here’s the rundown – federal election races to watch in edmonton.

In the land where federal election results are typically much ado about nothing, the election scheduled for May 2, 2011 is not much of an exception. As the Liberals and NDP fill ballots across the province with last minute paper candidates, with few exceptions Alberta remains safe electoral territory for the Conservative Party of Canada.

If any riding in Alberta changes hands in this federal election, it will be Edmonton-Strathcona. It is the only riding represented by an opposition Member of Parliament and Conservatives have made it their goal to unseat NDP MP Linda Duncan, who defeated Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer by a slim 463 votes in 2008. After campaigning for two years, the Conservatives hope that candidate Ryan Hastman is the one who can do the job.

As the NDP’s Environment Critic in Ottawa, Ms. Duncan has gone against the grain of other Alberta MP colleagues by criticizing the oil sands and its impact on the environment. In a campaign stop in Edmonton this weekend, NDP leader Jack Layton only briefly mentioned the environment, suggesting that he may have been avoiding the issue while in Alberta (he also did not take media questions while in the province).

The Green Party has nominated Environmental Economics and Policy student Andrew Fehr, who faces the challenge of convincing Green-leaning voters that actually voting for a Green Party is a better choice than a strategic vote for Ms. Duncan. The Liberals have not yet nominated a candidate and appear to be a non-factor in this contest.

Federal NDP candidates Lewis Cardinal, Linda Duncan, and Ray Martin.

The highly polarized geopolitics of this riding have the Conservatives drawing strong support from polls in the east and NDP drawing strong support from polls in the west. Both candidates will lean heavy on financial and organizational support from their national parties, making this riding too close to call.

The irony is that the NDP could increase their vote total across Edmonton at the same time they could lose the only riding they currently hold.

In Edmonton-Centre the real contest to watch is not to defeat door-knocking/hand-shaking/baby-kissing election-machine Conservative MP Laurie Hawn. The real contest is for second place. The Liberals hope their candidate Mary MacDonald can regain the support they lost in the last election and maintain their position as the de facto alternative to the Conservatives in this riding. The NDP are hoping that their candidate Lewis Cardinal can help build the kind of support needed to cut the Liberals down to third place. This is similar to the multi-election strategy that helped the NDP make gains in Strathcona.

The Liberals held this riding from 1993 until 2006 when Mr. Hawn defeated Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan. Mr Hawn’s vote share decreased in 2008 while his margin widened substantially as the Liberal vote collapsed. The Greens have nominated 2008 candidate David Parker and also running is Mikkel Paulson, leader of the Pirate Party of Canada.

Edmonton-East MP Peter Golding is what I would refer to as a wall-paper backbencher. Since he was first elected in 1997, Mr. Goldring seems to only pop into the media spotlight when taking up odd causes like exposing the “truth about Louis Riel” or joining the bizarre drive to get the obscure Caribbean Islands of Turks and Caicos to join Canada.

The NDP have steadily increased their support in this riding since the 2004 election and former MLA Ray Martin is hoping that this trend continues. Mr Martin is an NDP institution in northeast Edmonton, having been elected as an MLA from 1982 to 1993, a public school board trustee from 2001 to 2004, and once again as an MLA from 2004 to 2008. This is the fourth time Mr Martin has sought a seat in Parliament since 1997. The Liberals have nominated IT management consultant Shafik Ruda.

Edmonton-Sherwood Park was the second closest race in 2008, when Independent Conservative James Ford nearly defeated Conservative candidate Tim Uppal. It was a city mouse versus county mouse game as many voters in Strathcona County and Fort Saskatchewan were upset with the Conservative nomination process that led to County Councillor Jacquie Fenske defeat and allowed Edmontonian Mr. Uppal to win the nomination.

Mr. Ford is running again and the Liberals and NDP, represented by Rick Szostak and Mike Scott, are expected to play minor supporting roles in this contest. The big question is whether voters in the county still feel that Mr. Uppal’s candidacy is the great injustice they believed it to be in 2008.

31 thoughts on “here’s the rundown – federal election races to watch in edmonton.

  1. Andrew Leach

    Dave, great post as always. Edmonton-strath Ina will indeed be one to watch. I am looking forward to hearing each of the candidates speak on the issues once the campaign gets going.

    I really appreciate the mention of my blog post as well.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

    Reply
  2. A

    Wait, there’s a Pirate Party!?!?
    And they’re not a joke, but rather internet pirates?

    I might have to rethink this whole vote!

    Seriously – the other candidates had better impress at this, my first federal election outside of ye olde Edmonton-Strathcona.

    Thanks for the excellent post, Dave. Look forward to hearing the third-hand version of your meeting of minds with Mr. Dollansky about it.

