experience is for both Stelmach and viewers).

This will be the only debate that Stelmach will participate in during this election. According to his campaign manager, George Sebest, “the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, Premier Stelmach, will debate only other party leaders in provincial forums,” meaning that Stelmach will be a no-show at the all-candidate forums in his constituency of Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville.

Kevin Taft, Alberta Liberals: In the 2004 televised debate, Kevin Taft performed well against Ralph Klein and Brian Mason, but Ed Stelmach introduces is an untested dynamic in a televised debate. This debate is Kevin Taft's chance to shine and convince Albertans that he is indeed a Premier-in-waiting. If he can do this without falling into the trap of sounding too stiff and academic and he is able to connect with viewers in a confident Premier-like fashion, he just might be able to convince Albertans that, after 37-years of Tory rule, it's time.

Paul Hinman, Wildrose Alliance: After being excluded from the Leaders' Debate under his previous leader in in the 2004, Paul Hinman has won points by just being included in the debates. If Hinman is able to get a word in edge wise and communicate a competent message, this will be a personal win for him.

Brian Mason, New Democrats: Mason issued a challenge to the other party leaders to stick to the issues during the debate. I agree this is a great idea, but I'll be looking to see if Mason actually sticks to his challenge. Expect Mason to go after Kevin Taft as much or even more than he takes aim at Ed Stelmach. If his party is going to gain seats in this election it will be at the expense of the Taft Liberals in Edmonton, not of the Stelmach Tories.

George Read, Alberta Greens: Unfortunately, George Read was not invited to participate in the debates (I would have supported Read's inclusion in the debates). Instead, Read will be contributing to the debates through a YouTube video cast following the election. Make sure to check it out.

I will be live blogging the debates here on and blogging my reaction on CBC YouCast (you can also watch the debate on the internet thanks to CBC).

alberta election 2008: calgary-mccall.

Created in 1971, Calgary-McCall switched from the Social Credit to the Progressive Conservative column of MLAs in 1975 when Tory Andy Little defeated Social Credit MLA George Ho Lem. In more recent times, current Tory MLA Shiraz Shariff was elected in 1995 in a by-election after the death of Tory MLA Harry Sohal. In 1997 and 2001, Shariff was easily re-elected, but in 2004, Shariff faced as strong challenge from Alberta Liberal Darshan Kang. Kang came within 300 votes of defeating Shariff. In 2008, Kang is back for a rematch.

Before becoming an MLA, Shiraz Shariff was a child welfare worker for Alberta Family and Social Services and taught in Mount Royal College 's Department of Social Services. Shariff is the Deputy Chair of Committees for the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.

Darshan Kang is a realtor and has been an active member in the Saddleridge, Castleridge/Falconridge, and Martindale-Tardale Community Associations. Kang was also involved in ROSH, a group which he helped successfully oppose a slaughterhouse to be built in north east Calgary.

Green candidate Heather Brocklesby graduated from the University of Calgary’s faculty of communication and culture with a minor in political science and works as a legal assistant at a downtown Calgary law firm.

The Wildrose Alliance candidate is Ina Given. NDP candidate Preet Sihota is a local realtor.

With 33% of McCall residents having immigrated to Canada, McCall is one of the most ethnically diverse constituencies in Alberta (more than 9% of residents were born in India, more than 4% in the Philippines, and 37% speak a language other than English at home). Between 2004 and 2006, McCall's population grew by 27.96%, bringing over 6,100 new voters to this constituency. With McCall being a such a close race in 2004, the over 6,100 new McCallians will play a big role in deciding who this constituency's MLA will be.

Following the 2004 election, both Shariff and Kang leveled charges of improper election and campaign activities against each other. Following the fiasco surrounding the appointment of Tory-connected returning officers in the past few weeks, Naheed Nenshi has told CBC that he was shocked by the behavior of a Calgary Returning Officer and his poll clerks in the 2004 election.

Calgary-McCall 2008 Candidates

Alberta Liberal - Darshan Kang
Green - Heather Brocklesby
NDP - Preet Sihota
PC - Shiraz Shariff
Wildrose Alliance - Ina Given
Calgary-McCall Past-Election Results
x Shiraz Shariff, PC - 3,195
Darshan Kang, Lib - 2,891
Ina Given, AA - 576
Preet Sihota, NDP - 328
Voter Turnout: 33.9%

x Shiraz Shariff, PC - 6,558
John Phillips, Lib - 2,082
Preet Sihota, NDP - 449
Darryl Elvers, AFP - 139
Rory Cory, SC - 121
Voter Turnout: 39%

x Shiraz Shariff, PC - 5,118
Amar Singh, Lib - 2,701
Rory Cory, SC - 876
Voter Turnout: 41.7%

1995 By-Election
Sharaz Shariff, PC - 2,496
Jeet Shergill, Lib - 1,980
Anne McGrath, NDP - 713
Doug Cooper, SC - 470
Peter Hope, COR - 61
Voter Turnout: 28%

alberta election 2008: cardston-taber-warner.

Straddling the Alberta border with Montana, Cardston-Taber-Warner was created in 1997 through the merger of the former Cardston-Chief Mountain and Taber-Warner constituencies, Cardston-Taber-Warner is probably the antithesis to my constituency (Edmonton-Strathcona) in the spectrum of Alberta politics.

