A recent poll released by Citizen Society Research Lab at Lethbridge College shows Alberta’s governing Progressive Conservatives with a huge lead over the three main opposition parties. The same poll showed the New Democratic Party and Wildrose Party tied at 16%, which reinforces the results of a controversial Evironics survey released over the summer months. At the time, an online poll released by the new company ThinkHQ showing the Wildrose neck-to-neck with the PCs in support. Wildrosers rallied behind the ThinkHQ online poll results, while everyone else supported the Environics survey results.
As the right-wingers continue to argue about the methodological strengths and weaknesses of online polls versus phone polls, the untold story appears to be the rise in support of Alberta’s NDP. The provincial NDP, which have been stuck in the 10% range since it lost Official Opposition status in 1993, appears to be benefiting from the Alberta ripple of the Orange Wave that hit Quebec in May 2011.
The good ship NDP is holding a “Breakthrough Conference” this weekend in Edmonton in hopes of capitalizing on their federal cousin’s recent successes. Keynote speakers incude Calgary Alderman Brian Pincott and recently elected Scarborough-Southwest MP Dan Harris. Expected to be in attendance are Federal NDP interim leader Nycole Turmell and leadership candidates Nathan Cullen, Paul Dewar, Romeo Saganash, and Martin Singh.
The NDP have attracted a surprising group of seaworthy candidates including former MLA David Eggen in Edmonton-Calder, Catholic School Trustee Cindy Olsen in Edmonton-Manning, AUPE Vice-President Sandra Azocar in Edmonton-Mill Woods, former five-term City Councillor Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer in Red Deer-South, and Shannon Phillips in Lethbridge-West. The NDP have a crew of 30 nominated candidates in 87 constituencies across the province, and will have over 40 nominated by the end of next week. On the surface, the NDP looks ready to tap into the 17% of Albertans who supported their party in the last federal election.
As a centre-left leaning urban progressive-type that has voted NDP as many times as I have voted Liberal, I have a hard time getting excited about the provincial NDP and an even harder time imagining that some New Democrats are not thinking that it may be past time for their provincial-wing to get a fresh face sitting in the admiral’s chair.
Current leader Brian Mason has served his party faithfully through two stormy elections and holds the second most thankless job in the province (the first currently being held by Liberal leader Raj Sherman). Mr. Mason has years of experience in the Assembly, but after more than two decades as a municipal and provincial politician he is hardly the fresh face that NDP may need to make an Orange splash in the next provincial election.