Lethbridge typically has 5 parties contend for your vote in a federal election. There are 19 registered parties with many of them only running candidates in half of the available ridings. The ones that grace this fair city are the Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Green, and the Christian Heritage.
As blogged earlier, the Green party has had a hard time getting a nominee, but I have heard tell of one coming forward and names will be released as soon as legally possible, I presume. However, I have yet to hear of a name for the CHP.
The CHP is of a different stripe, and has clearly formed as a protest against some of the left leaning ideologies out there, or possibly as a challenge to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (Truly, not being facetious here. I attended the last federal debate at the University of Lethbridge where the candidate from the CHP had openly spoken out against homosexuality – though he did concede gay children shouldn’t be banned from attending schools with non-gay children.)
Regardless, I haven’t heard of a candidate running in this riding yet but as they only have a smattering of constituency associations across the country, and with Lethbridge being a community of strong religious groups I foresee a name coming shortly.
Groups such as the CHP and the Green party offer an interesting spectrum of choices for a small community like ours.
The rural-urban divide is as important here as the ideology divide, and in the past few elections there has been candidates nominated from both the center of Lethbridge and its surrounding areas. This election is no different, the NDP and Liberal candidates are Lethbridge located and the Conservative Candidate is from Stirling, a small town 20 minutes south from the city. (Little known fact – Stirling is a National Historic Site due to its strict adherence to urban planning based on the Plat of Zion.) In the past, the CHP candidate has typically come out of a rural area as well.
It makes for interesting analysis when looking at the process internally for candidates to nominate a candidate and then the external campaign schemes for each party. An NDP insider told me of the mixed reaction he and the NDP candidate, Make Sandilands, had when campaigning in Stirling and the surrounding area.
While some of the reaction was as expected, cold to the NDP reputation, there were more open doors than closed and more interest in genuinely listening than not.
The rural vote should be not discounted, especially in a mixed riding such as this. People in small towns are engaged, and for many they see direct effects of policy change in agriculture or trade. When you’re town is on the main highway between a major cattle raising area and a huge export market you notice when things change.
There are a myriad of factors when campaigning in a place like Lethbridge and the challenges are many. This is a very diverse town and diverse needs, stretching from the want for high density, multi-purpose urban planning to the need to be able to sell the grain farmed and the beef raised here.