Alberta Politics

john carpay to run wildrose, liberals target carl benito.

The Wildrose Alliance has attracted its first candidate who I would describe as at least having “medium-profile” presence among Alberta’s political wonk class. Current Constitution Foundation lawyer and former  Canadian Taxpayers Federation Director John Carpay announced in today’s Calgary Hearld that he intends to challenge Calgary-Lougheed Progressive Conservative MLA Dave Rodney as a Wildrose candidate in the next election. Mr. Carpay’s Calgary Herald mini-essay decried the PCs for a long grocery list of conservative pet issues.

This is not Mr. Carpay’s first attempt at elected office. As a Reform Party candidate in 1993 he unsuccessfully challenged New Democrat Member of Parliament Svend Robinson in the Burnaby-Kingsway riding. Along with the predictable Taxpayer Federation issues that end up on the public record, in 1994, Mr. Carpay penned an opinion-editorial in the National Post which criticized Premier Ralph Klein for not invoking the Notwithstanding Clause to block the Supreme Court decision which forced Alberta to include protection of homosexuals from discrimination.

In the capital city, the Liberal Party is targeting Edmonton-Mill Woods PC MLA Carl Benito in a weekend pamphlet drop. Mr. Benito’s actions (or lack thereof) have quite possibly made him the lowest-hanging fruit in the PC caucus and the Liberals hope to capitalize on that. Former MLA Weslyn Mather intends to seek the Liberal nomination in that riding and many Liberals are hoping that this call to action could spark a fire that will help the Liberals win back a few of the eight Edmonton-area constituencies they lost in the 2008 election. While the Liberals are facing a lot of serious internal challenges of their own, there is little evidence to suggest that Edmonton will be less electorally competitive as it traditionally has been.

Word on the street is that long-time Calgary federal Liberal organizer Pat Raymaker will be appointed campaign co-chair as her party prepares for the next election. I am told that the Liberals are having a more challenging time finding an Edmonton co-chair and that David Swann‘s Calgary-heavy brain-trust is having a difficult time tapping into the traditional base of loyal Edmonton lawyers and business people which their party have depended on for such roles in the past.

With Kevin Taft‘s retirement, the Liberals could be entering the next election with only two incumbent MLAs in Edmonton (assuming that Laurie Blakeman and Hugh MacDonald seek re-election). The presence of three to five former Liberal MLAs seeking a comeback could buoy their chances in the city, but the absence of an Edmonton-area leader for the first time since the 1970s could have an effect on that party’s support in the capital city.

Even if Mr. Benito’s promise contributes to the defeat of Edmonton PC MLAs in the next election, the political environment is too fluid to assume that the Liberals will be the main benefactor as they were in the 2004 election.