Calgary Foothills Byelection

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Calgary Foothills Byelection



Bob Hawkesworth, who has experience as both a city councillor and a MLA, will be the NDP's candidate in the Calgary Foothills byelection, which has been called for September 3 in order to replace former Progressive Conservative Premier Jim Prentice, an ex-Harper minister, who went down to ignominious defeat on May 5th.



Bob Hawkesworth will run for the Alberta NDP in the Calgary-Foothills provincial byelection.


The former city councillor won the nomination Monday, over Anne Wilson, who came second to Jim Prentice on election night May 5.

Hawkesworth will be running against Liberal Ali Bin Zahid, who placed fourth in the most recent election. Other provincial parties have not yet nominated a candidate.

Besides serving as a councillor for 23 years, Hawkesworth has already spent two terms as an NDP MLA, representing Calgary Mountain View in 1986 and 1989.



Here's a complete list of candidates for the Calgary-Foothills byelection with links to their profiles:




Ironically Hawkesworth is the guy who beat Jim Prentice the first time he ran for office, in Calgary Mountain View in 1986.




With a comfortable majority of 53 MLAs in the Legislature, the NDP do not need to win this by-election, but a win would demonstrate that the NDP sweep in May can be expanded into new areas of the province. A very poor showing would be seen as a rebuke of Ms. Notley’s policies.

Showing how serious the party is taking the by-election opportunity, one of the Premier’s top communications staffers, former CBC reporter John Archer, tweeted last week that he would be taking a leave of absence from his job at the Legislature to work on Mr. Hawkesworth’s campaign.

Expect Calgary NDP MLAs and cabinet ministers Finance MinisterJoe Ceci, Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley and Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir to be flooding through this constituency many times over the next month. ...

Federal Conservatives united behindStephen Harper‘s federal party may be forced to choose sides between the oldProgressive Conservatives now led by former Calgary alderman Ric McIver and the opposition Wildrose Party led by former Fort McMurray Conservative MP Brian Jean.

It is well known that many federal Conservative MPs, including Rob Anders and Jason Kenney, support the Wildrose but recent pollsshow the PCs remain popular in Calgary while the Wildrose opposition caucus is almost entirely based in rural Alberta. But in 2015, three former PC MLAs are running as federal Conservative candidates – Ron Liepert in Calgary-Signal HillMatt Jeneroux inEdmonton-Riverbend and former Calgary-Foothills PC MLA Len Webber in Calgary-Confederation.






Below is a list of comments on the byelection by opposition candidates with their typical standardized, well-worn, talking points. 


Wildrose Leader Brian Jean has called for conservative voters to rally behind his party, which forms the official Opposition. Jean had opened up the Wildrose nomination process to potentially allow newcomers to the party to contest the nomination. Instead, party members selected a longtime Wildrose activist.

“People today wanted to reward a grassroots worker who helped the party,” said Panda, who added that former PC supporters no longer support the party, especially given Prentice’s hasty departure.

In an interview, the PC’s Houston said he expects to hear from residents at the doorstep about Prentice’s hasty resignation but believes the NDP’s record since taking office is a much bigger issue for voters in the northwest Calgary riding. “I’m sure there is a lot of anger and frustration with the current party in power,” said the owner of Houston’s Public House. “We want to give the people the opportunity to vote for a conservative … this is a very conservative city, it’s a very conservative riding, this province was built on so many great things this (Progressive Conservative) party brought to Alberta and to Calgary and to people like me.”

Houston ran against incumbent MLA Sandra Jansen for the PC nomination in Calgary-North West earlier this year but lost. He also came up short in a run for city council in Ward 4 in 2013.

The Alberta Party’s Taylor said Calgary-Foothills residents are looking for something different than what the other parties are offering. “In the legislature, we have strong representation from the left wing and the right wing of the political spectrum. What we don’t have yet is a strong foundation and strong representation from the centre,” said Taylor, a member of the Alberta Party board of directors. “Most Albertans are found in the centre … what Albertans need is a party that matches their values.”

The Liberals have nominated engineer Ali Bin Zahid, while Green party leader Janet Keeping will run for her party. Both were candidates in Calgary-Foothills in the provincial election.



As the Calgary Foothills byelection demonstrates, Both Notley and Hawkesworth are showing that they are excellent campaigners.



