The Democratic Renewal Project (DRP) has sent a letter to former Edmonton-Calder NDP MLA David Eggen urging him to not seek the NDP nomination in new Edmonton-Glenora (Read: DRP letter to David Eggen re Glenora vs Northwest).
The DRP believe that a “united alternative” to the governing PCs should take place not in the formation of a new united party but through a “non-competition agreement” between the already existing Liberal Party and NDP. The letter suggests that Mr. Eggen should seek election in the new Edmonton-Northwest constituency to avoid splitting the vote in the formerly Liberal-held Glenora constituency (under the new boundaries, Calder will be dissolved, leaving Mr. Eggen’s home in the new Glenora).
The DRPs argument in Glenora is that a strong NDP candidate will split the vote with the Liberals and allow PC MLA Heather Klimchuk to be re-elected. There is little evidence to support this argument in Glenora, as in 2004 Liberal Bruce Miller was elected with 4,604 votes over second place New Democrat Larry Booi who earned 4,052 votes. With a low profile NDP candidate placing a distant third in 2008, Mr. Miller should have been re-elected with a 2,600 vote margin according to DRP logic. Instead, Mr. Booi’s votes from 2004 did not go to Mr. Miller and he was defeated by 130 votes.
Despite the hard work of their dedicated supporters, neither the Liberals or the NDP have proven that their parties have the ability to connect with Albertans outside of their already supportive urban enclaves. Perhaps the problem is not the competition for votes between the already existing parties, but that neither of the two parties are seen as viable alternatives to the governing PCs?
With declining voter turnout and a growing disconnect between citizens and the democratic process the solution should be to provide more opportunities for meaningful engagement. Decreasing choice of candidates is not a smart solution and neither is limiting the opportunity for already engaged citizens to participate in the democratic system by running as candidates in their communities.
David Eggen should run in Edmonton-Glenora because he is an engaged citizen and a good candidate. Voters in that constituency are smart enough to decide who their representative will be.