Mason maintains focus on issues rather than personalities

EDMONTON — NDP Leader Brian Mason expressed confidence Saturday his party's focus on issues such as health care, education and environment rather than personal attacks is a winning strategy.

"We're staying away from personalities and that seems to be resonating, that's what people are looking for," Mason said as he campaigned at the Old Strathcona Farmers' Market with Edmonton-Strathcona NDP incumbent MLA Rachel Notley for the April 23 provincial election.

"If you personalize it and make it about personal attacks on people's character, their integrity, their commitment to the province, I think it suppresses the vote."

But while Mason was pleased with the reaction other party leaders had to his call on Friday for a return to civility, visitors to the market were less certain the personal attacks will stop.

"It's been too much nitpicking at each other," said 86-year-old Doris Balash of the campaign so far. Balash was at the market with her daughter, Linda, and granddaughter, Leslie.

"I'm tired of listening to them nag about each other rather than give us what they're going to be working on," said 55-yearold Linda Lukasewich.

While Balash is impressed so far with Redford's campaign, Lukasewich said she's still waiting to decide who gets her vote. "I had decided on somebody, but now every time the leaders say something stupid, I think I should just wait," she said.

Mason's letter highlighted the need for political parties to pay attention to ideas, instead of personal attacks and detailed how the heightened negativity of this spring's election campaign risks creating voters who will stay home on April 23.

Notley, who was elected to the Edmonton-Strathcona riding in 2008, is a familiar face at the farmers' market. She said she was excited to take a break from door knocking and join Mason at the market on Saturday, as "he's been a political fixture of standing up for the little guy in Edmonton for 20 years."

While the NDP are joined on the centre-left with the Liberals, Alberta Party and Ever-Green Party, Notley is not worried about vote-splitting in her riding and instead predicts it may benefit the NDP.

"In this riding in particular, there is no Alberta Party candidate and the Liberal party candidate was appointed about a week ago," Notley said. "I think that throughout the city the emergence of the Wildrose opens up the opportunity for a vote split on the right."

Also out at Saturday's market was PC Edmonton-Strathcona candidate Emerson Mayers. "Our campaign is moving, things are happening and we'll get things moving much quicker for the second week," he said.

Chad Stewart of Chocolicious, where Mason described the milk chocolate-covered licorice he sampled as "addictive," said he'll continue to watch the campaign before deciding who gets his vote. "I think it will be an interesting battle in the next little bit," he said. "We'll have to wait and see how things go."

Edmonton Journal, Mon Apr 2 2012
Byline: Cailynn Klingbeil

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