Friday, January 07, 2011

This Week in Alberta: The Battle for Centre-North

The last round of by elections served as a good reminder of what unpredictable creatures they can be. The Tories took a riding they hadn't held in 22 years, with the Liberals winning a Manitoba seat they got just 9% of the vote in last election. This should heighten interest in the upcoming Calgary Centre-North by election, even if the Liberals' Alberta co-chair concedes "you could move the federal capital to Calgary and they still wouldn't vote for you".

There's probably some truth to that, though I do think there are probably some things the party could do outside of blatant pandering that might get them in the game in Calgary. And if they ever do those things, Calgary Centre-North is certainly a riding to watch.

Yes, I know Jim Prentice has taken it by at least 30 percentage points in each of the last three elections, but consider this:

1. Prentice is a red tory, and a popular one at that.
2. Centre-North contains much of the old Joe Clark Calgary Centre - a riding that scared the Conservatives so much, they had to destroy it during the last round of redistricting.
3. Provincially, it contains much of the Calgary Mountainview electorate that has given David Swann over 50% of the vote in the past two provincial elections.
4. When I ran a demographic regression analysis, Centre and Centre-North came out as the two worst ridings for the Conservatives in Calgary.

So this is all to say Centre-North is one of the more interesting Calgary ridings, but that's kind of like saying blue is one of the more interesting colours of paint to watch dry.

And as the slate of candidate slate rounds itself out, the by election has gotten even less intriguing than before Christmas when there was (albeit far fetched) speculation about a Dave Bronconnier versus Ric McIver cage match.

Instead, Michelle Rempel was acclaimed as the Tory candidate. Rempel has a solid bio and I presume she's well organized and well connected given how no one else bothered to run for the nomination in this safe Tory seat. But she certainly lacks the "star" power it takes to get the Ontario press gallery interested in a Calgary by election.

Carrying the Liberal banner will be 66-year old University of Calgary professor Stephen Randall. Randall has an impressive bio and it wouldn't at all surprise me if the grits came across him when said "if you like Michael Ignatieff you'll like these books by Stephen Randall". But he's certainly not a household name by any means.

The Greens, who came within 14 votes of second place in the last election, will put forward Heather MacIntosh as their candidate. Heather, according to her official bio, "enjoys her book club and Flamenco dancing, and is a strong proponent of fair trade".

We still don't have an NDP candidate, though John Chan has been this riding's man in orange for the past three elections.

As for when Calgarians will go to the polls? Well, judging from the Pundits Guide round-up, it would appear that a call is likely by April 20th, so as to lump it in with (at least) two other by elections. That's assuming the rest of the country isn't thrown into an election before then.



  • Calgary hasn't elected a Liberal since 1968 and it's not about to do so now.

    The only reason some of us voted for Prentice, red "Tory" or not, is because there was no one else. Most of us, myself included, would rather have a root canal without anesthetic than vote Liberal.

    By Anonymous Larry, at 5:54 p.m.  

  • Hello Grit,

    That was my oversight. The last day to call Calgary Centre-North is May 14 for an E-Day of Monday, June 20 or later.

    I forgot to do the calculations for that post, but they're included in my next one.

    By Blogger The Pundits' Guide, at 6:39 p.m.  

  • How did the Conservatives destroy the old Calgary Centre? A majority of the boundary commission members were selected by the Chretien Liberals.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:11 p.m.  

  • Calgary Centre-North is an interesting riding, but most Calgarians make clear distinctions between municipal/provincial and federal politics. The Nenshi/Swann progressive factor(if any exists) will be little to the advantage of professor Randall.

    As a Calgarian, I lament that many progressives stay home because they know the outcome of any election, general or not, that is: the CPC will win the the riding. Even with more and more Conservative voters staying at home, feeling their ridings are safe seats; the lack of presentation of the Liberals/NDP/Greens as viable alternatives (or even 'alternatives' at all) to CPC incumbents in the media and around the water-cooler is enough to squash any confidence progressives have at creating change.

