liberal leadership candidates woo edmonton supporters.

 

Liberal leadership candidates (L-R) Bruce Payne, Raj Sherman, Laurie Blakeman, and Hugh MacDonald.

Liberal leadership candidates (L-R) Bruce Payne, Raj Sherman, Laurie Blakeman, and Hugh MacDonald.

More than 200 dedicated Liberal Party supporters piled into Edmonton’s Santa Maria Centre yesterday evening to hear candidates for their party’s leadership speak and answer questions. I attended and was surprised to discover a fairly lively evening for a traditional style all-candidates forum.

All the candidates spoke well, but I believe that the real star of the evening was the moderator, Josipa Petrunic. Ms. Petrunic was well-spoken, articulate, and did not seem to take herself too seriously. I had to ask myself a few times through the course of the evening why she was not on stage as a candidate (she did announce that she plans to stand as a candidate in the next provincial election).

The perceived front-runner, former Tory MLA Raj Sherman, was well-received by the crowd of Liberals, many who see him (rightfully or wrongfully) as a an anti-Tory folk hero. Dr. Sherman spoke well, but will need to expand his responses beyond “health care” in order to prove that he is not a one-trick policy pony.

Despite my being distracted by his uncanny resemblance to James Brolin‘s Governor Robert Ritchie, Bruce Payne spoke well. I am not convinced that he should lead the Liberals, but this experience is sure to help him as his party’s next candidate in Calgary-Varsity (replacing the retiring Harry Chase)

Edmonton-Gold Bar MLA Hugh MacDonald showed his experience with a commanding performance, abandoning his usual conspiracy theory-driven Question Period style for a more dignified pose. His knowledge of detail and experience as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee helped him throughout the evening.

Calgarian Bill Harvey took a strong conservative-angle on fiscal and social policy, made contradictory statements about government involvement in business, and never missed an opportunity to mention a certain former political leader. After hearing the policy positions espoused by this candidate, I would not be surprised to see Mr. Harvey’s name on a Wildrose lawn sign in the near future.

In my opinion, Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman was the only candidate who left the impression that she would define the Liberal Party as more than just a softer version of the Progressive Conservatives. I believe this may be the biggest challenge that will face the next Liberal leader. What place does their party have in a field that has become increasingly dominated by the PCs and Wildrose?

Switching gears, this evening I will be hitting the road eastward to attend the PC leadership forum in Vermilion to watch candidates Doug Griffiths, Doug Horner, Gary Mar, Ted Morton, Rick Orman, and Alison Redford square off in the first of many open-forums.

Visit my Flickr page to see more photos of last night’s Liberal Party forum.

19 thoughts on “liberal leadership candidates woo edmonton supporters.

  1. Jonathan

    I didn’t know anything about Bill Harvey until last night, and he sure is an odd fit. To state that gender reassignment surgery is frivolous and can be user pay is awfully conservative. When he cited the success of private and charter schools, I heard nothing but groans.

    Reply
  2. Matt Grant

    Some quick thoughts: to take a crack at your question, what place, I personally think it’s this: many Albertans want an alternative to this Government. If their beef is primarily spending, they’ll look to the Wildrose; if it’s lack of investment in Albertans and our future, they’ll look to the Alberta Liberal Party.

    But we’ve got to be a party ready for Albertans, and hence all the efforts we’re making this summer.

    As reported by the Globe and Mail on Tuesday, “In May, when the changes passed, the party had 2,200 members. Today, it has 3,000, with another 4,000 supporters. The figures will certainly surge in the weeks leading up to the Sept. 10 leadership vote.” Actually, our registered supporters are probably closer to 5000 because the Stampede-related efforts haven’t been processed; Kent Hehr alone registered 300 in one morning last Saturday.

    We also have great people emerging and excited about running for us (see Josipa Petrunic, for one great example). In Calgary, 18 constituencies now have teams building towards AGMs (Currie’s is in August, and Klein and East’s will be in September, for example), and nomination meetings (Kent Hehr will be nominated on August 2, and Currie will follow shortly). I’m more informed about events in Calgary, but my understanding is, in Edmonton, things are even more advanced in terms people getting involved, and campaign teams being built.

    Still a long way to go, but we’re excited about this path.

