With the second round of voting in the Top Alberta Political Moment of the Decade contest now underway, here are some brief descriptions of the top 10 moments to vote for:
Vote - 2000: Thousands of Albertans protest the passage of private health care Bill 11. Albertans raised a massive protest against government plans for private health care and private hospitals. Opposition to Bill 11 is remembered for the the spontaneous nightly vigils at the Legislature. The government passed an amended version of Bill 11 that actually inhibited private health care more than it facilitated it.
Vote - 2001: Ralph Klein berated the homeless in a late night visit to a mens shelter in Edmonton. Long-known for his enjoyment of alcoholic beverages, Premier Ralph Klein’s late night visit to the Herb Jamieson Centre changed how many Albertans viewed the Premier’s vice. Klein publicly apologized and pledged to stop drinking.
Vote - 2004: Ralph Klein declared fiscal debate erased, making Alberta the first debt free province in a decade. At his July 12 Stampede Breakfast, Premier Klein declared Alberta to be ‘debt-free.’ The pursuit of erasing the provincial debt became the defining goal of the government in the 1990s and early 2000s. As the Chief of Staff to the President of Daveberta said, “the language of our elections and our politics is shaped around deficits and spending in a way that isn’t present in other politics.”
Vote - 2005: Gay marriage becomes legal in Alberta. Alberta began granting marriage licences to same-sex couples on July 20, upon the granting of Royal Assent to the federal Civil Marriage Act. After promising to continue opposing same-sex marriage, Premier Klein announced Alberta would would reluctantly recognize same-sex marriage, but promised new legislative protection for anyone who opposed it on moral or religious grounds.
Vote - 2006: Calgary MP Stephen Harper became Prime Minister of Canada. On January 23, Calgary-Southwest MP Stephen Harper led the Conservative Party to defeat the Liberal Party led by Prime Minister Paul Martin to form the first Conservative government since 1988. As the first Prime Minister from Alberta since Joe Clark, Harper’s election shifted the power dynamic in Alberta politics, making it more difficult for the provincial government to criticize the boogeymen in Ottawa.
Vote - 2006: $400 Ralphbucks cheques mailed to every Albertan. An embodiment of short-term vision of a government with unprecedented financial wealth, the $400 Prosperity Bonuses were mailed to every Albertan. This represented $1.4 billion (or 20%) of the $6.8 billion surplus and was criticized by many Albertans as a pointless giveaway (but few actually refused the cheques).
Vote - 2006: Ralph Klein received 55.4% approval in the PC leadership review. After 14 years in the Premier’s office and leading the PC party to four majority governments, low approval from convention delegates forced an early retirement for the man who dominated and defined Alberta politics since 1992.
Vote - 2006: Ed Stelmach defeated Jim Dinning in the PC leadership contest. On December 2, former Finance Minister and Calgary’s favourite son Jim Dinning was unexpectedly defeated by 13-year MLA and former Lamont County Reeve Ed Stelmach. Stelmach became Alberta’s first Premier from rural Alberta since Harry Strom in 1971.
Vote - 2008: Linda Duncan defeated Rahim Jaffer to become the second-ever NDP MP from Alberta. On October 17, Linda Duncan was elected as MP for Edmonton-Strathcona, defeating four-term Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer by 436 votes. The first NDP MP elected in Alberta was Edmonton-East MP Ross Harvey in 1988.
Vote - 2009: Danielle Smith was elected leader of the Wildrose Alliance. Recent polls have shown major short-term growth in Wildrose Alliance support since Danielle Smith was elected leader on October 17, but it may be too soon to tell what long-term effect she will have on Alberta’s political scene. Smith is a former Calgary Board of Education Trustee and Director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.