    Reply
  3. Paul Turnbull

    I don’t think Edmonton-Centre is that cut and dried.

    Prior to 2008 it’s been a fairly tight riding. Hawn won in 2006 by getting extra voters out while McLellan held steady. In 2008 Hawn fell back towards his 2004 numbers but won because without McLellan running her voters stayed home. The question will be, can Mary Macdonald use her McLellan connection to bring those voters back. If she can then Hawn will horse race on his hand.

    As for Lewis Cardinal, he’s a good candidate but I don’t see the NDP increasing their vote unless he can tap a vein of new voters from somewhere. I don’t see previously Liberal voters switching to him and the my feeling is that the Green voters are pretty dedicated and not likely to switch either.

    Of course all this could be coloured by my fervent hope that Hawn gets turfed.

    Reply
  4. Andrew Leach

    Hi Dave,

    I expect they will nominate someone as the relationship between Libs and Dips seems to be eroding by the day. I can’t imagine there being much cooperation on nominations, but they better get moving if they are going to get it done. If not, that is obviously a big win for Linda Duncan. I am curious to see how active Andrew Fehr will be. In a riding won last time by 500 votes, the Greens could be a vote-splitting factor as well. I will also watch for a Pirate Party nominee.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

    Reply
  5. Lou Arab

    A poll today by Abacus Data has the NDP at 19% in Alberta.

    About two weeks ago, Ipsos-Reid had the NDP at the same level.

    A few polls in between these two have had the NDP in the range of 14-16% here.

    In 2008, the NDP received 12.7% of the Alberta vote, an increase of 1.1% over 2006. That small increase was enough for our vote to increase by 10% in Edmonton Strathcona and by 13% in Edmonton East.

    I can’t predict how many seats the NDP will win in this election – but I think there is reason for the Orange team to be optimistic.

    Reply
  6. The Metalogician

    Great post as usual Dave. My sense is that in the last election, (as one of) the voters in Strathcona decided that the only candidate that had a chance of defeating Jaffer was Linda Duncan and voting accordingly. To Be blunt, it wasn’t so much a vote in favour of the NDP as a vote against the Harper.

    I could see that repeating in Strathcona, and strategic voting also occurring in Centre and Northeaast (though maybe that’s just wishful thinking). And again, it seems to me that the candidates in those Constituencies that have the best chance of unseating the Harper candidate are the NDP candidates – Lewis Cardinal and Ray Martin.

    I think the best we can hope for in Alberta is to deny the Harper seats – regardless of which party denies them. We have to leave it to others to elect the party to govern instead of the Harper.

    And I use the term “the Harper” deliberately – after all, it is “his” government – not Canada’s. The litany of unethical behaviour, disrespect for the Rule of Law, disrespect for science in favour of ideology, disrespect for the federal civil service, disrespect for the Judiciary, and lack of fiscal and social responsibility just grows and grows.

    And his disrespect for the voters in Alberta is monumental; it astonishes me that anyone in Alberta would vote for the Harper’s candidate in their constituency.

    Reply
  7. The Metalogician

    Great post as usual Dave. My sense is that in the last election, (as one of) the voters in Strathcona decided that the only candidate that had a chance of defeating Jaffer was Linda Duncan and voting accordingly. To Be blunt, it wasn’t so much a vote in favour of the NDP as a vote against the Harper.

    I could see that repeating in Strathcona, and strategic voting also occurring in Centre and Northeaast (though maybe that’s just wishful thinking). And again, it seems to me that the candidates in those Constituencies that have the best chance of unseating the Harper candidate are the NDP candidates – Lewis Cardinal and Ray Martin.

    And by the way, Cardinal and Martin would be excellent MPs and serve their constituents, and all Canadians, well.

    I think the best we can hope for in Alberta is to deny the Harper seats – regardless of which party denies them. We have to leave it to others to elect the party to govern instead of the Harper.

    And I use the term “the Harper” deliberately – after all, it is “his” government – not Canada’s. The litany of unethical behaviour, disrespect for the Rule of Law, disrespect for science in favour of ideology, disrespect for the federal civil service, disrespect for the Judiciary, and lack of fiscal and social responsibility just grows and grows.

    And his disrespect for the voters in Alberta is monumental; it astonishes me that anyone in Alberta would vote for the Harper’s candidate in their constituency.

    Reply
  8. Sue Peacock

    While I appreciate the work and effort in this post, I was disappointed to see your comment about Edmonton Centre. To say that Hawn has a walk away election with the Liberals and ND’s duking it for 2nd place doesn’t give any credence at all to Mary Macdonald – an awesome lady who’s been on the doors for 1 1/2 years already! If anyone can win this race, she can!
    Oh yeah, and I don’t live in the riding, I am stuck with the Big Haired cabinet minister of Edm Spruce Grove: Rona “do nothing for Edmonton” Ambrose.

