EDMONTON — Voters in the Calgary Foothills constituency will go to the polls on Sept. 3 to elect a member of the Alberta legislature.
NDP Premier Rachel Notley announced the date Thursday and defended the timing, given the federal election campaign will be in full swing then and only her party and the Liberals have byelection candidates in place.
She said all parties knew there would be federal election on Oct. 19 and that the Alberta legislature would sit again in October to pass a budget.
"It shouldn't be coming as a surprise to anybody who can look at a calendar,'' said Notley. "The alternative would be ... for us to go into a fall session to talk about a budget without the people of Foothills having an MLA. To me, that is a much bigger transgression.''
It will be the third time in less than a year that Calgary Foothills voters will head to the polls.
It has been a stronghold for the Progressive Conservatives, but has been without representation since the May 5 provincial election.
Former PC premier Jim Prentice handily won the riding, but resigned his seat even before the counting was finished as the Tories were swept from power by the NDP.
The Wildrose party is to hold its nomination meeting Aug. 15.
The Progressive Conservatives and the Alberta Party are also expected to choose candidates in the coming weeks.
Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark said it's unfair to Foothills residents to run a byelection in tandem with the federal campaign and to not give them a chance to pass judgment on Notley's budget.
"It really appears that the provincial NDP want to piggyback off the federal NDP campaign rather than running on the merits of their own budget this fall,'' said Clark.
Notley said she will be in the riding to knock on doors to support NDP candidate Bob Hawkesworth.
Hawkesworth, 64, is a former city councillor and represented the NDP in the riding of Calgary Mountain View when the party was official Opposition in the 1980s.
He first won it in 1986, edging out then PC candidate Jim Prentice.
The Liberals have selected Ali Bin Zahid. Zahid, an engineer and operator of a software startup company, ran in Foothills in the general election but finished a distant fourth, capturing just over seven per cent of the vote.
Prentice held the riding for about six months after capturing it handily in a byelection last October.
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