Alberta Votes

Alberta election: 5 election night surprises

Tuesday’s election was a rollercoaster for voters and political-watchers, a night of high drama and shocking surprises. Here's a look at some of the ones you might have missed.

Defeated ministers, a disappearing PC leader and an unlikely tie all make the cut of election night surprises

Alberta PC leader Jim Prentice announces that he will be leaving public life, following his party's defeat at the hands of the NDP. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Tuesday's election was a roller-coaster for voters and political-watchers, a night of high drama and shocking surprises, chief among them the NDP's decisive win, easily capturing enough seats for a majority and then some.

But there were a number of smaller surprises throughout the night that were no less shocking.

Calahasen's streak ends

Pearl Calahasen has been in the Alberta legislature almost as long as some of the new NDP MLAs have been alive. First elected as the PC MLA for Lesser Slave Lake in 1989, the 62-year-old has served as Alberta's minister of aboriginal affairs and was also in charge of children's services.

In the four elections before this one, Calahasen never secured less than 60 per cent of the vote. In 2012, she got triple the votes of the second-place Liberal candidate. Nevertheless, this year Calahasen lost her riding to NDP newcomer Danielle Larivee. Calahasen didn't even crack second place, coming in behind the Wildrose candidate with 21 per cent of the vote.

The amazing, vanishing cabinet ministers

One of the advantages of being in power so long is that many of your candidates come pre-loaded with impressive credentials. Even when the party loses seats, there is a good bet that most of the big names on the top are safe. But by the time the results were in, only a handful of PC cabinet ministers were left standing. Wayne Drysdale, Ric McIver and Manmeet Bhullar held on.  Gone are former health minister Stephen Mandel, former finance minister Robin Campbell and former education minister Gordon Dirks among others.

Jonathan Denis also lost his bid in Calgary Acadia, a week after resigning as justice minister following a legal dispute with his wife (which definitely ranked as one of the biggest surprises before election night.)

Technically, Alberta's minister of aboriginal affairs was also re-elected, but….

A farewell to Prentice

Speculation of the fate of former premier (and aforementioned aboriginal affairs minister) Jim Prentice didn't last long. Congratulations for Rachel Notley had barely left his lips before Prentice announced he was leaving public life to spend more time with his family.

While many assumed such a devastating loss might mean the end of Prentice's time as head of the PCs, it was still a shock to see the man who played coy about running for the leader of the federal Conservative Party make the call so quickly. It also means the 18,000 people who voted in Prentice's Calgary-Foothills riding get the joy of doing it all over again in a byelection

Star PC candidate flames out

Election night was not kind to the PC party's star candidates. Exhibit A: Rick Hanson, Calgary's former police chief who was handpicked as a candidate for Calgary-Cross by Jim Prentice. Despite Prentice saying Hanson had "overwhelming support in the community" before the election was called, the former police chief lost the seat to the NDP's Ricardo Miranda by exactly 100 votes.

A tie?!

You expect a tie vote when electing a home-room president. It's a little more surprising when you're talking about a riding with nearly 20,000 voters. Nonetheless, the election in Calgary-Glenmore has come down to a tie, with both PC incumbent Linda Johnson and NDP challenger Anam Kazim ending the night with exactly 7,015 votes with all 94 polls reporting.

That means the riding is on its way to a recount and, if that fails, a judicial recount. If the mess still isn't worked out after that, voters in Calgary-Glenmore will get the chance to cast a ballot again in a byelection.


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