The Lethbridge riding is an interesting one. Straddling a rural-urban divide, it has a history of rewarding government members time and time again. It is not a big fan of change, statistically speaking and tends to play it safe. It also debunks some of the myth that the left vote is always split in cities of this size.
In 2008, NDP and Liberal Party votes amounted to 11 137, while Casson won the riding (again) with 31 714 or 66.95% of the total vote. These results are consistent throughout federal elections since 1997, with a slight anomaly in 2004 when two incredibly popular candidates, Melanee Thomas (NDP) and Ken Nicol (LPC), ran. The vote share for left of center parties was much higher, although Casson still won with 62.62% of the vote.
Since 2000 the second place candidate has always been a left of center party, with the Lethbridge NDP pulling second place in 2006 and 2008. Voting strategically in Lethbridge – to vote against the current government and install a non-CPC member in the house, is a little more difficult than other ridings. It means getting every disenchanted progressive to vote as well. It also means accepting a result beyond partisan values and aligning those values to a generalized progressive platform. Luckily, this election features a Liberal platform with currents of the NDP platform that closely aligns with many left of center values – especially those on health care and human rights.
There is another perk for electing a non-CPC member to the house. How good would our map of Alberta look with a little colour on it? How good would a nice shiny buckle look on the southern Albertan belt.
The best chance of success to attain this is to vote NDP. They have done a great job of building a brand image in this city and providing a viable alternative. The fact remains most Albertans will not vote Liberal due to the bad taste left from the NEP and some insecurity issues lingering from being a “have not” province. The NDP stand a better chance on winning over progressive Canadian minds in this area.
The NDP have proven to be a strong opposition party and hell, they are not looking too bad in national polls right now. Their platform is not nearly as “socialist” as many may think, and the party’s primary values on balancing budgets while providing essential public services such as health care, child care, and a personal financial safety net is something many Canadian’s agree with regardless of partisan stripe. Further, both they and the LPC are proposing real action on climate change, and if southern Alberta should get behind anything, it should be that. Talk to any farmer, any one who depends on land and weather for their livelihood, and they can tell you how destructive weather shifts can be, and how an entire summer of rain can affect their crops.
Since 1997 Casson has held the seat for the Reform party, the Alliance and the Conservative party. He beat out every other candidate with at least 60% of the total vote share here.
Casson isn’t running this election and the current candidate, Jim Hillyer, is not a favourable one to many long time federal conservative supporters. His own party removing him from any public appearances speaks to the faith they have in this candidate. While I cannot speak to this with much insider knowledge, I have heard from long time CPC supporters that his nomination win wasn’t celebrated by very many.
The CPC has ignored southern Alberta. They take it for granted that the majority of people will vote CPC even if a bale of hay ran as their candidate. They constituency association has gone so far as to hide their candidate from any real debate, from any place where a group of citizens could question him on the CPC’s record. Is this a person we want representing Lethbridge and area? Is this the candidate we want to send to the hill? Is this someone we are comfortable paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for his salary? That is real money going to a candidate who not only doesn’t know how much his party is willing spend on defense, but had said some costs shouldn’t even bother to go to debate.
If you vote to give your two dollars to that party, then vote any way you want. If you can genuinely reason why the CPC deserve to form government again, despite their numerous transgressions, then vote for a candidate who has to be hidden from the public. BUT if you have a desire to really change things* vote NDP (Mark Sandilands). It is Lethbridge’s best chance for progressive representation.
(*If you are all for change, but cannot bring yourself to vote NDP for whatever reason – why not do what progressives have done for the past ten years: stay home. That way, it is not your fault, no matter what happens. That is how it works, right?)