Boissonnault was elected as the Liberal MP for the district in 2015 and served Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and special advisor on LGBTQ2 issues to the Prime Minister. He was defeated by Conservative James Cumming in the 2019 election.
Meanwhile, lobbyist and former United Conservative Party president Erika Barootes has announced her plans to become a candidate in Alberta’s Senate Nominee election, which is scheduled to take place in conjunction with the municipal elections in October.
Barootes is the Western Vice-President of Enterprise Canada and also serves as the President of the Conservative Party association in Edmonton-Centre and the Chief Financial Officer of the UCP association in Edmonton-Glenora.
A close-ally of Premier Jason Kenney, she is endorsed by a swath of Conservative partisan luminaries, including Rona Ambrose, Heather Forsyth, Laurie Hawn and Betty Unger.
She is the granddaughter of Staff Barootes, who was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1984 and served until 1993.
The elder Barootes was the chief fundraiser for the Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan and, in 1984, he was one of the first three appointments made by Mulroney to the Senate.
The uniquely-Albertan election is being held to select a list of nominees to be appointed to the Senate of Canada when there are vacancies in Alberta’s delegation. Only Progressive Conservative and Conservative Prime Ministers have recognized the election and recommended the appointment of nominees chosen in Alberta’s Senate Nominee elections.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair will visit Edmonton this week to campaign with local candidates and to rally their supporters. The visit by the two leaders follows an earlier stop by Conservative leader Stephen Harper during the second week of the election.
In a competition to own the “change” message, the NDP are holding a “Rally for Change in Edmonton” on September 10 and the Liberals are holding a “Rally for Real Change in Edmonton” on September 9. It is clear that both parties have identified varying degrees “change” as a common theme in this election campaign and that message could resonate in a handful of ridings in Edmonton in this election.
It is expected that popular Premier Rachel Notley might take the stage with Mr. Mulcair on September 10, to give her personal endorsement to the federal leader. With 64 percent of Edmontonians casting their ballots for the NDP in the May 2015 provincial election, the opposition parties have reason to believe that Alberta’s capital city is fertile ground for progressive messages.
With forty days left in this election, here is a look at a few races in Edmonton and northern Alberta that could have interesting outcomes on October 19, 2015:
Edmonton-Strathcona: Two-term NDP MP Linda Duncan is expected to be re-elected but a resurgence in Liberal support for candidate Eleanor Olszewski could spoil an easy NDP victory and put Conservative Len Thom in a position to win. Note: The Liberal vote fell to an astonishing 2.82 percent in the 2011 election, down from 9 percent in the 2008 election.
Edmonton-Griesbach: If a second NDP MP is elected in Alberta, it will likely be Janis Irwin in this north east Edmonton riding. Ms. Irwin’s chances are boosted by highly-organized provincial NDP campaigns in the area and helped by the embarrassingantics of retiring Conservative MP Peter Goldring. The Conservatives nominated former city councillor Kerry Diotte as their candidate. Mr. Diotte’s record on city council and lacklustre bid for mayor in 2013 have left some Conservative activists unenthusiastic about their party’s chances of holding the riding. Note: I live in this riding and can attest to the large number of orange lawn signs that have popped up over the past few weeks, including one on my own lawn.
St. Albert-Edmonton: Will long-time Conservative Party loyalist Michael Cooper prevail over rebel MP Brent Rathgeber?Mr. Rathgeber is running as an Independent conservative candidate after quitting the Conservative caucus in 2013 to protest the level of control held over MPs by the Prime Minister’s Office. The two-term MP is well-known in the riding, but a deep Conservative establishment in the riding could be difficult for an Independent to uproot. Note: Before being elected as an MP in 2008, Mr. Rathgeber served as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Edmonton-Calder from 2001 to 2004.
Edmonton-Mill Woods: Popular city councillor Amarjeet Sohi surprised many political watchers when he declared his plans to seek the Liberal nomination earlier this year. Mr. Sohi faces former Edmonton-Sherwood Park Conservative MP Tim Uppaland NDP candidate Jasvir Deol in what could be a fascinating three-way race. Note: Mr. Uppal ran against Liberal MP David Kilgour in this riding as a Canadian Alliance candidate in the 2000 election and Conservative in 2004 election.
