Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Race For Calgary Glenmore

Calgary Glenmore has had a Progressive Conservative MLA for most of the past 49 years. Indeed, even the 6 years it was represented by Liberal Bill Dickie (1963-69) are put into question, since Dickie crossed the floor to the PC's in 1969. Glenmore was PC before PC was cool - it started electing PC's in 1959 (Ernest Watkins was the ONLY PC in Alberta elected in the general election of 1959), and has remained steadfastly PC since the Tories took power in 1971.

That said, this riding is VERY much in play this year, with the Liberals in a good position to colour the riding red for the first time since the Social Credit Party was in power.

The Candidates:
Ron Stevens (PC)
Avalon Roberts (Lib)
Holly Heffernan (NDP)
Ryan Sadler (WAP)
Arden Bonokoski (Grn)
David Crutcher (Ind.)

Ron Stevens is seeking a fourth term as MLA for Calgary Glenmore. In addition to his portfolio as Minister of Justice & Attorney General, Stevens was also named Deputy Premier in late June 2007. Devout followers of the political scene in Alberta will remember that Stevens was involved in the "Hawaiian Stop-over" controversy, although the Liberals tended to paint it as a systemic PC problem moreso than a Ron Stevens problem, and his Liberal opponent isn't gaining much traction from the incident. Another issue that may plague Stevens is the Southwest Ring Road - which has been on the books now for enough years that I hadn't developed my abiding disdain for soccer when it was first promised. As the area's MLA for the past 11 years, in a Calgary-friendly government and then as Deputy Premier and Calgary's chief representative in the current Stelmach cabinet, residents rightly want answers as to why the bloody thing is taking so long. Stevens won this riding by fewer than 2,000 votes in 2004 - and that was with King Ralph running in the riding to the North, Calgary Elbow. Without Ralph's coat-tails to ride on, knock 15-20% off of the Tory vote totals (the internal PC estimate for Calgary ridings), and all the Liberals need to do is SLIGHLTY increase their support from 2004 levels to take this riding. Ron's a nice enough guy in person, but he is in a dog-fight for this riding, and I would not be surprised at all to see it go Liberal on March 3rd.

Avalon Roberts ran in this riding in 2004, finishing second by 1,897 votes. In the same year, she also garnered nearly 10,000 votes running against Stephen Harper for the federal Liberals in Calgary South West. A trained psychiatrist, Dr. Roberts has long been a vocal supporter of the Friends of Medicare, and also lists the environment and protection of the Weaselhead natural area as top priorities. With her name recognition and credentials as a practitioner and supporter of Alberta's health system, Roberts is a very sharp thorn in the side of Calgary-area Tories. Provided her campaign doesn't come off the rails, she may be able to ride public discontent with the Tories and Glenmore's current MLA straight up the future high-speed rail line to Edmonton, and be a thorn with a seat in the Legislative Assembly. If I had to bet, I'd pick Avalon Roberts to take Glenmore (luckily, I don't have to bet).

Holly Heffernan received 550 votes in this riding for the NDP in 2004, and she's giving it the old college try once again. Furthering her parallels with Dr. Roberts of the Liberals, Holly works in the health system, and ran in Calgary South West in 2006's federal election against Stephen Harper, pulling in an impressive 8% for the NDP in the riding and finishing 3rd (Roberts was second). An active union member and church volunteer, Holly enjoys Harry Potter (which would get her excommunicated from the church *I* grew up in - which explains why I don't attend that church any more). She'll need to pull a little abracadabra herself to place any better than 3rd in this race.

Ryan Sadler did NOT run in 2004, OR in 2006, except maybe for a bus. Sadler is a young tech entrepreneur, who prides himself on his problem-solving abilities. A self-styled champion of the down-trodden, Sadler will be hoping to build on the Alberta Alliance's 3rd place finish in this riding in 2004. If he can tap into enough Tory discontent, he may drain enough PC votes from Ron Stevens to get Avalon Roberts elected... not the result Sadler is looking for, no doubt, but much more likely than a Wildrose Alliance win in a riding where the "centrist" parties took over 85% of votes cast in 2004.

Arden Bonokoski is a University of Calgary student on her way to a BSc. She is currently involved in the formation of a Youth Wing for the Alberta Association for Community Living. The Greens finished 5th here in 2004, but were a few dozen votes from finishing 3rd. The federal riding which encompasses much of the area, Calgary South West, put the Greens in a close race for 3rd in 2006. This riding may go Green in the future, with the Glenmore Reservoir and surrounding environs, plus the mountain parks less than a half hour away... but not this time. A 4th place finish here would be a job very well done - anything better would be truly exceptional.

David Crutcher was a third-place finisher in Calgary Egmont for the Alberta Alliance in the last provincial election, capturing 14% of the vote. He subsequently ran for the leadership of the Alliance and was eliminated after the second ballot. His leadership campaign was plagued by controversy, including threats of legal action and comments from his campaign manager that the Alberta Alliance was "too left-wing". Crutcher left the Alliance and joined the PC's in July 2007, and in short order was elected constituency association president in Egmont, backed by the PGIB. Crutcher was removed/stepped down from the Egmont PC board in October of 2007 due to accusations of impropriety in his support of a particular candidate (also affiliated with the PGIB - the aforementioned former campaign manager in his Alliance leadership bid) for the party's nomination in the riding. Running as an Independent in Glenmore, Crutcher will attract some upset Tories, but he'll have to split that prize with the WAP candidate.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I don't know this riding at all, but I would have thought that, say, Mike Robinson in Foothills, would have a much better chance than Roberts.

I wonder if all the annoyance with Ed will all land on his deputy here. Interesting times...

Anonymous said...

My wife had the opportunity to stop by Stevens' office. It gives new meaning to the term organized. Even on this past Monday (Family Day) he had 15 volunteers in the office, and he has a regular regiment of doorknockers. So while acknowledging I have no direct knowledge about the other candidates' state of preparation, I still give Ron Stevens a better chance to win than any other.

It is a wealthy constituency, so oil & gas royalties would be an issue at the doors, but unless you are willing to go in the direction of the Wildrose Alliance (whose leader hasn't left the confines of his own riding for more than a few days in the last two weeks), the other parties are offering higher royalties, which theoretically should negate that issue to a large extent.

Anonymous said...

Did Mr Crutcher get his papers filed before the deadline?

ElectionsAlberta doesn't have him listed as a candidate for this riding