With the municipal election just one day away, get-out-the-vote efforts are in full swing — but it's not just the candidates pushing people to vote.
The Manning Centre is running full page ads in Calgary newspapers ahead of Monday's election. The ads, which urge people to "flood the polls," have many questioning the Centre's motivation.
"The issue is because the Manning Centre has been associated with actors and organizations that are endorsing particular candidates or a particular vision for the future of Calgary," said Lori Williams, a public policy professor at Mount Royal University. "It's not entirely non-partisan, it's definitely trying to move city council in a direction that's more conservative."
So far, advance voter turnout has been up six per cent compared to the election three years ago.
Overall voter turnout has also been trending upwards in recent years — in 2010, roughly 141,826 people voted compared to 84,304 in 2007.
Despite that, the Manning Centre ad compares voter turnout in Afghanistan to turnout in Calgary, describing how people in that war-ravaged country risk their lives to vote and still have a higher average turnout than Calgary.
For some Calgarians, that comparison goes beyond the pale.
"The issues are so far apart, from very basic problems of human rights and water access and food access, and a lack of political infrastructure that allows for freedom," said local resident Skye Perry.
The Manning Centre has come under fire in recent months for an offer to train candidates on fiscal responsibility, which many perceived as an attempt to create a slate of conservative-minded potential councillors.
However, officials at the Manning Centre say there is no motive behind the ad other than getting people out to vote.
"It's a political ad because we're part of the — we're at the end of an election campaign right now for municipal participation, but it's not a partisan ad," said David Quist, vice president of the Manning Centre.
"It's not endorsing any candidates, it's encouraging people to get involved," he said.