Edmonton-Centre: Three-term Conservative MP Laurie Hawn is retiring, leaving this central Edmonton riding up for grabs. The Conservatives have nominated former Chamber of Commerce CEO James Cumming as their candidate, while entrepreneur Randy Boissonnault is running for the Liberals and Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan for the NDP. While the demographics of this riding do not suggest chances would be favourable for the Conservatives, Mr. Hawn benefited in the 2011 election from a sharp vote split by the NDP and Liberals. Note: In 2011, Mr. Hawn earned 48 percent of the vote and the combined Liberals and NDP vote in this riding was 47.8 percent.
Edmonton-Manning: Encompassing the area of Edmonton north east of Edmonton-Griesbach, this riding could result in a close race between Conservative Zaid Aboultaif and New Democrat Aaron Paquette. Note: Mr. Paquette is also known as the founder of the clever #Ottawapiskat meme.
Justin Trudeau’s event, the “Rally for Real Change in Edmonton,” will be held on Wednesday, September 9th at 5:00 pm at the Radisson Edmonton South, 4440 Gateway Blvd.
Thomas Mulcair’s event, the “Rally for Change in Edmonton,” will be held on Thursday, September 10th at 6:30 pm at the Edmonton Shaw Convention Centre, Hall D, 9797 Jasper Ave.
Premier Jim Prentice announced this week that five-term Conservative Member of Parliament Rob Merrifield would be appointed as Alberta’s representative in Washington D.C. Mr. Merrifield’s resignation from the House of Commons means that a federal by-election will need to be called in the Yellowhead riding by March 17, 2015. This would be the fourth federal by-election in Alberta since the 2011 general election.
Media have been banned from attending the forums of the Conservative nomination forums in the Bow River riding. This is no doubt to spare the Conservative Party of the embarrassment of having Mr. Anders on their ballot in that riding.
Last week, the Medicine Hat News reported an embarrassing exchange at a forum in that riding’s nomination contest which saw two social conservative candidates debating gay-rights and women’s access to abortion.
Local Conservative member Brian De Jontold the Brooks Bulletin that there has been “no substance” at the Bow River forums anyway.
An “Anybody But Xiao” (ABX) campaign is heating up in this new west Edmonton riding. With candidate Brad Rutherford dropping out and throwing his support behind Kelly McCauley, a group of local Conservatives are trying to prevent Edmonton-McClung Progressive Conservative MLA David Xiao from winning the nomination.
But Mr. Xiao has his supporters. Former Edmonton mayor and newly appointed provincial health minister Stephen Mandel, former Premier Ed Stelmach, Justice minister Jonathan Denis and Infrastructure minister Manmeet Bhullar have all pledged their endorsements to Mr. Xiao.
Conservative candidate Joan Crockett sent a shot across the bow of popular Calgary-Buffalo Liberal MLA Kent Hehr’s campaign last week. In a column in the Calgary Herald, Ms. Crockatt claimed that Mr. Hehr has done little as an MLA to help with flood recovery in Calgary’s central neighbourhoods (also naming him in the same sentence as disgraced former Premier Alison Redford).
Mr. Hehr, who is seeking the Liberal nomination in the riding told the told Herald reporter James Wood that “it’s politics.” “Joan and I are going to have a lot of time to discuss the issues and she’s just getting an early jump on it,” Mr. Hehr said.
Most Edmontonians probably would not have noticed when Official Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair and 96 New Democratic Party MPs descended on the city for their caucus meeting earlier this month. But while the NDP MPs did appear to spend most of their time behind closed doors, they did take a notable break to help out a local candidate in east Edmonton’s new Griesbach riding.
Confirming what many believed to be inevitable, six-term Conservative MP Peter Goldring announced that he will not seek re-election. Mr. Goldring has endorsed Omar Tarchichi over former mayoral candidate Kerry Diotte in the nomination contest to replace him. Curiously, for a governing party’s candidate, Mr. Tarchichi’s campaign has chosen “Rise Up” as its slogan. It is unclear what Mr. Tarchichi plans to rise up against.
Two candidates have stepped forward to run for the Conservative nomination in the new Lakeland riding after three-term backbencher Brian Storseth announced he was retiring from federal politics.