In 1997, Cardston-Taber-Warner re-elected Tory MLA Ron Hierath as he easily rode to victory over the Social Credit and Alberta Liberal candidates (Hierath had previously been elected as the MLA for Taber-Warner). In 2001, Hierath was replaced as the Tory candidate by Cardston County Reeve Broyce Jacobs and was easily re-elected against Alberta First Party Leader John Reil. In 2004, Alberta Alliance candidate Paul Hinman narrowly defeated Jacobs by over 100 votes to become his party's only MLA. Hinman became Leader of the Alberta Alliance shortly after the election.

In 2008, the Tories are targeting Cardston-Taber-Warner in a big way with Broyce Jacobs taking another run at Paul Hinman.

Paul Hinman has had a tough run as Alberta's only Alliance MLA. In one year, he went from being an irrigation farmer, cow-calf producer, purebred-cattle breeder, feedlot operator and small-business entrepreneur to being the Leader of the Alberta Alliance after the last election. Having watched Hinman's performance over the past couple years, I'd say that he has become more comfortable in his daunting role of leading the right-wing now-Wildrose Alliance against the well-funded Tory machine. Though I completely disagree with the majority of the views that Hinman and his party espouse, I really think it would be a shame if voters in Cardston-Taber-Warner replaced Hinman with simply another Progressive Conservative backbencher.

Enter Broyce Jacobs. Broyce Jacobs is a well-known name in the Cardston-area after having served 18-years as a Municipal Councillor and 17-years as Reeve of Cardston Country before becoming an MLA. Jacobs graduated from Brigham Young University in 1967 with a Bachelor's degree in Business Management and currently owns and operates a cattle ranch in Mountain View. I'm sure Jacobs will be taking nothing for granted in his second run against Hinman.

Alberta Liberal candidate Ron Hancock is a provincial tax specialist who is a former Councillor from the Town of Raymond and chairman of the Chinook Health Region Community Health Council on Seniors Issues. In his work with the provincial government, Hancock served as chief economist for the Alberta Housing Corporation, manager of rural business initiatives for Alberta Economic Development, and as a development officer in the Crowsnest Pass.

Green candidate Billy Turner is a University of Calgary Political Science student who spends his summers competing at rodeos all over Alberta in the bareback riding events in the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association and the Calgary Stampede.

One of the big factors in this deep rural southern constituency is the large Mormon population which wields a substantial amount of political influence in the region (Cardston was settled in 1887 by Mormons from Utah who traveled to Alberta in one of that century's last wagon migrations). Between 2004 and 2006, Cardston-Taber-Warner grew by 3.07%, bringing over 500 new voters to this constituency.

Cardston-Taber-Warner 2008 Candidates

Alberta Liberal - Ron Hancock
Green - Billy Turner
ND - Suzanne Sirias
PC - Broyce Jacobs
Wildrose Alliance - Paul Hinman*
Cardston-Taber-Warner Past Election Results
Paul Hinman, AA - 3,885
x Broyce Jacobs, PC - 3,756
Paula Shimp, Lib - 783
Lindsay Ferguson, Grn - 225
Luann Bannister, NDP - 185
Voter Turnout: 46.7%

Broyce Jacobs, PC - 5,256
John Reil, AFP - 2,557
Ron Hancock, Lib - 1,747
Suzanne Sirias, NDP - 240
Voter Turnout: 53.1%

Ron Hierath, PC - 5,157
Ken Rose, SC - 1,568
James Jackson, Lib - 1,417
Susanne Sirias, NDP - 518
Voter Turnout: 49.1%

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

edmonton-strathcona all-candidates forum.

The University of Alberta Students' Union is hosting an all-candidates forum tonight for the constituency of Edmonton-Strathcona.

Edmonton-Strathcona All-Candidate Forum

Wednesday, February 20, 2008
6:00 p.m.
Myer Horowitz Theatre (2nd Floor, Students' Union Building)
*RSVP on Facebook

The candidates in Edmonton-Strathcona are:

Alberta Liberal - Tim Vant
Green - Adrian Cole
ND - Rachel Notley
PC - T.J. Keil

imagine alberta: post-secondary education.

A coalition of Post-Secondary Education groups from across Alberta, including the Council of Alberta University Students, Alberta College and Technical Institute Student Executive Council, Alberta Graduate Council, Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations, and Alberta Colleges and Institutes Faculties Association, have launched an advocacy campaign geared at increasing awareness of PSE issues during this election campaign. The Imagine Alberta campaign ad can be seen above.

I'm planning to provide some more detailed analysis on this soon, but for now, here's a quick look at what each of Alberta's main political parties are offering in their plans for Post-Secondary Education:

