By Collin Gallant
Southern Alberta Newspapers
A local Green Party candidate who had a high-profile dispute with his landlord – current MLA Drew Barnes – during the early pandemic has withdrawn as a candidate ahead of a potential head-to-head matchup this spring.
Hatter Dustin Cartwright argued in the spring of 2020 that he was unemployed and needed rent relief to remain in the duplex he was renting from Barnes through a property management company.
A story by Southern Alberta Newspapers was eventually followed by other outlets in Alberta before national online outlet Vice reported on it in the spring of 2020.
Last October, he was among 15 Green Party candidates named in a release to run in Alberta in the 2023 election, Cartwright in the Cypress-Medicine Hat riding.
That was withdrawn late last month however, by Cartwright, according to Alberta Green Party Leader Jordan Wilkie.
The issue stemmed from a social media message from Cartwright that stated one response to high food prices might be shoplifting. The party wanted it removed, and Cartwright declined, choosing instead to withdraw.
“It may have been tongue and cheek and not a serious tweet, but we are a serious party,” Wilkie told Southern Alberta Newspapers.
“With a smaller party, voters need to understand that you are legitimate, and we’ve spent three years refocusing this party. We don’t need distractions … and (the tweet) doesn’t align with our values.
“I respect his choice, and wish him the best.”
Wilkie, an Edmonton area firefighter, said the party is focused on electoral reform and social justice, the environment and a system change to stop crime.
He said it may be difficult to arrange a new candidate in the area considering the expected timeline of an election – legislation states voting would take place May 29 – but Hatters interested in running or learning more about the party are encouraged to do so.
Barnes was not available as the legislature concluded the final day of sitting of the spring session.
Barnes, who owns a large rental portfolio from his days as a local real estate agent, first became MLA in 2012 then won the next two elections as first a Wildrose Party candidate, then a United Conservative Party candidate.
An independent since early 2021, Barnes hasn’t announced whether he will seek a fourth term, but did not seek the recently decided UCP nomination for the riding that includes south Medicine Hat and southern portions of Cypress County.
He has indicated he may be seeking other “independent” candidates to run as a group.
The Green Party last ran a candidate in Cypress-Medicine Hat in the 2008 election, during which it also contested the former Medicine Hat riding.
In the 2012 election, the party was known as the “Evergreen Party” and a city-riding candidate finished fifth under the banner.
Cathy Hogg, a school board trustee and ranch operator, won the nomination for the Alberta New Democrats in late February.
UCP vote totals
The numbers are in after United Conservative Party members in Cypress-Medicine Hat nominated a general election candidate last week.
A party bulletin to local members states the March 16 vote held at the Medicine Hat Lodge resulted in a 217-169 victory for Justin Wright over James Finkbeiner.
Wright, 38, a local business owner, is be the UCP candidate in the next election, expected to be held May 29.