Real elections, beyond the acrimony and even desperation, can serve as inspiration.
Certainly the outcome of Monday’s provincial election — 61 out of 87 seats going to the Progressive Conservatives — suggests just another rubber stamp result in Alberta.
But Albertans know better. This was a real election, as opposed to the last several decades of Conservative cakewalks.
And Premier Alison Redford, based on her victory speech on Monday night, knows better, too.
The Tories captured a majority by drawing 44 per cent of the popular vote. Redford knows that despite the balance of seats, the majority of Albertans did not support her party and her platform.
And that means, over the course of the next four years, that she will need to show the kind of leadership that accepts good ideas from any source. The kind of leadership that builds a better Alberta for everyone.
Danielle Smith’s Wildrose Party took just 17 seats but won 34 per cent of the popular vote. Each of the NDP (four seats) and Liberals (five seats) drew 10 per cent of the vote. And the Alberta Party drew one per cent of the vote.
Fifty-six per cent of Albertans, albeit widely divergent in their views, did not sign on to the Tory vision.
If Redford truly believes that Albertans “spoke loudly” and that she “heard you,” then she needs to reconcile that a third of Albertans found merit in the Wildrose platform, and that one-fifth of Albertans gravitated to the views of the left-leaning NDP and Liberals.
And she needs to find the best, most plausible of each party’s perspectives, and put them to use for the betterment of the province.
• a better deal for municipalities, including a stable and equitable funding formula not tied to property values;
• a renewed push toward value-added industry, particularly within the resource sector (i.e. refining our own oil);
• more autonomy for local school boards;
• an end to all public school fees;
• scaled-back post-secondary tuition fees and student loan rates, greater choice for students in a greater number of institutions, and a training/funding model that encourages young people to stay in Alberta after graduation;
• accessible, public and fast-tracked health-care services for all Albertans;
• abundant seniors housing now and into the future, as Albertans’ median age drifts up;
• more freedom for MLAs to reflect the wishes and needs of their constituents in the legislature and beyond;
• property rights that are enshrined and an arbitration process that deals quickly and fairly with land expropriation, when necessary;
• a compromise that takes away the most painful stings related to Ralph Klein’s failed power deregulation;
• a comprehensive environmental policy overhaul that addresses oilsands development, home energy use, water resources and greenhouse gas emissions.
Certainly Redford has an agenda of her own, and many of those things were front and centre during the campaign.
But the Progressive Conservatives need to broaden their perspectives if they want to create the bridges the premier spoke about on Monday.
And there’s no better time than now, while Albertans are aware and their resolution to remain engaged is high.
John Stewart is the Advocate’s managing editor.