Shannon Stubbs is a former Wildrose caucus staffer and ran for the party in the 2012 provincial election (collecting 5,800 votes in the Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville riding). She is also the wife of popular Lac La Biche-Two Hills-St. Paul Wildrose MLA Shayne Saskiw(they were married today – congratulations!)
Ms. Stubbs will face Lewis Semashkewich, an Aspen View Public School Board trustee. The Athabasca Advocate reported that Mr. Semashkewich is calling for the construction of a new oil refinery in that corner of the province.
Lawyer Tom O’Leary is seeking the Liberal nomination in the new Edmonton-Riverbend riding.
Edmonton-Strathcona Len Thom will carry the Conservative banner against NDP MP Linda Duncan in the next election. The lawyer of and provincial PC Party constituency president was acclaimed at a nomination meeting this week.
The Lethbridge -> Medicine Hat Shuffle
Almost as soon as Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne announced that he will retire at the next election, neighbouring MP Jim Hillyer jumped into the nomination race to replace him. The controversial Mr. Hillyer, who has represented the Lethbridge riding since 2011, had initially announced he would run against Mr. Payne for the Conservative nomination in the redrawn Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner, but was then sternly directed by his Ottawa bosses not to challenge a fellow MP. But once Mr. Payne announced his retirement, Mr. Hillyer jumped back into the Medicine Hat race.
As a nomination challenger, he faces Dan Hein, the former president of the local Conservative association and former the campaign manager for Mr. Payne in 2011.
Fort McMurray-Cold Lake
Fresh off the by-election campaign trail in Fort McMurray-Athabasca, the Liberals are expected to nominateKyle Harrietha as their candidate in their candidate in Fort McMurray-Cold Lake on July 26 (the current riding boundaries will change when the next federal election is called). Conservative Member of Parliament David Yurdiga is expected to be automatically acclaimed as his party’s candidate because of the recent by-election.
The Liberals will hold a nomination meeting on August 7, 2014 where party members will have their choice of three candidates – entrepreneur Randy Boissonnaultand lawyers Don Padget and Harold Robinson.
On July 15, Conservatives gathered for what was described as a “soft launch” event for James Cumming, President and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, in support of his potential campaign for the Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Centre. Current MP Laurie Hawn has announced his plans to retire at the next election.
Edmonton-Strathcona Liberal activist Wendy Butler, artist Heather Workman(aka Lady Dolphin), and lawyer Eleanor Olszewski are running for the Liberal nomination in this south central Edmonton riding. Lawyer and Edmonton-Gold Bar Progressive Conservative association president Len Thom is seeking the Conservative nomination. The riding has been represented by NDP MP Linda Duncan since 2008.
On May 5, Valerie Kennedy was acclaimed as the Green Party candidate in Edmonton-Riverbend. Ms. Kennedy was the Green Party candidate in Edmonton-Leduc in 2011. where she earned 2,896 votes (4.87% of the votes cast).
Local hotel manager Kelly McCauley has jumped into the Conservative contest in this new west Edmonton riding. Before moving to Edmonton, Mr. McCauley was the president of the Victoria Conservative association. He now faces Edmonton-McClung PC MLA David Xiaoand Edmonton Police Constable Brad Rutherford for the nomination.
MP Mike Lake defeated Leduc County mayor John Whaley for the Conservative nomination in this new mostly-south of Edmonton riding. A third candidate, Mohinder Banga was disqualified shortly before the nomination vote was held.
Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan Four candidates are contesting the Conservative nomination in this new east-of-Edmonton riding. Past Wildrose candidate Garnett Genuis, Bee Clean Building Maintenance vice president Randy Moore, Telus employee and retired Canadian Forces Major Joe Theberge, and 2013 Strathcona County municipal candidate Nicole van Kuppeveld.
With Conservative MP Laurie Hawn retiring at the next election, there is an open race in this riding that the NDP and Liberals hope to capitalize on. With a year and a half until the next federal election is expected to be held, the NDP will have to find a new candidate to fill Mr. Cardinal’s spot.
The NDP had hoped to build on Mr. Cardinal’s success in the 2011 election, in which he placed second and earned more than 12,400 votes in this riding which has been traditionally dominated by Liberals and Conservatives.
Statement from Lewis Cardinal on Edmonton Centre Candidacy:
“I would like to take this time to express deep appreciation to so many supporters and volunteers who have helped me in the federal riding of Edmonton Centre. Their commitment and energy demonstrates the passion for political change that is growing in Edmonton Centre and throughout our city.
