On a night of Alberta firsts, Red Deer North voters rode the orange wave to elect an MLA under the NDP banner.
Chants of “NDP, NDP” rang out when Kim Schreiner was declared the winner at the NDP camp at One Eleven Grill on Tuesday.
“It’s excellent news,” said Schreiner, who received 4,973 votes. “It’s news that Albertans have been waiting for. It’s just wonderful news.”
Schreiner, who is in her 50s, is a health-care provider who works with seniors. She has lived in Red Deer for about 30 years. She is married and has two children.
Schreiner said the government has not put people or family first for a very long time. She said she looks forward to working for Red Deerians.
Wildrose candidate Buck Buchanan came in second with 4,167 votes, followed by Progressive Conservative Christine Moore with 3,833 votes. Liberal Party’s Michael Dawe had 3,265 votes and Alberta Party’s Krystal Kromm had 679 votes.
Buchanan said it was obviously not in the cards for him and he looks forward to getting back to work as a Red Deer city councillor.
“I’ll be back in a chair that I am fairly comfortable in,” said Buchanan. “I love what I am doing. This to me was an extension of that and obviously it did not come to fruition. It’s a learning experience.”
Buchanan said he does not see his defeat as a loss and he looks forward to working with the two new MLAs to advance the interests of the city.
At the PC camp in Red Deer North, a disappointed Moore congratulated Schreiner and thanked her volunteers.
“Democracy spoke and there was a movement in the province that we have to respect,” said Moore. “I think the people spoke tonight. I think it was a movement against the Progressive Conservatives Party.”
But Moore said she is worried about the future of Alberta. She said the PCs had a great plan that meant jobs and economic stability.
Her concerns were shared by former Red Deer North MLA Mary Ann Jablonski, who was clearly stunned by the provincial results. Jablonski had represented Red Deer North since 2000, when she was elected in a byelection to replace Stockwell Day, who left to seek the leadership of the federal Canadian Alliance Party. Jablonski did not seek a sixth term.
“I find this hard to believe,” said Jablonski. “I feel horrible for province. If you try to tell other people what happened to other provinces when the NDP took over, they accused you of fear mongering and myth making. I think they are going to see proof in the next four years that nobody was fear mongering or myth making.”
Jablonski said she thinks the PCs are being punished for some of the things that have happened in the past.
“People just voted NDP or Wildrose without even knowing the candidates or the party policies,” said Jablonski. “I totally fear for the future of Alberta.”
Dawe, who ran as an Liberal candidate endorsed by the Green Party, called Tuesday a historic night in Alberta. While the results were not what he was hoping for, Dawe said he made gains in areas of the city that he did not penetrate in 2012.
“I have lived in Alberta all my life and I didn’t think this was possible,” he said. “We finished with a majority NDP government. Red Deer set history tonight too in what was supposed to be hard-core conservative country.”