Alberta Greens:
- Ensure the lowest post secondary tuitions in Canada.
- Ease access to continued learning of all kinds, with a focus on more flexible class times and increasing the number of institutions able to offer degree programs.
Alberta Liberals:
- Increase Affordability by giving students a break in their tuition of almost $1,000 a year.
- Create a $300/year books and tools credit for post-secondary students.
- Reduce interest rates on Alberta student loans and increase the part-time earning limits.
- Reducing or eliminating property taxes for on-campus student housing to make
accommodation more affordable and to encourage the construction of more units.
- Recognize regional disparities in allocating student loans.
- Restore legislative control over tuition increases.
- Create targeted additional learning spaces for areas with a high number of applicants.
- Provide three year funding envelopes for post-secondary institutions so they may better plan for the future.
- Establish Mount Royal University in Calgary.
- Establish teaching chairs to support and recognize excellence at post-secondary institutions.
- Improve student-faculty ratios.
- Boost graduate student numbers.
- Create a Post-Secondary Endowment Fund, using a portion of oil and gas royalties (in just 15 years, the endowment could grow to $15 billion and generate $770 million in extra funding every year).
- Create a $500 million Endowment for the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, using a portion of oil and gas royalties.
Alberta's NDP:
- Reduce tuition fees to 1999-2000 levels, and fully fund a tuition freeze thereafter.
- Reduce the student loan interest rates to prime and find ways to reduce administrative costs on student loan payments.
- Generate additional provincial grant, bursary and scholarship opportunities thereby reducing dependency on student loans.
- Create an endowment for social sciences, arts and humanities research.
- Work to ensure that Cabinet Ministers and MLAs meet with post-secondary institutions, Governors and Student Unions regularly to learn about, and respond to their concerns.
- Increase the availability of post-secondary spaces at existing institutions and support the creation of new facilities, particularly in rural areas where it can be difficult to access post-secondary education.
- Support initiatives to build additional student housing.
- Extend accreditation options to building trade unions to create more apprenticeship spaces.
Interestingly, the NDP website says that the Alberta Liberals "have no plan to reduce tuition levels," which not only contradicts reality, but also means that the NDP must have missed the giant headline on the front page of last Saturday's Edmonton Journal that read "Taft vows to roll back tuition." But then again, the NDP website also accuses the Liberals and Conservatives of neglecting Post-Secondary Education because they accept corporate donations, which doesn't really even make sense as an argument.

Alberta Progressive Conservatives:
- Continue to limit annual tuition increases to the rate of inflation.
- Lower the student loan interest rate by 2.5% to the prime lending rate.
- Improve affordability of graduate student programs to facilitate research and commercialization and to foster creativity.
As these three bullet points don't really present much of a plan, I thought it would be fair to give you some more on what the PCs have in mind for PSE. Here is more of Ed Stelmach's vision for Post-Secondary Education in Alberta:

Alberta Social Credit Party:
- Supports post-secondary education in Alberta.
- Ensure that Alberta citizens be given priority for admission over out-of-province students.
- Provide "fixed term tuitions" to freeze the tuition rates for post-secondary education students for the duration of their program.
- Consult with business and the public sector to determine their requirements for professional and skilled workers over the next ten years. Then meet representatives of Alberta's post-secondary institutions and develop a plan to provide the necessary facilities and instructors to educate these workers.
Wildrose Alliance:
- Institute an educational scholarship form of financing for all Albertans seeking a post-secondary education. Each qualified Alberta student will receive a full scholarship for five years to the post secondary institution of choice within Alberta.
- Give priority for admission and funding to Alberta students to Alberta post-secondary institutions over out of province students seeking admission and funding.
- Utilize the technology available to make higher education more accessible to all Albertans.
- Work with employers, post-secondary institutions and the Alberta Industry Training and Apprenticeship Commission to increase training and apprenticeships in the trades and technical sectors.
- Strengthen the network of colleges, institutes and on-line learning opportunities throughout the province.
- Increase research and development funding for colleges, universities and institutes and encourage private sector partnerships.
- Double the annual number of graduates in computer science and electrical and computer engineering within five years.
- Increase investment in technology research and post-secondary skills training.
- Support continuing education for members of the professions in the province.
- Provide forgivable student loans to Alberta students attending accredited schools of education providing they teach for ten years in underserved communities in Alberta.
- Include the total cost of post secondary education when calculating amounts for student loans.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

alberta election 2008: edmonton-castle downs.

Created in 1997 after the dissolution of Edmonton-Roper, Edmonton-Castle Downs has been a battle ground of close races between the Tories and Alberta Liberals ever since. Alberta Liberal Pamela Paul narrowly defeated Tory Ihor Broda in 1997 (Broda later ran for Mayor in 1998), but later declined to run for a second term after sitting as an Independent MLA in 1999. When 2001 rolled around, Tory Thomas Lukaszuk joined the Tory sweep of Edmonton by defeating Liberal Boris Yaremko in a solid election win. In 2004, Edmonton-Castle Downs was the closest race in the province. After a hard fought battle and three judicial recounts, Tory incumbent Thomas Lukazsuk was declared re-elected by 3 votes over Alberta Liberal Chris Kibermanis, who was originally declared elected by 9 votes on Election Day.

Castle Downs 2008 is Kibermanis v. Lukaszuk Round 2. With both candidates knowing that every vote will count, don't expect either of them to cede any ground in this race.

Lukaszuk has noticeably matured as an MLA since his "victory" in 2004, but he remains in the Tory backbenches. In 2007, Lukaszuk was involved in a minor scandal involving a contact given to former Edmonton-Meadowlark Tory MLA Bob Maskell in which Maskell billed the government of Alberta $600 for one short meeting with Lukaszuk on the topic of Fort Edmonton Park. Lukazsuk supported Jim Dinning in the 2006 Tory leadership race and is the only Edmonton Tory MLA without a seat at Ed Stelmach's cabinet table.

Kibermanis works in the construction industry as a welder and is a former draft pick for the former NHL Winnipeg Jets. He's also active in the "Raise the Roof” campaign for Edmonton Housing and is an active member of the Cumberland-Oxford community league executive in Castle Downs. Like Lukaszuk, Kibermanis hasn't stopped campaigning since 2004.

