While Canadians could be on track to elect the country’s first Liberal Party government since 2004, it looks like Albertans could remain firmly in the Conservative Party camp, even after Stephen Harper‘s decade-long reign in Ottawa. But while most of Alberta’s federal ridings are expected to produce large victories for Tory candidates when the votes are counted tomorrow night, a handful of ridings in Alberta’s two major cities could produce some interesting results.
Attracting crowds of 2,000 in Edmonton and 4,000 in Calgary today, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau spent the final day of the 11-week election campaign in western Canada. The excitement in the crowd was undeniable. It has been a long time since Alberta Liberals have had something to be excited about.
I don’t know what Trudeaumania felt like in 1968, but the energy at today’s rally in Edmonton rivalled the energy at Rachel Notley‘s 2,000 person rally in the final week of this year’s provincial election. And I bet if you polled the people at that Trudeau rally, I would expect that most will have enthusiastically voted for Ms. Notley’s New Democratic Party on May 5, 2015. It was that ability to unite moderate and progressive voters under her party’s banner that led to the NDP’s election victory earlier this year.
While many of those moderate voters may help re-elect the Alberta NDP in 2019, they were excited about the federal Liberals today. And with moderate and progressive voters still divided between the federal Liberals and NDP in Alberta, it remains likely that any gains in the province could be marginal.
But while hopes for an NDP government led by Tom Mulcair in Ottawa may have been dashed, for now, the NDP remain well-positioned to elect two Members of Parliament in Edmonton, the epicentre of Ms. Notley’s orange wave. Two-term NDP MP Linda Duncan is expected to be re-elected in Edmonton-Strathcona. The NDP have also poured plenty of energy and resources in the campaign in Edmonton-Griesbach, where a two-way race has pitted NDP candidate Janis Irwin against former one-term city councillor Kerry Diotte.
Back at the rally, where the crowd of Liberals cheered enthusiastically for the Edmonton area Liberal candidates on stage, the largest cheers were for Trudeau and Amarjeet Sohi, the popular city councillor running for election in Edmonton-Mill Woods (where the rally was held). During his speech, Mr. Trudeau focused on some of the issues that Mr. Sohi has fought hard for on city council – like the much needed expansion of the LRT line to south east Edmonton.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson briefly entered the federal election fray earlier in the campaign when he criticized the federal Conservatives for not proposing new funding for Edmonton’s LRT system, while promising similar funding for projects in other cities. While his criticisms ruffled the delicate feathers of some local Conservatives, Mr. Iveson may find a more cooperative partner in a new federal government willing to invest in urban transportation infrastructure. And that kind of change is exciting.
Here is a list of some other Alberta ridings to watch on Election Night:
Calgary-Centre: Former Liberal MLA Kent Hehr is facing Conservative candidate Joan Crockatt, who was narrowly elected in a 2012 by-election.
Calgary-Confederation: Lawyer Matt Grant, running for the Liberals, faces former Progressive Conservative MLA Len Webber. Well-known former journalist Kirk Heuser is running for the NDP.
Calgary-Skyview: Former Liberal MLA Darshan Kang faces Conservative MP Devinder Shory.
Edmonton-Centre: A three-way race between Liberal Randy Boissonnault, New Democrat Gil McGowan and Conservative James Cumming.
Fort McMurray-Cold Lake: Liberal Kyle Harrietha and Conservative David Yurdiga face each other in a rematch from a closely fought 2014 by-election.
If you find yourself without an election night party tomorrow night, feel free to come down to the Metro Cinema (Garneau Theatre) and watch the coverage on a 30 foot theatre screen. While you watch the results, I will be talking politics on stage with Wab Kinew, Samantha Power, Drew Hayden Taylor and Mike Hudema. The event, part of Litfest, begins at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $10.