Tag Archives: Harvey Locke

A by-election in Cowboy Country. Conservatives line up in Macleod

Macelod Conservative by-election candidates

Four candidates have stepped forward to contest the Conservative Party nomination in Macleod. AMC’s ‘Hell on Wheels’ is filmed in the Macleod riding south of Calgary.

Four candidates have stepped forward to duel for the yet to be scheduled Conservative Party nomination in southern Alberta’s Macleod riding following the resignation of Member of Parliament Ted Menzies. A by-election is expected to be held in the eastern slopes of Alberta’s cowboy country the next six months.

John Barlow Macleod Conservative

John Barlow

John Barlow, the associate editor of the Okotoks Western Wheel newspaper announced his entry into nomination race this week. In the 2012 provincial election, as the Progressive Conservative candidate in the Highwood constituency, Mr. Barlow placed  a surprisingly strong second behind  Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith.

Fourth generation rancher and farmer Phil Rowland is also contesting the nomination. Mr. Rowland is the past president of the Western Stock Growers Association and serves on numerous provincial and agriculture boards. He also served as a board member for the Highwood PC Association during George Groeneveld‘s time as MLA.

Melissa Mathison Macleod Conservative

Melissa Mathison

Former Parliament Hill staffer Melissa Mathieson has also entered the race. She currently works as a research associate for the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary and, according to her LinkedIn profile, she graduated from the U of C in 2011 with a bachelor of political science and has since worked as an intern and staffer for Mr. Menzies and in the Office of the Prime Minister in Ottawa.

Businessman Scott Wagner has been campaigning door-to-door since Mr. Menzies announced months ago that he would not seek re-election.

Update: Rick Wiljamma is also seeking the Conservative nomination in Macleod.

No candidates have stepped forward to become candidates for other political parties.

Last year’s Calgary-Centre by-election exposed significant splits in the conservative movement in Alberta. With some moderate conservatives believing Conservative nominee Joan Crockatt was too closely associated with the Wildrose Party, many formerly reliable Conservative voters choose to park their votes with Liberal Party candidate Harvey Locke.

A similar split is difficult to imagine in Macleod, but not impossible.

Voters in this region of Alberta last elected a non-conservative Member of Parliament in 1968, when Trudeaumania swept Liberal Allen Sulatycky into office as the MP for sprawling Rocky Mountain riding (the election was contested by two PC candidates, who, not unexpectedly, split the vote). Mr. Sulatycky served as a parliamentary assistant for four years until he was defeated in the 1972 election by future Prime Minister Joe Clark.

Voters in this riding have since reliably elected PC, Reform, Canadian Alliance, and Conservative MPs. Mr. Menzies earned 40,007 votes in the 2011 federal election, eclipsing his second-place New Democrat opponent, who earned 5,335 votes, and third place Green Party candidate, who earned 2,389 votes. The Liberal candidate placed a distant fourth with 1,898 votes.

Macleod Voting results 2004-2011

Voting results in the Macleod riding from the past four federal elections (2004-2011).

But the riding’s history as a Conservative strong-hold over the past four decades does not mean Macleod voters do hold not grievances or should be taken for granted.

Some areas of the riding, especially High River, suffered significant damage caused by this year’s floods and some residents have accused the RCMP of overstepping their bounds by removing privately-owned firearms from residences that had been evacuated during the flood.

The federal riding also overlaps provincial constituencies represented by Wildrose MLAs Ms. Smith, Pat Stier, Ian Donovan, Jason Hale, Gary Bikman and PC MLA Ron Casey. All of these constituencies were hotly contested battle grounds in the 2012 provincial election when significant numbers of long-time PC voters shifted their support to the Wildrose Party.

Under almost every normal circumstance this by-election should be an easy win for the nominated Conservative candidate. But as previous by-elections have demonstrated, the hyper-local focus on issues in an isolated by-election can sometimes produce unexpected results.

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An update to a recent post about federal party nominations in Alberta: educator Janis Irwin has announced her intention to seek the NDP nomination in the new Edmonton-Griesbach riding.

Alberta Liberal merger with federal Liberals an idea worth considering.

Raj Sherman Alberta Liberal MLA Leader

Raj Sherman

Provincial Liberal leader Raj Sherman wants his party to work more closely with the federal Liberal Party.

