Alberta NDP election triumph: What people are saying
Albertans will see 'very different visions,' says spokesman for Official Opposition Wildrose Party
The NDP's historic win in Alberta is being described by many as a message from voters who were fed up with — or seeking to punish — the Progressive Conservative dynasty.
The party won its first majority government in the province, winning 53 of 87 seats — a stunning gain of 49 MLAs — in an election that ended 44 years of Tory domination and returned the Wildrose Party to Official Opposition status with 21 seats.
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At the same time, Greg Clark secured the Alberta Party's first elected seat in the provincial legislature. He led his party to more than two per cent of the popular vote.
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Jim Prentice, whose Tories were left in third place with 10 seats, told glum supporters in Calgary that he was stepping down as leader effective immediately and would also leave the Calgary Foothills seat he just recaptured.
"As leader of the [PC] party, I accept responsibility for tonight's outcome. I also accept responsibility for the decisions that led up to this evening. "Clearly … my contribution to public life is at an end. It is time for me to dedicate my time to other responsibilities I have, as a husband and as a father and a grandfather."
In her victory speech Tuesday night, NDP Leader Rachel Notley, whose party had never won more than 16 seats in previous elections, referred to an electorate that was tired of mismanagement and spending scandals.
Here are some of the reactions to the election outcome:
"Albertans have voted for change, and one of the changes that they voted for was a new kind of respect and a new kind of relationship with their government. Albertans across the province have told me that they're tired of old, entitled approaches that leave them out of conversation about their livelihoods, about their services and about their families."
Former NDP leader Raj Pannu:
"It's an accumulation of anger among Albertans, rage against the Tory machine. That's what it was. It has been accumulating over the years. I could sense it as leader. That's been blowing. What's happened over the last five years — four different premiers in the last five years."
Bob Hawkesworth, the last person to win a seat for the NDP in Calgary back in 1986:
"[The PC party] was just holding onto power for the sake of holding onto power. People sensed that, and it wasn`t what they wanted."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper:
"I look forward to working with future Premier Notley on issues of importance for Albertans and all Canadians, including creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity across the province and country. I would also like to thank outgoing Premier Jim Prentice for his public service and contribution to Alberta and Canada, and wish him the best in his future endeavours."
Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair:
"They said the NDP would never break through in Quebec. They said the NDP could never win in Alberta. Canadians want change. Change is what the NDP is."
Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau:
"There's no political party that can take voters for granted. What we've witnessed is that people wanted a change and they made the change."
"Neither I nor the government I led were elected to make the tough choices and the tough decisions that are required by our current economic circumstances. Albertans needed to make those choices, those decisions, and they have now done so and have chosen our collective future. And while I am personally saddened by the decision, the voters are always right in our democracy."
Wildrose strategist Vitor Marciano:
"Well, we knew all along that Albertans were going to vote for change. The question was whether it was going to be Wildrose change or NDP change. And folks wouldn't listen to us for awhile. We made it clear change was coming. Rachel won, and we congratulate her on that.
"We're going to work really hard to be a strong, principled opposition. It's going to be an interesting four years. I think for Alberta, I think it means they're going to have a very clear difference between the [official] opposition party and the government. They'll get to see two very different visions of where things could go, and four years from now, that's going to make for one heck of an interesting election.
"Brian Jean has been leader of this party for 37 days and now returned the party to Official Opposition status and gained seats, all this on a shoestring campaign budget of a million dollars. It was a good night, and the results a tribute to Brian Jean."
Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean:
"What a campaign. It's unbelievable. It was just a few months ago that pundits said the Wildrose Party was dead. We've seen a complete change in Alberta. Wildrose proved them wrong."
"Albertans ... will not stand for backroom deals, governments that play favourites, or cronyism, or just when it starts to stink a little bit. When you give away golden handshakes and money that doesn't belong to you, voters won't stand for that."
Liberal Party Leader David Swann, the only member of his party elected:
"A truly historic night for Alberta. Albertans, you've spoken. You voted for change, and frankly, it's about time."
Thomas Lukaszuk, defeated Tory in Edmonton-Castledowns:
"We need to regroup. We need to look at what it is that Albertans were saying and actually hear them, listen to them and see how we need to adjust to reassume government in the next election."
Former Conservative cabinet minister Doug Griffiths:
"The first thing I think [Notley] will want to do is meet with business and industry people to let them know that there's nothing really to be afraid of. We're not talking about massive changes. I mean, we're not gonna turn into Cuba. We're just talking about minutiae on the political spectrum. And make sure that their fears are allayed."
Rachel Notley on industry:
"I'm going to be reaching out to industry and they can count on us to work collaboratively with them. And I'm hopeful that over the course of the next two weeks they will come to realize that things are going to be A-OK over here in Alberta."
More reaction, from pundits:
Guests on CBC Radio's The Current were asked for a word or phrase early Wednesday to sum up their initial reaction to the results.
- "Absolutely shocked — certainly not anything anyone expected." — Deborah Yedlin, Calgary Herald business columnist.
- "Well, sort of happily gobsmacked. I'm still not entirely certain this early in the morning that I'm not dreaming." — Paula Simon, Edmonton Journal columnist.
- "Shock, certainly. When the going gets weird the weird turn pro, and even the pros are scratching their heads over this one. It's turning Canadian politics on its head, really." — Bruce Cameron, president of polling firm Return On Insight.