Important note: The following blog is intended only for people who usually vote Liberal, but who are thinking of switching their vote to either the PCs (to stop the Wildrose) or to the Wildrose (to defeat the PCs). Unwavering PC supporters, bedrock Wildrose supporters and compulsive NDP backers, please leave the virtual room. This blog is only for members of the immediate family, however distant they may be. Thank you.
There are dark clouds on the horizon for the Alberta Liberal party. I am afraid that your party is headed for the perfect electoral storm.
If you’ve voted Liberal in the past (and consistently there are about 250,000 to 270,000 of you), you’ve no doubt done so for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you like the party, or the platform, or the leader. Maybe you just hate the PCs, or you’ve always voted Liberal. Or, most likely, you like the candidate. For a variety of reasons, the Liberals have enjoyed the second-highest vote total in every election since 1989. That’s not exactly a bragging point (“We’re no. 2! We’re no. 2”) but it’s a sign that the Liberals, despite the widespread view that the Liberal name is “toxic”, have a solid core of support.
But going into this pivotal election, the polls show the Liberal vote is collapsing. From a traditional base of support of anywhere from 25-30 per cent, Liberal support is now in the low 10s. This is potentially catastrophic.
Why has it fallen so low? The party policies are sound, the leader is dynamic (yes, he carries some baggage, but you can’t deny the guy has charisma), and many of the candidates are outstanding. So, why is the party that you’ve supported in the past teetering on the brink?
Clearly, the Liberals are caught in a squeeze. The Wildrose has staked out the right, and the New Democrats are in their customary slot on the soft-left. But now, in the customary Liberal position in the progressive middle, along come the PCs, trying hard to reinvent themselves as truly ‘progressive’ Conservatives. The Liberals find themselves vying for the affections of the electorate against an old trollop who thinks plastic surgery and implants have made her more appealing. And it seems to be working.
But that’s only half the problem. Clearly, thousands of traditional Liberal voters are taking the “strategic voting” route. Eager to finally end the PC reign of error, some Liberal faithful are parking their votes — just this once — with the Wildrose. And with the Wildrose surging in the polls, thousands of traditional Liberal voters are voting — just this once — for the PCs to stop our slide into the 19th century.
Well, if you are one of those people, let me just say … DON’T DO IT.
This is NOT the time to abandon ship. If anything, the Liberals need your vote now more than ever.
In several Edmonton and Calgary ridings, the Liberals are still in a position to win. For years, Liberals have dreamt of the day when a vote split on the right would allow Liberals to sneak up the middle. Well, despite the poll numbers, that possibility still exists in several ridings — but only if the traditional Liberal vote holds. If thousands of Liberal voters decide to vote for a party they fundamentally disagree with, in an attempt to stop another party they fundamentally disagree with, then thousands of Liberal votes will be lost. And with it, some very fine public servants may be sent to the sidelines.
Now some of you are certainly saying, “Maurice, you’re too personally invested in this.” I don’t deny this. I was a Liberal MLA, and I got to know a lot of outstanding people in the political field. So, yes, it’s personal. But I wouldn’t urge you to vote for a candidate I know to be a dud. You’ll just have to trust me on this.
So, Liberal voters, stay the course and please vote for the following:
• Raj Sherman, Edmonton-Meadowlark. I don’t know Raj very well, but it is vital that the leader of the party, the strongest voice for health care in the Legislature, be returned to the Legislature.
• Weslyn Mather, Edmonton-Mill Woods. A genuinely inspiring person, and as dedicated a public servant as you will ever find.
• Mo Elsalhy, Edmonton-McClung. Tremendous work ethic and a guy who genuinely cares about his constituents.
• Rick Miller, Edmonton-Rutherford. Just the kind of person you want representing you in the legislature and in your neighbourhood.
• Bruce Miller, Edmonton-Glenora. Another former MLA of unfailing integrity, and an all-round great guy.
• Laurie Blakeman, Edmonton-Centre. Relentless thorn in the side of whatever party that will be in power, Blakeman is also the ultimate constituency person. A champion of the arts community as well.
• David Swann, Calgary-Mountain View. I doubt if I’ve ever met a man who cares more deeply for humanity than David Swann. A legislature without him would be badly diminished.
• Kent Hehr, Calgary-Buffalo. Again I only know Kent fleetingly, but he is an extraordinary person and an excellent representative.
I don’t know Josipa Petrunic in Edmonton-Gold Bar, or Arif Khan in Edmonton- Riverview, but from what I’ve heard about them, you can’t go wrong. And in Red Deer, I hope the Liberal voters in Red Deer North realize that Michael Dawe, one of Red Deer’s best-known citizens, has a chance to benefit from the Wildrose/PC vote split.
I’m not going to recommend every Liberal running, because a) I don’t know them all, and b) I honestly don’t know how many of them deserve your support. But for those of you reading in any of the above-mentioned constituencies, now is not the time to abandon the party in the faint hope of “stopping” a candidate, or trying to alter the outcome of the election. Vote for someone, not against.
Stand your ground, Liberals, or you may not have any ground left to stand on by Monday.