Sunday, September 28, 2008

Darn You, Real Life!

It's all coming, Nation... I haven't abandoned you.

Within the next few days, I should be caught up on the riding profiles, have edited several profiles to include new candidates or all-candidate's forums, and "live-from-tape-blogged" on the McCain/Obama debate (which I taped and have avoided any and all coverage of the fall-out from, to avoid spoiling it).

Donations to the "Buy E.S. Red Bull" fund will be gratefully accepted. :)

In the meantime, see the blogs on the right of the screen for some great perspectives, from all sides of the political spectrum.

- ES

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Battles for Edmonton - Mill Woods - Beaumont and Calgary Southeast

Edmonton - Mill Woods - Beaumont

With an average voter turn-out of around 60%, this riding can be won by the candidate who does the best job of Getting Out The Vote. Formerly held for a quarter-century by Progressive Conservative, Liberal (and later Independent) David Kilgour (who won it by 134 votes in 2004 - who says every vote doesn't count?), the riding was handily won by the Conservatives in 2006, when Kilgour chose not to seek re-election. This South-East Edmonton riding includes large swaths of suburbia, but also a large and vibrant immigrant community. The entire area elected PC MLA's earlier this year. As mentioned, with low-ish voter turn-out, the riding CAN be had - but the Tories will likely hold it, barring a miraculous performance by the Liberal campaign here.
Mike Lake (CPC) - A former employee of God's Favourite Hockey Team, Mike Lake won this riding in 2006 by a comfortable margin of over 17,000 votes. Lake drew some fire last year when he (shockingly!) did his job, and presented a petition signed by 500 people to the Clerk of the House of Commons. The petition in question argued in favour of adding Bigfoot to the list of endangered species. When asked about it afterwards, Mike mentioned that it was his job to present such petitions to the House, without prejudice and irrespective of his personal views on the issue - the fact that so many people couldn't understand that speaks ill of our jaded democracy. Lake's campaign needs to avoid complacency at all costs, here - the riding HAS voted Liberal, and recently, so the fact that their first race was easy shouldn't lull them into a VERY false sense of security.

Indira Saroya (Lib) - Indira Saroya gets my goat immediately, as her website trumpets, right at the top, "Indira Saroya CARES!!!". The owner of a day-care and teacher of a (by all accounts) pretty easy Yoga course at the U of A, Saroya tried unsuccessfully to get the Liberal nomination here in 2005. After the royal butt-kicking they received at the polls, the nomination was much less hotly contested this time around. There's a blog on her site, the author of whom posts as "kks" - not sure who that is, but it's not the same dashing, debonair, suave, future winner of the 2009 Canadian Blog Award for Best Political Blog who posts as The Enlightened Savage. There's fertile soil here for the Liberals, but they've got to till the hell out of it. Can Indira inspire that sort of loyalty? We'll see.

Michael Butler (NDP) - Well-publicised as a candidate due to the tragic circumstances involving his wife's murder, Mike Butler is trying to change the system not by screaming and protesting, but by RUNNING for office, to change the law. With a Facebook presence trying to overcome the relatively shoddy website the NDP has set up for him, Butler will try to improve on the 14.6% that the NDP polled at here in 2006. It's certainly possible, but he'll have to keep hammering away at law & order issues and keep his name on everyone's lips to do it.

David Allan Hrushka (Grn) - David Allan Hrushka is a "Green Tory" - the vegetarian has admitted to being a long-time supporter of the Tories. It's not hard, then, to guess what his defining issue is: Environmental sustainability. Taking a "long-term fix" view, Hrushka is far from alone in his point of view that the environment, and fixing it, is a lot harder than what you can put into a 30-second sound byte. He ran in Edmonton-Millwoods during the provincial election of 2008, polling at just 3%.

Take a look at: Mike Butler. He's running for all the right reasons, and is experiencing the "perfect storm" of media coverage of his personal tragedy at a time when crime is at the fore of the media's radar. He's getting his coverage, he's getting out his message, and it may translate for him on polling day. A win is still extremely unlikely - but the fact that it's even POSSIBLE is news unto itself.

Calgary Southeast

Calgary Southeast is one of those ridings where you wonder why they even hold elections... the voters elect PC's provincially, Conservatives federally, and they do so by typically huge margins. Voter turn-out in 2006 was 67%, and of those votes, 75% went to the Conservatives, who won the riding by 38,000 votes. That's not to say that there's unanimity, but you could almost forgive the Tories for declaring this race a shoo-in (which they've clearly done, with incumbent rising CPC star Jason Kenney hand-holding candidates in Eastern Canada for most of the election thus far). The biggest - really, the ONLY - challenge in Calgary Southeast for the Tories is in encouraging the Get Out The Vote teams to follow through on voter support.

Jason Kenney (CPC) - Jason Kenney has served this riding as MP since 1997, and was most recently the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism - as well as being his party's "go-to guy" for attacks on the opposition. He's bright, quick, perfectly fluent in both languages, and a graduate of the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame, which makes him a winner in my Grandmother's books. The former Hound just turned 40 and is intensely liked in the riding - his upward mobility in the party, though, is somewhat limited by the fact that the Prime Minister and one of his top lieutenants (Jim Prentice) are both from Calgary. Should Harper or Prentice leave public life, Kenney will be right up there, barring any unforeseen political difficulties.

Brad Carroll (Lib) - Brad Carroll is a former Navy man who currently works as an Education Analyst in the City of Calgary's IT department. Carroll is a relationship man - a bridge builder who believes that people of many different faiths, world views, races and cultures can come together through discussion and dialogue. The father of 3 boys (who should know a little bit about conflict resolution) has serious concerns about the social direction in which he perceives the Harper Conservatives as steering the country.

Chris Willott (NDP) - Chris Willott is a well-travelled and articulate young Calgarian with a focus on the arts who, quite frankly, is something of a reluctant politician. Says the candidate himself, on his Facebook page, "I don't particularly like politics. I don't like the part of the job where you have to sell yourself and put down the other guy to get elected. I don't think I can do that. I won't lie or manipulate facts about my opponent to score points with voters.". These are either the words of someone hopelessly in over his head, or exactly the sort of person we need to start electing in this country. Which, is up to the voters of Calgary Southeast to decide. The NDP has a legitimate shot at 2nd place in this riding, which would be a coup for them.

Margaret Chandler (Grn) - Margaret Chandler (no relation) is a part-time writing instructor getting next-to-no support from her party (the party's website for this riding was last updated shortly after the 2006 election - over 2 years ago!). The Greens captured nearly 7% of the vote in 2006, and with an increase of 50% over those totals, they would be easily within striking distance of 2nd place in this riding, which includes many homes purchased by voters eager to be near Fish Creek Provincial Park - a potential Green motherlode of support. That said, without significant support from the Party (with limited resources, I can understand giving up Calgary Southeast for dead as long as Kenney's entrenched here), the Greens will be denied their breakthrough here.

Take a look at: Chris Willott. He's not a politician, he's just a Canadian who got mad enough about what he was seeing to take a stand, and put his name forward as a candidate. He's a likable guy, he's enthusiastic about the potential that this country holds - even for people who don't politically agree with him - and he's got a mean falsetto. ;-)

Calgary Southeast will be holding a Town Hall Meeting with the candidates (most of them, anyway) on Wednesday, October 8, 2008 at 7:00 PM - Location is Deer Park United Church and Wholeness Centre, at 77 Deerpoint Rd. SE

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Reminder: Provincial Park Set For Calgary's Playground

Nation, just a quick reminder that the Alberta Government is accepting public input on the Draft Management Plan for the Kananaskis Country Provincial Recreation Areas until September 30th - only 5 days left to be heard!

Located within that draft plan (located here) is the proposal to establish the Elbow Valley Provincial Park, protecting the Elbow River watershed (from which Calgary gets 50% of its water supply) and freeing up additional provincial funding for enforcement, education, visitor information, interpretive programs, and much-needed, long overdue repairs to roads, buildings, picnic spots and campgrounds in the area.

I'd encourage all of you who use the area (or who drink water from a tap in South Calgary) to give your feedback, by clicking here.

Discuss: McCain/Obama Debate Flap

Well, nothing polarizes like American politics, so here's one to whet the appetite while I try to catch up on my riding profiles...

Is John McCain's call for a postponement of this Friday's Presidential Debate with Barack Obama to deal with the financial bail-out package in the Senate another example of his "Country First" mantra, putting the good of the country ahead of his own partisan goals?

Or is it indicative of the fact that he's rightly terrified of what Obama will be able to do to him and his record in a face-to-face, televised debate?


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Quick: What's Albertan For "Go (bleep) Yourself"?

... turns out it sounds a whole lot like "have a nice day".

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Battle for Manitoba


The province of Manitoba is home to one of the rarest of creatures in the Canadian political biosphere - an NDP Premier. The only province in confederation to rise in open rebellion against the federal government (Danny Williams' Newfoundland notwithstanding), Manitoba is home to 1.2 million residents, a bad football team, the #1 farm team of the Vancouver Canucks, and the highest amount of per capita Slurpee consumption in the civilized world. The province has switched governments with relative frequency (compared to Alberta, anyhow) between the NDP and the Tories since 1958, and for the 26 years prior it was held by the Liberals.