The Greens and the New Democrats are running Bob Reckhow and Ali Haymour respectively. Reckhow has been an faculty member at the University of Alberta and Athabasca University, and has a Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from the University of Toronto. Haymour is a Sheriff with Alberta's Solicitor General Department, but is currently on leave while finishing a degree at the University of Alberta.

Between 2004 and 2006, Castle Downs grew by 12.45%, bringing over 3,600 new voters to the constituency. Castle Downs is also a relatively young constituency with only 30% of residents over the age of 45.

Edmonton-Castle Downs 2008 Candidates
Alberta Liberal - Chris Kibermanis
Green - Bob Reckhow
ND- Ali Haymour
PC - Thomas Lukaszuk*

Edmonton-Castle Downs Past Election Results

(Post-Judicial Recounts)
x Thomas Lukaszuk, PC - 5,022
Chris Kibermanis, Lib - 5,019
Peter Cross, NDP - 1,314
Colin Presizniuk, AA - 586
Ross Korpi, SC - 78

Chris Kibermanis, Lib - 5,019
x Thomas Lukaszuk, PC - 5,014
Peter Cross, NDP - 1,317
Colin Presizniuk, AA - 583
Ross Korpi, SC - 78
Voter Turnout: 41.3%

2001 Thomas Lukaszuk, PC - 5,971
Boris Yaremko, Lib - 4,479
Michael Charrois, NDP - 1,235
Voter Turnout: 46.9%

1997 Pamela Paul, Lib - 4,456
Ihor Broda, PC - 4,373
Peter Johnsen, NDP - 1,394
Dave Friesen, SC - 460
Voter Turnout: 50.4%

Monday, February 18, 2008

alberta election 2008: calgary-varsity.

Created in 1993, Calgary-Varsity was represented by Tory Murray Smith until 2004 when the patronage gods blessed him with the position of Alberta's Ambassador to the United States of America in Washington D.C.. Smith's blessing included a $210,500 annual salary, a car, a posh Washington apartment and other benefits, and a $105,000 quitting bonus for leaving his job five months early (a sweetheart clause that was signed and sealed by Ed Stelmach when he was Alberta's Intergovernmental Affairs Minister).

In 2004, with Smith's departure, Alberta Liberal Harry Chase challenged Tory Mike Smyth and surprised many political watchers by defeating Smyth by over 700 votes. Chase (who also has one of the best names in Alberta politics) is a school teacher and former Friends of Medicare organizer. In 2004, Chase benefited from the apathetic Tory campaign and a strong get-out-the-vote campaign by the University of Calgary Students' Union (the University of Calgary is in Varsity).

In 2008, Chase is facing off against Tory Jennifer Diakiw. Diakiw is a fundraiser for SAIT and the U of C and has a long history of involvement with the PC Party. Diakiw also describes herself like a lot of modern women would: "For 25 years, like a lot of modern women, she has juggled family, career and a deep commitment to the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, and has thrived successfully in each." (no word if Diakiw has previously served as a local returning officer). Chase and Diakiw are joined by Green Sean Maw, Wildrose Alliance candidate Brennan Ltyle, and New Democrat Tim Stock-Bateman.

Sean Maw is a Engineering Instructor at Mount Royal College and has previously served as the Research Director at Calgary's Olympic Oval. He was also involved in the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics and is also working on projects for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Brennan Ltyle is a U of C Political Science graduate who is now working for Suncor Energy. Tim Stock-Bateman is the Director of Development for Corporate & Foundation Relations for the University of Calgary. Stock-Bateman also released a pretty clever campaign video on YouTube earlier in the campaign.

Between 2004 and 2006, Varsity grew by 10.46%, bringing over 2,700 new voters the constituency. The mix of the large university community and Calgary's dissatisfaction with Tory leader Ed Stelmach, Varsity should be one of the safer Calgary Liberal constituencies in this election.

2008 Calgary-Varsity Candidates

Alberta Liberal - Harry Chase*
Green - Sean Maw
ND - Tim Stock-Bateman
PC - Jennifer Diakiw
Wildrose Alliance - Brennan Ltyle

Upcoming All-Candidates Debates

Tuesday, February 26, 12:00-1:30 pm
University of Calgary
MacEwan Student Centre

Wednesday, February 27, 7:00-9:00 pm
Dalhousie Community Centre
5432 Dalhart Rd. N.W.

Past-Election results in Calgary-Varsity

Harry Chase, Lib - 6,347
Michael Smyth, PC - 5,591
Ronald Beninger, AA - 765
Richard Larson, Grn - 761
Mark Gabruch, ND - 637
Leonard Skowronski, SC - 118
Voter Turnout: 54.2%

x Murray Smith, PC - 8,173
Carrol Jaques, Lib - 3,938
Susan Scott, ND - 1,309
Travis De Preez, Grn - 334
Voter Turnout: 59.4%

x Murray Smith, PC - 7,232
Carrol Jaques, Lib - 5,414
Mike Bressers, SC - 646
Dick Huysman, NDP - 640
Joel Ashworth, Grn - 132
Voter Turnout: 59.10%

rave reviews at has a great review of Ed Stelmach's new film...

