Alison Redford wins majority government
Alison Redford and Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party have won Alberta’s 28th provincial election, continuing a 41-year legacy of PC leadership in Alberta.
Despite polls that predicted a Wildrose victory, Redford led the PC party to a majority win, in what many pundits described as one of the most heated provincial elections in recent memory.
“Every Albertan knew that this election was about choice,” said Redford in her acceptance speech. “A choice to put up walls or to build bridges — a choice about Alberta’s future. Tonight, Alberta chose to build bridges.”
PC supporters cheer victory
The PCs took an early lead in the polls, and quickly pulled away from their main rival, Danielle Smith’s Wildrose party.
The energy at the Metropolitan conference centre in downtown Calgary kept growing over the course of the night, with cheers erupting from PC supporters every time the results of the race were updated.
“I think that Alberta’s made the right choice for the next four years,” said Evan Legate, president of the Progressive Conservative Youth of Alberta. “I feel pretty good about it. It looks like a lot of youth voted, and we had a pretty strong campus presence so it look like that paid off.”
The close race that people were expecting never seemed to come about.
“It seems like it came around real fast for what was supposed to be a real nail-biting drag-out finish, so it was quite surprising to see it end so fast,” said Curtis Linton, a PC supporter at the Calgary gathering of dozens of party faithful.
“It’s telling that people wanted an alternative, and they started to lean to the Wildrose, and they saw how they acted and behaved in the last couple of weeks in the election that they said maybe it’s time to pause and step back a bit.”
“The Wildrose is a new party, they’ve only been around for the last four years,” added Mary Grace Nelson, another PC supporter at the event. “You think you want a four year old running a province?”
When Premier Redford took to the stage, she told those gathered in the conference hall, “Today, Albertans voted for change.”
She added thanks to the leaders of the other political parties but smiled as she announced, “Tonight is a very happy night for the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta.”
Disheartened Wildrose supporters
A little more than an hour after polls closed, several media outlets projected a PC majority win. The news transformed a boisterous crowd of Wildrose supporters at Paul Hinman and Richard Jones’ campaign office into a much quieter room green with disappointment.
When asked about the final result, Connor Leson replied, “The only poll that matters is on Monday — election day. I guess people were swayed by the fear and misleading (campaign) by the PCs,” adding that the Tories “overblew the issue on conscience rights.”
The month-long campaign was marked with fierce competition between the PCs and Wildrose parties. Both suffered a number of setbacks in the campaign with allegations of corruption being brought against the PCs, and the Wildrose receiving criticism for some candidates’ stances on issues such as gay rights and race.
Paul Hinman, who lost his seat in Calgary-Glenmore to PC candidate Linda Johnson, took aim at what he called PC “fearmongering and mudslinging,” adding “we had a few slips. It was a tough way to go.”
Wildrose forms official Opposition
Wildrose candidate Richard Jones, who lost his bid in Calgary-Acadia to PC cabinet minister Jonathan Denis, indicated one upside to the result was that his party would see more funding with its new Opposition status.
“If I were Alison Redford, I’d be really scared.”
Wildrose leader Danielle Smith also appeared optimistic as she spoke from her Highwood riding.
“Tonight we found out that change might take a little longer than we thought,” she said in her speech. “As the campaign wore on and the signs of momentum became more and more apparent, the belief took hold that we could pull this off,” she said.
The Wildrose would not pull off the victory it had sought. As of press time, the PC party was elected or leading in 62 ridings, the Wildrose held 16 ridings, five ridings for the Liberals and four for the NDP.