Political newcomer seeks to keep Edmonton-Riverview for Liberals

By Tim Gerwing

EDMONTON – Arif Khan, political newcomer, is in full campaign mode in Edmonton-Riverview seeking to replace outgoing Liberal MLA Kevin Taft.

Khan knows he faces major hurdles in trying to replace Taft, who earned over 50 per cent of the vote in 2008 and served as Liberal party leader from 2004 to 2009. But Khan has been hard at work acquainting himself with constituents through fundraising events and door-knocking. Taft endorsed Khan, and helped knock on doors on his behalf, as did former federal cabinet minister Anne McLellan and Senator Tommy Banks.

“I think the only way you can retain a seat is by working extremely hard,” said Khan, who knows he has big shoes to fill. “We’ve been knocking on doors since June of this year.”

Arif Khan, the Liberal party candidate for Edmonton-Riverview, in a supplied photo.

Despite Taft’s endorsement for Khan, Edmonton-Riverview might become highly competitive.

The Wildrose Party has nominated John Corie. The NDP has nominated Lori Sigurdson, and the Tories have yet to nominate a candidate.

Khan said he wants to address constituents’ issues about health care and other concerns, while challenging the Redford government, which he described as “same old, same old,” and part of “the same old boys’ network”.

For the Liberals, holding onto the seats they already have is a main priority, under new leader Raj Sherman.

Corie believes that while Khan is well-intentioned, constituents would be better served to vote Wildrose. Corie said polling data shows the party is surging in popularity right now in the province.

“The reality is that the Alberta Liberal Party has lost a significant amount of support in recent years, and will likely lose most of their remaining seats after the next provincial election,” said Corie. “Similar polling and fundraising information suggests that the Wildrose will win a significant number of seats in the next election, and will almost certainly become the official opposition, if not form government.”

Corie is referring to a poll conducted by Abingdon Research, that determined 29 per cent of decided voters in Alberta were planning on voting for the Wildrose Alliance.

Khan said that he’s not interested in partisan politics. The Liberals have a platform centred on public health and they won’t deviate from their focus.

“I honestly don’t think I look at things that way,” said Khan. “Right wing, left wing, pro business, this and that. I think that just divides us, and I think Raj [Sherman] has alluded to that. We’re going to do what’s right for Alberta and were going to make sure that we act in the best interest of our province.”

No election has been called, but Premier Alison Redford is expected to call one before June.

“I think the Conservatives should be very fearful,” said Khan. “There are no guaranteed seats in Alberta left.”