    While the GPC is a young party with no representation in parliament right now, I think that they have the best shot at being elected in Calgary given the stubbornness of Calgarians to equate the LPC to the NEP and the NDP to the Soviet Union. The GPC does not have those hangups nor do people necessarily look at you like you're wearing jackboots when you admit to voting Green. It's viewed as, at worst, an idealistic vote alternative if you're one to buy into the notion that change is needed in federal representation.

    I believe that in 10 years we could very well see a Green in Calgary (if they get into parliament within the next election or so) before we'll see a Liberal.

    By Blogger D, at 10:50 p.m.  

  • And how did the Chretien Liberals exercise control over the boundary commission's work?

    PS, "redistricting" is an abominable American term, not a Canadian one.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:26 p.m.  

  • Dylan, no Greens in Calgary, ever. This is oilpatch country and that party with it's ridiculous policies won't fly here.

    By Anonymous Larry, at 12:24 p.m.  

  • You say the opposition just has to wake up in the morning to make big gains and possibly even dream of winning, then the best you can muster about your candidate is that he's another Ignatieff egghead?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:12 p.m.  

  • Larry, I like the "this is oil country" argument, but with that logic you have to wonder how Bay Street in Toronto is represented by Olivia Chow and the NDP.

    As a Calgarian and beneficiary of the oil patch myself, I can say with some certainty that those Albertans who already vote Green are either: young Caucasians who have a greater vision for the AB economy; new Canadians who have no real connection to the oil patch beyond its contribution to the economy in the abstract. Meaning, their job security would not be directly effected by new regulation on oil sand pollution like how 45+ white males would.

    Moreover, bringing the debate full circle, I suspect any self-respecting Red Tory in Calgary North-Centre had abandoned Jim Prentice long ago and has found a new home in a party that is more reflective of Red Tory values. And I would argue at the top of that list would be the Greens if you were to take a serious look at their platform and principles without sensationalizing every part you disagree with.

    By Blogger D, at 2:21 p.m.  

  • Anon 11:26: And how did the Chretien Liberals exercise control over the boundary commission's work?

    Anon 10:11 didn't say they did. He/she just pointed out that there's no way the Conservatives can be blamed for it.

    PS, "redistricting" is an abominable American term, not a Canadian one.

    Since Canadian ridings are now officially called Electoral Districts, "redistricting" is a perfectly correct term, regardless of whether it's the official one.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 2:26 p.m.  

  • 1. Prentice is a red tory

    ...which means that a bluer one would be more likely to win, not less. :)

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 2:27 p.m.  

  • Larry: Actually the Greens do better in Calgary, and Alberta, than almost anywhere else.

    Furthermore, Calgary and Alberta are among the nation's leaders in charitable donations to environmental groups, per capita.

    If there's an obstacle for the Greens succeeding in Calgary, it's their recent shift to the left on social and fiscal issues. If they stuck to the environment, they'd do much better here.

    It's also an oversimplification that the Liberals can't win in Calgary because of the brand. If they ran good candidates, and stopped trying to score points elsewhere in the country by slamming Alberta, or with policies that blatantly punish those living in rural communities and/or communities that depend on fossil fuels, then they're obviously not going to gain ground in this part of the country regardless of which brand they're running under.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 3:59 p.m.  

  • Why can't my loser pinko commie riding get a Green candidate like Heather MacIntosh? I like her link more than I ever liked any of my riding's Green candidates....


    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 4:19 p.m.  

  • I certainly agree Robert... I wish the Greens had stuck to the environment and avoided the unproductive, anti-creative left/right circus. (No secret how I personally wish May was out.)

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 4:21 p.m.  

  • Ridings have always been called districts in Canada.

    The Canadian term for redrawing electoral boundaries is "redistribution".

