February 22, 2016 2:33 pm
Updated: February 23, 2016 4:44 pm

Expected byelection call on Calgary-Greenway has opposition parties scrambling

WATCH ABOVE: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley responds to the timing on the Calgary-Greenway byelection.


EDMONTON – A byelection call for Calgary-Greenway, the riding formerly held by PC member Manmeet Bhullar, has opposition parties scrambling to catch up.

Alberta’s opposition parties say Premier Rachel Notley needs to show more respect for the democratic process when it comes to calling a byelection for Calgary-Greenway.

Notley is expected to announce Tuesday a byelection that would send voters in that constituency to the polls March 22.

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The NDP named its candidate on the weekend and opposition parties are set to nominate theirs over the next two weeks.

Jeremy Nixon, executive director for the Wildrose party, confirmed the party will move their nomination up from March 5 to this Friday, although logistics have not been finalized.

The byelection is to elect a member of the legislature to replace Progressive Conservative Manmeet Bhullar, who was killed in a car crash last November.

READ MORE: Alberta Legislature mourns death of MLA Manmeet Bhullar

Jason Nixon, the Wildrose critic on democracy and accountability, said Notley is offside with the byelection call.

“Let’s be clear. The opposition parties avoided rushing into our nomination process this time out of respect for our colleague Manmeet Bhullar’s family,” said Jason Nixon.

“For the premier to play gotcha games with this particular byelection is beneath her.”

He said it is particularly disrespectful toward the PCs, given the death of one of their members.

The Progressive Conservatives are set to nominate their candidate on Saturday. Troy Wason, the PC party’s executive director, said the Calgary-Greenway board is to decide if it will stick with that date.

Wason agreed with Nixon.

“I think they (the NDs) may have jumped the gun,” said Wason.

“I think they could have given at least the Wildrose time to finish (their nomination). “They have until May (to hold the byelection).”

Notley’s spokeswoman, Cheryl Oates, said the government has been careful to consider the byelection’s timing and has been in contact with Bhullar’s family.

“All parties have had months to prepare for this, whether or not they knew the exact date the byelection would be called,” said Oates.

“This is by no means a surprise byelection.”

The NDP have nominated former radio host Roop Rai. The Greens have already nominated Thana Boonlert as their candidate.

The Liberals are slated to pick a candidate on Feb. 29.

So far, there is no Alberta Party candidate.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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