Conventional wisdom would inform us that the Alberta Liberals should always do everything in their power to distance themselves from their federal cousins, who remain tainted in the province after a long-string of historical grievances and well-curated myths.

But has distancing the two parties helped either party?

With Justin Trudeau expected to become leader of the Liberal Party of Canada in the next few months, could a second-wave of Trudeaumania help boost support for the provincial Liberals in Alberta?

Since the 1970s, the two parties have been officially independent with varying degrees of unofficial cooperation and confrontation. Both parties have achieved limited success in pockets of the province at certain points over past twenty years, but support for both parties has dwindled over the past decade. The Liberal presence shrunk to five MLAs in last year’s provincial election and the federal Liberals last successfully elected a candidate to Parliament from Alberta in the 2004 election .

Provincial Liberal support in Alberta:
2001 election: 276,854 votes2012 election: 127,645 votes.
Federal Liberal support in Alberta:
2000 election: 263,008 votes, 2011 election: 129,310 votes.

If a merger with the NDP, Alberta Party, and Greens, as has been suggested by Calgary-Buffalo Liberal MLA Kent Hehr, is unpalatable to Dr. Sherman, perhaps he could be convinced a merger with his party’s federal namesake would not be a bad idea.

Sharing their limited resources, as the provincial and federal New Democratic Party do officially and the Wildrose Party and Conservative Party have done unofficially, could provide stability in membership, fundraising, and organization for the two Liberal Parties in Alberta. A merger could also cut costs on duplication of resources (the two parties currently operate separate offices located opposite each other on Edmonton’s 124th Street).

Harvey Locke Liberal Calgary-Centre By-Election

Harvey Locke

The two parties already share many members and candidates are frequently seen listed on the ballot under both party banners.

There are also no shortage of former Liberal MLAs who have tried to kickstart a career in Ottawa, though all of them unsuccessful. Liberal MLAs Ken Nicol and Debby Carlson ran as federal Liberals in the 2004 election and Sue Olsen and Frank Bruseker stood in the 2000 federal election. Former party leaders Grant Mitchell and Nick Taylor were appointed to the Senate on the advice of federal Liberal Prime Ministers.

Even Dr. Sherman was a member of the federal Liberals before he was elected as a Progressive Conservative MLA in 2008 (he supported Gerard Kennedy in the 2006 federal Liberal leadership contest).

Calgary-Centre a spark of hope for the Liberals.

Liberal Harvey Locke surprised political watchers last year when he placed only 1158 votes behind Conservative Joan Crockatt in the hotly contested Calgary-Centre by-election.

Perhaps the results were a fluke, but they give the federal Liberals a sign that many voters in Alberta’s urban centres are becoming more receptive to a moderate non-Conservative alternative in Ottawa.

New Map: Calgary-Centre by-election results.

Poll-by-poll results from the November 26, 2012 by-election in Calgary-Centre (click image for larger map).

Poll-by-poll results from the November 26, 2012 by-election in Calgary-Centre (click image for larger map). Thanks to Alan Hall for the map.

Elections Canada recently released the official poll-by-poll results of the November 26, 2012 federal by-election in Calgary-Centre. The hotly contested by-election was narrowly won by Conservative Joan Crockatt, who fended off strong challenges from Liberal Harvey Locke and Green Chris Turner.

While the Conservatives were able to win in this long-held riding, this was the first time in recent memory that candidates from non-conservative federal parties came even close to winning an election in Calgary.

Here are the official results as released by Elections Canada:

Joan Crockatt, CON – 10,191 (36.9%)
Harvey Locke, LIB – 9,033 (32.7%)
Chris Turner, GRN – 7,090 (25.7%)
Dan Meades, NDP – 1,064 (3.8%)
Antoni Grochowski, IND – 141 (0.5%)
Tony Prashad, LBTRN – 92 (0.4%)

Progressives need a crash course in basic electoral math, writes MLA.

Kent Hehr MLA Calgary-Buffalo

Kent Hehr

By Kent Hehr

Like many progressives, I watched the Calgary Centre by-election with great interest. Although I was hopeful that one of three outstanding candidates who represented the center/center-left side of the spectrum would win, Joan Crockett’s victory for the federal Conservatives was not surprising. Like Bill Clinton said at the Democratic National Convention describing how to balance budgets, “it’s math”.

