After 44 years of Progressive Conservative Alberta governments, the NDP’s charismatic Rachel Notley made history by winning May 5th’s provincial election in a landslide victory. “I think we might have made a little bit of history tonight,” she said as her supporters cheered. “Friends, I believe change has finally come to Alberta.”
Notley’s NDP had won 54 of the province’s 87 seats, giving her a majority government. “I am deeply humbled, and I want to pledge to you, the people of Alberta, that we will work every day to earn your trust,” Notley said. “It’s been said before and it’s true, you can’t go wrong if you stay with the values and common sense of Albertans.” Notley stated that her party give Albertans a voice at the table. The NDP campaign promised higher taxes on corporations and a reversal of the PC’s cuts to healthcare and education. Addressing the business community, she said, “To Alberta’s job creators, great and small in the energy sector and every other sector, our government will be a good partner and we will work with you to grow our economy and to secure a more prosperous future for every Albertan in every community.” She stated, “We need finally to end the boom and bust rollercoaster we have been riding on. Our government will be a good partner and we will work with you to grow our economy and secure a more prosperous future for every Albertan in every community.”
The Tory collapse that took place on election day was unexpected. The PCs were reduced to less that a dozen seats in the Alberta Legislature. After seven months since he took the reins of the PC empire, Jim Prentice calmly took the stage at the downtown Calgary Metropolitan Centre and announced his immediate resignation. “Though I am personally saddened by the decision, the voters are always right in our democracy, and so it is this evening,” Prentice told the party faithful. “I share your disappointment, and I also accept responsibility for the decision that led up to this evening.”
“I’ve been a member of this party since I was a young man and I share your disappointment,” said Prentice. “As the leader of the party, I take responsibility for the decisions that led up to this evening. Clearly my contribution to public life has come to an end. It is time for me to dedicate my time to the other responsibilities I have as a husband, a father, and a grandfather.” Prentice immediately relinquished his post as MLA for Calgary-Foothills after being elected there.
Notley ran her campaign by telling people that Albertans are going to come first, corporations haven’t been paying their fair share, and the NDP will no longer let them get away with that. Wildrose Leader Brian Jean also won his seat in Fort McMurray-Conklin. “We were a very effective opposition,” he said. “The most effective opposition in Alberta’s history, and starting tomorrow, we’re going to show Rachel Notley a little bit of that opposition,” he said. Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann closed his speech by cheering for the Calgary Flames, still in the playoffs at the time, and Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark also won his seat.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper congratulated the Premier-Elect on her victory. “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,” he said in a statement the next morning. He also thanked Prentice, a former minister in his cabinet, for his service.
Rachel Notley’s NDP promised to back a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls, and include the study of Aboriginal culture and history in provincial schools.
An historically high number of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Albertans voted in the election, according to a sample from Elections Alberta, with many claiming they cast their vote for Rachel Notley’s NDP. For the first time in Alberta’s history, Aboriginal peoples were acknowledged in a premier-elect’s victory speech. “To Alberta’s indigenous peoples, the trust that we have been given tonight is a call to be better neighbours and better partners,” Notley said. “And I am looking forward to consulting with you and learning from you.” Notley committed to a renewed partnership with Alberta’s Aboriginal peoples during the campaign, promising to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and make it law in Alberta, in addition to solving land claims and addressing consultation issues.