Premier Jim Prentice Alberta PC leadership race

It is anyone’s guess what comes next after today’s by-election in Calgary-Foothills

Today’s by-election in Calgary-Foothills is the first major litmus test for Alberta’s political parties in the post-Progressive Conservative political world. After forty-four years of PC Party-government in Alberta end earlier this year, politics in this province could still be in flux.

Bob Hawkesworth NDP Calgary Foothills

Bob Hawkesworth

When Rachel Notley led NDP candidates to victory in fifteen constituencies in the city on May 5, 2015, the “Orange Wave” broke at the boundaries of Calgary-Foothills as conservative voters re-elected Progressive Conservative leader Jim Prentice as their MLA (Mr. Prentice the triggered the by-election when he resigned as MLA on election night).

Despite considerable conservative strength in Calgary-Foothills, the NDP have willingly turned low expectations into high stakes by pouring significant resources into this by-election. Ms. Notley has personally visited the constituency at least three times to campaign alongside Bob Hawkesworth, a well-known candidate with thirty-years of experience in municipal and provincial office in Calgary.

Prasad Panda Calgary Foothills Wildrose

Prasad Panda

Mr. Hawkesworth’s campaign has released impressive endorsements from some unlikely figures – former Calgary Mayor Rod Sykes, former PC MLA Gordon Shrake, former Liberal candidate Brian Edy, and current city councillors Diane Colley-Urquhart and Druh Farrell – to demonstrate a broad support for his candidacy.

Talk in political circles is that he would be a shoe-in for a cabinet spot if elected, maybe as Minister of Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour or Minister of Infrastructure.

But the decline of the international price of oil and recent energy-sector layoffs may have voters in this constituency sticking with their conservative options. The opposition parties have been quick to blame NDP plans to review resource royalties for making the economic situation worse.

Blair Houston PC Calgary Foothills

Blair Houston

The war of words in the by-election got nasty after it was discovered that a Chinese-language pamphlet circulated by Wildrose Party candidate Prasad Panda’s campaign accused the NDP of being communists. The Wildrose campaign claimed the translation was unintentional but it is difficult to believe this would be a mistake.

There is a reason why the communist message was only included in the Chinese-language material. According to data from the 2011 National Household Survey, 12.4% of homes in Calgary-Foothills identify Chinese as their household language and 24.1% of the population in the constituency is of Chinese ethnic origin.

Instead of repudiating Mr. Panda’s claims, Wildrose leader Brian Jean doubled down on the communist accusations, telling NewsTalk770 yesterday that the NDP “are the most socialist out of any party in Canada.”

Sandra Jansen

Sandra Jansen

The presence of an increasingly depressing PC Party, represented by candidate Blair Houston could spoil an easy Wildrose victory. Mr. Houston’s campaign material claims that “only the moderate can defeat the extremes,” sending a strong message that there is still significant distrust between the two conservative parties.

The split between Wildrose and PC conservatives is evident among conservative activists on the internet.

An army of Wildrose twitterati launched online attacks yesterday against Calgary-North West PC MLA Sandra Jansen for her support of former television news anchor Nirmala Naidoo, who is running as the federal Liberal candidate in Calgary-Rocky Ridge, which overlaps with the Calgary-Foothills constituency.

Rachel Notley Alberta NDP leader

Rachel Notley

Ms. Jansen responded that she is not a member of the federal Conservative Party and is under no obligation to support their candidates (her pragmatic reply is unlikely to appease her Wildrose critics).

As litmus tests, by-elections can be indicators of citizens approval or disapproval of a governing party at a given time, but by-election results are not necessarily indicators of how voters will cast their ballots in the future.

The Progressive Conservatives swept four by-elections in October 2014, including one in Calgary-Foothills, leading many political observers to believe that Mr. Prentice was an unstoppable political juggernaut. Only ten months later, Mr. Prentice is gone, the NDP have a majority government, the Wildrose rebounded into official opposition and Alberta has been thrown into a new political reality.

It is anyone’s guess what comes next after today’s by-election in Calgary-Foothills.

Unofficial results from today’s by-election will appear on the Elections Alberta website after 8:00 p.m.

26 thoughts on “It is anyone’s guess what comes next after today’s by-election in Calgary-Foothills

  1. Sheila

    The Wildrose need to be credited for calling a spade a spade: the NDP are communists and need to be stopped before a similar fate comes to Alberta as has happened to other communist jurisdictions like Cuba, North Korea, and the former USSR.

    Reply
  2. Pat

    The NDP, communist, seriously? Do you understand what that word means? Have you seen any purges, seen any gulags, seen any one-party political systems introduced, seen any nationalization of resources and corporations, seen a cult of leadership, seen any rights stripped away, or heard any talk of revolutions? Have you been asked for your papers lately? No. Because the NDP is actually just a centre-left social-democratic party.

    The red scare made it impossible to talk about progressive ideas for decades, but a generation is beginning to vote that isn’t still stuck in the cold war. It’s about time.

    Reply
  3. Travis

    Considering the CCF tried to ally with the communist party in their past. Yes the NDP decedents are communist.

    Ask the NDP socialist wing why it wants to nationalize and shut down all the oil companies and the oil sands and jail people who disagree with them.

    Ask why big labour unions siphon dues that members are forced to pay and direct them into NDP party coffers. Why do these unions get higher weight in the decision making of the party than individual members. Real democracy there folks.

    Ask why Notely’s top staff is made up of anyone not from Alberta and all the decisions the government is making is at the behest of autocrat Tom Mulcair?

    People sure loved the NDP government in Nova Scotia, i guess that’s why they were completely obliterated after 1 term.