    Reply
  9. daveberta Post author

    Thanks for the comment, Sue. I don’t want to downplay any of the hard work that Mary MacDonald has done in Edmonton-Centre (and she has been campaigning for the past two years), but Laurie Hawn is a formidable candidate who I believe will be difficult to defeat in 2011.

    Maybe you and Paul will surprise me and Edmonton-Centre really is more competitive. This post is my read of the political situation, and I’m glad that you disagree (this blog would be pretty boring if everyone agreed with me 🙂 ).

    Reply
  10. Karen

    Edmonton Center is a two way race between Laurie Hawn and Mary MacDonald. A vote for Lewis is a vote for Laurie. Voters in Edmonton Center have a choice and a chance to elect an effective outspoken advocate for our city. Mary is in this to win, not come second!

    Reply
  11. GreatWallsofFire

    Edmonton Strathcona will be a nail biter, no doubt about that. One thing that probably works in Hastman’s favour is the fact the election will be after the U of A spring session is finished – that means several hundred “progressive” students will be back home trying to get summer jobs, instead of voting @ Lister Hall. Could be the difference in a tight race.

    On the other hand, not only is the race in Edmonton Centre for second, it’s a race for a very distant second. Any suggestion Mary McDonald will benefit from Anne McLellan’s “coattails” is laughable – “Landslide Annie” owed her electoral success far more to planetary alignment (split conservative votes, the abandonment of every other riding/candidate by Edmonton’s “progressive” elite in favour of toiling for McLellan – especially the legal types hoping the Justice minister would recall their campaign efforts when deciding on the next judical appointment/etc.) than any significant love and affection among her former constituents. The fact she was deputy prime minister in the midst of the Sponsorship scandal also obliterates whatever lasting political capital she might have once had.

    Reply
  12. Cardinal Rule

    Lewis has an excellent chance to win if the Tories keep messing up. Harper looks so far like the scheming despot that he is. Tax reduction in five years (yeh right), if you are a middle class mommy and Daddy with children! Who makes this garbage up?
    In my polls, the vote is Tory, NDP, Lib in that order so far, but not by much.

    Reply
  13. Denny

    “One thing that probably works in Hastman’s favour is the fact the election will be after the U of A spring session is finished – that means several hundred “progressive” students will be back home trying to get summer jobs, instead of voting @ Lister Hall. Could be the difference in a tight race.”

    True it could make a difference, but I think there is a tendency to overestimate the number of students who are progressive verses the number who are conservative, while also overestimating the number of students who leave the riding for the summer.

    Reply
  14. Denny

    I’d also imagine that if the number of students leaving the riding really is a concern then Duncan’s campaign will be pushing students to vote in advance polls prior to leaving.

    Reply
  15. GreatWallsofFire

    True it could make a difference, but I think there is a tendency to overestimate the number of students who are progressive verses the number who are conservative…”

    No argument there, although historical poll info. does tend to show students tend to vote left.

    , while also overestimating the number of students who leave the riding for the summer.”

    No argument there either, although, again, we’re talking less than 500 votes being the margin of victory last go round – if, say, 60 – 70% of university students would vote for Duncan and a couple thousand leave campus before the election, there goes her margin of victory.

    “I’d also imagine that if the number of students leaving the riding really is a concern then Duncan’s campaign will be pushing students to vote in advance polls prior to leaving.”

    Advance polls will be smack dab in the middle of final exams for most – good luck with that.

    Reply
  16. pat thomas

    Hi Dave

    Don’t agree with your comment on Edmonton Centre…different candidate, different leader and a government with some baggage….Hawn can be beaten with a lot of hard work..and Mary has the team to do it. As for Cardinal , he will increase the votes for the nd ..will probably get the Green vote and some of the Liberal–but there are some conservatives out there that are unhappy with Hawn and the Harper gov’t. Time will tell. Pat Thomas

    Reply
  17. Josh

    I live in Edmonton Centre and just want to vote strategically to oust Hawn. I am completely undecided on where my vote will best be used. Mary and and Lewis have both been campaigning/door knocking since 2009 but it seems like Lewis has a larger online presence, i.e. his facebook followers far outnumber Mary’s. I am afraid these two strong candidates are going to split the centre/left vote even more than 2008 and Hawn will have a fairly easy victory on his hands.

    Reply
  18. Neal

    If driving around Edmonton-Centre is any sort of poorman’s poll, it looks like Lewis Cardinal is way ahead of Mary MacDonald. At least as far as lawn sign’s on private property are concerned. The Cardinal campaign seems to have more of those than just about any other show in town, at least at this point.

