Alberta Votes

Heather Klimchuk challenged by Sarah Hoffman in Edmonton-Glenora

PC candidate Heather Klimchuk is seeking a third term in office in what she calls a tough election. She is facing a fight from former school trustee and NDP candidate Sarah Hoffman
PC candidate Heather Klimchuk speaks to a woman while campaigning in Edmonton-Glenora on Sunday. (CBC)

Progressive Conservative candidate Heather Klimchuk wasn't lying about the "real" conversations she's had while campaigning in Edmonton-Glenora.

Klimchuk came face to face with voter frustration last Sunday when a man and woman in their 40s answered the door at their McQueen neighbourhood home.

The couple told the Human Services minister and incumbent MLA they would not vote for her on election day May 5.  And Tory arrogance was the reason why.

"It's not about you, because we've seen you at all kinds of events, you've done your job very, very well," the woman told Klimchuk apologetically. "We appreciate that, so know that.

NDP candidate Sarah Hoffman waits for a homeowner to answer the door in Edmonton-Glenora on Sunday. (CBC)
"I think you guys need a wakeup call and I'm hoping we can give you one four-year break to reassess."

Klimchuk told the couple she knows the PC party has work to do. She thanked them for their time, then moved on to the next house.

"It's not perfect, we know that," she told a reporter moments later. "But I always say to the individual that I will always work hard for you."

The feedback isn't all bad. A woman who moved to the community, after she and her husband downsized from an acreage, assured Klimchuk she has her vote.

""I'm impressed. Not to worry," she said. "We've always voted PC."

Still, Klimchuk said she knows she has to earn every vote in what she admits is a tough campaign.

"You campaign (like you're) 10 votes behind," she said. "I know that Jim (Prentice) wants us on the doorsteps and I'm going to work hard...I don't ever take anything for granted."

Orange Wave?

Klimchuk is telling voters the PCs under new leader Jim Prentice have work to do. But polls suggest many people in Edmonton may be losing patience and looking to the NDP.

Although Edmonton-Glenora has been represented by Klimchuk for two terms, the constituency has a history of swinging between the Tories and the Liberals. Klimchuk unseated Liberal Bruce Miller by only 96 votes in 2008.

Volunteers check out a buffet of orange food at Sarah Hoffman's campaign office. (CBC )
Four years later, NDP candidate Ray Martin, the former party leader, placed second to Klimchuk by a margin of 2,040 votes, which is giving the NDP hope for a breakthrough this election.

Now Sarah Hoffman, a 34-year-old former trustee and chairwoman of the Edmonton public school board, is the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Glenora.  

The same day Klimchuk was canvassing in McQueen, Hoffman was giving a pep talk to volunteers on a campaign blitz dubbed  "Orange Sunday."

Volunteers of all ages, many clad in orange, milled about Hoffman's campaign office on 124th Street. Orange food and beverage items like carrots, oranges, chips and Orange Crush were laid out on a buffet table.

Clad in an orange cardigan, denim Capri pants and running shoes, Hoffman headed out the door with a small crew.

As the group walked towards a nearby street, Hoffman was asked how she is feeling about her chances of winning.

"I don't want to take anything for granted," she responded.. "I think a lot of the people on the doorsteps have said that over the last 40 years they've felt like they've been taken for granted.

"Of course, what really matters is what happens on May 5, if people get out and vote the way that they've said they want to vote."

Hoffman started knocking on doors soon after she was nominated in February. Her campaign has already been down this same street before.  Orange NDP signs bearing her name dot homes along the sidewalk.

One man, who didn't want to be interviewed by CBC, told Hoffman she has his vote.

"I like Rachel," he said, referring to NDP leader Rachel Notley.

Just down the street, Chris Casson answered the door at a house that has one of Hoffman's signs on the lawn.

Casson, 26, said he wants to see change. Like his neighbour, he also likes Notley.

"I like where she's at with her campaign and what she wants to do, so we'll see how well she does," he said.

Liberals not dead yet

If the number of signs are any indication, the Edmonton-Glenora race is shaping up as a battle between Klimchuk and Hoffman.

But candidate Karen Sevcik is hoping to tap into the Liberal support that propelled  Bruce Miller to victory in 2004.

Sevcik calls herself a lifetime Liberal, involved with the party for 20 years as a campaign manager, constituency president and member of the party executive.

This is the first time she's running for office. Sevcik launched her campaign just after Easter, but says the late start won't put her at a disadvantage. She argues most people don't pay attention to elections until the last minute.

She also rejects the suggestion that the current disarray of the Alberta Liberals, fronted by interim leader David Swann, will create problems on election day. 

"We're not going anywhere," she said. "We've always been here. We'll always be here."

Three other candidates are running in Edmonton-Glenora: Don Koziak for the Wildrose, Chris Vilcsak for the Alberta Party, and David Parker for the Greens.

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