2008 Alberta Election

Alberta Votes 2008: The Ed-Files Election

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. OK, it was just the worst of times. Once the dust settled, Ed Stelmach had won a mind-boggling 72 seats, silencing his critics inside and outside the party. Here are the highlights of this blog’s election coverage – a campaign which, despite the result, I really had a good time blogging about.

Alberta Votes Preview
Week 1 in Review
Returning Officer Scandal
Week 2 in Review
Rotten Tories.ca
Debate Live Blogging
Week 3 in Review
Week 4 in Review
AYL ad campaign
My Predictions

Election Night Reaction
Where do we go from here?

Alberta Votes

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It’s sure to be a historic night in Alberta tonight, as the PCs gun for an 11th consecutive majority government. I’ll be watching the results roll in at what is perhaps Toronto’s first ever Alberta Election Night Party so there won’t be any live blogging until later tonight or tomorrow morning. But feel free to post updates in the comments section.

If you’re looking for something to read between “refreshes” of results sites on your computer tonight, here’s a collection of recap posts I’ve had about the election so far.

Alberta Votes Preview
Week 1 in Review
Returning Officer Scandal
Week 2 in Review
Rotten Tories.ca
Debate Live Blogging
Week 3 in Review
Week 4 in Review
AYL ad campaign
My Predictions

And, finally, why I truly believe the Alberta Liberals deserve a chance to govern:

Alberta Election Predictions

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2008 Alberta Election | Leave a comment

Now, I haven’t set foot in Alberta once during this campaign and the polls all show a very volatile and difficult to predict electorate. So be prepared to laugh long and hard at these predictions come Tuesday.

I’ve linked to the polls in my week in review post – two out of three actually show the PCs gaining seats which would defy all forms of logic. Some Conservatives are privately predicting 65 seats – but my hunch is that those people are just Dinning organizers trying to raise expectations to make a leadership review vote more justifiable. Then again, some expert seat projections have the Tories in the 70s, challenging Klein’s personal best.

Alberta Tory makes a series of 10 predictions here. One blogger does riding by riding picks here. ES makes no predictions but offers up a very detailed election primer.

Jason Markusoff profiles 10 ridings to watch and offers a free coffee to any readers predicting 9 of 10 correctly. The Sun’s Kerry Diotte offers CDs for the closest picks. I offer nothing, but I still encourage readers to make their predictions in the comments section bellow.

And, as for my predictions:

PC 56
Lib 22
Green 0 (despite the hype around Lacombe Ponoka)

In Calgary
I’m going to be optimistic and say the Alberta Liberals pick up 5 in cowtown: Buffalo, McCall, North Hill, Glenmore, and a surprise somewhere. The Alliance vote increases in the city (at least in ridings where they field candidates), but Craig Chandler finishes a disappointing (for him) third in Egmont. All four Liberal incumbents should be re-elected, although I do think Craig Cheffins is vulnerable.

In Edmonton
Given all the three way races and polls showing the PCs flying high in the capital, Edmonton is a bit harder to predict. I’ve heard rumours that David Eggen is vulnerable but I’m going to keep it in the win column for the NDP in my predictions. I’m going to say the Liberals pick up Manning and Castle Downs but, in both cases, they aren’t really pick-ups, since they won Manning under Dan Backs last election and they won Castle Downs before a judicial recount reversed the decision. Despite this, the polls lead me to believe the PCs will be knocking off a few Liberals in Edmonton. So I’m going to say Stelmach picks up two out of Ellerslie, Glenora, and Meadowlark. I also think there’s an outside change the parties could flip St. Alberta and Spruce Grove-Sturgeon St. Albert.

And all the Rest
I’ll say the Liberals sweep Lethbridge, but I don’t see a lot of other “rural” seats changing. The ALP have a shot in Red Deer and Medicine Hat if the Alliance surges, but I just don’t see it happening. The big question, of course, is whether Paul Hinman will survive. For the sake of having a viable right wing opposition in the province I hope he does. Mr. Hinman has gotten solid reviews this campaign so I think he’ll be back but I doubt he’ll be joined by any fellow wild rosers, unless Link Byfield pulls off the upset in Whitecourt (which I wouldn’t rule out given the strong Alliance show there last time).

So, there you have. The view from 2000 miles away. I fully expect that the distance will show and that these won’t be anywhere near the mark.

