Alberta election: Amount of engagement, visibility varies for Lethbridge candidates

With some ridings in the Alberta provincial election having very few candidates — and with some not attending public forums — there is a range of the level of community engagement.

Duane Bratt, political scientist with Mount Royal University, explains the concept of “paper candidates.”

“It’s usually by parties that want to have a full slate of candidates. And they simply can’t find people, particularly in rural areas, which are very conservative dominated,” said Bratt.

“The 2011 federal election, the famous Vegas girl who was elected in an almost exclusive francophone riding in northern Quebec, never visited there, couldn’t speak French, and ended up being an MP, so sometimes they win in a wave election,” said Bratt.

The Alberta Party had a particularly hard time finding candidates this time around, dropping from a full slate of 87 for the 2019 election, to just 19 in this campaign.

Bratt says that begs the question: “Are they trying to win it? Or are they trying to check off a box?”

Braham Luddu ran for the Alberta Party in the Calgary-Cross riding in 2019 and is now representing the party in Lethbridge-West.

He did not attend any forums, including the all-candidates event hosted by the Lethbridge Public Library.

“As long as people invite us — I have a public email, nobody actually invited us anyway,” said Luddu.

But organizers said they weren’t able to get in touch with Luddu, telling Global News: “We were actually never able to get in touch with Braham Luddu. We had emailed him several times with no response. We put out a name placard for him on the off chance that he decided to attend without notifying us.”

Helen McMenamin, the Alberta Liberal Party candidate for Lethbridge-East, said hers was an unexpected, last-minute entry at the May 11 candidate deadline.

“I didn’t think I’d need to come in, but then I decided somebody has to step up,” said McMenamin.

During her shortened campaign, she didn’t do much door-knocking.

“It’s a lot of work to do and it takes a big team.”

McMenamin said her role as Alberta Liberal Party president allows her to get her message across.

“I’ve talked to people all over Alberta because I work all over Alberta,” said McMenamin.

Meanwhile, Luddu is spending some of the final campaign hours in his Lethbridge-West riding.

“We are distributing the flyers, going door to door, and making phone calls.”

In Lethbridge-West, the candidates are Pat Chizek for the Liberal Party, Luddu for the Alberta Party, Shannon Phillips (the incumbent) for the NDP and Cheryl Seaborn for the UCP.

In Lethbridge-East, the candidates are McMenamin for the Liberals, Rob Miyashiro for the NDP and Nathan Neudorf (the incumbent) for the UCP.

For a full list of candidates for all parties in all ridings, visit the Elections Alberta website.

Advance polls close Saturday ahead of election day on Monday, May 29.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

You May Also Like

Top Stories