Thursday, July 30, 2009

Federal NDP hopes to improve standing in Alberta

Hope springs eternal. I suppose the NDP has as much hope of doing better in Alberta as the federal Liberals who are also courting provincial voters. For some reason Albertans historically seem to take an all or nothing approach usually electing members from just the Conservative party with maybe one or two from other parties at the very most! Iggy's position on the Oil Sands developments is much more positive than that of Layton but whether that will help the Liberals much is doubtful. Voters in Harper's home province are not about to leave the Conservative fold in any large numbers I expect!

NDP hopes for inroads in Alberta

If at first you don't succeed, run, run again.

Alberta has historically been somewhat infertile ground for the federal NDP, but leader Jack Layton is hoping that "perseverance and determination" will lead the party to improve on its one-seat standing in the next federal election.

Layton was in Edmonton on Monday to see former Alberta NDP leader Ray Martin and aboriginal activist Lewis Cardinal acclaimed as the party's candidates in Edmonton East and Edmonton Centre.

Cardinal is new to the federal party, but despite his long service as a member of the Alberta legislature -- he led his party to win 16 seats in the 1986 provincial election -- Martin has tried and failed to be elected in three different federal votes dating back to 1997.

That doesn't discourage Layton, who remains upbeat about NDPer Linda Duncan's squeaker of a win -- by a 463-vote margin -- over four-term Tory incumbent Rahim Jaffer in 2008.

"We often find that our candidates run two, three times before they win," said Layton, noting that Duncan's victory came on a second try.

"We think that Linda Duncan's breakthrough in the last election was the start of something big."

He said that last time around, there might have been a sense among Alberta voters that NDP candidates wouldn't have a chance, so why waste the vote?

"Now that Linda has won a seat, I think that's changed. And I think people will now say, 'look at that. We can elect a federal NDP member to stand up for us and that's a good thing and we're going to get behind them.' It's a growing process."

Of course, Layton isn't the only opposition leader laying the groundwork for a breach of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's big blue juggernaut -- every seat in Alberta except Duncan's is held by the federal Conservatives.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has spent time in the province recently, suggesting that Albertans are disgruntled by Harper's policies and ready for a change.

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