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Alberta Politics

could hugh macdonald save albertans from another snoozer senate election?

Alberta will be holding its fourth ever Senate election in 2012.

Last Friday, the Progressive Conservatives released the rules to guide the nomination of their candidates in next year’s Senate election (or more accurately, ‘Senator-in-Waiting‘ election). The PCs will open nominations on December 9, 2011.

Candidates must submit a non-refundable fee of $4000 and collects the signatures of 50 current PC Party members from Alberta’s five regions. Once they have gone through this process, they will be required to enter a special vote in February 2012, giving an indication about when then next provincial election may be called. Those participating in the vote will include constituency association presidents, nominated PC candidates, voting members of the party executive committee, and four elected delegates from each of the 87 constituency associations.

Calgary lawyer Doug Black and Calgary-area businessman Scott Tannas have already declared their interest in the PC Senate nomination. Mr. Black served as finance chairman for Jim Dinning during that party’s 2006 leadership contest.

Vitor Marciano Wildrose Senate Candidate Alberta
Vitor Marciano

Federal Conservative Party operative Vitor Marciano has already announced his intentions to run in the Senate election under the Wildrose Party banner. It is likely that all three of these candidates would sit with the federal Conservative caucus if elected to the Senate.

Alberta’s last Senate election, held in 2004, was boycotted by the Liberals and NDP. The lack of serious opposition candidates left Albertans to choose from a cast of right-wing characters ranging from the PC candidates to the Social Credit and Alberta Alliance. When the votes were counted, three PCs and one Independent candidate were elected, but many Albertans were disenfranchised by the lack of non-conservative candidates.

According to Elections Alberta, during the 2004 Senate elections 85,937 voters declined to cast a ballot in the election (equating to 4.2% of eligible voters, or 9.7% of the voters who received ballots) and 84,643 ballots were rejected (that equates to 9.5% of the total ballots cast).

Even though four of Alberta’s six Senate seats are currently held by appointed federal Liberal Party members (including former Liberal Party leader Grant Mitchell), sources say the party is unlikely to participate in next year’s Senate election. The Liberals have only participated in one Senate election in Alberta, which feels to me like a missed opportunity for much needed publicity.

Hugh MacDonald Alberta Liberal MLA
Senator-in-waiting Hugh MacDonald?

One long-time party insider suggested to me this weekend that choosing retiring Edmonton-Gold Bar MLA Hugh MacDonald to carry the Liberal Party banner in next year’s Senate election could be a fitting tribute to the long-time party stalwart. Known for his hard work and (sometimes over the top) passionate criticisms of the PC government, the opposition MLA would almost surely spark more interest in the Senate race than the generic conservative party candidates will on their own.

It would be a long-shot, but if the federal Liberal Party is interested in building a base of support Western Canada, running an even half-serious campaign in a Senate election would be a good place as any to start. Even if it is a long-shot, and it is, I am sure that I am not the only person who would enjoy the irony of watching Prime Minister Stephen Harper being forced to appoint a fiercely partisan Liberal like Hugh MacDonald to the Senate of Canada.

12 replies on “could hugh macdonald save albertans from another snoozer senate election?”

I almost never vote Liberal, but I’d vote Hugh for Senate. Like you said, watching Harper appoint a Liberal senator would be amusing. Although if it in any way threatened the balance of power in that chamber, you can bet Harper wouldn’t follow through with it.

Dump the Senate, its useless,and a total waste of time and money.
Talk about gold plated pork barrels! I can’t believe my taxes pay for Mike Duffy’s cushy “job”

This isn’t a real election, people. The person who wins this race won’t automatically become a senator, Harper appoints ‘em and do we seriously think Harper will appoint someone other than a Tory lickspittle?

Which reminds me, please stop calling this farce an “election.” I think “pageant” is more apt.

Let’s save money and ask Harper to appoint Ted Morton. He’s still a ‘senator-in-waiting,’ isn’t he?

It’s nice the blind partisans like Tony have already decreed that Harper would never allow a non-Conservative winner to take their seat…

(And no, Morton’s term as Senator-in-waiting expired in 2004.)

Fun fact about the 2004 election: despite not having any Liberal/NDP/Green Senate candidates to choose from, over half (or likely more) of Liberal/NDP/Green voters also cast valid Senate ballots.

Overall, 80% of Alberta voters cast valid Senate ballots.

The Invisible Hand: Yes over half of LIberal/NDP/Green voters cast their ballots, but many people I’ve spoken too didn’t realize that they could have rejected their ballot or not selected someone for senate without also spoiling their MLA vote.

Senate elections are a joke. If we’ve learned anything about Harper’s promises on the Senate, it’s that they don’t mean anything. Sorry to break it to conservatives in Alberta, but Senators are still appointed.

Time to get rid of the Senate.

@Invisible Hand:

…Then how is it you know Liberal/NDP/Green cast senate votes if they ended up in seperate ballot boxes? Cite your source, s.v.p.

Another election ( I like the suggestion of calling it a pageant) is just another absurd useless exercise like the previous shams. The dumb bunch who thought they got elected to something are just lightweights. Betty Unger and Link Byfield? What an everloving joke. These two have dined out on their self declared special status for how many years now, all for nothing. I support the superior parties who refuse to participate in this pageant.
I have no problem with a second chamber of legislative authority. Many many democracies have them including the US and our motherland the UK.

You had the chance for reform when we went through a huge, very inclusive and expensive exercise of constitutional reform under Brian Mulroney. But the Reform dolts led by whiney Presto Manning pushed hard to throw it all away and we did in a referendum ( not by much but nonetheless it didn’t pass).

Then how is it you know Liberal/NDP/Green cast senate votes if they ended up in seperate ballot boxes? Cite your source, s.v.p.

Glad you asked. There were 714,709 valid ballots cast for Senators, versus 890,700 valid ballots cast for MLAs. Of the latter, 494,598 voted PC or Alliance (who had Senate candidates) and 396,102 voted for Liberal/NDP/Green/other (who didn’t).

Even if we assume that every single PC or Alliance voter cast a valid Senate ballot, that still leaves 220,111 ballots cast by supporters of other parties, which works out to 55.6% of their total.

And of course, if some PC/Alliance voters didn’t vote for Senate (which is all but certain), the percentage of people who voted for their Senator(s) even though they didn’t have anyone from their party to pick goes up even more.

While this does not apply to the Liberals, the reason the NDP boycotts the so-called Senate elections is that the NDP has a long-established plank in its platform to abolish the Senate outright. Why would we run candidates to sit in a chamber we think should be abolished?

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