Manitobans don't have a big history of founding or backing big protest movements (not counting the Red River Rebellion) like their prairie-province cousins in Alberta (Reform) or Saskatchewan (NDP). Instead, the voters of Manitoba want to know "what can you do to make my life better?", and vote accordingly.

The 14 seats held in Parliament by Manitoba were divided among 8 Tories, 3 Liberals and 3 NDP members in 2006.

The only ridings in real, palpable danger of changing hands this time are both held by Liberals, and both are being challenged strongly by the Tories. St. Boniface and Winnipeg South Centre were both won by a margin of less than 3,500 votes in 2006 (St. Boniface by less than 2,000), and are very much up for grabs - when one remembers that, in Manitoba at least, the old adage that "All politics is local" rings true.

All told, at the end of the day expect to see an electoral map nearly identical to the one we've got now: 8 CPC, 3 Lib, 3 NDP. MAYBE, if things break right for the Tories, as many as 10 for them - most likely at the cost of the Liberals.

Riding of interest: The Winnipeg area's Elmwood - Transcona, currently held by the NDP's retiring Bill Blaikie. The riding has been orange for a long, long time - Blaikie was the longest-serving member of the House - but the Tories are throwing former Winnipeg Jets star Thomas Steen into the riding as a candidate, with a couple former Jets named Hull and Hawerchuk as big backers. We'll see if the celebrity of Steen can counteract his relative inexperience with local issues.

What They're Promising To Buy With Money I Work Hard To Earn, Part 1: Child Care

Nation, the Tories are discovering the difficulty in running a campaign as the governing party: UNlike last election, where they could unveil a new plank of the platform every day, they now find themselves in a position where, if they come out with a bright idea or exciting new program, the question most asked is "why didn't you just implement this already, as the government?".

Now, child-care doesn't affect me directly - yet (or at least, not that anyone can prove). However, if I assume that whichever party gets elected will actually follow through on their child-care pledges, and will be re-elected circa 2012, then these proposed plans will very MUCH affect the situation in which I'll find myself when trying to find suitable public daycare space for any future Savages that might come along.

Predictably, there have been no big Tory announcements about public child-care - nor will I be holding my breath for any.

The Greens haven't released a detailed plan for childcare either, except to say that they want to bring back the Martin/Dryden Liberal plan of 2005. Like all of their other plans (to date), it will probably be released without a price tag attached.

The Liberals have promised a $1.25 Billion (annually) program, which involves the creation of 165,000 spaces. Actual details have been a little thin, but based on previous Liberal child-care commitments, you've got to assume it would involve a phased-in, gradual implementation.

The New Democrats have committed to the immediate enshrinement and protection of a national child-care program in law. In the first year of the program, an NDP government would spend $1.4 Billion, and would create 150,000 new spaces in public daycares - in the first year alone. The eventual cost is estimated at $2.2 Billion per year.

What I want to know from Jack Layton, is how he intends to find the STAFF to suit those 150,000 new spaces in the first year. Does he want us to believe that they'll appear out of thin air? Of course not... we'll end up with poorly-trained, poorly-screened staff looking after the kids of Jack's all-important "working families".

Layton's emphasis on affordable public child-care is laudable, but his ploy here is transparent: He wants the votes of people who need child-care NOW. Like all things you do quickly and without due diligence, however, things will get skipped or done poorly. And when we're talking about situations in which hundreds of thousands of Canadian children will be at risk - I'd prefer a measured, well-thought-out approach to something quickly thought-up to try and win votes from frustrated, cash-strapped parents.

On the issue in general, I agree with the mixed approach pioneered by the Tories and now begrudgingly embraced by the Grits... Some parents are going to stay home to raise their kids, and some parents are going to need to go back to work once the kids are 3 or 4. Both should benefit from a national program. However, we need a reliable, affordable, malleable and capacious system of public child-care to provide parents with the peace-of-mind that comes from knowing that there will be space when they need it, they will be able to afford it, and the people with whom they are entrusting the care of their small children will be highly-trained, professional, well-paid (and thus retained), fully screened and trustworthy. These are the expectations we have of our K-12 education system, and we should expect no less - and, in fact, perhaps more - from a child-care system.

I like the NDP commitment to the issue, as I said. But their pledge of immediate results makes me nervous - in order to get it done that quickly, steps will have to be skipped. And when you're skipping steps and things get missed, when children are involved, that's a recipe for disaster. Renew the pledge, but change the timeline, Jack. We want your child-care system, but we want it set up RIGHT, not just QUICKLY in the name of political expediency.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Battles for Calgary East and Wild Rose

Calgary East

Calgary East is a riding with lower-than-average voter turn-out (generally, less than 50%), much like its neighbour Calgary Northeast. UNLIKE its neighbour, however, Calgary East is being contested by a popular incumbent, who has held this riding since 1997 under 3 different party banners and never allowed his opponents to get closer than 6,000 votes. An area that includes much of Calgary's industrial centre, Calgary East is a blue-collar part of the city where the voters appreciate a hard day's work and expect the same from their representatives. Although the low voter participation DOES make the riding "poach-able", if a candidate could Get Out The Vote effectively, it's not very likely to happen against the 4-term incumbent Obrai.

Deepak Obhrai (CPC) - Deepak Obhrai's electoral fortunes are like fine wine - they're getting better with age. In 2006, he held this riding by a margin of 21,000 votes over his Liberal challenger. A walking, talking advertisement for the inclusiveness of his party, Tanzanian-born Obhrai is fluent in 4 languages - which no doubt comes in handy, in a riding as diverse as Calgary East. Deepak doesn't have a whole lot to worry about in this election - the people of the riding know him, they trust him, and, provided his campaign can get them to come out, they'll vote for him.

Bernie Kennedy (Lib) - Bernie Kennedy is a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, who makes his home in Granum (the famous "Short-Cut to Lethbridge"). Kennedy was raised in a small Quebec town, and now operates a media firm. Kennedy's web-site is in its formative state, although the terms were fun to read (my favourite: "... a cookie helps Bernie Kennedy to recall your specific information on subsequent visits."). The last time a Liberal was elected here was during the height of World War 2. This election isn't likely to be an exception.

Nathan Coates (Grn) - Nathan Coates is an admitted law-breaker (Hitch-hiking - the root of all evil!). Coates is typical of Green candidates, in that his resume reads like someone who's trying to make the world a better place, but if he were elected as part of a Green revolution and needed to fill a role in Cabinet, he'd be hopelessly under-qualified (which is why the Greens aren't, and won't be, taken seriously at the National level yet). That said, he's one of only 2 candidates here who actually LIVE in the riding, and that gives him the ability to use his networking abilities to try and beat out the Grits here. In the last federal election, the Greens captured 7.4% of the popular vote in Calgary East. Funny as it may sound, they're very much in the mix here as contenders to finish as high as 2nd place.

Take a look at: Bernie Kennedy. His connection to this riding is tenuous at best, and it seems the Liberals shouldn't have to go outside of the city to find themselves a candidate here. The fact he secured a nomination, then, should be proof that he's got some political skill - unfortunately, the people of Calgary East are hard to impress that way.

Wild Rose

Wild Rose is being vacated by the outgoing lion of the old Reform movement, Myron Thompson. Immensely popular and instantly likable, even by those who oppose just about everything he stands for politically, Thompson is going to be difficult for the Tories to replace. The west-central Alberta riding includes such varied communities as Olds and Canmore - so unanimity of political opinion is far from present (in 2006, the Greens finished second to Thompson). Voter turn-out is about average, with 66% in the last election.

Blake Richards (CPC) - Blake Richards is the man that the Tories hope will pick up the Myron Thompson mantle here. The Airdrie real estate agent served for 7 years as Thompson's Constituency Assistant. He was born in Olds and has lived in this riding his entire life - familiarity, in this case, does NOT breed contempt. The people of the riding know him - they've seen him around, they've talked to him, they've seen his name on the real estate signs. Will they elect him? Sure they will. Maybe not with Myron-esque numbers, but they'll elect him.

Jenn Turcott (Lib) - Jenn Turcott works for the City of Calgary, in the Office of the Aldermen. She's a Liberal who actually is up-front about how she thinks our good relations with the United States are a GOOD thing - which puts her in agreement with most of this riding, but not a whole lot of her own party. Also born in Olds, Turcott is an avid outdoorswoman with a degree in political science. This isn't fertile ground for Liberals traditionally, but Jenn is a local with a good head on her shoulders who knows how to play the political game. She'll do all right.

Jeff Horvath (NDP) - Jeff Horvath is a teacher who ran here for the NDP in 2004, capturing about 4000 votes. In 2006, the NDP captured about 4000 votes. In 2008, Horvath can realistically hope for... go ahead, you can say it. The Canmore resident has worked with youth-at-risk, and is deeply involved in First Nations issues.