    So I guess those looking for the strategic vote should consider Lewis Cardinal over the Liberal. There will be some party/leader spill over from the Linda Duncan campaign as well. Federal NDP are on the rise locally, as crazy as that seems. Exciting times.

    Reply
  19. Josh

    Thanks for that observation Neal. I think we may be underestimating the work Lewis Cardinal has done in this riding since 2009.

    I am also encouraged by the fact that there was an over 10% drop in voter turnout in Edmonton Centre from 2006 to 2008 – maybe the left just didn’t show up? I think the Lib (Wacowych) and NDP (Martyn) in 2006 were fairly weak candidates. Hopefully, with Cardinal and MacDonald who appear to have had more of a presence in the riding over the past two years will result in increased voter turnout which will be in their favour.

    I think it will be an interesting one to watch and I just have to figure out where to put my vote.

    Dave – I hope you continue to provide coverage/assessment of the Edmonton Centre race. As much as I love the Edm-Strathcona race it seems to be taking all the attention from the other key ridings in Edmonton!

    Reply
  20. Fran Irwin, Medicind Hat

    Hey Dave – it’s getting interesting in SE Alberta too – check out this Ontario Political Blogger’s take on it:

    http://pushedleft.blogspot.com/2011/03/go-get-em-norm-boucher-medicine-hat.html

    Pushed to the Left and Loving It
    Wednesday, March 30, 2011
    Go Get ‘Em Norm Boucher. Medicine Hat Deserves Real Leadership

    Rumour has it that LaVar Payne’s Riding Pres/Campaign Mgr. (Mayor of Brooks, Martin Shields) has RESIGNED from the Payne Campaign (before Boucher announed) – and that Constervatives here (many with Reform roots) are upset that they were denied a Nomination to replace Payne several weeks ago because the Conservative National Party said that “an Election was imminent.”

    My take on the race: Norm Boucher has a clear message – it’s that Alberta (and particularly our corner in the SE of the Province) has been taken for granted too long by the Conservative Government of Stephen Harper. Our current MP (LaVar Payne) “inherited” the job from Monte Solberg when he retired suddenly, and because of Membership rules, there was a very LIMITED POOL of talent in that Party to choose a new Candidate.

    Now we seem to be stuck with LaVar, known for his Heckling (MacLeans Mag. Oct 2010) and his ineffective representation of our Region. LaVar often says he doesn’t “know any more than we do” about issues raised in his Town Halls – and has pretty much lied to Municipalities and Local Governments as they applied for Stimulus and other Monies from the Feds.
    For Norm, it is just NOT GOOD ENOUGH – and as a Past RCMP, NATO Police Officer in Bosnia/Croatia. past Police Chief and two term Mayor of Medicine Hat – Norm has taken a Leave without Pay from the Mayoralty Chair and is stepping up to be our Member of Parliament!
    The political elites of the PC (Provincial) and Harper Conservatives (Federally, who have been denied a Nomination to replace LaVar) are waking up – Norm Boucher is a popular, honest, independent fellow – guess you could call him a “straight shooter.” He’s passionate about all of the communities in our Riding – and he’s running to WIN!

    Reply
  21. Chris Buyze

    Latest riding number have Mary MacDonald and the Liberal campaign in Edmonton Centre within 4 points of Hawn and the Conservatives (Nanos Research Daily Projection for April 1/2011)!

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-qP6Y5woqhuc/TZXFlX7HueI/AAAAAAAAEg0/XxAWaHaOCwI/s1600/11-04-01+Ridings.PNG

    I think Mary is doing a good job of bringing traditionally Liberal voting folks back into the fold and giving them a reason to vote. Although it is still early, this is going to be one hot riding to watch! Can we say ‘Landslide Mary?’

    Reply
  22. Pingback: Edmonton Notes for 4/3/2011 - MasterMaq's Blog

  23. Mark

    I just agreed to put a big lawn sign up for Lewis Cardinal in a good location. I get the feeling now that most strategic voters feel that that was a big vote-splitting mistake. Oh well…

    Reply
  24. michael cenkner

    thnx for this intelligent conversation everyone. i contacted hawn’s office during the prisoner detainee scandal. i think hawn was/is secretary to the defense minister, and as such directly involved in the disgraceful treatment of the whistle-blowing diplomat, unfortunately similar to how the cons treated the nuclear safety whistle-blower (chalk river), and, i believe, the veterans’ ombudsman whistle- blower.
    the libs under chretien were, well, sickening, but at least the dirty dealing seemed to be just about money, par for the course (?). but the cons are tea party, north, which is even worse.
    so i guess instead of self-immolation to make this point to my fellow canadians, i’m just going to vote lib and pray for a minority, also continue with deep-breathing/centering exercises.

    Reply
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