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Recount confirms ex-Alberta justice minister Tyler Shandro lost seat in election

The last of Alberta’s two bitterly fought election contests is officially over.
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The last of Alberta’s two bitterly fought election contests is officially over.

Former United Conservative justice minister Tyler Shandro has conceded victory to his NDP rival after a second, judicial recount of votes in the constituency of Calgary-Acadia.

Diana Batten and the NDP say the recounts show Batten defeated Shandro by 22 votes.

Batten was declared the winner on election night with a seven-vote margin, a total that rose to 25 after the first recount.

Shandro took to Twitter to concede the win to Batten.

Earlier this week, a judicial recount confirmed NDP newcomer Nagwan Al-Guneid as the winner over incumbent United Conservative candidate Whitney Issik in Calgary-Glenmore.

Al-Guneid won by 48 votes, up from 30 on election night and 42 after the first recount.

The UCP and Premier Danielle Smith hold 48 seats in the legislature, good for a majority government, compared with 38 for the NDP along with one Independent.

The NDP said Batten received 10,959 votes to 10,937 for Shandro.

“I’m extremely grateful for this support from the people of Calgary-Acadia. I also want to thank my team, volunteers, and friends and family who supported me throughout the campaign,” Batten said in a statement Friday.

“I can’t wait to get to work representing the people of Calgary-Acadia and advocating for what matters to them — fixing our health-care system, lowering their costs and creating good paying jobs.”

Shandro, in his tweet, congratulated Batten on her victory.

“I hope that the new legislature, including MLAs from both the UCP and NDP, will be successful in guiding our province,” he tweeted Friday.

The legislature sat for one day this week to re-elect Nathan Cooper as Speaker of the house.

Legislators don’t return to the chamber until the fall sitting begins on Oct. 30.

Shandro is a Calgary-based lawyer who was first elected in 2019 for the UCP.

He was a high-profile and controversial cabinet minister. As health minister, he tore up the binding contract the government had with physicians and imposed new rules and pay provisions.

That sparked years of public feuding with physicians during the COVID-19 pandemic before peace was restored and a new contract ratified under Shandro’s successor, Jason Copping.

Shandro also served as labour minister and was justice minister when writs were issued for last month’s election.

As justice minister, he figured prominently in a report last month by Alberta’s ethics commissioner.

Commissioner Marguerite Trussler concluded Smith broke ethics rules and sought to undermine the rule of law when she tried in January to persuade Shandro to exercise his powers to make the criminal case of a COVID-19 protester “go away.”

Trussler noted Shandro refused to do so.

“Shandro must have felt considerable pressure and concern for his tenure as minister as a result of (Smith’s) call,” wrote Trussler.

“Shandro stood his ground in defending the independence of the Crown.”

Smith rose in the house earlier this week to apologize publicly for the Shandro phone call.

Shandro was one of several high-ranking UCP members to lose their seats in the election. Copping lost his seat, as did culture minister Jason Luan and deputy premier Kaycee Madu.

Shandro is currently in the middle of a hearing with Alberta’s law society over allegations he broke the lawyers’ code of conduct while health minister.

The complaints against Shandro include confronting a Calgary doctor in the front yard of his home, calling two Red Deer doctors on their personal cellphones, and contacting a woman who sent a message to his wife’s company accusing the couple of being in a conflict of interest.

The hearing began in January, continued earlier this month and has been adjourned until Sept. 5 to give lawyers time to complete written briefs.