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Alberta Liberals Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach Kevin Taft

what is ed stelmach really up to?

The results of the latest daveberta poll are out:

When will the next Provincial General Election be called in Alberta?
Fall 2007 – 41% (53 votes)
Winter 2008 – 9% (12 votes)
Spring 2008 – 33% (43 votes)
Summer 2008 – 2% (2 votes)
Fall 2008 – 9% (12 votes)
Winter 2009 – 1% (1 vote)
Spring 2009 – 4% (5 votes)
Summer 2009 – 0% (0 votes)
Fall 2009 – 2% (2 votes)

This leads me to two specific theories that I have heard about when the next provincial election will be held…

Theory One: Spring 2008

Finance Minister Lyle Oberg has already set the date for the 2008 Alberta Budget for February 14, 2008. With Ed Stelmach‘s Tories having a very hard time gaining traction on the announcements they’ve made since December 2006, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Stelmach attempt to pull a page from the 1997 Election playbook and drop the writ minutes after tabling the budget and run on the budget.

A Spring 2008 election would also give all the parties time to organize over the next five to six months.

Theory Two: Fall/Winter 2007

There are four points that lend support this theory:

a) The Stelmach Tories should be concerned about how much further they could fall in the polls by Spring 2008.

After 36 years of Tory government, Albertans moods and political attitudes are shifting. With the election of Craig Cheffins in the Calgary Elbow by-election in May 2007, Stelmach must be worried about growing support for Kevin Taft‘s Alberta Liberals in Calgary.

The Tories only need +42 of the 60 seats they already hold to form a majority government – and with there only being half a dozen opposition held ridings likely to be hotly competitive for the Tories it is not unimaginable that they will only mount strong campaigns in these ridings (including already nominated PC candidates in Edmonton Meadowlark, St. Albert, and Cardston-Taber-Warner).

The Tories may also need to concentrate on gaining seats in Edmonton and area in order to offset expected losses to the Alberta Liberals in Calgary.

b) Stelmach has lined up a number of high profile speaking engagements across Alberta in September and October (Premier’s Dinners in Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, and Fort McMurray along with PC policy conferences in Edmonton and Calgary) to raise his profile.

c) A pre-campaign memo sent by the Tories to their constituency associations, MLA’s, and members was widely distributed and made very public – which could be an attempt to throw off the opposition parties in their election timeline planning. The Stelmach Tories have also appointed a Campaign Manager (Randy Dawson) and Camapign Co-Chairs (Doug Goss and Douglas Black).

d) The Tory candidate nomination timeline requires all PC-incumbent ridings to have candidates nominated by October 31, 2007 and non-PC-incumbent ridings to have candidates nominated by November 30, 2007. These are deadlines, so it is possible that the Tories could have all their candidates nominated by the end of October, leaving enough time to avoid a Christmas election and call an election similar to 2004 (immediately following the October municipal elections).

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