The Bucket List (2008)

Consensus:“Plan 9 from outer space”…minus the plan!
Rated: R for Ridiculous
Runtime: 37 Years
Theatrical Release: Aug 30th , 1971
Box Office: $940 a second

Synopsis: In this sequel to the 1971 flop, “Harry Strom”, Ed Stelmach captures the Tory leadership on what his future press secretary calls a “just say no to Calgary” platform and sets out to run one of the least inspiring, most accident prone campaigns in Alberta history. This big budget production is full of plot holes in everything from his health care to daycare announcements.

Genre: Would be a comedy ... if it wasn't so sad.
Starring: Ed Stelmach
Director: No director. That's the problem.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

a modest proposal.

Calgary Grit has a pretty good rundown of the ongoing Tory CRO appointment scandal and here's a great clip from Friday's Edmonton Journal:

“On Thursday, Stelmach insisted he had nothing to do with selecting the returning officers. Tom Olsen, a spokesman for the premier, later clarified that Conservative MLAs and Tory constituency associations put names forward to party officials, and those officials submit the list to the chief electoral officer at Elections Alberta. Cabinet then approves the choices through an order-in-council.”
Here's some video footage that I took of Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft announcing that an Alberta Liberal government will put the Chief Electoral Officer in charge of ensuring free and fair elections in Alberta, rather than... say... the Progressive Conservative Party. A modest proposal if I've ever heard one...

Friday, February 15, 2008

katherine harris appointed as alberta's chief returning officer.

In a stunning mid-election move, Alberta Tory leader Ed Stelmach has appointed former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris as Alberta's new Chief Returning Officer.

Stelmach, who has also appointed a number of PC-affiliated, but completely unbiased, local Returning Officers (including PC Constituency Officials and failed PC nomination candidates) declared that this move was part of his party's plan for change that works for Albertans.

Faced with criticism, Stelmach was quick hit to hit back: "there are many people that I know... that are in Alberta... met over the years... so are you saying anyone that anybody I shook a hand with the optics are that they can't ever serve as a deputy returning officer?"

As Republican Secretary of State for the State of Florida, Harris presided over the 2000 US presidential election in that state. Though there were allegations of conflicts of interest and partisan, unethical behavior by Harris during the 2000 campaign, they were mostly leveled by know-it-all liberal-types who didn't support Republican Presidential candidate George W. Bush in the first place. A year before the 2000 election, Harris had been named as Bush's Florida campaign co-chair, a position that did not create a bias during the election. The 2000 US Presidential Election in Florida went off without a hitch.

With half of current Returning Officers appointed by Stelmach having strong connections to the 37-year-old Progressive Conservative government, it is only fair that a completely unbiased individual with a clear record of unbiased and fair involvement in elections, such as Katherine Harris, help make sure that Alberta's elections turn out the way they should.

2008: alberta election odyssey.

Here's a look at some of the best 2008 Alberta election related YouTube videos from this week...

The Alberta Liberals have released a fantastic video of Leader Kevin Taft talking about Alberta's future.

Edmonton-Strathcona Alberta Liberal candidate Tim Vant has come out with this video. Tim is the owner of Fiore's Italian Cantina in the Garneau-area of Edmonton-Strathcona. The video includes an endorsement from Kim Franklin, owner of the High Level Diner.

Calgary-North Hill Alberta Liberal candidate Pat Murray has released an, err... interesting video... points for creativity, Pat...

The spotlight is put on Lacombe-Ponoka Tory MLA Ray Prins in a video from Alberta Green candidate Joe Anglin.

Red Deer-North ND candidate Shawn Nielson has a created a video of what can only be described as 'epic'...

Here's number 1 of 3 online get out the vote videos...

Click here to check out more YouTube videos.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"they come right from the premier's office."

Can someone please explain to me how the Premier of Alberta recommending appointments of election Returning Officers is appropriate on any level?

Conservative Leader Ed Stelmach said he doesn't believe the Tory connections are a problem, especially since all returning officers are picked by the chief electoral officer.

"They're all interviewed by the chief electoral officer and were selected by the electoral officer," Stelmach said Tuesday in Strathmore.

But Jacqueline Roblin, spokeswoman for Elections Alberta, said the names of returning officers actually come directly from Stelmach.

"They come right from the premier's office with these names that they are recommending that they be appointed," she said Wednesday.


Roblin said candidates for returning officer jobs are interviewed by the chief electoral officer to ensure they follow provincial law. She said about half of the returning officers questioned have connections to the Tories, while the other half said they don't have ties to any political party.

I wish someone could explain to me how Ed Stelmach doesn't think this is an issue?

rumble in the jungle!

A little bit of shameless promotion this evening...

- Tomorrow morning Edmontonians will bear witness to an epic political battle rivaling Rumble in the Jungle as Ken Chapman and I will face off at 7:40 a.m. on CityTV Edmonton... so, tune in.

- I wrote a column in this week's SEE Magazine... you check it out. Also, make sure to check out the main story in this week's SEE in which Public Interest Alberta's Bill Moore-Kilgannon talks about the secrecy of the current Tory government.

- I'm glad to see that Calgary-Fish Creek Alberta Liberal candidate Laura Shutiak is getting some mainstream media attention for starting her campaign blog. Keep up the good work, Laura!

all in the family.

I'm not a big fan of career politicians and I'm even less a fan of political dynasties... our neighbours to the south may have the Kennedy, Clinton, and Bush dynasties (among others), but a closer look at the candidates in the 2008 Alberta election will reveal close family ties closer to home.