Lisa Maria Fox (Grn) - Lisa Maria Fox is a mother of three living in Cochrane. Highly educated and involved in community and political issues, Fox runs an environmental management consulting firm and will be hoping to build on a 10.9% popular vote for the Greens here from 2006. With a little bleeding off of Tory support due to Myron's departure, Fox can realistically hope to stay in the double-digits and finish second, provided she runs a good campaign.

Patrick Dobbyn (Ltn) - The problem with Libertarians is that they don't work well with others. Case in point: We have an election coming up, on October 14th. The candidate list on their party website was last updated August 1st. As such, I have no information whatsoever on this candidate. Good luck, Patrick.

Take a look at: Lisa Maria Fox. This is one of the strongest ridings in the country for the Greens, and she's a strong candidate running without the hindrance of a popular incumbent. She's not going to win - let's not fool ourselves - but she could do more for the Green Party of Canada with a second-place finish here than their leader will with her second-place finish in Central Nova.

And You WONDER Why Stephen Doesn't Let Anyone Else Speak?

Question: What do you do to high-jack the news cycle when the talking heads are gabbing about your Minister of Agriculture's oh-so-funny joke about a deadly breach of food safety?

Answer: Have an aide to your Minister of Transport make racist allusions, on camera.

Wow... at this rate, Rob Anders could turn out to be one of the SMALLEST liabilities Harper has to worry about in this campaign. At least Rob's following the strict, written guidelines he was given for speaking to the media - including the pause on the phone while he found the page to read off of.

(Oh, and just a quick note to Darlene Lannigan: your candidate's campaign office is not a "federal office" - the fact that Cannon got elected in 2006 doesn't make his re-election campaign an official enterprise of the Federal Government.)

The Battle for Saskatchewan


There's a preconception that many Canadians have about the people of Saskatchewan. We think there's a provincial statute that requires all men to wear John Deere hats, all kitchen tables to be covered in red-and-white checkered tablecloths, and all life to stop whenever the Riders hit the field. Once they get old enough to realize they won't be the brother to inherit the farm, we expect them to move to Alberta and get real jobs. There's no culture, save the occasional banjo jamboree. Nobody lives there if they have any other choice. And they're borderline socialists.

Well, as far as the people of Saskatchewan are concerned, we can keep thinking that way, and stay out of their province - leaves more room for them.

The realities of modern Saskatchewan are quite different. They have a vibrant cultural scene, Saskatoon is one of the fastest-growing cities on the planet, they're benefiting from oil and natural gas exploration, and people are moving from Alberta TO Saskatchewan for jobs. They also recently elected a right-of-centre provincial government, led by Premier Brad Wall. They're decent, hard-working people who are starting reap the benefits of years of effort and sacrifice, and while they still hold their "prairie values" - help your neighbour bring in his crop, because it's the right thing to do - they're starting to trend towards wanting to protect what they've built there over the past decades, as they transition from a "have-not" province to one rich with oil, gas, alternative fuels and a rapidly growing tech sector.

In 2006, 12 of Saskatchewan's 14 seats in the House of Commons went to Conservatives. Of the 2 that went Liberal, one was to then-Minister of Finance Ralph Goodale, and the other was a squeaker won by Gary Merasty by a grand total of 67 votes. Merasty stepped down in 2007, and the riding was won in a by-election by the Conservatives.

In a nutshell: Don't look for too much to change on October 14th. Ralph Goodale will still be the member of Parliament for Wascana - no matter how bad Liberal fortunes get in the rest of the country, Goodale is as safe an MP as they have (the closest anyone ever came was in the year 2000, and they were still 2000 votes behind Ralph). The rest of the province will be shaded blue (yes, even Gerry Ritz's seat - schmuck. What's funnier than tainted food supply, public health emergencies and dying people? HILARIOUS!).

Don't let that blue colour fool you, though... the people of Saskatchewan are far from the country bumpkins you see on Corner Gas. They've elected some of the smartest and most visionary leaders in the history of this country. They're not voting out of fear, or ignorance, or a mis-placed sense of loyalty. They're going to vote for the Conservatives because they feel the Tories will screw them, and their burgeoning energy-based economy, the least. They're proud of what they've built, and they want to protect it.

And after 100 years of banjo jokes, can you blame them for wanting to feel that pride a little longer?

Riding of interest: Merasty's former riding of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River. Won by a Liberal (just barely) in 2006, and won by a Tory (not by much) in the 2007 by-election. It's the only one that might be closely contested, plus you've got the added intrigue of the fact that the Liberal candidate is David Orchard, former leadership hopeful for the now-defunct PC's, who was replaced in this riding by a hand-picked Dion "star candidate" in the by-election (who lost) and who is the Liberal who feels more jilted by Peter MacKay than even Belinda Stronach.

Meanwhile, Back in Alberta...

The Chief Electoral Officer releases a list of recommendations based on the March, 2008 General Election.

It's a pretty comprehensive list (including allowing inmates the right to vote - sorry, but no), however the 2 recommendations getting the most public attention are the proposed change to how Deputy Returning Officers are hired, and the suggested implementation of fixed election dates.

Premier Stelmach has already announced he has every intention of letting Elections Alberta recruit and hire DRO's, to avoid some of the ugliness of the last campaign. He has even hinted strongly they should be ready to go by the next provincial election, which will be held "in 2012, on or around the same time (March)" - I'm going to hold you to that, Mr. Premier. King Eddie, however, stopped short of endorsing the recommendation for fixed election dates.

Now, there's plenty of room for disagreement on this issue... in fact, there's word that several provincial Tories will be bringing the fixed election date issue to the Alberta PC AGM at the start of October. I'm willing to listen to arguments that have nothing to do with partisan advantage about why fixed election dates are a bad idea - although, going INTO those discussions, I confess I'm a fan of fixed election dates. I think they're good policy (when FOLLOWED - not mentioning any names), and if Ed wants to ensure his re-election in 2012, all he has to do is legislate the next election date - Albertans absolutely LOVE electoral reforms that make things at least SEEM more fair and transparent... Triple E senate, fixed election dates, right of recall, there was even talk about term limits for a while... this is the bread and butter of the old Reform Party, which was the last political entity that actually made the Alberta PC's nervous (there had been talk of going provincial when it seemed Ottawa would shut them out forever). Adopting any or all of those planks as part of an electoral reform package might level the playing field a bit (which might stand to hurt the PC's EVENTUALLY), but by virtue of the fact that Albertans would know that Ed made those changes when he didn't have to, and when he had something to lose by so doing, they'd reward him for it. Remember: One of the reasons Washington is so revered is because he gave up some of the powers that Congress was trying to give him.

The quote that raised my eyebrow in Spock-esque fashion this morning was this:

"I've looked at municipalities that have had fixed election dates since their inception and voter turnout has been extremely poor, much lower than what we experienced in the last election"
Well, yeah... but those are municipalities. Canadians, for whatever reason, are more likely to show up and vote in elections if the winner's official residence is further away. Take Calgary's voters, for example:

2007 Municipal Election (fixed): 209,748 votes cast for Mayor.
2008 Provincial Election (non-fixed): 279,719 votes cast
2006 Federal Election (non-fixed): ~429,207 votes cast

Now, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me - municipal politicians are the ones who make the decisions that affect you most on a day-to-day basis - but that's a post for another time. The fact is, whether or not Ed is sure that fixed dates will HELP voter turn-out... they certainly can't HURT it, can they?

Consider the case of San Jose, California... it has a similar population to Calgary, and fixed election dates for municipal, state and (of course) federal elections.

2006 Mayoral Election: 125,775 votes cast
2006 Gubernatorial Election: ~400,000 votes cast
2004 Presidential Election: ~600,000 votes cast

Again, the municipal numbers are way lower - but I don't see that as having anything to do with the fact that it's a fixed election date... it's just about the fact that it's a municipal election, and the voters (foolishly, in my opinion) don't care. The state election had a fixed date, and voter turn-out was FAR higher than Calgary's participation in the Alberta General Election of 2008.

Now, I know we're not them, and they're not us... but, they've got fixed election dates there, and UNlike Alberta, where the jump from voter participation in municipal and state/provincial races was less than 50%, their vote count more than doubled (they have even less of an excuse than we do, as their mayoral and gubernatorial elections happened on the same day, in the same polling stations).

So, to sum up: Ed and I disagree on this issue. Don't worry, I'm not going to let it affect the relationship we've spent so much time cultivating - we'll still go fishing, crack open a couple of cold ones... but, where Ed looks at the recommendation and sees no reason to believe it will HELP, I look at it and see no reason it could HURT. I mean, he's already said "on or around (March of 2012)"... so what does it hurt to enshrine that date in law?

It will be interesting to see how the government responds if the fixed date issue is put to a vote and passes at the PC AGM... on the one hand, you've got frustrated grassroots party members who feel the AGM's are just an expensive waste of time, and that caucus ignores the results of the discussions anyhow... on the other hand, you've got all sorts of back-room strategists who want to leave the door open to pick-and-choose their date... ultimately, I've got to trust my Premier to do the right thing. He hasn't led me astray yet.

