23 Races to Watch in Alberta Election 2023
The contests I'll be paying close attention to on May 29.
And we’re off.
The writ was officially delivered for the 2023 Alberta provincial election on May 1, which promises to be a much closer race than last time. In 2019, former premier Jason Kenney stormed to victory with his Frankenstein UCP, riding a wave of discontent and resentment, in part due to the economic impact of depressed oil prices.
This time, oil is fetching record prices and Premier Danielle Smith has gone all-in on embracing the UCP’s hard-right wing. Her foil, former NDP premier Rachel Notley, decided to stay on as Leader of Opposition after losing to Kenney for the opportunity to say “I told you so” four years later.
Now here we are.
There were seven ridings decided by less than 1,000 votes during the 2019 election. I suspect other ridings will be much closer than last time around come May 29.
Listed below are 23 ridings I’ll be paying special attention to on election night 2023 (get it?), arranged in order of how few votes they were decided by in the 2019 race. They’re accompanied by an explanation of why they’re interesting, 2019 results, and a list of 2023 candidates so far.
For the previous election’s results, I’m not going to bother listing candidates who garnered less than 1% of the vote, in case you’re wondering why the numbers don’t exactly add up to 100%. Vote totals are from CTV News’s riding-by-riding breakdown.
Shoutout to Daveberta - Alberta politics and elections for doing the heavy lifting of tracking candidate nominations. His work is indispensable for anyone covering elections in Alberta.
For reference, AP refers to the Alberta Party, AIP refers to the Alberta Independence Party, FCP refers to the Freedom Conservative Party, WLC refers to Wildrose Loyalty Coalition, AAP refers to the Alberta Advantage Party, and SMA refers to the Solidarity Movement of Alberta.
This list is up to date with the finalized list of candidates released May 12.
Decided by less than 1,000 votes
The closest race of 2019 is set for a rematch between incumbent UCP MLA Devinder Toor and the NDP’s Parmeet Singh Bopari. Toor, who was an early proponent of Smith’s Sovereignty Act, has had a tumultuous tenure, to put it mildly.
In June 2020, he allegedly led a mob of 15 people in northeastern Calgary to intimidate two local food trucks into closing down. Toor was also dinged $15,000 for campaign finance violations in July 2021, stemming from his 2018 nomination and 2019 election campaigns. A hotel and bar he owns in Gleichen was forced to shut down in September 2021 due to 18 health and safety violations.
If the NDP can’t win this seat, they’re pretty much fucked.
The Greens also have a candidate, Ahmed Hassan, an AHS security guard who owns a shawarma restaurant, an auto dealership and men’s beauty products business.
Won by 102 votes
UCP: Devinder Toor (45.6%)
NDP: Parmeet Singh Bopari (44.9%)
AP: Jasbir Singh Dhari (5.7%)
Lib: Deepak Sharma (3.8%)
UCP: Devinder Toor
NDP: Parmeet Singh Bopari
Green: Ahmad Hassan
Ind: Kyle Kennedy
SMA: Evan Wilson
The NDP’s Janet Eremenko, who placed third in Calgary-Elbow in 2019, is running in a much more winnable riding just north of where she ran last. She’s up against Nicholas Milliken, who most recently served as addiction and mental health minister.
Eremenko defeated the riding’s former MLA Brian Malkinson for the NDP nomination by 120 votes, only 68 votes fewer than the amount Malkinson lost by in the 2019 election. Eremenko was endorsed in that race by former Ward 8 Calgary city councillor Evan Woolley. In 2017, she ran for Calgary city council in Ward 11, placing third to former councillor Jeromy Farkas.
The Alberta Party is running charter school humanities teacher Jason Avramenko. The Green candidate is Lane Robson, a paediatrician who founded the Calgary Children’s Clinic. The Liberals are running opera singer and instructor Leila Keith.
Won by 188 votes
UCP: Nicholas Milliken (43.7%)
NDP: Brian Malkinson (42.9%)
AP: Lindsay Luhanu (11%)
Lib: Joshua Codd (2.2%)
UCP: Nicholas Milliken
NDP: Janet Eremenko
AP: Jason Avramenko
Lib: Leila Keith
Green: Lane Robson
SMA: David Pawloski
Her UCP challenger, registered nurse Cheryl Seaborn, was appointed by the party at the last minute, after a Facebook video was uncovered of the original candidate, Tory Tanner, claiming that children were being shown porn in school and that teachers were helping trans kids transition without their parents’ knowledge.
Alberta Party candidate Braham Luddu is the founder and owner of the Alberta Des Punjab Times, a weekly Punjabi print newspaper and daily online publication. Pat Chizek, a retired public school teacher, is running again for the Liberals.