    "Redistricting" is an abomination of a word. Just because Americans put up with it doesn't mean everyone else has to.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:10 p.m.  

  • The Greens are but another leftie party so prevalent in this country. The Conservatives win overwhelmingly in Calgary, not by narrow margins either. The rise and popularity of the WAP provincially suggests that voters are more inclined to shift left than right. I maintain that AB is a Liberal/leftie wasteland and will remain that was.

    By Anonymous Larry, at 8:14 p.m.  

  • ..."shift left than right..."

    I mean right than left. oops

    By Anonymous Larry, at 9:28 p.m.  

  • I'm in a provincial Liberal riding, so change can happen. Don't you diehard Cons find Mr. Harper's tactics even the least bit questionable, i.e.,, denigrating opponents, hiring useless ethics commissioners, skimping on disabled vets' income, etcetera ?

    By Anonymous JDignum, at 6:13 a.m.  

  • Ridings have always been called districts in Canada.

    No, that's new as of 2004. Before that the official name was "constituencies" (although plenty of people call them "ridings" both before and since).

    And how is "redistricting" any worse of a word than "redistribution"?

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 6:24 a.m.  

  • Here is a bit of a wrench to throw into things... look at some of the demographics of this riding. I lived there with two roommates (one of whom owned the house). We were all Liberals who voted for Prentice because we liked him. It's fine to talk about those who voted him because there wasn't a further right Tory to vote for. However, what about those of us who voted Blue because we actually liked the candidate?

    Also, 'redistricting' is a hell of a lot worse than 'redistribution'. I think it is the present tense 'ing' on the end. Either way, doesn't matter, it is a terrible word.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:54 a.m.  

  • "Don't you diehard Cons find Mr. Harper's tactics even the least bit questionable, i.e.,, denigrating opponents, hiring useless ethics commissioners, skimping on disabled vets' income, etcetera ?"

    A diehard will support his party no matter what. People asked the Liberals the same thing back when they were in power.

    The only time I ever voted for them was 2006, and despite their behaviour since, it was still better than leaving a corrupt, arrogant regime in power. Yes, even in retrospect.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:02 a.m.  

  • Districts!






    Voting regions!



    Reminds us of the PA system in Airplane!...

    The red zone is for immediate stopping and unloading. There's no stopping in the white zone.

    The white zone has always been for stopping and unloading. There's no stopping in the red zone.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:58 a.m.  

  • No, that's new as of 2004. Before that the official name was "constituencies" (although plenty of people call them "ridings" both before and since).

    And how is "redistricting" any worse of a word than "redistribution"?

    No, it wasn't new as of 2004. Going back to the 19th century, going back even before Confederation, Canadian electoral legislation has referred to "districts" or "electoral districts". ("Consituencies" and "ridings" are both informal words for the same thing.)

    "Redistribution" from its prefix to its -tion ending is a good latin-based word throughout. "Redistricting" is a linguistic abomination, a noun that has been "verbed", and an Americanism. It sucks.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:18 p.m.  

  • Anon 1 - My appologies. You are correct, the Libs were in charge, the last time they redrew the boundaries. The Tories thank them for that.

    As their do for the 4 rurban ridings in Regina.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:58 p.m.  

  • Re: Greens - I do feel like part of the Greens' success in Alberta does stem from the fact that all the fait accomplit ridings make a protest vote a bit safer there than elsewhere.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:59 p.m.  

  • And thanks to all for the background info on districts/zones/ridings/etc.

    It may very well prove more interesting than anything that happens in this by election...

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 6:01 p.m.  

  • As their do for the 4 rurban ridings in Regina.

    Three in Regina; four in Saskatchatoon.

    By Blogger WJM, at 8:04 p.m.  

  • I like redistricting, if for no other reason, than it pisses someone else off.


    –verb (used with object)
    to divide anew into districts, as for administrative or electoral purposes

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:32 p.m.  

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