Thursday, May 12, 2011

Calgary MLA Art Johnson Loses PC Nomination Battle In Calgary Southeast

   I am sure many people will be surprised to hear the news today that longtime Calgary Hays MLA Art Johnston has lost the nomination vote to run as the Alberta PC candidate for the newly created riding of Calgary Southeast in the next provincial election, to Rick Fraser. 

  As a member of the Calgary Hays/Calgary Southeast Board of Directors, I had the opportunity to volunteer at last nights nomination vote to see who would become the PC candidate for the newly created riding of Calgary SE.   This riding was created during the last electoral boundary commission due to the explosive growth in population in the deep south corridor.  It essentially split the existing Calgary Hays riding into two, and includes the neighborhoods of Silverado, Chaparral, Walden, Cranston, Auburn Bay, Mahogany, Copperfield and New Brighton. 

  Current Hays MLA Art Johnston had decided to run in this part of the split riding and faced a last minute challenge to the nomination by Mr. Fraser.  For months, Rick had declared his intentions to run in the existing Calgary Hays riding in the next election and has been actively selling memberships and even pulled a major coup and took control of the Hays board at this springs AGM, ousting the long time riding association president.  Many where shocked to learn that Rick then decided to instead run against Art for the Calgary SE nomination. 

While it is rare for sitting MLA's to be challenged for a nomination, it is even rarer to see a sitting MLA lose his position as the party candidate in the next election.  Due to the short time frame, both parties had worked extremely hard in securing new memberships ( I hear that over 350 new memberships where sold this week between the two candidates)  and urging party members to come out and vote.  The race was extremely close, with Rick Fraser edging Art by a vote of 78 to 74

That's democracy.....

 Before the vote, Art had jokingly said to me that "I'm not ready to put out on any Ice Floes..." and I believe he still has a lot of work he wants to accomplish in the legislature.  I am not sure what the future holds for Art, but I think he should be commended for the work he has done in Calgary Hays, especially in securing new schools for our area.

 While I congratulate Rick on his nomination victory,  I was a little discouraged to learn of his association with the PGIB ( and its often polarizing founder, Craig Chandler.) following the meeting,  as Rick always spoke to me about his desire for change and transparency.   Many people will recall that Chandler was disqualified as a PC candidate in 2007 due to some comments made by the by a group also founded by him. I have gotten to know Rick over the past two years and I cannot imagine what these two would have in common at all.

Interesting times...

Rick's website can be found at


I have been getting a lot of emails and a few comments requesting proof of the PGIB affiliation. Please click the link below for a copy of the lit.

I certaintly hope that Rick posts a followup confirming his association with PGIB and their founders, as it may become a small distraction going forward.


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  1. Thanks for posting this update Shane.

    78 to 74 seems really low for a contested PC nomination. Usually at least a thousand memberships (or so) are sold. What's up in Calgary-Southeast?


  2. Alana Delong's nomination is in Calgary Bow this weekend...and the same kind of battle between her and Lars Lehmann. These are battles within the new constituencies, so there's probably not much loyalty to incumbents, because the constituents have never met the MLA.

  3. Geez, Dave. I guess you missed Edmonton Meadowlark in 2007, where Raj won something like 15-12. Don't get too excited - short timeframe, new board, new constituency. Everyone's holding fire for Ric, who will probably seek the nomination in Hays. As for the PGIB comment, Shane, I've heard that twice. What's the evidence, because it would sure turn me off? You may not remember, but PGIB ran Art's first campaign.

  4. Hi Anon. I could not believe it either. I have the campaign lit that proves it. Email me or send me a DM on Twitter and ill forward it if you like. Turns me off also... big time.

  5. Shane - I'm a big calgaryrants fan but wonder what your evidence is for this new candidate being associated with the PGIB? I've heard conflicting stories on both sides of this account. Didn't Art have big PGIB support last time around ... isn't it really the nature of south Calgary politics that Chandler weasels his way in any where he can.

    I agree with Brent's comment above. This is a major split in the constituency. I find it odd that Art wouldn't run in Calgary-Hays, which he is the MLA of now. Why would he opt to run in a brand new riding with many constituents that don't even know him.

  6. Anon 8:48. I have the campaign lit. email me and Ill send it over.

    As for Art's decision? I speculate he wanted to continue to work on the hospital and continue to bring some schools to the SE, but you should ask Art?

  7. If Fraser was Chandler's guy he didn't have a very big showing. Chandler is usually good at mobilizing big numbers at the polls.

  8. Thanks Shane. So the campaign lit says explicitly that he is a PGIB guy? What in the lit points to him being one of Chandlers?

    I hope Art does explain his choice. Although it is understandable that he would want to run in a riding with projects he is passionate about.

  9. Dave, good point. I assume that with only 7 days to mobilize, they rushed to pgib foe help. I can assure you of the connection. Email me and I'll send it Over. Thx

  10. Shane, Why don't you just post the proof and we can make our own call.

  11. Hi Everyone.. I attached the link in the post. Or here also

  12. I don't know why everyone here is so anti Chandler. He has done a lot for the PC party, and continues to do a lot! He has forgiven Ed Stelmach for kicking him out of the party, he has forgiven Jonathan Denis for running against him in Calgary-Egmont, so much so that he and his PGIB Christian right are now supporting him with his campaign and using all his resources to help him win. And now out of the goodness of his heart, he is also helping Cindy Ady with her campaign too. He knows how to run campaigns and though his services don't come cheap, the party can afford it and we are lucky he's back in the fold. Stop acting like you don't want him, because if we want to win this next election, then we need him to prevent the vote from being split and the Liberals from taking it from us! I really hope he runs as a candidate too! I'd vote for him.