“I have decided that due to personal and health reasons to step down as the nominated Federal candidate for the Edmonton Centre NDP. This decision was a very difficult one for me to make, but I know that a strong candidate will step forward to build the future that Edmonton Centre needs and deserves.
“I know the desire for change in Edmonton Centre is strong, and that the people here will continue to fight for the things we hold close to our hearts and the future we all wish to see.”
Here is the audio from a robocall placed by Mr. Anders’ campaign to Conservative Party members in Calgary-Signal Hill announcing Mr. Harper’s endorsement:
One of Canada’s most offensive hyper-Conservatives, Mr. Anders is facing a stiff nomination challenge in the new Calgary-Signal Hill from former Calgary MLA and provincial cabinet minister Ron Liepert.
Mr. Harper’s endorsement is sure to inflame supporters of Mr. Liepert, who will be quick to point out how unusual it is for leader of a party to openly endorse a candidate in a contested nomination race.
Today, March 24, is the deadline for candidates to enter the Conservative Party nomination contest and the cutoff for membership sales is March 31, 2014.
On March 26, Edmonton-Centre’s Lewis Cardinal is expected to be acclaimed as the first New Democratic Party candidate nominated for the 2015 federal general election. The nomination meeting will take place in the lobby of the Winspear Centre and will leader Thomas Mulcair and a handful of NDP MPs from across the country. The lobby of the Winspear is a memorable place for many local New Democrats, who remember when Jack Layton used the venue to host a large and energy-filled election campaign rally in 2008.
Edmonton-Mill Woods Varinder Bhullarhas announced that he will seek the Liberal Party nomination in the new Edmonton-Mill Woods riding.
When Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont MP Mike Lake decided to seek the Conservative nomination in the new Edmonton-Wetaskiwin riding, he was taking a gamble. Mr. Lake, who lives a south Edmonton neighbourhood included in the new riding now facing the challenge of winning a nomination in a riding where 75% of the new territory is new ground. Well-respected in Edmonton, he is now facing a challenge from Leduc County mayorJohn Whaley and Edmonton police officer Mohinder Banga.
Lethbridge First-term MP Jim Hillyer is facing two challengers for the Conservative nomination in the new Lethbridge riding. With Mr. Hillyer cut-off from his base of support in the southern half of the former Lethbridge riding, Doug McArthur and Alex Hann hope to replace him as the Tory candidate.
Red Deer-Mountain View
MP Earl Dreeshen has announced his plans to seek the Conservative nomination in the new Red Deer-Mountain View riding. Mr. Dreeshen has represented the current Red Deer riding since 2008.
Edmonton-Centre Conservative Member of Parliament Laurie Hawnhas decided to retire when the next election is called, according to the latest column by the Edmonton Sun’s Lorne Gunter.
The retired Air Force lieutenant-colonel first entered politics in 2004, running unsuccessfully against Liberal MP and Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan. Mr. Hawn defeated Ms. McLellan in a re-match in 2006 and has been appointed to various parliamentary positions related to national defence and security, including Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence.
Mr. Hawn’s departure is expected to kick-off a hotly contested Conservative nomination contest, which could include a number of high profile conservatives.
A lack of Conservative Party incumbent could also open an opportunity for the opposition parties.
Running for his second time, New Democratic Party candidate Lewis Cardinal finished second in 2011 vote, knocking the Liberals to third-place. He has already been campaigning for nearly one year and hopes to build on the support he earned in the previous election.
The Liberals are hoping excitement about leader Justin Trudeau is enough to help win back the area represented by Ms. McLellan from 1993 to 2006. Three candidates are vying for the Liberal nomination, Randy Boissonnault, Harold Robinson and Don Padget.
Here is a breakdown of the federal election results in Edmonton-Centre from 2004 to 2011:
There has been plenty of activity this week as candidates from all political parties put forward their names to run in Canada’s next federal election, scheduled to be held in October 2015.
Wooing voters and potential candidates alike, both New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau travelled through Alberta this week. Mr. Muclair visited Edmonton and attended party events with provincial NDP leader Brian Mason. Mr. Trudeau was a headliner at well-attended Liberal Party rallies in Okotoks, Calgary and Edmonton.
