Edmonton

Several Alberta seats could be up for grabs, poll analyst says

Though the Conservatives continue to lead polls in Alberta, the province looks to be more of a battleground than it has for several elections, says CBC poll analyst Eric Grenier.

Three-way race across the country appears to be playing out in Alberta as well

Several seats in Edmonton and Calgary look to be close races, says Eric Grenier, founder of ThreeHundredEight.com, a website dedicated to political polling in Canada.

Though the Conservatives continue to lead polls in Alberta, the province looks to be more of a battleground than it has for several elections, says CBC poll analyst Eric Grenier.

A few federal seats in Edmonton and Calgary appear to be up for grabs, as the three-way race among the major parties across the country plays out in Alberta.

"The opposition parties could legitimately come out of this with six seats," said Grenier, who believes the longer campaign will give party leaders the opportunity to visit more areas of the country.

"And they do have potential to make gains in unexpected places," he said.

The Tories are polling at about 50-per-cent support in Alberta and still maintain a commanding lead, Grenier said.

"But that still represents a pretty significant drop for them. It won't cost them many seats, but you are seeing the NDP in a much stronger position than they were in 2011. And the Liberals are up."

Seizing an opportunity, two federal party leaders will make campaign stops in Edmonton this week.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will hold a '"rally for change," at a southside hotel Wednesday evening, while on Friday morning NDP Leader Tom Mulcair will hold a media availability at a Leduc construction company

One of the seats that could change hands, Grenier said, is in St. Albert, where former Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber is seeking re-election as an independent candidate.

Rathgeber left the Conservative caucus in 2013, after the prime minister's office refused to support his private member's bill on financial transparency in the public service.

Being an independent is "a little more lonely," Rathgeber said on the eve of his official campaign launch. But he said not being controlled by the PMO makes him a "better parliamentarian."

Former MP John Williams will introduce Rathgeber.

Rathgeber said he doesn't support the current government's drive to turn backbenchers into "nothing but trained seals and cheerleaders for the government."

 "The (Mike) Duffy trial, an economy that's clearly on the downturn, all of those contribute to diminishing support for the local Conservative candidate," said Rathgeber. "And I know we'll be competitive on Oct. 19."

Both the Conservatives and NDP have nominated a full slate of 34 candidates in Alberta, while the Liberals have nominated 33.

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