    Reply
  3. Liberal Watcher

    Dave, the incumbent Liberal candidates have defined themselves within the context of being stagnant, status quo career politicians.

    While all the Liberal candidates are great people in their own way, Sherman is a tier or two far and above the other candidates, so their best debating offence is to personally attack Sherman, because they are Liberal establishment and naturally feel threatened.

    I know you are an AP member. Despite that, even you are wise enough to see a new opportunity to rebalanced democracy. Petty internal politics should not become a hindrance, as it only serves to keep the PC’s in power for another term. If you, any of the AP or other Liberal candidates have any idea what you have here, a huge opportunity to transform, you would back Dr. Sherman. Its entirely possible, if the AP, Liberals unite and Liberals expand the CA, its entirely plausible that between the Liberals and WRA, the Tories will be well within electoral striking range.

    That is, unless the AP and envious Liberals have a another 100year plan to come to office. Dr. Sherman has practically handed a victory for democracy here. Let’s see if Chris LaB, AP and Liberal members have the vision to seize a great opportunity and recharge the Liberals and Democracy.

    Let’s look past the one trxck pony crap, its all BS. If a pig farmer, a drunk and a jock can become premier and do the job, Dr. Sherman is miles above others in every department to the same.

    Ap guys need to give their head a shake. Opportunities like this don’t come around everyday.

    Reply
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  5. Ashley

    Can someone clarify for me the details of the discussion on gender reassignment surgery? Is it that Alberta Health Care used to cover it and now they do not? And has there been any debate over the other things AHC does not cover in comparison to gender reassignment surgery?

    Thanks, Ashley

    Reply
  6. Jack

    “o state that gender reassignment surgery is frivolous and can be user pay is awfully conservative.”

    Give me a break. That statement is simply common sense.

    Reply
  7. Democracy Watcher

    Dave C. you have to quit censoring postings.

    Everytime there is some constructive criticism of the AP, you never post it. Grow up man.

    Reply
  8. Dan

    “Overheard at Vermilion Boston Pizza: “[Gary Mar] don’t drink. Can you trust a guy that don’t drink?””

    Actually, you can’t trust anyone who drinks.

    Reply
  9. John Moore

    Bill Jarvis came to my door the other day. I can’t vote for him. Nice guy but far too extreme and out of touch with my neighbours in Cranston.

    Reply
  10. Pingback: Note to readers: Why your blogger skipped the trip to Vermillion, Alberta | Create a Strong Alberta

  11. Pingback: Note to readers: Why your blogger skipped the trip to Vermillion, Alberta | Wildrose Meadowlark Constituency Association

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  13. @Matt Grant

    Matt you are on the money, my friend. The Jan. 2011 envirionics put Liberal support at around 22%. Surely since then it has gained a few points to around 25%. So if the veteran Liberal candite dinorsaurs can get off their hindy’s and work harder, come out to rural Alberta and work as hard as Dr. Sherman, the Liberals will be within striking range of the PC’s. This party is back and strong. It is working hard to separate itself, with lots of young, strong energy and great people and ideas. Ready to bring Alberta back into Albertan hands.

    Reply
  14. Clarke

    1:1 – In the beginning Raj Sherman created the heaven and the earth.
    1:2 – And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of Raj Sherman moved upon the face of the waters.
    1:3 – And Raj Sherman said, Let me be leader of the Liberal Party: and Liberals rejoiced.
    1:4 – And Raj Sherman led the Liberal Party, and it was good: and Raj Sherman delivered the Liberal Party from the darkness.

    Reply
  15. Pingback: Note to readers: Why your blogger skipped the trip to Vermilion, Alberta | Wildrose Meadowlark Constituency Association

  16. @Clarke

    Nice caricaturization, but your list is probably not far from the mark. Without Sherman, the cookie monster and the AHS board would not have stepped down along with Duckett, Stelmach would not have agreed ever to any HQCA inquiry, Stelmach would not have resigned and we would not even be having an election. So much good for transparency and rebalancing politics here has come since Nov. last yr. Don’t kid yourself, before Sherman, this party was on the verge of political extinction. Sherman signed up most of the new supporters, probably 70% of them and brought a new supportive youth movement to the party.

    Reply
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