Political Perspectives is produced by the students and faculty of Carleton University's School of Journalism and Communication, Canada's oldest journalism school.


Liberals get rough ride in Calgary

Posted by cwaddell under Election 2008, Election 2008 Student articles

Emily Senger

The 13 Liberal candidates from Southern Alberta did their best to prove superstition wrong Monday evening as Stéphane Dion made his first campaign stop in Alberta.

More than 300 people gathered at a northeast Calgary hotel where Dion hosted a 45-minute question and answer session in an attempt to sell his platform, which he had released earlier that morning at a press conference in Ottawa.

Dion’s message was clear; he told supporters their choice was between Harper’s extreme right-wing policies and the Liberal Party. 

“There are two choices. We need to win the election,” he told the cheering crowd as he stood in front of a backdrop of four Canadian flags and facing a sea of red helium balloons floating above the crowd.

But the reception for the first party leader to foray into the province where all 28 seats are held by the Conservatives was not all rosy. 

A group of six men stood outside the sliding doors at the main hotel entrance, holding signs that read: “Stop the LIEberals” and “We don’t want the green SHAFT.”

Inside, many of the questions from the floor were combative.

“Why should we trust you after 30 years of broken promises?” questioned one man, citing wage and price controls, eliminating the GST and the National Energy Policy as instances where the Liberals promised the West one thing and then did another.

Dion said he has never broken a promise, instead pointing the finger at Stephen Harper as a promise-breaker. During the 2006 election Harper promised not to tax income trusts, and broke this promise shortly after he became prime minister, Dion said.

Dion outlined his stance on gun control several times during his speech, pledging a ban on military assault weapons that would target criminals and not legitimate gun owners.

“I will work with hunters to make sure any gun control will help them,” Dion said.

Among Dion’s other pledges, he promised to honour the Kelowna Accord—a $5 billion plan to improve living conditions for First Nations peoples. He also promised to improve health care by hiring more doctors and nurses and creating a new drug coverage plan for “catastrophic drug costs.”

After the event, Calgary West Liberal candidate Jennifer Pollock admitted the chances of a Liberal from southern Alberta making it to Ottawa were “statistically small and historically unlikely.”

But, Pollock said Dion’s visit was a highlight for many of her campaign volunteers and she hoped his vision would re-energize their efforts to oust Calgary West incumbent Rob Anders who has held the riding since 1997.

“My volunteers will feel more committed to the vision of a prosperous and healthy economy, that is healthy for business, but also for people because of the environment,” Pollock said. “They believe in it now.”



Emily Senger is a student in the Master of Journalism program at the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University.