To the polls we go

Albertans will head to the polls May 5th as Premier Jim Prentice confirmed the province’s worst kept secret on Tuesday morning.

Prentice called an election in front of dozens of supporters in Edmonton.

The election call was speculated for weeks and now Albertans have the choice – to continue with a long-reigning Progressive Conservative party, or to have a change in government.

Prentice has set himself up well in the last number of weeks – stopping in Red Deer twice – once at a Chamber luncheon and a second time to make a funding announcement for the school system. He released a carefully thought-out budget a couple of weeks ago and he has been seen interacting with groups and organizations province-wide during that time as well.

Wildrose, according to the polls, has been nipping at the Tories’ heels, and the Alberta NDP have also seen some growing momentum in the Edmonton area as well, so this could mean the next few weeks could measure up to be snappy campaign.

Strategically, Prentice has selected a promising time for the election rather than waiting until the fall or next spring, when it was supposed to happen. Albertans are finding themselves in the middle of a sluggish economy with little hope that things will abruptly turn around anytime soon.

There are all kinds of lay-offs and with that comes a sense of hopelessness. Prentice carries a real sense of confidence, direction and charisma, that, like him or not, could very well carry him through to success.

The other parties aren’t in that strong a shape, although the Wildrose Party’s recent selection of Brian Jean is proving to be a promising move as well.

Jean is a strong contender – smart, well-spoken, polished and relatable.

The Alberta Liberals always face an uphill battle in Alberta, no matter what they choose to emphasize in their campaigns. David Swann is a capable and respected leader, but it’s tough to get traction in a province that has been Tory so long that it’s hard to picture a different political scenario.

Alberta NDP, as mentioned, has been experiencing some sizzle in the Edmonton region and a breath of new life under the leadership of Rachel Notley. But there’s this pervasive sense that all the opposition parties just aren’t as organized or prepared as the Conservatives are for this particular election. As strong a leader as Jean is, the fact remains that he is still very new to the party and thus to the populace at large. It must be tough to face a provincial election being a newly-minted leader, but at the same time for a population that could very well be ready for change, one never really knows. Four weeks in politics, as we all know, can be a very long time.