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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

canada's 2008 federal election: 365 days later.

One year ago today, just over 50% of Albertans made their way to the polls to vote in the 2008 Canadian Federal Election. While just over two years since the previous election, last October saw some Edmontonians (and Strathconans) paint their electoral map with a little more diversity of colours (even if it only resulted in one actual change in electoral representation). A year out, here is a look at some of the more interesting ridings from 2008 and what the electoral races may shape up to look like in the next election.
2008 results
Laurie Hawn, C - 22,634 (49%)
Jim Wachowich, Lib - 12,661 (27.4%)
Donna Martyn, NDP - 6,912 (15%)
David Parker, G - 3,746 (8.1%)
Peggy Morton, ML - 203 (0.4%)

I expected closer results in this riding during the last election, but if only one thing were clear about the 2008 election, it is that the Liberals under Stephane Dion had zero momentum in western Canada. After narrowly defeating Liberal MP Anne McLellan in 2006, a low voter turnout allowed Conservative Laurie Hawn to widen his margin of victory into a comfortable lead in 2008 when facing off against consumer advocate and Liberal candidate Jim Wachowich (the total voter turnout dropped by over eleven thousand votes and over 9,000 Liberal voters stayed home, dropping that party's support by over 9,000 votes between 2006 and 2008).

This riding has been the focus of both Reform/Canadian Alliance/Conservative and Liberal resources since 1993 and the prospect of three strong candidates in the next election could make this Edmonton riding a centre of attention once again. Hawn is a strong campaigner, but he is now facing two hard working challengers who have already began campaigning door-to-door. Liberal Mary MacDonald is a lawyer, Ph.D., former Deputy Chief of Staff to McLellan, and former provincial Liberal candidate. New Democrat Lewis Cardinal is an educator, activist, and former candidate for City Council. Some people will inevitably bemoan the potential for vote-splitting between the two main challengers, but I am looking forward to watching three strong candidates make this riding competitive in the next election. If Edmonton-Centre becomes home to a serious three-way race, I would wager that anything could happen.
2008 results
Peter Goldring, C - 21,487 (51.3%)
Ray Martin, NDP - 13,318 (31.8%)
Stephanie Laskoski, Lib - 4,578 (10.9%)
Trey Capnerhurst, G 2,488 (5.9%)

This riding could be one to watch in the next election. With the collapse of the Liberal-vote in 2008 (likely caused by the previously mentioned Dion-factor and the last minute withdrawal of candidate Jim Jacuta), former MLA Ray Martin was able to capitalize and boost the NDP vote by 13% to a solid second place finish. The riding has been represented by MP Peter Goldring since 1997, but the eclectic collection of citizens in this riding supported NDP MP Ross Harvey in 1988 and Liberal MP Judy Bethel in 1993.

Although Goldring has perfected the art of invisibility as a backbench MP, he still hold an incumbency advantage and I wouldn't underestimate Martin, who has once again been nominated as the NDP candidate in the next election. A seasoned elections veteran, Martin's political drive has led him to be elected the MLA for Edmonton-Norwood from 1982 to 1993, Edmonton Public Schools Trustee from 2001 to 2004, MLA for Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview from 2004 to 2008, and Leader of Alberta's Official Opposition from 1986 to 1993. I have also heard that along with Edmonton-Strathcona, the NDP are planning to focus much of their resources on this riding, which was their second strongest Alberta finish in 2008.
Edmonton-Sherwood Park
2008 results
Tim Uppal, C - 17,628 (35.8%)
James Ford, Ind - 15,960 (32.4%)
Brian LaBelle, NDP - 6,339 (12.8%)
Rick Szostak, Lib - 5,575 (11.3%)
Nina Erfani, G - 3,678 (7.4%)

In 2008, Independent conservative James Ford rode a strong wave of Strathcona County-concentrated discontent after a shady Conservative nomination process chose former Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont candidate Tim Uppal over local favorite Jacquie Fenske.

Ford's strength led this riding to the second closest results in the province, but I wonder whether a second run by Ford would result in the same level of discontent. This has been a strong conservative riding and includes areas that are represented on a provincial level by Premier Ed Stelmach and Finance Minister Iris Evans. If the voters in this riding are now less offended by the internal party shenanigans than they were a year ago, I would imagine that they will return to a traditional Conservative voting pattern.

2008 results
Linda Duncan, NDP - 20,103 (42.5%)
Rahim Jaffer, Con - 19,640 (41.6%)
Claudette Roy, Lib - 4,279 (9%)
Jane Thrall, Grn - 3,040 (6.4%)
Kevan Hunter, ML - 147 (0.3%)

A year ago today, NDP candidate Linda Duncan edged out long-time Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer in a close election race. Initially planning a comeback, Jaffer is now dealing with some personal issues in Ontario and the Conservatives have nominated Ottawa insider Ryan Hastman as their standard bearer. Both candidates and their teams have been busy canvassing door-to-door over the summer months in this extremely geo-politically polarized riding (as you can see by the poll results from the map above).

Since the last election, a number of people have noted to me that Duncan has become somewhat of a ghost in Edmonton. I will give Duncan the benifit of a doubt that she is still mounting the learning curve that all elected officials face during their first couple years in office, but I am sure that Hastman's campaign will focus on this point.

