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Diversity could be reason behind Alberta election delay

660 News with Melanee Thomas 19 January 2019

It doesn’t look like Alberta will see a provincial election until at least April, and one expert believes it may have something to do with diversity.

According to Alberta’s fixed-election legislation, voters in the province will have to go to the polls sometime between March 1 and May 31, 2019.

Earlier this week, the provincial government confirmed to 660 NEWS that the premier was planning a throne speech on March 18, and that if they were to stick to a 30-day campaign period, the earliest an election could be held is mid-April.

“For me the best lens that I have come across to interpret why the Alberta NDP might want a little more time, comes from research about what it takes to get candidates who are women, visible minorities or sexual minorities to come forward,” said Melanee Thomas, a political scientist with the University of Calgary.

“Anybody whose to say a less conventional candidate than a middle-aged, heterosexual white guy.”

According to Thomas, their research shows that to get more diverse candidates to come forward, more time is needed to address some of the systemic issues that could act as barriers.

“Given that the Alberta NDP was one of the first parties in Canada back in 2015 to field a parity slate of candidates, that is half of their candidates were women,” she said. “From my own research, a lot of this came from a commitment that came from the party leader Rachel Notley, I’m not surprised that the NDP is the party that is taking the most time to go out and do this candidate research.”

In order to find candidates that match the diversity of the population, she said, you need to give the process a lot of time.

“If you look at other parties that have a lot of their candidates already nominated, especially the United Conservatives but also the Alberta Party, through that lens,” she’s not surprised at how much lower the numbers are for those parties nominating women “despite what the advertising wants us to believe.”

According to her research, the candidates that are being nominated quickly are older, white men.

“I look at this and say there is one party that is committed to nominating on the basis of equity and diversity,” the associate professor said.

She also pointed out that the NDP may also be taking its time to make sure their constituency associations can spend at the limit.

The political scientist adds this is not the first election of its kind in the province but the first where there is more than one competitor that can spend the limit. creating for a more competitive election process.

“A lot of the parties are already ready, so given that why would some parties want more time to nominate candidates? I think equity and diversity is a useful lens to understand that,” she said.