Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Alberta Votes Day 2: Polls and Prostitutes

We were treated to a pair of Alberta election polls last night - both showing the PCs and Wildrose in a statistical tie. Given previous 2012 polls have shown Redford between 5 and 37 points ahead, this comes as a bit of a shock - though it's not necessarily bad news for the PC campaign team, as it helps them frame the election as a two party race, and may prompt the media and voters to take a closer look at Smith's platform and team.

ThinkHQ (March 22-25, n = 1320 online)
PC 36%
WR 33%
NDP 13%
ALP 13%

Ipsos Reid (n = 890 online, March 20-25)
PC 38%
WR 38%
NDP 12%
ALP 11%

I talked about Redford targeting female voters yesterday and these numbers bear that out - the PCs lead by 12 among women, but trail by 8 among men. The Wildrosers hold a 7-8 point lead in Calgary, with the two parties tied in rural Alberta. The PCs still lead in Redmonton but, most surprisingly, the Wildrose Party has jumped to second place. I haven't seen much media commentary on that point, but that's really a shocking development that plunges Edmonton into an unpredictable vortex of 3 and 4-way races.

Speaking of unpredictability, who would have thought day 1 of the campaign would feature an attack against the far right wing Wildrose Party for being soft on prostitution? Yet, that's exactly what happened, when the PCs circulated a Danielle Smith column from 2003, in which she writes about the health, crime, and safety benefits a Calgary red light district would bring with it:

Even worse, one gets the impression that prostitutes are deemed unworthy of the same basic rights to protection the rest of us enjoy.

When a prostitute is raped, beaten or even murdered, her assailant is seldom brought to justice. The book Serial Killers from A-Z contains a section on unsolved multiple murders, a shocking number of which are prostitute slayings. A 2001 study of prostitutes on Vancouver’s East Side, conducted by the Prostitution Alternatives Counselling Education Society, found that police misconduct and violence towards prostitutes is also rampant — allegations include sexual and physical assaults, theft, threats and attempted murder.

Moreover, when a customer refuses to pay for the services he’s received, a prostitute has no recourse to collect on the debt. If she works for a pimp, she has no ability to negotiate wages, benefits, hours of work or working conditions, or even leave the profession. There is no access to treatment for those addicted to drugs. A john has no idea when he picks up a “date” whether she is infected with a venereal disease or HIV.

The moral crusade against prostitution has had devastating unintended consequences. It’s no surprise sex-trade workers are the most vocal advocates for decriminalization. If the status quo is this bad, legalization can’t be worse. Many nations agree.

Redford attacked Smith for taking an "uncaring" and "simplistic" approach to the issue, but when you read the full article, it's clear Smith's position is anything but. She studied the issue, considered the health and safety of the individuals involved, and came to a perfectly reasonable conclusion - albeit a politically toxic one.

This won't be the last time an old article of Smith's is going to surface - especially if her poll numbers hold. As Michael Ignatieff learned last spring, thoughtful writings get distilled down to damaging soundbites during political campaigns.

The difference, I think, is that Smith appears to be a far more talented politician than Ignatieff, so she'll stand a better chance at fending off these attacks.

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  • What are your thoughts on right wing vote splitting? In my riding, Calgary-Klein the results before it changed names are below. The Liberals were only 700 votes behind. If those Conservative voters switch to WR, it could allow the Liberals to win. I'm not sure if there are a lot of riding's like this, or what the chances are of this happening.

    party votes %
    PC 4,281 38.32%
    Liberal 3,573 31.99%
    NDP 1,381 12.36%
    WA 976 8.74%
    Greens 732 6.55%

    By Blogger Martin, at 1:38 p.m.  

  • The Wildrose vote split is one reason it's going to be very difficult to project seat totals this election.

    If the Liberal vote holds in Klein, it's one they could take, but all indications are the Liberal vote is down. My suspicion is Swann and Hehr will win, with Varsity, McCall, and Currie all possibilities.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 2:51 p.m.  

  • I have to disagree with you CalgaryGrit.

    On a basic numerical analysis, yes McCall might be winnable. But take local factors into account McCall is one seat the Liberals will likely lose.

    But the incumbent MLA has been quite lazy. He is probably one of the laziest MLAs in the province.

    He has one of the poorest attendance records in the Legislature. He rarely if ever is seen at community functions.

    The community presidents are all supporting the WRA's Grant Galpin.

    The community associations in the area have suggested his poor attendance is a result of him being out of the country for a good part of the year.

    They don't seem to happy with his lack of support for the local area.

    It is really unfortunate because the ALP could have used McCall to build a strong base in NE Calgary which could have carried forward to the federal political scene.

    As for the other seats, I believe the Liberals will hold Kent Hehr's seat. His personal popularity is really high. I don't think there is any question.

    I also think they will hold David Swann's seat. He will likely even survive an Orange Crush simply because he connects very well with that constituency.

    Varsity is a possibility as is Calgary Klein. But outside of that the Liberals really have little hope in Calgary in this election.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:39 p.m.  

  • The hooker should just get the money first.
    I dunno, if the police can only "attempted murder" an unarmed drugged out tramp, I almost feel sorry for the incompetance of the police officer. They didn't "attempted" take my last roach before internet cafe, they took it.

    By Anonymous The Keystone Garter, at 4:31 p.m.  

  • Anon - I tend to agree with you, which is why I only expect Swann and Hehr to win.

    But, with a Wildrose vote split, it's hard not to at least consider McCall a "possibility" for the Liberals.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 4:36 p.m.  

  • Anonymous wrote:

    "He has one of the poorest attendance records in the Legislature."

    That's patently untrue, and the kind of lies that the right wing uses to smear opponents.

    Cite your source on attendance.

    Yes, he was away for a little while when he had to have heart surgery in 2009 or whenever. And he thanked the people of McCall for their patience afterwards. Since then his legislature attendance record has been exemplary. These people are human. Sorry he couldn't be there while they cut open his chest.

    And keep in mind for Grant Galpin, while Darshan Kang didn't have to spend his time advocating for the airport tunnel (but did so over and over again until he won on that issue), Grant was paid to do so. Grant was a paid advocate for the tunnel. That doesn't win much cred with me.

    By Anonymous Brandon M, at 1:21 a.m.  

  • I am just stating what I hear from people who are familiar with him.

    There have been a number of complaints especially in regards to his lack of attendance at community events and his inaccessibility.

    This isn't right wing badgering, this is me hating lazy MLAs. I think that is a fair comment.

    My anger is not just limited to him, Heather Forsyth and Dave Taylor also get little support from me. Both of them have very poor attendance in the Legislature and they generally have done little to support their constituencies.

    They get paid good money, they should be doing their job.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:09 p.m.  

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