And in the world of politics, when consensus is unavailable, the only real currency you have is trust. Following many of the CEO's recommendations would engender that trust with a large number of Alberta's intelligent, moderate, not-rabidly-partisan electorate. And THAT, Dear Edward, is a ticket to another majority...

and another...

and another...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Greens Open Calgary Centre Riding Office

From Kevin Colton, Campaign Manager for Natalie Odd:

"The Calgary Centre campaign is happy to announce that our downtown store-front office is open and ready for business! We are having an office opening party this Friday night, Sept. 19 @ 7:00 pm. We are willing and able to share the office with campaigns in other ridings, so everyone from the Calgary area is invited to attend.

The office address is 608 7th St. SW and the phone number is 403-668-6606. You can't miss it for the wall of Green Party signs we have plastered in the windows."

The Battles for Crowfoot and Edmonton Centre


The riding of Crowfoot covers a fairly wide swath of Central Alberta, sharing boundaries with the City of Calgary and heading East and North from there. I'd like to tell you that this is going to be a race, that campaigns matter, and that 3 weeks is a long time in politics - but the result here is all but guaranteed. In 2004, Conservative Kevin Sorenson won this riding by 40,000 votes, capturing 82.5% of votes cast. Remember when John Ashcroft lost a U.S. Senate election to a dead opponent? Kevin Sorenson could go into a coma and win this riding with 75% of the votes cast.

Kevin Sorenson (CPC) - Sorenson has been this riding's MP since 2000, when he won 70% of votes cast as a member of the Canadian Alliance. He registered 80% support in the 2004 election, and 82.5% in 2006. It appears that Sorenson is aiming to, at this rate, be the first MP ever elected unanimously. The Camrose-area farmer isn't too likely to find himself in the cabinet, but he's more than making up for it with his committee work-load.

Sharon Howe (Lib) - A 2-time candidate for the Alberta Liberals (1997 and 2004), Sharon Howe is a former Air Force brat who shares a love of mine - old maps. The community-minded Howe is going to have plenty of time to write her next book after this bloodbath is over.

Ellen Parker (NDP) - Ellen Parker was actually the runner-up in this riding in 2006, having previously finished 3rd in 2004. Now, you'd think this makes her due to win this time around, and you might be right - but it's still not going to happen. Look for the substitute teacher and activist to pull in her usual 6-8% of the votes.

Cameron Wigmore (Grn) - Wigmore ran for the Greens here in 2006, pulling in nearly 5% of the vote. The saxophonist and music teacher, who has been living in B.C., maintains a blog, so bonus marks from the Enlightened Savage. There seems to be a little confusion, as Wigmore is identified in several media outlets as the Green candidate in Crowfoot, yet he's not listed on the Green Party website or, more reliably, on daveberta's list of Alberta candidates.

Take a look at: Kevin Sorenson. When the result is already assured, some candidates take it easy, and some work harder than ever. Which type is Sorenson?

Edmonton Centre

Edmonton Centre, most will recall, is the former home riding of "Landslide Annie" herself, Anne McLellan. The popular former Deputy Prime Minister was defeated in 2006 by Conservative Laurie Hawn, who is seeking re-election this time around. The riding historically has been a pretty even mix of conservative and liberal voters, as evidenced by the close results here federally, and the fact that the riding is mostly shaded red on the map of provincial ridings. Hawn is facing a re-invigorated Liberal opponent in Jim Wachowich, and (as it always is), this downtown-area riding will be one to watch as the polling numbers come in on October 14th.

Laurie Hawn (CPC) - Laurie Hawn ran for MP here in 2004, losing narrowly to McLellan. Never one to surrender, the retired Air Force Lieutenant-Colonel took another stab at it in 2006, and won by 3,000 votes. Most recently having served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, Hawn is hoping to hold this seat for the Tories - a tall order, considering his Liberal opponent. His website features a banner with a particularly spooky-looking Stephen Harper. Hawn has a blog, but it hasn't been updated since March of 2007. Insert your own Tory campaign platform joke here.

Jim Wachowich (Lib) - Jim Wachowich is a lawyer and consumer's advocate, who asserts out that the riding's strong representation under Anne McLellan is sorely lacking under the current MP. The Wachowich campaign is going gang-busters in trying to win this riding back for Big Red, and nothing inspires a more tenacious effort than the swift kick in the pants they collectively received in 2006. Wachowich is apparently winning the sign wars in the riding (for what little that's worth), and is by all accounts setting a blistering pace on the door-knocking front. The campaign is organized, the candidate is energized - now, can the message resonate with the voters?

Donna Martyn (NDP) - Donna Martyn finished third in this riding in 2006, and has also previously run for the Alberta NDP in the riding of Edmonton Riverview in 2004. This school-teacher is an advocate for the rights of those with disabilities and mobility challenges, and succesfully complained to the Alberta Human Rights Commission regarding the lack of 24-hour taxi service for mobility-challenged users in Edmonton. While this is a strong part of Edmonton for the provincial New Democrats, many provincial NDP supporters cast their federal ballots with the Liberals, hoping for a left-friendly result. This is likely to be the case this time as well, as those same New Democrat supporters saw what happened when they voted their conscience instead of strategically in 2006, and ended up with a Conservative MP.

David Parker (Grn) - David Parker was the leader of the Alberta Greens from 1996-2001. He ran unsuccessfully twice in Edmonton Goldbar and twice in Edmonton Centre provincially, as well as twice in the federal riding of Edmonton Centre. Parker blogs, which is always a good sign (I firmly believe that the better a person's blog entries, the more inclined people should be to vote for them if and when they run for office - but I may be a bit biased). That said, Parker's goal here is simply to win the party's traditional 3,000-or-so votes, and hold the banner high. He'll do both of those, but don't expect too much more.

Margaret Saunter (CH) - Margaret Saunter ran in the provincial riding of Edmonton Centre in 2008, capturing 0.46% of votes cast. Saunter also finished 14th in the Ward 4 City Councillor race for Edmonton in 2007. While she is not listed on the Christian Heritage Party website as a candidate as yet, Saunter will be trying to poach votes from Laurie Hawn based on the Conservative Party's deplorable record of showing respect for plurality and for Canadians of different faiths. Oh, the shame!

Savannah Linklater (Ltn) - The Libertarians get into the act with candidate Savannah Linklater. Linklater is the Deputy Leader of the party, and will have a hard time convincing folks in one of the reddest parts of Red-monton that the best government is no government at all.

Take a look at: Jim Wachowich. This riding has spent a lot of time in Liberal hands, and the party organization is strong here. Wachowich isn't the favourite to take the riding - that goes to the incumbent - but he's not much of an underdog, either. If I'm still up at 2 a.m. Mountain Time on October 15th, it'll likely be this riding I'm watching.

Headlines That Reflect a Disconnect With Reality

"Harper agrees to release of Afghan war cost report". This is being made a big deal of by the MSM as a "TRUE costing of the war in Afghanistan".

You want the TRUE Afghan war cost report? You read it here first.

