Jonathan Denis

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Jonathan Denis
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Calgary-Acadia
Calgary-Egmont (2008-2012)
In office
March 3, 2008 – May 5, 2015
Preceded byDenis Herard
Succeeded byBrandy Payne
Personal details
Born (1975-09-22) September 22, 1975 (age 46)
Regina, Saskatchewan
Political partyProgressive Conservative
Spouse(s)Breanna Palmer m. 2014 divorced 2015. Liisa Lilley m. 2021
ResidenceCalgary, Alberta
Alma materUniversity of Regina, University of Saskatchewan, University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management
OccupationLawyer, businessperson

Jonathan Brian Denis, QC (born September 22, 1975) is a Canadian politician and lawyer. On May 9, 2012, he was named Solicitor General, Attorney General, and Minister of Justice for the province of Alberta. He represented the constituency of Calgary-Acadia (formerly Calgary-Egmont) as a Progressive Conservative in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 2008 until 2015. He is of German descent.[citation needed]

He was first elected in the 2008 provincial election and was appointed to cabinet in January 2010, making him the second youngest person to be named to cabinet in Alberta history.[1] Denis was re-elected to the newly named constituency of Calgary-Acadia on April 23, 2012.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Jonathan Denis is the son of a soldier in the Canadian forces.[3] He graduated in 1993 from Luther College,[4] a private school in Regina, SK.[5] He received a commerce degree from the University of Regina in 1997 and a law degree from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon in 2000. While in law school, Denis was invited as a speaker at an international law conference in Montreal, Quebec.[6] In 2018, Denis completed his ICD.D designation with the Institute of Corporate Directors, a program from Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto.[7]

Career pre-politics (2000-2008)[edit]

For approximately two months in 1996, Denis was a staffer for Lynda Haverstock when she was an Independent MLA in the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly. Haverstock had previously been leader of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party.[8]

Prior to becoming an MLA, Denis was a senior associate, specializing in government relations, at Miller Thomson LLP,[9] a major Canadian law firm. He was also the co-founder and President of 3D Contact Inc.,[10] the other founder being Nepean-Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre Listed contacts of 3D Contact Inc. are Stephen Harper, Stockwell Day, and Ted Morton.[11] He was also the founder of a successful real estate investment firm named Liberty West Properties Inc.[12] Denis resigned from both positions after being elected.

Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta[edit]

2008 Election, private MLA (2008-2010)[edit]

Denis sought public office for the Alberta Progressive Conservatives in the 2008 provincial election in the constituency of Calgary-Egmont where he received 43.6% of the vote, beating former Calgary School Board chair Cathie Williams.[13]

Denis initially served as a member of the Standing Committee on the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund, the Public Accounts Committee, the Standing Committee on Health, and the Cabinet Policy Committee on Health.[12] In 2008, Deputy Premier Ron Stevens also appointed Denis to the Alberta/Alaska Bilateral Council.[14]

In 2008, Health and Wellness Minister Ron Liepert asked Denis to conduct a widely based consultation for the Alberta Pharmaceutical Strategy. Denis's report came up with ten key recommendations for changes to pharmaceutical policy for the Alberta government.[15]

Also in 2008, Sustainable Resources Minister Ted Morton appointed Denis to the Land Use Framework Committee[16]

On September 16, 2009, Denis was named the Parliamentary Assistant for Energy.[17]

As a lawyer since 2001, Denis introduced the new Alberta Rules of Court as Bill 31, 2009.[18] This bill provided sweeping reforms to court process and completely new rules of court and procedure for Alberta.

Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs (2010-2011)[edit]

Denis was sworn in as Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs as well as Deputy Government House Leader on January 15, 2010,.[19]

On April 6, 2011, Denis provided $638,000.00 in provincial housing money to support tenants of the YWCA's Ophelia House in Calgary. Ophelia House supports women experiencing homelessness.[20]

In 2011, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation wrote an article praising Denis for reducing spending in his department by 39% while still achieving targets.[21]

Solicitor General & Minister of Public Security (2011-2012), 2012 Election[edit]

On October 12, 2011, Denis was sworn in as Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security.[22] He was re-elected in the newly named riding of Calgary-Acadia on April 23, 2012.

Minister of Justice, Attorney General, & Solicitor General (2012-2015), 2015 Election[edit]

Denis was named Minister of Justice, Solicitor General, Attorney General, and Provincial Secretary Alberta on May 9, 2012.