Award-winning country music artist George Canyon has announced his intentions to seek the Conservative Party nomination in the new Bow River riding. Mr. Canyon will coordinate his campaign with John Barlow, who is seeking the Conservative by-election nomination in neighbouring Macleod riding (an eastern portion of the new Foothills riding will become part of Bow River when the next federal general election is called).
While he would be a star candidate for the Conservatives, he is expected to be joined by a large group of local conservatives interested in seeking the nomination.
Calgary Forest Lawn Abdul Mohamud has announced his plans to seek the Liberal Party nomination in this new east Calgary riding.
Calgary Shepard Tom Kmiec, a former staffer to Calgary MP Jason Kenney, is the first candidate to announce his candidacy for the the Conservative nomination in this new south east Calgary riding.
Lawyer and Metis advocate Harold Robinson has joined the Liberal Party nomination in Edmonton-Centre. Mr. Robinson will face entrepreneur Randy Boissonnault in his party’s yet to be scheduled contest. The Edmonton-Centre Liberals announced on their Twitter account this week that 2011 candidate Mary MacDonald would not seek the nomination.
PC MLA Janice Sarich is reportedly campaigning for the Conservative Party nomination in the new Edmonton-Griesbach riding. Ms. Sarich was an Edmonton Catholic school trustee from 2001 to 2007 and was elected as MLA for Edmonton-Decore in 2008. It is unclear whether current Edmonton-East MP Peter Goldring will seek his party’s nomination in the new riding. Mr. Goldring has represented the area in Ottawa since 1997.
There are at least six candidates running for NDP nomination in Edmonton-Griesbach. The riding association is hosting a candidate meet and greet on January 31.
Edmonton-West The Globe & Mail reports that Edmonton-McClung PC MLA David Xiao is preparing to seek the Conservative nomination in the new Edmonton-West riding. This would not be Mr. Xiao’s first foray into federal politics. In 2004 he was defeated by Laurie Hawn in the Conservative nomination contest in Edmonton-Centre.
Following the resignation of Conservative MP Brian Jean, rumours continue to swirl about who could seek the party nominations in an upcoming by-election.
Former Wood Buffalo municipal councillor Don Scott, who was elected MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin in 2012, is suspected by some to be eyeing the Conservative nomination, but might be hard pressed to leave his provincial cabinet post. Expected to seek the nomination is Laila Goodridge, a Fort McMurray-native and current constituency assistant to Calgary-Centre MP Joan Crockatt.
Former Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA and current Wood Buffalo deputy mayor Guy Boutilier is being talked about as potentially seeking either the Conservative or Liberal Party nominations. First elected under the PC banner in 1997, Mr. Boutilier joined the Wildrose Party in 2011 and was defeated in the 2012 election.
Investment advisor Doug McArthur will challenge incumbent MP Jim Hillyer for the Conservative Party nomination in the new Lethbridge riding.
While no Wildrose MLAs from the area have officially endorsed a candidate in this race (as far as I have seen), Mr Barlow has received the endorsement of former Highwood PC MLA George Groeneveld and Ms. Mathieson has the endorsement of former Livingstone-Macleod PC MLA David Coutts.
Peace River-Westlock Peace River school administrator Terry Hogan is the first candidate to announce plans to seek the Conservative nomination in this new sprawling south west northwest Alberta riding.
There are 705 days until Monday, October 19, 2015, when the next Canadian federal election is scheduled to be held. With less than two years until Canadians choose who will serve as Members of Parliament and with new electoral boundaries coming into effect at the next election, candidates across Alberta are preparing to seek party nominations, a first step to becoming a candidate.
Last week’s resignation announcement by Conservative MP Ted Menzies opens the door for a by-election to be held in southwest Alberta’s Macleod riding. When the next election is called, Macleod will be dissolved and the new Foothills riding will be created. Rumours circulated soon after Mr. Menzies announcement that Wildrose official opposition leader Danielle Smith could seek the Conservative nomination were quickly quashed when he announced she would remain as MLA for Highwood. According to the Okotoks Western Wheel, three local residents, businessman Scott Wagner, rancher Phil Rowland and former Parliament Hill staffer Melissa Mathieson, have expressed interest in seeking the Conservative nomination.
