With polls suggesting support for the UCP and NDP are nearly identical, all eyes are on Alberta’s election campaigns, which could determine the outcome of the May 29 provincial election.
Calgary and southern Alberta
Since former Premier Ralph Klein left provincial politics in early 2007, five MLAs from four different parties have represented Calgary-Elbow. It’s the riding that sent Klein and former Prime Minister Alison Redford into the legislature.
Former UCP-MLA and Cabinet Secretary Doug Schweitzer easily won the Calgary-Elbow in the 2019 election, defeating former Alberta Party leader Greg Clark.
But Schweitzer resigned last summer and the riding has been vacant ever since. It was never NDP territory and the UCP wants to keep it in the blue column.
In this election, attorney Chris Davis carries the UCP banner and is up against Samir Kayande, who has worked in the oil and gas and technology sectors. The Alberta Party has nominated Kerry Cundal.
This riding has long been held by conservative-minded politicians. But in 2015, Calgary-Acadia went to the NDP with a split vote between the PC and Wildrose parties — one of many surprise wins for the party in Calgary that year.
UCP’s Tyler Shandro took over the race in 2019. He’s walking again, carrying some luggage. A former health minister and current justice minister, Shandro made headlines for stepping into his neighbor’s driveway and yelling at him.
This led to a complaint to the Law Society of Alberta, which led to a hearing for Shandro. This matter will be closed in June.
In this election, Shandro is up against NDP candidate Diana Batten, a registered nurse and nursing educator. In the race to form a government, both leaders are hoping Calgary-Acadia will expand their seat lists.
This is another heavily conservative part of Calgary but is understood to be in play. This riding is a test of the NDP’s suburban strength.
Sonya Savage took over this drive in 2019 and was given the post of plum cabinet as Secretary of Energy. When Danielle Smith became UCP leader last fall, she promoted Savage to environment secretary.
After re-securing her party’s nomination, Savage abruptly announced in March that she would not seek re-election. Enter Rajan Sawhney. The UCP cabinet minister had just announced that she would not be running for re-election in her Calgary-North East seat for personal reasons.
But after Savage’s sudden departure, UCP leader Smith nominated Sawhney to run in Calgary-North West. Sawhney takes on NDP teacher Michael Lisboa-Smith. Jennifer Yeremiy is representing the Alberta Party in this race.
Recent polls seem to indicate that this Northeast Calgary race could be one of the more interesting races to choose from.
UCP Cabinet Secretary Mickey Amery, whose father was a longtime Northeast MLA, is seeking re-election. He is up against Gurinder Singh Gill of the NDP, who ran in previous elections.
The difficult thing to watch at Calgary-Cross is the turnout.
For example, the NDP’s Ricardo Miranda caused quite a stir when he defeated a star PC candidate, former police chief Rick Hanson, in the 2015 election. Miranda increased his vote count in the 2019 election but was defeated by Amery.
The North East feels disadvantaged by the UCP government on a number of issues, including the province’s lack of a response to a major hailstorm a few years ago that devastated many homes. Health and education are also major concerns in equestrian sport.
If the NDP’s message resonates here, it could be a sign that other Northeast Ridings are involved in this election. The UCP wants to hold that line in the Northeast to help it stay in power.
Lethbridge East and West
Lethbridge’s two drives could also be crucial in determining whether the NDP has any chance of winning the election. Party-loyal Shannon Phillips is the NDP candidate in Lethbridge-West, a race she won for the first time in 2015.
The UCP had chosen Torry Tanner as their flag bearer, but she resigned before the election call. That decision followed a video she had posted in the past in which she accused teachers of exposing students to pornography and helping them change their gender identity.
Cheryl Seaborn, a former UCP constituency leader, replaced her.
In Lethbridge-East, UCP Cabinet Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Nathan Neudorf is up against Rob Miyashiro for the NDP.
Miyashiro is a former two-year member of Lethbridge City Council. With this ride’s history of sending a progressive to Edmonton, the NDP hopes to add this to their tally.
This sprawling ride encompasses the mountain communities of Banff and Canmore, as well as the Stoney Nakoda and Tsuut’ina First Nations. It became NDP in 2015 but the UCP won in 2019 with Miranda Rosin.
