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Monday, February 11, 2008

alberta election 2008: edmonton-meadowlark.

One of the most hotly contested races in this election is taking place in the west-end Edmonton constituency of Edmonton-Meadowlark...

After electing Alberta Liberal MLAs Grant Mitchell and Karen Leibovici from 1986 to 2001, Edmonton-Meadowlark was once known as a reliably Liberal voting constituency. In 2001, Meadowlark moved into the 'swing constituency' category when Leibovici was unexpectedly defeated by former High School Principal turned Progressive Conservative candidate Bob Maskell. In 2004, after spending four years lingering in the Tory backbenches Maskell was defeated by Alberta Liberal Maurice Tougas (by a slim margin of 193 votes - the third closest race in the province). Tougas surprised political watchers when it was revealed that his campaign only spent $5,367, compared to Maskell’s $46,457 - meaning that Tougas’ campaign spent $1.21 per vote compared to Maskell’s $10.95 per vote. You'd have to try pretty hard to find a clearer example that money isn't always everything in politics than the 2004 Edmonton-Meadowlark race.

With Tougas not seeking re-election, Meadowlark is again a battleground with both the Alberta Liberals and PCs lining up strong candidates at the O-Meadowlark Corral (yeah, I went there...).

This time, the Alberta Liberals are running Debbie Cavaliere. Cavaliere is a familiar local name having been elected Chair and Trustee of the Edmonton Catholic School District from 2001 until 2007. The Tories are challenging Cavaliere with Dr. Raj Sherman, an Emergency Room doctor and former President for the Emergency Physicians of Alberta at the Alberta Medical Association (AMA). Both Cavaliere and Sherman are strong candidates with solid professional backgrounds, but it is their former political backgrounds that add an even more interesting flavour to this race. Just over a year ago, Sherman was knee deep in the Federal Liberal Leadership campaign of Gerard Kennedy during race that elected Stéphane Dion. Cavaliere originally ran for the PC nomination against Sherman, but later left the race and opted to instead run for the Alberta Liberal nomination against lawyer Bruce King (don't worry if you're a little confused about both of them, so am I...). It will be interesting to see how (or if) these candidates former political allegiances play in the minds of Meadowlark voters.

Both Cavaliere's and Sherman's teams will be campaigning hard in Meadowlark, but if the Tories pick up any constituencies in Edmonton, Meadowlark will be near the top on the list (as I told Sherman last fall, if the Tories win Meadowlark, he'll "make a great official opposition health critic.").

Other candidates include second-time Green challenger Amanda Doyle, Wildrose Alliance candidate (and owner of the World Trade Center Memorial Tribute site) Richard Guyon, and New Democrat Pascal Ryffel.

Because of the sheer amount of growth since the last election, population shift is an unusually important factor in races like Meadowlark. Between the 2004 Election and the 2006 Census, Edmonton-Meadowlark grew by 14.69% bringing over 3,500 new residents to the constituency.

2008 Edmonton-Meadowlark Candidates

Alberta Liberal - Debbie Cavaliere
Green - Amanda Doyle
ND - Pascal Ryffel
PC - Raj Sherman
Wildrose Alliance - Richard Guyon
Edmonton-Meadowlark Past Election Results
Maurice Tougas, Lib - 4,435
x Bob Maskell, PC - 4,242
Lance Burns, NDP - 1,306
Aaron Campbell, AA - 446
Amanda Doyle, Grn - 243
Peggy Morton, Ind - 76
Voter Turnout: 45.3%


Bob Maskell, PC - 6,108
x Karen Leibovici, Lib - 5,674
Mike Hudema, NDP - 636
Peggy Morton, Ind - 144
Voter Turnout: 56%


x Karen Leibovici, Lib - 6,047
Laurie Pushor, PC - 4,672
Terry McNally, NDP - 831
Aaron Hinman, SC - 435
Geoff Toane, NLP - 55
Voter Turnout: 56%


Anonymous said...

I'm in Edm - Medowlark and I am researching candidates, thanks for this story Dave, very helpful.

I'm voting NDP (for Ryffel).
I can't wrap my head around the party hopping of Cavaliere and Sherman and it just seems to prove that our ridiculous party centric electoral system is woefully out of date.
God I love election time!!

Nerdiliciously yours,
Heather Wallace

Anonymous said...

I am having trouble finding info about candidate forums; where and when.

Have you heard of any candidate forums?

Anonymous said...

Two comments:
1. doctors typically don't become health ministers (see: Oberg, Dr. Lyle) just like putting a principal or teacher into the Education portfolio would be a mistake.

2. I think the underscoring question that bears looking at is the fact Maurice Tougas isn't running again...does anyone else get curious what happens when candidates who run for election that don't expect to win find themselves suddenly elected? Looks like some determine it's not all it's cracked up to be. I respect Mr. Tougas, I wish him all the best.

Last question, Dave, do you actually believe the Liberals have a chance at increasing their seat total this election? let alone win a majority of seats?

Anonymous said...

From the rumbles I've been hearing, it's pretty apparant that PC's are certainly going to lose some seats this election. Which way those seats will go, I'm not sure. Greens and Liberals seem to be the ones I hear people are thinking of most often.

Anonymous said...

A PC party organizer has been appointed as the "non-partisan" Returning Officer for Elections Alberta in Edmonton-Meadowlark!

Stelmach won't look into returning officers' Tory connections
By JEREMY LOOME, Legislature Bureau

Premier Ed Stelmach says he won’t look into opposition concerns that loyal Tories have been named to supposedly neutral returning officer positions.

It came after the Alberta Liberals noted that four returning officers appointed by the government have extremely strong Tory connections – including one officer who has openly criticized the Liberal candidate in her riding on a blog.

“So you’re saying that off the 83 there’s nobody there that has relatives in another party?” Stelmach said when told that the Liberals want officers appointed by a neutral third party.

Among those concerning the opposition are Robin Darsi, the returning officer in the anticipated tight Calgary Currie race between radio veteran Dave Taylor, who is the Liberal incumbent, and Arthur Kent, the former TV reporter. Kent ran and beat Darsi for the Tory nod.

In Calgary North Hill, Tory riding executive member Andrea Grubbe was given the role; in Calgary Montrose, it was handed to Lynn Warkentin, who is the wife of the PC riding association’s treasurer, Frank Warkentin.

And in Edmonton Meadowlark, Allie Wojtaszek has received the role, even though she is the wife of the PC riding association president.

Three of the four were not among the initial list of 63 returning officers appointed by the province in December, but were instead added to the roster by the Tories through an order in council earlier this year.

Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft said he can’t understand why the Tories wouldn’t favour neutral appointments and why the appointments weren’t made back in December, with the rest.

“These are people that should be absolutely neutral and should be seen to be neutral and when they’re close chums or spouses, or plugged right into the Tory election machine, they’re not. And nobody’s going to respect the premier.”

Although she has since removed it, Wojtaszek posted a scathing blog entry about Liberal candidate Debbie Cavaliere when she received the Liberal nomination Nov. 23. In her post, she said Cavaliere only switched parties when it was clear she couldn’t win the PC nod.

Wojtaszek also took a shot at departing MLA Maurice Tougas, saying he’d “decided that he’d rather be back ‘writing his gossip column’ at the Edmonton Examiner.” In fact, Tougas is the paper’s former editor.

Anonymous said...

I'm voting for Ryffel (NDP) too. The other two main ones are both conservatives. As far as I know he's a young progressive with lots of good ideas.

Anonymous said...

She didn't write that.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the media's reporting of the story sucks. But Allie Wojtaszek has written plenty of other nasty things about Maurice Tougas and Debbie Cavaliere.