Alberta Politics

With one week left, a second poll shows three-way race in Calgary-Centre.

Calgary-Centre By-Election candidates Joan Crockatt, Harvey Locke, and Chris Turner.
Calgary-Centre By-Election candidates Joan Crockatt, Harvey Locke, and Chris Turner.

With one week left until voting day, a new survey released by Forum Research continues to show a three-way race in the Calgary-Centre by-election between Conservative Joan Crockatt, Liberal Harvey Locke, and Green Chris Turner.

As reported by the Globe & Mailthe survey of randomly selected Calgary-Centre voters released on November 17 showed Ms. Crockatt with 35% to 30% for Mr. Locke and 25% for Mr. Turner. New Democrat Dan Meades was in fourth place with 8%.

Another survey from Forum Research released last week showed Ms. Crockatt with 32% to 30% for Mr. Locke and 23% for Mr. Turner. New Democrat Dan Meades was in fourth place with 12%. Margins of error for these types of surveys typically range around five percentage points.

As I wrote last week, it appears that within a matter of months, the 40% margin of victory earned by former Conservative MP Lee Richardson in the 2011 federal election and 23% margin for the Conservatives found in a September survey of Calgary-Centre voters may have completely evaporated.

It is always important to approach surveys, like this interactive voice response (IVR) survey, with a healthy dose of skepticism. Survey results are a snapshot of the opinions of a surveyed group of individuals at a given moment in time. This said, surveys like this one can be an important indicator of trends.

The drop in Conservative Party support has led political watchers to wonder if this by-election could result in the election of the first non-Conservative Member of Parliament in Calgary since 1968. The potential for an upset has certainly bolstered the resolve of Ms. Crockatt’s two main opponents, Mr. Locke and Mr. Turner.

Chris Turner Green Turning Point Calgary Centre
More than 500 tickets were sold for Chris Turner’s “Turning Point” rally on Saturday night (photo from Turner 4 YYC Facebook Page)

Ms. Crockatt earned mixed reviews after participating in her first all-candidates forum at the East Village Neighbourhood Association on Saturday afternoon. This was expected to be the only time the Conservative candidate will publicly engage with her opponents at an organized forum.

There was some disappointment that Ms. Crockatt chose to not participate in a forum focusing on civic issues and hosted by popular Mayor Naheed Nenshi on Sunday afternoon. Mayor Nenshi penned a column in Friday’s Calgary Herald highlighting the important role the federal government can play in municipalities.

On Saturday night, Mr. Turner’s campaign hosted what might have been the biggest actual political party of this by-election. More than 500 tickets were sold to the “Turning Point” event at Scarboro United Church. The event included a performance from Jay Ingram and the Scrutineers and speeches from Green Party leader Elizabeth May and environmentalist David Suzuki. Mr. Turner also received the endorsement of local author Fred Stenson, who ran as a Liberal candidate in the recent provincial election.

Harvey Locke Joyce Murray Grant Mitchell
Harvey Locke, MP Joyce Murray, and Senator Grant Mitchell (Photo from Harvey Locke’s Facebook Page).

Steady in second place according to two recent polls, Mr. Locke is getting some pan-Canadian support from Liberal politicians. By my count, nine of the thirty-five Liberal Members of Parliament have visited the riding, including Bob Rae, Justin Trudeau, Ralph Goodale and Senators Terry Mercer and Grant Mitchell, and leadership candidate Martha Hall Findlay. Vancouver-Quadra MP Joyce Murray made her second visit to Calgary-Centre this weekend and Mr. Trudeau is expected to return to the riding this week before attending a rally in Edmonton. Liberal MLAs Kent Hehr, Darshan Kang, and Raj Sherman have also campaigned with Mr. Locke.

A fun fact and perhaps the closest comparison we have to this federal by-election in Calgary-Centre are by-elections that have taken place on the provincial level. In the four provincial by-elections held since 1992, opposition candidates were elected in three. In 1992, Calgary-Buffalo was held by Liberal Gary Dickson after the death of two-term Liberal MLA Sheldon Chumir. In 1995, the Progressive Conservative Shiraz Shariff narrowly held on to the Calgary-McCall constituency following the death of the former PC MLA.

The two most recent provincial by-elections saw opposition candidates elected in constituencies formerly held by the governing PCs. Liberal Craig Cheffins narrowly defeated the PC candidate to win a 2007 by-election in Calgary-Elbow, the constituency formerly represented by Premier Ralph Klein (Alison Redford would narrowly defeat Mr. Cheffins in the 2008 general election). In 2009, former Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman won a hotly contested three-way race in Calgary-Glenmore, defeating high-profile Tory Alderman Diane Colley-Urquhart and Liberal Avalon Roberts.

What does this mean for Calgary-Centre? At least when it comes to provincial by-elections, Calgarians have a track-record of sending the government a message.

9 replies on “With one week left, a second poll shows three-way race in Calgary-Centre.”

Yes, Calgarians send a bluff message to governments during by-elections and then, as Cheffins and Hinman learned, they elect the Tories in the general election. The real issue, federally, which by-elections obscure, is whether three small-l liberal parties, whom only the members can sort of tell apart (and they include less than one percent of Canadians), will be any real competition for the Tories in 2015 in English Canada. The Tories had about 46 percent of the vote in Canada outside Quebec in 2011 and won a seat majority against a centre-left largely divided into two parties. If, in 2011, the centre-left fields three strong candidates in most ridings, the Tories are almost sure winners. While I loathe Harper and company and think that they are destroying the Canadian social fabric, I recognize that a large percentage of my fellow citizens are conservative and won’t abandon the Tories in a general election unless it is impossible to view them as anything but corrupt, fractious, and incompetent. And though the one percent of mostly very tribal Canadians who belong to other parties will never understand it, conservative Canadians do not view Harper and company that way and will not likely change their minds before 2015. They are a minority, but the numbers game is on their side unless the centre-left tribes figure out a way to work together. My prediction: they won’t, and Harper will win again, and, like Margaret Thatcher, will change his country’s political options permanently.

Hello “Seriously”. I’m personally OK because we’ve got a government in Ottawa looking out for the interests of the better off, and, as a late 1970s tenure hire in a university, I’m in good shape. But they don’t care about anyone else. The path of social destruction includes:

a)Growing inequalities in wealth distribution that have caused even the big-business-sponsored Conference Board of Canada to question whether one can pretend that equality of opportunity exists in any meaningful sense in Canada. This is policy-driven since taxes on corporations have fallen and are being paid for via service cuts that especially hit the poor.

b)The federal agencies involved in dealing with poverty issues are being stripped of staff and funds.

c) The federal agencies dealing with environmental issues are being stripped of staff and funds.

d)The agency that regulates food inspection has lost too many staff to be of much use in guaranteeing the safety of the food supply.

e) The minimal spending required to preserve something of the country’s history (other than the War of 1812, which was mostly a British affair) has been chopped to bits. Library and Archives Canada can no longer fund its basic functions, Parks Canada has no money to maintain many of its sites or to hire researchers to do the work necessary to maintain sites and start new ones.

f)The drop in monies for the provinces, especially for the Social Transfer, at a time when most of the provinces have declining revenues, is forcing provinces to also cut programs for the poor.

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