What are the top federal election issues for Calgary? Calgarians weigh in

As Canadians prepare to head to the polls next month, a wide variety of issues will be driving how they vote.

Political watchers call it a ballot question, a singular issue that matters most to the voter.

“Voting is actually a tough thing. People have a lot of things to consider: who’s the leader of the party, what does the party stand for, who’s my local candidate?” Calgary pollster and political commentator Janet Brown said Monday.

“A ballot question can really help people zero in on what really matters to them and help sort through all the difficult choices.”

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Global News went out to a busy downtown river path in Calgary to gauge what issues mattered most to Calgarians as campaigning heats up.

Several people who spoke to Global News said health care is their top priority.

“I think front-liners need more support right now, even with the pandemic going up and down,” Luke Dela Cruz said.

Read more: Calgary politicians start campaigning after federal election writ drops

Others noted the province’s oil and gas industry and the current equalization formula as their top election issue.

“I just think that we’re not equal in the west, so equalization payments are tough,” Jill Lemon said. “I don’t think oil and gas is looked at as well as it should be.”

The COVID-19 pandemic and federal supports to help businesses and workers are also on the minds of Calgarians.

“We’ve got a big hole to climb out of now, and I’m not clear on what the plan is, what the Liberals’ plan to get onside with debt,” Bill Cryderman said.

Bill’s son Phillip Cryderman works in the service industry. Phillip said while supports were needed, he is also concerned with the next government’s plan to address those supports and debt.

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“I needed that Canada Recovery Benefit, so that will be an issue I’ll be looking at coming up in this election,” Phillip said. “Whether they’ll continue it and their plans for people like me to pay it back.”

Brown has done polling on what issues are on the minds of Albertans heading into the federal election, with many similarities to the issues that arose in the 2019 campaign.

“The three issues are kind of interrelated: there’s the economy, there are jobs and there’s how the government is handling COVID-19 and how we can come out of COVID-19 as economically stable as possible,” Brown said.

Read more: Conservatives unveil election promises in pandemic-focused platform

Brown said she believes this year’s election may be different than the vote two years ago when the Conservatives won 33 of Alberta’s 34 federal ridings.

According to Brown and political scientist Duane Bratt, there are three ridings in Calgary that appear to be more competitive during this election cycle: Calgary Skyview, Calgary Centre and Calgary Confederation.

Bratt is also anticipating provincial issues to make their way into the ballot box in September, including the Alberta government’s response to COVID-19 and decisions from Premier Jason Kenney.

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“They may be talking about Jason Kenney in other parts of the country because Trudeau I’m sure is going to campaign against him very hard — not just in Alberta [but] outside of the province as well,” Bratt said.

“But voters here who may not be happy with Kenney, are they going to take it out on [Conservative Leader] Erin O’Toole?”

Kenney’s office did not respond to Global News’ request for comment about if he would be campaigning for the federal Conservatives this year.

Canadians head to the polls on Sept. 20.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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