The ballots cast in Alberta on Tuesday didn't have any federal names on them, but Parliament Hill was a study in contrasts the morning after, as New Democrats cheered, Conservatives lamented and Liberals refocused on the ever-changing road toward this fall's election.
"There's only good news in this," a jubilant Tom Mulcair told his federal NDP caucus, trying to feed off the momentum for his own future campaign, with cameras capturing cheers and chanting.
Mulcair said his party had a "spring in our step" and was extremely proud of Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley's campaign.
Then, former bandmates-turned-MPs Andrew Cash and Charlie Angus, backed up by deputy leader Megan Leslie, took the stage with their guitars. Angus shouted "The message is: Stephen Harper, you're next," before the trio offered their rendition of Ian Tyson's Four Strong Winds, with a small lyric change: "Think I'll go out to Alberta / Weather's good there in the spring."
"There are a couple of really solid NDP strongholds in Canada: they're Alberta and Quebec," Mulcair told reporters, expanding upon the 2011 election's "orange wave" in a way that few would have believed until now.
"If you want change, it is through the NDP," he said. "Future generations will understand that with our message of sustainable development and competent administration, we're able to get it done."
The mood across the hall in the Conservative caucus room — absent Stephen Harper, who was still travelling home from yesterday's VE Day celebrations — featured many shades of blue.
"I had some questions if the sun was going to rise this morning," said Manitoba MP Steven Fletcher. "And when it did, there was an orange tinge to it. Very disconcerting."
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The normally message-managed Tory caucus emerged for the media's post-mortems Wednesday working through various stages of fear, denial, blame and regret.
"It was more like a morgue. Someone said it was like — it's Albertastan now," said Justice Minister Peter MacKay.
"Having lived through the experience federally when Conservatives [were] divided, it is a recipe for losing, period," MacKay said.
"There has been, shall we say, an exchange of members over the last number of weeks," he said, noting that not just the Alberta result but the majority Liberal result Monday in Prince Edward Island was "very informative — instructive, in fact."
NDP has 'become a player'
Edmonton's Tim Uppal, who saw his city awash in NDP orange when the ballots were counted, told reporters the federal party still has a lot of support in Alberta.
But Deepak Obhrai said that although he's never faced much of a challenge from the New Democrats in past elections, "now I expect a NDP challenge" with stronger candidates.
"The NDP [has] become a player, indeed," he said. "The PCs ran a bad campaign. Certain things that you could pinpoint even surprised us."
Fellow Edmontonian Laurie Hawn said he didn't think it would have much effect on the federal election, because provincial and federal issues are different. But people were angry, he said.
Ontario MP David Tilson said that his former caucus colleague Jim Prentice "who I admire and like — made a big mistake: having a budget which was not popular, raising taxes and then calling an election, saying 'How do you like what I did … vote for me, vote for me!'"
Scare business away?
Reporters sought out Rob Anders, who once hoped, but failed, to make a serious bid for the leadership of Alberta's Wildrose Party, after losing his federal Conservative nomination in Calgary.
"Right now I'm worried about rigs moving to Saskatchewan. I'm worried about capital fleeing to the United States. I'm worried about retirees moving to British Columbia," he said. "Hopefully the NDP doesn't do too much to scare business away."
Finance Minister Joe Oliver, a strong advocate for Alberta's oilpatch in his previous resources portfolio, declined comment on what the NDP's economic program would do.
"The Albertans have made a decision," he said.
Kevin Sorenson said federal Tories would just "keep doing what we're doing."
"[Notley] fought an excellent campaign, and you know, they say that time will tell," he said.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who has made a point of campaigning in Alberta despite his party's less-than-obvious appeal, said Notley capitalized on the same trend he sees in the province.
"It underscores the desire for change that exists not just in Alberta, but that we're seeing across the country, and also the fact that no political party can or should ever take electorates for granted," he said.
"Ms. Notley put forward a responsible plan and was rewarded for it in a very positive, positive campaign. And I think that's a lesson that all politicians should pay heed to," Trudeau said.