Won by 225 votes
NDP: Shannon Phillips (45.2%)
UCP: Karri Flatla (44.3%)
AP: Zac Rhodenizer (7.2%)
Lib: Pat Chizek (1.9%)
AIP: Ben Maddison (1.4%)
NDP: Shannon Phillips
UCP: Cheryl Seaborn
AP: Braham Luddu
Lib: Patricia Chizek
Brooks Arcand-Paul, who serves as legal counsel for Alexander First Nation, is running for the NDP after incumbent MLA Jon Carson announced his intention not to run for re-election.
Carson narrowly defeated the UCP’s Nicole Williams in 2019 after Williams and two of her party nomination competitors were photographed with members of the far-right Soldiers of Odin hate group.
This time around, the UCP candidate is Slava Cravcenco, a former professional Moldovan ping pong player who owns a window and door restoration company. He beat Joseph Angele for the Edmonton-West Henday nomination, which Cravcenco ran for after failing to defeat cabinet minister Kaycee Madu for the Edmonton-South West nomination.
Kristina Howard, the Green candidate, is an anthropology student at MacEwan University.
The Liberals are running Dan Bildhauer, the CEO of a consulting firm that provides advice to the federal government.
Won by 490 votes
NDP: Jon Carson (43.9%)
UCP: Nicole Williams (41.5%)
AP: Winston Leung (11.7%)
Lib: Leah McRorie (1.7%)
AIP: Dave Bjorkman (1.2%)
NDP: Brooks Arcand-Paul
UCP: Slava Cravcenco
Lib: Dan Bildhauer
Green: Kristina Howard
The UCP’s Jason Copping, who most recently served as health minister, is facing NDP candidate Luanne Metz, a prominent Calgary physician and academic, who leads the division of neurology at the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute.
Metz also founded Eyes Forward Alberta, an advocacy group opposed to the UCP’s health-care privatization efforts.
Calgary-Varsity is a swing riding with a progressive bent, having been represented by Liberal MLA Henry Chase, PC and then independent MLA Donna Kennedy-Glans, and NDP MLA Stephanie McLean.
Won by 624 votes
UCP: Jason Copping (46.1%)
NDP: Anne McGrath (43.5%)
AP: Beth Barberree (7.2%)
Lib: Ryan Campbell (1.6%)
Green: Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes (1.2%)
UCP: Jason Copping
NDP: Luanne Metz
WLC: Oaklan Davidsen
SMA: Kent Liang
Where to start with incumbent Kaycee Madu? The only UCP MLA elected within Edmonton’s city limits, Madu has the additional distinction of disastrous tenures at two key cabinet posts.
As municipal affairs minister, his dysfunctional relationship with the province’s municipalities earned an unprecedented censure from the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (now known as Municipalities Alberta).
That was small potatoes, however, compared to his decision as justice minister to call Edmonton police chief Dale McFee after receiving a distracted driving ticket for using his phone in a school zone. He claimed he was just calling the top cop to let him know about the ticket, as one does.
The NDP is running Nathan Ip, a three-term Edmonton Public School Board trustee who defeated Lakeland College business instructor Ben Acquaye, psychologist Chand Gul and social worker Ali Kamal for the nomination in June. Ip was endorsed by former NDP MLAs Bob Turner and Jim Gurnett, and former Alberta Party president Rhiannon Hoyle.
Won by 712 votes
UCP: Kaycee Madu (45%)
NDP: John Archer (41.8%)
AP: Mo Elsalhy (11.7%)
UCP: Kaycee Madu
NDP: Nathan Ip
Green: Jeff Cullihall
Speaking of the former Alberta Party president, Rhiannon Hoyle is running for the NDP in Edmonton-South after incumbent Thomas Dang was kicked out of the party for hacking the province’s vaccine records portal. Dang sat as an independent MLA before announcing he won’t seek re-election, leaving the race wide open. He was fined $7,200 for his caper.
Running for the UCP is lawyer Joseph Angeles, who lost the Edmonton-West Henday nomination to Slava Cravcenco, who himself lost the UCP nomination in Edmonton-South West to Kaycee Madu. Angeles lucked out for the Edmonton-South nod after Tunde Obasan, who lost the riding to Dang in 2019 and was the federal Conservative candidate for Edmonton-Strathcona in 2021, suddenly dropped out for “personal reasons.”
Won by 774 votes
NDP: Thomas Dang (46.6%)
UCP: Tunde Obasan (43.2%)
AP: Pramod Kumar (9.4%)
NDP: Rhiannon Hoyle
UCP: Joseph Angeles
Green: Chryssy Beckman
Other Races to Watch
This is another wide open race after Sharif Haji ousted sitting MLA Chris Nielsen for the NDP nod in June. In 2019, Nielsen defeated the UCP’s Karen Principe, who’s now an Edmonton city councillor.
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