For the first time in recent memory — going back several decades if not longer — local nomination races will be needed to determine who will represent the NDP in the federal election.
Call it the “Rachel” effect — or maybe it’s because of something else — the two new Red Deer ridings will each see a nomination vote later this month.
There has been plenty of discussion since Rachel Notley led the provincial New Democratic Party to victory in May’s provincial election about whether it would have an effect on the Oct. 19 federal election, which was called on Sunday by Stephen Harper.
Here in Red Deer, there are now three people seeking the NDP nod for Red Deer-Mountain View, and two in Red Deer-Lacombe. Provincially, both Red Deer North and Red Deer South ridings were won by NDP candidates but political pundits will debate whether that has much weight at the federal level.
The Red Deer riding has had a right-of-centre Member of Parliament — ranging from Social Credit to Reform to Conservative parties — since 1935.
The former riding of Red Deer has been split into two as of this federal election, Canada’s 42nd.
Red Deer city councillor Paul Harris was the latest to add his name to the list of those seeking the nomination for Red Deer-Mountain View. Evan Bedford and Dianne Macauley also want to represent the NDP in this riding.
In the Red Deer-Lacombe riding, Doug Hart and Katherine Swampy will square off for the NDP nomination.
Stephen Merredew, president of the Red Deer-Mountain View NDP constituency association, confirmed Thursday that Harris is in the running now too.
While a contested NDP nomination is rare in Red Deer, the party has had a candidate in all local campaigns going back 17 elections to 1962. The federal party was founded in 1961.
Even though the election campaign is now underway, the NDP has nominated candidates in only 10 of 34 Alberta ridings. The Conservatives have a full slate. The Liberals have 25 candidates nominated and the Greens have 22.
The NDP nomination date for the Red Deer ridings hasn’t been set yet but is expected to be later in August. There would still be about two months left to campaign. The 78-day federal election campaign itself is the longest in Canadian history, except for the 1872 election. On average, federal election campaigns run about 50 days. The minimum required is 36 days.
The Central Alberta ridings now have new names and new boundaries except for Yellowhead, which has the same name but also new boundaries. The following is the list to date of confirmed candidates running in the election in the four ridings:
Red Deer-Lacombe: Blaine Calkins – Conservative (formerly MP for Wetaskiwin riding); Jeff Rock – Liberals.
Red Deer-Mountain View: Earl Dreeshen – Conservative (formerly MP for Red Deer riding); Mason Sisson – Green Party; James Walper – Libertarian.
Battle River-Crowfoot: Kevin Sorenson – Conservative (formerly MP for Crowfoot); Gary Kelly – Green; Fahed Khalid – Democratic Advancement Party of Canada.
Yellowhead: Jim Eglinski – Conservative (former MP for Yellowhead); Cory Lystang – Libertarian; Ryan Maguhn – Liberal.