Friday, April 01, 2011

Meet A Calgary Grit: Stephen Randall

When Stephen Randall was nominated as the Liberal candidate in Calgary Centre-North in January, the assumption was he'd be fighting a by election this spring. Now, he's going head to head with Tory Michelle Rempel, the NDP's Paul Vargis, and the Green Party's Heather MacIntosh.

I had a chance to interview Randall a few weeks ago. Here's a recap of our chat:

1. You’ve chosen to enter politics at a later stage in life than a lot of candidates. Has this been a long time ambition, or did something happen recently to push you in this direction?

Randall says running is something he's thought about before, but his career took him in other directions. However, his dissatisfaction with the current government pushed him to take the plunge.

He sees his late entry to the political arena as an asset rather than a liability: “I’ll be blunt – I don’t like career politicians. I think it’s important for candidates to bring their national and international experience to the table. I bring something to the table that someone like our Prime Minister who has never had a job outside of politics doesn’t.”

2. What’s your 15 second pitch to voters? What's this election about?

“It’s about sustainable employment - striking the right balance between the environment and growth. Calgarian families are thinking about their children and the future - the future of health care, pensions, and employment opportunities."

3. The Liberals haven’t won a seat in Calgary since 1968. Why do you think that is, and how do you overcome it?

Randall recognizes there's "lingering hostility" between Calgary and the federal Liberals that goes back to the NEP, and was re-ignited with the Sponsorship Scandal - "There are people who think the Liberals are crooks, including my immediate neighbour” says Randall. However, he doesn't feel these historical issues are as top of mind on the doorsteps now as they were in 2006 or 2008.

Despite the challenge, Randall is optimistic: “We have two very good provincial Liberal MLAs who overlap my riding, David Swann and Harry Chase. There’s therefore a solid Liberal base in the riding to build off. In the past, there hasn’t always been cross-over or co-operation between the parties, but this time both MLAs are supporting me. David Swann has been a friend of mine for 10 years and was at my launch last week.”

Many constituents and Conservative Party members are dissatisfied with the Conservative candidate. They feel there was no competition for the nomination, and prominent Conservatives are supporting my campaign.”

4. You mentioned your international experience earlier. What’s the most memorable experience from your work overseas – what really impacted you?

"I was in Cambodia in 1993 under the UN authority, to help run their election. It was the first time Cambodia had a democratic election. It left a huge emotional impact on me, seeing a people hungry for change. I saw elderly men and women walk 10 or 20 kilometers to polling stations to vote for the first time. It honestly brought a tear to my eye.”

5. A few years ago, the CBC ran a contest asking Canadians to vote for The Greatest Canadian. Everyone from John A. MacDonald to David Suzuki to Don Cherry got votes. Who would you vote for?

"My answer might change if I had more time to think about it, but I’d have to put Lester Pearson high on the list. Just from the combination of the work he did on the Suez Crisis, and the vision and passion he brought to small-l liberalism in the 20th Century."

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  • He sounds like an awesome candidate for Calgary Centre North - but I'm sorry, have you seen Michelle Rempel? I don't think he stands a chance.

    By Blogger Kyle H., at 11:37 a.m.  

  • superb work i like your blog its all contents are great keep it up man


    By Blogger Umar Nadeem, at 2:26 p.m.  

  • Could you define your comment better volkov? It being my riding, I *have* seen Ms Rempel and read her bio. Other than the fact she's been a backroom Conservative loyalist for years, I don't see how she's got any better qualifications than Randall. Quite the contrary.

    I look at her and IMO, I see someone angling for a reward for her party loyalty beyond the Mapleleaf badge from her leader.

    This being Calgary of the 'safe seats' where you can mostly run a stuffed toy under the Conservative banner and have it win (see Anders, Rob), Harper doesn't want to lose Prentice's riding. I venture Rempel will be coasting on the strength of the National team's efforts.

    I'd like to be pleasantly surprised. The last time that happened, Joe Clark won his Calgary riding against the all-out efforts of the Reformatories. Our riding is just north of that one.

    By Blogger Niles, at 3:00 p.m.  

  • Very rich for the Liberal to comment on a nomination process when his own riding gleefully points out that he was appointed ( - screenshots taken for posterity).

    Winning tough political nominations require getting involved in the Party of your choice and working hard – tough to rag on the Conservative candidate for having the balls to get involved in the political process. Also funny that “senior conservatives” that the Liberal mentions haven’t outed themselves (if they exist).

    Also interesting that the comments here fail to mention that the Conservative has a CV the envy of people twice her age, which, well, by the looks of things, enough said.

    By Anonymous Matthew Chenier, at 5:12 p.m.  

  • "It's about sustainable employment"

    Great phrase. If only the Liberals demonstrated any interest in such a thing, either during the past Parliament or in the platform planks they've released so far.

    They've all but told the West to pound sand.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:43 p.m.  

  • Very rich for partisan bloggers like Matthew Chenier to toss out comments with little or no understanding or knowledge.

    In fact, it was the riding association along with the other potential candidate nominees that lined up to support Steve Randall last year.

    As Steve expressed interest in running, the riding association requested that his nomination be approved since everyone supported him, and since the bi-election could be called at any time and they wanted to be prepared.

    As for a comparison of the candidates: the Conservative candidate was imported from another riding and was rubber-stamped by Harper since she has proven to be politically reliable to the regime.

    Dr. Randall's published works and life experience, are head and shoulders over the competition.

    The west has poured billion dollar oil and sand. The Liberals scored surpluses while Harper has bled our economy. And still in Alberta our voting is tribal. Sad

    By Anonymous Matt Moody, at 5:32 p.m.  

  • "There are people who think the Liberals are crooks, including my immediate neighbour”

    I wonder if there is an unreturned power-sander behind this one...

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 8:40 p.m.  

  • Matt Moody said...

    "the riding association requested that his nomination be approved since everyone supported him"

    So simply claiming that "everybody" supports him negates the need to hold a vote to verify that that is actually the case? Sounds like Liberal democracy to me.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:13 a.m.  

  • Anonymous said...

    "So simply claiming that "everybody" supports him negates the need to hold a vote to verify that that is actually the case?"

    Pretty rich comming from a party that's in contempt of parliament for the first time in Canadian history, that runs and hides at the first sign of the facts. Goebbels would have been proud of your Harper regime.

    Actually there was no "claiming" as you say. There was consultation and a formal nomination meeting would have accomplished little except to acclaim a candidate at a time when a bi-election could have been call at any time.

    No other candidate had filled in the required nomination papers to contest.

    Unlike the parachuted Rempel, with a Harper dictated rubber stamp.

    Sounds like Conservative democracy to me

    By Anonymous Matt Moody, at 10:23 p.m.  

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