Progressive candidates representing the Liberals, NDP, and Greens garnered 60% of the total cast vote. As a result of that 60% being split among three parties in our first past the post system, the provincial Wildrose supporter (Ms. Crockett) carried the day. The result was predictable in that vote splitting amongst the progressives ensured a conservative victory. It’s math!

While this result was predictable, was it necessary? I’m not too sure. Having followed the race and personally knowing and holding a great deal of respect for the three progressive candidates, it is my view that other than the political banner they ran under, there was little to no difference in their core beliefs. Put Harvey Locke, Chris Turner and Dan Meades in a room together and you’d see the value system that compelled them to run in this by-election is the same: they are fiscally responsible, socially progressive individuals with a deep concern for environmental sustainability. Having attended one of the debates, it appeared to me they were all singing from the same song sheet. Although they represented different political brands, it was a distinction without a difference.

As a provincial politician committed to many of the same progressive principles as the three above-noted candidates, what did I learn from this? Well, I think I’ve learned basic math. The center/center-left in this province will not form government until we are in one big tent party. At this moment in time, and objectively looking at the provincial platforms of the progressive parties, we are for all intents and purposes also a distinction without a difference.

In the last election the NDP, Liberals, Greens and Alberta Party agreed on policy 95% of the time. We should all be together in one big tent; there is less difference between all of our political parties than there is between the different wings of the PC government.

What keeps us apart is rugged tribalism that leads to infighting between us and keeps our guns pointed squarely at each other instead of focusing our fire on the right-wing in this province. We tend to identify with our brands and not necessarily the values that we share. Let me be the first to say, I’m putting down my gun, and am open to all conversations with no preconditions. We need to figure out how we can come together in a big tent party. Otherwise, we are wasting our time. It’s math.

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Kent Hehr is the MLA for Calgary-Buffalo, Deputy Leader of Alberta Liberal Caucus and critic for Education and Energy. He was elected to the Legislature in 2008 and was re-elected in 2012. Before entering politics, he practiced law with Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP in Calgary. You can follow him on Twitter at @kenthehr.

Joan Crockatt wins close race in Calgary-Centre.

Three-Calgary-Centre-1

Joan Crockatt, Harvey Locke, Chris Turner

It was an exciting race for the history books!

Conservative Joan Crockatt has narrowly defeated her opponents to win the federal by-election in Calgary-Centre. At 10:30pm with 241 of 263 polls reporting, Ms. Crockatt’s 9,479 (37%) votes placed her comfortably ahead of Liberal Harvey Locke‘s 8,181 (32%) and Green Chris Turner‘s 6,455 (25%).

Mr. Crockatt’s less than inspirational campaign and internal division within conservative ranks gave both the Greens and Liberals the belief that they might have a once in a generation opportunity to break the Tory Party’s forty-year hold on the city. A number of polls showing a close race, which turned out to be fairly accurate, also boosted the spirits of the two opposition parties.

The Conservatives did win this by-election, but Ms. Crockatt’s narrow margin of victory is noteworthy. In the 2011 election, former Conservative MP Lee Richardson was re-elected with more than 20,000 votes ahead of the second place Liberal challenger.

Both the Liberals and the Greens should be proud of their results tonight.

The Liberals mounted a strong traditional campaign and focused their national spotlight on the riding, including visits from a dozen Liberal MPs. Some Liberal Party supporters will blame vote-splitting for their defeat in the by-election, but comments from Ottawa MP David McGuinty and leadership candidate Justin Trudeau derailed their message during the final week of the campaign.

Mr. Turner’s campaign mounted the strongest challenge that the Green Party ever has in Alberta. The urban sustainability advocate’s unconventionally and energetic campaign attracted legions of supporters and volunteers, many whom had never been involved in federal politics before.

This by-election provides some interesting lessons for the moderate and progressive opposition parties looking to defeat the Tories in the next general election. First, not all parties opposed to the Conservatives stand for identical ideas or policies. Second, no opposition party is entitled to opposition votes. Votes must be earned. And third, not all opposition parties are equally appealing to Conservative voters looking for an alternative. As has been pointed out by some political pundits, the Green Party attracted large swaths of disenchanted Conservative voters in Calgary-Centre.

The Conservatives are still the dominant political force in Calgary, but this by-election sends a message that they can no longer take the entire city for granted. Signalled by the election of Naheed Nenshi as Mayor in 2010, a new base of moderate and progressive voters in the city’s urban core are not afraid of flexing their electoral muscle and are not reluctant to look at other options on the federal level.

