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Calgary politicians start campaigning after federal election writ drops

Click to play video: 'Calgary’s federal election race: Ridings that experts say are the ones to watch'
Calgary’s federal election race: Ridings that experts say are the ones to watch
Alberta has traditionally been a Conservative stronghold, but some political experts say there will be heated competition in key Calgary ridings in the upcoming federal election. As Lauren Pullen reports, that could have major impacts on the national outcome – Aug 15, 2021

Calgary politicians are ramping up campaign efforts after the federal election writ dropped on Sunday.

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Political scientist Duane Bratt believes there are three key battlegrounds in the city.

“This election will not be like 2019. In 2019, the leaders, I think, were here for a couple of hours. They refuelled their plane at the airport. They did a quick event in the northeast and then they left again because we knew every riding was going to go Conservative,” he said.

“That’s not the case now. You can identify at least three ridings that the Liberals have a chance in. Then the question is how much time are the leaders going to be here?

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“Traditionally, in big cities, the Liberals do strongest in three types of ridings: downtown ridings like Calgary Centre, ridings around a university campus like Calgary Confederation and the University of Calgary, and large visible minority communities like Calgary Skyview.”

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Coun. George Chahal is vying for a Liberal seat in Calgary Skyview in the federal election. He said he is proud of being a councillor for the last four years, and now, he’s excited to make sure the city is recognized.

“I think it’s extremely important that northeast Calgary and Calgary is represented in the government. We’ve seen previously when we’re not, it’s much harder to make sure that our interests are being heard,” he said.

“Northeast Calgary, Calgary Skyview, we have a growing economy, we have such a diverse population, and we are the future of Calgary and future of Canada. We want to make sure we’re heard and that we are part of the decision-making process in Ottawa.”

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He said the biggest issues are affordable child care, infrastructure and public transit expansion.

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Click to play video: 'Calgarians react to Sunday’s expected federal election call'
Calgarians react to Sunday’s expected federal election call

In the same riding, NDP candidate Gurinder Singh Gill door-knocked in Coventry Hills.

“The NDP party is a party for working-class, everyday families. We’re trying to push for pharmacare — policies that other parties have said for 40 years but they’ve never delivered on. Dental care, vision — that’s all under our health-care system,” he said.

“Next is climate change. We need to focus on the environment, figure out what we can do to make a difference.”

Affordable living for seniors and student debt are also priorities, he said.

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Conservative Calgary Nose Hill incumbent Michelle Rempel Garner made her message clear.

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“Justin Trudeau has unnecessarily triggered this election, but I will fight for my community. I always have, and I always will work to stand up for their rights,” she said, mentioning environment protection “without killing jobs and pipelines” as well as lowering taxes.

“I’m a proven fighter and Alberta’s strong voice in Ottawa. Canadians deserve better than the scandal-plagued, aimless and fiscally reckless Liberal government they’ve been saddled with for many years.”

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Alberta candidates in the climate-focused Green Party want to offer an alternative. Carey Rutherford is the Green Party nominee for Calgary Forest Lawn.

“People are tired of the way things have been, and guess who’s interested in and improving on the way things have been? That’s what the Green Party is about. We’re interested in moving ahead,” he said.

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“We are really focused on leveraging the knowledgeable and expert Albertans out of the energy sector into a just transition. That’s been our focus for a long time, and it’s even more relevant now as things change,” Rutherford said, adding that the party is interested in supporting education, health and money issues.

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A statement from the Alberta candidates of the People’s Party of Canada said: “This election is an opportunity for Albertans to unify behind a common-sense voice and express their desire to live in a society that values freedom.”

Click to play video: 'Decision Canada: How the 2021 federal election will work'
Decision Canada: How the 2021 federal election will work

Now that the election is here, Bratt believes it won’t be all about the east. The Alberta vote could make a difference — “every seat matters,” he said.

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“There’s a lot of criticism that you can have about Justin Trudeau around the WE [Charity] scandal and sexual misconduct in the military and centralization of the PMO,” he said.

“But he’s campaigning on two big issues: vaccine procurement and economic supports during COVID.

“Erin O’Toole is having trouble within his own party, particularly in Alberta. And finally, you’ve got Jason Kenney. A lot of voters don’t distinguish between federal governments and provincial governments, but the unpopularity of Jason Kenney could clearly spill over into the federal election.”

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Canadians vote on Sept. 20.

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