Prescott Shipway, Sergeant

Andrew Grenon, Corporal

Chad Horn, Private

Mike Seggie, Corporal

Shawn Eades, Sergeant

Stephan Stock, Sapper

Dustin Wasden, Corporal

Erin Doyle, Master Corporal

Josh Roberts, Master Corporal

James Arnal, Corporal

Colin Wilmot, Private

Brendan Downey, Corporal

Jonathan Snyder, Captain

Richard Leary, Captain

Michael Starker, Corporal

Terry Street, Private

Jason Boyes, Sergeant

Jérémie Ouellet, Bombardier

Michael Hayakaze, Trooper

Étienne Gonthier, Corporal

Richard Renaud, Trooper

Eric Labbe, Corporal

Hani Massouh, Warrant officer

Jonathan Dion, Gunner

Nicolas Beauchamp, Corporal

Michel Levesque, Private

Nathan Hornburg, Corporal

Raymond Ruckpaul, Major

Christian Duchesne, Master corporal

Mario Mercier, Master Warrant officer

Simon Longtin, Private

Jordan Anderson, Corporal

Cole Bartsch, Corporal

Colin Bason, Master corporal

Matthew Dawe, Captain

Jefferson Francis, Captain

Lane Watkins, Private

Stephen Bouzane, Corporal

Christos Karigiannis, Sergeant

Joel Wiebe, Private

Darryl Caswell, Trooper

Darrell Priede, Master corporal

Matthew McCully, Corporal

Anthony Klumpenhouwer, Master corporal

Patrick Pentland, Trooper

Allan Stewart, Master corporal

David Greenslade, Private

Kevin Kennedy, Private

Donald Lucas, Sergeant

Brent Poland, Corporal

Christopher Stannix, Corporal

Aaron Williams, Corporal

Kevin Megeney, Corporal

Robert Girouard, Chief Warrant officer

Albert Storm, Corporal

Darcy Tedford, Sergeant

Blake Williamson, Private

Mark Wilson, Trooper

Craig Gillam, Sergeant

Robert Mitchell, Corporal

Josh Klukie, Private

Glen Arnold, Corporal

David Byers, Private

Shane Keating, Corporal

Keith Morley, Corporal

Mark Graham, Private

William Cushley, Private

Frank Mellish, Warrant officer

Richard Nolan, Warrant officer

Shane Stachnik, Sergeant

David Braun, Corporal

Andrew Eykelenboom, Corporal

Jeffrey Walsh, Master corporal

Raymond Arndt, Master corporal

Kevin Dallaire, Private

Vaughan Ingram, Sergeant

Bryce Keller, Corporal

Christopher Reid, Corporal

Francisco Gomez, Corporal

Jason Warren, Corporal

Anthony Boneca, Corporal

Nichola Goddard, Captain

Matthew Dinning, Corporal

Myles Mansell, Bombardier

Randy Payne, Corporal

William Turner, Lieutenant

Robert Costall, Private

Paul Davis, Corporal

Timothy Wilson, Master corporal

Glyn Berry, Diplomat

Braun Woodfield, Private

Jamie Murphy, Corporal

Robbie Beerenfenger, Corporal

Robert Short, Sergeant

Ainsworth Dyer, Corporal

Richard Green, Private

Marc Leger, Sergeant

Nathan Smith, Private

Volunteers, each and every one of them. Killed halfway across the world while selflessly trying to improve the lives of complete strangers. None of them WANTED to die, but all of them knew it COULD happen - and yet still they went.

THAT is the cost of this war.

Whether you agree with the mission or not, whether you think they should come home right now, in 2011, or 5 years ago... if you think the cost of this mission is measured in dollars, you're completely out of touch with reality.

98 broken families. 98 young Canadian men and women dead. That is the cost of this war. Whether that cost has been worthwhile is up to each of us to decide for ourselves - there's not even unanimity among the 98 families who have paid that price.

So, no matter if the monetary cost has been 8 Billion, or 10 Billion, or more... even at $10 Billion, that's $500 for each taxpayer. Sure, I've got things I'd rather spend $500 on than taxes...

But ask Chad Horn's family what this war cost them. I don't think they'll be talking about their tax dollars.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Turner vs. CPAC vs. Janke - The Blogosphere Gets It Right

See, the aggravating thing about the internet, Garth Turner, is that it's not simply a tool you can use to glorify yourself and score political cheap-shots against your opponents. Sometimes, being the "best-known politician on the blogosphere" can come back to bite you.

Judge for yourself...

Angry in the Great White North sees something amiss in the CPAC coverage of Garth Turner door-knocking in his riding of Halton. Shouldn't Garth know that guy? The son of his campaign manager?

Doesn't SEEM like Garth knows his campaign manager's son... After all, if he DID know the guy, this would be a set-up, right? Dishonest. Speaking to poor character. So, we'll take Garth at his word, that he doesn't know the son of his campaign manager. At least, with the facts coming to light, Garth would no doubt be happy to post a response on his campaign website? No? Well, surely he'll be more than happy to discuss the issue and clear the air with CPAC's Peter van Dusen, right?

Party on, Garth.

UPDATE: 9/16 11:07 am

Garth owns it. Daylight IS the best disinfectant, after all. Now, what about his Tory opponent?

Quick Update

Nation, I've been out of action for the past few days with a bit of a bug. I'm back on the up-swing, and will get caught up on the riding-by-riding profiles within the next few days.

Thanks for the patience...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ironic Liz May Quote of the Day

"We appeal to Reformers who ... believe their party was a grassroots democracy and found out that (the Tories had) the most top-down autocratic-style of government in Canadian history."

Good call... I think everyone agrees that the Greens are a grassroots party, where the leader would never, for example, show up at nomination meetings to endorse their preferred candidates and attack those candidates who oppose their own leadership.

After all... that would be a top-down, autocratic style of leadership...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Battle For British Columbia

Ah, British Columbia... the home of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Arts, Culture, History, and a political scene that makes even the most devoted politics-watcher cringe. This is one of the few places in this country where, at any given time, voters can elect a Conservative, New Democrat, or Liberal with equal likelihood - and now the Greens are elbowing into the picture, as well. The timing of this post in fortuitous, as new polls came out just yesterday that will help in handicapping the races here.

The only universal truth in BC these days is that the carbon tax recently implemented by Premier Gordon Campbell (whose BC Liberal Party is far closer to Alberta's PC's than anything else) has been ridiculously unpopular. The voters of BC don't necessarily associate the BC Liberals with their federal cousins, but they DO see red at the mention of FURTHER taxes on carbon and emissions - which is making the Green Shift an extremely hard sell to folks in Lotusland.

Now, I'm a big believer in the old adage that there are 3 types of lie: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics. I don't put a lot of stock in surveys and public opinion polls, and I'd highly recommend that you don't, either. That said, the pollsters talked to a LOT more British Columbians than I have lately, so we'd be remiss if we ignored the polling results altogether.

IF the polls ring true (they won't), the Conservatives are looking at picking up as many as 10 seats in BC on October 14th. This is made possible, in large part, by the migration of frustrated Liberal and NDP voters to the Greens. Ridings that are particularly vulnerable, based on the 2006 election numbers, current polling, and just plain TALKING to folks who live there, include:
  • Esquimalt - Juan de Fuca (currently held by the Liberals)
  • West Vancouver - Sunshine Coast - Sea-to-Sky Country (Liberal)
  • Vancouver Island North (NDP)
  • Vancouver Quadra (Liberal)
  • Richmond (Liberal)

Vancouver-Kingsway, which has been in the Tory tally since David Emerson crossed the floor, is most likely to return to Liberal hands. In fact, there are generally perceived to be only 3 truly "safe" Liberal seats in the entire province: Kingsway, Vancouver Centre, and Vancouver South.

It should be noted that in 2006, BC had more support for the Liberals than any other non-Atlantic province except for Ontario. That said, the Green Shift plan is taking off like a lead balloon here - wrong time, wrong place - and left-leaning voters who WOULD have been more willing to park their votes with Jack Layton and the NDP are instead finding themselves inclined to support the Greens - since they know the Greens, who would tax carbon even more than the Liberals, have no chance to get elected and actually make it happen.

All told, if current trends continue, the vast majority of BC ridings will likely be coloured Blue on the network maps. Whether or not this is a good thing for BC, or for the country, is open to debate. And, of course, there's the actual campaigns, both national and local... campaigns MATTER. A few incidents here or there, and it's a whole other ballgame. The debates may be a big game-breaker, as well. But at THIS point, the Tories look like they're taking much of the province outside the major urban centres, and even a healthy number of sites WITHIN the urban centres.

Looking for a number? With the help of the Hill and Knowlton Federal Election Predictor, call it:
  • NDP - 6 seats
  • Liberal - 3 seats
  • Conservative - 27 seats

Not happy with that idea? Don't shoot the messenger... volunteer for your local Liberal, New Democrat or Green. BE the change you want to see on the political map. Sure, it's EASIER to stay home, read the blogs, and then complain about Stephen Harper for the next 4-ish years. But nothing worth doing is ever easy. If you support a party other than the Tories, then get out and actually SUPPORT the party. Knock on doors, deliver fliers, volunteer at the campaign office... after all:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
- Margaret Mead

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Danny Williams Is Dead Wrong

Premier Danny Williams of Newfoundland and Labrador represents everything that is wrong with Canadian politics.

I don't pretend to be familiar with a local of Danny's domestic policies. Apparently, they're doing pretty well on the Rock these days, so he must be doing something right. The way in which Williams is injecting himself into this federal election campaign, though, is absolutely wrong.

First of all, Williams insists that his caucus members "declare themselves" either as with or against his "ABC" (Anyone But Conservatives) movement. Essentially, he wants them to "out" themselves. How lonely do you think that 1 caucus member who refused to declare himself feels?

The bigger problem, here, is the notion of an "Anybody But _______" movement at all. All too often, Canadians go to the polls not sure who they're voting FOR, only that they are dead set AGAINST a certain party.

"I've got to keep Harper from getting a majority."

"I'm voting against those damn, crooked Libranos..."

"I'm sure not going to vote for those commie NDP idiots..."

Nation, voter participation levels are dropping across the country. One of the root causes of this, in light of this recent trend, should be self-evident: People in Canada don't vote FOR anyone, because they don't believe they have anyone TO vote for. They vote Tory because they hate the Liberals. They vote Green to spite the Tories. The campaigns embrace this, and advertise to appeal to these voters - "vote for us, we hate Dion, too". Maybe they voters are getting informed, and not finding a candidate they feel they can get behind. Maybe they're not finding a party leader who appeals to them. But if either of those is true, the parties are dropping the ball, and it's something they need to remedy sooner rather than later.

This is lazy politics... "vote against Harper, because he's a jerk.". Williams has spent the last 2 years foaming at the mouth at the mere mention of Harper's name. Every time he spouts off about the Tories, it loses more and more effectiveness, until eventually people will just tune him out. But the most insidious suggestion of Danny Williams is that "it doesn't matter who you vote for, as long as it's not Stephen Harper".

