About last night
March 4, 2008 | 11:31 AM
At 7:30 p.m. Monday night, I was rushing to my results desk in the rotunda of the legislature. Before I ran up the stairs in my new pink patent sling-backs, I stopped to chat with the cleaning staff at the legislature.
"Did you get out and vote?" I asked three of them.
I was greeted by blank stares. Two of the staff chatted to each other in a language I wasn't familiar with, and the third, a woman said, "They're not citizens."
"Are you? Did you vote?" I asked.
"Oh yes, I'm a citizen" she proudly responded. “But I cannot vote.” She revealed she in fact could vote, but between her night job and day job, and family, there was no opportunity to vote, nor did she even know how to go about casting a ballot. I pondered whether her experience would tell part of the story that was about to unfold.
Once our broadcast began, it wasn't long before we could see what was happening. My producer, Mary Jane Webber, was fast on the keyboard, and popped up results in a blink of an eye. (Good thing too, because my eyes were red and a bit watery from studying all 83 ridings and their candidates all weekend.)
It was a stunning win for Ed Stelmach, the newly minted premier. I wasn't surprised to see the majority unfold once again, but I was staggered by the size and scope.
In the process some very hard-working and enthusiastic MLAs got caught in the crossfire. I'm thinking of NDP’s David Eggen, and the Liberals’ Bruce Miller. Both friendly men clearly loved their jobs, their mission and their roles. But such is the way in a democracy.
As in sport, sometimes, good people just lose. It is after all, a team effort. Riding after riding, the Tories returned familiar and new MLAs.
Thankfully for the new premier, there's an injection of new talent from which to chose. No doubt he'll look to Dianna McQueen from Drayton Valley, perhaps Raj Sherman (ER doctor turned politician), and the Calgary lawyer who regained Calgary-Elbow Alison Redford.
After more than three hours of live TV, and three bottles of water, it was time to pack up. I went outside to find the snow had returned, and a hard crust of ice had formed on my windshield. One of my colleagues from Radio-Canada was kind enough to brush off my windows, because silly me, I thought spring was coming and I put away my snow brush.
Anyway, as Olivier was brushing away the snow, he said "Tonight, Ed Stelmach became premier.” I agreed.
Until now, Ed Stelmach was a leader looking for vindication from the province. He was the product of Tory infighting, and a leadership battle that left pouty people who backed the other guys licking their wounds and grumbling in the background. No more.
The "second choice" for the leadership became the first choice of Albertans who voted. He put to rest doubts of who belongs in the premier's office, fair and square.
I do have a nagging thought though. How would the lady at the legislature have voted? I'll never know nor will I ask. I'll tackle the issue of voter turnout next time.
Today however belongs to Ed.