If the paucity of election signs up around my little neck of Fort McMurray is any indication, the campaign for the June 30 by-election is off to a slow start. On my way over to Timberlea to run some errands, I only recall seeing 4 signs, and three of them were from the same candidate. Not that I was especially looking for them but they didn't exactly scream out at me either. I'm sure things will pick up as time goes on.
I'm not one to read too much into by-elections but it is nice to a little more media exposure on our region, its challenges and needs. I like to think of a by-election as being an interim report card of sorts and a wise government should always pay attention. The by-election was precipitated of course, when our previous MP, Brian Jean, resigned. Even before moving here I knew Jean's name, and not just because of the riding he represented. I recall getting flyers in my mailbox when I lived in Nunavut about how Party X was going to cut this or that program or scale back funds for this or that but his Party would make sure it didn't happen. Of course, none of the flyers were in Inuktitut which no doubt upset and confused many unilingual Inuktitut speakers. Heck, even though it was in English I didn't have a clue what he was talking about half the time. Part of me can't help but think that perhaps he should have spent more time focused on his own riding and indeed I've heard stories of him mailing out quirky cross-word puzzles about himself. Just weird.
Anyhow, this post isn't tended to be a dump on the federal Conservatives. The Liberals definitely have their work cut out for them. I've read a couple other blogs about how the Liberals could make big gains on June 30. They would have to be pretty substantial in my mind, though. to put a dent in the Tory machine, given that a Liberal has never held this riding in its entire 46 year history. Jean won with a pretty healthy 71% of the popular vote in 2011. And while you may think the NDP are pretty much invisible here, they did capture more votes than the Liberals in the 2006 and 2011 elections. Much as I dislike Trudeau though, I will give him credit for visiting our riding not once, but twice in recent weeks.
And if you're bored or disillusioned with the traditional parties, we do have a Libertarian candidate running. Tim Moen is a pretty polished candidate and has an interesting relationship with Neil Young. His campaign slogan about allowing for "gay married couples to protect their marijuana plants with guns" adds some much-needed colour and conversation to what some may consider a pretty boring affair.
I'll save on any election predictions here. I'm notoriously bad at them. Plus, if the last provincial election here taught us anything, its that strange things can happen. At any rate, I do hope to comment more on the campaign as time goes on and as I have the opportunity to do so.
Candidates for Fort McMurray-Athabasca
Conservative - David Yurdiga
NDP - Lori McDaniel
Liberal - Kyle Harrietha
Libertarian - Tim Moen
edit - We also have a Green Party candidate running here as well, Brian Deheer.