Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Race For Calgary Fish Creek

This riding is just an ASS-KICKER for the Liberals. They are constantly the bridesmaid, and never the bride in Fish Creek, a middle-class constituency encompassing many of the communities that border Fish Creek Provincial Park, in the city's South East.

Take a look at these election results over the years:
1979 - Tories by 8,000
1982 - Tories by 15,000
1986 - Tories by 6,000
1989 - Tories by 1,400
[Bill Payne had been MLA from 1979 to 1993, retired and succeeded by Heather Forsyth]
1993 - Tories by 2,500
1997 - Tories by 5,000
2001 - Tories by 7,000
2004 - Tories by 4,000

Nation, if there's a secure seat in Calgary for the Tories, it's Fish Creek. Heather Forsyth has dominated this seat since taking on the mantle from Bill Payne, and the hugely popular Forsyth is facing former media personality Laura Shutiak of the Liberals this time around.

The Candidates:
Heather Forsyth (PC)
Laura Shutiak (Lib)
Eric Leavitt (NDP)
Jamie Buchan (WAP)
Kerry Fraser (Grn)

Heather Forsyth is a former Minister of Children's Services and Solicitor General for the province of Alberta. 2 of her legacies in government are the institution of the Amber Alert system in Alberta (the first province in Canada to do so), and the passage of the first-in-Canada "Protection of Children Involved in Prostitution Act", for which she received national attention. An avid reader, golfer and gardener who is fond of gospel music, Heather lists one of her greatest honours as being bestowed the Blackfoot name "Aahsoikinnah-kaiki", which means "healing woman". The Forsyth team runs like a well-oiled machine, and despite their front-runner status in Fish Creek are seen as one of the hardest working teams in the city. One volunteer put it best: "They win every time by thousands of votes, but they're running like they need 10,000 more just to tie".

Laura Shutiak is in a tough spot - as a resident of Calgary Fish Creek for 14 years, it's natural for her to run here, but to do so against such a strong incumbent shows signs of a political death wish. That said, Shutiak is using new media and the internet to her benefit in the campaign, both on her blog and through a "campaign ad" posted on YouTube featuring her children - which comes across either as adorable or as transparent and crass, depending on your political views (or your views on children - in MY view, they shouldn't be used to attack your opponent's absence at a pancake breakfast). The Shutiak website is generally considered to be one of the best of the entire Liberal campaign - given her background, that's not surprising. Shutiak spent 10 years with the Calgary Herald as a writer and editor before moving on to work in communications for the Calgary Board of Education and the Forzani Group. She's a very active volunteer, including for the Alberta Golf Association - since Laura and Heather both love golf, I propose a "golf-off" for the seat. No? Shutiak comes across as likeable, and she knows what she's doing - but she's facing a Kobayashi Maru test in Fish Creek, and the U.S.S. Forsyth is damned near indestructable (okay, so I'm a bit of a nerd).

Eric Leavitt ran for this seat in 2004, garnering nearly 800 votes and finishing 6,000 behind the winner. He'll need to improve his vote total by 800% to have a shot at winning the riding - which is just about how much Brian Mason wants to hike oilsands royalties. Leavitt is to be commended for running - without brave people to step forward and put their name on the ballot, the whole system falls apart - but he's got as much a chance here as he does a website - none whatsoever.

Jamie Buchan has no information available at this time. (Pssst! JAMIE! Election's half over... might wanna get on it!)

Kerry Fraser identifies himself as a "survivialist green". In stark contrast with an opposition party leader who shall remain nameless, Fraser states on his blog that "The Conservatives in Fish Creek will vote for me because they have enough common sense to recognize (we can't build a robust economy or a compassionate civilization if we're all dead)". The insinuation that voters will change their vote because reality has changed, and not because we need to be educated, is a dangerous one, Kerry... giving the voters credit? Yikes. You'd never fit in with the aforementioned leader's party - let's call him "Seven Shaft". Kerry seems like a very interesting cat to sit down with and talk to, but I don't know if the voters are going to have time to do so before making up their minds. A little door-knocker math for you: 7,000 votes needed to win means around 3,000 homes, and a 5 minute conversation at each door means you'll spend 15,000 minutes - that's 15 seventeen-hour days, with a 100% conversion rate - trying to convert people to your cause one household at a time. Come on, Greens - you're the party of efficiency - figure something out! :-)


MgS said...

As a resident of Calgary-Fishcreek, I've been quite disappointed with Forsyth's performance after she was dropped from cabinet.

For the most part, I feel that she has lost touch with the riding, and with constituent's concerns.

When matters of policy or legislation that are potentially bad news for the riding and its residents, the response from her office has been (more or less) to blow off objections expressed by the public.

Anonymous said...

I have been looking to meet Heather since becoming a small business owner in her constituency almost 3 years ago. I guess she's been busy on the provincial scene and unfortunately missed what has happened in her own riding with respect to small business owners faced with run down malls, vandalism, roaming teens, competition from larger retail centres such as Deerfoot Meadows, etc, not to mention missing a few great pancake breakfasts. Where are the social programs for the local teens Heather?

Speaking with many of the locals thier loyalty goes back to a bar that has been closed for several years in Parkland. That's a long time ago to be hanging around with your supporters. Bigger and better things in Edmonton I guess.

I think the undecided vote will surprise her and vote for someone that is willing to spend more time at home than just a couple of months of election posturing.

Anonymous said...

People are smarter than you think they are, and besides one way or another we all get the rulers we deserve. Love the blog! I have to go knock on doors. ;)