Alberta Politics
Stephen Mandel regrets (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Mr. Mandel Regrets: Political drama, Alberta Party style … this may be theatre, but it ain’t no masterpiece!

Posted on February 09, 2019, 11:36 pm
5 mins

Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel now says he regrets missing the deadline for filing his nomination candidate expense paperwork, but nevertheless expects the courts to make the problem go away!

Well, good luck with that.

In this old file shot from his days as a Tory minister, Mr. Mandel appears to explain his legal strategy … “M’lord, I only missed by this much!” (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

He blames a retired party financial functionary for the filing fiasco that resulted in six Alberta Party candidates, including his own wonderful self, being banned from running for public office in Alberta for five years. (“My CFO was sick. He missed some dates.”)

For heaven’s sake, this is embarrassing!

Maybe the time really has come for Mr. Mandel to retire. For that matter, the same point could be made about the whole long, twisty-turny Alberta Party experiment – which started out as just another Alberta right-wing fringe party, joined a province-wide political discussion club run by disillusioned Alberta Liberals to become an aspiring political movement slightly to the left of centre, and eventually was wrested back to the right by a group of supposed Red Tories led by Mr. Mandel.

Now this! Me, I miss the days in 2011 when Sue Huff was interim leader of the party and could mount the stage with her guitar and sing Somewhere Over The Rainbow in a sweet soprano voice with a straight face and without anyone breaking into guffaws. Turns out that was the high point of Alberta Party history! Who knew?

Sue Huff says farewell as interim leader of the Alberta Party in 2011, guitar in hand (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

So, while this might mean Mr. Mandel ends his long political career on a sour note – if, indeed, that is what happens – it may be an opportunity to put the little party that never quite grew out of its misery. The events of the past few hours certainly can’t be described as a bravura performance for the party in general, or Mr. Mandel in particular.

The excuses trotted out for the missed deadline by the former Edmonton mayor and Progressive Conservative cabinet minister at his news conference in Edmonton this afternoon really were starting to take on a pathetic quality.

As a commenter on this blog observed this morning: “The ‘dog ate my homework’ excuse isn’t likely to fly for Mandel – no matter how hard he and his lawyers bark. Elections Alberta is meticulous. They should be when it’s the only job they’ve got to do – looking after administrative matters surrounding by-elections, elections and referenda.”

Well, never say never. This is Alberta, after all, and Mr. Mandel is a well-heeled guy with friends in high places. Still, you’ve got to consider this 11th hour strategy a Hail Mary pass at best.

Wouldn’t you think, if you’d received a letter in July saying clearly some routine bureaucracy had to be completed by Sept. 12, you would have done so by then, even if you thought the date was wrong? Mr. Mandel’s paperwork was filed on Sept. 27, and he wants you to know it wasn’t his fault. As the Edmonton Journal’s reporter pointed out, that’s a four-month window to complete a simple job.

It has never been clear to me whether the Alberta Party was more likely to rob the New Democratic Party Government or the United Conservative Party of votes, or whether even with Mr. Mandel at the helm it could do so in sufficient volume to have any kind of impact on the outcome of the upcoming general election.

Either way, it appears as if there is a significant chance that entire matter is now moot.

2 Comments to: Mr. Mandel Regrets: Political drama, Alberta Party style … this may be theatre, but it ain’t no masterpiece!

  1. David

    February 10th, 2019

    As the Sinatra song goes, “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but more, more than this I did it my way”. I suspect Mr. Mandel comes from an era that would remember this tune well. Oh well, I suppose part of politics these days is to expect the strange and unexpected. I thought part of the reason the Alberta Party picked an EXPERIENCED person like Mr. Mandel as leader was to avoid snafus like this that one might expect to more likely trip up a political neophyte. I suppose in fairness to Mr. Mandel, most of his political experience was not at the provincial level or dealing with Elections Alberta and what little previous provincial political experience he did have was mixed at best.