    Reply
  4. Dave Cournoyer Post author

    That sounds perfectly reasonable to me, Sheila. Why should Canadians entrust the private sector with a service as critically important as telecommunications? Not long ago, many telephone companies in Canada were owned and operated as public services.

    Reply
  5. SC

    Just wondering when, why, where and who the NDP tried to jail for disagreeing (with whatever)?
    Can anyone please post a link……. or maybe ….. just maybe it came from someone’s bad dream!

    On a different note, this centrist small-l liberal thinks that PCs are basically ‘liberal’ and should merge with like-minded groups (AB party?) to form a new centrist party. WRP is too extreme to win in urban areas.

    Reply
  6. David

    I agree it is not fair to call the NDP communists. It is this kind of fearmonging and name calling that puts so many people off of politics. This sort of thing makes the Wildrose look like right wing kooks and extremists, which is a major reason why Albertans didn’t choose them to be the government in the last election.

    I also don’t think supporting government owing businesses makes some one communist. If that was so then Progressive Conservative John Diefenbaker would have been a communist, as the federal government owned Air Canada while he was Prime Minister. Also, this would make all the past Progressive Conservative premiers of Alberta communist too as Alberta continued to own a bank (ATB Financial) and former premier Lougheed at one time bought an airline.

    While I don’t know all the details of the history of the NDP and the CCF, I do know there actually exists a Communist Party in Canada and they did run someone in the last provincial election. To my knowledge, none of the members of the NDP are also members of the Communist Party.

    If there is going to be name calling, those who do it should have a good knowledge of the facts. Otherwise they are the ones that end up looking stupid.

    Reply
  7. Sheila

    Only one province has a publicly owned phone company: Saskatchewan. And fortunately Wall is going to sell it.

    Really, Dave? You want the government running a phone company as a monopoly? That, is communist.

    Reply
  8. tom

    NDP MLA and former leadership candidate Rod Loyola is a self-described Marxist. This clearlyy speaks to the NDP’s cote values, being communist.

    Reply
  9. Mark

    Hey Dave,

    Just to add to your comment: “But the decline of the international price of oil and recent energy-sector layoffs may have voters in this constituency sticking with their conservative options. ”

    Also, the NDP’s anti-oil policies have resulted in capital flowing to BC & Sask and further layoffs in the Alberta oilpatch .

    might want to add that in as some of your readers might not understand the connection

    Take care!

    Mark

    Reply
  10. Alvin Finkel

    Such McCarthyite crap from several posters here. Obviously the Wildrose supporters have minimal political and historical education and think that it is just fine to throw around words like “communism” and all debate is supposed to be over. They would fail any basic history or political science test beyond the grade 3 level. They invite a response in kind from the left, namely that they are all fascists who would gladly overthrow democracy so as to put corporations in complete charge and not have to bother with letting the masses express their opinions in elections (the Albertans Against the NDP website is full of such people). Conservatives support corporate rule; fascists support corporate rule–that would be the parallel logic. But no doubt some of these Red-baiters of the moderate social democratic NDP are not fascists. They are just completely uninformed. They should get informed before spilling more of the bilge they provide here.

    Reply
  11. David

    Sheila, we actually had Alberta Government Telephones here in Alberta for many years under the previous Social Credit government and also for a number of years under the Progressive Conservatives. As the name implies it was a government owned monopoly. I don’t recall it being bad at all and it didn’t seem to gouge its customers like the most of the current privately owned phone oligopolies do.

    So are you saying Alberta was a communist state then?

    Reply
  12. Chris

    I recall paying $0.34 per minute for long distance calls with the Alberta Government Telephone company monopoly. People forget so easily.

    Thanks for the “fascist” comment Alvin. I sarcastically appreciate your addition of some intelligence to this discussion.

    Reply
  13. FCS

    Just when I thought that description of NDP as Communist was too much, here comes the notion that nationalization of telecommunication was ‘perfectly reasonable’. Somewhat colloquially defined, what exactly was not communist about that?

    It is perfectly reasonable to force 36 million Canadians to use a single service provider (i.e. the Federal government), consumer complains and choices be damned. It is perfectly reasonable to force shareholders of those telecom companies to give up their ownerships. It is perfectly reasonable to force everyone to give all their telecom data and privacy to a single service provider.

    Gerald Caplan must be a pathetic fool or a hyperbolic spinner if his telephone bill is more than his mortgage (sorry, no other way to describe it) and complain about it. And as if government ownership suddenly means that services will be better and cheaper; I had an issue with ICBC in BC over a car accident and ICBC staff did not bother to acknowledge my urgent passengers’ inquiries even once over an 18 month period; the whole case needs to unnecessarily go to lawsuits just to force ICBC to respond.

    The biggest issue with Canadian telecom is that they operate in a very protected market that artificially makes prices expensive. Open up the market to foreign competitors (American, European, Asian, etc) if you are really concerned about the consumers.

    Reply
  14. The Invisible Hand

    The fact that it’s “critically important” is an excellent reason why we shouldn’t trust the government to own it.

    Do you really want to go back to paying 50 cents/minute or more for long distance?

    Reply
  15. tom

    Brad Wall is the only premier that presides over a government-run telephone monopoly. He should immediately sell SaskTel and stop being a communist like Dave Cournoyer and the NDP.

    Reply
  16. Travis

    Bell Canada used to provide telephone services in Alberta even as far back as the District of Alberta was part of the Northwest Territories, then the provincial Liberal government decided it wanted to create AGT. So we got stuck with AGT until it was rightly spun off.

    Reply

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