NDP eyes next federal election
New constituency association kicks off in local riding
By: By Megan Sarrazin
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 08, 2012 06:00 am
New Democratic Party supporters in St. Albert are laying the foundation for a stronger party presence come the next federal election.
Roughly 15 supporters attended an organizational meeting at the end of August to re-establish an NDP constituency association for the Edmonton-St. Albert riding.
“By forming these local constituency associations, we can build an infrastructure that leads to successful election campaigns and, hopefully, electoral victories,” said Andrew Traynor, association president.
This marks the first time in more than a decade that St. Albert has had an active NDP constituency association.
Traynor admits the NDP haven’t done very well in the riding, but said he expects that to change as association members get to work.
“I think that if we’re able to successfully advertise the party like we intend to, we’d be able to see a lot more people get involved or at least consider the NDP as a viable option come 2015,” he said.
There are 400 to 500 registered NDP supporters in the riding, but only around 20 are involved with the association.
The association intends to select a candidate by mid-2013 and Traynor said a few names are currently being considered. He would not share these names.
St. Albert resident David Climenhaga said there is a possibility he will run as an NDP candidate in the next federal election.
“I’ll certainly think seriously about it, but I know there will be some others interested in it too,” he said, adding municipal politics are also on his radar.
He noted that it is difficult for NDP candidates to win seats in the province, but added support is growing for the party.
“With the NDP as the (federal) opposition and support growing, you’re going to get more and better candidates and you’re going to get some nomination races for these ridings because people feel they have an opportunity,” he said.
Brian LaBelle ran as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-St. Albert in the 2011 general election and said he is considering running again, although it may not be in the St. Albert riding.
The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission, which reviews electoral boundaries every 10 years, recommended six ridings be added in Alberta.
Proposed changes to the Edmonton-St. Albert riding include transferring a portion in the southeast corner to the Edmonton-Griesbach riding and changing the name to St. Albert-Edmonton.
Public hearings on the changes are set for Sept. 12 and 13 at The Westin Edmonton, located at 10135 100 St.
LaBelle resides in the Edmonton area of the riding, which he said has a stronger base of NDP supporters. He said increasing support in St. Albert requires an active constituency association.
“I know the (association) that we had when I was running didn’t make too much of a dent (in St. Albert), but a lot of us were from north Edmonton,” he said. “Maybe they’ll be able to attract more people to join the group (in St. Albert).”
LaBelle received 11,644 votes, or 21.4 per cent, and was beat out by Conservative Brent Rathgeber, who took 34,468 votes, or 63.5 per cent.
The Edmonton-St. Albert riding has elected a Conservative candidate since it was created in 2003.
LaBelle recently ran as a provincial NDP candidate for the Edmonton-Castle Downs riding, earning 1,914 votes, or 12.6 per cent, but was beat by the Progressive Conservative’s Thomas Lukaszuk.
Although Edmonton-St. Albert has been a Conservative stronghold for roughly a decade, Traynor said he thinks the NDP have a chance at victory in the next federal election.
He noted that the St. Albert riding has previously been represented on the provincial level by New Democrat Bryan Strong from 1986 to 1989.
Traynor, 19, is currently pursing a bachelor of arts degree with a major in political science at the University of Alberta.
“I got involved with the (NDP) on campus at the U of A, so that kind of inspired me to … get a branch going in my own hometown,” he said. “I pulled together a few like-minded people and we decided to get to work.”