Last night, the Alberta Progressive Conservatives won their 12th consecutive majority government. The Tories won 62 out of 87 seats. The Wildrose Party is the official opposition with 17 seats while the Liberals and NDP each won four seats. Alison Redford was elected Premier in her own right after assuming the premiership by winning the Tory leadership convention last October following the retirement of her predecessor Ed Stelmach.
The Alberta Tories were first elected in August 1971 under the leadership of Peter Lougheed dislodging the Social Credit Party which had been in office since 1935. In 1985, Lougheed was succeeded by his former Calgary Stampeders teammate Don Getty who was in office until 1993. Getty was succeeded by Calgary mayor Ralph Klein who served as Premier for 13 years before being succeeded by Stelmach. By the end of their new term the Alberta Tories will have been longest standing provincial government in Canadian history. The Nova Scotia Liberals were in power from 1882 to 1925 while more recently the Ontario Tories (a.k.a. The Big Blue Machine) were in power from 1943 to 1985.
As you can imagine when a government stays in power that long it acts like it owns place and corruption, abuse of power plus government waste are sure to follow. You could think of the Wildrose Party (the wildrose is Alberta’s official flower) as a Prairie version of the Tea Party. To give you an idea of how long the Tories have governed Alberta, Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith was only four months old when the Tories were first elected in 1971.
Many thought that Wildrose would do to the Tories what the Tories did to the Socreds more than four decades ago. But obvously a lot of people changed their minds at the last minute and stuck with what they knew. No doubt that people who normally would have voted Liberal or NDP decided to vote Tory to keep out Wildrose. It certainly didn’t help that a couple of Wildrose candidates uttered racist and homophobic comments nor did it help Smith when she refused to disavow those statements. If Smith wants to dislodge the Tories in 2016 then she needs to impose greater discipline on those who carry the Wildrose banner. The good news is that Smith seems to understand that this cost her dearly.