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Alberta Politics

tories would love to put opposition-held ridings on the chopping block.

Edmonton-Riverview under the electoral boundaries created in 2003.

I was not surprised to hear rumours that Edmonton-Riverview might be on the chopping block when the final report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission is released in July (the interim report had kept Riverview largely intact). The Tories have been trying and have been incredibly unsuccessful in capturing enough support to elect an MLA in Riverview since it was created in 1997. With decisive margins, Liberal MLAs Linda Sloan and Kevin Taft have been successful in holding off Tory challengers including Gwen Harris, City Councillor Wendy Kinsella, Fred Horne, and local president Wendy Andrews. I have read and heard many arguments in favour of disassembling Riverview, the largest being that it does not make sense for a riding to span across the North Saskatchewan River, which should act as a natural boundary (under the current boundaries, three Edmonton ridings cross the River). It is silly to argue that an urban MLA cannot represent a riding divided by a river when many rural MLAs represent ridings that span across the province.

With three appointees on the five-member Electoral Boundaries Commission, the PCs may finally get their chance to put Riverview on the chopping block.

Large-scale changes to Riverview were not included in the Commission’s interim report, but there were large changes to other opposition held ridings. Much of Edmonton-Cadler may merge with Edmonton-Glenora, a change that could pit former Calder NDP MLA David Eggen against Glenora PC MLA Heather Klimchuk in a riding that also has a tradition of electing Liberal MLAs.

Edmonton boundary changes proposed in Electoral Commission's interim report with poll-by-poll results from the 2008 election.

In Edmonton-Gold Bar, proposed changes in the interim report would give four-term Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald an 8-vote margin, compared to a 1,018 margin of victory under the current boundaries in 2008. While sometimes overly-eccentric, Mr. MacDonald is one of the hardest working Opposition MLAs in the Assembly. It should not be surprising that the PCs have their eyes on Gold Bar, a riding that has elected Liberal MLAs since 1986.

The changes proposed in the interim report are not entirely unkind to the opposition when looking at the 2008 election results. The interim boundaries reduce PC MLA Tony Vandermeer‘s margin of victory in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview from 337 votes to 101 votes. Nominated New Democrat Deron Bilous is already gunning for Mr. Vandermeer’s job. The interim boundaries would have also helped Calgary-Elbow Liberal MLA Craig Cheffins defeat now-Justice Minister Alison Redford by 272 votes (instead, Mr. Cheffins was unseated by 419 votes in the current boundaries).

They are the most politically organized force province-wide, but it is understated how much of an advantage their 2006 leadership selection gave the PCs in 2008. Just over a year after their intensely competitive leadership race, large and fresh membership lists have the PCs a large advantage over their opponents, who had not developed these kind of large-scale lists.

The next election will present Albertans with new electoral boundaries and also a new political environment. The PC Party’s popularity has significantly dropped in the polls since the last election and its caucus has shrunk by a by-election defeat and MLA floor-crossingsDavid Swann is the first Liberal leader from Calgary since the 1970s and his party is nearly debt-free. The Wildrose Alliance is on its way to becoming well-organized and well-funded under the leadership of the politically-savvy Danielle Smith. The existence of the new Alberta Party is drawing support from many centrist and progressive political organizers. There is a general unhappiness and unease among Albertans with how the politics of governance is being operated in Alberta.

Even if some opposition-held ridings do get chopped and diced, the shifts in the political environment since the last election could make the could make any gerrymandering near irrelevant.

10 replies on “tories would love to put opposition-held ridings on the chopping block.”

Dave:

Expect a new colour on that map, or at least on parts of it, for next election. Whatever you GTE when blue, red, and yellow come together. Dare I say Green, without associating the colour with the past party.

C

On the river thing, in my federal riding, there are two distinct portions. You cannot travel from one to the other without leaving the riding, because the North Saskatchewan intersects it AND there is no bridge. Under those circumstances, I think the natural boundary argument holds some merit. As a result of that natural boundary, (and a municipal boundary to boot) the two areas have no more in common than any two rurban areas in the greater Edmonton area.

Wow, politics at their finest. The PC’s know they are in trouble so, one way or another, are trying to eliminate the Opposition. In their February 2010 Interim Report, the Electoral Boundaries Commission said they did not see having the river running through Riverview as a problem. In March 2010 Doug Horner sent the Commission a submission that, in my opinion, looked suspiciously like instructions from the PC caucus and in it they were recommending the Riverview boundaries be changed, a change that would have the Liberals and the ND’s working against each other.

I asked the Commission if the boundaries will now be changed and it will be interesting to see if I get a response.

Honestly the 3 Edmonton Liberal members are all New Democrats who run as Liberals because they feel it’s a more electable banner. Taft, Blakeman and MacDonald are very left leaning to begin with. It seems the PC’s are putting the squeeze on all 3 of those incumbents’ ridings, often to the benefit of the New Democrats. If Taft doesn’t run again, and the new maps come as projected we could see a few new NDP MLAs in the next election. With the Alberta Party drawing centrist votes away, it wouldn’t surprise if we saw the Liberals shut out of Edmonton completely. What a shocking change that would be!

The Doug Horner submission doesn’t pit Taft vs. Notley at all. I’m not sure where Graham Thompson (or Kevin Taft) get that. It suggests leaving Edmonton Strathcona boundaries the same as the commission’s first draft. Which as far as the boundary between Strathcona and Riverview are concerned, means the same boundary that has been there since 2003.

The Horner report does chop up Riverview though, and creates a riding south of the river that goes further south than the riding Taft currently represents. I honestly don’t know how winnable it is for Taft, but I suspect he could do well, if he really wants to run again.

So my question is this: Why is Taft focusing on being set up to run against Notley? Is it just a distraction because he doesn’t want his riding to change at all? Or is he hearing something else from the Liberal appointees to the Commission? Because the Horner report is not the smoking gun Graham Thompson makes it out to be.

The PC’s are running scared. They just now denied the Wildrose Alliance caucus the same fair funding for research that is given to the NDP and the Liberals. This is a clear abuse of their majority position in an attempt to stifle the party that stands to hurt the PC’s the most. Ed Stelmach is looking more and more like a tin pot dictator.

What gets me is that this government would be trying to eliminate the opposition via gerrymandering even if they weren’t in trouble. Another reason why their demise is past due. I don’t like the WRA, but I welcome an upset.

Neal is that the same Alberta Party that drew all of 51 voters away in the last election and are registering 0% in opinion polls?

Re: The Truth, you can’t look to the past in politics to predict the future, even in Alberta. If we go by the last election, the Wildrose are also a total non-threat to the PCs, however by-elections & recent events have proven that to be completely untrue.

I don’t expect the Alberta Party to win any/many seats, unless they can find a star leader or candidate in a very short time span, but I do expect them to begin gaining traction and a larger % of the vote. If they even grab so much as a few percentage in key Liberal ridings, mostly from otherwise Liberal voters, it could spell trouble for those Lib MLAs.

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