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New Democrats to have real nomination battle in Calgary-Foothills riding

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Anne Wilson

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Notwithstanding a gloomy demon-dialler poll suggesting voter support has migrated from the NDP Government to the Opposition Wildrose Party, there will be real fight for the New Democrat nomination in the upcoming by-election in the Calgary-Foothills riding, which was briefly the political home to one Jim Prentice.

(Jim Who? — Ed.)

Yesterday, Calgary lawyer Anne Wilson announced she would seek the blessing of the riding's New Democrats to run for a second time -- she came a close second to Prentice, who really alert readers will recall was the premier of Alberta at the time, on May 5.

Wilson may not be the frontrunner for the riding this time, however. Bob Hawkesworth, who was New Democrat MLA for Calgary-Mountain View from 1986 to 1993, when he was defeated by Progressive Conservative Mark Hlady, is also seeking the nomination. In 1986, the PC candidate Hawkesworth defeated was… Jim Prentice.

After losing in the 1993 provincial election, the deliberately spoken Hawkesworth then served on Calgary City Council for 23 years before flaming out politically in 2010 when he dropped out of the race to be mayor of Calgary that was eventually won by Naheed Nenshi.

Almost at the last minute, too late to get his name off the ballot, Hawkesworth threw his support behind mayoral candidate Barb Higgins, who came third after Nenshi and Ric McIver, who is now the leader of the nine-member PC caucus in the Legislature.

If Hawkesworth is the party's preferred candidate, Wilson was having none of it. "Jim Prentice might have been willing to walk away from Foothills voters, but that's not me," she said in a news release announcing her candidacy yesterday. "I was there at the beginning and would never walk away, and in fact here I am again to prove it."

Wilson is a criminal defence lawyer in Calgary and Bow Valley. Before embarking on her legal career, she was a landscape gardener.

Hawkesworth announced his intention to run on June 29. No date has been set for the by-election required because of Prentice's sudden, if not completely unexpected, election-night resignation.

As for that poll by Toronto-based Mainstreet Research, the Calgary Herald, for which it appears to have been conducted, reported that it "surveyed a random sample of 3,007 Albertans on June 30th."

While there were no details in the story of Mainstreet's methodology, the company is known for its use of auto-dialled interactive voice response polls.

The NDP Government's opponents -- who include the opposition parties, of course, as well as the usual suspects in the wishful-thinking tank sector and the media, presumably including the Calgary Herald -- are taking much succor from the results.

Fair enough, I guess, although they should remember that the poll was done on the sunny day before the national holiday, the Fête du Canada, when the only people at home in Alberta may have been disgruntled Wildrosers with nowhere to go.

Another poll released by Mainstreet yesterday indicates that Canadians would choose Hilary Clinton to lead the Democrats and Jeb Bush to lead the Republicans in the next U.S. election if they were given the chance.

They won't be, of course, so let's not spend any more time on that one other than to predict that our American cousins, who will have a choice, will say no to both of them. Remember where you heard it first.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

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