Election Shows Albertans Still Care about Social Issues
Along with a lot of other commentators, I gave Alberta’s Danielle Smith a good chance at winning Monday’s election. She was my worst-cast scenario, but the rightward swing in global politics makes me wary when candidates like Smith attract so much attention.
Her Wildrose Party lost. The 41-year rein of the Progressive Conservatives continues, and I feel reassured to know the energy-dependent, right-leaning province reacted strongly to her social conservatism. There are some issues the majority of Canadians figure are settled, even if we are not always sure how to deal with them. Racism, same-sex marriage and climate change are among them.
Wildrose Squanders Pre-Election Support
The Wildrose gang was garnering a lot of support in advance polls and yard signs. Then the proverbial manure hit the fan. Shortly before the election, one of the party’s candidates, Ron Leech, made a startlingly racist comment on a multicultural radio station:
I think, as a Caucasian, I have an advantage. When different community leaders, such as a Sikh leader or a Muslim leader speaks, they really speak to their own people in many ways. As a Caucasian I believe that I can speak to all the community.
Danielle Smith didnít see any problems with the statement. She said party members are free to express their own personal opinions.
She made a similar statement when challenged to comment on Pastor Allan Hunspergerís blog post saying gays and lesbians would “suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire.” He was another Wildrose candidate.
Then she dropped the climate-change bomb, claiming the science was not settled. Although her support of the oil sands may have been the right tune for a lot of voters, her denial of climate change science was not.
Mixed Election Results
Voters from the center and left were likely relieved by the 61-seat majority picked up by Premier Alison Redford’s Progressive Conservatives. However, a look at constituencies shows a much tighter race.
As the Edmonton Journal pointed out, “This time, several of those ridings that previously handed Conservatives 70 per cent of the vote either gave the Conservatives a squeaker of a win or handed them a defeat.” Strategic voting may also have skewed the results, with Liberals and NDP voting for the Progressive Conservatives in order to stave off a Wildrose win.
Reflecting on what the results mean,†Edmonton Journalís Paula Simons wrote:
With the Wildrose on her right flank, Redford has a choice: Honour her contract with the voters who gave her another mandate, and move her party to the centre, or bow to internal pressure to take the PCs back to the right.
The narrative Monday night wasn’t what was predicted.† But the real story of this election will be written, not this week, but in the four years ahead.
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