On Sunday morning Canadians received a surprise from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
He emerged from Rideau Hall in the morning stating he had asked the Governor General to dissolve Parliament for a general election to be held on Monday, Oct. 19th.
This campaign call may not be a surprise, as many already knew a fixed federal election was set for the fall. What most didn’t foresee was a marathon federal election campaign, an 11-week long period and one of the longest noted in Canadian history.
After his meeting with Governor General David Johnston, Harper said Canadians will be making a critical decision about the direction of the country, a decision which will decide which party can keep the economy strong and the country safe.
In response to the question as to why he launched an early campaign in advance of the fixed election date leaving the costs to taxpayers to skyrocket, Harper stated that most knew the election date and the campaign platforms of the other parties. He said that the campaigns have already begun and that they must be conducted lawfully.
The money used in campaigns must come directly from the parties and not from other government organizations or taxpayer resources, so with an early election campaign call, through the process, it will ensure everyone is operating within the rules and not misusing taxpayers’ money, he added.
For this federal election, local residents will be voting in a newly-created riding called Red Deer-Lacombe, which was a result of the 2012 federal electoral boundaries reconfiguration. The boundaries were redrawn to accommodate six new ridings in the province prompting Lacombe, Lacombe County and Blackfalds residents to joining residents of Red Deer North in the new riding for the upcoming election.
As far as candidates, Red Deer minister Jeff Rock has been selected as the Liberal party candidate.
Current Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins has also put his name forward as the Conservative Party candidate.
One thing’s for sure, Alberta will no longer be a ‘fly-over’ province in this election. For long, especially during the 2011 federal election, many considered Alberta a Conservative stronghold leading to many political leaders making token visits or in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s case, celebrating on election night in Calgary in his riding.
Alberta’s new political climate has now opened up the province federally into an even playing field for the NDP and Liberals. We have already seen Justin Trudeau attend the Calgary Stampede and don a classic white Stetson in a pre-campaign move.
We should expect all federal party leaders, including Harper, to be making a stop somewhere in our backyard over the next 11 weeks.