Saturday, January 2, 2010

My History with the Alberta Liberal Party - Part VII

June 1997 to November 2004

A good deal of this period was taken up with my Iraq involvement which I reported on earlier.

I did manage to create some mayhem in Alberta politics in the 2000 federal election held on November 27th, 2000. I supported and assisted Joe Clark in his Calgary Centre victory over the Canadian Alliance Party. I wanted to drive a stake through the heart of the Alliance Party in Calgary. My first option was to run for the Liberals but after the Liberal organizers messed with my nomination I contacted Maureen McTeer, flew to Ottawa for tea at the Chateau Laurier and conspired to get Joe elected.

I had 2 goals; One, to get Joe elected, Two, to ensure the Liberals did not get 10% of the vote as punishment for messing with my desire to run in “my town”. Incidentally, Joe won by more than 4,000 votes and the Liberals received 9.83%.

I did very little in the Alberta general election of 2001 held on March 12th, 2001 due to time spent in Iraq. The Conservative Party, led by Ralph Klein, won a strong majority. In addition to increasing its share of the popular vote to almost 62%, the PC Party won a majority of seats in Edmonton for the first time since 1982. They ran on the slogan “Ralph’s Team” and nobody could name the Tory candidates.

The Liberals lost 11 seats and ran up a large debt and the leader, Nancy MacBeth, was defeated in her own constituency.

The NDs, led by Raj Pannu, hoped to make gains at the expense of the Liberals in Edmonton and replace them as the official opposition. This did not materialize, but the party did manage to maintain its share of the popular vote and its two seats in the legislature. The NDs attempted to attract young voters with the slogan, "Raj against the Machine".

The right-wing Alberta First Party, contesting its first election, failed to win any seats or come close. The Social Credit Party, led by James Albers, was unable to build on its moderate success in the 1997 election, and sank back into obscurity.

In the 2004 federal election held on June 28th, 2004, I managed the campaign for Cathy McClusky in Calgary Centre-North coming 2nd but losing to Jim Prentice who was later to become a Cabinet Minister.

In the Alberta general election of 2004 held on November 22, 2004 I managed Dave Taylor’s first political campaign. We defeated the Tory incumbent and Calgary Currie is still represented by a Liberal.

The election was called on October 25, 2004. Premier Ralph Klein decided to go to the polls earlier than the legislated deadline of March 2006. This election was held in conjunction with the Alberta Senate nominee election, 2004.

When the election was called, it was expected to be anticlimactic, with Klein cruising to his fourth straight majority.

Shortly after the drop of the writs, Klein's mother died and all parties suspended their campaigns for several days. After the campaign resumed, Klein avoided making any policy announcements and attended few events. One commentator called it "Kleinfeld: the campaign about nothing" (a reference to the television sitcom Seinfeld). The Liberal Party, which had hoped to hold onto the five seats it had and regain the two seats that it had lost to resignations, began to pick up momentum and became far more optimistic.

In the end, the Conservatives were re-elected, despite losing 11 seats and 15% of the popular vote. The Liberals more than doubled their seats by electing 17 MLA's on election night while dominating Edmonton, and making strong inroads in Calgary. The NDs held on to their two seats and gained two more, all in Edmonton. The Conservatives swept rural Alberta except for one seat that went to the Alberta Alliance, which placed second in a number of rural ridings. The Green Party gained in the popular vote, jumping from 0.3% in the 2001 election to 2.8%, and placed third in some places. Also placing second in the riding of Drayton Valley-Calmar ahead of the Liberals, It was unable to win any seats, however. Social Credit placed third in a number of ridings, and its leader tied for second in Rocky Mountain House. The Conservative, Liberal and NDP leaders all easily held onto their own seats.

The Conservative Juggernaut continues...

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