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Liberals still nominating candidates across much of southern Alberta

Calgary Herald with Melanee Thomas 12 September 2019


Federal political parties have released their rosters for the Oct. 21 election and, while not every party has nominated a candidate for each riding, there is a noticeable lack of Liberal nominees in southern Alberta.

The Liberals have fielded candidates in all but one of Calgary’s ridings, but several rural areas south of Red Deer don’t yet have someone representing the party. Melanee Thomas, associate professor of political science at the University of Calgary, isn’t surprised, since she doesn’t anticipate many battleground ridings in Alberta.

“What most parties are going to be doing is asking most of their candidates to run as sacrificial lambs. So, to be that name on the ballot, doing the good democratic service to make sure that we can have free and fair competitive elections, on the understanding that it is really unlikely that they’re going to win the election,” said Thomas.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Liberal party had yet to fill at least 10 of Alberta’s 34 districts, including the following in southern Alberta:

  • Battle River—Crowfoot
  • Bow River
  • Calgary Midnapore
  • Foothills
  • Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner
  • Red Deer—Lacombe
  • Red Deer—Mountain View

Thomas said that just as there are places where the Liberals struggle to field candidates, there are areas of the country where Conservatives find it difficult to nominate someone, such as downtown Montreal.

The Conservative party announced on Sept. 3 it had nominated candidates in every one of the 338 ridings in the country. Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada is the only other party that has a candidate in all ridings.

“Some parties are going to be much more willing to just accept any taker or any volunteer for candidacies than others. All parties do vetting, though the speed with which the People’s Party got a full candidate slate suggests to me that they’re not vetting very hard,” said Thomas.

“Any party that is looking to make sure that they’ve got diversity amongst their candidates that at least nods toward the diversity of the Canadian population, has to take more time.”

Thomas doesn’t expect the late-entry Liberals to affect the results of the province’s rural ridings.

When asked about the lack of candidates in southern Alberta, the Liberal Party of Canada said in a statement that, as of Thursday morning, 307 Liberal candidates had been nominated across the country.  

Kent Hehr, a Liberal candidate seeking re-election in Calgary Centre, said the party will continue to announce nominations until every riding has Liberal representation.

“We are going through the process right now of going through the candidates,” said Hehr, adding that he expects all ridings in the province to have a nominated Liberal by the end of the week.

On Thursday, Gwyneth Midgley was nominated as the Liberal candidate for Airdrie—Banff. Earlier this year, she ran in the provincial election for the Alberta Liberal Party in Banff—Kananaskis.

“The Liberal party is most competitive in Edmonton and Calgary,” said Hehr. “There are some ridings in Alberta where we don’t have the same opportunities that we do in the cities but, nevertheless, we will have candidates, we will run good campaigns and get the message out to the doors.”

Melanee Thomas is a political science professor at the University of Calgary.