this blog has moved to a new address:

Please update your RSS, bookmarks, and links to

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

by-election rundown.

I've had some time to compile some thoughts about yesterday's by-elections. Here are some of them:

Calgary Elbow
Alberta Liberal candidate Craig Cheffins was elected in Calgary Elbow - Ralph Klein's former constituency and a bedrock Tory constituency since 1971. This is significant for all the obvious reasons.

Though I don’t think Cheffins’ election in Calgary Elbow is a complete deathblow to the Stelmach Tories, I do think it is a substantial kick in the teeth. Voters in Calgary Elbow sent a strong message that Calgary may be more in-play than it has been in a long time. Many Calgarians aren’t happy with the Stelmach Tories and if strong local candidates like Craig Cheffins continue to let their name stand for Kevin Taft's Alberta Liberals in Calgary, the Tories could be in trouble in the next election.

While many Calgary Tory MLAs are rumoured to be stepping down in the next election, the Alberta Liberals are already starting to line up quality candidates like Kent Hehr (Calgary Buffalo), Carole Oliver (Calgary Fort), and Avalon Roberts (Calgary Glenmore).

For those of your keeping score, you can add another Ed Stelmach-point to the Strom-o-meter. In 1969, the Lougheed Tories wrestled away the Strathcona East constituency following Socred Premier Ernest Manning’s retirement. Peter Lougheed led the Tories to victory over Premier Harry Strom’s Social Credit Party in 1971.

Tory Jack Hayden’s landslide victory wasn’t a big surprise as Drumheller-Stettler is probably one of the strongest conservative constituencies in Alberta. There are some interesting results though. Alberta Liberal candidate Tom Dooley may have won 14% across the constituency, but won 9 out of the 11 Town of Drumheller polls (something that reflects the warm reaction on the doors last weekend).

If the Liberals are able to become competitive in Alberta’s smaller cities like Drumheller, then a number of normally safe-Tory rural ridings will shift to the in-play column.

Low Turnout
Albertans already hold the lowest voter turnout rates in Canada, so it wasn’t surprising that turnout was dismal yesterday. It doesn't downplay the significance of the Liberal victory in Calgary Elbow and I don’t think you can place the blame for this on any one thing, but his is a serious issue that needs to be discussed and addressed (in a soon to be written post).

RIP Alberta Alliance:
The results of this by-election were a clear deathblow for the Alberta Alliance. Even with the help of Alliance Leader Paul Hinman, Drumheller-Stettler Alliance candidate Dave France still only garnered 5% of the vote – 8% less than he won in the 2004 General Election – and 2% behind Alberta independent advocate John Rew. If the Alliance can’t win votes in Drumheller-Stettler, the question must be asked if they can win anywhere else.

The Unstoppable New Democrats
The New Democrats garnering 1% in Drumheller-Stettler and 3% in Calgary Elbow. These results certainly prove that the New Democrats are a force to be reckoned with in Alberta – watch out!


James L. said...

Keep reaching for that rainbow, Brian Mason and "Alberta's NDP".

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm one of the 104 who voted NDP. I worked with Richard on the campaign and despite the outcome we did work pretty hard, however most of us were novices politically and our day jobs precluded the campaigning likely necessary for a better showing. We did make some mistakes and we were also victims of circumstances. First, we should have put up signs with Richard's name and not just Mr. Mason's. Name recognition is important and we didn't have it compared to the other candidates. We should have done more door to door work. Would this have won us the election? Of course not, but we might have done a bit better.

I also think we were the victim (not really the best word but we'll go with it for now) of circumstances. The NDP likely lost significant numbers of votes to the Greens and the Liberals, neither of whom ran in the last election here in Drumheller-Stettler. There was strategic voting and the NDP usually bares the brunt of such a strategy. I know if at least 6 solid NDP voters who cast their vote for Dooley because they thought he had a chance of knocking off the PC candidate Hayden. Turns out to have been a futile effort as it was another blowout for the Conservatives.

There aren't many of us here, but those of us who are here are pretty dedicated to the goals of the NDP. I'm disappointed by our last place showing, but not discouraged. This was a byelection with a very low voter turnout. I for one am going to keep plugging away and trying to build the party here in rural Alberta.

foothills view said...

The NDs turnout is just pathetic. How could they screw this one up, and do worse than in 2004??? Will they ever get their s*%# together?

They tanked because they didn't campaign. They didn't even have candidates nominated until a few weeks ago. And why bother printing signs either? I was so sick of seeing Mason signs when he wasn't even on the ballot. I guess they'll reuse 'em when some other no-name candidate runs, and tries to ride Mason's coattails.

The coattails are worn-out though, with lots of holes. Holes so big, it actually hurt the candidate. The only solution is to get a new coat (and your own signs).

I'm still curious how could the greens, with no visibility, no seat in the legislature, and no leader of note, do twice as good as the NDs in calgary?? Even if it was a protest vote, why couldn't they score some of the protest action?

A leader who doesn't take a by-election seriously, is a leader not worth having. Maybe it's time to call on the ghosts of Notley to breathe some life into this dying party.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. The analysis leaves out the fact that the Libs actually had 100 fewer votes than last time out, and about 3000 tories stayed home. Sure the NDP had a paltry showing, but it was exactly the same paltry showing that they had last election.

If the Tories manage to regroup, Cheffins is going to have a tough time holding his seat.

James L. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James L. said...

Simplistic analysis, Anonymous 4:36. Turnout is almost always lower for a by-election. There were likely many potential Liberal votes that stayed home, too.

Steve said...

When measured against expectations, the relatively narrow win in Calgary-Elbow was a disappointment for the Liberals, and the barely-ahead-of-the-Socreds performance in Drumheller-Stettler was something similar (not that anybody except the Drumheller waitress I talked to last weekend expected them to win, but...).

Let's give the opposition (by the most generous assessment) all of the 21 Edmonton area seats, seven of the Calgary seats, both Lethbridge seats, and maybe Hinman's. That still leaves a pretty comfortable majority of 52 seats which, for all the talk about the Tories' poor fortunes, is only 11 seats short of what they won last time around, and more than they won in 1993.