One of the most hotly contested races in this election is taking place in the west-end Edmonton constituency of Edmonton-Meadowlark…
After electing Alberta Liberal MLAs Grant Mitchell and Karen Leibovici from 1986 to 2001, Edmonton-Meadowlark was once known as a reliably Liberal voting constituency. In 2001, Meadowlark moved into the ‘swing constituency’ category when Leibovici was unexpectedly defeated by former High School Principal turned Progressive Conservative candidate Bob Maskell. In 2004, after spending four years lingering in the Tory backbenches Maskell was defeated by Alberta Liberal Maurice Tougas (by a slim margin of 193 votes – the third closest race in the province). Tougas surprised political watchers when it was revealed that his campaign only spent $5,367, compared to Maskell’s $46,457 – meaning that Tougas’ campaign spent $1.21 per vote compared to Maskell’s $10.95 per vote. You’d have to try pretty hard to find a clearer example that money isn’t always everything in politics than the 2004 Edmonton-Meadowlark race.
With Tougas not seeking re-election, Meadowlark is again a battleground with both the Alberta Liberals and PCs lining up strong candidates at the O-Meadowlark Corral (yeah, I went there…).
This time, the Alberta Liberals are running Debbie Cavaliere. Cavaliere is a familiar local name having been elected Chair and Trustee of the Edmonton Catholic School District from 2001 until 2007. The Tories are challenging Cavaliere with Dr. Raj Sherman, an Emergency Room doctor and former President for the Emergency Physicians of Alberta at the Alberta Medical Association (AMA). Both Cavaliere and Sherman are strong candidates with solid professional backgrounds, but it is their former political backgrounds that add an even more interesting flavour to this race. Just over a year ago, Sherman was knee deep in the Federal Liberal Leadership campaign of Gerard Kennedy during race that elected Stéphane Dion. Cavaliere originally ran for the PC nomination against Sherman, but later left the race and opted to instead run for the Alberta Liberal nomination against lawyer Bruce King (don’t worry if you’re a little confused about both of them, so am I…). It will be interesting to see how (or if) these candidates former political allegiances play in the minds of Meadowlark voters.
Both Cavaliere’s and Sherman’s teams will be campaigning hard in Meadowlark, but if the Tories pick up any constituencies in Edmonton, Meadowlark will be near the top on the list (as I told Sherman last fall, if the Tories win Meadowlark, he’ll “make a great official opposition health critic.“).
Other candidates include second-time Green challenger Amanda Doyle, Wildrose Alliance candidate (and owner of the World Trade Center Memorial Tribute site) Richard Guyon, and New Democrat Pascal Ryffel.
Because of the sheer amount of growth since the last election, population shift is an unusually important factor in races like Meadowlark. Between the 2004 Election and the 2006 Census, Edmonton-Meadowlark grew by 14.69% bringing over 3,500 new residents to the constituency.
2008 Edmonton-Meadowlark Candidates
Edmonton-Meadowlark Past Election Results
Maurice Tougas, Lib – 4,435
x Bob Maskell, PC – 4,242
Lance Burns, NDP – 1,306
Aaron Campbell, AA – 446
Amanda Doyle, Grn – 243
Peggy Morton, Ind – 76
Voter Turnout: 45.3%
Bob Maskell, PC – 6,108
x Karen Leibovici, Lib – 5,674
Mike Hudema, NDP – 636
Peggy Morton, Ind – 144
Voter Turnout: 56%
x Karen Leibovici, Lib – 6,047
Laurie Pushor, PC – 4,672
Terry McNally, NDP – 831
Aaron Hinman, SC – 435
Geoff Toane, NLP – 55
Voter Turnout: 56%