Alberta Politics

calgary-centre by-election nominations take a strange turn.

The Calgary-Centre Conservative Party nomination contest took a turn for the strange over the past few weeks.

Originally shaping up to be a three-candidate contest, Alderman John Mar and former Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation chairman Andy Crooks dropped out of the race earlier this summer, leaving political commentator Joan Crockatt as the lone survivor of the original three candidates in the nomination contest.

Jon Lord Calgary-Centre Conservative
Jon Lord

Video store owner, former Alderman and Progressive Conservative MLA Jon Lord is one of the new candidates to enter the contest. Mr. Lord placed a distant sixth in his bid to become Mayor of Calgary in 2010 and was unsuccessful in his attempt to win back the PC nomination in Calgary-Currie before the recent provincial election. In the 2004 provincial election, Mr. Lord was unseated as MLA by Liberal Dave Taylor.

Lawyer Rick Billington has also joined the contest. Mr. Billington is a long-time Conservative Party director in the neighbouring riding of Calgary-Southwest. His website biography lists him as having participated in the Leaders Debate preparation team for Premier Alison Redford during the 2012 Alberta election.

Also running are Stefan Spargo, who was former MP Lee Richardson‘s campaign manager and also made an unsuccessful bid for the PC nomination in Calgary-Currie, and past Conservative riding president Greg McLean, who entered the contest last week.

Calgary Joe Soares
“Calgary Joe” Soares

Perhaps the strangest candidate to join the Conservative nomination contest is Quebec political advisor and Ottawa-area resident Joe Soares – who describes himself as “Calgary Joe.” It is not known whether Mr. Soares has spent any significant amount of time in Calgary or has any connection to the city or the province of Alberta.

The messaging on Mr. Soares’ website is a textbook case of negative partisanship, taking aim at New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair, who he accuses of wanting to destroy Alberta’s economy. The political insider also takes aim at the perceived frontrunner Ms. Crockatt, who he accuses of defending former Ontario Conservative MP Belinda Stronach when she crossed the floor to the Liberal Party in 2005 (which I imagine is a top of mind issue for Conservative Party members in Calgary-Centre).

The date of the Conservative nomination vote has not yet been set, though the deadline to enter the contest occurred last week.

Despite rumours that popular Calgary-Mountain View MLA David Swann might enter the Liberal Party nomination contest (or the NDP contest), only two candidates will be on the ballot at the vote on September 15, 2012. Lawyer and former Canadian Parks and Wilderness Association President Harvey Locke and educator Rahim Sajan.

Past candidate William Hamilton has already declared his interest in running for the Green Party and author Chris Turner told the Calgary Herald that he is considering seeking the nomination.

Anne McGrath NDP
Anne McGrath

Their status as Official Opposition in Ottawa does not seem to have generated wide interest in the NDP nomination. I have heard very little about who the NDP candidate in this by-election could be.

However unlikely, the latest speculation I have heard is that some party members are trying to draft Anne McGrath to carry her party’s banner in the downtown Calgary riding. Ms. McGrath is the former President of the NDP and chief of staff to former NDP leader Jack Layton. She ran for the provincial NDP in the Calgary-McCall by-election in 1995.

The newly created Online Party of Canada has attained registered status with Elections Canada just in time to nominate a candidate to run in the Calgary-Centre by-election.

2 replies on “calgary-centre by-election nominations take a strange turn.”

I highly doubt Anne McGrath will run. Good zinger about the immense importance of the Belinda Stronach affair thou.

Calgary Centre byelection: Conservative nomination set for Aug. 25 in federal riding
Vacancy created as longtime MP Lee Richardson accepts job on Alison Redford’s staff
By Kelly Cryderman, Calgary Herald August 10, 2012 11:00 AM

Federal Conservatives will hold a much-anticipated nomination vote on Aug. 25 with six office-seekers all vying to carry the party’s banner in the Calgary Centre byelection expected this fall.

Riding president Glenn Solomon said Friday both the nomination committee and the national director of the party have now signed off on Rick Billington, Joan Crockatt, Jon Lord, Greg McLean, Joe Soares and Stefan Spargo participating in the race.

Approximately 1,850 Tory party members are eligible to vote. They will determine the nomination race winner by a preferential ballot system ranking all of the entrants. The lowest-ranked person will drop off the list after each round of counting.

“I’m delighted that we have six exceptional candidates, all of whom comfortably fit within the fabric of Calgary Centre,” Solomon said.

But those hoping to vote in the contest who haven’t already purchased a Conservative party membership are out of luck. Membership sales for the nomination were cut off one week ago.

No date is set for the byelection to replace former Conservative MP Lee Richardson, who left federal politics to take a senior post in Premier Alison Redford’s office.

That hasn’t stopped parties from lining up their candidates.

The federal Liberal party will hold its nomination vote on Sept. 15, and the NDP says it’s speaking to a number of potential entrants.

However, Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said because small-c conservative parties have held the riding for decades, the outcome of the Conservative nomination vote later this month will likely determine who wins the job of MP for Calgary Centre.

Bratt said opposition parties face long odds, although Joe Clark captured the riding in the 2000 election running as a Progressive Conservative, defeating incumbent Eric Lowther of the Canadian Alliance.

“There’s hope, based on it being an inner-city riding. They point to Joe Clark. But Joe Clark was still a Tory.”

Bratt said although the nomination battle is an internal party function, its status as a “de facto” election means it deserves public scrutiny — including how much the Conservative central office in Ottawa controls the nomination process.

The six Conservative contenders will appear at a candidates’ forum the day before the nomination vote.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

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