Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Liberals Take Ralph Klein's Old Riding

Well, hallelujah! Maybe there's hope for Alberta after all.

Liberals declare victory in Calgary-Elbow byelection

Calgary dealt Premier Ed Stelmach's Tory government a sobering blow Tuesday night, with voters electing a Liberal in the heart of the city.

Though the Conservatives re-captured the rural stronghold of Drumheller-Stettler in one byelection in the southeast of the province, Liberal Craig Cheffins seized victory in Calgary-Elbow -- a riding that had been Tory blue since 1971 and was last held by former premier Ralph Klein.

No small feat.

The new MLA for Calgary-Elbow took the stage at his campaign headquarters shortly after 9 p.m. to the strains of We Are the Champions, delivering a victory speech to more than 100 supporters.

"You know there's a message to be delivered to the Stelmach government," he said, as the crowd chanted his name. "We know we can have better government in this province."

It's just taken some people far too long to get that message. (Damn Conservatives and they're insistence on being conservative.)

"Calgarians have sent a message and I have heard that message clearly," Stelmach said. "Let me assure you, mine is a government with a clear plan for dealing with the growth pressures in Calgary."

Bullwinkle: "Watch me pull a rabbit outta my hat."
Rocky: "That trick never works."

In the wake of a public infrastructure funding feud with Mayor Dave Bronconnier, what some say is an unchecked housing market, labour shortages and other boom-time stresses in the city, earlier opinion polls suggest Conservative-government support is dropping.

"What some say??" The housing market here is absolutely ridiculous and the Stelmach government refused to impose rent controls making this city and it's ongoing almost 0% vacancy rate unbelievably hostile to low-income and middle-income renters. Buying in this environment is practically out of the question. Just look at the province's trend:

Housing prices are soaring in Edmonton, delighting property owners and causing financial headaches for those just starting their search for a new home.

The average price of a new house in the city is now $440,000 -- an increase of 40.5 per cent over the past year, according to Statistics Canada. That's a greater increase than anywhere else in the country.
Only cities located in the West showed a sharp increase, although not nearly as high as Edmonton:

* Calgary: 27.4 per cent
* Saskatoon: 24.9 per cent
* Regina: 17.3 per cent

By contrast, the increase in the average cost of new housing in Vancouver was 6.7 per cent, and 2.3 per cent for the Toronto and Oshawa area. In Montreal, it was 3.9 per cent.
Richard Goatcher, spokesperson for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, said housing prices could level out if fewer people move to Alberta.

As if that's going to happen in the middle of an oil boom. Klein finally admitted last year that his government had made absolutely no plans for this boom. So what does Stelmach think he's going to do now? And with all of this growth has been burgeoning demands on our infrastructure that the Tories also held off on improving as needed before the boom even hit. Blowing up a hospital was obviously not one of their smarter ideas. And what they didn't blow up, they simply privatized.

Anyone who's lived in Calgary as long as I have, some 22 years now in the city and surrounding area, has watched this city grow leaps and bounds with massively increasing pressures on services, roads, and housing that the provincial government threw band aids on while their sycophants kept voting them back in. Maybe reality is finally catching up with those who chose to believe the broken promises these Tories made for so bloody long. Or maybe those who've moved here from throughout Canada are showing that things can be different by helping to turf these Conservatives. Either way, it's about damn time something changed around here. An elected Liberal in Ralph's old riding ought to make those Conservatives stand up and pay attention. They're not going to get another free ride the next time around by slacking off the way they're used to. They're actually going to have to work for their votes.

Related: Eugene Plawiuk has the breakdown of the voting in the Drumheller riding. Slackers.

In the Drumheller-Stettler by-election 1/3 of eligible voters cast their vote. The riding has 21,790 voters and only 7144 voted. Of these 4,180 voted PC.

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