Lawyer and conservative activist Michael Cooper has already announced his candidacy in the St. Albert-Edmonton Conservative nomination and has the support of the provincial Progressive Conservative establishment, including endorsements from Finance Minister Doug Horner, Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk, and St. Albert MLA Stephen Khan. Also in the race is Kevin Tam, a Conservative Party activist who is currently employed as a researcher with the provincial Liberal Opposition.
Changing boundaries in southern Alberta mean that Lethbridge Conservative MP Jim Hillyer will soon find himself living inside the redrawn Medicine Hat riding, currently represented by Conservative MP LeVar Payne. While a nomination race between the two incumbents could easily be averted if Mr. Hillyer runs in the newly redrawn Lethbridge, he may still face a tough nomination contest now that his large base of support in the southern half of the old riding will now living in a new riding.
Conservatives have still yet to resolve who will run in the handful of new ridings created in south Edmonton. Similar to the situation in southern Alberta, Conservatives are hopeful that nomination battles between MPs Mike Lake, James Rajotte, and Blaine Calkins can be averted. This may be even further complicated if current Edmonton-Sherwood Park MP Tim Uppal decides to seek a nomination in the newly redrawn Edmonton-Mill Woods riding. Mr. Uppal was the Canadian Alliance and Conservative candidate in south east Edmonton in the 2000 and 2004 federal elections and lost his party nomination to Mr. Lake before the 2006 election.
Rod Loyola announced his intentions to seek the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Mill Woods last year. Mr. Loyola was the 2012 provincial NDP candidate in Edmonton-Ellerslie and is currently the president of the Non-Academic Staff Association at the University of Alberta.
With the retirement of Calgary-Nose Hill MP Diane Ablonczy, who was first elected under the Reform Party banner in 1993, Calgarians can expect a hotly contested nomination race in this riding that is considered a Conservative stronghold. One candidate rumoured to be considering a run for a nomination is Calgary-Foothills PC MLA Len Webber, who served as a cabinet minister in Premier Ed Stelmach‘s government but was shuffled to the backbenches after Alison Redford became Premier in 2011.
In the always contested Edmonton-Centre, aboriginal activist and educator Lewis Cardinal, announced earlier this year that he would once again seek the NDP nomination. In 2011, Mr. Cardinal increased his party’s support in that riding by 11%, placing second to Conservative incumbent Laurie Hawn. The central Edmonton riding was represented by Liberal MP Anne McLellan from 1993 until 2006. Hoping for a revival of Liberal support in the next election, a number of candidates are said to be preparing to contest the Liberal nomination, including entrepreneur and Rhodes Scholar Randy Boissonnault,and 2011 candidate and lawyer Mary MacDonald.
Two-term Edmonton-Decore PC MLA Janice Sarich is rumoured to be mounting a challenge against current Edmonton-East Conservative MP Peter Goldring in the new Edmonton-Griesbach riding. With Mr. Goldring back in the Conservative fold after sitting as an independent, he is expected to seek his party’s nomination in the new riding. The NDP are searching for a star candidate in this riding, after seeing their support steadily increase since the past four federal elections. The new riding also significantly overlaps the areas represented by NDP MLA Brian Mason, David Eggen, and Deron Bilous in the provincial Legislature. The NDP’s 2008 and 2012 candidate, former MLA Ray Martin, was elected to serve on Edmonton’s Public School Board on October 21, 2013.
The NDP surge seen in other parts of the country did not manifest itself in Alberta. While Jack Layton‘s Party surged in Quebec, and increased their caucus numbers in British Columbia, Ontario and the Maritimes, the NDP only elected one MP in Alberta, dashing hopes that the party had in three Edmonton ridings. The NDP placed second province-wide with 16.8% of the vote, increasing their total by 4.1% since the 2008 election.
The Liberal Party took a historical beating in every province yesterday save Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island and that Party fell to a pathetic 9.3% province-wide vote in Alberta. No one expected the Liberals to be strong in Alberta, but less than one in ten Albertans voted for the Liberal Party in yesterday’s election.
The Conservatives maintained their dominance in Alberta and elected 27 of 28 MPs, while receiving support of 66.8% of voters province-wide.
