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.

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