Helping to create momentum in yet another election for ballot-weary voters in the northwest Calgary riding, Premier Rachel Notley was on hand Sunday to kick off provincial NDP candidate Bob Hawkesworth’s campaign.

“This riding, in many ways, is symbolic of the 44-year PC government,” she said to press and supporters crammed into Hawkesworth’s Edgemont headquarters. “They took this riding for granted.” ...

To ensure their message isn’t lost in the noise, Hawkesworth plans on engaging voters personally — something the veteran politician is no stranger to. “I’m getting a very warm response at the door,” he said. “This has been traditionally a conservative riding — I always run my campaigns in second place coming on hard, and it’s no different here.”

“The best way is to show up at their door,” Notley agreed, attributing her party’s victory to voters realizing the power their vote holds. ...

Notley said the reasons behind the Alberta NDP victory still ring true in Calgary-Foothills. “Albertans want certainty,” she said. “They want an economy as diverse and as resilient as they are, and provides jobs whether the price of oil is $100 a barrel, or $40 a barrel.” She said voters rejected the PCs out of fear tax hikes and service cuts would hit low- and middle-class Albertans hardest. ...

As for the Wildrose, Notley shrugged them off as a party of little interest among Alberta voters. “People never really looked closely at their platform, but let me tell you — it wasn’t pretty,” she said. “Now, quite frankly, they don’t even pretend to have a plan.”

Notley dismissed claims by pundits describing the Calgary-Foothills byelection as a gauge of voters’ approval of her government. “If byelections were litmus tests, Jim Prentice would be premier right now,” she said.




While the NDP have an outstanding candidate and a popular Premier, they are facting the fact they have never won this riding. Furthermore, Prentice's abandonment of the riding after two elections in six months on election night has left a bad taste in PC mouths that could cause many right-wing voters to unite behind Wildrose. Even the choice of a weak candidate by the PCs, suggests their heart is not in the fight. However, the NDP has beaten far worse odds, as recently as 2011 and May 5th this year. 



Let’s take a look at the PCs. They’ve held this riding since 1971. Winning it again would allow them to cling to the feeling their party still has a pulse, but it would only add one more seat to their nine-person caucus.

A defeat would be catastrophic. It wouldn’t just be another nail in the party’s coffin, but a stake through its heart. No political party that has lost government in Alberta — Liberals, United Farmers of Alberta and Social Credit — has ever rebounded to win again. A byelection loss in Calgary-Foothills would be evidence the PCs are headed in an irreversible downhill trajectory.

The PCs’ chances are so bleak in this race that there was some internal debate over not running a candidate at all. But party officials realized the only thing worse than running and losing was admitting defeat by not running at all. Instead, they are running Blair Houston, a less-than-well-known businessman, to at least give the pretence the party still has some life. ...

Even Premier Rachel Notley, in launching the Hawkesworth campaign on the weekend, cautioned against people looking at the byelection as a “litmus test.” By dampening expectations, she’s hoping an NDP loss won’t seem as painful. It certainly won’t change the fact the NDP will still enjoy a large majority government.

The byelection has more import for the Wildrose, which is running an oil-sector engineer, Prasad Panda, as its candidate. A victory would give party leader Brian Jean and his party an immediate boost in credibility, not to mention their all-important first urban seat. In an effort to unite the right, Jean is asking PC supporters to abandon their party and support his. A successful unified front in this little race would open a world of new possibilities for the Wildrose.

A loss to the PCs, though, would undermine his position as leader of the one credible conservative party in the province. A loss to the NDP would undermine his credibility, period.


More bad news for the PCs in Calgary Foothills. However, it may benefit Wildrose most as they try to consolidate the right-wing vote. I hope I'm wrong. 



Calgary-Foothills Progressive Conservative byelection candidate Blair Houston has been accused of lying in his bio on his candidate profile. Houston’s biography states: “He studied business at the University of California and has been a business owner in the food and beverage industry for more than 12 years.”

Wildrose strategist Vitor Marciano said he believes Houston is “lying to the voters” by stating he has a business degree from the University of California. Metro confirmed Wednesday with Houston’s campaign manager Ed Tam that Houston had studied at College of the Desert in Palm Springs. “I was pretty sure that Blair had gone to College of the Desert and College of the Desert has absolutely nothing to do with the University of California system,” said Marciano.

Metro conducted an independent search online and was not able to find the College of the Desert on a list of schools related to the University of California. ...

