Friday, February 29, 2008

The Race For Calgary Shaw

Something interesting happened on the way to the polls in Calgary Shaw this year... things got, well, interesting.

Shaw is one of those ridings that, generally, PC's have been able to take for granted. Sure, their volunteers get out and door-knock and drop flyers and work just as hard as any other party - but with margins of victory like 9,000 in 1997, and nearly 17,000 in 2001 (yes, you read that right), the PC's could be forgiven for assuming this riding is fairly untouchable. Featuring communities like Shawnessy, Sundance, and Lake Chapparal, the riding is mostly on the North side of the "Middle Class Divide". However, this is Oil country... and Oil is displeased.

The Candidates:
Cindy Ady (PC)
John Roggeveen (Lib)
Jenn Carlson (NDP)
Richard P. Dur (WAP)
Jennifer Oss-Saunders (Grn)

Cindy Ady was first elected to represent Calgary Shaw in 2001, and won by a massive margin. She won handily in 2004 as well, by a substantially smaller margin. The freshly-minted Associate Minister of Tourism Promotion, Ady ran into a bit of trouble with allegations of impropriety regarding her duties with the "Idaho-Alberta Transboundary Task Force" (I've got to say, my potatoes have never tasted better!) - an issue that hasn't gained any real traction among her constituents. What HAS gained traction, though, is the changes to the Royalty Regime. The riding is, by most accounts, turning on Ady at a shocking pace. They are angry, and are letting her and her volunteers know about it in staggering numbers. Rumours of a dysfunctional campaign have also dogged the incumbent. Highly-placed Tories in the area suggest that this former bastion of Tory-dom might be lost on Monday night, with enough angry voters staying home or voting WAP to allow the Liberals to take the riding.

John Roggeveen has avoided the temptation to go with the cookie-cutter Liberal website design, and his site is quite refreshingly different. Roggeveen is an experienced lawyer, who ran here in 2004 and captured nearly 2,400 votes. The Roggeveen camp has run a quiet and persistent campaign, and this may have proven to be a strategically brilliant move. Knowing that the Royalty debate was going to be the key issue in the riding, and knowing that his own party's stance on the topic was going to prove even more unpopular than the re-vamped PC plan, John has laid low, and let the Wildrose candidate do all the attacking. As more and more people decide not to vote for Ady and the PC's, Roggeveen has gotten closer and closer to the point where his 2,000 solid Liberal voters can get him within striking distance of winning the seat - which he may very well do, provided he can get out the vote on Monday.

Jenn Carlson is a lamb to the slaughter here... only 2 ridings in Calgary saw less NDP support in 2004, and that was before the Royalty issue came up, which sees the NDP on the complete opposite side of the vast majority of residents in Calgary Shaw. Carlson hasn't even put up a website that I can find - probably decided it wasn't worth the $12 to register the domain. Running for the New Democrats here shows guts, but it takes more than guts to get elected - it takes policies that people will support.

Richard P. Dur has no cake-walk here, despite what many might think. While the WAP candidate will benefit greatly from his party's stance on Royalties, his big challenge is going to be to convince the voters of Shaw to cast a ballot for HIM, rather than staying home to register their displeasure. His team is said to be running a high-spirited and aggressive campaign. Dur, a student at St. Mary's University College (which is in the riding), comes with some federal Tory connections as well, and might be seen as a viable alternative despite his youth and inexperience. I don't think he's a FAVOURITE to win here, but I think he CAN win - and if he doesn't, he's a good bet for 2nd.

Jennifer Oss-Saunders is an interesting candidate for the Greens, as both she and her husband have careers in Oil and Gas. Jennifer herself is a senior administrator for BP Canada Energy - so clearly, her focus isn't on putting the Oil and Gas sector out of business, but rather on that Green buzz-word "sustainability". Quoting Oss-Saunders from her own website:
“I like the fiscally conservative stance of the Party which beautifully accommodates a socially viable green vision for the future of Albertans which includes our four grandchildren.”
Wow - doesn't really sound like a raging tree-hugging hippie, does she? This riding wasn't one of the stronger ones for the Greens in 2004, but if Jennifer can lead them to a 4th place-or-better finish here, it'll be a moral victory.

1 comment:

A Volunteer said...

As one of those high spirited volunteers on Richard Dur's campaign I can tell you that we are excited.

Today we had 15 people meet up at St. Mary's University College and do literature drops in the constituency. As of today, almost every house in the constituency has received a letter from Richard Dur.

Doorknocking has been exceptional and Richard is amazing at making quick friends at the doors. Last time I went doorknocking with him three of the first ten houses we hit agreed to take Wildrose Alliance lawn signs.

Another day, we got two houses to trade in their Cindy Ady signs for Richard Dur signs.

Could Richard win? Maybe.

Does Calgary Shaw want Ed Stelmach as Premier? Hell no.