Updated: When a Blue Sign is a Golden Ticket

A former PC candidate once said that the most difficult thing to get from the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta was a nomination.  Nominations were coveted golden tickets to employment if one was lucky enough to be able to put their name on a blue sign.   The shade of blue may have changed but in certain circles, the golden ticket has not.

National Post Alex Tetrault 2008

Nomination contests are being held across the province for all parties.  Most have gone unnoticed but some managed to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.  The first incident was in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake when UCP candidate Joel Loh discovered his name was not on the nomination ballot May 2nd. Loh had announced his candidacy on April 17th.   Loh stated he accepted the Party’s explanation that there was not enough time to process his application.   Sylvan Lake’s Victor Sloboda, who also announced April 17th, was on the ballot.

The Airdrie East UCP nomination race saw Roger Millions, former sport broadcaster, challenge sitting MLA Angela Pitt.   During that race, constituency association president Rick Northey resigned over allegations of “outright intimidation” around a $16,000 donation of constituency association funds.  Pitt dismissed those claims as Northey was acting as Millions’ campaign manager.   A couple of  individuals received messages from an unnamed sender with a purported recording of Pitt’s phone calls but did not release the recordings.

Over to Chestermere-Strathmore, the nomination race that burned brightly before fading away to nothing.  The founding meeting for the new constituency was a very well-attended event for being both regional, and rural. Sitting UCP MLA Leela Aheer was joined by five of her fellow MLAs, Ric McIver, Jason Nixon, Prasad Panda, Dave Schneider and Angela Pitt, along with some staffers in tow to demonstrate their support.  The show was only just beginning though as nomination candidate Dave Campbell was expelled from the meeting.

That incident purportedly led to Aheer filing a restraining order that she withdrew a day before it was to be heard in court.  Campbell did not turn in his payment for the nomination, and neither did the other potential nominees. Aheer was acclaimed.

Independent MLA Derek Fildebrandt saw it as further proof “insider party elites refuse to allow the people of Chestermere-Strathmore an open, free and fair nomination of their UCP candidate”.

Then a video surfaced on social media from a UCP founding meeting in Calgary Northeast alleging misconduct with the voting process to elect board members.  In most board elections, this is not a major issue but talking with a resident in the area, I was informed that having one “slate”, a preferred group of people, elected offers the person who chose them an advantage in the general election.  Prab Gill, MLA for Calgary-Greenway, stepped down from his role as Deputy Whip of the UCP caucus on July 12 for his alleged role in the “voting irregularities”.

A complaint was filed and Janice Harrington, Executive Director of the UCP and former PC constituency association president for Airdrie – Chestermere, announced an independent review would be undertaken by former PC Party President and patron, Ted Carruthers.  Some questioned how “independent” the review would be but the Party has the ability to appoint anyone they wish and they did at least promise to look into the complaint.  We can either expect to be a little shocked at the findings or hear nothing at all.

In Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, another nomination contestant, Darryl Kropielnicki, was approved as a candidate at the constituency association level and had his application and criminal record checks completed prior to the vote.  He discovered after the location for the nomination vote was secured that his candidacy was not approved by the party.  Jason Kenney released a statement congratulating Jackie Armstrong Homeniuk.  Gender quotas are a great thing, but not at the expense of democracy.

One issue could be chance.  Two could be coincidence.   Three or more suggests that the myth of the “golden ticket” is still alive and well in the old PC party.   There is a saying that rose by any other name is still a rose; the same can be said of excrement.

NOTICE: This article contains both fact and opinion.  Links to supporting documentation within article.  If you have additional information you would like to see included in this ever-growing list, contact me at [email protected] Information sources will be kept confidential.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean  Content Director – Writer