Voter apathy may be the biggest opponent facing candidates in Calgary-Foothills.
Helping to create momentum in yet another election for ballot-weary voters in the northwest Calgary riding, Premier Rachel Notley was on hand Sunday to kick off provincial NDP candidate Bob Hawkesworth’s campaign.
“This riding, in many ways, is symbolic of the 44-year PC government,” she said to press and supporters crammed into Hawkesworth’s Edgemont headquarters. “They took this riding for granted.”
Despite winning the riding, Jim Prentice’s election-night resignation condemned Calgary-Foothills to yet another trip to the ballot boxes — their third in less than a year.
On top of that, the Sept. 3 byelection comes in the midst of a federal election campaign, with a vote set for Oct. 19.
“I am tired on behalf of the people — they’re irritated, and I don’t blame them,” she said.
To ensure their message isn’t lost in the noise, Hawkesworth plans on engaging voters personally — something the veteran politician is no stranger to.
“I’m getting a very warm response at the door,” he said. “This has been traditionally a conservative riding — I always run my campaigns in second place coming on hard, and it’s no different here.”
“The best way is to show up their door,” Notley agreed, attributing her party’s victory to voters realizing the power their vote holds. “I’m hopeful that change — of their vote actually mattering — will get people to the polls.”
She said the reasons behind the Alberta NDP victory still ring true in Calgary-Foothills.
“Albertans want certainty,” she said. “They want an economy as diverse and as resilient as they are, and provides jobs whether the price of oil is $100 a barrel, or $40 a barrel.”
She said voters rejected the PCs out of fear tax hikes and service cuts would hit low- and middle-class Albertans hardest.
As for the Wildrose, Notley shrugged them off as a party of little interest among Alberta voters.
“People never really looked closely at their platform, but let me tell you — it wasn’t pretty,” she said. “Now, quite frankly, they don’t even pretend to have a plan.”
Notley dismissed claims by pundits describing the Calgary-Foothills byelection as a gauge of voters’ approval of her government.
“If byelections were litmus tests, Jim Prentice would be premier right now,” she said.