Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.
It sounds strange, but get used to it, because Albertans have spoken.
History was made last night as an Orange Chinook howled through Alberta. The articulate and likeable Ms. Notley led Alberta’s New Democratic Party to elect 53 MLAs in the 87 seat Legislative Assembly, sweeping away the 43-year long governing Progressive Conservatives. Led by Jim Prentice, the PCs were trying for a 13th consecutive majority government but were reduced to 11 MLAs (and in one constituency, Calgary-Glenmore, the NDP and PC candidate appear to be tied). Mr. Prentice resigned as leader and MLA in his concession speech, which means another by-election will need to be held in Calgary-Foothills within six months.
Conservatives can be pleased that a resurgent Wildrose Party, led by Brian Jean, elected 20 MLAs, more than the party elected in the 2012 election. Mr. Jean will serve as leader of the Official Opposition. The tiny Alberta Party can also be proud that it elected its first MLA in Calgary-Elbow, leader Greg Clark. Liberal leader David Swann survived re-election in Calgary-Mountain View, but Edmonton-Centre Liberal Laurie Blakeman went down to defeat.
It would be a mistake to believe this election signals Albertans have shifted to the political left.This election was not about ideology and Albertans remain largely politically moderate. This defining narrative of this campaign was trust and accountability, and on this issue Albertans turned away from the PCs and embraced Ms. Notley’s moderate platform. The “time for a change” narrative was too strong for the PCs to stop.
The new Assembly will be filled with rookies from both the NDP and Wildrose. The new 53 MLA NDP Government caucus is expected to have at least 25 women, a record in Alberta (and perhaps in Canada). Many new political careers began last night and many political careers ended, Mr. Prentice and former Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel being two notable PCs who lost big in this campaign.
There are many unknowns facing this new government, including how to transition a new party into power. The last time this happened was 1971.
(I will publish an expanded post tomorrow, it’s now 1:02 am and I am heading to bed after a very exciting election night)
Alberta Election 2015 (results from abvote.ca)
Total seats (popular vote)
NDP: 53 (41%)
Wildrose: 20 (24%)
PC: 11 (28%)
Liberal Party 1 (4%)
Alberta Party: 1 (2%)