No name was mentioned, but it was pretty clear exactly whom former Alberta New Democratic Party leader Brian Mason had in mind Wednesday when he posted a social media comment stating he will be voting for the federal NDP candidate in his own riding on Monday.
In case that message wasn’t clear enough, a relaxed and rather shaggy-looking Mason had made a point of posing in a photo with Heather McPherson, the NDP candidate in the race to represent the Edmonton Strathcona riding.
That, of course, is the riding where opposition leader Rachel Notley lives and votes. And McPherson was the candidate Notley implied she might decide not to vote for because of the former premier’s differences with federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh over Alberta’s perceived need for more pipelines to tidewater.
“When we get closer to the election, I’ll make a decision in my own riding about which candidate’s best able to represent the needs of Albertans and the people in my riding of Edmonton Strathcona,” Notley said on October 4.
Mason, who served as minister of infrastructure and transportation in Notley’s cabinet, is not of the same mind. “I’m voting for the NDP in this election,” he stated in his Facebook commentary.
“I never thought I’d have to make that statement, but given some of the differences over pipeline policy between our party (and recent government) and the federal NDP, some people are asking,” he continued.
Noting that he had been a strong advocate of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, Mason nevertheless stated:
“But this federal election is about a lot more than pipelines. It’s also about protecting public services, strengthening public health care, child care and creating good jobs. It’s about building an economy that works for everyone, not just the 1 per cent.”
“Edmonton Strathcona, a seat the NDP currently holds, may well be the only riding standing between Andrew Scheer and an Alberta sweep. Right now, it’s neck and neck, with the Liberals fading fast,” he said.
“Confusion about whether Alberta New Democrats should vote for another party or not vote at all merely serves to ensure that Scheer (and his sidekick Jason Kenney) get another Alberta seat,” Mason stated.
And, yeah, from time to time during the decade from 2004 to 2014 when Mason was Alberta NDP leader, he had disagreements about the oil sands with Jack Layton, then the federal leader. “But we were able to discuss our differences and to appreciate the different political pressures each of us faced,” he explained.
“We need that kind of dialogue again,” he said, pointedly, concluding: “But right now, we have to keep our Alberta voice in the Canadian Parliament, and send Heather McPherson to Ottawa.”
In other words, Notley can do what she thinks best, but Mason will be voting for the NDP, and if you live in Edmonton Strathcona, he thinks you should too.
Another former Alberta NDP leader, Ray Martin, was also out door-knocking with McPherson this week.
David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with The Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on David Climenhaga’s blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.