Friday, February 22, 2008

The Race for Calgary Lougheed

Day late and a dollar short, Nation. My apologies. And a-waaaaaay we go!

Located in the city's far South-West, Lougheed is a mixture of older neighbourhoods like Woodbine and (parts of ) Canyon Meadows, and newer areas like Evergreen and Bridlewood. Formed in 1993, Lougheed's first MLA was Jim Dinning, who finished second in the race for the PC leadership in 2006 despite having been out of politics for nearly a decade. The riding has been held by Progressive Conservative MLA's for its entire existence (historically favouring them 2 votes to 1 over the Liberal candidate), and is currently the home riding of Dave Rodney, who is seeking re-election.

The Candidates:
Dave Rodney (PC)
Lori Czerwinski (Lib)
Clint Marko (NDP)
Derrick Jacobson (WAP)
Bernie Amell (Grn)
G. Keith Laurie (Ind.)

Dave Rodney is the incumbent MLA, having won the riding in 2004 by just over 3,000 votes. Never one to be accused of a lack of confidence, Rodney (the first Canadian to scale Mt. Everest TWICE - if you don't believe me, ask his license plate) isn't letting his relatively small Facebook group slow him down. He's also a very excited father-to-be, expecting his first in April. The beneficiary of several spending announcements, including at least 2 new schools to be built in his area, it's easy to assume that Rodney will coast to victory here... I, however, make no such assumptions. A lot of the people in the South of this riding make their money through oil & gas, and they have to spend an hour or more in traffic each way every morning because there's no South-West leg of the ring road - which would run right through the riding. Both of those issues are dangerous ones for Rodney and the PC's in this riding. He's still the favourite - but not a shoo-in.

Lori Czerwinski is the proud owner of one of the better-looking websites in this campaign. The teacher and education advocate is in a position where it will be hard to play to her strengths, as the riding is getting new schools, and student test results are leading the nation... capitalizing on the infrastructure problems plaguing the riding would be a strategy that could bear fruit, although she'll likely want to stay far, far away from any royalty discussion considering her party's view on the issue. To close the 3,000 vote gap with Rodney, she'll have to bank on Ed's low approval rating in Calgary, and then either convince 2,000 Tory voters to stay home, or 1,000 of them to vote for her. Tough? Absolutely. Impossible? No more so than, say, climbing Everest. Twice. It's been done...

Clint Marko is being depended upon by the NDP to salvage their presence in this riding... The New Democrats finished dead last here (5th place) in 2004, and Marko is the ideal NDP candidate: Involved with his union, a tradesman (Electrician, in his case), lover of the arts and the outdoorsy-type. Marko can count on the core NDP voters in the riding, but he's going to have to chip away at Czerwinski's support to improve the end result this time around.

Derrick Jacobson is old-school. In Alliance terms, that makes him as Reform as Reform can be... the Alberta Alliance finished 4th here in 2004, and Jacobson's message of protest, democratic reform and political accountability combined with the party message of lower taxes and a return to the previous royalty regime could play very well in this riding. Derrick has pledged to donate his entire MLA salary to community associations in the riding if elected. He's a dark horse, to be sure, but one to watch - he may just be the right guy, in the right riding...

Bernie Amell is an expert in the design of constructed wetlands for water treatment - running in a riding that stands to benefit from such expertise. He is a long-time volunteer and activist for watershed protection, who credits his grandchildren for his green conscience - he wants to protect the world they're going to inherit from him. This was a remarkably strong riding for the Greens in 2004, when they finished 3rd. Many people who move to this riding do so for the views and the proximity to the mountain parks and Fish Creek Provincial Park - they're nature lovers. Greens at heart, if not in the ballot box. The presence of the area less than a half hour from the logged parts of Kananaskis and the (mostly) unprotected Elbow River watershed gives him ammunition to fight with - let's see if he pulls the trigger.

G. Keith Laurie is an active retiree who thinks that government should take an "Alberta First" approach when dealing with the feds and other provinces... with a background in education, Laurie identifies himself as a "secular centrist - a little to the right and a little to the left". His website lists his opinions on a variety of issues. I'd encourage voters to check out his website - the other party platforms are accessible, but as a man without a party, you've got to do some digging to find what Laurie stands for. Agree with him or not (I personally tend to disagree with most of his positions), you've got to read it to be informed. :)

1 comment:

Glen said...

I'm working extensively on Lori's campaign and I have to admit; I went into this thinking "ok, we'll fly the flag and try to come close so we can target this riding next time."

After three weeks of door knocking...I actually think we have a shot. I even think we may even be winning the sign war although Rodney's finances give him an edge with the larger signs. Not to mention that signs from all parties have been disappearing like crazy.