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Monday, April 02, 2007

sweet sweet calgary.

Dan and I drove to Calgary this weekend to spend some time with +200 fellow politicos at the Alberta Liberals election readiness convention.

It was a good weekend and was probably one of the best organized Alberta Liberal conventions I've been to since I started going to these things way back in 2000. It was a good chance to meet with MLA's, candidates, and other volunteers from across Alberta. Other than the training sessions, there were some good speeches from Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft, Mount Royal College Political Science Professor Keith Brownsey, and other MLA's- rallying the troops, etc.

I also had the chance to meet both Liberal candidates nominated to run in the upcoming by-elections: Craig Cheffins from Calgary Elbow and Tom Dooley from Drumheller-Stettler.

In Calgary Elbow, Craig Cheffins - former President of the Lakeview Community Association and Work Experience Coordinator for the Bachelor of Applied Justice Studies program at Mount Royal College - will be facing PC candidate Brian Heninger - longtime President of Heninger Toyota - and it's shaping up to be a fight with both candidates having a chance of taking this riding.

Other nominated candidates include Alberta Green Party leader George Read and Trevor Grover - sacraficial lamb from the Social Credit Party.

Calgary Elbow will be a litmus test to gauge rural-based Ed Stelmach's curb appeal in Calgary. This comes only months after Stelmach's near shut out of the Jim-Dinning-loyalist-Calgary-Tory caucus from his cabinet in December.

In Drumheller-Stettler, Liberal candidate Tom Dooley - rancher and former County Councillor - has been nominated. As for the Tories, municipal consultant Jack Hayden is making his move. Other nominated candidates in Drumheller-Stettler include Socred Larry Davidson and Alberta Green Jennifer Wigmore.

This riding was Shirley McClellan's stronghold for 20 years - which she won in a by-election in 1987 following the death of longtime Tory Minister Henry Kroeger. Though it's much more likely that Calgary Elbow will be the more competitive race, weirder things have happened - in a 1992 by-election, Liberal Don MacDonald was elected in the Tory strong-hold of Three Hills a landslide with 26% margin. Even if the Liberals don't win in Drumheller-Stettler, a strong second place finish in a deep rural riding like this one would boost momentum for Kevin Taft's Liberals in rural Alberta.

With both major parties putting up a full court press for these seats it should be an exciting summer!

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good post dave.

Calgary-Elbow is in play. Calgary as a whole is in play. I've spoke to many Calgary Jim Dinning supporters over the past month and there seems to be a consensus that they won't go out of their way to volunteer to help an Ed Stelmach led Tory Party. Expect many longtime Calgary Tory volunteers to stay home.

A Calgary Elbow Liberal victory (which is possible) would be a deathblow for Stelmach in Calgary.

Anonymous said...

Yes, interesting post. It should be an interesting summer with the by-elections and possibly a federal election coming.

I do take exception to the characterization of the Calgary-Elbow as being a litmus test for the Stelmach PC's. Sure, it is one guage. But hardly a "deathblow" if the PC candidate is unsuccessful. It is not like Klein won the riding in perpetual landslides, and the Libs are going to be going at this seat hard. It will likely come down to the candidates, and I know zero about either.

However, I do find it interesting how Kevin Taft was framing this by-election (for the actual quote, read today's Herald). It goes thusly: "if Calgary-Elbow is lost to the PC's it is a judgement on Stelmach. If the PC's keep the seat, well, it was theirs anyway and is not a big loss for the Liberals." How convenient. Stelmach can lose, but he can't win. And the Liberals lay the groundwork already in the event they are unsuccessful. What if someone said that Drumheller-Stettler was a litmus test to see if AB Liberal Party can attract the rural vote? Some would likely say "naw, that's different". Why? Especially after Taft took issue with cabinet being "too rural".

If you want an indication of interest, I hear that ticket sales for the April Premier's Dinner - the Calgary one - are going very well. Sure, there were hard feelings among some MLAs after cabinet was re-organized, but that was going to be the case anyway, when the "local boy" lost. The local power structure was up-ended, after all.

I see the Alberta Liberal Party's finances are turning around. Good. We do need a viable opposition in a democratic system. Not sure where the money came from provincially, but Dion is raising money federally... at $500 a plate (also in today's paper). Gee, where have I seen that number before?

Anonymous said...

