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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Graham Thomson: Fort McMurray byelection could be a toss up if voters don't show up

Some political observers I spoke with in the city believe the byelection is a non-event in the middle of summer vacation. They’re afraid the city will see another dismal 20 per cent turnout. If true, that means fewer than 3,000 people will be casting a ballot. And that means the byelection could be something of a coin toss depending on which party manages to get its vote out.

Graham Thomson, Edmonton Journal
Updated: July 11, 2018

Jane Stroud, NDP candidate for Fort McMurray-Conklin, speaks while UCP candidate Laila Goodridge listens during a debate hosted by Mix 103.7 FM and Fort McMurray Today in Fort McMurray, Wednesday, July 4, 2018. Vincent McDermott / Postmedia, file

It’s election day in Alberta.

Well, more accurately, it’s byelection day in two ridings — Innisfail-Sylvan Lake and Fort McMurray-Conklin.

Odds are you had no idea there were a couple of elections on. Even if you live in either riding, you might only have a foggy inkling something was up.

That’s because the United Conservative Party is expected to win them both. The riding of Innisfail-Sylvan Lake has voted conservative — either Progressive Conservative or Wildrose — since being formed 25 years ago.

In the 2001 provincial election, for example, the Progressive Conservative candidate (Luke Ouellette) won 75 per cent of the vote. Instead of counting conservative ballots in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, they should just weigh them.

The seat is vacant because the incumbent, former UCP MLA Don MacIntyre, quit politics after being charged with sexual assault and sexual interference. MacIntyre’s scandal had nothing to do with the UCP and is not a factor in the byelection.

UCP candidate Devin Dreeshen is expected to win handily.

That’s why so little attention is being paid to the race.

It would only be newsworthy if the UCP lost. Heck, for conservatives in the riding a UCP loss would be akin to the four horsemen of the Apocalypse riding into Innisfail.

Then there’s Fort McMurray-Conklin, the legislative seat made vacant by the resignation of former Wildrose leader Brian Jean, who lost the UCP leadership race to Jason Kenney.

The UCP is expected to win there, too. But hang on — this byelection might actually be interesting.

Leans conservative

Yes, the people of Fort McMurray tend to vote conservative (with the notable exception of 1993 when the city elected a Liberal). But the people of Fort McMurray are not the most keen of voters.

In the 2008 provincial election, for example, only 19.8 per cent of eligible voters bothered to vote. You’d think they were electing the local dogcatcher, not a member of the legislative assembly.

Fort McMurray is home to a transient population of oilsands workers who don’t necessarily think of Fort McMurray as home.

Then there’s the fact that Fort McMurray-Conklin has few voters to begin with.

There are only about 13,000 registered voters in the riding (compared to, say, Innisfail-Sylvan Lake that has about 33,000).

It won’t take many votes to decide the winner.

In the 2015 election, Jean won 2,950 votes compared to the second place NDP candidate who collected 2,071 votes. This is not a riding where they need to weigh votes for any party.

A few hundred either way can determine the winner.

Some political observers I spoke with in the city believe the byelection is a non-event in the middle of summer vacation. They’re afraid the city will see another dismal 20 per cent turnout. If true, that means fewer than 3,000 people will be casting a ballot.

And that means the byelection could be something of a coin toss depending on which party manages to get its vote out. The UCP candidate, Laila Goodridge, has been emphasizing that message to her supporters, warning them against complacency.

That might be why there was an uptick in voter interest in last week’s advance poll. Close to 1,100 people cast ballots in the five-day advance poll. That’s up from the 719 people who voted in a four-day advance poll in 2015.

(By way of comparison, the advance poll in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake was pretty much the
same: 2,845 this time compared to 2,826 in 2015.)

Motivated voters

Perhaps the UCP scared voters to the advance poll. Or maybe the NDP motivated its own voters to the poll.

The NDP is hoping residents will think fondly of how Premier Rachel Notley deftly handled the aftermath of the 2016 wildfire that devastated the city — and how she has been pushing the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project to ship more oilsands bitumen overseas

Notley’s critics are reminding voters about the carbon tax and how Notley hasn’t actually got a pipeline built yet.

The NDP talks about winning the byelection, of course. But barring an electoral miracle, the party is pegging its hopes on a respectable second place.

In Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, New Democrats are just hoping their candidate, Nicole Mooney, doesn’t finish so far behind the UCP that they’ll need a search and rescue helicopter to find her


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dreeshen wins Innisfail-Sylvan Lake by-election

By Sheldon Spackman

July 13, 2018 - 1:13am

Unofficial by-election results from the Innisfail-Sylvan Lake riding on Thursday show UCP candidate Devin Dreeshen will be the next MLA for the riding, winning nearly 82 per cent of the vote.