Denis has pursued a "law and order" policy on crime, increasing the amount of RCMP in rural areas[23] and a provincial grant for 300 new police officers in the cities.[24]

On September 1, 2012, Denis enacted strict penalties on drunk drivers.[25] Following this drunk driving law, drunk driving charges went down two years in a row, including 17% in 2015.[26]

On April 17, 2014, Denis supported removing the previous preamble to the Marriage Act which made the Act gender-neutral, respecting the LGBTQ community and same-sex marriage.[27]

On June 13, 2014, Denis provided a grant from the Civil Forfeiture Fund to the Edmonton Pride Centre. The grant was used to support programs for LGBTQ youth.[28]

On July 21, 2014, Denis doubled the limit in Alberta small claims court to $50,000.00, which allows "self-represented litigants to avoid more complicated civil proceedings in Court of Queen’s Bench."[29] This move was lauded by many Alberta lawyers as a positive step for access to justice.[30]

Denis was re-appointed to his previous positions by new Premier Jim Prentice on September 15, 2014.[31] Prentice subsequently appointed Denis Government House Leader.[32]

On September 24, 2014, Denis attended the YWCA's 9th annual "Walk a Mile in her Shoes" to raise funds and awareness toward ending domestic abuse.[33]

Denis resigned on April 25, 2015, during the 2015 election campaign, due to "legal proceedings" between himself and his estranged wife, Breanna Palmer.[34] On May 4, 2015, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Craig Jones cleared Denis's name and "revoked" the order that his wife had obtained against him, stating that Palmer's "recollection of the events was inaccurate".[35] Denis continued as a candidate but was defeated in the May 5, 2015 general election, finishing third in a close three-way race. In February 2019, Justice Jones of the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench found that Palmer had "lied to the court" with a goal of getting Denis to pay her $1 million, and that there was no evidence Denis had ever abused Palmer.[36]

Earlier in the campaign, Denis denied vandalizing his own campaign signs so that they'd read "Jonathan Penis" as a way of getting attention.[37]


In 2009, Denis was appointed Queen's Counsel of Alberta.[38] This is a designation given to lawyers who have exhibited "outstanding contributions to the legal profession or in public life".[39]

Denis was also named as one of Avenue Magazine's "Top 40 under 40" in 2010, which the magazine describes as "an annual selection of the brightest and most active leaders under the age of 40".[40]

In 2011, the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation wrote an article praising Denis for reducing spending in his department by 39% while still achieving targets.[21] The Canadian Taxpayers' Federation has also twice given Denis a "nice" award for having the best expenses in the entire Alberta government, calling his expenses "boring".[41]

Post-political career[edit]

After leaving politics, Denis became a lawyer for Guardian Law Group in Calgary.[42] In June 2021, Denis represented Edmonton city councillor and mayoral candidate Mike Nickel during a hearing regarding Nickel's personal conduct and use of emails obtained as a councillor for campaign purposes.[43]

Election results[edit]

2015 Alberta general election: Calgary-Acadia
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
New Democratic Brandy Payne 5,506 34.72% 30.20%
Wildrose Linda Carlson 4,985 31.44% -10.65%
Progressive Conservative Jonathan Denis 4,602 29.02% -16.76%
Liberal Nicholas Borovsky 765 4.82% -1.45%
Total 15,858
Rejected, Spoiled and Declined 113
Eligible electors / Turnout 29,264 54.58% -2.06%
New Democratic gain from Progressive Conservative Swing -0.21%
Source: "03 - Calgary-Acadia, 2015 Alberta general election". Elections Alberta. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
2012 Alberta general election: Calgary-Acadia
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Progressive Conservative Jonathan Denis 6,863 45.78%
Wildrose Richard Jones 6,308 42.08%
Liberal Nicole Hankel 940 6.27%
New Democratic Nick Lepora 677 4.52%
Evergreen Antoni (Tony) Grochowski 202 1.35%
Total 14,990
Rejected, Spoiled and Declined 117
Eligible electors / Turnout 26,675 56.63%
Progressive Conservative pickup new district.
Source: "03 - Calgary-Acadia, 2012 Alberta general election". Elections Alberta. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
2008 Alberta general election: Calgary-Egmont
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Progressive Conservative Jonathan Denis 5,415 43.61% -7.21%
Liberal Cathie Williams 3,289 26.49% 5.30%
Independent Craig Chandler 2,008 16.17%
Wildrose Barry Chase 676 5.44% -9.38%
Green Mark MacGillivray 582 4.69% -3.13%
New Democratic Jason Nishiyama 447 3.60% -1.75%
Total 12,417
Rejected, Spoiled and Declined 69
Eligible electors / Turnout 30,070 41.52% 0.30%
Progressive Conservative hold Swing -6.25%


