Alberta PC party leader Alison Redford celebrates her win in the provincial election in Calgary on Monday. Redford led the PC Alberta party to another majority win beating out the new comer Wildrose party.

Alberta PC party leader Alison Redford celebrates her win in the provincial election in Calgary on Monday. Redford led the PC Alberta party to another majority win beating out the new comer Wildrose party.

Redford Tories defy polls to win majority

Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives survived the biggest scare of their four decades in power on Monday by handily holding off a right-wing rival in the provincial election.

EDMONTON — Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives have become the unconquerable colossus of Canadian politics, handily holding off a right-wing rival Monday to win a 12th consecutive majority and guarantee a record 45 consecutive years in power.

Premier Alison Redford’s team was on track to secure 61 of 87 seats in the legislature compared with 20 for Danielle Smith’s Wildrose party.

The victory flew in the face of polls that had Redford’s party trailing the Wildrose for much of the campaign.

Redford stood for a moment on the stage at her Calgary headquarters before her victory speech and her first words to her supporters were simply: “Oh my. Oh my.”

“Today, Alberta, you spoke, and you spoke loudly,” she said.

“And I want you to know I heard you.”

She said the election was about a choice “to put up walls or build bridges.”

“It was a choice about Alberta’s future, and Albertans chose to build bridges.”

The Tory dynasty, which began in 1971, will soon surpass the Nova Scotia Liberals of 1882-1925 (43 years) and the 1943-1985 Ontario PCs (42 years).

Redford’s team appeared to benefit from soft Liberal supporters who switched to the Tories in a strategic swing. In the final week there were suggestions homophobic and racist comments made by two Wildrose party candidates would translate into an intolerant government restricting the rights of women and minorities.

Raj Sherman’s Liberal party, which had been the official Opposition heading into the campaign, saw its vote collapse into single digits, giving Tories back the votes lost to the Wildrose.

That happened after supporters took to the airwaves and social media late in the campaign to urge moderates to switch their votes to the PCs to block a Wildrose win.

A website was even created featuring testimonials from young Albertans. One said he would rather have rodents eat his face than vote PC, but was voting Tory anyway to block the Wildrose.

Smith won her first seat in the legislature, in Highwood south of Calgary.

She remained upbeat in her concession speech to supporters in High River.

“Tonight we found out that change might take a little longer than we thought,” said Smith.

“We wanted to do better and we expected to do better. Am I surprised? Am I disappointed? Yeah. Am I discouraged? Not a chance.

“Albertans have decided that Wildrose might need some time to establish ourselves, and I relish the opportunity.”

Brian Mason’s NDP doubled his party’s tiny seat count to four, all in Edmonton.

Mason said he was thrilled at the outcome for his party, but also congratulated Redford on her victory.

“I never thought that (overwhelming win) was going to happen, but you can’t count the PCs out,” he said.

The Tories’ previous 11 majorities have been measured in large or larger majorities. The last time they were threatened was by a resurgent Liberal party in 1993. But under new leader Ralph Klein, the Tories took 51 of 83 seats to 32 for the Liberals and the dynasty rolled on.

Redford was re-elected in her Calgary-Elbow seat.

Tory cabinet ministers Doug Horner, Thomas Lukaszuk, Diana McQueen, Jeff Johnson, Dave Hancock, Verlyn Olson, Frank Oberle, Cal Dallas, Fred Horne, Heather Klimchuk, Thomas Lukaszuk, Manmeet Bhullar, and Jonathan Denis were all re-elected.

Redford will need a new energy minister, however. Ted Morton went down to defeat, as did Tourism Minister Jack Hayden.

Political scientist Harold Jansen said the Tories peaked at the right time.

Jansen said the Wildrose, after making announcement after announcement in the early days of the campaign, found itself without anything to offer in the final stretch, and ended up on the defensive while the Tories gained ground.

He agreed that the Liberal collapse benefited the PCs. In the last days, Jansen said, many of the Tory campaign announcements made the party sound almost like the Liberals.