This Week in Alberta Politics – Week 1903 of Tory Reign

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On Monday, Albertans head to the polls. I’ll be out at my “Albertans in Toronto” election night party so there won’t be any live blogging of the event, but I’ll throw up an open thread before I head out for people to comment on the results as they come in. And – best of all – I may break my “never blog drunk” rule and post something Monday night when I get back. And, judging from the polls, there may be a few expletitives in that one so be sure to check in for that. Until then, tomorrow night will be my seat predictions and tonight is the final “week in review” of the campaign.
On The Net

-It’s a bird…it’s a plane…no, it’s Super Ed!
-The 37 years ad campaign, from the same people who brought you Rotten Tories.
-Enlightened Savage continues his riding profiles.
-Daveberta details a senior Tory cabmin completely contradicting her party’s Edmonton region plan.
-Scott Dippel points to examples of a very disturbing pattern which includes a PC candidate threatening a newspaper editor for having the nerve to print a picture of Kevin Taft.

Ads, Ads, Ads!

-The ALP release their first ads of the campaign, with Kevin Taft talking about the need for change.
-The NDP have embarked on the largest ad campaign in their history, attacking Kevin Taft and Ed Stelmach for being in the pocket of big oil. Uh-huh. Not that I’m complaining – I figure a few soft Tories will see the ads and think “if big oil likes Kevin Taft, I’m guessing he’s not planning to bring in a new NEP“.
-The Alliance ads attack the Tories for being not in the pocket of big oil.
-The Albertans for Change also release their streeters ad.

Kowalski To Lead Public Stonings!

Can you imagine Stephen Harper ever letting one of his MPs send out a campaign pamphlet that says “While human beings can create laws, the laws of God must take precedence“? Well, that’s exactly what Tory MP Ken Kowalski has done.

Welcome to Alberta

SoE shows us a Drumheller voter who likes her Liberal candidate and feels it’s time for a change but will still vote Tory because she feels her riding would be punished for elecing an opposition MLA. All I’ll say to her is that if Drumheller actually elected a Liberal MLA, you’d probably be looking at a 70 seat Liberal majority, so I think her concerns are a little moot.

Also employing a very unique voting strategy is Colby Cosh, who will be reluctantly voting for the PCs because…Ed Stelmach likes Alberta. As supposed to Cosh’s ideological match Paul Hinman who, I guess, hates the place…

[And before I get 50 angry comments, yes, I’m aware there are people who vote Liberal in Ontario for the same reasons]

Top of the Class

The Alberta Liberals have been ranked first in pretty much every report card that’s come out. They’ve outgreened the Greens on the environment, and have also gotten top marks from health and education groups.

Next Week, Marc Lalonde Stumps For The Liberals

The NDP bring in Dave Barrett to campaign for them. Because Albertans love being told what to think by politicians from outside the province!

Quote of the Week

“After the election is over we want to make sure that every area has an equal opportunity to cast their ballots”
Ed Stelmach responding to complaints that polling stations will not be set up on all native reservations in the province.

Catchier Than “It’s Time”

Naomi Lakritz pens an ode to the Liberals entitled “Better Red Than Ed

YouTube, I Tube, We All Tube For YouTube!

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business sits down for YouTube interviews with Stelmach, Taft, Hinman, and Read.


Stelmach has somewhat softened his ridiculous claim he has stuck by for three weeks that the Liberal environmental plan would cost the province 350,000 jobs. But he’s still refusing to explain any of his numbers. Probably because it’s a ridiculous figure he pulled out of thin air with no basis behind it.

Poll Watch

The polls all show that Albertans want change and aren’t big fans of Ed Stelmach. The polls also show the Tories getting anything from a big majority to…an even bigger majority.

PC MLAs call for a new NEP

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Well, no, but that’s how Ed Stelmach spins it whenever anyone else makes this suggestion:

You can see the full results from the Pembina institute survey of candidates here.

If you’re still trying to figure out your vote, you can check out the party leaders on the eye opener:

Feb. 25th: Ed Stelmach of the Conservative Party (13:11)
Feb. 14th: Brian Mason of the NDP (13:38)
Feb. 12th: George Read of the Green Party (12:25)
Feb. 6th: Kevin Taft of the Liberal Party (12:24)

My favourite Stelmachism from his interview – “it’s very easy now to predict the past”.

In other news, it’s come out that the Tories appointed MLA and candidate Thomas Lukaszuk’s former EA as the returning officer in Edmonton-Castle Downs, a riding Lukaszuk won by 5 votes after a recount in 2004. It’s almost at the point where all you can do is just laugh.

