The province of Alberta saw a surge of support for the provincial NDPs last night that saw the party catapulted to majority status.
“I think we might have made a little bit of history tonight,” Premier-elect Rachel Notley told a roaring crowd of supporters. “I think that change has finally come to Alberta,” she said. “New people, new ideas and a fresh start for our great province.
“To the people of Alberta – I want to thank you for putting your trust in our party,” she said. “I want to say I’m deeply humbled, and I want to pledge to the people of Alberta that we will work everyday to earn your trust,” she said.
“You can’t go wrong if you stay in touch with the values and the common sense of Albertans. In this province, we are optimistic, we are entrepreneurial, we are community-minded, and we are careful with the family budget. That’s the kind of government that we will work to be,” she said.
“Together we need to start down the road to a diversified and resilient economy,” she said, adding the province must finally get off the ‘boom and bust’ roller coaster of depending so heavily on non-renewable resource income.
“It won’t happen overnight, but we must start. And we will.
“To everyone that gets up everyday and contributes to a better province, we are looking forward to working together with you,” she said. “The trust we have been given tonight is a call to be better neighbours and better partners. And I am looking forward to consulting with you and working with you.
“Our legislature belongs to you. The government belongs to you and you will be treated with respect.”
Progressive Conservative Leader Jim Prentice chose to resign following the defeat.
“I accept responsibility for tonight’s outcome,” he told supporters. “I also accept responsibility for the decisions that led up to this evening.”
He said he had told his wife he had no intention of living the rest of his life with the knowledge that he didn’t make the attempt, and so he opted to run.
“Clearly however, my contribution to public life is now at an end. It’s time for me to dedicate my time to responsibilities I have as a husband, a father and a grandfather. Accordingly, I have resigned as the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta effective immediately.”
Wildrose Leader Brian Jean, newly-minted leader of the Official Opposition, said the province has clearly seen a complete change in direction, and he added that he was pleased with how his party fared overall.
He said it wasn’t overly long ago the pundits all but declared the Wildrose Party dead. “We’ve seen a complete change in Alberta,” he said. “And Wildrose proved (the pundits) wrong. You know why?
“The reason they were wrong is that they forgot the important thing about politics and the important thing about the Wildrose. The Wildrose Party isn’t about one person. It isn’t about Brian Jean. It’s not about any single MLA. It’s about all of Alberta,” he said.
“We are a movement in Alberta. We are a grassroots movement from the people, from the communities of Alberta. It’s a set of values and a set of principles, and when you focus on a set of principles and stick to them you can accomplish great things. And we have accomplished a great thing tonight,” he said.
Jean said the party now has more than four times the seats they had when the race started. “We truly represent all Albertans,” he said.
“Thirty-seven days and we have prospered mightily. We have done amazing things. And I think the one lesson we can all take from this is a lesson for the future. That is that Albertans, and all voters right across this country, will not stand for back room deals, governments that play favourites or cronyism. You have to know voters will not put up with it – and that’s the lesson for all governments,” he said.
That said, Jean noted that his party will be careful to hold the NDP to account.
“Starting tomorrow, we are going to show Rachel Notley a little bit of that opposition,” he said, adding that he wished to congratulate Notley on her victory just the same. “The next four years are going to be interesting to say the least. There will be a lot of challenges.
“We also will work to keep them on their toes,” he said. But he said he knows that cooperation is key to really moving the province forward. “I can and we can work with her on ideas for reforming our government – it really is truly is about governing for Albertans. That means Albertans all have to work together. And the government itself has to fight for all Albertans,” he said.
“But let there be no question – Wildrose will stick to their guns.”