Edmonton-Strathcona MP Linda Duncan was re-elected with a clear mandate of 26,134 votes (53% of the vote) over her Conservative Party opponent Ryan Hastman, who earned 19,755 votes (40% of the total vote). The Conservatives had hoped to reclaim this riding, which they held until Ms. Duncan’s upset victory against Rahim Jaffer in 2008. Instead the ridings voters rejected the Conservative Blue wave that swept Alberta and granted Ms. Duncan the first majority vote that any MP from Edmonton-Strathcona has received since 1984.
In Edmonton-East, a riding the NDP has hoped to succeed in, former MLA Ray Martin increased his vote share from the 2008 election, but it was not enough to defeat incumbent Conservative Peter Goldring. Mr. Goldring managed to finish almost 7,000 votes ahead of Mr. Martin. This was Mr. Martin’s fourth attempt to win a seat in Parliament since 1997.
In Edmonton-Centre, the NDP dislodged the Liberals in the contest for second place, while Conservative MP Laurie Hawn finished with 47% support. Mr. Hawn finished around 9,000 votes ahead of his nearest opponent, the hardworking NDP candidate Lewis Cardinal. The Liberal candidate Mary MacDonald had waged an aggressive campaign in the riding, but failed to beat her Party’s national downward trend.
Levels of Twitter-ability among some local election candidates varies. While some candidates, like Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont Conservative candidate Mike Lake, Edmonton-Strathcona Conservative Ryan Hastman, and Edmonton-Centre Liberal Mary MacDonald, have or are beginning to demonstrate an more nuanced understanding of Twitter, the social media literacy of most candidates appears to be lacking. It makes me wonder if some candidates just checked off “social media” on their campaign do-list, but are not sure why they are actually doing it.
Most candidates have begun their Tweets and Facebook Pages to blast out one-way messages about 1) how great their campaign is going, 2) how awesome their party leaders are, 3) how amazing their party’s policies are, or 4) how terrible the other parties/leaders and their policies are for Canada. For example, only three of the last 50 tweets posted by Edmonton-Centre Conservative MP Laurie Hawn have been responses to other twitter users. The remaining 47 tweets fit into the previously mentioned four categories.
Yelling loudly in a room packed with people
Operating in a one-way social media bubble obviously lessens the chance of making embarrassing mistakes, but makes for a boring Twitter feed. A friend described recently, sending one way Tweets is kind of like standing in a crowded room and yelling. Believe me, election candidates, you probably do not want to be “that guy.”
At least in the first two weeks of the Federal Election campaign, I have found many members of the national media to be the most engaging and interesting people to follow on Twitter. Follow @Kady@ScottFeschuk and @DavidAkin to see what I mean.
Follow the election on Twitter
To follow the election tweets on Twitter, #yegfed for Edmonton federal election news, #elxn41 or #cdnpoli for Canada-wide election news.
Creative online ads
On a more cheeky and creative side of the online campaign, both the Liberals and NDP have created two ads that have caught the attention of some online users:
Hey Stephen Harper, stop creeping me on Facebook!
NDP Hamster Wheel Ad
Remember, social media is a tool.
As I have written before, it is important to remember that social media is a tool. Social media is an important additional tool to complement traditional campaigning, but it does not replace actually connecting citizens in-person.
In the land where federal election results are typically much ado about nothing, the election scheduled for May 2, 2011 is not much of an exception. As the Liberals and NDP fill ballots across the province with last minute paper candidates, with few exceptions Alberta remains safe electoral territory for the Conservative Party of Canada.
If any riding in Alberta changes hands in this federal election, it will be Edmonton-Strathcona. It is the only riding represented by an opposition Member of Parliament and Conservatives have made it their goal to unseat NDP MP Linda Duncan, who defeated Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer by a slim 463 votes in 2008. After campaigning for two years, the Conservatives hope that candidate Ryan Hastman is the one who can do the job.
As the NDP’s Environment Critic in Ottawa, Ms. Duncan has gone against the grain of other Alberta MP colleagues by criticizing the oil sands and its impact on the environment. In a campaign stop in Edmonton this weekend, NDP leader Jack Layton only briefly mentioned the environment, suggesting that he may have been avoiding the issue while in Alberta (he also did not take media questions while in the province).
The Green Party has nominated Environmental Economics and Policy studentAndrew Fehr, who faces the challenge of convincing Green-leaning voters that actually voting for a Green Party is a better choice than a strategic vote for Ms. Duncan. The Liberals have not yet nominated a candidate and appear to be a non-factor in this contest.
