Liberal Heartland Calgary

Like most Liberal campaigns launched in Calgary, Martha Hall Findlay’s leadership bid is a longshot.

Wednesday was not a typical day for Calgary Grits.

While leadership candidates must all fly into town, knowing the party’s weighted-by-riding leadership system makes a vote there far more valuable than a vote in Toronto, I have never seen a serious candidate launch their leadership campaign from the heart of Conservative country. But there was Martha Hall Findlay at the Stampede grounds, declaring her intentions to run for Liberal leader.

It’s tempting to write off the Calgary launch as a meaningless prop, but politics is all about symbolism and Hall Findlay may very well be the closest thing to a “Calgary candidate” to ever run for Liberal leader. She’s an executive fellow at the University of Calgary, once lived in the city for a few years, has family in the area, and employs a Calgary-centric campaign team. Yes, she might very well get steamrolled by Justin Trudeau, but what says you’re the Liberal Party’s “Calgary candidate” more than crushing defeat? Or having your hopes dashed by a Trudeau, for that matter?

Even more surprising on Wednesday, was a poll showing Liberals on the cusp of history in the Calgary Centre by-election:

Joan Crockatt (CPC) 32%
Harvey Locke (Lib) 30%
Chris Turner (Green) 23%
Dan Meades (NDP) 12%

Now before we all get visions of Calgary’s first Liberal seat since Trudeaumania (the first Trudeaumania, that is), it’s worth considering Forum’s shaky reputation and the small sample size (n = 376). I don’t think anyone believes this poll is accurate, but the question is how inaccurate it actually is.

After all, parts of this riding are red provincially (or green now, thanks to the ALP’s rebranding), and Naheed Nenshi won over 50% of the votes in the riding during the last municipal election. It’s a downtown riding, and although they’d never admit it, downtown Calgarians have a lot more in common with downtown Torontonians than with Nanton ranchers.

So even though the Tories got 57% the last election, by-elections are strange animals and Crockatt is a divisive figure – I would not be surprised to see her at 40-45% on by-election night. And that puts us squarely in Linda Duncan territory, where a coalition of progressives could actually win.

Of course, Alberta progressives have a habit of tripping over their feet anytime they get remotely close to power. So we’ve got the Greens attacking the Liberal candidate for “just visiting”, and the Liberal candidate calling the Green candidate “a twerp”. While there are coalitions calling for strategic voting, this poll paints a picture of the Greens pulling away enough vote to let Crockatt hold on – even though the Liberal candidate is an environmentalist who founded the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

So, in all likelihood, it will still be a few years before the Liberals actually win a seat in Calgary. Or until we get a real Calgary leadership candidate. But Calgary Liberals were closer to both those accomplishments Wednesday than they’ve been in a long time. It was a good day to be a Calgary Grit.

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, by elections, Featured Posts, Federal Politics

About CalgaryGrit

A former Calgary Liberal, now living in Toronto. My writings on politics can be found at www.calgarygrit.ca and online at the National Post.

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7 Responses to Liberal Heartland Calgary

  1. Jordan

    Bob Rae should really ask Justin Trudeau to do some extra campaigning in Calgary Centre. I know he plans on being their again but it would be smart to have him their to GOTV on Election Day.

  2. Nuna D. Above

    With decade after decade of privileged white men from Central Canada leading the Liberal party, it’s good to see Hall-Findlay in the race. It’s also good to see her putting forth policy on marketing boards, rather than spouting slogans and cliches like Justin Trudeau. It would be wise for women and blue Liberals to get behind her to try and show the party has some depth.

    • Jim R

      A voice of reason in a sea of “ooh shiny”.

      • jared

        Shiny gets dull before long.

        On the other hand, I think Martha has a lot of potential to grow on Canadians. People who have some familiarity with her all seem to like her. She certainly doesn’t incite sharp, polarized reactions like Justin. Maybe she’s the unity candidate the Liberals need. It’s a rough road ahead for the party. It’s several years til the next election. There will be highs and lows. The Liberals need a candidate they can stick with and believe in for the right reasons.

  3. Jason Holborn

    I like MHF, and have for a while.

  4. Paul O

    I do like much about MHF’s approach to politics, and many of her policies, she unfortunately also serves as a reminder that to Liberals, the Elections Act is just something for other people to follow.

  5. Pingback: Political losers have a long history of winning | Full Comment | National Post

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