Calgary North West, located on the outskirts of the city, is one of Calgary's more exciting races. With the retirement of incumbent MLA Greg Melchin, the riding is wide open. Historically this well-to-do riding has higher-than-average voter turn-out, and features some of the most hotly contested battles in the province. This is a "blow-out free" riding most of the time, having elected both PC's and Liberals, and with strong candidates running for several parties in 2008 this election will be no exception.
There will be an all-candidates debate held for this riding:
Friday, February 29, 2008
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Upland Community Centre - Hawkwood
20 Hawkside Road NW
Lindsay Blackett (PC)
Dale Martin D'Silva (Lib)
Collin Anderson (NDP)
Chris Jukes (WAP)
George Read (Grn)
Lindsay Blackett is, along with Leah Lawrence in Mountain View, the face of the new Progressive Conservatives. Despite partisan jabs to the contrary, the party's renewal since the election of Ed Stelmach as Leader has resulted in a slate of young, modern, urban and sophisticated candidates, from all backgrounds, faiths, genders and ethnicities. Blackett himself is a wonderfully engaging man, eager and open to discussing the issues facing Calgary North West as readily with complete strangers as he is with party insiders. The President of the Canadian Progress Club's Calgary Downtown chapter, Lindsay also has volunteered as a soccer coach (boo!) and a hockey coach (yay!). The Blackett Team has been running in Calgary North West as though their hair was on fire - the campaign is very visible, and has a lot of momentum. The smart money is on Lindsay Blackett winning the riding, and being a progressive and responsive MLA for the foreseeable future.
Dale Martin D'Silva is an energetic advocate for environmental issues and social justice. The real-estate developer is running on a platform of change and empowerment for Calgary North West. Against an incumbent with a record of non-responsiveness, D'Silva would stand a much better chance. He's still a viable contender here, though - he'll just need to work a bit harder against a candidate like Lindsay Blackett. D'Silva's impressive green credentials may be overlooked (which would be a shame), considering that the leader of the Greens is running in this riding. Polling suggests that Dale has a chance, depending on how well his team gets out the vote on March 3rd.
Collin Anderson is a 32-year Journeyman Communications Electrician - so, when your internet goes out and you can't read The Enlightened Savage, you know who to blame. Active in his union and a fan of the outdoors, Anderson is a good NDP candidate. The riding itself has been kind to the NDP in the past, however many of the altruistic types who would normally be inclined to vote NDP may instead park their votes with Green leader George Read. Don't look for an Anderson upset this time around.
Chris Jukes is a reasonably well-known local conservative advocate. A former writer for the Alberta Report magazine and an ordained Anglican minister, Jukes has a lot of influential friends on the right-hand side of the spectrum. He's running a pretty funny campaign, as his website can attest to - although I'm not so sure about the legality of his "Secret Stelmach Video" title. This isn't traditionally solid ground for the parties on the far right, although the royalty issue may give Jukes a shot in the arm.
As an aside: Why is it that every time I go to a website and a video starts running automatically, it's always a candidate on the right? No Red Tory, Liberal or New Democrat websites tell me what I want to watch... and anyone surfing to these sites at the office probably doesn't appreciate the blaring music that suddenly comes over their speakers...
George Read is the leader of the Alberta Greens, and is celebrating his 9th birthday this year (yes, he was born on February 29th). The choice of this riding is curious, as the Greens didn't do especially well here in 2004, but with no incumbent and close proximity to the mountain parks (and, therefore, environmentally-minded voters), it may prove to have been an inspired choice. Far from your typical image of a "tree-hugger", Read is a proud carnivore, and has been an effective political leader for the Greens in Alberta. George doesn't come off as extremely polished - but then again, neither did Ralph Klein. Don't let the lack of varnish fool you, though - this man knows what he's doing, and he's hoping to get himself, as well as 2 or 3 others, elected. I don't know if those hopes will come to fruition, especially for Read in Calgary North West, but I will state for the record that Alberta needs the influence of the Greens to help us kick our oil dependancy - sooner, rather than later. Unsustainable growth is no longer an option.