As election day fast approaches, the leading contenders in Alberta are reaching out to their bases for support and cash, with one expecting record voter turnout.
In an e-mail to supporters Friday, Wildrose campaign chair Cliff Fryers wrote that “we can now see the fruits of our labour” after years of hard work.
“Now there is a feeling of change – change of power from a tired PC government to a vibrant, energetic Wildrose government,” wrote Mr. Fryers, who hasn’t given interviews during the campaign. He asked for a “donation of $500, $250, or even $100” as the “end of the PC government is near.”
Naturally, the PCs see it differently. Polls earlier this week showed them about seven points back, but closing the gap on Wildrose – before a series of gaffes this week by Wildrose candidates.
The party outlined its platform to supporters again Friday, noting its investment in infrastructure, its campaign promise to boost arts funding and its efforts to boost environmental oversight in the oil sands (an issue the party has all but ignored for decades). “A Progressive Conservative government believes in supporting the many things that make Alberta such a great place to live,” the party wrote.
The PCs, who have strung together majorities since 1971, urged their supporters to avoid complacency.
“The Wildrose are counting on a low PC turnout to turn the tides of victory. There are many ridings – particularly in Edmonton and Calgary – that are a dead heat,” the PC campaign wrote, adding it could be “the highest voter turnout in history” and inviting its supporters to rallies in Edmonton and Calgary Saturday.
The record for Alberta turnout is 81.8 per cent, set in 1935, double the 2008 turnout of 40.6 per cent. Some observers believe there’ll be a spike and advance polls Thursday and Friday have been steady – but 80 per cent may be a stretch.
Turnout in 2008 was a record low, down from 45 per cent in 2004, 53 per cent in 2001 and 1997, and 60 per cent in 1993 – the last time Alberta had a bona fide horse race. Alberta’s population has grown more than 40 per cent since then.
Albertans go to the polls on Monday.