Calgary-Elbow byelection expected to be hotly contested race

It hasn't been called yet, but political parties in Alberta have their candidates ready for the byelection in Calgary-Elbow.

Education Minister Gordon Dirks to face off against Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark in Calgary-Elbow

Gordon Dirks has been named as the Tory candidate in Calgary-Elbow, which is the former riding of Alison Redford. (CBC)

It hasn't been called yet, but political parties in Alberta have their candidates ready for the byelection in Calgary-Elbow.

Education Minister Gordon Dirks was acclaimed this afternoon as the Progressive Conservative (PC) candidate in the riding once held by former premier Alison Redford.

Dirks lives in the northwest part of Calgary, but says the riding needs representation. 

"My wife has said right from the get-go when I started thinking about the possibility of running that we would be moving into the riding and putting our house up for sale," he said. "It is a riding that has a number of significant priority concerns and of course a big one is the great flood that hit the city and of course damaged so much of the Elbow constituency."

The Wildrose Party also kicked off its campaign today by introducing retired military officer John Fletcher as its candidate.

The Liberals have nominated lawyer Susan Wright. Stephanie McLean, another a lawyer, is running for the NDP. And the leader of the Alberta Party, Greg Clark, will also be on the ballot in Calgary-Elbow.

Fletcher agreed that flood mitigation is a top issue in the riding.

"The Prentice government is a new government and we want to do everything we can as expeditiously as we can to ensure that Calgarians are protected from future floods," he said.

Will the Tories hold on?

Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith says she expects a hotly contested byelection race.

Smith says Calgary-Elbow should be safe territory for the Tories, but she is not convinced after scandals — like the use of government planes — brought about Redford's resignation.

Political scientist Lori Williams says byelections can be volatile and it's going to be a challenge for the Tories to hold onto the seat.

"They've got pretty strong candidates in all of the parties that are contesting at this stage of the game and I think it's anyone's race," she said.

Alberta's Premier Jim Prentice hasn't set a date for the byelection, but it's expected to be held before the legislature starts on Nov. 17.

Prentice will also have to win a seat in a byelection before the fall session, but that riding has not yet been announced.

Mandel named in Edmonton-Whitemud

Meanwhile, Health Minister Stephen Mandel has also been named the official PC candidate for Edmonton-Whitemud.

A byelection in that riding, which was prompted when former premier Dave Hancock stepped down, has also not been called.

Mandel previously served three consecutive terms as Edmonton's mayor.

“Mr. Mandel and Mr. Dirks are both high-calibre candidates that we are excited to run under the PC brand,” said PC Alberta president Jim McCormick in a release.

“When the byelections are called, they will work tirelessly to earn their seat in the Alberta Legislature.”


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