Expect a flood of resources and high-profile MP visits to the riding from both the NDP and Conservatives to continue before the next election (NDP leader Jack Layton has visited this riding at least 4-5 times since October 2008). The collapse of the Liberal vote helped vault Duncan to her victory, but it shouldn't be underestimated how strong her organization and her campaign momentum were in the last election. If she is successful in her next election, she will be the first NDP MP to be re-elected in Alberta's history. The Liberals have yet to announce a candidate in this riding, but Michael Ignatieff spent the Canada Day long weekend in the riding.

(Thanks to Jordan C. for the map)


Anonymous said...

I think Hawn is pretty safe this time around. Strathcona is going to be the race to watch. Is there a reason why there isn't a Liberal candiate here? I've heard Hastman is working really hard and that is what is needed to win the seat. I'd put my money on him to win.

Colin F. Specter said...

Liberals and Soft Tories will vote for Linda Duncan, but I am a true PROGRESSIVE Conservative, not a Socialist.

My vote is for Ryan Hastman.

Denny said...

If Duncan is being described as a "ghost" I have no idea how one would have described Jaffer.
Duncan seems to be having regular town hall meetings throughout the riding, and a quick look at her Facebook page shows how many local events she manages to get out to.

As for Martin's campaign, it's important to note that his campaign did not start that long before the last election was called, this time he's been out door knocking since early summer.

Anonymous said...

After the coalition attempt and Layton's flip flop its fair to say the NDP is a damaged brand. Especially in Alberta. While it will still be a tight fight in Strathcona I expect to see a drop in NDP voters. If Hastman keeps up the hard work he will get this one back.

Anonymous said...

Dave, your post-partisan skirt is blowing in the wind and your Liberal bias is showing. No one has ever heard of Mary MacDonald and you're attempts to frame the Edmonton Centre contest as a three way race are laughable. Wachowich had far more street recognition and got trounced.

With the NDP having an incumbent MP across the river and Ray Martin again contesting strongly for Edmonton East, a strong showing by the socialists in Centre is to be expected. With a candidate of Lewis Cardinal's calibre it's quite reasonable to expect the NDP to run second here, as they did last time in a majority of Albertan ridings.

P.S. Absolutely no one in Alberta is excited about Michael Ignatief. I have yet to meet a single person that's jacked up by that man.

Anonymous said...

I've been helping Ryan Hastman door knock for the last few months. The response has been great. We haven't had one person tell us that they've seen Linda Duncan at their door since the '08 campaign. I doubt that she has been doing much knocking lately. I guess she's too busy.

Anonymous said...

Though it will undoubtedly by the official NDP - Strathcona party line, characterizing Ryan Hastman as an "Ottawa Insider" is akin to describing Michael Ignatieff as a "long time Toronto resident". Hastman was born and raised and educated in Edmonton and has lived here his entire life but for the last few years where he did - yes, it is admitted - work in Ottawa in various capacities for the federal government, including in the PMO. He grew up here, his family is here and he has been very active in the campaigns of several local candidates over the years - he is absolutely not the "parachute" candidate you have tried to paint him as with this and other posts.

Lou Arab said...

I'm inclined to agree that Mary MacDonald isn't a high profile candidate for the Liberals.

That said, she is a Liberal insider and should know how to run a proper campaign. Her candidacy reminds me of Claudette Roy, who did everything right in Ed Strathcona in 2008, but couldn't escape the tide of that campaign. I'm a great believer in ground campaigns - but sometimes they can't fight the trend.

Cardinal is generating a fair bit of excitement and building a team - similar to the feeling around Linda Duncan. That said, Laurie Hawn is a far more formidable opponent than Rahim Jaffer. And while the NDP has some machinery in Centre, there is still a lot of building to do to get Cardinal over the top.

Chuck said...

I know a Tory insider who said that after Laurie Hawn was first elected he basically said:
a) that was hard work
b) we're going to be in minorities for a while which means lots of elections coming up.
c) Jaffer's not working hard and his riding is getting closer and closer. I can't be like that.

Even though it would be nice for him to discuss more than one single issue (ie. support the troops), have to admit, he's worked hard and has been in constant campaign mode.

Lou Arab said...

If you look at the city wide map above you will notice that the areas the NDP did well in are the areas that border on Edmonton Centre.

That tells me the demographics are good for the NDP in Edmonton Centre, or at least parts of it. With an attractive candidate, they should be able to capitalize and grow their vote substantially.

Curious in Strathcona said...

A little fly overheard that MLA Hugh MacDonald is pondering a run for the Liberals in Edmonton-Strathcona.

-Curious in Strathcona-

Denny said...

I really can't see MacDonald resigning his seat so that he can run for the Liberals in a riding where they won less than 9% of the vote last time. Not unless he was planning on leaving provincial politics anyways.

DraftTaft said...

Kevin Taft's provincial riding has some geographical (as well as demographic) overlap with the federal Strathcona riding. Draft Taft! We Liberals need a proven star candidate who can win and who can lead. Kevin Taft is ideal to give Duncan a run for her money.

Anonymous said...

Wow looks like Ryan is working hard!