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Wednesday, 06 May 2015 15:10

A new dawn

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Albertans woke up to a different reality on Wednesday. The 44-year dynasty of a ruling Progressive Conservative government was toppled by Rachel Notley and the NDPs.

Not only did the New Democrats form government, they hold the majority of seats with 53. The Wildrose will make up the official opposition with 21 seats, the PCs came in third with 10, but as of press time a tie vote in the Calgary-Glenmore constituency between the PCs and NDP means a recount is required. The Alberta Party elected its leader Greg Clark to claim one seat and David Swann won in his constituency to sit as the lone Alberta Liberal.
An historic night it was, not only because of the toppling of the PCs — or maybe it should be called a decimation as the party is virtually wiped off the map — but also because of voter turnout. Although figures were still being finalized as of press time, the number of Albertans casting their ballots this time around reached an all-time high not seen in decades. Early estimates are voter turnout is about 57 per cent, up from the 50 per cent average seen across the past six elections.
Chalk it up to a dynasty that had dragged on too long; old-boy cronyism; PC arrogance; money mismanagement; or too many political missteps and gaffes for the PC party in the past few years, Albertans wanted to send a message to the PCs and they did.
Notley should be commended for running a near-perfect campaign. She was poised, well-spoken, positive and knew the right carrots to dangle to entice 40 per cent of voters to lean to the left. With Wildrose and the PCs splitting the vote on the centre-right, the path was clear for the NDs to take government.
Now the steep learning curve for New Democrats begins.
It will be at least six months of transition as the newbie MLAs — many who have never set foot in the Legislature — learn their roles and responsibilities. Albertans need to be patient as this ruling party learns how to govern the people and makes the best decisions for a future that can be prosperous. When the sun rose in the east May 6, Albertans saw the sky hadn’t fallen; they will see that the business climate can remain strong; and they will learn there are skeletons in government’s closet that are yet to be revealed after a 44-year PC reign.
The 2015 provincial election is historic because it shows that every vote does matter and that government does need to listen to the people. It does, as Notley said in her acceptance speech, feel like “spring has arrived.” Many of us in the province have never lived under any other government other than the PCs, so change can be refreshing and exciting.
Now Albertans, and in fact Canadians, aren’t done yet.
The federal election campaigning will start to ramp up now prior to the Oct. 19 vote.
The Conservatives have already started their campaigning as seen by the release of their relatively “good news” budget earlier this year which aimed to cover off some of their previous election promises such as raising the limit on what can be deposited into tax-free savings accounts.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is an Albertan and in fact warned his fellow voters not to vote in an NDP government, will have some soul-searching to do as he deals with a country which has progressively seen more of its provinces move to the left of centre.
If there is a message in the Alberta election for Harper, it should probably be that the province’s residents don’t like being told how to vote and are not interested in the fear-mongering tactics which served the PCs well in the 2012 election.
Alberta’s election was a doozy and dare we say likely one of the most exciting ones we’ve seen in decades. Let’s hope the political engagement is just as high and the federal campaign just as interesting in the coming months.
Rose Sanchez is assistant managing editor of the Prairie Post. Contact her with your comments about this opinion piece by e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor