This Riding Just Got Interesting
Banff-Airdrie Now Has Four Conservative Candidates
August 21st, 2021 | RR
Banff-Airdrie has been a secure seat for Conservative MP, Blake Richards, since 2008. He is now serving as the Opposition Whip for Erin O'Toole after endorsing Erin O'Toole in the past two Conservative leadership races. Usually Banff-Airdrie flies under the radar as a safe seat for Conservatives, but the riding has become the most talked about riding in Alberta following the entrance of a carpetbagger from Ontario named Derek Sloan.
Born and raised in Ontario, Sloan has no political links or roots in Alberta and hasn't spent a single day paying taxes in the province, or caring about anything that happens here. Yet, in an act of sheer opportunism and revenge, Sloan chose to make his announcement in Cochrane on August 19 to a packed crowd filled with rural conservatives and some old Reform MPs. He now considers himself to be the runner-up to unseat Blake Richards, telling the audience, "It's either me or Blake!"
Reactions from Sloan's crowd in Cochrane were relatively warm, but the reactions to his decision to run as a candidate were mixed. Sloan may think he has an easy road ahead, but when a crowd of rural conservatives are giving mixed and hesitant reactions, the hill becomes a bit more steep. For Sloan to pull off a win against genuine Alberta candidates, in a solidly Conservative riding, he'll need a lot of luck.
Maverick Party candidate, Tariq Elnaga, has been polling at 8% on average. Behind him, at 4%, is the PPC candidate, Nadine Wellwood. Neither Wellwood nor Elnaga have had a positive or encouraging response to Sloan's entrance into the race.
In a video posted to her Youtube channel, Wellwood said, "Derek Sloan, go home. Alberta doesn't need more Ottawa." She then went on to say, "If Derek Sloan wanted to help Alberta, he would have thrown his support behind an Alberta candidate and shown some real leadership."
On his Twitter and Facebook pages, Tariq Elnaga accused Sloan of parachuting in from Ottawa to square a vendetta with the Conservative Party. An accurate assessment of the situation. Sadly, Sloan is using Alberta to do it, knowing he doesn't stand a chance in his old riding back at home.
Derek Sloan, being a carpetbagger with a vendetta, isn't the only thing making Banff-Airdrie interesting. Before he decided to throw himself into a province and riding he knows nothing about, a feud between Tariq Elnaga and Blake Richards was already underway.
Blake Richards, proving himself to be incapable of receiving criticism and normal political attacks, blocked Elnaga on Twitter:
Perhaps serving four straight terms in office, with little criticism from real challengers, has made Blake Richards weak. He's a nice guy, but it might be time to start fighting for his career. Banff-Airdrie has been solidly big C for thirteen years, making the riding an easy win for the party and for Richards. Winning in the riding doesn't take anything more than carrying the Conservative banner, so Richards hasn't faced any real opposition or criticism during most of his career.
Banff-Airdrie has always been an easy win for him, but this election could be different.
If Derek Sloan accomplishes anything, it will be siphoning enough votes from team Richards to help another candidate sneak up the middle. If the equally split Liberal/NDP votes unite, it could be a left-wing candidate that ends Blake's career. Those two sides haven't united in Banff-Airdrie in the past decade, so it's unlikely they'll do it now—but never say never.
With Elnaga being the only viable candidate on the right (at the moment), he could be the first and only elected Maverick candidate who sneaks up the middle, shakes up the status quo and ends Richards' long run.
Breaking down Blake's solid blue barrier won't be easy for anyone and it's likely that Richards will win a fifth term, but Sloan's entrance may be what does it. If Richards loses, it will be because of Sloan. That may very well be Sloan's overall intention: to take out O'Toole's right-hand man. He could be on a suicide mission to pay O'Toole back for kicking him out of the party. If so, Albertans will catch on quickly.
Rural conservatives in Alberta can smell bullshit. A lot of them are ranchers with a low tolerance for political games. If Sloan thinks they'll be dumb enough to reward him for his own self-serving bullshit, he is barking up the wrong tree.
At the moment, a majority of people cheering for Sloan are non-Albertans. They don't live in Banff-Airdrie and they haven't seen the grit and pride of the people that live here. We ain't about to be taken for fools just so Sloan can get his revenge. However, if he helps an Albertan unseat the local career politician, he might get a pat on the back before he gets a kick in the ass.
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