Wins election in second-round count, edging out Gary Mar
Alison Redford has won the Progressive Conservative Party (PC) of Alberta leadership race, making her the party's new leader and soon-to-be first female premier of Alberta.
The results of the election were welcomed with thunderous applause in the conference hall at the Edmonton Expo Centre. After brief speeches by former premier Ed Stelmach and other candidates Doug Horner and Gary Mar, Redford took to the stage to accept her new position.
"By this leadership process, we have renewed the party," said Redford. "We have generated new ideas, new members and new interests for Albertans and today, Albertans have voted for change.
"Change that means there will be better access to health care for all Albertans and also change that means a disciplined approach to spending priorities, and more funds set aside to ensure the future prosperity for our kids. We will govern with integrity, transparency, and accountability and maintain the traditions of this party.
"I believe that Alberta is the best place in the world to live and we can make it better. Thank you for your faith in this vision, for your faith in me."
Redford also acknowledged her mother, who passed away during the campaign. The new leader attributed her involvement in politics to her mother, saying "she's a big reason I'm here and I'm thinking of her tonight."
Horner and Mar also expressed their congratulations, and said they desired the party to return to unity.
"I have said all along that I'd listen, and tonight the people of Alberta have made their wishes known, and I respect their decision," said Mar, who was considered the front-runner for the majority of the election.
"I am encouraging the candidates for this ballot and the first ballot to get behind our new leader Alison Redford. She will need all our help."
Tension was in the air of the hall from beginning until the wee hours of Sunday morning, when the official winner was announced.
Since the vote on Sept. 17, leadership of the PC Party was contended by three final candidates: Alison Redford, who came away from the Sept. 17 date with 19 per cent of the vote, Doug Horner with 14.5 per cent, and Gary Mar with a commanding 41 per cent of the vote.
However, as none of the candidates managed to recieve the necessary 51 per cent, a run-off vote was necessary to decide who would be the next leader of the PC Party of Alberta.
As the numbers slowly trickled in, the excitment in the room kept building.
"It's hot, it's getting feverpitch," said Dan Woodcock, a Doug Horner supporter, as the night went on.
"People are getting excited, I think some people are starting to realize that this is going to be a later night than they originally anticipated, but its all good."
"It can only help build excitment for the party, and that's the number one thing."
After what seemed to be an eternity, the first of the results began coming in. Mar took an early, yet marginal lead.
With 27 of 85 the polling stations reporting in, Mar had 43.5 per cent of the vote, closely followed by Alison Redford with 40.5 per cent. Doug Horner trailed the pack with 16.5 per cent.
The total number of votes was significantly larger than in the Sept. 17 election, with 78,176 party members turning up to the polls, as opposed to the 58,359 for the first vote.
As more results were made official, Redford and Mar were neck to neck. At one point in the night, Redford led Mar by a mere five votes and by the end of the first count, Mar was with Redford close behind and Horner still far behind.
However, due to Mar not receiving the necessary 50 per cent of the votes plus one to clinch victory, a second count was required. Voters were asked to pick a second choice for who they would like to see be premier when they cast their ballots. The candidate with the least number of votes was eliminated — in this case, Horner — and the ballots with eliminated candidate as their number one choice were reviewed, and counted the number two pick on the ballot.
It appeared that a large amount of voters who picked Horner tapped Redford as their second choice, which would prove to be the turning point of the night.
By the end of the second count, Redford inched out Mar by a mere 1,613 votes. The final numbers were 37,104 votes for Redford versus 35,491 votes for Mar, making her Alberta's new leader.
- By Steve Waldner