By Collin Gallant
Alberta Newspaper Group
Conservative campaign workers were readying to put signs in place recently, while Canada’s two other main parties were still working to put local candidates in place ahead of an expected election call.
Volunteers with the Glen Motz re-election campaign were distributing signs and the candidate was door-knocking, as news reports broke Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was set to request the election writ be dropped.
“We’re pretty excited to get to work,” said Pat Hein, manager of the Medicine Hat Conservative campaign.
“We’re getting out, knocking doors and trying to meet as many people as possible.”
Trudeau visited Gov.-Gen. Julie Payette and called a federal election for Oct. 21.
That will likely begin without a candidate in place for either the New Democrats or Liberal parties.
Three national parties had named candidates for Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner, including the Peoples Party and federal Green Party.
Andrew Nelson, who in June became the Peoples Party candidate, said from his home in Cardston he’s prepping for an active campaign.
“There’s going to be a lot of hard work making sure we meet as many people in the area as possible, but it’s a big area,” he said, of the riding that stretches from Medicine Hat and the Saskatchewan boundary to near B.C. The party, formed about one year ago by former CPC leadership runner-up Maxime Bernier, has been active promoting itself on social media. Promoting the party nationally has been the work of Bernier who visited Alberta, stopping in Medicine Hat and Cardston in July.
“We are seeing on the doorsteps people have heard about the party,” he said. “It’s a very conservative riding, and the most conservative candidate will win.” The riding voted overwhelmingly Conservative in the last general election in 2015 and then again in a 2016 by-election that drew national attention when Liberal leader Trudeau visited, but candidate Stan Sakomoto secured only about one-quarter of the votes.
Motz secured 72 per cent of the votes in the six-candidate race to fill the seat left vacant when Conservative MP Jim Hillyer died in office.
This fall, Shannon Hawthorne, who was raised in Medicine Hat, will run for the Greens. The local Liberal Association has yet to name a candidate for the upcoming vote.
As for the NDP, officials with the provincial party riding association noted since there is no federal constituency association in operation, a candidate will be acclaimed without a nomination process. The Tories, PPC and Greens also had candidates in place in four rural ridings surrounding Medicine Hat, where Liberals and the NDP have yet to name candidates, according to the parties’ respective websites.
Lethbridge appears to have had five candidates from the national parties in place for several months.
First-term incumbent Rachel Harder faces a full slate of national party opponents in the city that was split between the Alberta United Conservatives and New Democrats in the spring’s provincial vote.
Nominated candidates in regional ridings: (Listed in alphabetical order, X- denotes incumbent).
Medicine Hat: Shannon Hawthorne, Grn.; Glen Motz, CPC-X; Andrew Nelson, PPC.Lethbridge: Shandi Bleiken, NDP; Amy Bronson, Lib.; Rachel Harder, CPC-X; Grant Hepworth, PPC; Stephanie Watson, Grn.