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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad to see some talk about Edmonton-Millwoods-Beaumont! I'm personally rooting for Michael Butler-he seems really driven and he knows offhand how gov't failure can affect the individual. There weren't nearly this many NDP signs in this riding during the last election.

Indira has a chance of winning but she really hasn't said anything that makes me think she would be a good representative for this riding.