Edmonton-Whitemud riding profile
Advance polls will be open Oct. 22-25 ahead of election day on Oct. 27
On Oct. 27, voters in Edmonton-Whitemud will head to the polls to elect a new MLA.
The byelection was triggered after longtime Progressive Conservative MLA Dave Hancock announced his surprise resignation on Sept. 12. Hancock was first elected in 1997 and has helped the Tories maintain a stranglehold of the riding ever since.
CBC Edmonton hit the streets to speak with voters in Edmonton-Whitemud about what matters most to them and compile a comprehensive riding profile to give voters all the information they need to cast an informed ballot.
Who are the candidates in Edmonton-Whitemud?
Progressive Conservative Party
Stephen Mandel needs no introduction in Alberta’s capital city. He served as mayor of Edmonton for nine years, from 2004 to 2014, before eventually stepping down to spend time with his family. While mayor, he was not afraid of taking on controversial issues. He fought hard to turn the municipal airport into a dense neighbourhood and to get the $601-million downtown arena approved. Mandel was named health minister by Premier Jim Prentice, despite the fact that he does not hold a seat in the legislature. He worked with the premier while he was Edmonton’s mayor and Prentice was a federal minister.
Tim Grover was born in Calgary and studied at the University of Calgary’s School of Environmental Design. Since then, he has spent 25 years starting and operating small businesses throughout the capital region. Grover founded an online grocery business and an Edmonton-based tea franchise. Throughout the campaign, Grover has focused on his passion for small businesses and said the PC party needs to be held accountable for previous mistakes.
New Democratic Party
Bob Turner, an oncologist for the past 37 years, boasts an extensive medical background. Turner obtained his medical degree at McGill University and then studied hematology and medical oncology at the University of Pittsburgh. He joined the Cross Cancer Institute and the University of Alberta Hospital in 1977. Turner was named physician of the year in the Edmonton zone in 2007.
Donna Wilson is a registered nurse and academic who was born in Edmonton. She graduated with honours from the Royal Alexandra Hospital School of Nursing, was in the top four per cent of her masters program and has obtained a PhD. Wilson was the president of the U of A’s Academic Staff Association when the government cut seven per cent of their grant for universities, a decision she says she disagrees with.
Will Munsey, a former teacher, was born and raised in Edmonton. He has a bachelor of education degree and a masters in Japanese. Munsey joined the Alberta Party in 2009 and became president of the political organization in 2012. Munsey has said he originally planned to run in his own constituency of Leduc-Beaumont, but volunteered to run in Edmonton-Whitemud after Hancock resigned.
Rene Malenfant is originally from Nova Scotia. He is a Ph.D. student at the University of Alberta who is researching the genetics of Canadian polar bears. Malenfant has degrees in computer science and evolutionary biology. He has been a member of the Green Party of Alberta since 2012.
What are the issues?
- Healthcare: With an unelected health minister and two medical professionals vying for the vacated seat, healthcare has become the dominant issue in this riding. The two candidates who have worked within Alberta's system have focused on the health minister's lack of experience, while the government has made numerous announcements boasting the unelected minister's decision making abilities. Voters want a representative who will address issues including the shortage of long-term care beds and wait-times at hospitals.
- Accountability: For many voters, the scandals of the Alison Redford government are not far from their minds. While they are concerned about the issues that regularly come up in elections — healthcare, education, etc. — constituents are looking for a candidate that will be honest, trustworthy and ethical.
What are people saying?
About the riding
The Edmonton-Whitemud riding was created in 1971 after a boundary redistribution. The district is bordered by the North Saskatchewan River to the west, Whitemud Creek to the east, and Anthony Henday Drive to the south.
A majority of residents in the riding live in single detached homes. Most residents work full-time jobs and drive their cars to work, as opposed to using public transit. The area has a low unemployment rate and most people own property. Most residents are Canadian citizens, but about half of the population speaks a language other than English at home.
The PC party has maintained a stranglehold of the Edmonton-Whitemud riding since 1971. There were only two elections where the Liberals managed to dethrone the PC Party, in 1989 and 1993. After that, Dave Hancock came along and took control of the riding, winning the 1997 election — and the next four.
How have residents voted in the past?
Since 1971, the riding has an average voter turnout of 60 per cent. In the 2012 election, 59 per cent of the 33, 015 eligible voters went to the polls. However, when it comes to byelections, the government expects the voter turnout to be significantly lower.