A few weeks ago, I was pleading on Twitter for a pollster to poll only in Calgary. And it turns out (no surprise) that Janet Brown was already on it. We have Calgary numbers!
Brown’s model projects these numbers into 18 Calgary seats for the NDP and 8 for the UCP. I put the numbers through a version of my simple model (just applying the swing to 2019 results) and got about the same — 17 NDP, 8 UCP and 1 dead heat. You can see the numbers here (but this one isn’t interactive - sorry!).
As someone who has lived in various parts of NW Calgary for the past 25 years, the idea that every single seat is likely to go to the NDP is, well, astonishing.
But equally astonishing, but undeniable, is Brown’s observation that 18 seats in Calgary and 20 in Edmonton isn’t enough for the NDP to win. In essence, the map Brown shows us is exactly what Danielle Smith described when she told Rick Bell, back in October, how she could win this election.
The most likely outcome, at this point, is a narrow Smith win. Her caucus will be comprised largely of MLAs from rural and small-city Alberta, many of them affiliated with the Take Back Alberta movement (like Chelsae Petrovic, who had her introduction to the provincial stage yesterday as Global news reported on her view that people experiencing heart disease were just demonstrating a lack of personal responsibility — more on that below).
Most of the Kenney front bench will be gone. Kenney and Schweitzer have exited, followed by Toews and Savage. Copping, Shandro, Nicolaides and Madu aren’t likely to win their seats. Sawhney’s move to the NW appears to be doomed to failure. That leaves Schulz and McIvor. In this scenario, Cabinet-making is going to be a formidable challenge.
With numbers this close, governance will be a challenge, no matter who forms the government. As Environics Institute pollster Andrew Parkin observed last week, “there are two Albertas and they’re going in two very different directions.” A predominantly-rural UCP government will face resentment in the cities, especially if it wins the majority of seats without winning the popular vote. And an NDP government with almost no representation outside the cities will fuel the resentments that led to the formation of Take Back Alberta.
It’s not going to be pretty.
Chelsae Petrovic’s comments yesterday caused a considerable stir on social media. Even though she didn’t advocate any particular health-care policy, she articulated a world view that challenges a fundamental underlying principle of Canadian medicare: that the system is there for you no matter how you landed at the hospital/clinic door. Whether you shatter bones jumping out of airplanes or driving too fast, or clog your arteries with daily cheeseburgers, you can expect decent medical care without pulling out a credit card.
Some folks on the progressive side of the political spectrum challenged this assumption during the pandemic, opining that those who chose not to be vaccinated should have to pay for their weeks in the ICU with COVID-19. But the Canadian consensus easily withstood this stress test. No politician took the bait, and we didn’t embark onto the slippery slope of determining who were the “deserving” or “undeserving” sick.
I hope that Ms Petrovic takes the opportunity to reflect on the impact of her words, both as a medical professional and as a potential office-holder.
Alberduh, the most serious wanna-be American province in Canada....sigh.
Has there been gerrymandering outside of the cities when the democratic majority of the population live there, have good numbers AND progressive mayors but that's still not enough to win?
Excellent data by Janet Brown and write-up by CBC but the CBC headline conclusion is much less certain to be true. First, if you go to her riding-by-riding extrapolation, in her data file, there are a handful of the 18 YYC seats accessible to the UCP with a very narrow swing in their direction and 2 that could take the 18 up to 20 with a slight swing in the other direction. Candidate quality in those tight races may also matter - see Glenmore and Elbow.
Second, if RN wins 18 in YYC, she will surely win all 20 in YEG, 2 in YQL, one in Banff-Kananaskis, and one in Lesser Slave Lake, totalling 40 before we get to the Industrial Heartland surrounding YEG. Anywhere from 4 to 6 seats are up for grabs there.
I think that we could see the next six weeks move the needle about 5 points in either direction, due to, say, a compelling debate, controversial talking points, powerful campaign ads, or differences in turnout led by volunteers on the ground.
Yes, the urban-ritual division could be painful unless the winner is lucky and skilled. If Smith wins about 10 seats in Calgary and the Industrial Heartland, she can have many options for urban cabinet members, assuming she recognizes the need. But many teachers and health care workers may flee the province, if she is not careful.
If RN wins, including Morinville-St. Albert, she will have Heather Shaw, cattle farmer, to install in her cabinet. Similarly, she has an ace candidate from Vegreville, Taneen Rudyk. Then she needs to deliver rapidly on her promises to rural areas, e.g., to renew the staffing of hospitals, clinics and EMS facilities in hinterland ridings.
Last point is the UCP/TBA candidate you mentioned - she has made a huge faux pas. Partly, because it echoes Danielle Smith saying on video that if you got to Stage IV cancer, that was likely your responsibility. Second, because Livingstone-McLeod has no business being a close race but she may turn it into one. Her opponent, Kevin Van Tighem, is an exceptional candidate who is pulling in large numbers to his events. Normally, he’d still lose, but when she openly tries to commit “suicide”, he may well take advantage. A race not to sleep on!