Candidates make final push for support as Calgarians prepare to vote
Calgarians will cast their ballots on Monday to elect the 15 members of Calgary city council and the trustees for the public and separate school boards and many candidates hit the streets this weekend in an attempt to cement support and sway undecided voters.
The race for the mayor’s chair could prove to be close as recent polls have produced differing results with some naming Bill Smith as the frontrunner while others say incumbent Naheed Nenshi is likely to be reelected.
Nenshi says this election has been short on debates regarding policy. “Instead, we’ve had non-stop personal attacks. We’ve had misinformation going around. We’ve had polls that don’t make any sense,” said Nenshi. “I think a lot of people just want this to be over.”
“I’m trying to remind everyone in these last couple of days that democracy is great, that elections are great, they are a chance to vote for the kind of city you want. I hope that’s what people will do tomorrow.”
Smith, who was not available for comment on Sunday, has spent time on the campaign trail criticizing projects that have been already approved by council including the Green Line LRT project and the southwest BRT (Bus Rapid Transit). Smith referred to the Green Line as a boondoggle while citing the project’s budget and reduced length of track. Nenshi lashed out in response to his opponent’s concerns referring to Smith’s take as ‘breathtakingly uninformed’.
Andre Chabot, the former councillor turned mayoral candidate, says he has attempted to avoid the negativity but admits it seems to be working for some of his opponents.
“It’s really turned very much into a U.S. style of negative campaign,” said Chabot. “As opposed to ‘what are you going to do for me?’. It’s all been ‘Who do we want to get rid of?’.”
“I’ve always tried to campaign on a basis of ‘What am I going to do for the city?’, ‘How am I going to make positive change?’, ‘How am I going to keep taxes low?’ Not just what but how.”
Duane Bratt, Mount Royal University political scientist, says the negativity was to be expected given how close the race appears to be.
"With any competitive race things get heated," said Bratt. "In one sense, a negative is just a focus, not on yourself and what you would do, but a criticism of your opponent."
"That's how you tackle an incumbent. You force them to defend their record."
Interest in the 2017 Calgary Municipal Election translated into record-setting advance vote numbers. According to the City of Calgary, 74,965 Calgarians cast their ballots at the advance voting stations this year, a 235 per cent increase from the 23,721 Calgarians who participated in advance voting during the 2013 election.
CTV Calgary will provide real-time results, expert analysis and candidate reaction throughout our coverage of the 2017 Calgary Municipal Election available online beginning Monday at 8:00 p.m.
For a full list of candidates, ward boundary changes and voting station information visit CTV Civic Election 2017
With files from CTV's Stephanie Wiebe