The Tories will knock on Wood…

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2008 Alberta Election | Leave a comment

…but, for what it’s worth, here’s an e-mail Preston Manning’s former communications director fired off to the Alberta Liberals today:

I have met a lot of politicians over the years including every Prime Minister going back to and including John Diefenbaker except Kim Campbell. My list includes a lot of Premiers as well, including Ernest Manning, Duff Roblin, John Robarts, Bob Stanfield, W.A.C. Bennett, Bill Bennett, Lougheed, Klein, Bernard Lord, Joey Smallwood, Robichaud of New Brunswick and several more. All of this just to establish that I can claim finely honed instincts when it comes to politicians and which ones I’d trust and those I wouldn’t. I met Kevin Taft for the first time yesterday in a political social setting and came away convinced that deciding to support and vote for the provincial Alberta Liberals was the right decision. Those finely honed instincts tell me that Kevin Taft is a straight shooter and will be a Premier in whose hands my beloved Alberta will be safe and thoughtfully managed.

It is my hope that in the waning days of the campaign, Albertans will wake up and see that it is time for political renewal and recognize that their only hope for that renewal is with Kevin Taft and his team. He is not a glad-handing, back-slapping politician of which we have abundance in Alberta . He is one of those rare types who can focus on the people he meets as individuals and not just one more voter he has to shake hands with quickly so he can move on to the next one. This is not a skill politicians develop, they’re either born with it or don’t have it. There are politicians who can work a room because there are votes in it. The more and valuable politicians are those who work a room because there people in it. I watched Kevin Taft closely at the Sunday event and I know he knows and appreciates the difference between a room full of votes and a room full of people.

This Week in Alberta Politics – Week 1902 of Tory Reign

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With the Academy Awards tonight and Rotten Tories’ launch this week, it’s time for an Oscars-themed Alberta election week-in-review.

Best Picture


Health care was a big topic this week, with the Liberals promising Calgary a cancer centre and the Tories promising that Calgary health care workers will be paid.

Big Budget Films

Both the Alberta Liberals and PCs release platform costing with more plot holes than I Know Who Killed Me.

I Am Legend

The lifetime achievement award is presented this year to Pierre Trudeau. Apparently, he haunts Ed still:

“There is a fundamental difference in philosophy between Progressive
Conservatives and Liberals. The Liberals believe in taxing it, spending it, controlling it,” Stelmach told the crowd. “Albertans don’t want a government-planned economy. The (Pierre) Trudeau Liberals tried it, and we know how well that worked.”

Pressed after the speech why he decided to go negative in his campaigning — something he vowed not to do — Stelmach said he’s fed up with the opposition “getting away with policies that make no sense for all Albertans.” Asked whether it’s fair to compare Taft and the Alberta Liberals to Trudeau, Stelmach paused and said: “They carry the same label.”

Best Director

Stelmach certainly had the best coaching for Thursday’s debate. He looked straight ahead and robotically stuck to his talking points, regardless of what was asked of him.

Mr. Stelmach, what is your favourite colour?”
“We have a plan that provides change Albertans can trust in plan form. Jean Chretien wants to steal your oil money.”

And, you know what, it worked. He may have been Knocked Up and it may have been Superbad, but expectations were so low that merely surviving was enough.

The “We’ll find a way for Al Gore to win something” Award

The Alberta Liberals out-green the Greens and get top marks for their environmental platform.

Best Short Film

Youtube heats up this week – Daveberta has a good round up here. Albertans for Change and the PCs have launched dueling commercials:

The People’s Choice Awards

Ipsos, Angus Reid, and Leger have released poll numbers, which average out:

PC 45.2%
Lib 29.6%
NDP 10.9%
All 8.4%
Green 5.9%

While these results are similar to 2004, with the Liberals up in Calgary and the PCs up in Edmonton, there could be a few ridings switching hands on the third. And with Stelmach’s leadership and momentum numbers still weak, and the “time for a change” sentiment sky high, things could shift. But the clock is ticking.

The Razzie Goes To…

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach stood in front of 200 Tory supporters Monday and promised to limit annual tuition increases to the rate of inflation. But he got no applause from the partisan crowd.

Other Movies

The Bucket List: After being an MLA for 15 years and staring political death in the eye, Ed promises to do all the things he never did when he had the chance to.

Definitely, Maybe: Ed Stelmach’s solution to the climate change problem.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age: A look back at a time before democracy when you could actually have a 45 year reign…

Transformers: After 37 years in power, the PCs try to run on a “change” platform.

UPDATE: Glad to see that rapid response is alive and well in Alberta. After taking a quick shot at ALP (and PC) costing above, the Liberal war room fired me off an early morning (especially in Alberta) detailed costing chart and some more examples of fund reallocation. I’m no economist, but it certainly looks like they did their homework on this one.

