It is nice to have a by-election breaking up the summer political doldrums. Some constituents in Calgary Glenmore may be annoyed by the summer campaign but let’s face it, in light of past by-election turnouts many people are simply indifferent no matter what the date is. The critical factor for all parties in this race will be identifying and getting supportive voters to the polls.
I have spent the past few days working on the campaign (and will be spending the next few weeks doing so). From what one can see, the PCs have been active on the West side of the constituency and there is little visible evidence elsewhere. I know from personal experience that the Wildrose Alliance has been working all over the constituency for the last couple months. The Liberals, NDP and Social Credit parties are all nowhere to be seen. It is still early and I am sure evidence of their campaigns will surface eventually.
What has been humerous in a dark sort of way is how the PCs have been trying to downplay their own leader in this race. Diane Colley-Urquhart held her campaign kickoff to some 12-40 supporters (the estimates vary) last monday. Among those supporters were some other MLAs but the mighty Ed Stelmach was nowhere to be seen. One would think that the leader of the party could at least make a token appearance at such an event. Why, Dianne may even have been able to break that elusive 14-50 number at the kickoff with such a draw in attendance.
By-elections are considered a snapshot of government support between general elections. As such, these events are considered critical by opposition and governing parties alike. The outcomes of these by-elections reflect on the entire party much more than they do the individual candidates involved. Despite this, Ed Stelmach and the PC party itself has remained invisible in this by-election. The PC party website does not even mention the by-election.
One would think this is odd but the strategy makes sense. The bottom line is that Ed Stelmach is despised in Calgary and his presence on the campaign trail would actually be detrimental to the party outcome. Rather sad when compared to the past success of Ralph’s team in the past.
The PC government has made it clear that Ed Stelmach runs the entire show. Backbench MLAs such as Guy Boutilier are thrown from caucus for daring to question King Eddie and ministers such as Lindsay Blackett are put in their place when they dare suggest legislation that is contrary to Ed’s grand plan (whatever the heck that plan may be).
The provincial government is discussing adding four more MLAs to the mix in the next provincial election. Translation if these seats go PC: four more benchwarming, trained seals. In light of the way things are run, we really should simply eliminate all seats and simply have Ed direct deputy ministers in their actions.
In light of the sort of governance the PC party offers us, it is clear that a vote for the PCs in this election is simply a vote for Ed. No representation in any form will be gained should the PC candidate win. The constituents will simply be gaining another trained seal. An opposition member of any stripe will be better able to speak up for constituents in the legislature than a PC member would.
The PC party clearly knows this and is hiding their hapless leader as well as they can during this campaign.
We however will not let the constituents of Calgary Glenmore forget what this by-election is all about.
SEND ED A MESSAGE!