It’s still not certain on what exact date Albertans will likely be heading to the polls, but Alberta’s political parties are still getting a jump-start on being ready for when the election comes.
Candidates across the province are doorknocking of their constituencies, despite not knowing exactly when the vote will likely be happening.
“I need to provide people the chance to satisfy me, to confer with me and to search out out where I stand on issues so people can know needless to say what their options are once they’re voting,” Calgary-Northeast Alberta Party candidate Nate Pike told Global News while doorknocking on Wednesday.
“Definitely the intensity is picking up as we’re getting closer and closer to the expected writ drop.”
As of Jan. 10, the United Conservative Party (UCP) led all provincial parties with 79 confirmed candidates out of 87 electoral ridings. The Alberta Party was in second with 54 and the governing NDP was in third with 34.
The Alberta Liberal Party and Green Party were tied with seven confirmed candidates, while Derek Fildebrandt’s Freedom Conservative Party had one.
The most recent candidate totals call into query which parties are roughly prepared for the upcoming vote. But one political commentator said he believes nearly all of the parties aren’t concerned, because it’s normal for to see a scarcity of confirmed candidates to date out from an election.
“I don’t think it’s particularly concerning,” said Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt. “To say that the NDP is unprepared for the election once they get to call it’s a ridiculous line, but what it does show is the UCP may be very well-prepared and the Alberta Party is moving in that direction as well.”
In a press release to Global News, the Alberta NDP said it has 60 accomplished or scheduled nomination contests, and is preparing to launch more.
“We launched our nomination process in March of last yr and asked our constituency associations to work with us in a thoughtful and deliberate manner,” the statement read. “It is incredibly essential that those that carry the flag for us in 2019 are representative of the values of the province and our party.”
Meanwhile, first-time UCP candidate Tanya Fir is in a holding pattern, waiting for the writ to drop.
Fir is the UCP candidate within the newly-created Calgary-Peigan riding. She said she has been doorknocking, but an election call is required for her to maneuver into an office space, print signs and recruit volunteers.
“I’m excited, however it’s a quiet confidence because now we have to maintain working hard,” Fir said. “I feel confident, I feel that we’re prepared — I mean just the quantity of people who have sought nominations.”
Although the numbers are interesting, what has caught the attention of political watchers across the province isn’t the variety of NDP and UCP candidates, but how those candidates got here to win their nomination.
The UCP has had highly-contested nomination races in nearly all of the province’s electorial districts. Nonetheless, the NDP has had multiple candidates win the nomination by acclamation; meaning nearly all of their candidates had no opponents for the nomination.
In line with Bratt, the NDP have had only one contested nomination as a result of a boundary change with two MLAs competing for the seat.
“What’s more striking is just how competitive [the UCP nominations] have been and that’s because they’re seen because the government-in-waiting,” Bratt said. “Subsequently, in case you can win the nomination, you possibly can then grow to be an MLA; winning the nomination will likely be tougher than winning the overall election.”
While there may be loads of speculation among the many candidates across all parties about exactly when the writ will likely be dropped, Bratt said there are many aspects at play that the federal government will weigh before dropping the writ.
“Do they need university students that are inclined to vote NDP on campus and do they need them on campus before final exams?” he said. “If that’s the case, then you definately’re a March election, perhaps as late as early April.
“Then again, in the event that they’re older voters who could also be snowbirds in Arizona or Florida and usually tend to vote UCP, they wish to make sure that that they stay in Arizona or Florida.”
In line with Alberta’s fixed-election-date laws, the overall election must happen between March 1 and May 31.
Premier Rachel Notley has not made any firm commitments as to whether or not there will likely be a spring sitting of the legislature.
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