Sunday, October 4, 2015

Liberals and NDP may win some urban seats in Alberta

There may have been an orange crush by the New Democratic Party in the last Alberta provincial election, but this will not translate into a gain of many if any seats in the federal election.
recent projection gives the Conservatives led by prime minister Stephen Harper 28 seats. The Liberals with Justin Trudeau the leader are projected to win four seats. Tom Mulcair's NDP is projected to win two seats. Ordinarily, these projections would be taken as convincing evidence that Alberta is almost completely safe for the Tories.
The CBC though talks of change and cracks in the Conservative fortress of Alberta in Calgary and Edmonton. While in most rural areas the Conservatives will continue to have huge majorities even in some of these, majorities are predicted to shrink. It is the urban areas that are definitely showing cracks in the Tory fortress of Alberta with the Liberals doing quite well in Calgary and the NDP in Edmonton. There is even a battle in the smaller city of Lethbridge.
In relative terms, the CBC has a point. In the 2011 election, Harper and the Conservatives won all but one seat in Alberta. The Conservatives took 66.8 percent of the popular vote, with second place NDP taking 16.8 percent. The Liberals took 9.3 percent and the Greens 5.3. The NDP won one seat in Edmonton. They may win another this time around.
Laurie Adkin, a politics professor, says: "Alberta has had this kind of populist conservative orientation for many decades that is now changing because of the net in-migration of people." In the last fifteen years, the population of Alberta has grown from 3 million to 4 million. There has been an influx of new people most of them young. Alberta now has the youngest population in Canada. Many of these new Albertans do not have the same values as the older base of Conservative support. Both Edmonton and Calgary elected mayors considered progressive. Opposition parties have not won more than two seats in Alberta federal elections since 1993 and even then the Liberals took only four seats. The Conservative popular vote a while back was 53.4 percent, with the Liberals less than half that at 22.2 percent and the New Democrats 19.3 percent. However, this shows a huge gain for the Liberals. Much of that vote is concentrated in the city of Calgary. The NDP vote has declined since they were elected. They were in second place with 27 to 29 percent of the vote earlier in the year.
In spite of Liberal gains in the popular vote, Justin Trudeau is the most unpopular leader of the three major party leaders with a 50 percent disapproval rating. The Trudeau name may hurt Justin in Alberta, as his father created a national energy company, PetroCanada, to compete with Alberta's big oil companies. Trudeau is tied with Mulcair of the NDP for approval with a 36 percent rating. Harper has both an approval and disapproval rating in the province of 45 per cent.
The Liberals may gain seats in Calgary Centre, Calgary Confederation, and Calgary Skyview, and possibly Edmonton Centre. The NDP may win one more seat in Edmonton Griesbach, to add to the one they hold in Edmonton. They have a marginal chance in Lethbridge and three other Edmonton seats, while the Liberals also have a marginal chance in two more Calgary ridings. The Conservatives too can gain seats including all of the new eight seats that have been added since the last elections. While the changes in Alberta will do little to alter the dominance of the Conservatives in the province, the seats going to the opposition could be crucial in a close federal race.

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