Monday, October 04, 2010

Stampede to the Polls: Barb Higgins

Previous Profiles:
Ric McIver
Kent Hehr
Naheed Nenshi

The general consensus in Calgary seems to be that the mayoral race sits as:

1. McIver
2. Higgins
3. Nenshi

Sure, guys like Bob Hawkesworth and Wayne Stewart are still in the mix is too short to blog about Bob Hawkesworth. As such, this will be the fourth and final instalment of my 2,372 part series profiling mayoral candidates.

Today, the wild card.

Barb Higgins

About Barb

Barb was born in Edmonton - something which will no doubt form the basis of nasty attack ads should the campaign get dirty. At the age of 27, she took over as an anchor at CTV Calgary News. For the next 21 years, Higgins and her co-anchor, Darrel Janz, were among most recognizable Calgarians around.

Higgins was a latecomer to the mayoral race - she declared in early August to much fanfare, but her campaign has yet to take off. Early on, she was criticized for lacking substance and concrete plans. Last week she axed her campaign manager, Don Lovett, replacing him with Alan Hallman. Regardless of what you think of Lovett or Hallman, replacing your campaign manager mid contest is not the sign of a healthy campaign.

(Appearance: 7/10, Functionality 7/10, Content 7/10, Uniqueness 5/10, Overall 7/10)

Higgins' site covers the bases. Candidate's picture in front of Calgary skyline? Check. Easy to donate or tell a friend? Check. Visible link to her platform? Check. YouTube intro and social media links? Check.

Much like the candidate, there isn't a lot to get excited about, but the site serves its purpose.

Social Media

Facebook: 1165 fans (well behind both Nenshi and McIver)
Twitter: 1348 followers (similar to McIver, but well behind Nenshi)
YouTube: 17 videos with 24,475 views

My Take

Barb says her motto is "be bold", but she's been anything but this campaign. After taking a beating in the press for a lack of ideas, she finally released her platform last week. Yes, there are some tangible things in there - an end to park and ride fees and extending recycling programs to apartments and condos. But you need to strain your eyes to find concrete ideas - most of the platform is as clear as mud. Among the highlights:

I would like to see business taxes reduced. I would not go so far as to eliminate business taxes because that would mean a drop in revenues to the City of $150 million, and I do not think the City has the capacity to do that at this time. I would add, however, that I have had good discussions with the Chamber of Commerce and as mayor would seek to develop an ongoing dialogue between the Mayor’s Office, City Council and small and medium-sized businesses to make the right decisions about business tax rates.


I believe Enmax should remain in the hands of Calgarians. That said; it is time to re-visit Enmax’s overall mandate. I will ensure that their activities in generating and transmitting electricity and other business ventures remain in the best interests of Calgarians, and that Calgarians are receiving a proper return on investment;


Almost all of our amateur sports and recreational facilities are at or over capacity. I am committed to working with our amateur sports community to expand these facilities, in particular for minor hockey and minor soccer.

Yes, it's not any less bold than anything that has come out of the Ric McIver platitude machine. But it's not any different. And therein lies the problem.

When you're in second place behind a competent and well organized campaign, you need something to differentiate yourself. At this point, the only real area of disagreement between Higgins and McIver seems to be on property taxes, with Higgins wanting them to be slightly higher than McIver. Hardly the stuff that will encourage one of the most apathetic electorates in Canada to vote for you.

With two weeks to go, the smart money is on a strong second for Higgins. She'll most likely need a game changer to pull this one out, especially if Nenshi continues to drain votes off the left.

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  • I'd say barb is more likely to be 3rd, than second. Naheed is gaining a lot of momentum, and the last poll had 61% still undecided.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:40 PM  

  • I agree Anonymous I think Nenshi is going to pull into second.

    So the big question now is... who does Calgary Grit support?

    By Blogger Red Tory Liberal, at 10:23 PM  

  • This will be your forth instalment, you've dedicated 3 of them to candidates which harbour incredibly similar policys(re: pro-billion dollar tunnel, selling enmax, service cuts etc...) and one guy that a bullet couldn't stop, but 18th in the polls could.
    Your ranking was accurate 3 weeks ago, Higgins is taking a nosedive, Nenshi's bleeding support on wanting to sell ENMAX and cutting libraries, lots of game left to play, McIver is having trouble selling to the people that he can be productive as opposed to just saying no.
    Galsworthy is the only guy who's presenting a different vision for Calgary,
    Stewart is also interesting, if a bit of an odd candidate.

    If you want to keep your "Calgary" title, you've gotta do better than that

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:39 AM  

  • I agree with the last guy CG - you have to do a write up on a few more candidates.

    However, I have to raise an eyebrow at anyone that sees Higgins finishing 3rd. Name/face recognition is a major asset, there's no way she's behind anyone but McIver.

    In fact, if Higgins had any substance whatsoever she'd probably be the frontrunner.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:15 AM  

  • Anon/RV - If there's any sort of indication that someone else is a player in this thing, I'll do a profile of them. But right now, I can't see any of the others cracking the top 2.

    But I'm on all their e-mail lists and am paying attention. So if things do start to move, I'll definitely give them their due.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:35 AM  

  • Red Tory Liberal - I don't have a vote in this one...if I did, I'd probably vote for Naheed.

    But Higgins is a very intriguing choice, and I'd rather not write her off completely - with a little more substance, I'd certainly consider her. And even McIver is a right winger I can respect. I voted for him for Alderman last election (admitedly, against a no name challenger).

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:38 AM  

  • Donn Lovett is the greatest political mind in Calgary. Just ask Donn Lovett and he'll tell you as much.

    By Anonymous Calgary Politico, at 1:39 PM  

  • Well a new poll out today shows only McIver, Higgins and Nenshi over 3%.

    By Blogger Red Tory Liberal, at 8:50 PM  

  • Dan, what about that poll? Is it weighted against nenshi? See most of the contacts land lines?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:22 AM  

  • Polls are like statistics, for losers. The only one that counts is on Oct. 18th. But Barb is not heading south. The average Calgarian senses that there is substance to Barb that is trustworthy. Sorry about the analogy, but that's the same electorate reaction to a reporter named Ralph back in '80.

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