Here are nine candidates running in the 2008 Alberta Election stuck with the unfortunate political gene...

Athabasca-Redwater Tory candidate Jeff Johnson is the son of retiring Tory MLA LeRoy Johnson (1997-2008).

Athabasca-Redwater Alberta Liberal candidate Bill Bonko is the son of, well Edmonton-Decore Alberta Liberal MLA Bill Bonko.

Calgary-Egmont Wildrose Alliance candidate Barry Chase is the father of Calgary-Fort Wildrose Alliance candidate Travis Chase (no relation to Calgary-Varsity Alberta Liberal MLA Harry Chase).

Calgary-Foothills Tory MLA Len Webber's father, Neil Webber, was the Tory MLA for Calgary-Bow from 1975 to 1989.

Calgary-Shaw Tory MLA Cindy Ady's father-in-law, Jack Ady, was the Tory MLA for Cardston-Chief Mountain from 1993-1997.

Cardston-Taber-Warner Wildrose Alliance MLA & leader Paul Hinman's grandfather was Edgar Hinman, Alberta Social Credit MLA and Treasurer from 1955-1964.

Edmonton-Strathcona NDP candidate Rachel Notley's father was Grant Notley, NDP leader and MLA for Fairview-Spirit River (1971-1982)

Peace River Tory MLA Frank Oberle's father, Frank Oberle, was the MP for Prince George-Peace River from 1973 to 1993.

Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert Tory MLA Doug Horner's grandfather Ralph Horner, was a Senator for Saskatchewan, his father, Dr. Hugh Horner was a federal Member of Parliament under John Diefenbaker and then Alberta's agriculture minister and deputy premier in the 1970s, and his uncles Jack Horner, Albert Horner and Norval Horner were federal MPs.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

upcoming election forums.

The University of Alberta Students' Union will be holding two all-candidates forums next week.

Edmonton-Strathcona All-Candidate Forum
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
6:00 p.m.
Myer Horowitz Theatre (2nd Floor, SUB)
*RSVP on Facebook

Edmonton-Riverview All-Candidate Forum
Monday, February 25, 2008
6:00 p.m.
Dinwoodie Lounge (2nd Floor, SUB)
*RSVP on Facebook
Check out the list of 2008 Alberta election nominated candidates.

taking aim at the 'scud stud.'

Last week, Calgary-Currie PC candidate Arthur Kent had some kind words for Tory leader Ed Stelmach. Today, National Post writer Don Martin aimed some less than kind words at the 'stud scud.'

'Scud stud' a dud in Alberta election

Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2008

OTTAWA -He was the Satellite Dish and the Desert Fox before they christened him with the nickname that stuck: The Scud Stud.

But Alberta Conservatives have bestowed problem candidate Arthur Kent with a less flattering designation as he noisily blusters his way through their ailing election campaign: The Dud Scud.
Kent is taking on Alberta Liberal MLA Dave Taylor.

Also, Calgary-Fish Creek Alberta Liberal candidate Laura Shutiak has started a campaign blog.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

alberta election 2008: edmonton-calder.

Edmonton-Calder is the Poland of Alberta's political map - it has moved around, disappeared and reappeared in different forms and names, and tends to swing between political powers.

Calder was held by Tory Tom Chambers from 1971 until 1986 when Christine Mjolsness caught a ride on the anti-Don Getty wave and was elected for the New Democrats. Calder was held by the Mjolsness until it disappeared in 1993 when it was split into Edmonton-Mayfield and Edmonton-Roper. Both Mayfield and Roper elected Alberta Liberal MLAs in 1993 - Lance White and Sine Chadi (Mjolsness was defeated by Chadi in Roper). In 1997, Edmonton-Mayfield's name was changed and Calder reappeared on the map as Lance White held the seat against Tory Lynn Faulder and former Edmonton-Kingsway ND MLA Alex McEachern.

In 2001, White faced off against Tory Brent Rathgeber and ND Christine Burdett. In a three way race, Rathgeber unseated White. In 2004, Rathgeber found himself in another three way race between ND David Eggen and Alberta Liberal Brad Smith. Having started campaigning early, the fruit of Eggen's campaigning paid off as he narrowly knocked off Rathgeber.

Eggen is now running for a second-term against two main challengers, Alberta Liberal Jim Kane and Tory Doug Elniski. Kane is a company officer for CN in Edmonton and has experience in management and union grievance resolution. Taking a page from Eggen's book, Kane began door knocking and campaigning in Calder early. Elniski's background includes work in safety management, human resource management, construction, adult education, and business consulting. On a purely anecdotal note, Elniski may also be the tallest candidate I've ever seen.

Between 2004 and the 2006 Census, Calder grew by 15.46%, bringing over 3,500 new people to this north west Edmonton constituency.

Even though Eggen is easily the most effective member of the four-man NDP caucus, his re-election isn’t assured. Over the past decade, Calder has become a notorious swing riding and holds strong bases of support for all three main parties. If this were a different constituency, I might say that Eggen would have it in the bag, but with the Liberals, Tories, and NDP all having all held Calder during the past ten years (and three elections), you can bet that Eggen, Kane, and Elniski will be working extra hard to win over voters in this constituency.

