February 19th, 2020

Tory hold on Alberta will remain in upcoming election

By Mabell, Dave on September 12, 2019.

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald


Despite approving Trans Mountain pipeline construction, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in trouble in Alberta.

And as a result – with his Liberal party now showing a widening lead over the Conservatives – Alberta could end up with no representation in the next government’s cabinet.

That’s a prediction from Lethbridge political scientist Faron Ellis, as the nation’s political leaders made their opening pitches. After their last campaign, the Liberals surprised many by electing four Members of Parliament – two in Edmonton and two in Tory-blue Calgary.

Ellis, longtime political science instructor at Lethbridge College, says it’s possible none will be returned in this October’s election. In Calgary, one of the MPs was later kicked out of the Liberal caucus while the other lost his cabinet position after allegations of sexual misconduct.

“It wouldn’t be a surprise to see all Alberta seats won by the Conservatives,” he says.

“You don’t need fancy polling to predict that.”

In fact, Premier Jason Kenney has delayed the Alberta legislature’s fall sitting until after the federal election, providing all his MLAs plenty of time to join the campaign with their federal allies.

But outside Alberta, the future doesn’t look so bright for leader Andrew Scheer and his Conservatives. The latest poll showed him losing support across the country, particularly in Quebec. While his numbers are trending down, the Liberals’ are heading up.

Reflecting their population, Ellis points out Canadian elections are typically won or lost in Ontario and Quebec. Canadians seldom turf a government after just one term, leading to the possibility Trudeau will have no Alberta MPs to appoint to the next cabinet.

“It’s like history repeating itself,” when Pierre Trudeau returned to power without any Alberta MPs elected. He resolved that problem, Ellis recalls, by appointing Medicine Hat-based senator Bud Olsen to his cabinet.

But since Justin Trudeau declared all the Liberal-appointed senators would sit as independents, Ellis explains, he wouldn’t likely have that option.

If the Conservatives manage to turn things around, however, Ellis says Scheer would face the opposite problem.

Many of his Alberta MPs have the background and experience to be named a cabinet minister – but realistically he could only reward two.

With Alberta and Saskatchewan expected to remain Conservative strongholds, Ellis says more attention will be paid to the battles in British Columbia and Eastern Canada. On the West Coast, some of the closest contests could be between the New Democrats and Elizabeth May along with her Green candidates.

But Atlantic Canada could be up for grabs as well, Ellis observes. In the 2015 election, not one Conservative was elected in the four eastern provinces.

When results come in on election night, Canadians have often found who voters elected there is an indicator of what’s ahead as they await results from the larger provinces.

If Conservatives picked up one-third of those seats, Ellis says that wouldn’t likely be enough.

“If they could win half, the Conservatives would be in better shape.”

And if they did still better?

“There’d be an outside chance of a Conservative majority government.”

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