Five years ago, a friend went to the Conservative enclave of Calgary West and found a complex answer to a very simple question. (UPDATED: OCTOBER 1, 2012.)
If you want to understand what it means to be a Conservative in Calgary, go to Calgary West. Just mouth the words. CALGARY…WEST. Imagine anyone who’s never left Central Canada gagging on each syllable. It’s OK if that makes you smile. You can smile about that stuff here.
Calgary West is one of those disproportionately big urban ridings, which spreads out over 89 square km and holds just over a tenth of the city’s registered voters. On electoral maps, it’s shaped like an imbalanced pumping jack, boundaries pressed up against the city limit, zigzagging from Crowchild Trail west to Bow and Sarcee and Glenmore Trails.
In its first incarnation, when Bowness was a separate municipality and most of what now constitutes the district was ranching land, Calgary West was home to RB Bennett, the prime minister who invoked Section 98 of Canada’s Criminal Code in fear of Communist subversion. From 1993 to 1997, Stephen Harper was the MP. No electoral district in the country has produced two prime ministers. For a city with littlesignificant history, this is not an insignificant fact.
I was told, in the course of passing conversation, that Calgary West is so historically safe for Conservatives that they could run “Mickey Mouse,” “a sack of potatoes,” or “a rabbit with a pancake on its head” and never lose the seat. Instead they run Rob Anders. Continue reading