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.
Friday, October 10 7:00 pm - 8:15 pm Varsity Community Centre
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.