"...Other than the training sessions, there were some good speeches from leader Kevin Taft, Mount Royal College Political Science Professor Keith Brownsey, and other MLA's- rallying the troops, etc."

Now when I see Brownsey being quoted in the Calgary Herald about policy of the current government, I will consider the origin of the comment.

Glen said...

I love it when double standards are used to debunk double standards...

Anonymous said...

Hey glen,

I have no problem pointing out other people's hypocrisy. Point is, there is no double standard here. No one will say Drumheller-Stettler is a test for the Liberals.

If you want double-standards, how about good old Brownsey advocating the use of attack ads against the Premier in the next election (in like manner as the Federal Conservatives used against Dion). This time to frame shots of Stelmach "fumbling over words". [No, I wasn't at the ALP convention, but Calgarygrit has it on his blog]. That'll go over well with various multicultural groups. For them, like Stelmach, english is a second language. And this is one reason he is making inroads there.

Any time the media needs a 15 second soundbite, and they can get no one else on short notice, they give Brownsey a call. I'm not sure whether to be happy or to take pity on the Alberta Liberals if they have guys like Brownsey advising them. I guess sometimes the old maxim rings true: "if you can't do... teach".

craig said...

"If you want double-standards, how about good old Brownsey advocating the use of attack ads against the Premier in the next election (in like manner as the Federal Conservatives used against Dion). This time to frame shots of Stelmach "fumbling over words".

This doesn't have to be an attack at. It can just be a clip from the daily question period. watch it. stelmach's performace is a sight to be seen.

Anonymous said...

If golden oratorical skills were all that was necessary to succeed in politics, Barak Obama would already be president.

That said, if you see Taft and Stelmach in a room of people, there is no question who is more personable, and who people instinctively "like". And it is not the honourable member from Edmonton Riverview.

Anonymous said...

BTW, Craig Cheffins was the head of the Lakeview community association, not Lakewood. He is your candidate after all.

I must say that Cheffins is a very good choice. He has run for alderman and unfortunately lost to Barry Erskine. Additionally, nominating a car salesman is likely not the best choice for the PCs.

I'm not a Liberal voter federally but will consider Liberal provincially. Even for those people (like me) who view Taft as a weak leader, they may vote for Cheffins. George Read does make it interesting though.

I think Calgary Elbow voters may resent the weak vote by the PC Party for Klein (55%) that was even weaker than his support by average Albertans (70%). Payback may even warrant voting in a ... Liberal.

julie said...

to anonymous 8:08AM,

I would completely disagree. I've met with both the honorable member from Edmonton Riverview and the honorable member from Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville and I can truly say that they are both very friendly, personable, and likeable.

One of the downsides of politics is that ALL Albertans won't get the chance to meet each leader in person. If they did, they would see that both Taft and Stelmach are just regular people.

That said, because not every Albertan will be able to meet Taft and Stelmach, oritorical skill will matter quite a bit as mass communications become more and more important. Taft has been Official Opposition leader since 2004 and he's a recognizable face. Stelmach has been a PC MLA since 1993 but still remains a complete unknown in the minds of many Albertans.

Anonymous said...

It's going to take a lot more than sending out a taxpayer funded orange-and-blue brochure to every Albertan in order for Stelmach to win over Albertans.

$200,000?? WTF?

James said...

That said, if you see Taft and Stelmach in a room of people, there is no question who is more personable, and who people instinctively "like". And it is not the honourable member from Edmonton Riverview.

I haven't met Ed Stelmach, so I can't speak about him. I can say that I have met Kevin Taft a couple of times (and interviewed him once), and found him to be quite friendly. People who say that he comes across as "condescending" or an "ivory tower elitist" are trading in stereotypes rather than the truth.

Anonymous said...

Daveberta:

You must be a youngster. I went to the Alberta Liberal Party convention in 1992 when Decore wasw leader and there were nearly 1,000 people there and it was marked superb organization. At the time, the Liberals were running near 50% in the polls, the Tories were at near 20%. Times have changed. Taft is running at just 15-20%.

Voter said...

Look for Dave France of the Alberta Alliance Party to win in Drumheller - Stettler.

This is fertile ground for the Alliance Party, where they placed second overall last time.

By-elections are times for protest and many southern Alberta conservatives are pissed right off about the recent "NDP budget."

PS. The Liberals did not even run a candidate here last time. They have no chance.