And, I certainly would expect them to spend less than the PCs, who boosted spending by 17% in last spring’s budget…

Wild West Shoot-Out

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2008 Alberta Election, Leaders Debates | Leave a comment


I’ll be live blogging the Alberta debate tonight as it unfolds. Until then, we’ve got a real battle of the Reids forming, with Ipsos showing Ed sailing easy and Angus showing Ed in a ton of trouble. Either way, all eyes will be on the debate tonight – if the Alberta Liberals have any chance, tonight is when Taft will have to make his move.

Oh, and I’ve got 17 minutes in the “how long does it take Ed Stelmach to bring up Trudeau or the NEP” pool.

6:32 pm: Bill Mason takes a page from the Jack Layton playbook! “elect more NDP MPs…errr…MLAs

6:33pm: Ed Stelmach opening: “plan…we have a clear plan… a very good plan…plan plan plan”

6:39 pm: Apparently there will be absolutely no moderation this debate…

6:41 pm: What the hell? Commercials? Are they serious?

6:36 pm: I’m watching the debate with James Bowie here and his first question of the evening about Paul Hinman – “is English not his first language?”

6:53 pm: Stelmach points out that he’s built a “neo-navel” unit. For belly button piercings?

7:01 pm: Paul Hinman – “we are not getting any action”. Well, no.

7:04 pm: Kevin sounds good, pulling from his “next Alberta” speech.

7:05 pm: Stelmach calls his royalty position “a decisive decision”.

7:08 pm: Ha ha! Who had 38 minutes in the pool? Stelmach brings up Jean Chretien and Ottawa stealing Alberta’s wealth.

7:16 pm: Ed gets asked where his figure of 300,000 lost jobs comes from…and…we’re on to talking points…I’ll give Ed credit – he’s not showing any emotion or any sign of life, but he’s sticking to the script. Still, he didn’t answer the question!

7:23 pm: Kevin looks a bit weak on the environment in my opinion. As I’ve said before, he should just say he supports the Harper targets and ask Ed if he does as well.

7:24 pm: Ed holds up his no two tier health care strategic plan sign, for the second time! No props! No Props!

7:35 pm: No offense to the gents, but this is looking like a bin round…

7:41 pm: From Mr. Bowie, on Ed Stelmach: “Is this his first election?”. Me: “Yup.” Bowie: “You can tell…”

7:53 pm: Another f’ing commercial break???? I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get a single question on ethics or accountability tonight since that was the opening for a knock-out punch….

8:00 pm: Following the debate we go right into “Big Love”. Resisting…urge…to make Paul Hinman joke…

Well, that’s the debate. All in all, it certainly wasn’t the greatest debate ever. I’m pretty bad at calling debates and I obviously have my biases, so take the following with a grain of salt:

I do think Taft was by far the best of the four – he was the only one who showed any form of emotion. Most importantly, I think he looked and sounded Premierial. But, that’s only for those who watched. There was no…wait for the cliche…”knock out punch”, so unless you watched, this debate likely won’t change anyone’s opinion.

Stelmach…well, they say debates reinforce your opinions, but I cannot imagine anyone watching this debate and thinking this guy is qualified to be Premier. I’m sorry, but he is by far the least inspiring politician ever elected to lead any party in Canada ever. On the plus side, he avoided saying anything overly dumb and no one really hit him hard enough to knock him down so Ed can likely breath easy that this one is over.

As for Hinman and Mason…meh. Neither did much for me, but they hit on their key themes so they should solidify their base, if nothing else. “I hate corporations”…”I hate government”…we get it!

I’m curious to hear other thoughts on the debate. Daveberta, Alberta Tory, the Edmonton Journal, ES, and Joel Kom were all live blogging.

FRIDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: First of all, I really do think we would have been better served with two commercial free 1 hour debates. Last night, there was nothing on education, nothing on ethics, hardly anything on royalties, and we were treated to the bizarre “auto insurance is a HUGE issue – you have 5 seconds each to explain your positions” question at the end.

As for the performances, the reviews are, as usual, mixed. I scanned a few less mainstream blogs and discussion boards and they were digging Hinman, although a few people thought he came across sounding too old fashioned with respect to child care. The media seems to be of the view that Stelmach won by virtue of not sucking as much as they expected him to, and I’d tend to agree with them. The “undecided voter” panel that Ipsos is running for the Herald had it as a four-way draw, which means Mason and Hinman were the big winners. The Journal’s “average Joe” panel seemed pretty positive towards Taft, and panned Mason by and large.