She vowed to fight plans to build the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir, a project believed to be key to preventing a repeat of Calgary’s 2013 flood.
The UCP government under then Prime Minister Jason Kenney went ahead with the project, but new UCP leader Danielle Smith considered reconsidering the plan a few months ago. There are no signs of changes.
With environmental concerns in communities like Banff and Canmore, the NDP hopes this driving is a potential game-changer. Potential coal mining along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and the UCP’s decision to charge people for access to Kananaskis Country are also local concerns.
Rosin is seeking another term. NDP candidate Sarah Elmeligi, a conservation biologist, won a controversial nomination for the NDP. Regan Boychuk is the Alberta Green Party candidate.
Edmonton and northern Alberta
In 2019, the NDP swept all Edmonton rides except Edmonton-South West. Edmonton UCP nominee Kaycee Madu won his closest competitor by 715 votes.
Then-Prime Minister Kenney made the Edmonton lawyer and political novice a member of his cabinet. Madu has served in three different cabinet portfolios and is one of Smith’s two deputy prime ministers.
His tenure was marked by controversy. A retired Queen’s Bench judge found that Madu, then Attorney General, attempted to interfere in the administration of justice when he called Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee about a speeding ticket in March 2021.
Madu faces a high-profile NDP candidate of his day: Nathan Ip, vice chairman of the Edmonton Public School Board. The NDP believes they will win Edmonton-South West in one sweep of all 20 City Ridings. A UCP campaign source says Madu and his volunteers are working hard to win a second term.
Edmonton-South West is a must-watch as it could serve as a referendum on what the UCP and Madu, as their sole representative in Cabinet, have done for the capital.
Morinville St. Albert
Morinville-St. Albert, which includes the northeastern portion of the City of St. Albert and rural areas north of Edmonton’s city limits, was a recruit in the 2019 election.
UCP candidate Dale Nally easily prevailed against his closest competitor in 2019 with 50 percent of the vote. Nally, who served under Smith as Secretary of Service Alberta and Bureaucracy Reduction, is seeking a second term.
The NDP believes their candidate, Karen Shaw, has a good chance of unseating him. Shaw served four terms as a Sturgeon County councilman and runs a family farm in the area.
The NDP is struggling to win seats in rural areas, with voters typically voting for conservative candidates, but the party believes it is competitive in the race.
Edmonton-Sherwood Park and Sherwood Park
Check out the two horse farms east of Edmonton. In 2015 both went to NDP candidates who defeated progressive conservative candidates. Four years later, the UCP easily won both seats.
It is possible that the seats will move back to the NDP in 2023.
UCP incumbent Jordan Walker faces a bout against NDP nominee Kyle Kasawski at Sherwood Park, the more urban of the two ridings. Sue Timanson, a stalwart of the Alberta Party, is back running at Sherwood Park.
Nate Glubish, who served in the cabinet under both Kenney and Smith, is seeking a second term at Strathcona-Sherwood Park. He faces a well-known NDP nominee for Strathcona County City Council, Bill Tonita.
The NDP has had a hard time asserting itself in rural riding, but the party believes it has a great chance at Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville.
Taneen Rudyk, Councilwoman for the City of Vegreville and President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, carries the party’s banner in 2023.
Though the area typically votes conservative, Rudyk’s father, Derek Fox, served two terms as the NDP MLA for the former riding of Vegreville.
Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk is seeking a second term for the UCP. Armstrong-Homeniuk was the government’s contact for the settlement of refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Since a significant number of the Reiterhof’s voters are descendants of Ukrainian immigrants who settled the area in the early 20th century, this is one of the reasons the party is confident of winning on May 29.
Little Slave Lake
The NDP hopes for good things in Lesser Slave Lake, although the seat is a long road for the party.
Former NDP cabinet minister Danielle Larivee is hoping to return to the legislature after losing to UCP candidate Pat Rehn in 2019.
The NDP hopes voters will embrace Larivee after Rehn’s controversial tenure.
Kenney removed Rehn from the UCP caucus for six months after community leaders complained that the MLA was never in the constituency.
However, prior to 2015, riding was a conservative stronghold. Former progressive conservative MLA Pearl Calahasen represented the area for 26 years before Larivee was elected.
With Rehn no longer running, Scott Sinclair became the nominee for the UCP after winning a close nomination race against three others.