For those of you not familiar with the riding of Calgary Centre, or if you are suffering from political amnesia, here are a few thoughts about the riding in advance of Monday’s federal election.
This riding was for many years held by Lee Richardson who came to it by way of the old Progressive Conservative Party, which bears little resemblance to today’s Conservative Party of Canada which is actually the old Reform Party, or Alliance Party, in disguise. In fact, it is one of those ridings that has long been considered a “fortress” of the Conservatives, whatever they are calling themselves.
Mr. Richardson vacated the seat back in 2012 and a by-election was called. I really became aware of it when I heard from some of my Progressive Conservative friends in the riding who were disillusioned and even disgusted with the CPC handling of the nomination for a candidate for the by-election. In fact there was no real nomination. The Prime Minister’s Office, aka Stephen Harper, told them they were to support his choice, Joan Crockatt. End of discussion. Case closed.
My friends were moved to do, for them, the unthinkable – to support the Liberal candidate in the by-election, Harvey Locke. Harvey was a great choice for the riding. He’s a lawyer, but don’t hold that against him. He’s also a conservationist and art curator, totally bilingual. It wasn’t hard to get behind him and a lot of us did. It looked for a while like the fortress might crumble and the long Conservative hold on this riding might finally come to an end.
But for one thing: the unlikely rise of Chris Turner and the Green Party. Young and hip, it seemed to me that Mr. Turner brought together the disenfranchised young and hip constituents of this riding. He ran a wildly successful campaign along the lines of Naheed Nenshi’s campaign when he became Mayor of Calgary.
I like Chris Turner and I like Harvey Locke. But that situation was a disaster waiting to happen in terms of the left vote splitting itself. That’s exactly what happened, allowing Ms. Crockatt to sneak in to office.
These were the final numbers:
Don Meade from the NDP picked up another 1,000 votes or so.
Clearly, Locke and Turner weren’t trying to defeat each other. They were both trying to defeat Crockatt. A meeting should have been called. Late night, downtown somewhere. Straws should have been drawn, or a coin flipped. One should have withdrawn and supported the other. But it never happened.
As a result, for the last three years we in Calgary Centre have been represented by a woman whom Frank Magazine crowned “the most useless MP on the Hill.” But not entirely useless, perhaps. In her recent newsletter to the people she represents, she made it clear that she herself could arrange to get a photo of the Queen for our hall.
Useless. And not even popular with many of her own Conservative constituents.
While all this madness was going on, in the provincial riding of Calgary Buffalo which covers much the same area as the federal riding of Calgary Centre, we were well represented by Liberal MLA Kent Hehr. Despite the doom and gloom prophecies of the 2012 election, Kent won handily for his second term. He is a vibrant and accessible politician, known and I would even say loved by many of the people who live in this part of Calgary.
One could say that while the Turner-Locke travesty was unfolding, Kent was keeping an eye on things, biding his time, waiting for the right moment to jump from provincial to federal politics. Given the orange tide that swept the province this year, he probably did well to make the change when he did.
Now, he has emerged as a very strong candidate for the Liberals in Monday’s election in a showdown that is primarily between him and “the most useless MP on the Hill.” I have seen Kent at least a dozen times during this election campaign, from the pride Parade (where I took the above photo) to breakfasts for the homeless on Olympic Plaza to just hanging out by the 8th Street underpass greeting people on their way to work. He’s there. He’s here. He’s one of us and he’s known and admired. He is the logical choice to represent us in Ottawa.
He may even be able to arrange to get pictures of the Queen for all of us, who knows?
Please, friends, don’t take this election lightly. Ignore it at your peril. Canada is shifting to a place that many of us are no longer comfortable with. Every seat we can take from the ruling party is critical towards bring some much-needed change to the country we all love. A vote for Kent is a small step towards creating this change.
By the way, now that I have you here . . . A year or so I wrote a blog post about the teaching I do at Abes College in North Calgary. It’s titled “This Is What My Country Looks Like” and you can find it by using the Search function on the left side of this page. It’s one “old stock” person’s take on some of the immigrant students I have had over the years.
We’re not all racists and we’re not all afraid of immigrants in this country. In fact, my life has been enriched by my association with the students I have met in my program. Please check it out and feel free to share it. Really, we need to stop this race-bating madness before it goes any further.
Eugenius supports Liberal candidate Kent Hehr in Calgary Centre.
Please get out and vote on October 19th, if you haven’t already.
Thanks for reading!