After reading a recent blog post by Ken Chapman, I took the opportunity to speak with former Edmonton-Centre Liberal candidate and consumer advocate lawyer Jim Wachowich over the phone yesterday. During the call, Wachowich confirmed the rumours that he will not be seeking the Liberal candidacy in Edmonton-Centre for the next election.
Wachowich explained that for personal, family, and professional reasons, it would have been difficult to dedicate the time and resources to run in an election that could occur at any time. Despite the legislated fixed-election date law in Canada, a minority Parliament and constant games of political brinkmanship in Ottawa have made snap elections a reality that potential candidates from all parties now face.
Following the June 30 Town Hall meeting that drew over 600 Edmontonians, Wachowich said he was excited about a renewed energy that Michael Ignatieff’s leadership has brought to the Liberal Party of Canada.
Describing the challenges facing the Edmonton-Centre Liberals, Wachowich suggested that “fatigue and political disinterest” as well as doubt about Stephane Dion‘s leadership and the Green Shift created difficult challenges for his campaign during the last election. The Liberals have always faced uphill battles in electing Members of Parliament in Alberta, but Wachowich pointed out “there is a strong base of Liberal support in Edmonton-Centre.” He plans to support whoever is nominated as the Liberal candidate (the first candidate openly campaigning for the nomination is Lawyer, Political Science Ph.D., and Anne McLellan‘s former Deputy Chief of Staff Mary MacDonald).
When asked how the entry of NDP nomination candidate Lewis Cardinal could affect the race, Wachowich said he believed that Cardinal’s candidacy “would make the race all the more interesting” and that having good candidates from all parties could increase the voter interest and turnout in the next election. Voter turnout in Edmonton-Centre dropped from 64% in 2006 to just over 50% in 2008, which Wachowich speculated hurt his campaign on Election Day.
As our conversation wrapped up, Wachowich emphasized the need for stronger representation for the citizens of Edmonton-Centre in Ottawa, “I don’t know where [Conservative MP] Laurie Hawn stands, because he doesn’t tell you.”