St. Albert nomination race completes Tory election slate

Duncan Thorne, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Thursday, March 01, 2007


Tonight's winner in an Edmonton-area federal Tory nomination will complete the party's slate of 28 Alberta candidates for an election expected as early as this year.

Four nominees, including two former politicians, are battling for the Edmonton-St. Albert candidacy. Organizers say they expect 600-700 members to cast ballots at the meeting, to choose a successor to Conservative MP John Williams, who is expected to retire before the next election.

In a province where all federal seats are Conservative, the nomination process is probably the challengers' toughest hurdle on the road to election.

St. Albert represents the final candidate to be nominated in the province of Alberta for the Conservative party," said William McBeath, Alberta Tory campaign organizer.

The nomination race includes former Edmonton-Strathcona MP Scott Thorkelson, who was defeated in the 1993 election, and former Edmonton-Calder Conservative MLA Brent Rathgeber, defeated in the 2004 provincial election. They face political rookies John Kennair and Tina Busse.

With few exceptions, incumbents in Alberta's 28 solidly Tory ridings have been unopposed in seeking nominations again, McBeath said. Those who faced challenges won their nominations.

Conservatives in Edmonton-Sherwood Park chose a new candidate, Tim Uppal, after MP Ken Epp announced his retirement.

McBeath said the Tories felt it wise to finish nominations in all Alberta constituencies because Prime Minister Stephen Harper heads a minority government.

Alberta's federal Liberals also are gearing up for nominations from March 18 to March 31.

The national party imposed a freeze on nominations after Stephane Dion's leadership win. The Alberta freeze ended Feb. 21, after satisfying Dion it has an election-readiness organization and a nomination process in place.

"It looks like the nominations in the greater-Edmonton ridings, including Sherwood Park and St. Albert, are all going to be contested," said Kevin Feehan, Alberta campaign co-chairman.

The Liberals' biggest contest will be in Edmonton Centre, where Anne McLellan narrowly won election four times and rose to become deputy prime minister. McLellan, who lost last year to Conservative Laurie Hawn, is not seeking re-election.

"We've either received papers or we understand that we will receive papers for five persons to contest Edmonton Centre," Feehan said. He would not identify them until he sets the nomination date.

He said Liberal constituency associations in Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont, previously held by Liberal David Kilgour, and Edmonton-Strathcona each expect three people to run for nomination. Two contestants will probably vie for the Liberal nomination in each of the four other Edmonton-area ridings.

People from northern Alberta's seven rural ridings have stepped up as possible Liberal nominees, Feehan said. They may include party president Adam Campbell in Crowfoot, which is mainly in southern Alberta but extends north beyond Camrose towards Edmonton.

Peace River, Yellowhead and Westlock-St. Paul may each have two challengers, Feehan said.
Dion has insisted at least one-third of the Liberal candidates in each province be female. Feehan said there will be enough women to meet the requirement.

The NDP hasn't set a deadline for completing nominations but has three candidates in place so far, all by acclamation. They include Edmonton Strathcona's Linda Duncan, Donna Martyn in Edmonton Centre and Ken Kuzminski in Yellowhead.

Sandra Houston, NDP provincial secretary, said the party expects an acclamation in Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont on March 11, the same date two challengers seek the nod for Vegreville-Wainright.

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