Poll causes shock wave

Local rancher Tom Towers, a staunch supporter of Premier Ed Stelmach says he was surprised to learn that the Wildrose Alliance has galloped to the lead in popularity among Albertans.

Local rancher Tom Towers, a staunch supporter of Premier Ed Stelmach says he was surprised to learn that the Wildrose Alliance has galloped to the lead in popularity among Albertans.

Angus Reid released results of a poll placing the Wildrose Alliance and its leader Danielle Smith well ahead of other provincial political parties including the Progressive Conservatives on Thursday.

Across the province, 39 per cent of people polled said they would support Smith and the Wildrose Alliance, with the Tories and Liberals drawing even at 25 per cent each and the New Democrats in the rear at nine per cent.

While she and her party lead in all areas of the province, Smith has latched onto a number of strongholds, including Southern Alberta, among voters over 51 years and voters earning more than $50,000 per year.

Towers speculated that bad timing combined with acting on bad advice may have been among the factors leading to the premier’s loss of popularity since he was elected.

“Like they say, the success of a rain dance is all timing. It’s just that he was dancing and the doggone sun was shining. He inherited a bad deal. People are blaming him for everything that has gone south.”

Towers said Stelmach and his government have created some programs that will pay off and, once the economy turns around, that may paint a different picture for people.

Mary Anne Jablonski, MLA for Red Deer North and minister for Seniors and Community Supports, said she takes the poll very seriously.

The Conservative government has taken a number of steps to help Albertans deal with a weak economy and those results will start to show, said Jablonski.

But right now, people are focused on things that have gone wrong, including administration of H1N1 vaccines and the opposition mounted against Bill 50, which targets construction of new electrical power lines.

“Bill 50 . . . is very necessary and it will allow public input when it comes time to build those lines. With these -30 and -40 temperatures coming, we’re getting close to the line of not having enough electricity.”

Jablonski said “we may have panicked” as the H1N1 virus emerged. However, about one million people have now been vaccinated and the government is still encouraging everyone else to get their shots.

“I think the poll makes me take a step back and, at the same time, I know I’m working very hard on behalf of my constituents and all Albertans and know that it’s a difficult time for all governments across the country,” said Jablonski.

“I honestly believe that we can (regain public trust). I’ve worked very hard to recognize the vulnerable in our society. I am confident that we will have some positive outcomes. But at the same time, we need to be concerned about what the polls have told us, recognizing that that is a snapshot in time.”

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

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