Oct. 15, 2008 - Issue #678: It’s a Chad Chad Chad Chad World
Not feeling blue
It’s not exactly easy to be someone whose politics lean to the left in Alberta. Often the only hope against the overwhelming Tory tide is to strategically unite around one progressive candidate, and even that kind of compromised victory is often little more than a pipe dream.
Which is exactly why Linda Duncan’s victory in Edmonton-Strathcona is so heartening. It’s badly needed proof that with focus, solid organization and the right candidate, there is some hope for those of us who don’t see the world through Tory blue glasses. Duncan didn’t need the cushion of incumbency or the promise of a waiting ministry to tip the scales in her favour, like our previous lone exception: she simply brought together or convinced enough people that she was the right choice.
What might be even more heartening is that Duncan isn’t the first progressive-leaning Edmonton candidate to pull this off. The less said about provincial politics the better, but Ward 5 councillor Don Iveson followed a very similar path to success, right down to ousting a right-leaning career hack for his current spot. Now, Iveson and Duncan share significant parts of the electoral map, which should temper our optimism somewhat—Strathcona, after all, is the closest thing the provincial NDP have to a guaranteed seat. That said, both of their constituencies spread out to the edges of the city—opposite edges at that—which is some indication that progressive candidates don’t always need to be in the shadow of the university to get people to listen to them.
But, while it may be the first baby steps in a walk to the left for Edmonton, it’s absolutely crucial that we keep in mind how we got to even this modest point. Iveson and Duncan ran two of the sharpest campaigns our city has seen in some time, and even then their victories, particularly the latter’s, were narrow. Faced with a populace that still has the Tories as their default setting, progressive candidates will continue to have to work and organize at a level far higher than their competitors. By all means we should savour the victory, but if we’re ever going to add even more colour to the electoral map, we’ll have to be just as smart and savvy as the people who made it happen already. V
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