Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What's Cracking In Calgary Egmont?

A cheap joke, I know... but they're not all going to be Chaucer, Nation.

Enough time has passed since the widely covered and commented-on nomination snafu for the provincial PC's in the Calgary riding of Egmont. The party has announced a nomination meeting to be held on January 19th, from 12 noon to 5 pm at the Kingsland Community Centre (505 - 78th Ave. SW). A valid 2008 membership (and 2 pieces of ID) will be required to vote, available through the various campaigns, or from the party directly at the door.

I thought we'd take a look at the 3 major contenders for the nomination, and see what egg-zactly they have to offer the riding (okay, I apologize for that one - no more) as a candidate.

Jonathan Denis ran in the first nomination, and finished second with nearly 500 votes (enough to win in just about any constituency in the province). He is a 32 year-old lawyer and businessman, and has served the PC Party as a vice-president for the Egmont constituency association, and as the official agent for Denis Herard in the 2004 election. Denis recently announced he has the endorsement of Jason Kenney, the Member of Parliament for the area. This may be off-set by the fact that he also received an endorsement from Paul Jackson, disgraced Calgary Sun columnist. He mentions several times that he is a long-time party member (I'm at 13 years and counting, Jon - beat that!).

Jonathan's campaign is focusing on the following 4 key areas:
  • Strong Leadership
  • Safe Streets
  • Effective Government Services
  • Keeping Taxes Low

Denis certainly has the best organized of the 2 campaigns. As a political consultant he knows all the ins and outs of the system, and in fairness, he was the only one of the 3 candidates to actually know that he was running for this nomination, say, 4 months ago.
He also ran, in the face of overwhelming opposition, in the last nomination, which tells you he's not about to back down from a fight, even when he knows he's not the biggest dog.
He indicates that he will be an inclusive leader, as many residents of Egmont don't vote Tory, or at all, and the MLA must serve all of them.

Jonathan Denis' campaign website is located here, and his official Facebook group is located here.

Don Middleton is a born-and-raised Calgarian who has taught with the Calgary Board of Education since 1993 - yes, he's a teacher running against the star Liberal candidate for Egmont, Cathie Williams, a former chair of the Calgary Catholic board. Wouldn't you love to hear her try to tell Don how bad things are in the education system, and then have him ask her when she was last in a classroom for anything more substantive than a photo op? Middleton served as assistant returning officer for the party in the last nomination, and as such was neutral in the previous race. He has coached sports both curricular and community-based, instilling in his young athletes a sense of obligation to give back to their community.

Don goes into his policies on his website, but it's not his policies that get me excited about this candidate - it's his statements regarding what he believes an MLA needs to be:
  • ... needs to be assertive when necessary, yet a good listener
  • ... occasionally must be willing to set aside personal beliefs to follow and express the views of the constituency
  • ... needs to be able to communicate effectively and empathize with everyone in the constituency, not just those who voted for him

Don Middleton has a few things going for him in this campaign, but there are 2 things that make him particularly electable for this nomination: Firstly, the nomination of a CBE teacher in the riding essentially cuts off the Liberals and their "star candidate" at the knees.

Secondly, and more importantly, Don understands the most important, fundamental rule of being an MLA - You're not elected to LEAD the riding, you're elected to SERVE the riding. You work for EVERYONE in the riding, and you don't assume that, since you got the most votes, they're giving you carte blanche to promote your own beliefs as theirs. The final say on how "the member for Calgary Egmont" votes isn't yours, it's the PEOPLE of Egmont's.

It's an unusually clear-minded approach to running for office - one that more prospective politicians would be well-advised to take heed of.

Don Middleton's campaign website is located here, and his Facebook group is found here.

Vicki Engel is also a native Calgarian, and holds the distinction of being one of the original residents of the community of Riverbend. Vicki is a health-care professional, having served as a nurse, teacher, researcher and administrator. She now owns her own business, Engel Consulting, focusing on health & wellness products. Vicki writes a blog on her website, to let people know what's going on within her campaign (I'd mention it gets infrequently updated, but then I sometimes go 2 weeks between postings here, so who am I to talk?). She lists health-care as her top priority.

