1. How will Premier Ed Stelmach shuffle cabinet?
Premier Ed Stelmach may avert a shuffle by taking personal responsibility of the Intergovernmental Affairs Minister portfolio (as former Premier Ralph Klein did from 1993 to 1994). If the Premier decides to shuffle the cabinet, this could mean a rearranging the current cabinet or promoting a backbencher. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the capable Calgary-Foothills MLA Len Webber appointed to a cabinet spot, as this would keep Calgary’s cabinet representation at the same level.
From a (by-)electoral standpoint, it would be smart for Stelmach to increase the number of Calgary cabinet ministers before the by-election in Calgary-Glenmore. If this is the route the Premier takes, Webber could be joined by newer Calgary region MLAs like Manmeet Bhullar, Kyle Fawcett, Dr. Neil Brown, Dave Rodney, Rob Anderson, or even Klein-era Cabinet Minister turned Stelmach-era backbencher Heather Forsyth.
While Stevens' resignation gives Stelmach the opportunity to shuffle the less talented elements out of the cabinet, the Premier has a track record of being incredibly loyal to his supporters, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a near status quo cabinet shuffle.
2. Will the resulting by-election in Calgary-Glenmore be an opening for the Wildrose Alliance?
The Wildrose Alliance (and its predecessor) increased its support in Calgary-Glenmore from 571 votes (5%) in 2004 to 1,025 (8%) in 2008. By-elections traditionally attract a lower voter turnout than General Elections, so a high profile candidate could potentially do well while taking advantage of the lower turnout. Rumoured Wildrose Alliance leadership candidate Danielle Smith could mount a strong challenge for the right-wing party in this by-election.
3. How hard are the Conservatives and Liberals going to fight for this riding?
PC MLAs have represented this riding since 1969 and the PC Party will fight hard to avoid the embarrassment of a Calgary-Elbow style defeat. As predicted, Alderman Diane Colley-Urquhart is the first candidate to publicly enter the PC nomination contest.
This is the first electoral test that Calgary-Mountain View MLA David Swann will face since becoming Leader of the Alberta Liberal Party in December 2008. Swann is the first Calgary-based Liberal leader since the 1970s, so this by-election will be an important indicator of his party's appeal in Alberta's largest city, and it will be an uphill battle. In 2008, Calgary-Glenmore Liberal candidate Avalon Roberts earned 33%, while Liberal MLA Craig Cheffins was narrowly defeated in neighbouring Calgary-Elbow. Former Ontario MPP George Dadamo is the first candidate to publicly express interest in the Liberal nomination.