The nation is in shock. the widely expected Wildrose majority government in Alberta did not materialize. How did this happen when ever poll released over the last 4 weeks showed Wildrose in the lead? Aren’t Albertans ready for change after 41 years? Why have Albertans rejected limited government in favour of more statism?
Pollsters built expectations way too high. For a party like Wildrose that elected a grand total of zero to the assembly last time, to one that takes 35% of the vote and 19 seats is no small feat. May I remind you all that: a) Peter Loughheed won 6 seats in ’67. proved himself in opposition, then was handed the keys b) In SK, Brad Wall went up a tired and unpopular NDP government in SK in 2003, did reasonably well, but fell short. the SP proved itself in opposition, and has since won twice and never looked back… I think, at the end of the day, it was a matter of people looking at the lack of actual experience in the legislature that bought the PCs four more years. The would-be premier, Danielle Smith’s only previous elected office was that of school board trustee. She didn’t even have a seat in the Assembly.
On the other hand, the PC’s should not celebrate too much, as they will likely be handed their walking papers in a big way, never to recover in 2016. They might very wish that they had lost this one while salvaging 35-40 seats to build on. They would have a solid base on which to build, and a chance to choose a new leader. If Alison Redford is so personally disliked now, she’ll be at or below Stelmach (Miss him yet?) numbers by then, IF WR acquits themselves well in opposition. One final though on the matter:
There will be plenty of spin from all sides in the media. Warren Kinsella and the progressives at the Globe and mail will gloat that WR was rejected because of their social positions while those on the right will lament that Albertans are embracing the nanny state.
Cutting through the spin, I believe the ballot question for many was: While we like Wildrose, Are they ready for Prime time yet? Their body politic was weighed in balance, and found wanting, but nonetheless offered the chance to show what they can do in opposition. They will either rise to the occasion as the Saskatchewan Party did, or fail the test as Action Democratique in Quebec did.
Finally, let’s look at one of my big pet peeves: The Polls. Do your own thinking, and never let pollsters influence your vote. Results invariably turn campaigns away from ideas and toward personalities, and the politics of fear. Vote for what you want, and not just to throw sonmeone out or keep someone else from getting in. When you do that, you sell your vote which should be priceless, cheaply, and the result is always mediocrity.
As Charles Adler put it “Albertans have just elected Dalton McGuinty”