In 1967 when we arrived in Alberta to begin a teaching career, the party in power was the Social Credit. They had been in power since 1935 and would hold on until 1971 when the Progressive Conservatives (PCs) led by Peter Lougheed came to power. We were amazed how a party holding 55 out of 65 seats in 1968 could be reduced to just 4 seats three years later. When Albertans decided to change government they did it whole heartily and their loyalty to the Progressive Conservatives was complete and total.
Since 1971 the Progressive Conservatives have enjoyed that support surpassing the 36-year hold of the Social Credit, making the party the longest unbroken run in government, at the provincial level, in Canadian history! Along the way the PC Party had some help when Trudeau’s National Energy Program made Liberals as rare as chicken teeth in Alberta, and then the untimely death of Grant Notley set back the NDP and left the opposition in disarray.
Every time the PC party looked like it would falter the party was able to find a leader that could connect with citizens. Ralph Klein, who talks to Martha and Henry, rekindles the grassroots support for the PC Party and replaces Don Getty. Just when it looked like the PCs would stumble, Alison Redford leads them to a stunning victory in 2012. Less than two years later Redford is gone and Jim Prentice is the new leader. While the Wildrose looked to be on the verge of becoming Alberta’s new voice they are shut out in four by-elections and a month later are in disarray as two-thirds of the Wildrose members walk across the floor to join the PC Party.
With tough times approaching Alberta, Prentice goes to the public for a new mandate. With three of Alberta’s political parties recently appointing new leaders his timing appears to be taking advantage of their leaders inexperience. Will it work?
Many Albertans are annoyed. They wonder why a law was passed that established the setting of election dates has been ignored. They are annoyed that the new budget leaves much to be desired regarding fairness in tax increases. They are annoyed that millions of dollars are needed on, what they consider, a needless election.
Will this be the year that Alberta voters decide to change the government? Recent polls seem to show that Albertans want a change but are not sure what that change should look like. In Edmonton the NDP seems to be making inroads while the Wildrose has continue to appeal to the rural areas of the province. Even the Alberta Party has drawn some interest. These polls have also shown a high percentage of undecided voters. This could result in a very low voter turn out or a sudden swing in last minute voters deciding where they want to park their vote.
Provincial MLA candidates for Leduc-Beaumont will be present at the Leduc Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Candidates Forum on April 30th beginning at 7:30pm at the Maclab Centre for the Performing Arts. Doors open at 6:30pm.
This will be the second forum hosted by the Chamber and hopefully all the candidates running in Leduc-Beaumont will be in attendance.
MLA George Rogers is seeking re-election as a member of the PC Party while Shayne Anderson of the NDP Party, Sharon Smith of the Wildrose, John Stewart of the Alberta Party, and Josh Drozda from the Green Party are running in opposition.
The number of candidates makes for an interesting election and we can all be thankful that Alberta’s election processes is measured in weeks and not years like in the United States.