  1. ^ Bottom of Top 40 under 40 article, Avenue Magazine
  2. ^ [1] Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine Calgary Sun
  3. ^ "Alberta justice minister denies vandalizing his own campaign signs to read 'Jonathan Penis' - National Post". National Post. 17 April 2015.
  4. ^ "Luther College University of Regina and Luther College High School Regina, SK".
  5. ^ "Luther Story spring = summer 2010". Issuu.
  6. ^ Referenced in 1999 University of Saskatchewan press release Archived 2009-05-11 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan Hansard from May 6, 1998" (PDF).
  9. ^ "Miller Thomson LLP".
  10. ^ "3D Contact Inc".
  11. ^ "Blue Energy Communications Inc".
  12. ^ "Poilievre brings robocall expertise to new job".
  13. ^ "Tory's easy win a surprise".
  14. ^ "MLA Appointments to Committees". Archived from the original on 2011-10-06. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
  15. ^ "Alberta Pharmaceutical Strategy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-04. Retrieved 2009-05-15., see p. 5
  16. ^ "MLA committee to support work on key land-use priorities". July 15, 2008. Archived from the original on October 6, 2011. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  17. ^ "Denis' Legislative Assembly of Alberta biography".
  18. ^
  19. ^ "New cabinet announced".
  20. ^ "YWCA of Calgary Announces New Housing First Program in Partnership With the Calgary Homeless Foundation and First Calgary Financial". Marketwire. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  21. ^ a b "In the spotlight" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-05. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  22. ^ "Editorial: Redford's cabinet of change". Edmonton Journal. 2010-01-18.
  23. ^ Roth, Pamela (10 April 2014). "Province earmarks $227M for RCMP". St. Albert Leader. RJ Lolly Media, Ltd. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  24. ^ Moharib, Nadia (7 March 2013). "Justice Minister Jonathon Denis says small decrease in crime spending means safety still top concern". Calgary Sun. Postmedia Network Inc. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  25. ^ Glen, Barb (27 August 2012). "New impaired driving laws in Alta. effective Sept. 1". The Western Producer. The Western Producer. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  26. ^ Kaufmann, Bill (December 29, 2015). "Calgary police pleased to see drunk driving charges plunge in 2015". Calgary Sun. Postmedia Network Inc. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  27. ^ "Definition of Marriage could Change".
  28. ^ "Support for Pride Centre". Alberta Justice and Solicitor General Blog. June 13, 2014. Archived from the original on October 12, 2016. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
  29. ^ Martin, Kevin (21 July 2014). "Alberta doubles small claims court limit amount". Calgary Sun. Postmedia Network Inc. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  30. ^ Casten, Darlene (July 30, 2014). "Small claims court limit raised to $50,000". Okotoks Western Wheel. Great West Newspapers LP. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  31. ^ Alberta, Government of. "New leadership, new voices, and a new way of doing things". Retrieved 2021-08-18.
  32. ^ Alberta, Government of. "Minister Denis statement on spring session 2015". Retrieved 2021-08-18.
  33. ^ Andrea Mihalik (2014-09-24). "Taking steps towards ending domestic abuse". Calgary Journal. Retrieved 2021-08-18.
  34. ^ "Tory Justice Minister Jonathan Denis resigns". Calgary Herald. April 25, 2015. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  35. ^ Modjeski, Morgan (May 4, 2015). "Emergency protection order against former Justice Minister Jonathan Denis tossed out". Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
  36. ^ Corbella, Licia (April 24, 2019). "Opinion/Corbella: Ex-wife 'lied' in bid to grab $1 million from former Alberta attorney general, court rules". Calgary Herald. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
  37. ^ "Alberta justice minister denies vandalizing his own campaign signs to read 'Jonathan Penis'". National Post. April 17, 2015. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  38. ^ "QC Appointments Announced". Archived from the original on 2011-10-06. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  39. ^ "Law Society of Alberta Queens Counsel Appointments". Archived from the original on 2016-07-30. Retrieved 2016-03-29.
  40. ^ Semko, Jesse (2010-10-18). "Jonathan Denis". Avenue Calgary. Retrieved 2021-08-18.
  41. ^ "Editorial: Denis on the "nice" list". Calgary Sun. 2013-12-23.
  42. ^ "Former CAO threatens legal action against Town of Crossfield". Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  43. ^ "Mike Nickel escapes reprimand for violating council's code of conduct". CBC News. June 24, 2021. Retrieved 2021-07-05.