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Campaign-style politics already here, battleground Calgary: political watchers

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The United Conservative Party political ad airing on CTV networks asks: “can we really afford them again?” referring to the  New Democratic Party.

The NDP ad, meanwhile, states “we can’t afford the UCP.”

In an election that polls suggest is basically a toss-up, neither party feels that they can afford to wait another day to start campaigning.

Even if the May 29th election may seem off in the distance, some Calgary residents say they support candidates getting out of the gates early.

"I think parties need to get their information out, what they stand for and what they're going to do if they either remain in power or get into power,” said Josh Reed.

Others, on the other hand, say it's already feeling like it's too much political smack talk so far in advance of the election.

"I'm getting phone calls and texts which is a little bit irritating if I'm honest. It's a little bit much, out of season it feels,” said Tom, without sharing his last name.

Premier Danielle Smith earned her seat in legislature with a win in Tuesday’s byelection in Brooks-Medicine Hat.

OUT ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

Premier Danielle Smith has made major announcements this week, including adding more police to patrol transit in Calgary and Edmonton, and speaking from Brooks on Thursday regarding expanding surgery access.

NDP opposition leader Rachel Notley made an election-style promise about a tuition freeze from the University of Calgary on Thursday.

Other high-profile candidates have also taken shots at their opponents, with major announcements and trading barbs in recent days.

Whitney Issik, UCP candidate for Calgary-Glenmore has purchased bus bench signs with “re-elect” clearly written above her name.

Premier Danielle Smith says the writ will be dropped on May 1st.

"I think people are excited to have a conversation about what the future of our province is and I'm looking forward to getting fully into that,” said Smith.

When asked if there’s concern about voter fatigue with a long election lead-up, she said she hopes Alberta voters continue to pay attention.

"I actually believe that this is the most important election that Albertans have faced in decades and decades and decades."

NDP leader Rachel Notley

FEELS LIKE AN ELECTION

One political watcher says both leaders need to work equally as hard to win attention, and - in seven-weeks time - for votes.

"All polling indicates that this a 50/50 toss up. And it's the most competitive election of the last 30 or 50 years and maybe in the province's history,” said Michael Solberg, partner with New West Public Affairs.

One pollster says, it already “feels like an election,” in Alberta.

“When the writ drops on May 1st most voters won't notice that much difference," said Marc Henry from Think HQ Public Affairs. "You'll start seeing the lawn signs popping up on public property because they are (only) allowed after the writ (so) not until then you'll see them on private property,”

He then added, “the activities largely stay the same, you're going to see duelling press releases, duelling events."

Henry said neither party is holding back waiting for the election campaign to officially begin.

"Everybody knows it's coming and the parties are already pre-electioneering," he said.

Solberg says a lot of the action will continue to play out in Calgary.

“There's not going to be a orange wave like we saw in 2015," he said. "There's not going to be a blue wave, like we saw in 2019.

"There will be no wave (of any colour)," he said, continuing. "This time, each vote that is earned will be hard-earned. And that will come from ground game at the doors and their ability to define that ballot box question through the air war and then air war has already begun.”

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