I'd think, as a sitting politician, Danny Williams would be very MUCH aware of the fact that it does, in fact, matter who you vote for. As Premier of a burgeoning oil-producing province, Williams should take a good, long look at the Green Shift before he tells people who they should vote for, or against.

Topping this off, of course, is the fact that it's a fundamentally cowardly act to tell people not to vote for one party without instead endorsing another. If you've got 4 parties running and you attack one of them, the other 3 are happy with you. If you have true courage of your convictions, have the guts to stand up and SUPPORT one of those parties, earning the ire of the other 3. Make a compelling case for the party you feel will make your constituents' lives BETTER, instead of jumping up and down, trying to tell them that Stephen Harper will make their lives worse.

And by the way, Danny, the people of Newfoundland are smart enough to know that it's not good political analysis and a hard look at the federal parties and their policies that have you speaking out against the Tories - it's a personal grudge.

Stop being lazy, Danny. If you want to play in the federal field, take the time and show the courage to study the parties and make a recommendation to your people about who they should vote FOR. You're their elected leader - stop acting like a pouting 6 year-old, and lead them TO somewhere... after all, Moses didn't just point, and tell his people to run, in any direction they chose, out of Egypt - he led them in a uniform direction, to the Promised Land.

... and they followed him for 40 years, Danny. You could be the next Joey Smallwood yet.

The Battles For Calgary Northeast and Edmonton - Sherwood Park

Calgary Northeast

For its short 20-year history, this riding has been coloured blue on the electoral map. Tucked away in the North-Easternmost section of the city, the imaginatively-named riding was represented first by Alex Kindy, and since 1993 by former cop Art Hanger, who squeaked by in 2006 with only 65% of the votes cast, for a paltry 18,000 vote win over the Liberal candidate. Hanger is retiring, and not seeking re-election. The riding has a voter participation problem, averaging 50% (or LESS, in some elections) of eligible voters bothering to turn up and mark an "x". The riding includes a high number of foreign-born voters, and both provincially and municipally is notorious for ethnic politics and electoral shenanigans.

As of press time, there were only 3 registered candidates in Calgary Northeast:
EDIT 01/10/08: Added independent Roger Richard

Devinder Shory (CPC) - Devinder Shory is a local lawyer and advocate for justice and tax reform (both big issues in the local community). He's involved in many community initiatives, and won the Tory nomination this past February in a hotly-contested battle. The father of 3 has moved his elderly parents into the family home, and if they're anything like the POES (Parents Of Enlightened Savage), would probably very much appreciate the chance to get out of town and work in Ottawa. This was an extremely solid riding for Art Hanger, but he carried it as much on personality as on party loyalty. It will be interesting to see if Shory can duplicate Art's past success.

Sanam Kang (Lib) - Sanam Kang is a recent addition to this race, taking over the Liberal Party nomination just a month ago after the previously nominated candidate stepped aside earlier this year. A local businessman, Kang identifies education as one of his top priorities. Kang is backed by the same team that delivered the provincial riding of Calgary McCall into Liberal hands in Alberta's recent provincial election. The Liberals typically poll between 20 and 25% in this riding, but still flushed from the provincial victory earlier this year, can Team Kang win this riding for the born-and-raised Calgarian? Unlikely... but in Calgary Northeast, FAR from impossible.

Vinay Dey (NDP) - Vinay Dey was nominated in August to carry the NDP banner into this traditionally hostile riding. With the NDP averaging less than 8% support in Calgary Northeast for most of the past 20 years, Dey is hoping (like his leader) to capitalize on the perceived hunger for "change" in the country and in this riding. He was the subject of a feature in MacLean's magazine in 2003. Vinay is the President of the National Indo-Canadian Council, and is a veteran candidate for the NDP, having run for them in 3 provincial contests and in the 2004 federal election (in Calgary - Nose Hill). (h/t to daveberta)

Roger Richard (Ind.) - Roger Richard got into the race in Calgary Northeast at the behest of disgruntled Conservative Party members, who felt that some shenanigans had gone on in the riding's nomination process. Richard has been a lightning rod for controversy in the campaign thus far, with the most recent news being that he has been ordered to modify his campaign literature, which was deemed too similar to that of Conservative Party candidate Devinder Shory. Roger ran unsuccessfully for the PC's in Calgary East in both 1997 (2nd place) and 2000 (3rd place), and has stated publicly that he would sit as a member of the Conservative Party caucus if elected. An e-mail from myself to him was not returned.

Take a look at: Devinder Shory. He's young and enthusiastic, but running against an experienced opponent from one party, and a hot hand from the other - rookie mistakes can be deadly in a riding like this. There's also been talk of funding issues within his campaign. He'll either take the riding by storm, or flame out gloriously.

Edmonton—Sherwood Park

A riding on the far Northeast fringes of Alberta's OTHER big city, ESP is a suburban riding which includes the city of Fort Saskatchewan. Sharing even more in common with it's southern neighbour of Calgary Northeast, this riding voted a measly 64% for the Conservative candidate in 2006 (Ken Epp), who is retiring and not running in this election. Liberal support in the riding is traditionally around 20% and focused within Edmonton Proper, but was down in 2006. Voter turn-out overall tends to run a little northwards of 60%. Average household income is a shade over $100,000 per year, so the average voter here isn't RICH, but they're not doing too badly, either.

Tim Uppal (CPC) - Uppal is a young (34) veteran of the political scene. Twice defeated in federal elections by David Kilgour, Uppal lost the Tory nomination race in the riding of Edmonton - Mill Woods - Beaumont in 2006, and is taking another shot at it in this traditional Tory stronghold. The former Residential Mortgage Manager is a party insider, and was named the Outstanding Young Edmontonian for 2005 by the Junior Chamber of Commerce. He has taken his campaign to Facebook, and at press time had nearly 300 supporters there. This is a solid Tory riding, so Uppal shouldn't have TOO much to worry about - but then again, you can only lose so many times before the stink becomes too heavy to wash away.

James Ford(Ind) - James "Jimmy" Ford is an independent candidate, and like all independents he faces a tough task. That said, he's clearly a passionate and engaged citizen, whose website forsakes a lot of the flashy "style" points (fancy graphics, etc.) that you can't really afford when you're running against campaigns with $50,000 budgets. The private management consultant is running as an "Independent conservative", so clearly he knows what the riding's history is. He's got a list of community involvement that blows the mind. Ford's candidacy stems from a dissatisfaction with the nominating rules in place for the Conservatives that saw Uppal win the nomination. He feels (and who can blame him?) that "6 months residency - no citizenship required" is a pretty questionable minimum requirement to nominate a candidate for MP.

Rick Szostak (Lib) - Rick Szostak is a Professor at the University of Alberta, and holds a PhD from Northwestern University in Economics (but really, who doesn't?). Szostak, who knows a little something about economics, suggests that Alberta should lead the world in the development of environmentally friendly technology, so best make use of our natural and intellectual resources to strengthen our, and therefore Canada's, economy. Doesn't sound like a raging socialist. As I said, the riding itself tends to support the Libs at around 20%, but there's a big chunk of voters that stay home on polling day. Rick's task is to get enough of them to come out that he can capitalize on the introduction of a new Tory candidate, and try to turn this riding Red for the first time in its history.

Take a look at: Tim Uppal. Either this is the election where he finally gets over the hump, or it's the straw that breaks the camel's back, and sends him permanently into the party's back-rooms. The party already has great organization in this riding, but how many of those hard-core supporters left with Epp?

Tory Calgary Campaign Office Openings

This is presented as informational only - I am not endorsing any candidates in this election, and will be happy to post any such information for any other campaign, for any party.


Please join us this Friday, September 12th
Molly Malone's Irish Pub in Kensington, Calgary
Starting at 4:00 pm
Have some fun on the campaign trail
As always the beer will be cold and the politics hot!
Appies will be served


Date: Monday, September 15, 2008
Time: 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: Lee Richardson Campaign Headquarters
Street: 1136 10 AVE SW Calgary, AB
Meet the candidate and the team, show your support and pick up your lawn sign! H'orderves and drinks will be served.

Tories Suspend Communications Director

UPDATED 9/11 10:10 AM

Ryan Sparrow, Communications director for the Tories was suspended from the campaign indefinitely for making an inappropriate remark to a member of the media.

The comment in question was in response to a statement issued by the father of a Canadian soldier killed in action in Afghanistan. The father said that if Canada left Afghanistan before mission objectives were completed, that his son would have given his life in vain.

Sparrow's response when fed the quote was allegedly that the father was a supporter of the Liberals and Michael Ignatieff.

Good on the Tories for acting on the comments so quickly, we're trying to dig up the comments AFTER the fact.

Seven Years Ago Today...

Lest We Forget.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

We Shouldn't Care About Who Cares...

Okay, Nation, so it's election time, and each party is going to do its damnedest to portray the other parties as out-of-touch, cold, unfeeling monsters who are the puppets of their respective interest groups. I get that. Some leaders (not mentioning any names) make that characterization a lot easier than others.

