Sleepy Yellowhead by-election set for November 17

A big Conservative win is inevitable in this rural Alberta riding
Yellowhead by-election Alberta Canada

A map of the sprawling Yellowhead riding. Voters will cast their ballots in the federal by-election on November 17, 2014.

When recently resigned Conservative Member of Parliament Rob Merrifield was appointed by Premier Jim Prentice as Alberta’s Representative in Washington D.C., many political watchers in Alberta were caught by surprise.

Rob Merrifield Alberta Washington DC

Rob Merrifield

It was known that the MP was spending an increasing amount of time lobbying American politicians in the Capitol and I am told that his absence in his own riding was starting to become noticeable. And despite Mr. Merrifield’s focus south of the border, none of the federal political parties were seriously anticipating a by-election in Yellowhead.

And now, with a by-election set to be held on November 17, 2014, it is difficult to gauge how many voters in this sprawling rural Alberta riding will take interest in the campaign.

Demand for natural resources – oil, gas, mining and forestry – has resulted in a booming economy in most of the riding. Take a quick drive down any major street in Whitecourt, Drayton Valley, Hinton or Edson and it will be difficult to miss the convoys of large and brand new 4×4 trucks.

Jim Eglinski Yellowhead by-election Conservative MP

Jim Eglinski

But the booming economy does not mean locals do not have issues with the federal government. The ongoing debate surrounding the fate of the Temporary Foreign Workers program has left many local business owners displeased with Stephen Harper‘s Conservatives. And cuts to Parks Canada funding and creeping privatization in the parks has left many residents of Jasper National Park feeling uncomfortable.

Barring a political earthquake, Conservative candidate Jim Eglinski will be elected the next Member of Parliament for Yellowhead.

A former mayor of Fort St. John, British Columbia and retired RCMP officer, Mr. Eglinski defeated Yellowhead County Mayor Gerald Soroka for the Conservative Party nomination last month.

Ryan Maguhn Liberal Yellowhead by-election 2014

Ryan Maguhn

It is not a stretch to suggest that winning the Conservative Party nomination in this riding would have been more of a challenge than winning the actual by-election. In the 2011 general election, Mr. Merrifield earned a landslide 77% of the votes cast. Both the NDP and Liberals scrambled to find parachute candidates from Edmonton to run in that election.

One of the opposition parties is slightly more organized this time.

The Liberals have nominated Ryan Maguhn, a town councillor and social studies teacher from Hinton. Mr. Maguhn received a boost from leader Justin Trudeau, who made campaign stops in Edson and Hinton on November 6. Although convincing voters in this region of Alberta to vote Liberal is no easy sell, Mr. Trudeau’s visits did attract more than a few locals. Many whom are curious about the dynamic young leader.

Dean Williams Yellowhead By-Election Independent 2014

Dean Williams

While winning the by-election is a lofty and unrealistic goal, the Liberals expect to place better than they did in 2011 (when the party finished in fourth place with 2.87% of the vote).

The Liberals have performed well in three recent Alberta by-elections, coming close to winning in Calgary-Centre in 2012 and solidifying their second place positions in Fort McMurray-Athabasca and Macleod earlier this year.

Independent candidate and documentary filmmaker Dean Williams is running under a “Yellow for Yellowhead” slogan (his campaign colours are yellow).  On his website, he criticizes Mr. Harper’s conservatives and pledges not to “waste words or play un-honest or un-disclosed politics.” Mr. Williams initially planned to run for the NDP nomination but decided to run as an Independent instead.

The NDP have chosen local labour activist and NDP riding association president Eric Rosendahl as their candidate (he has no website as of the time this post was published) and the Libertarian Party is running Cory Lystang. The Green Party did not nominate a candidate.

Voters can cast their ballots on the November 17, 2014 by-election day between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Advanced polls are open from noon to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, November 7; Saturday, November 8; or Monday, November 10, 2014. Voters can locate their voting station by searching the Elections Canada website.

8 thoughts on “Sleepy Yellowhead by-election set for November 17

  1. Craig F.

    Thanks for this. I live outside Edson and I haven’t heard anything from the candidates yet. Barely any signs out there. Will there be candidate debates for voters to watch and ask questions?

    Reply
  2. Yellowheader

    Justin Trudeau was excellent at yesterday’s Chamber of Commerce speech in Hinton. I am continually impressed with how well posed he is. He will be a good prime minister someday. It will take more than a good speech to convince people out here to vote Liberal. Conservative roots run deep in this part of Alberta.

    Reply
  3. Ryan

    In Drayton Valley, Jim Eglinski had signs up for quite a while. It wasn’t until early this week that the Ryan Maguhn campaign had a sign up on the intersection in town.

    Reply
  4. Rene

    Another retired RCMP doubling up his federal pension. What doesn’t impress me is that he has NO real experience with our Rockies -parks and wildlife. NO experience with Yellowhead County either.

    Reply
  5. Cory Lystang

    Hello I am the libertarian candidate I apologize that I haven’t been able to get out as much as I wanted. I work a full time job as a pressure truck operator in whitecourt. I will be saving some vacation time next year and will be more visible in the coming federal election.

    Reply
  6. DB

    The best tribute the Conservatives could give former Finance minister Jim Flaherty would be to cancel their election pledge for income splitting, which would benefit only a small percentage of Canadian families. In February, Flaherty questioned the fairness of this relatively narrowly cast pledge.

    According to the C.D. Howe Institute, 85 per cent of Canadian households would gain nothing from the measure.

    Reply
  7. M. Gail

    Hey I just decided to google the election candidates. I am not voting CONservative, they are not good for Alberta. I am not a fan of PRentice at all.

    Reply

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