Happy New Year! 

The small block of Calgary’s North Glenmore neighbourhood, south of Glenmore Trail, that’s in both the federal Calgary Heritage Riding and the provincial Calgary-Elbow riding (Map: Government of Alberta).

Welcome to 2023!

Oh, and say goodbye to Calgary Heritage Member of Parliament Bob Benzen, who announced last fall he’d be resigning his seat in Parliament on the final day of 2022 to return to private life.

In his mostly undistinguished Parliamentary career, Mr. Benzen was probably best known for being one of the Conservative MPs who started the ball rolling to skid former federal Opposition leader Erin O’Toole last January.

While he’d initially supported Mr. O’Toole, Mr. Benzen later complained the Conservative leader had supported “a de facto carbon tax,” flip-flopped on opposing gun control during the federal election campaign, and failed to “stand up for the Charter rights of Canadians during a pandemic” – by which he obviously meant the right to be a vaccine refusenik, which is not actually protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

He also voted against the federal ban on conversion therapy, which, since we don’t have a Conservative government in Ottawa, passed anyway.

Former Calgary-Elbow MLA Doug Schweitzer (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Reasonably enough, I suppose, in his farewell tweet last night, Mr. Benzen didn’t mention any of that controversial stuff, but merely thanked his constituents for electing him in the 2017 by-election after former PM and Calgary Heritage MP Stephen Harper quit, and in the general elections of 2019 and 2021.

But enough about Mr. Benzen! His resignation, though, has resulted in a small oddity worth keeping in mind by those of us who pay attention Alberta politics.

The resignation, naturally, leaves residents of the southwest Calgary federal riding without representation in Ottawa until either a by-election or a federal election takes place. 

Since despite the federal Conservative Party’s profound wish for an election before even more Canadians grow to dislike their new leader, Pierre Poilievre, a by-election seems more likely assuming the confidence and supply agreement between the federal Liberals and New Democrats holds. 

The oddity is that Mr. Benzen’s resignation has left a couple of corners of the riding without either federal or provincial representation.

Former Calgary-Lougheed MLA and Alberta premier Jason Kenney (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Most egregiously, a small block of Calgary’s North Glenmore neighbourhood is also the southernmost part of the provincial Calgary-Elbow electoral district, which once upon a time was represented by Progressive Conservative premier Ralph Klein. 

That provincial riding has been without a Member of the Legislative Assembly since United Conservative Party MLA and cabinet minister Doug Schweitzer resigned effective Aug. 31, 2022

As readers will recall, residents of the provincial riding were outraged when Alberta’s new UCP premier, Danielle Smith, refused to call a by-election to replace Mr. Schweitzer on the fatuous grounds it would cost too much – even though she immediately called a by-election in the Brooks-Medicine Hat riding for Nov. 8 to ensure she had a seat in the Legislature.

Former Books-Medicine Hat MLA Michaela Frey had quit to give Ms. Smith a safe seat in which to run. Mr. Schweitzer, a former UCP leadership candidate, gave no explanation for why he was quitting – although it was pretty obvious he wanted nothing to do with any government run by Ms. Smith. 

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

“There has been a convention that when a leader is chosen who does not have a seat there’s an expectation that she will seek a seat at an early opportunity, so I think the exception can be made for this by-election, but there is also a convention as well that if you’re within a year of having a general election that you don’t need to call by-elections,” Ms. Smith glibly told reporters at the time. 

The real reason, everyone understood, was that Ms. Smith knew the NDP had a good chance of winning a by-election in Calgary-Elbow, which in turn would have entrenched the narrative that an NDP victory in the next general election was inevitable.

Notwithstanding Ms. Smith’s chatter about Parliamentary conventions, there is also a law in Alberta that a by-election to fill a vacancy like the one left by Mr. Schweitzer must take place within six months of the member’s resignation

Presumably, the Smith Government could eventually be in violation of that law, or have to hastily change it, if the premier decides she daren’t risk the scheduled May 29, 2023, election.

In the meantime, though, it’ll be interesting to compare how the residents of the 250 or so homes in the little square of Calgary-Elbow, illogically located on the south side Glenmore Trail, have to wait to be represented again in Parliament and to be represented in the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton.

An even bigger hunk of the Calgary-Lougheed electoral district is also now in the same state, although only since former Alberta premier Jason Kenney resigned his seat at the end of November. 

Don’t count on Ms. Smith calling a by-election there either, although it would probably be a somewhat safer bet for her. 

By-election results can often be interesting, as former Globe and Mail managing editor Geoffrey Stevens pointed out in a recent column, but the one in Calgary Heritage isn’t likely to be. Calgary-Elbow has more potential in that department, and even Calgary-Lougheed might have the potential for a surprise.

Regardless, my money’s on the folks in both provincial ridings having another MP long before they get an MLA from whatever party.

While they wait, I suppose, they can take some comfort that their City of Calgary councillors remain in office.

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11 Comments

  1. True political representation does not seem to be a high on the list of priorities in Alberta! it’s political ramblings are more often seen in the USA, not Canada.
    Lets put the cards on the table!!
    Alberta is the home of tarsands and little else.
    Tarsands govern or at the very least influence the daily life and workings of it’s society.
    Big oil has has stranglehold on the western world but nowhere more than in Alberta.
    TB

  2. The UCP has a peculiar way of governing. They don’t seem to support democracy, and respect the wishes and needs of constituents, yet they balk at Ottawa for supposedly having an overreach of power. In the UCP circles, the bad guys get rewarded with ministerial roles, or other plum positions, even the ones who were slapped with fines for contravening elections laws. Municipal governments in Alberta also have to kotow to the UCP’s demands, or they get punished. Danielle Smith has given indications that she will have the provincial election in May of this year, but we shall see about that. Let’s hope the provincial election isn’t rigged. The last provincial election in Alberta definitely had some issues regarding the validity of the outcome. Danielle Smith is definitely cunning, and who knows what kind of stunts she could pull off to try and remain in power. I’d rather see the UCP gone, before they do further harm. I hope everyone has a Happy New Year.