    Part of me wonders if this is a clever, deliberate self immolation. Mr. Mandel may have realized at some point this Alberta Party thing and he is not catching on, so he wanted to find a quick way out and back into comfortable retirement before the election, rather than suffer another embarrassing provincial defeat. It never quite made sense to me for the Alberta Party to pick Mr. Mandel as leader and I don’t think age was the biggest issue. First of all, he was not an MLA so had a limited profile on the provincial stage. Second, it seems to me that Calgary where they are still probably saying “Stephen who?” was and really still is the most potentially fertile ground for the Alberta Party. They already have 3 MLA’s in Calgary and the party veering in a more conservative direction would seem most likely to appeal to fiscally conservative and socially liberal voters who are most numerous in Calgary and who are somewhat uncomfortable with Kenney’s pro life and and anti gay past record.

    Perhaps the Alberta Party and/or Mr. Mandel figured all this out a while after Mr. Mandel was chosen as leader or alternatively Mr. Mandel is really much worse with paper work than we thought. If it is the later, the only option now for Mr. Mandel seems to be to throw himself on the mercy of the court and hope for the best. However, I am not sure how much discretion a judge would have here, the rules seem fairly clear and not unduly onerous.

    If Mr. Mandel does not find a sympathetic judge, the Alberta Party may end up going back to its former leader Mr. Clark, to carry it into the next election. This would be a bit odd, but this wouldn’t be the first time a party made a last minute leadership change and probably will not be the last. It worked for the Ontario PC’s not too long ago, although of course they were doing much better in the polls than the Alberta Party. I suppose the only upside to all of this is people are actually talking about the Alberta Party and Mr. Mandel for the first time in a while. As Oscar Wilde said that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about at all, so perhaps in some odd, roundabout ways this might end up being for the best for the Alberta Party.

    Reply
  2. James Kohut

    February 10th, 2019

    When parties or candidates do not follow the election procedure rules, they are banned from running, whether it is in Alberta or Venezuela. The rules may suck for the (lazy) candidates, but you have to play by the rules set out in the political game. Those rules are not that complicated here in Alberta or Venezuela.

    For the Alberta Party to use tax payer subsidized donations to fight Elections Alberta with high priced lawyers in court on this paper work issue is a political joke and it should not be allowed. Albertans should not have to subsidize political parties like this. People who are economically hurting or those who do not donate to political parties should not have to subsidize political parties in ways like this.

    The people should ask who will also pay for the Provincial court time that the Alberta Party will waste because of such stupidity? Will this court time take away from other more important court issues like criminal crimes? How much time and money will be wasted by Elections Alberta in this case? Will some criminal have his or her charges stayed because of the misuse of Alberta Party court time? This is just one more reason, in a long list of reasons, as to why all political donations should be banned in Alberta.

    The election process should be simplified to better the political system and reduce wasteful costs. The 2015 election cost about $19 million dollars, not including about $3.6 million in tax credits for political donations, more money for candidate investigation costs and court time. Many of these costs could be reduced and the money could better be used for more important things like creating a fair level political playing field to benefit Albertans or improving health care.

    If elections were primarily internet website run, many costs could be eliminated and a fairer election process would likely occur. Political donations could be easily eliminated as well which would simplify paperwork for parties like the Alberta Party. Instead of political donations and the associated millions in tax credits given primarily to wealthy people, parties could instead be given money by Elections Alberta for an internet website to run campaigns from. That would amount to a few hundred dollars per year per party. Some money would have to be allocated for rural candidates to travel to election debates. Candidates in urban areas can provide their own transportation out of their own pocket or ride a bike.

    An internet website election campaign system would eliminate the need for corporate media advertising, election signs, Elections Alberta monitoring of campaign expense paperwork and more.

    Perhaps the Queens Printer could print off one flyer for every candidate and have Elections Alberta mail the flyers along with official election information to each resident so that when you open your mail box, you will have one package with flyers from each candidate in the package along with information on how and where to vote. This would provide convenience for the voters while creating a fair level political playing field and it would reduce combined candidate and Election Alberta costs along with monitoring. This would also eliminate the need for election donations and the associated tax credits for this form of political mail marketing.

    A Legislative Committee should be established to study how to make the Alberta election process easier, cheaper and fairer so parties like the Alberta Party can actually spend more time meeting people rather than sweating about paperwork. This way we won’t have so much court time wasted by politicians.

    Reply

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