Political commentator Joan Crockatt was chosen as the Conservative Party candidate in the yet to be called by-election in the federal riding of Calgary-Centre. Ms. Crockatt bested five other candidates, including the heavily endorsed lawyer Greg McLean and former MLA Jon Lord. According to a report from the Calgary Herald, more than 900 party members cast ballots out of approximately 1,850 eligible members.
With the Conservative candidate chosen and widely expected to win the upcoming by-election, attention will now shift to the opposition party candidates. The New Democrats have yet to select a candidate and no prospective candidates have made their intentions public. Past candidate William Hamilton has announced his intentions to seek the Green Party nomination and popular local writer Chris Turner has expressed interest in that party’s nomination.
Despite already having two capable candidates – Rahim Sajan and Harvey Locke – approved to seek the Liberal Party nomination, some party activists are concerned that their central party is holding out for a big-name star candidate to swoop into the downtown Calgary riding. These activists suggest that the Liberal Party is hoping that Chima Nkemdirim, chief of staff to mayor Naheed Nenshi, will change his mind and seek the nomination. Others suggest that the party is hoping to recruit a star candidate, like Olympic gold medalist Mark Tewkesbury, to carry the Liberal Party banner in the by-election.
This is reminiscent of the Calgary-Centre Liberal nomination before the 2004 election, when local lawyer Julia Turnbull, who had been campaigning for the nomination, was nearly pushed out of the race in favour of former Calgary police chief Christine Silverberg, who the central party had hoped to appoint as the candidate.
A new group, calling themselves 1 Calgary Centre, has formed in hopes of mobilizing progressive voters within Calgary-Centre to support and elect a consensus candidate in the upcoming by-election.