Sheldon Spackman

The voters of Innisfail – Sylvan Lake have elected UCP candidate Devin Dreeshen as their new MLA.

Unofficial results show Dreeshen garnering 8,033 votes in Thursday’s by-election, nearly 82 per cent of eligible voters who cast a ballot.

Other candidates included the NDP’s Nicole Mooney who picked up 907 votes with just over 9 per cent of eligible voter support in the riding, the Alberta Party’s Abigail Douglass with 729 votes for over 7 per cent of the vote count percentage. The Liberal’s Nick Jansen picked up 93 votes for just under one per cent of eligible voter support while Independent candidate David Inscho collected 63 votes for 0.64 per cent of the vote.

UCP Leader Jason Kenney joined Dreeshen for a celebration at the Hideout in Gasoline Alley Thursday evening and greeted a supportive crowd chanting “Devin, Devin, Devin…”

Kenney says voters in central and northern Alberta where fellow UCP candidate Laila Goodridge was elected in the other by-election in Fort McMurray – Conklin, have spoken with a clear voice.

“They want a common sense government focused on jobs and economic growth that will stand up for and defend Alberta,” says Kenney. “Tonight, central and northern Albertans voted for hope and for change. They voted by huge numbers to send this failed NDP government a message that you’re living on borrowed time and next year we’re going to fire this NDP government and scrap their carbon tax to get Alberta’s economy back on track.”

Dreeshen told the crowd he was humbled by the results and of the efforts of his supporters.

“It’s been a four week campaign and everybody put in tremendous hours and tremendous work and I’m just really appreciative and thank you all very much for all of your help,” he told the crowd. “But this is just the beginning. This is a by-election win, it’s tremendous, it’s an amazing result but ultimately next election 2019 when the entire province is voting and watching and everyone is paying attention, we all need to push our conservative message, our positive, amazing conservative message of how Alberta can be a better province.”

Speaking to reporters following his address to the crowd, Kenney says both Dreeshen and Goodridge will play a role in the UCP’s shadow cabinet.

“We’ll sit down and sort out what role makes the most sense,” explains Kenney. “Devin has tremendous expertise in agricultural policy, he’s from a fifth generation Alberta farmer who was a senior policy advisor for several years to the federal agriculture minister and traveled around the world getting market access for Alberta and Canadian ag products but he has a diverse set of skills, as does Laila.”

Earlier in the week, Vice Media published an article accusing Dreeshen of trying to hide his past as a Donald Trump campaigner two years ago.

Dreeshen says he’s spent many years working provincial, federal and international campaigns and simply went down to participate in the American process.

“When I was down there, I wasn’t picking a particular candidate, it was just to see how the American system worked,” he explains. “So to me, the fact that he is the President of the United States and I have made great contacts there, I think it’s just a huge benefit for us.”

Kenney adds that he too sees Dreeshen’s experience with the Trump campaign in 2016 as a feature and not a bug.

“I’ll tell you, if I’m Premier and going down to represent Alberta’s economic interests in Washington, I’d like to have somebody who actually knows some of the people in the administration. I think that’s helpful to Alberta’s interests.”

In response to the by-election results, Liberal candidate Nick Jansen issued the following statement in a press release,“I want to take this opportunity to thank my parents, my team and my supporters," said Jansen "It was a hard-fought campaign and I respect the decision of voters. “I was proud to run under the leadership of David Khan and will keep working with the party to promote Khan’s forward-thinking vision.”


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laila Goodridge elected UCP MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin

By Vincent McDermott, Laura Beamish

Thursday, July 12, 2018 11:06:57 MDT PM

Laila Goodridge speaks to supporters after being elected UCP MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin on Thursday, July 12, 2018. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

Laila Goodridge of the United Conservative Party has been elected MLA of Fort McMurray-Conklin.

With all 43 polls reporting, Goodridge was elected with 65.89 per cent of the vote.

Despite a campaign that saw visits from Premier Rachel Notley and an aggressive social media campaign, NDP candidate and municipal councillor Jane Stroud followed with 29.53 per cent.

“Tonight, voters overwhelmingly rejected the NDP’s carbon tax, their smear and tax hike agendas,” Goodridge told media after she was declared the winner. “We’ve shown that Fort McMurray is still a strong conservative community.”

Approximately two kilometres away at the Wood Buffalo Brewing Co., Stroud congratulated Goodridge for her victory and praised former MLA Brian Jean, who resigned in March.

Despite the results, Stroud was still pleased with the number of voters that cast a ballot for the NDP.

“It didn’t go the way we wanted, but we gave them a real good race,” she told supporters. “This is a safe conservative seat and we showed them their grip is not as tight, even on their safest ridings.”

After the brief speech, Stroud told media she would be returning to her regular council duties.

