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.

Just Posted

Cannabis legalization won’t impact one Red Deer pot dispensary

Nothing changes for Compass Cannabis Clinic in Red Deer despite legalization

Cannabis retail store will open later in October in Red Deer

Two cannabis stores coming to downtown Red Deer

Neighbours drop opposition to Red Deer County communications tower

Communication tower to be located in Balmoral Heights

Legal cannabis comes with many unknowns: Red Deer County councillors

Councillors question how rural municipalities will be able to enforce cannabis regulations

Kitten season puts pressure on Red Deer shelter

More public education needed to control cat population

Video: Windows smashed at three Red Deer businesses

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vandalism spree

‘Start low, go slow’: Experts walk bud beginners through cannabis 101

With the countdown to cannabis legalization Wednesday ticking towards 4-20, some novice… Continue reading

NHL stays with status quo as Canada pot legalization looms

As Riley Cote took and delivered countless punches over more than a… Continue reading

Paul Stanley: Kiss farewell tour could include ex-members

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — It won’t be all night, but former members… Continue reading

Judge tosses Stormy Daniels’ defamation suit against Trump

WASHINGTON — A federal judge dismissed Stormy Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against President… Continue reading

Canada open to growing trade with China now that USMCA is a done deal: PM

TORONTO — Canada is open to doing more business with China now… Continue reading

Pot shop raids “highly unlikely” on Wednesday: head of police chiefs

VANCOUVER — Police departments across Canada are fully prepared for marijuana legalization… Continue reading

Campers will be able to smoke cannabis at campsites in Canada’s national parks

Parks Canada says visitors should do their research on cannabis before going… Continue reading

U.S. pot firms urge Trump to deny Canadian producers’ ‘competitive advantage’

WASHINGTON — An American cannabis producer is warning President Donald Trump that… Continue reading

Most Read