What drives me around the bend, though, is when I hear people whose vote counts as much as mine saying that they aren't going to vote for someone because "He doesn't CARE about _______".

"Stephane Dion doesn't CARE about the West."

"Stephen Harper doesn't CARE about the environment."

"The Greens don't CARE about the economy."

Oh, spare me.

Nation, we're not electing a "care-r in chief", here. We're electing people to tend to the day-to-day business of governance. Now, I can understand that you'd want someone in power, ideally, who shared your priorities. If your number 1 issue is funding for the arts, you want someone who you believe will support them. But that's not what we're talking about here... we're not talking about who will actually MANAGE these issues appropriately, or even FUND them appropriately... we're talking about who CARES, as though that caring somehow makes them qualified to fix the problems involved. Paul Martin tried to tell us he cared about EVERYTHING - look how well THAT worked out for him.

I care about finding a cure for cancer. I am however patently unqualified to find one. Does the fact that I CARE about finding a cure qualify me to be Surgeon General? If we held an election for Surgeon General, and I ran on the fact that I CARED about finding a cure, would that be a good enough reason to elect me? When I apply for my next job, I'm going to tell them I CARE about turning a profit. "Can you actually run a profitable company?", they'll ask me. "No... but I CARE about turning a profit.".

I'm sure I'll get the job.

I don't need to know if Stephane Dion cares about the economy. In fact, even if I *DID* need to know, there'd be no way for me TO know. He'd say he does - but he might be lying. His opponents would say that he DIDN'T care - but then again, maybe THEY'D be lying. All I need to know is if he has ideas that will help him manage the economy effectively. Whether doing so or not makes him happy and leaves him feeling fulfilled is completely irrelevant to me.

The reality is, none of us knows what ANY of these people really, truly care about, deep down inside. Maybe Liz May hates tress. Jack Layton might find working families disgusting. Gilles Duceppe could find French a grotesque language, Stephane Dion might have utter disdain for carbon taxes (in fact, I'm pretty sure he said as much a while back) and Stephen Harper might hate everything (as a Leafs fan, I know he's probably tempted). I don't know if any of those are the case, and I don't... CARE... if any of those statements are true.

I don't need to know what these people love - even if it were possible for me to do so without having to "take their word for it". All I need to know is what they say they're going to do, and what they're capable of doing effectively.

Whether they care about this issue, or that one?

[Shrug] I couldn't care less.

Leader's Debates - Mark Your Calendars

The Leader's Debates will take place on the evenings of October 1st and 2nd (not sure which is English, and which is French).

Stay tuned for more.

Greens to Debate?

We're hearing now that the decision not to invite Elizabeth May to the Leader's Debate is being reconsidered, with both the NDP and Conservative campaigns indicating that, although they'd be less than pleased, they would still, in fact, show up (and avoid looking like pouting 7 year-olds on the national stage).

This is absolutely the right decision, and I hope the networks get it right this time. 10% of Canadian voters supported this party WITHOUT having heard them in a face-to-face debate with the other leaders. If Duceppe can run in 57 ridings and get into the debate, then the Greens should have a chance to plead their own case as well.

There's a valuable lesson in here to be learned by May, though: You have to, HAVE TO, answer the question "who should the next Prime Minister be?" with the response "me". She made her bed in this mess, and just about set her party back another 4 years in so doing. If she gets the chance to appeal directly to voters in this debate, she had better make sure to point out that Mr. Dion's plan is the "least bad" of the other parties, but that her party's plan is what we really need (whether or not you believe that is besides the point). No asking Canadians to support their local Liberal, or to "vote strategically" - you're being given the spot to argue in favour of YOUR party, YOUR candidates, and YOUR policies... Otherwise, she'll just be proving Harper, Layton and Duceppe right in their assertion that she just wants to be there to heap praise on Dion and the Green Shift, and all-but pie Harper in the face.

The broadcasters and other parties might be getting this right, Liz... make sure you do the same. If you come across as the Green wing of the Liberals, then voters will never take your party seriously as a separate entity again.


UPDATE as of 3:04 pm: Liz is in.

The Battle for the Yukon


The Yukon Territory has a total population of just over 30,000 people, and holds the distinction of being the LEAST religious riding in the country, with about half of its residents identifying themselves as "religious". The political scene in the territory is, to put it mildly, highly malleable - the Liberals are right-wing, the Yukon Party (formerly the PC's) are in the middle, and the conservative leader was first elected as a member of the NDP. Yeah... my head hurts, too. Federally, the riding has elected representatives from all 3 main parties, including former Deputy PM (under Mulroney) Erik Nielsen (brother of actor Leslie, of Naked Gun fame), and NDP leader Audrey McLaughlin. Liberal Larry Bagnell is the incumbent here, having held the seat since 2000. In 2006, he won the seat by 3,500 votes over the 2nd-place Conservative candidate.

There are currently 3 registered candidates in the Yukon:

Larry Bagnell (Lib) - Larry Bagnell has served as the MP for this riding for the past 8 years, having narrowly won it (by a margin of 70 votes) in 2000. He's a very popular figure in Whitehorse, as the perception is that unlike most politicians, he has actually achieved measurable results for the riding with the awarding of the Canada Winter Games in 2007 and the associated investments in infrastructure, including the huge Canada Games Centre. The former executive with Industry Canada knows how the political game is played in the Yukon, and it will be tough going for anyone trying to dislodge him... when Yukoners decide they like their elected officials, they tend to keep them around - Erik Nielsen represented the riding for 30 years.

Darrell Pasloski (CPC) - Pasloski is a popular pharmacist and entrepreneur in Whitehorse. The father of 4 is heavily involved in community sports - as you might expect from someone with kids who play just about every sport from swimming to horseshoe pitching (STILL waiting for that to be an Olympic event...). While he'll be in tough against a popular incumbent, Darrell stands to benefit from the Harper Government's pro-Northern policies and from his own gregarious nature. In a riding where the firmness of a candidate's handshake and whether they look you in the eye still matter, Pasloski's political destiny is in his own hands.

John Streicker (Grn) - Streiker is a lecturer at Yukon College who has devoted much of his energies to the study of climate change. He may be the only holder of a Master's degree in Engineering who runs a community centre, doing so in his home community of Marsh Lake. He's a quilter, an artist, and a long-shot (the Greens have never broken 600 votes in this riding)... but then, if there are ANY ridings in this country that can see, first-hand, the effects of climate change on a day-to-day basis, surely it's the ridings in the North. Let's be honest, here, folks: Nobody moves to the Yukon for the thriving night-life or the fast pace of life in Whitehorse. It's the environment, and the people. It's a common value held by most of the people who live in the territory. And THAT is a recipe for success, if the Greens can figure out how to translate it into results at the polling booth.

Take a look at: Darrel Pasloski. He may be a political neophyte, but he's well-liked, and running for a party that has been focusing on the North. Adding to the "perfect storm" politically is the fact that Larry Bagnell, popular as he is, is running for the party of the Green Shift, in a riding where most people have to heat their homes with oil-burning furnaces - 10 or more months each year (that'd be one of those "bad things" Dion wants to tax). Making people feel valued is a good way to get elected, and the Tories have been doing that to the people of the North for the past 3 years - let's see if it pays off for Darrell.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Foul Ball, Gilles.

Gilles Duceppe has decided to attack a Tory candidate based on her religious affiliations.

I'm no Opus Dei member - but religious beliefs should be absolutely, 100% off-limits in the realm of public debate.

I don't care if this woman is Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, a Rastafarian, Scientologist, Mormon, Evangelical or Wiccan. A candidate's faith - or lack thereof - is an issue between them and their God(s/dess/desses). There is absolutely no place for this in any election, and Duceppe owes the candidate, and all Canadians of ALL faiths, an apology.

If you want to talk about her public comments on a given issue, that's fine. But to say that "she belongs to this religious group, they believe this, and we think that's wrong" is gutter politics of the worst kind.

The irony of Duceppe's foul ball? Quebec is 83.2% Catholic. Many of course are Lapse Catholics, but the majority would still be mass-attending Catholics - including many BQ candidates, one would have to guess. I don't know how up-to-date Gilles is on the teaching of the Catholic Church, but the new Pope, and therefore the Church, isn't exactly a big fan of the 2 issues Gilles cited - abortion, and same-sex marriage.

How many of his own candidates did Duceppe just condemn for their own, private religious beliefs? How many Quebecois did Duceppe just insult in the most personal of ways? Tune in on October 14th to find out.

The Battles for Edmonton Strathcona and Calgary West

Edmonton - Strathcona

Edmonton Strathcona is an interesting riding to watch. Sandwiched between North and South Edmonton, it is home to many of Edmonton's Francophones, and hosts some of the city's oldest neighbourhoods - as well as the University of Alberta campus. Since 1953, Strathcona has been represented by 2 Liberals, 1 SoCred, 4 Progressive Conservatives, a Reform Party MP, and by current MP Rahim Jaffer (first as a Reform member, then the Canadian Alliance, and now as a member of the Conservative Party). Jaffer won the riding in 2006 by a margin of 5,000 votes over returning NDP candidate Linda Duncan. Strathcona has higher-than-average voter turn-out, with 70% of eligible voters casting a ballot in 2006.