Will Calgarians surprise the nation in tomorrow’s by-election vote?

Map of the Calgary-Centre federal riding.

Map of the Calgary-Centre federal riding.

Voters in Calgary-Centre will mark their ballots tomorrow in what has become a unexpected hotly contested by-election in the centre of Alberta’s largest city.

The race should have been a cake-walk for the Conservatives, who have held the riding in its many forms for more than forty-years, but it was not to be. Soon after the by-election was called four weeks ago, polls found that the Conservative Party’s 40% margin of victory from the 2011 election was quickly evaporating.

Of the three polls released over the course of the campaign, two found a three-way race with Conservative Joan Crockatt only slightly ahead of the Liberal Party’s Harvey Locke and fast-paced Green Party candidate Chris Turner, who had moved from a distant third over the summer to a contender in November.

All polls have shown Ms. Crockatt in the lead, so it is difficult to say whether any opposition candidate really has a opportunity to defeat her.

Joan Crockatt Diane Ablonczy Jonathan Denis

MP Diane Ablonczy, candidate Joan Crockatt, and Justice Minister Jonathan Denis (photo from Ms. Crockatt’s Facebook Page).

Ms. Crockatt’s campaign has proven to be less than spectacular. Despite missing numerous public forums and arousing the ire of popular Mayor Naheed Nenshi, the Conservatives will hope that the power of incumbency, government, and a strategy focused on door-knocking will pay off.

If she is elected tomorrow, I would not be surprised to see Ms. Crockatt quickly elevated to the front and centre of the Conservative caucus in Ottawa. It will not be long before she becomes one of the more prominent combative and partisan voices in the House of Commons.

Harvey Locke Paul Martin Calgary-Centre Liberal

Former Prime Minister Paul Martin and Harvey Locke (photo from Mr. Locke’s Facebook Page)

A seasoned environmental lobbyist and lawyer, I have little doubt that Mr. Locke would be a strong voice on behalf of Calgary-Centre the House of Commons. Sensing an opportunity in this by-election, legions of federal Liberals have dropped into the riding. Since the by-election was called, I suspect more federal Liberal MPs have visited the riding since the party held their leadership convention at the Saddledome in 1990. The election of Mr. Locke would give the federal Liberals a toe-hold in Calgary, a city where they have not elected an MP since 1968.

If elected, Mr. Locke could add a level of pan-Canadian maturity to the Liberal opposition in Ottawa, an attribute which, as evidenced by comments from David McGuinty and Justin Trudeau, is lacking.

Elizabeth May Chris Turner Calgary-Centre

Chris Turner (standing on a soapbox) and Elizabeth May.

Urban sustainability advocate Mr. Turner represents a generational change in federal politics. He is an ideas-guy whose political past and future is not tied to traditional partisan politics. Mr. Turner talks less about traditional politics and more about sustainability of communities, cities, and about what creates quality of life on the street-level. These are all critical issues that should be discussed in our national capital, but rarely are.

Despite a brief foray into the world of negative advertising, Mr. Turner’s campaign has arguably been the most exciting and unconventional of the by-election.

Dan Meades Megan Leslie NDP Calgary-Centre

Dan Meades with Halifax NDP MP Megan Leslie (Photo from Mr. Meades’ Twitter Feed).

Dan Meades, the little-talked-about NDP candidate, has done incredible work in Calgary-Centre through his work as director of Vibrant Communities Calgary. While initially coming out strong over the summer, the NDP hampered their chances by not choosing a candidate until days after the by-election had been called. Mr. Meades should have been a contender.

As was the case in the 2010 mayoral election and the 2012 provincial election, voters in Calgary have becoming increasingly unpredictable. As with most by-elections, voters have an opportunity to both focus on the individual candidates and send the governing party a message without changing which party holds power in Ottawa. This race is about Calgary-Centre, and tomorrow we will discover whether Calgary voters will continue their streak of unpredictability.

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With the vote happening tomorrow, this should be one of my final posts focusing on the Calgary-Centre by-election. While it has been incredibly refreshing to take a break from writing about the theatrics of Question Period or the scandal-du-jour in the provincial capital, I look forward to returning my focus to the more substantial issues dominating Alberta’s political scene.