The results of the federal election may be in, but the People’s Party of Canada’s (PPC) fight for representation in Alberta is far from over.
In Banff-Airdrie, Conservative incumbent Blake Richards was elected for a fifth term, raking in 57 per cent of the vote. Nadine Wellwood of the PPC pulled in 7.7 per cent of the electoral vote on election night, behind Sarah Zagoda of the New Democratic Party (NDP) and David Gamble of the Liberal Party, with 16 per cent and 12 per cent of votes, respectively.
Tripling their votes across the country from the 2019 election was not enough. Now, Wellwood and two others from the PPC have their sights set on another election day: the Alberta Senate race on Oct. 18 – the same day Albertans go to the polls for the municipal elections.
“We had promised our constituents and our supporters that we were still here, and we commit to still being here,” Wellwood said. “One of the ways that Maxime [Bernier] felt we could do that was to run some candidates from the People’s Party of Canada in the Alberta Senate race.
“It’s just our way of saying ‘We’re here, you’re not alone.’ I think that’s really what this whole election was about for us, that people are not alone in how they feel about these issues. They’re important issues and we’re going to continue to stand with you. This was one of our ways of saying that we’re going to continue to stand, we’re going to stay in the fight and we’re here for you.”
Wellwood said that with so much at stake this election surrounding rights and freedoms as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Albertans and Canadians as a whole lost out on having their voices heard on many of the other major issues at hand, like fiscal responsibility, the carbon tax, and access to clean drinking water on First Nations reserves.
“Real issues this time never even really got to be discussed,” she said. “We have real problems in this country. Fiscal responsibility, which is my number-two campaign issue, was completely overshadowed by our rights and freedoms and it needed to be. Without rights and freedoms, we don’t have a country.”
The fact Canadians are still fighting for their rights and freedoms is abhorrent, according to Wellwood, who added it shouldn’t even have to be a discussion in Canada.
“I think that’s the big loss for most Canadians,” she said. “Lives got put on hold for 36 days for basically the same output and the real issues, the ones that should have been addressed in an election, never did get addressed.”
As for Banff-Airdrie, Wellwood believes another win for Richards in the riding is not going to do much for constituents, except make them forcefully bend to the bidding of Erin O’Toole, due to the Richards' position as the Conservative whip.
“Look at what Erin O'Toole already said around his green new plan for energy,” she said. “That's a death sentence for Alberta and we just re-elected an MP who's been told, if you so much as say anything and speak out against this plan that I have for the green new energy, you're going to be kicked out.”
As for some of the other candidates, Wellwood wasn’t shocked by the low voter turnout for independent Derek Sloan and the Maverick Party’s Tariq Elnaga in Banff-Airdrie. What did take her by surprise was the increase in support for the NDP.
“I think that’s a big warning signal for what going to happen here provincially, especially with the UCP and Jason Kenney not being liked on either side of the fence right now,” she said. “You’ve got to pick a side — either you’re on the side of freedom and rights, or you’re not. You can’t ride the fence line.”
Wellwood also said she feels the NDP’s support is a result of an imbalance in the riding’s rural and urban populations, and the inherent difference in ideologies of the two demographics. The city of Airdrie accounts for a population of over 70,000 people, which is more than half of the riding’s total population of 135,762.
“The Mavericks tried to run on east-versus-west but it’s not east-versus-west,” she said. “It’s more a rural versus urban divide, because it is a division in ideology. One respects freedom, individual responsibility and the other is looking to the government to take on more and more issues in their personal lives. That’s not rural Alberta, but it certainly is Calgary Skyview and Edmonton. Those are the results people are looking for in these major, big centres.”