“If you closed your eyes and changed the voice, it started to sound like the Liberals,” said Jansen with the University of Lethbridge.

“I think we’ve seen a restructuring of the party system where the PCs have claimed the centre.”

But Redford, who took over as premier six months ago from Ed Stelmach, has some fences to mend.

She ran on her record of spending increases and no taxes, promising millions of dollars to build more schools and family health-care clinics. She also promised to put up an extra $3 billion over the next two decades to further develop oilsands products and protect the environment while not raising royalties.

The Tories were taken to task for granting themselves the richest salaries for provincial politicians in the country — about $163,000 on average. But it didn’t end there. Over the last decade, the party quietly and broadly changed the eligibility rules allowing more than 20 retiring politicians to walk away this year with six-figure golden handshakes.

To top it off, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation reported last month that members of the government’s largest legislature committee, mostly Tories, had been receiving $1,000 a month but had not met in over three years.

Redford stopped the bleeding early in the campaign, promising to end the six-figure handouts and ordering her members who sat on the no-meet committee to pay it all back.

With a week to go, polls suggested the Wildrose was headed for a majority. But then Smith’s party got hung up in the razor wire of social issues and she had to fight off critics who suggested her party had a hidden agenda.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta is on pace to administer more than 300,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses per week, according to the provincial government. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
One million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Alberta

Alberta hit a milestone in the fight against COVID-19 this week. As… Continue reading

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Interior work will start this year on Red Deer hospital project, says infrastructure minister

‘We are committed. This is a top priority,’ says Presad Panda

Even with recent restrictions due to rising COVID-19 variant case levels, about 95 per cent of businesses are open in Alberta, said Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Consistent pandemic policy has helped Alberta, premier says

Alberta fatality rate lower than Canadian average

People play on the rocks on a calm Lake Ontario near Humber Bay during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadian emissions to make up outsized portion of what climate can bear: study

Canadian emissions to make up outsized portion of what climate can bear: study

In this Monday, Feb. 1, 2021 file photo, emissions from a coal-fired power plant are silhouetted against the setting sun in Independence, Mo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Charlie Riedel
Canadian emissions to make up outsized portion of what climate can bear: study

Canadian emissions to make up outsized portion of what climate can bear: study

People wear face masks as they walk in a park in Montreal, Sunday, April 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Premier Francois Legault softens rules for outdoor mask use following criticism

Premier Francois Legault softens rules for outdoor mask use following criticism

A empty classroom is pictured at Eric Hamber Secondary school in Vancouver, B.C. Monday, March 23, 2020. The Alberta government says schools in Calgary will move to at-home learning starting Monday for students in grades 7 to 12.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
‘Operational pressures:’ Calgary schools shift to at-home learning for grades 7 to 12

‘Operational pressures:’ Calgary schools shift to at-home learning for grades 7 to 12

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on April 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Italian-Canadians to get formal apology for treatment during Second World War

Italian-Canadians to get formal apology for treatment during Second World War

Heartfelt messages are left on a table as people come out to mark International Overdose Awareness Day during a mass group naloxone training seminar at Centennial Square in Victoria, B.C., on Saturday August 31, 2019. nbsp;When British Columbia's provincial health officer declared an emergency into the overdose crisis five years ago, he said it was because those who died deserved more of a response. Since then, Dr. Perry Kendall says roughly 7,000 died unnecessarily. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
7,000 more overdose deaths since B.C. declared public health emergency in 2016

7,000 more overdose deaths since B.C. declared public health emergency in 2016

A vial of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine dose is shown at a facility in Milton, Ont., on March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Ontario sees vaccine supply issues, Ottawa keeps AstraZeneca on the market

Ontario sees vaccine supply issues, Ottawa keeps AstraZeneca on the market

Storage tanks are shown at the Marathon Petroleum Corp. refinery in Detroit on April 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Paul Sancya
U.S. oil comprised 77 per cent of Canada’s foreign oil imports last year: regulator

U.S. oil comprised 77 per cent of Canada’s foreign oil imports last year: regulator

Most Read