Vicki has an extremely detailed platform on her website. Among the highlights:

  • Health Care - move towards preventative, rather than reactionist, model of care.
  • Provincial Rights - institute an Alberta Pension Plan, establish provincial police force.
  • Education - allow more Charter schools.

Engel is running as a "bridge candidate" - hoping to bring the fractured party membership back together after the divisiveness of the previous nomination (I fear that ship has sailed, Vicki - they're long gone).

She goes out of her way to seemingly answer the critics who have labelled her as being too closely associated with a declared independent candidate in the riding, posting on her web-site "The only policies Vicki will be promoting in the upcoming election are those of the party.". Seems pretty clear to me.

She does seem, however, to be either a little INsecure, or a little TOO secure, as she posts on her campaign blog "Mr. (Don) Middleton would make an excellent second choice on the ballot" (as a preferential ballot, party members have the option of choosing a 2nd candidate on their ballot). The mentioning of another candidate in this way suggests either that she's so confident in her victory that she doesn't fear mentioning an opponent in a positive light, she wants to keep Jonathan Denis away from the nomination at any and all costs, or that she IS, in fact, threatened by the Middleton nomination, and is trying to be glib and dismissive of it (the same way I'd pat my fiancee on the head and call her the "second-best blogger in the house" (she doesn't blog - doesn't even read THIS one). Only time will tell which of those 3 scenarios is more accurate.

Vicki Engel's campaign website can be found here.

The member of the PC Party residing in Egmont have a tough choice to make - there are 3 very different candidates for this nomination. The winner is going to have a tough row to hoe, running to hold onto this seat against a star Liberal candidate, and a well-organized and financed independent. Organization and funding can be helped by the party once the nomination is formalized, but once you get up on the stage with that mic in your face, only one thing matters: What do you REALLY believe in? Are you trying to get a job, or are you trying to get power? The PC's in Egmont need to make sure they elect a nominee who will answer that question honesty, sincerely, and correctly. Because at the end of the day, they need to choose a candidate who will WIN the seat for the PC's in the upcoming election - all the great ideas and aspirations in the world don't mean squat if you lose the election.

EDIT: I have been informed, through anonymous readers of the site, that this nomination will be contested by preferential ballot. I am unclear at this time whether the 2nd choices will be considered only in the event that no candidate garners 50%+1 of the initial round of voting, or whether the 3rd place finisher's ballots will automatically be divided among their second choice.

The first option, readers will remember, was the one used for the Alberta PC Leadership election in 2006. The third-place finisher's (Morton's) supporters had their ballots re-counted, and were then applied to the other 2 candidates by their indicated 2nd preference (25,813 of Morton's voters indicated Ed Stelmach, who was already ahead after the first round of voting. 4,227 of Morton's voters chose Dinning as a second choice).

Given the precedent, I'd think that will most LIKELY be the case here as well, so the 2nd choice won't become a factor unless no candidate wins a majority on the first ballot.


Anonymous said...


The candidates have been informed by Christopher Gibbons (Nominating Chairman) that it is a preferential ballot.

If it is not then something is once again fishy in Egmont

Anonymous said...

In the package handed out to all 3 candidates.

Page 8, #6
If there are three (3) or more candidates the ballots shall be marked in a preferential manner, numbering the candidates in order of preference, 1 being the first choice. A ballot shall not be invalid by reason only of its showing one choice or clearly designated preference for less than the full slate of candidates.

Enlightened Savage said...

I stand corrected. I will make the appropriate change to the original post.

Thanks for the heads-up, Anon(s?).

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that Cathie Williams was a trustee for the Catholic School Board and not the CBE, unless that was a number of years ago - I believe it was Ms. Williams who was involved in the whole kufuffle with Michael O'Malley and his antics.

Enlightened Savage said...

Busted, yet again. I hope I'm not this inaccurate in ALL of my postings...

Cathie Williams WAS, in fact, a trustee for the Calgary Separate School disctrict, not the Calgary Board of Education. She is a former chair of the CSSD, actually, and was on the ballot to run for trustee again this past October when she suddenly decided to run unopposed for the Liberal nomination in Egmont instead, and withdrew with a few days left in the school board race.

Original post edited to corrent factual error. [blush]