I’ve had some time to compile some thoughts about yesterday’s by-elections. Here are some of them:
Alberta Liberal candidate Craig Cheffins was elected in Calgary Elbow – Ralph Klein’s former constituency and a bedrock Tory constituency since 1971. This is significant for all the obvious reasons.
Though I don’t think Cheffins’ election in Calgary Elbow is a complete deathblow to the Stelmach Tories, I do think it is a substantial kick in the teeth. Voters in Calgary Elbow sent a strong message that Calgary may be more in-play than it has been in a long time. Many Calgarians aren’t happy with the Stelmach Tories and if strong local candidates like Craig Cheffins continue to let their name stand for Kevin Taft’s Alberta Liberals in Calgary, the Tories could be in trouble in the next election.
While many Calgary Tory MLAs are rumoured to be stepping down in the next election, the Alberta Liberals are already starting to line up quality candidates like Kent Hehr (Calgary Buffalo), Carole Oliver (Calgary Fort), and Avalon Roberts (Calgary Glenmore).
For those of your keeping score, you can add another Ed Stelmach-point to the Strom-o-meter. In 1969, the Lougheed Tories wrestled away the Strathcona East constituency following Socred Premier Ernest Manning’s retirement. Peter Lougheed led the Tories to victory over Premier Harry Strom’s Social Credit Party in 1971.
Tory Jack Hayden’s landslide victory wasn’t a big surprise as Drumheller-Stettler is probably one of the strongest conservative constituencies in Alberta. There are some interesting results though. Alberta Liberal candidate Tom Dooley may have won 14% across the constituency, but won 9 out of the 11 Town of Drumheller polls (something that reflects the warm reaction on the doors last weekend).
If the Liberals are able to become competitive in Alberta’s smaller cities like Drumheller, then a number of normally safe-Tory rural ridings will shift to the in-play column.
Albertans already hold the lowest voter turnout rates in Canada, so it wasn’t surprising that turnout was dismal yesterday. It doesn’t downplay the significance of the Liberal victory in Calgary Elbow and I don’t think you can place the blame for this on any one thing, but his is a serious issue that needs to be discussed and addressed (in a soon to be written post).
RIP Alberta Alliance:
The results of this by-election were a clear deathblow for the Alberta Alliance. Even with the help of Alliance Leader Paul Hinman, Drumheller-Stettler Alliance candidate Dave France still only garnered 5% of the vote – 8% less than he won in the 2004 General Election – and 2% behind Alberta independent advocate John Rew. If the Alliance can’t win votes in Drumheller-Stettler, the question must be asked if they can win anywhere else.
The Unstoppable New Democrats
The New Democrats garnering 1% in Drumheller-Stettler and 3% in Calgary Elbow. These results certainly prove that the New Democrats are a force to be reckoned with in Alberta – watch out!