2008 Edmonton-Calder Candidates

Alberta Liberal - Jim Kane
ND - Dave Eggen*
PC - Doug Elniski
Green - Mike Brown
Edmonton-Calder Past Election Results
David Eggen, ND - 4,067
x Brent Rathgeber, PC - 3,730
Brad Smith, Lib - 2,985
Vicki Kramer, AA - 513
Voter Turnout: 49%


Brent Rathgeber, PC - 5,128
x Lance White, Lib - 4,654
Christine Burdett, ND - 2,432
Voter Turnout: 51.7%


x Lance White, Lib - 4,802
Lynn Faulder, PC - 3,860
Alex McEachern, ND - 3,250
Voter Turnout: 53.4%

34% of returning officers have a known association with the tories.

The Edmonton Journal is reporting this morning that approximately 28 returning officers running the show in Alberta's 2008 election are affiliated with the Progressive Conservative Party. As others have pointed out:

That means that approx. 34% of returning officers have a known association with the Tories. For this proportion to be just by chance (that is, the returning officer population represents an accurate reflection of the population at large) there would have to be approx. 1.1 million current or former PC party members in Alberta. The PCs are popular, but not that popular.
Alberta's Chief Returning Officer Lorne Gibson has made a number of recommendations to Tory Justice Minister Ron Stevens on how to revamp Alberta's election process. One of these recommendations, which obviously wasn't adopted, included:
2. Prohibition against political activity

Returning officers are currently prohibited from engaging in political activity in support of a political party or candidate, and from making a contribution under the Elections Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act. There is no similar restriction on parrisan activity at the constituency association level.

All election officers, and particularly Returning Officers, must be completely non-partisan in fact and perception. The prohibition on political activity should include a restriction on constituency association level participation.

Since the Election Clerk may be called upon to replace the Returning Officer in the case of absence or inability to act, and because of the high profile of that position, the same prohibitions should apply.

a. Expand the list of prohibited activities for Returning Officer to include participation at the constituency association level.
b. Extend the prohibition against political activity to include Election Clerks.
Is it too much to ask that "all election officers, and particularly Returning Officers, must be completely non-partisan in fact and perception?" Judging Ed Stelmach's response to the allegations, maybe it is after 37-years of Tory governments.

alberta election 2008: calgary-buffalo.

In 1986, lawyer and Rhodes Scholar Sheldon Chumir swept into Calgary-Buffalo to become the first Alberta Liberal MLA elected in Calgary since 1967. Chumir was re-elected in 1989 and following his untimely death in 1992, a by-election was held that elected Alberta Liberal Gary Dickson (Dickson faced off against Tory candidate Rod Love). Dickson was re-elected in tight races in 1993 and 1997. In 2001, Dickson retired from politics and is now Information & Privacy Commissioner for the Province of Saskatchewan.

In 2001, police officer Harvey Cenaiko picked up Buffalo for the Tories by defeating Liberal Brian Edy. In 2004, Cenaiko was re-elected after a challenge from Calgary lawyer Terry Taylor (the son of former Alberta Liberal Leader Nick Taylor). With Cenaiko retiring (even though his re-election website is still up and running...), Buffalo is a constituency to watch. If the Alberta Liberals are going to pick up new seats in this city, Buffalo will be on top of that list and hoping to make that a reality is Calgary lawyer Kent Hehr, who is leading the Alberta Liberal charge against Tory candidate Sean Chu.

Kent Hehr may have one of the most interesting backgrounds of any candidate in this election. In 1991, while he was a student at Mount Royal College and playing on the college hockey team, he was a victim of a drive-by shooting that left him quadriplegic - something that obviously hasn't held him back as he has been named one of the 20 most compelling Calgarians to watch in 2008 by the Calgary Herald and one of the Top 40 under 40 by Calgary Inc. Magazine.

Chu joined the Calgary Police Officer in 1992 after having immigrated to Calgary from Taiwan in 1985 and attending Mount Royal College.

Buffalo is a dense downtown Calgary constituency and has seen enormous growth since the last election. Between 2004 and 2006, the population of Buffalo grew by 21.33% - bringing over 5,200 new voters to the constituency. The over 70% renting population has contributed voter turnout in Buffalo, which had one of the lowest turnouts in the 2004 election. Taking into account Calgary's apparent dissatisfaction with Ed Stelmach' s premiership, I'm giving Kent Hehr the edge in Buffalo, but it still could be close.

Calgary-Buffalo Candidates

Alberta Liberal - Kent Hehr
Green - Steven Rickets
ND - Robert Lawrence
PC - Sean Chu
Calgary-Buffalo Past Election Results
x Harvey Cenaiko, PC - 3,365
Terry Taylor, Lib - 2,815
Grant Neufeld, Grn - 670
Cliff Hesby, NDP - 457
Elizabeth Fielding, SC - 73
Carl Schwartz, AP - 56
Voter Turnout: 31.5%


Harvey Cenaiko, PC - 5,582
Brian Edy, Lib - 4,135
Neil McKinnon, NDP - 473
Dave Schwartz, SC - 113
Voter Turnout: 41.7%


x Gary Dickson, Lib - 4,310
Terri-Lynn Bradford, PC - 4,115
Neil McKinnon, NDP - 547
Raymond Neilson, SC - 300
Ralph Holt, NLP - 115
Turnout: 40.9%
(Enlightened Savage also has a good profile on Calgary-Buffalo)

Monday, February 11, 2008

calgary-montrose conflict-of-interest?