A few more quick run-down thoughts:

– Stelmach listened to his coaches well. He looked straight ahead and mechanically went into his talking points when instructed to. I’m not sure anyone really understood what he was saying but he tossed around enough examples and numbers that you could at least get the sense he was competent enough to run the province, even if he lacked in the “vision” department.

-Taft was playing more for the audience than the pundits, I think. He was trying to look like a Premier and show some passion, as supposed to just punching away at Stelmach all night. Was that a good strategy? Well, that depends on how far you think Stelmach has fallen. I think he gets good marks on content and delivery, although he had a few weird body language moments.

-My initial reaction was that Hinman and Mason played to their base well and I think that remains true. Hinman wasn’t afraid to put forward his “true conservative” policies and Mason was fighting for the little guy. I wasn’t overly impressed with Mason, truth be told (and I have called debates for Jack Layton before) but he managed to lure Taft into a few skirmishes which is what he had to do too.

-My favourite e-mail I got in response to the debate from a reader:

Taft last night: “Charisma doesn’t win elections. Charisma doesn’t get hospitals built. Charisma doesn’t get schools built.”
But she does put on a great show Tuesdays at the French Maid.

This Week in Alberta Politics – Week 1901 of Tory Reign

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2008 Alberta Election | Leave a comment

On the Web

-from the makers of edspedia.ca come rottentories.ca
-Kevin Taft: The Next Alberta

-Straight Outta Edmonton counts down the top songs of 1971
-Taft responds to RO scandal on Youtube
-Daveberta Youtube round-up
-Four Strong Winds asks how to fix democracy in Alberta

Blog Watch

I didn’t think it was possible, but whoever is doing Ed Stelmach’s campaign blog has managed to capture the mind numbing boringness of Ed in written form! My favourite entry is from February 12th – I’d say it’s prime fodder for the cliche-o-meter.

On the other side, you have former journalist and Calgary Fish Creek candidate Laura Shutiak, who has managed to put together an entertaining blog that sheds some light on what life on the campaign trail is like. I’ll also give Arthur Kent credit for putting together a walk and talk daily video blog.

Ad Watch
The PCs keep rolling out the “Ed chats with bad actors” ads, while Imagine Alberta talks education.

The Continuing Saga of Perry Mason
Say my name” is quickly becoming the NDP leader’s campaign theme.

Quotes of the Week

“The opposition says, ‘a 37-year-old government — time to kick them out.’ Marie has been with me for 34 years — I don’t plan to kick her out.”
-Ed Stelmach

“[Stelmach was such a QP disaster that] it got to the point where you didn’t ask him questions because you just felt bad for him.”
-Kevin Taft

Topics I’d Like to see Banned from the Campaign
Ed Stelmach’s conception

Actual Quote from Ed Stelmach Podcast with Tom “Say no to Calgary” Olsen

TO: “Generally speaking, what is their response when you explain your plan on whatever the issue is?”

ES: “uhh, what’s, when I have an opportunity to talk to individuals and talk about our plan, communicate to them what we have in our plan, a very bold plan to cover all of these issues, many have a much better understanding of what’s in the plan and know that it’s going to work for them and deal with many of the issues that they may be facing individually in many issues.”

Reason why the PCs will probably still win this thing

In Drayton Valley, Frances Meston, 56, co-owns Big West Farm and Ranch with her husband. The store sells everything from cowboy hats to gates for drilling sites. “This royalty thing, it hasn’t helped anybody,” she said.

But for all the angst and anger it’s created, Ms. Meston still supports the Tories. She always has. In fact, the mother of two grown daughters couldn’t imagine an Alberta without the Conservatives in charge. “No, and definitely not the NDP,” she said with a chuckle.

Policy Watch

The Liberals came out with two policies which both make practical and political sense. $1,000 off tuition is something all students can relate to, while Taft’s “cities charter” got this response in a Herald editorial this morning:

Liberal Leader Kevin Taft has skillfully positioned himself as king of the concrete jungle, with an election promise to give Edmonton and Calgary their own charters.

Raising the provocative idea of more municipal autonomy strategically shows Taft as a leader who gets the needs of Alberta’s cities, where two-thirds of the population reside.

The Week Ahead
All eyes are on the leaders debate this Thursday. This is make it or break it time for the four party leaders and might very well decide the election. And, as luck would have it, I’ve figured out the chanel shifting on my cable box so I’ll be able to watch and live blog it this Thursday!

I’d also expect the first public polls of the campaign to be released either Tuesday or Wednesday.


Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2008 Alberta Election | Leave a comment

Get all the reviews from the Alberta campaign here, as Ed Stelmach’s bucket list of promises continues over the next two weeks!

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