Alberta votes for change, removing PC’s 44 year reign
By Mary MacArthur
When Alberta decides to change government, it does it in dramatic fashion.
After 44 years of Progressive Conservative government, Albertans tossed out the Tories and elected the NDP with a massive majority.
Alberta leader Rachel Notley started the campaign with four sitting MLAs and ended the election with 54 seats.
The once mighty PC party started the election with 70 seats and ended in third place with 10 seats behind the Wildrose with 21 seats. The Liberal party and new Alberta party each elected one.
PC leader Jim Prentice was re-elected in his Calgary seat, but resigned as leader of the party and as MLA on election night.
“As leader, I accept responsibility for this outcome,” said Prentice, who had only been leader for eight months.
“I share the disappointment with the members of our party across the party,” said Prentice, who still felt he needed to call an election to give him the authority to carry out a tough budget during trying economic times in Alberta.
But Albertans had different ideas and never forgave the Wildrose candidates for crossing the floor to join the PCs, or forgave the PCs for encouraging the floor crossing.
Notley, the charismatic leader of the NDP, caught fire with voters early in the election, asking Albertans to vote for change.
“I think we may have made a little bit of history tonight,” said Notley, during her acceptance speech.
“I believe that change has finally come to Alberta.”
Notley becomes the 17th premier, and first NDP premier in Alberta.
“To the people of Alberta, I want to thank you for putting your trust in our party. I am deeply humbled and want to pledge to you that we will work every day to earn your trust,” said Notley.
In a speech that reached out to all sectors of the province, she thanked Premier Prentice for his “enormous” contribution for the province.
Notley also reached out to the energy sector and assuring them, that the NDP government would be a good partner to work with.
“Our government will be a good partner and work with you to grow economy and be a prosperous partner in every community.
Notley said Albertans voted for change and want a new kind of respect and relationship with their government.
She also mentioned her late parents, Sandy and Grant Notley. Grant was the former leader of the NDP, but was killed in an airplane crash in 1984.
“I am also thinking about my mother and my father. I know that my mother would be completely over the moon about this, I think my dad would be too,” she said.
“It really was his life’s work. I know how proud he would be of the province we all love.”
Wildrose leader Brian Jean, was only leader for 37 days before being elected leader of the opposition.
“Wow, what a campaign and what a change in Alberta,” said Jean, elected in his Ft. McMurray riding.
“We have accomplished a great thing tonight,” he said.
Jean promised to be a “fierce opposition” and continue to fight for a balanced budget and keep the NDP majority “on their toes.”
Liberal leader David Swann was re-elected in his Calgary riding, but is the only Liberal left in the legislature.
“Alberta you voted for change, and finally, it’s about time,” said Swann.
Alberta elected the first Alberta Party candidate, Greg Clark.
For more on the election check out the Western Producer’s liveblog below and the changed electoral map that represents the direction of the province of Alberta for the next four years.