Calgary Foothills voters move on from Prentice as NDP tested in byelection

The Jim Prentice era officially ends in Alberta on Sept. 3, but one of the candidates seeking to replace him in Calgary Foothills says voters the former premier abandoned on election night have already moved on.

EDMONTON — The Jim Prentice era officially ends in Alberta on Sept. 3, but one of the candidates seeking to replace him in Calgary Foothills says voters the former premier abandoned on election night have already moved on.

“I haven’t really picked up a lot of animosity over the fact they have to go back to vote,” said NDP byekection candidate Bob Hawkesworth in an interview.

“It’s not voter fatigue as much as disappointment in the decision of the former premier to resign on election night.

“It was perceived by them as a petulant act.”

NDP Premier Rachel Notley called the byelection this week, setting the stage for the first binding referendum on her new government, albeit with a very small sample size.

Prentice won the riding on May 5, six months after winning it in a byelection. But as his Progressive Conservative party went down to an historic defeat, Prentice quit, even before all the votes were counted.

Political analyst Bob Murray said Calgary Foothills will be a barometer for Notley’s recent initiatives.

In the three months since winning power, Notley has fulfilled campaign promises by hiking taxes on corporations and on individuals making more than $125,000 a year.

She has reversed cuts to education and health care and launched a review to see if Albertans are getting a fair share of oil royalties.

But Murray noted that Calgary Foothills is a traditionally conservative riding that has voted PC since the party began its 44-year run as government in 1971.

“It’s a real test to see just how that (NDP) momentum has continued and whether the Orange Crush will move forward,” said Murray, the vice-president for research at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

Murray said a win for the Opposition Wildrose could be a launching pad for its leader Brian Jean in his party’s bid to eradicate the PCs as the party of choice for the centre-right.

The NDP and the Liberals have candidates selected for the byelection. The Wildrose is to nominate a candidate next week, while the Tories and the Alberta Party have yet to name a contestant. Janet Keeping will run again for the Green Party.

Hawkesworth is a former city councillor and was an NDP member of the legislature back in the late 1980s, when the party was the Official Opposition.

He said he is encountering both resistance and support at the doors.

“Generally when I ask people about their impressions of the Notley government, it’s either, ’We’re still waiting to make up our minds’ or generally very positive,” he said.

The Liberals are running engineer and software developer Ali Bin Zahid.

Bin Zahid, who didn’t return calls seeking comment, ran in the riding in the election and finished a distant fourth with seven per cent of the vote.

The Wildrose, despite being decimated by floor-crossings to the PCs prior to the election, rebounded in the campaign to capture 21 seats and Official Opposition status. But the party did not win a seat in Calgary or Edmonton.

Jean says Wildrose will fight for Foothills, but is playing the long game.

“We will be competitive, but one byelection and the results of it will not make or break us,” said Jean. “We’re in this for the long haul.”

Just Posted

Olympic ski run designer creates upgrades at Canyon Ski Resort

Jeff Ihaksi says free-style and alpine ski venues are Canada Winter Games-worthy

Updated: Collision expert backs version of crash of driver accused of manslaughter

Daniel Newsham accused of manslaughter in fatal 2016 collision

Red Deer artist highlights the dinosaur connection of Alberta birds

Jeff Powers is fascinated by winged creatures

Murder charges laid against woman from the Sunchild First Nation

The 25-year-old female victim was found dead on Dec. 12

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

Fashion Fridays: How to change your beauty routine

Kim XO, lets you in on her style secrets each Fashion Friday on the Black Press Media Network

WHL’s Thunderbirds, Silvertips open to NHL joining Seattle hockey market

TORONTO — The Seattle area’s major junior hockey teams aren’t worried about… Continue reading

Canadian freestyle skier Karker excited for Dew Tour’s modified superpipe

Rachael Karker has a renewed sense of confidence heading into her second… Continue reading

CBS settled with Dushku over ‘Bull’ star’s sexual comments

LOS ANGELES — CBS reached a $9.5 million confidential settlement last year… Continue reading

Kanye reignites Drake feud on Twitter, alleges threats

LOS ANGELES — Kanye West is not sending Christmas cheer to Drake.… Continue reading

Councillors in Toronto, Ottawa vote to allow retail cannabis stores

TORONTO — Councillors in Toronto have voted to allow retail pot shops… Continue reading

Barry Cooper: Separation has become a real possibility, thanks to Ottawa’s abuses

In the past couple of weeks, a retired senior oil executive, Gwyn… Continue reading

Most Read