As the provincial election approaches, candidates are looking for voters to show up and cast their ballots. But perhaps nowhere is voter turnout more of an issue than in Calgary-Currie, which has elected someone from four different political parties in the last four elections.
The 2019 election saw an average of 37.6 per cent of voters showing up to cast their ballot—a drop of 4.5 per cent from the previous provincial election in 2015, which had a voter turn out of 42.1 per cent.
The riding’s incumbent, Nicholas Milliken of the UCP, won in 2019 by a margin of less than one per cent, or just 192 votes. Before that, Calgary-Currie voters turned to the NDP in 2015, the PC in 2012, and for the Liberals in 2008. Hence, it is easy to understand that voter turnout is one of the highest priorities for political candidates in the upcoming election.
Milliken—who could not be reached for comment—has been appointed to Premier Danielle Smith’s first cabinet as Minister of Mental Health and Addiction.
Since holding this position, Milliken has pledged $1.8 million of government funding towards pre-treatment programs designed to provide support for addiction in Calgary.
Perceived as a negative and quiet response, it could be the edge that NDP’s Janet Eremenko needs running against Milliken in this upcoming Election.
Milliken has also been criticized for a tweet he reposted back in January 2023, that was considered to be biased towards homelessness and addiction. Milliken deleted the tweet but did not issue a public apology.
This story is part of an editorial partnership between the Calgary Journal and MacEwan University journalism.
“I hear from people that they don’t hear from their MLA,” Eremenko said in an interview.
“They send emails that don’t get replies. You know, they have their community association, and they have other opportunities for engagement, and they just don’t hear back.”
Eremenko, a lifelong Calgarian, said she has been pounding the pavement through the Calgary-Currie area for the past 15 months and was surprised by the community’s shock to see an actual candidate concerned about their issues on their doorstep.
“It’s so important to understand what it feels like out on the street and to be able to sympathize with the pothole on the block as friends,” said Eremenko.
And with Calgary ridings being one of the most important constituencies for each party, political scientist Duane Bratt of Mount Royal University noted that it was no surprise that the NDP have made their head office there—and are campaigning strongly through the riding.
“Calgary will be the battleground,” he said. “The polls are very tight in the city of Calgary. And because of the electoral map, if it’s a 50/50 split, the UCP wins the election.”
With the provincial election only weeks days away, the UCP and NDP remain deadlocked for voter support according to the latest ThinkHQ Public Affairs survey of Albertans.
Regionally voters are divided, as the NDP have a lead in Edmonton with 68 per cent vs. UCP at 24 per cent.
And similarly, the UCP are dominating outside the two large cities, leaving Calgary as the final battlefield for these two parties.
With so much riding on Calgary, it will be very important for the Calgary-Currie voters to turn up and cast their ballot for this year’s election.