Sid Fayad of the Alberta Party placed third with 2.75 per cent of the vote. Robin Le Fevre of the Alberta Liberals received 1.1 per cent while Brian Deheer of the Green party had less than one per cent.

Parties feared election would be close

As a veteran political campaigner and staple of Fort McMurray’s conservative political scene, Goodridge beat three other candidates for the UCP’s nomination spot in May.

Historically, voter trends already favoured Goodridge; since Alberta Liberal MLA Adam Germain chose not to run for reelection in 1997, the riding has favoured conservative candidates.

This time, party leaders feared victory could come down to a few hundred votes and a landslide conservative victory was no longer guaranteed.

NDP candidate Jane Stroud speaks to supporters at the Wood Buffalo Brewing Co. on Thursday, July 12, 2018. Laura Beamish/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

Fort McMurray elections have historically had low turnouts, while a byelection scheduled for mid-July had all candidates wondering how many supporters would be on vacation on Election Day. The majority of homes destroyed in the May 2016 wildfire were also inside the riding.

Stroud had an advantage in rural areas, where she was already a household name. She represents the rural hamlets of Anzac, Conklin, Gregoire Lakes Estates and Janvier on municipal council, where she was reelected with overwhelming majorities in 2013 and 2017.

Every vote in the riding suddenly had a larger voice. During two visits to Fort McMurray, Kenney warned supporters the NDP could win the byelection if they were complacent.

“Elections are always unpredictable and this was no different,” said Goodridge. “This was the middle of the week in the middle of the month in the middle of summer.”

'A form of bullying'

In a speech, Fayad thanked his opponents and congratulated Goodridge, saying it was an honour to run. Despite the results, he predicted the byelection sparked interest in the Alberta Party locally.

Towards the end of his speech, he did not name any candidates or parties, but took issue with how personal some campaigns got.

Fayad had to apologize after media were told he had used a racial slur in response to a Facebook comment in 2013. Fayad said he had forgotten about the comment, but called the language he used appalling.

"The fact that some parties have focused energy, money and resources to #MistakeShame opposing candidates and parties is absolutely wrong, pathetic and in my opinion, a form of bullying," said Fayad. "There is no regard to repercussions of how it will effect a person's personal life."

However, much of the attacks during the campaign were between the campaigns and supporters of Stroud and Goodridge.

In Fort McMurray, Stroud and her volunteers frequently questioned Goodridge’s commitments to the city and the surrounding rural hamlets in her riding.

During the 2015 provincial election, Goodridge ran as an admitted parachute candidate in Grande Prairie-Wapiti. Much of her political experience was spent in the Alberta Legislature and on Parliament Hill, rather than in Fort McMurray.

Stroud called Goodridge - who was born and raised in Fort Mcmurray - a “fly-in, fly-out” candidate.

Sid Fayad, second from right, poses for a photo with some volunteers outside Prime Test Kitchen on Thursday, July 12, 2018. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

At public events, Goodridge and Kenney blamed the carbon tax for raising northern living costs and chasing foreign investment from the oilsands.

Stroud and Notley argued the federal government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline project gave credibility to the NDP’s carbon tax and pipeline lobbying efforts.

In the final days of the campaign, Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and some of Stroud’s rural supporters questioned what was meant when the UCP campaign warned of “special interest groups” influencing the election.

Because rural and Indigenous voters historically support Stroud and the NDP locally, they wondered if Kenney and Goodridge meant them. They said the term was not a dog whistle race-baiting tactic, but referred to anti-oilsands groups and union leaders sympathetic to the NDP.

Stroud’s supporters said it was unlikely there was a large number of anti-oilsands activists in the riding. And if they were, they doubted they would support a premier that lobbied for the Trans Mountain pipeline, or a candidate that had never criticized oilsands development during eight years on council.

When asked about her thoughts on campaign attacks, Goodridge paraphrased former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that if an opponent can’t criticize policy, attack personality.

“Whenever someone criticized her personally, she took it as a compliment so I’m going to take it as a compliment,” said Goodridge.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

these 2 by elections were a total UCP blow out , 65 % of the vote in fort mcmurray and 81 % of the vote in Innisfail sylvan lake ( not sure I can actually recall another by election federally or provincially that was as much of a blow out as the Innisfail Sylvan lake one , 81 % of the vote is unheard of )

ndp came second in fort mcmurray with 29% and 9% in Innisfail Sylvan Lake

but for a governing party the results were rather pitiful and might give the ndp some second thoughs about having an early election as they've already started to nominate candidates

these results would seem to indicate that anything the UCP holds now is very safe and the battles are going to be fought in the seats currently held by the ndp

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The low turnout, low energy UCP vote argument appears to have not held up.

These were demolitions in ridngs that should have been demolitions, but should still give pause to the Premier.
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2 Alberta provincial by elections on July 12

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