The curse on the Stelmach Tories house in Calgary-Montrose continues as it has been uncovered that the local Returning Officer has PC Party ties...

The Conservative government appointed Lynn Warkentin in December to be the returning officer in the northeast riding.

Her husband, Frank, is the chair of the Progressive Conservative party's nomination committee in Calgary-Montrose — a connection, the two opposition leaders say, that warrants the removal of Warkentin from her post.

"There's very close ties between the local returning officer and the PC association [in Calgary-Montrose]," said Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft.

"It's wrong. There should not be ties between returning officers and any political party."

Last year, Alberta's Chief Returning Officer Lorne Gibson made a number of recommendations to Tory Justice Minister Ron Stevens on how to revamp Alberta's election process. One of these recommendations, which obviously weren't adopted, included:
2. Prohibition against political activity

Returning officers are currently prohibited from engaging in political activity in support of a political party or candidate, and from making a contribution under the Elections Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act. There is no similar restriction on parrisan activity at the constituency association level.

All election officers, and particularly Returning Officers, must be completely non-partisan in fact and perception. The prohibition on political activity should include a restriction on constituency association level participation.

Since the Election Clerk may be called upon to replace the Returning Officer in the case of absence or inability to act, and because of the high profile of that position, the same prohibitions should apply.

a. Expand the list of prohibited activities for Returning Officer to include participation at the constituency association level.
b. Extend the prohibition against political activity to include Election Clerks.

alberta election 2008: edmonton-meadowlark.

One of the most hotly contested races in this election is taking place in the west-end Edmonton constituency of Edmonton-Meadowlark...

After electing Alberta Liberal MLAs Grant Mitchell and Karen Leibovici from 1986 to 2001, Edmonton-Meadowlark was once known as a reliably Liberal voting constituency. In 2001, Meadowlark moved into the 'swing constituency' category when Leibovici was unexpectedly defeated by former High School Principal turned Progressive Conservative candidate Bob Maskell. In 2004, after spending four years lingering in the Tory backbenches Maskell was defeated by Alberta Liberal Maurice Tougas (by a slim margin of 193 votes - the third closest race in the province). Tougas surprised political watchers when it was revealed that his campaign only spent $5,367, compared to Maskell’s $46,457 - meaning that Tougas’ campaign spent $1.21 per vote compared to Maskell’s $10.95 per vote. You'd have to try pretty hard to find a clearer example that money isn't always everything in politics than the 2004 Edmonton-Meadowlark race.

With Tougas not seeking re-election, Meadowlark is again a battleground with both the Alberta Liberals and PCs lining up strong candidates at the O-Meadowlark Corral (yeah, I went there...).

This time, the Alberta Liberals are running Debbie Cavaliere. Cavaliere is a familiar local name having been elected Chair and Trustee of the Edmonton Catholic School District from 2001 until 2007. The Tories are challenging Cavaliere with Dr. Raj Sherman, an Emergency Room doctor and former President for the Emergency Physicians of Alberta at the Alberta Medical Association (AMA). Both Cavaliere and Sherman are strong candidates with solid professional backgrounds, but it is their former political backgrounds that add an even more interesting flavour to this race. Just over a year ago, Sherman was knee deep in the Federal Liberal Leadership campaign of Gerard Kennedy during race that elected Stéphane Dion. Cavaliere originally ran for the PC nomination against Sherman, but later left the race and opted to instead run for the Alberta Liberal nomination against lawyer Bruce King (don't worry if you're a little confused about both of them, so am I...). It will be interesting to see how (or if) these candidates former political allegiances play in the minds of Meadowlark voters.

Both Cavaliere's and Sherman's teams will be campaigning hard in Meadowlark, but if the Tories pick up any constituencies in Edmonton, Meadowlark will be near the top on the list (as I told Sherman last fall, if the Tories win Meadowlark, he'll "make a great official opposition health critic.").

Other candidates include second-time Green challenger Amanda Doyle, Wildrose Alliance candidate (and owner of the World Trade Center Memorial Tribute site) Richard Guyon, and New Democrat Pascal Ryffel.

Because of the sheer amount of growth since the last election, population shift is an unusually important factor in races like Meadowlark. Between the 2004 Election and the 2006 Census, Edmonton-Meadowlark grew by 14.69% bringing over 3,500 new residents to the constituency.

2008 Edmonton-Meadowlark Candidates

Alberta Liberal - Debbie Cavaliere
Green - Amanda Doyle
ND - Pascal Ryffel
PC - Raj Sherman
Wildrose Alliance - Richard Guyon
Edmonton-Meadowlark Past Election Results
Maurice Tougas, Lib - 4,435
x Bob Maskell, PC - 4,242
Lance Burns, NDP - 1,306
Aaron Campbell, AA - 446
Amanda Doyle, Grn - 243
Peggy Morton, Ind - 76
Voter Turnout: 45.3%


Bob Maskell, PC - 6,108
x Karen Leibovici, Lib - 5,674
Mike Hudema, NDP - 636
Peggy Morton, Ind - 144
Voter Turnout: 56%


x Karen Leibovici, Lib - 6,047
Laurie Pushor, PC - 4,672
Terry McNally, NDP - 831
Aaron Hinman, SC - 435
Geoff Toane, NLP - 55
Voter Turnout: 56%