There are currently 3 registered candidates in Strathcona:

Rahim Jaffer (CPC) - Rahim Jaffer was first elected to represent the riding of Edmonton Strathcona as a Reform Party MP in 1997, at the ripe old age of 25 (my GOD, what have I DONE with my life?!?). He gained national recognition in 2001 when a staffer masqueraded as Jaffer on a radio call-in show - an event that the people of Strathcona were happy to move past, as Jaffer was handily re-elected afterwards. Rahim most recently chaired the Conservative Caucus, and is seen by many as a rising star in the Tory Caucus. He earned an enemy-for-life of The Enlightened Savage when he proposed to fellow Tory MP Helena Guergis. Jaffer doesn't have a whole lot to worry about in this riding, but he can't take victory for granted - he's up against a strong challenger in Linda Duncan, and much of this constituency is in the provincial hands of Liberal and New Democrat MLA's - so they're not shy about voting for parties on the left.

Claudette Roy (Lib) - A long-time resident of Strathcona, Claudette Roy is a former teacher and icon of Edmonton's Francophone community, who was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2000. Also extremely active in the Catholic Church, Roy's credentials as a leader in her community are simply staggering. She has served on or chaired the boards of several museums, sworn-in new citizens, been deeply involved in Alberta's Centennial celebrations, and also plays a mean piano. While this riding wasn't very kind to the Liberals in 2006, they've got a great candidate in Roy this time around - her biggest challenge is going to be in defying the perception of her as a "niche" candidate - the token Francophone candidate in a french-speaking part of town. Her biography should clear up THAT misconception really quickly - now, if only the wizard on her campaign hadn't posted it as a .pdf on her website. Note to Liberal web-wizards: A lot of the residents of Strathcona are over 70. Think about it.

Linda Duncan (NDP) - Linda Duncan is an international environmental law consultant with a resume that would make major law firms all over the globe drool. Her credentials in the environmental law field have many whispering that she would be an excellent choice for the next leader of the federal Green Party. Formerly the Chief of Enforcement for Environment Canada, Duncan put a scare into the Conservatives in 2006 when she came within 5,000 votes of unseating popular incumbent Jaffer - while spending $20,000 less than the Jaffer campaign. Intensely likeable, Duncan is popular with older voters - a traditional "bedrock demographic" of the Conservatives, and another reason for Rahim to get out and knock on those doors.

Take a look at: Linda Duncan. Her volunteers are energized, her party is emboldened by their results in 2006, and her credentials are impeccable.

EDIT 9/11 9:44 am - Linda Duncan will be on the Rutherford Show today during the 10 o'clock hour.

Calgary West

In the past 3 federal elections, a conservative has won Calgary West by a combined 69,000 votes over the next closest challenger - which has sometimes ALSO been a conservative. There's also a maverick streak in the people of this riding that can't be ignored - in 2006, the 3rd-place finisher here spent a grand total of $200 on their campaign. That's right, for the price of a Playstation 2, you can be the third-place finisher in Calgary West. This riding has seen its share of controversy with its current MP, Rob Anders. Last election, the people at encouraged the people of Calgary West to consider parking their vote with a candidate less likely to embarass them (that's be just about anyone). And while the rules of the Conservative Party ensured, yet again, that Anders would be the CPC nominee in this election, the voters of Calgary West don't just have the same old list of leftist candidates from which to choose this time around - a moderate conservative is running as an Independent. So, while there's little doubt that Calgary West will again elect a conservative MP, the question begs to be asked - will they elect a Conservative, or a conservative?
EDIT 01/10 3:50 PM - The incumbent reportedly failed to show up at a scheduled Bow Cliff Senior's Forum in the riding - effectively sending the implied message that he had better things to do than talk to seniors (solid politics, as a Conservative - seniors NEVER vote, especially not for conservative candidates).
Other All (or Most, Rob) Candidates Forums Scheduled Include:
Thursday, October 9 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm University of Calgary (MacEwan Hall)
Friday, October 10 7:00 pm - 8:15 pm Varsity Community Centre

Rob Anders (CPC) - Rob Anders called Nelson Mandela a communist and a terrorist - and then refused to take Mandela's resultant phone call. He went "missing" during the election of 2006 (allegedly stashed out of harm's - as in, media microphone's - way by Harper's people), and recently compared the government of China to the Nazis (riiiight - but it was Harper skipping the Opening Ceremony that they were mad about). His nomination in Calgary West for the Conservatives was overturned by a judge, and yet Rob's back anyway. And let's not forget THIS gem. Anders has as much chance getting a seat at the cabinet table as I do - which is to say, none at all. In fact, there's talk that many federal Tories in the rest of Canada are hoping he goes down to defeat, so they can get him off the slate of candidates in the future (claiming to be a tolerant, modern, progressive party from whom mainstream Canada has nothing to fear is a hard sell when you've got Rob on the ticket). ALL of that said, Anders has routinely won this riding by some of the largest margins in the country. Devotion to Anders himself? To their former MP, Stephen Harper? Or to the only conservative on the ballot? With Kirk Schmidt running this time around, we'll see. I just know that if I lived in Calgary West, then REGARDLESS of my political leanings, I'd do whatever it took to get rid of the stigma of my neighbourhood as being "represented by Rob Anders".

Jennifer Pollock (Lib) - Jennifer Pollock is a former chair of the Calgary Board of Education, and captured 20% of the vote in this riding in 2006. She maintains a blog on her website - with all of one posting - so bonus marks from E.S. on that account. The hockey mom (of four) obtained a Bachelor's of Zoology in the 70's, and recently graduated from U of C's law faculty and was called to the bar... not a lot of lawyers in this town with an undergrad degree that required dissection of scat, I'll bet. Pollock is an unlikely Liberal, in that she spends a lot of time talking about how Ottawa needs more Calgary, and not the other way around. Let's not fool ourselves, though: It will take a miracle for this riding to go Liberal - they last elected a federal Liberal here in 1940, when gas went for 18 cents a gallon and a new home would break the bank at $6,500.

Teale Phelps Bondaroff (NDP) - Bondaroff is no stranger to Calgary politicos, having run for everything but dog catcher in the past 5 or so years. He was the Alberta NDP candidate in Calgary Bow in this year's Provincial Election (he got 500 votes), as profiled by a devastatingly handsome blogger here. Teale protested the University of Calgary decision to disallow credit card payment of tuition fees by rolling a wheelbarrow full of coins to the payment office. He gained 5,000 votes for the NDP in this riding in 2006, at age 19. The NDP website has precious little information on Teale, despite the fact that he's run for them before. Bondaroff is also on Facebook, and is on the record as a supporter of the establishment of a provincial park in the eastern region of Kananaskis - a cause he and I have in common. An avid debater, Teale is just going to keep getting better and better at this "election" thing, until he wins one some day. That day is coming - but it won't be October 14th.

Randall Weeks (Grn) - Weeks also ran for the Alberta Greens in Calgary Bow earlier this year, provincially (830 votes). An auditor for an oil company, Weeks is the rare Green who realizes that destroying the economy to save the environment is foolhardy. He has what can charitably be described as a "voracious dislike" of the incumbent - can't say he's anywhere NEAR alone in that regard. The Greens registered 10% of the vote in this riding in 2006, while spending a minuscule $200 on the local campaign. The biggest challenge for Weeks is going to be to capitalize on the Tory discontent in the riding, as there's a palatable Independent option for the Tories running in the riding this time around.

Kirk Schmidt (Ind) - Kirk Schmidt has gotten a lot of attention from this blog in the past year, and with good reason. He's a straight shooter who understands the economy, and the power that an Independent - and therefore the people of that Independent's constituency - wield in a minority government situation. He has committed to sitting as an Independent, separate from any party caucus, if elected. Kirk also blogs, and is a frequent reader of this blog and is a F.O.E.S. If fiscal accountability, social policies that reflect mainstream Canada from a decade more recent than the 1950's, and progressive environmental policies that won't cripple the economy all sound appealing to you, Kirk might be your candidate. If wielding an incredible amount of power as a voter in Calgary West in the (assumed) upcoming minority parliament sounds appealing to you, Kirk might be your candidate. The reality is, Schmidt represents the ideal citizen, and the ideal voter: Someone who has their own opinions, but is willing to listen to the opinions of others, and then make an informed decision free of party loyalty or dogma. Let's remember: For an Independent, EVERY vote in the House is a "free vote" - where they get to vote on behalf of the people in their riding, and not the lobbyists who paid for their party's campaign ads.

Take a look at: Kirk Schmidt. The people of Calgary West aren't neanderthals, they're small-c conservatives who can't bear the thought of marking an "x" next to a Liberal or Dipper. Now that they've got the option of getting rid of Anders and still voting for a small-c conservative like themselves, will they?