    1. Lots of luck to you. I have little hope that the Alberta electorate has yet seen the light. Conservatives rule!! In Alberta for 84 years – 1935=2015, and 2019-2023. And then when they lose out they do not leave gently. Steve Harper was defeated at the polls in 2015, and then moved into the back room, still controlling his party. All six of his so-called replacements have been endorsed by Steve, they have been appointed by Steve, they were all members of Steve’s cabinet and they are all Harperites. Steve does not leave easily.
      Going to the US Conservatives, are called The Repubs. Donald Trump was defeated at the polls but has not acknowledged his defeat. He is still running the show which included an attempted “coup d’état”. The Conservative in Brazil, Jair Bolsanero, was also defeated at the polls and has not acknowledged defeat. He ran an attempted “coup d’état” from the safe haven of Florida, USA.
      The Cons, worldwide are disgusting. In Canada after Brian Mulroney the Cons have had a succession of hapless and disgusting leaders. Kim Campbell was too short-time to judge. Then hanging around the Con leadership was Preston Manning, Stockwell Day, Steve Harper, Steve Harper’s disciples each one getting worse until Pierre Poilièvre. Is Poilièvre at the bottom, or are there more to come? In Alberta the same disgusting pattern- from Don Getty, Ralph Klein, Ed Stelmach, Alison Redford, (Hancock and Prentice were too short-term to judge), to Steve’s disciple, Jason Kenney and on to (dare it be said) Danielle Smith. All getting closer to the bottom of a disgusting barrel.
      The USA follows the same pattern – Richard Nixon, to Gerald Ford, Ronald Raygun, to George Bush (the Dad), to George Dubya Bush to Donald Trump (how low can they go?). Down, down they go.
      Can Alberta finally go and ditch the Conservatives for good? Conservative leaders, governments and regimes are the biggest thread to world peace, security and good government today.

  3. What a surprise, just another Reformer who saw the light and decided to quit before he was forced to face the embarrassment of being defeated in the next election. I wonder how many people have been hurling sarcastic comments at him. MP Glen Motz from Medicine still hasn’t got the message. While he sings the praises of Pierre Poilievre , Medicine Hatters are bad mouthing both him and Poilievre. They aren’t nearly as stupid as he wants them to be. According to Motz , apparently Poilievre is a hero for praising his pal Jason Kenney for how he handled the COVID pandemic and doesn’t care who lost their lives because of the way it was handled. He praised the convoy truckers, and he doesn’t care that it cost taxpayers $65 million dollars. Doesn’t care that Poilievre ,if elected, is promising to destroy jobs, instead of creating them , and doesn’t give a damn who he hurts in the process. While the majority of Canadians, including those of us who hunt, support Trudeau’s plan to ban handguns and assault rifles Poilievre finds it smart to support the American Republican stupidity of the right to bare arms, and doesn’t care about the mass killings we are seeing in the U. S. Where is the intelligence in that?

    1. I think it’s pretty obvious by this point the federal conservatives and the UCP have been captured by this American republican ideological disease. Lie to gain power, lie to stay in power, and do your best to tap into a desire to go back to a idyllic past that never existed. They are realizing, that is, that they have no chance of forming government with an honest examination of their strengths or policy, so they must lie about guns and the NWO and the WEF. It’s pathetic, and it’s pathetic they have ANY support at all.

      1. I am surprised that the pan-con movement has not been yet recognized as just that. Worldwide, right-wing strategies are ‘in common’ to attain power by any means, to keep power, by any means and implement policies designed to undercut or reverse modern prosocial and environmentally responsible, progressive policies. These pro-fascist parties/governments are intent on reversal of democracies as well and match well with the stated Libertarian goal to do just that in the USA (MacLean, Nancy: ‘Democracy in Chains’).

        Not coincidentally, the doublespeak employed in naming the ‘International Democrat Union’ is perhaps effective in the distraction. The IDU exists as an international ‘thinktank’ whose mandate is to support rightwing governments and political parties aspiring to government through shared ideas and practices based in ideology. It is enough to perhaps conclude by noting that their chairman is employed by the Alberta taxpayer to advise the UCP and that the IDU supports the CPC, GOP and governments/parties led by people like Bolsonaro and Erduan, amongst others. The chairman is S Harper, personal friend/mentor to Smith, Kenney and others.

    1. That’s good advice Ford Perfect – except.

      You forgot to add the following: If you get any Dani bucks at all, and if you live long enough to spend any of it, if you can avoid Covid, the flu, or RSV. Remember, it’s only $100 per month, supposedly for 6 months. Umm, it’s already January and bat shit crazy lady is supposedly calling an election at the end of May. No way that “promise” will be kept – tic toc the clock is ticking.

  4. Its too bad that some people here have no elected representation at all. Of course, there will likely be a Federal by election in the time frame required, so that will soon be resolved. It may even happen before they get a provincial representative, which some in this area have already been without for a number of months.

    Its not a good sign for the UCP that it is afraid to hold a by election here. It is also not a good sign for Smith that she has lost two Calgary MLAs, one in anticipation of her winning and another presumably in response to her sovereignty act

    I suppose if Kenney wants, he could try pull a Leipert and run in the now vacant Federal riding. It must be tempting for him and I wouldn’t rule it out completely, but surely even Kenney must realize it is a bit too soon. More likely we will have to wait for Kenney to finish his Churchillian memoirs before he is ready for his come back.

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