Given the leader-is-everything campaigns of the three main parties, it is somehow refreshing to learn that certain candidates have let go the coattails of Pierre Trudeau, Joe Clark and Ed Broadbent. Instead, they are wading into their ridings, taking on all comers in a campaign style reminiscent of what some would recall fondly as old-fashioned, swift-kick-to-a-tender-part politics. Maclean’s dispatched correspondents for brief looks at three of Canada’s most colorful fights.
In an open letter to his Alberta constituents in February, Industry Minister Jack Horner noted that it had been two years since his decision to cross the floor and join the Liberal party. “It is a decision that I have not, for one moment, regretted,” Horner wrote. Judging by the pace of his campaigning since the election call, Horner is determined to make his decision stick with constituents in the new Crowfoot riding. And if various polls taken since his defection from the PCs indicate that voters regret the move, Horner is undeterred. He is fighting the campaign the way he used to play hockey when he was a hard-hitting defenceman for the Hanna Hornets. As former teammate Bob Simmonds, now RCMP commissioner, recalls it, “He [Horner] was big and strong and knew what the game was all about. They didn’t mess around with him.”
Conservative MP Arnold Malone, however, is, in fact, messing around with Horner, putting as much time and work as Horner into the battle. The Crowfoot riding has been organized to a
pitch never before seen in east-central Alberta. To woo the 42,000 voters, spread over 16,530 square miles (bounded on the west and south by the Red Deer River, on the east by the Saskatchewan border), both men have hired a raft of full-time help (five for Malone, five for Horner), opened a series of campaign offices (three for Malone, three for Horner) and have taken to electioneering morning, noon and night. Although cabinet duties kept Horner away from the riding more than he liked until the campaign started, his workers have been passing out hats, bumper stickers, buttons and T-shirts, at fair booths for the past couple of years.
The new riding takes in about 60 per cent of the voters in the old Battle River riding, held by rookie Malone since 1974. Malone, up at 5 a.m. recently for a TV interview, is paying particular attention to the riding’s southern end, which was in Horner’s old Crowfoot riding. Horner, in turn, is concentrating on the north, Malone’s territory.
Voters seem to be fascinated by the battle and are jamming election forums throughout the riding. “Rural people tend to attend these things better than city people because they’re closer to what’s happening,” says Berdie Fowler, editor of The Camrose Booster. “But there’s never been higher interest in an election here. It’s really keen.” Although the crowds have been generally good-natured, a forum in Stettler, which drew 450, erupted into catcalls and hurrahs. Horner, whose temper is notorious, held his patience and carried on.
Whatever the national issues, Crowfoot voters are mostly interested in abandonment of railway lines, capital punishment, gun control laws that hamper their gopher-shooting efforts, and what they call “metric madness.” Horner and Malone have been tackling those issues at coffee parties and forums, on Main Street tours and door-to-door canvassing. Although the Grits did not win a single seat in Alberta in the past two federal elections, Horner clearly hasn’t conceded the fight. The politician who once wanted to be a professional hockey player is campaigning as he once skated, going over anybody on the ice trying to score.
Until this election campaign, the town of Granby, Quebec, was known, if at all, for its zoo. But now the zebras and ocelots seem as dull as sloths beside the exotic menagerie stalking the voters of Granby and the encompassing riding of Shefford, a short safari 50 miles southeast of Montreal.
The constituency is traditionally Créditiste but, instead of an oldtime, banker-baiting demagogue, the party is running a chameleon, Murielle Audette, who, before instantly changing to Social Credit green for the May 22 vote, was an active Péquiste.