The highly polarized geopolitics of this riding have the Conservatives drawing strong support from polls in the east and NDP drawing strong support from polls in the west. Both candidates will lean heavy on financial and organizational support from their national parties, making this riding too close to call.
The irony is that the NDP could increase their vote total across Edmonton at the same time they could lose the only riding they currently hold.
In Edmonton-Centre the real contest to watch is not to defeat door-knocking/hand-shaking/baby-kissing election-machine Conservative MP Laurie Hawn. The real contest is for second place. The Liberals hope their candidate Mary MacDonald can regain the support they lost in the last election and maintain their position as the de facto alternative to the Conservatives in this riding. The NDP are hoping that their candidate Lewis Cardinal can help build the kind of support needed to cut the Liberals down to third place. This is similar to the multi-election strategy that helped the NDP make gains in Strathcona.
The Liberals held this riding from 1993 until 2006 when Mr. Hawn defeated Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan. Mr Hawn’s vote share decreased in 2008 while his margin widened substantially as the Liberal vote collapsed. The Greens have nominated 2008 candidate David Parker and also running is Mikkel Paulson, leader of the Pirate Party of Canada.
Edmonton-East MP Peter Golding is what I would refer to as a wall-paper backbencher. Since he was first elected in 1997, Mr. Goldring seems to only pop into the media spotlight when taking up odd causes like exposing the “truth about Louis Riel” or joining the bizarre drive to get the obscure Caribbean Islands of Turks and Caicos to join Canada.
The NDP have steadily increased their support in this riding since the 2004 election and former MLA Ray Martin is hoping that this trend continues. Mr Martin is an NDP institution in northeast Edmonton, having been elected as an MLA from 1982 to 1993, a public school board trustee from 2001 to 2004, and once again as an MLA from 2004 to 2008. This is the fourth time Mr Martin has sought a seat in Parliament since 1997. The Liberals have nominated IT management consultant Shafik Ruda.
Edmonton-Sherwood Park was the second closest race in 2008, when Independent Conservative James Ford nearly defeated Conservative candidate Tim Uppal. It was a city mouse versus county mouse game as many voters in Strathcona County and Fort Saskatchewanwere upset with the Conservative nomination process that led to County Councillor Jacquie Fenske defeat and allowed Edmontonian Mr. Uppal to win the nomination.
Mr. Ford is running again and the Liberals and NDP, represented by Rick Szostak and Mike Scott, are expected to play minor supporting roles in this contest. The big question is whether voters in the county still feel that Mr. Uppal’s candidacy is the great injustice they believed it to be in 2008.
At the invitation of Edmonton-Mill-Woods-Beaumont MP Mike Lake, I participated in a roundtable discussion yesterday morning with some local Conservative MPs and a group of eight Edmontonians from diverse backgrounds. Along with Mr. Lake, the local MPs in attendance were Edmonton-Sherwood Park MP Tim Uppal, Edmonton-East MP Peter Goldring, Edmonton-St. Albert MP Brent Rathgeber, and Edmonton-Centre MP Laurie Hawn (who unfortunately had to step out for part of the meeting).
As the start of the meeting, each participant was asked to name a few issues that were important to them and that they wanted to discuss. The three issues that I raised, and were discussed, were:
– Urban Growth: The growth of safe and healthy urban communities and investment in LRT and public transit.
– Telecommunications: CRTC, User Based Billing, and the lack of competitiveness in the telecommunications sector in Canada (Internet service providers and Mobile Phone service providers).
– Public Health Care: The need to provide stability in the public health care system. A big part of the Federal Government’s role in this could be ensuring the funding for the 2014 Canada Health Transfer.
I am not going to go into detail about the discussions that took place around the table over the next two hours, as they touched on a wide range of topics related to housing, immigration, temporary foreign workers, economic competitiveness, budget deficit, government debt, student finance, mental health, to urban growth and more.
I was actually surprised at how quickly the two hours passed and how smoothly the discussions flowed. The roundtable format of the small group discussion certainly gave the meeting a more intimate feel. It also allowed for more flowing conversations and exchanges between participants and topics than a traditional town hall meeting would allow.
I appreciated the opportunity to talk with local MPs about some of the important issues close to my heart and listen to the issues raised by the other participants.