Election pressure mounts in battleground of Calgary-Acadia

Campaign signs display the names of candidates for the Calgary-Acadia riding running in the 2023 Alberta provincial election, on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. (Photo by Clayton Keim/SAIT)

Calgary-Acadia is the site of a fierce campaign between the UCP’s Tyler Shandro and the NDP’s Diana Batten.

Shandro is Alberta’s current minister of justice and previously served as the minister of health from 2019 to 2022. Batten is a political newcomer who served as a  registered nurse for nine years.

“When Tyler Shandro became the health minister, I was working in the busiest neonatal intensive care unit in Canada,” said Batten. “There were decisions made through his ministry that directly impacted my ability to provide care to my patients.

“For instance, healthcare funding that was cut during that time had a huge impact on my patients and their families. Even before the pandemic, I was not in agreement with a lot of the decisions that came out of the ministry. I did not feel it was in the best interest for patients nor for the health-care workers themselves.”

Stretching from the beltline to Fish Creek, Calgary-Acadia is a battleground riding for the provincial election. In the 2015 election, the NDP’s Linda Carlson captured a surprise victory, beating the Progressive Conservative party’s Jonathon Denis by four per cent. In 2019, Shandro defeated the NDP candidate by a 20-per-cent margin.

A graph demonstrates voting trends for Calgary-Acadia over past elections (Clayton Keim / The Press)

“Over the past four years, I’ve been honoured to represent the families, the residents, and the businesses who call our community home,” Shandro said during his campaign announcement. “I’m running to be your MLA in Calgary-Acadia because I want the very best for our province.”

In January, Shandro was the subject of a Law Society of Alberta investigation into his conduct as health minister. Shandro faces three citations for alleged misconduct, which include claims that he confronted doctors and members of the public who made comments critical of Shandro online. The hearing will resume after the election on June 12.

Adding to the intense election is the presence of two competing polls predicting widely varied electoral outcomes. A poll from Abacus Data, conducted from May 1 to May 11 and released on May 13, predicts a province-wide NDP lead, placing them at 43 per cent, with the UCP at 35 per cent. Within Calgary, the poll places the NDP at 42 per cent and the UCP at 35 per cent.

 A separate poll from Janet Brown Opinion Research sees a different outcome for the election. Conducted from May 9 to May 12, and leaked on May 15, it predicts a UCP lead province with the UCP at 50 per cent and the NDP at 40 per cent. Calgary is placed at 51 per cent for the UCP against 39 per cent for the NDP.

Created in the 2010 Alberta electoral boundary re-distribution, Calgary-Acadia is home to 46,590 constituents.

“Calgary-Acadia is a diverse, really cool riding,” said Batten. “We have [people] from all walks of life, and it has made this whole process so much more interesting.”

“Being a member of the LGBT community, I can never vote for UCP,” said Cory McEachern, who has lived in Calgary-Acadia for three years. “Walking around I feel like I’m seeing more NDP signs than I’ve ever seen in Acadia, so I feel like maybe there are some people who traditionally would vote conservative or UCP, who are just kind of sick of the rhetoric coming from the UCP party.”

Batten encouraged residents of Calgary-Acadia to vote in an election that will shape Alberta’s future.

“The big thing is that this election matters,” Batten said. “We have two very different visions for the future of this province.

“And every vote is going to count.”

Tyler Shandro’s office did not respond to requests for a comment.

About Clayton Keim 7 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Clayton Keim is working as a writer for The Press in 2023.