WATCH ABOVE: There are still nine weeks left before Canadians cast their ballots. But by the numbers the NDP appears to be lagging behind when it comes to Alberta nominations. Jessica Kent has the story.
EDMONTON — The leader of the federal NDP said Sunday he is not too concerned that his party has far fewer candidates nominated in Alberta than the other parties.
Speaking in Montreal, Tom Mulcair said there are worse positions to be in as leader of the party.
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“The fact of matter is, the reason that we have to do a lot of the nominations is because a lot of the people we thought we had nominated ran for us provincially and they all got elected. So as the leader of the NDP, I am very happy that they were all elected for the NDP, are now part of a strong, stable majority NDP government in Alberta,” said Mulcair.
“But you know, we’re not worried. We know that we’ve got an incredible team on the ground there, we’re going to be getting them done, we’ve had some rapid changes in our rules because of the writ drop—we can actually move faster—so that’ll all get done in good order, very quickly.”
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Speaking to Global News late last week, Edmonton-Strathcona MP Linda Duncan said she is confident the NDP will have a strong representation in Alberta.
“What I’m really excited about is the calibre of candidates that we’ve got this time around. This is going to be a very different kind of campaign for the NDP,” said Duncan, Alberta’s only NDP MP.
As of Saturday, the NDP had nominated 16 of 34 candidates in Alberta. The Liberal Party, which has been getting its nominees together for nearly a year, had 25 of its candidates in place, the Green Party had 28 and the Conservatives had announced all 34.
“The other parties are actually on the ground in those local ridings and they’re able to physically campaign,” said Dr. Bob Murray with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
Murray said it’s important for the federal parties to get their nominations in place sooner than later, and they should first focus on the areas where they’ll likely win the most seats.
“If there’s any area that becomes more important for the NDP to fill those nominations it’s going to be in Edmonton,” said Murray. “The Liberal Party firmly believes that it’s going to be able to pick up some seats, especially in the Calgary area. It’s certainly no coincidence that Justin Trudeau started the federal campaign in Calgary.”
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Murray believes the NDP lag is “exactly what the prime minister was trying to take advantage of by dropping the writ early,” adding that several of the NDP candidates who won in the provincial election were “dually nominated” for the federal party.
“He knew that in order to try to maintain the balance of power in Alberta for the Conservative Party he had to try to catch the NDP off guard by virtue of not allowing them to get the momentum that they think they were going to carry out of the May 5 Alberta election,” Murray explained.
While Murray believes it’s important to have candidates in place for all of the ridings, he said the party leaders may pull more of the focus during the campaign than the local candidates.
“Right now I really don’t think that Albertans at large are really interested in those local nominees as much as they’re interested in the perceptions of these parties as a whole,” said Murray.
According to Duncan, the reason the NDP doesn’t yet have a full slate of candidates in Alberta is due to the early election.
“It isn’t really a decision to delay,” she said. “It’s not because we haven’t given it full attention, but there’s so many people across the country stepping up to run for us and you have to run a fair race.”
Duncan said all of the Edmonton nominees would be in place by Sunday.
Canadians head to the polls on Oct. 19.
*Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Saturday, August 15, 2015. It was updated on Sunday to include a comment from NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.