ALBERTA VOTES 2008

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Reporters' Notebook

An election minus the cult of personality

February 25, 2008 | 11:07 AM
Rick DonkersRick Donkers

Wearing a yellow fleece, Horst Krajewski stood there pecking away at the sheet of ice that had grown onto his driveway. Living in the Calgary suburb of Somerset for the past four years taught him the February sun will only shine on that piece of asphalt for a few hours a day, so he had to chip away when he had his chance.

That didn't deter this nosy reporter from trying to strike up a conversation about the election.

Between the heavy smacks of the steel blade against the ice, Horst gave his thoughts on the leaders' debate and all things politics. He was impressed with Paul Hinman's performance, and thought Ed Stelmach weathered the attacks pretty well. But our conversation almost always looped back to how Horst was feeling.

cgy-horst.jpg
Calgarian Horst Krajewski stopped to chat to reporter Rick Donkers. (CBC)

He isn't angry with the Tories. Nope, things are going pretty good in Alberta. While he is uncomfortable with 36 plus years of a one-party state, Horst isn't sure of how the campaign's keyword "change" should manifest itself.

His Saturday morning hockey crew is very unhappy with changes to the royalty regime. The guys he plays shinny with on Tuesday aren't in the patch so their concerns center on health care, staffing woes at the local pizza joint and a lack of daycare spots.

Horst admits he's quietly hoping for a minority government just to shake things up.

There are no campaign signs on this block, but there are seven "for sale" signs peeking through the snow. Horst explains how a few of the neighbours are caught with two mortgages trying to upsize or downsize their homes, how some are caught in a cash crunch, hoping for a quick sale.

cgy-forsale-signs.jpg
This Calgary suburb has no election ads, but plenty of for sale signs. (CBC)

"It's all about living in Calgary in 2008," he shrugs.

As I wander back to my van it hits me. There may not be a definitive issue driving this election campaign, but we are finally talking about issues.

This is the first election in 15 years without Ralph Klein. We are finally talking issues because the cult of personality has been removed from the campaign. Sure, we chatted about leadership and personalities but it wasn't about the personality of the leader.

It may not be Ralph's world anymore, but an election about ideas, issues and managing a booming economy may not be such a bad thing. In fact, it may be better for democracy.

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