“I think not only would you have to clarify but you would explain to the voters how you confused a community college in Palm Springs with a prestigious university system with multiple schools,” he said. “College of the Desert may be a lovely school but it's not part of the University of California system. Period.”


voice of the damned

Yeah, I think the logic of this race pretty much cements a Wildrose victory. Question, though. Did Hawkesworth's civic ward and his previous provincial riding have significant overlap with Calgary-Foothills?

And one thing from the Thomson piece...

"A victory would give party leader Brian Jean and his party an immediate boost in credibility, not to mention their all-important first urban seat."

If I recall correctly, Wildrose won two urban seats in Calgary in 2012. Though they subsequently lost them.


Five things to watch for in today's Calgary Foothills byelection are:


Voter Turnout

In the October byelection, only about a third of eligible voters actually cast a ballot. This, despite a massive media blitz by the political parties — and a newly minted premier, fresh off of a victorious leadership race, running in the byelection. ...

Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt [notes that] "It was high profile. There were TV ads, which is unprecedented — and voter turnout was 36.5 per cent."

Bratt said it's a Thursday before a long weekend, in the summer, in the midst of a federal campaign — which marks the fourth time locals will have to cast a ballot in a year. He doesn't put much stock in the high number of votes cast in advance polls last week — 12 per cent of the total electorate.

He said more and more voters are voting in advance and can't be used to predict voter turnout on election day.

Buyer's remorse?

Recent polls suggest the province is split over how Rachel Notley is doing as premier, with 45 per cent saying they approve — down from 62 per cent approval in May. Another 42 per cent say they disapprove.  ...

Today's byelection marks the first time voters get to pass judgment on the new government. But byelections, say most analysts, are not a true barometer of the government's popularity. Voters often like to send a message of protest to the governing party.

How the once mighty Tories do

The PCs used to be a constant in Calgary politics. Former premiers Peter Lougheed and Ralph Klein called Calgary home. The PCs won 20 of the city's 25 seats in 2012. ....

Most political watchers think the lingering anger over Prentice's decision to resign on election night could hurt the party. Even the PC's candidate in the riding, Blair Houston, admitted on CBC Radio that he's angry and frustrated with the former premier's decision to quit. ...

Wildrose has much at stake

The Wildrose Party, arguably, has the most at stake in this byelection. The mostly rural party needs to expand into the province's seat-rich cities if it ever wants to form a government. ...

A byelection win today in Calgary–Foothills would inject some energy into the party and cement it as the centre-right alternative to the NDP. But a loss could result in questions being raised about the party's ability to appeal to urban voters. Bratt said some will wonder "are they simply a rural rump?"

Will the right be divided?

Political watchers will pay close attention to the vote percentages each party gets. If the NDP wins by dividing the right, then there will likely be renewed calls for the Wildrose and PCs to unite.



11 of 66 Polls Results 

Wildrose has 31 vote lead over NDP

LIB 6% 76

NDP 30% 365

AP 5% 56

GPA 3% 42

PC 24% 290

WRP 32% 396

IND 0% 2


52 of 66 Polls Results 

Wildrose has 558 vote lead over NDP

LIB 6% 401

NDP 26% 1,758

AP 6%  350

GPA 4% 235

PC 24% 1,583

WRP 35% 2,316

IND 0% 28


Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

65 of 66 Polls Result

WR has 1,131 vote lead over NDP-we can call it for WR

Ind 43           .39%

NDP 2,942  26.50%

PC 2,459    22.15%

GPA 344       3.10%

WRP 4,073 36.68%

AP 544         4.90%

LIB 698        6.29%

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

(self-delete.  Dupe post).

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

So, the Wildrose takes this, the NDP vote is down but not by much, the PC's are humiliated in one of their safest ridings, and the Liberals and the Alberta Party are still in the doldrums.  Wonder if the Green leader will stay on after polling so badly as a candidate tonight?


Results in May 2015 General Election vs Tonight's by-election

PC and Wildrose votes combined = 58.5% vs 59.6%

NDP and Liberals and other votes combined = 41.5% vs 40.4%


There was a big decrease in turnout overall, but a shift from PC to Wildrose resulted in Wildrose winning its only seat in either Calgary or Edmonton. 

Also, I note that roughly one-third of votes cast in this by-election were cast in the advance polls.