The hounded king of this political jungle is sitting MP Gilbert Rondeau who, like the denizens of Granby Zoo, spent part of the campaign behind bars. Rondeau was convicted in April of $37,000 worth of unemployment insurance fraud. After a week in Cowansville
Jail, he appealed and was released on bail so he could file his nomination as an independent candidate. The 51-yearold insurance agent by trade was first carried to the Commons in 1962 as flotsam on the freak tidal wave of Réal Caouette but was forced out of the Social Credit caucus in 1977 when an RCMP investigation uncovered his ingenious scheme to redistribute the public wealth: the MP hired workers for his Ottawa office, only to fire them as soon as they qualified for unemployment insurance. A year later, Rondeau was convicted of arson for having one of his well insured properties set on fire and sentenced to six months pending his appeal. Rondeau had already been fined $5,000 for counselling supporters to make illegal political contributions.
All of that makes his challengers drool like hyenas at feeding time and, with the traditional Social Credit clientele expected to divide their loyalties among Rondeau, the born-again Créditiste Audette and Conservative Gerald Scott, the fattest scavenger of all may turn out to be the Liberal’s 22-year-old cub Jean Lapierre. Joe Clark did venture delicately into the riding to help out his candidate but the PC leader was forced to play Daniel in the lions’ den when his timid switch from French into English was growled down by what were supposed to be Conservative loyalists at an evening wine and cheese party where there was too little cheese and too much wine. Still, the Conservatives hope to scoop up most of the droppings from Rondeau’s judicial mishaps.
Rondeau’s stint as a jailbird did, how-
ever, give his political career a needed new mission: prison reform. Instead of discreetly ignoring his entanglement in the net of the law, Rondeau flaunts it, even to making a photo of himself in leg irons the centrepiece of his campaign leaflet. Steel bars, Rondeau argues, are demeaning and inhuman. There is a solid constituency for such talk in Granby but it is unlikely to do the MP much good until Parliament decides to extend universal suffrage to giraffes and chimpanzees. David Thomas
Shortly after announcing the findings of a federal report on juvenile hockey in Vancouver last week, a tired but resolutely elegant Iona Cam-
pagnolo fled from a press conference pleading,
“I’ve got a meeting in Terrace.” Lately, it has been a typical exit for the hyperactive minister of state for fitness and amateur sport. She is running in the sprawling northwestern B.C. riding of Skeena and the Vancouver jaunt was only the third day spent outside of the riding since the federal election was called. Ever since she knocked off a complacent NDP member, Frank Howard, by 2,680 votes in 1974, the NDP has been clamoring for a rematch in that labor-oriented riding.
Up against the icy grandmother is probation officer NDPer Jim Fulton. Bearded and given to rough-knit sweaters, Fulton, 29, affects a cabin with no telephone (he promises to have one installed if elected) and has been campaigning flat out for two years, bouncing down dirt roads in a purple pickup (“a Prince Rupert sports car”) with a camper-canopy on the back. Campagnolo, 46 and divorced, is well known through Prince Rupert civic politics (“The Skeena River runs in my veins”). She is generally credited with being a tireless worker for the riding who would be a shoo-in if not for the burden of Pierre Trudeau. Oddly, her multimillion-dollar snafu with Loto Select has had little impact in Skeena. Eschewing pickup proletarianism, Campagnolo, who is often called the Mary Tyler Moore of the northwest because of her cheery Liberal defences of the Canadian economy, does her outback stumping by chartered bush plane.
Generally touted as a two-party race, Skeena has other contenders including Tory Rod Cousins, 39, a former bank employee and generally unimpressive campaigner who recently prompted one prominent local Tory to confide: “The thought of that guy getting elected keeps me awake nights.” Tory chances are further dulled by redistribution which lopped a solid Conservative vote off the eastern end of the riding.
Voter concern centres largely on local issues, especially high seasonal unemployment, a shaky transportation network and increasing Japanese control of the West Coast fishing industry. Campagnolo has gained points by skilfully ignoring federal culpability and blaming an unpopular B.C. provincial government for most of the sins. Fulton has been powerfully aided by former MP and recently elected provincial MLA Frank Howard and the slingshot effect of an unsuccessful but spirited provincial campaign team. According to a senior B.C. Liberal,Campagnolo“is running scared.” Thomas Hopkins
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