ALBERTA VOTES 2008

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Reporters' Notebook

Whither the NDP?

February 13, 2008 | 04:01 PM
Scott DippelScott Dippel

Calgary has long been a wasteland for the NDP. The last time a New Democrat MLA was elected here: 1989.

Incidentally, one of the two New Democrats elected in Calgary that year was Bob Hawkesworth. Curious that he's the one socialist in the capitalist jungle whose had little trouble getting re-elected at Calgary city hall ever since he left provincial politics. Hmm...

NDP Leader Brian Mason has only been in Calgary a short period of time since this election was called on Feb. 4. But today, we had another sign of how badly things are going for the third party in Alberta's biggest city.

Students at Mount Royal College organized what they called a leaders' debate. They didn't do too badly. After all, they scored Paul Hinman, leader of the Wildrose Alliance, and George Read who heads the Alberta Greens.

The big three parties are a little busy right now as their leaders are in demand here, there and everywhere in Alberta. So filling in for the busy Ed Stelmach was PC representative Dave Rodney, who's running in Calgary-Lougheed. Kevin Taft was in Edmonton today so deputy Liberal leader Dave Taylor came across his riding to stop in at the college.

cgy-debate.jpg
No NDP representative took part in an election debate at Calgary's Mount Royal College. (CBC)
And that was it. No Brian Mason. No Calgary NDP candidate. Not even an empty NDP chair.

I asked an organizer: What's up? I was told the NDP didn't respond.

Didn't respond? I thought campuses were hotbeds of socialist support. Perhaps in free-enterprise Calgary, that axiom doesn't hold.

For the record, all four party representatives were well-received and had their say. Given that there were a few dozen votes up for grabs, one can only wonder: what was so compelling that the NDP willingly gave up this opportunity to reach a group of young voters?

Earlier this week, a local Tory compared Brian Mason to Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe. He said as Duceppe never leaves Quebec, Mason will confine himself to Edmonton. Stay where you have a chance seems to be the idea.

« He's back! | Main | Face time in Fort McMurray »

This entry is now Closed. View the comments.

Comments: (3)

M. P. (Edmonton) wrote:

I expect the party to remain stagnant under Mason and stuck to Edmonton. They will be lucky if they keep their 4 seats, without Pannu. He may be good for a superficial sound bite, but that's all there's to his leadership. The party is lacking real grassroots momentum and must be very disorganized to miss a prime opportunity in Calgary.

Posted February 14, 2008 10:01 AM

Don M (Edmonton) wrote:

I've been a New Democrat for a long time, and I'm sympathetic to B. Gore's complaints. But Calgary media bias is no excuse for the party to skip an opportunity like this. In fact, the party should relish opportunities to take the message straight to the voters, bypassing the media filter.

The timidity of my party to challenge for seats is only going to continue to marginalize us. Struggling desperately to hang on to what we have will not bring about the change this province needs. It's too late for this election, but I hope we can get over this strategy and start bring the message to all Albertans by the next time around.

And in the meantime, I hope the party's current strategy works to the extent that we hold the four seats - as frustrated as I am with the strategic decision, Mason, Eggen, and Martin have all proved their effectiveness in the Legislature, and Rachel Notley will make an excellent addition.

Posted February 14, 2008 09:30 AM

B Gore (Edmonton) wrote:

Before criticizing the NDP for not focussing its time on the conservative wasteland that is Calgary, maybe this author should look at the overwhelmingly biased and anti-NDP, anti-centrist attitude which Calgary and Alberta media conglomerates spew out not only at election time, but all year long. No wonder there are so few young Calgary voters who are able to get beyond the materialist, dog-eat-dog, "What's good for corporate Calgary is good for Canada" propaganda. This article serves as yet another example of the pitiable state of media neutrality during Alberta elections, oh, I mean coronations.

Posted February 13, 2008 06:09 PM

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