Editorial: A few Wildroses in a sea of blue

It was interesting to watch one of the vacuous TV talking heads announce with complete seriousness Monday night that there were no real surprises in the PC majority. Of course many of us were quite surprised given the vast number of media sources that told us the Wildrose juggernaut would roll through the province Monday night burying the Legislature under a pile of untested and (according to many) unbalanced MLAs.

If the turnout in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock is any measure of how things went in the rest of the province, turnout was considerably higher than it was four years ago when Ed Stelmach earned his party another majority. And yet this election’s large turnout so many thought would go in the Wildrose’s favour didn’t.

The question remains as to why.

Were Alberta voters like the parent who when fed up with their child’s behaviour publicly insists to anyone who will listen they are going to take away the child’s privileges once and for all. Then when the time comes to really put their foot down, they let the kid go out and play with their friends just like they always have.

Perhaps it was fear. Fear those scary Wildrose candidates would throw us all in the fiery lake of hell unless we denied global warming, evolution and the need for human rights of any kind. The diminished percentages of NDP, Evergreen and Liberal votes in the constituency certainly present a solid argument that strategic voting predicated on fear and distaste was alive and well in at least parts of the region.

But perhaps there is something else at play here. When presented with the prospect of a truly right of centre party gaining power in the province, perhaps many Albertans realized they were just centrists at heart and went with the party who seem to have been squeezed to the middle by those parties on the left and right of them.

Elections are seldom won on the basis of what party slings the least mud. If that were the case, Alberta Party leader Glenn Taylor and some of his candidates would be en route to Edmonton to serve as MLAs. No. Elections are often won by those who best create perception because when the votes are about to be cast, it is perception and perception alone that turns to reality.

The PCs created the perception that became their reality for another four years.

It is no secret that Danielle Smith is a fan of objectivist author Ayn Rand. Looks like Monday night’s 180 from what the polls and pundits were saying for the past couple of weeks might have been because Alison Redford and her candidates were reading Sun Tzu while Smith and her Wildrose were reading Rand.

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4 Comments

  1. A really fine piece Stephen; many good points to ponder on for the next four years!

    I truly hope that perhaps the PCs have learned something from this, because I’m quite sure the Wildrose Alliance has!!

    Now – the proof of the pudding is in the eating and I await with MUCH interest EXACTLY what the victors intend to give us. what is that old Chinese saying?? “May you live in interesting times”.

    Keep up the good work amigo!

  2. I’m just really surprised that Albertans are complacent enough to have voted very real bullying, corruption, intimidation and vote-buying right back in. The truth will now be buried forever.

  3. While I’m not thrilled with the complacency that is unavoidable in any party with a 4 decade unchallenged rule, I think the voters of the province showed great restraint and dodged a bullet on Monday.

    Most pundits are talking about the concerns of conscience rights, oil sands give-aways, climate change denial, and other issues that make the WR seem like “Tea Party North”.

    However, regardless of your political views, the real scary thought here was the potential for massive geographic-based favoritism. It appeared as though we had a very real possibility of a Wild Rose minority (or majority) government with not a single seat in the city of Edmonton. Smith knowingly took steps to crush the unity of this province by running an “us vs them” campaign, pitting North vs South in a bid to control them both. Has this been successful, it very likely could have shifted the dialogue in Alberta for a very very long time.

    Smith ran her campaign on provincial disunity, intolerance, and rollbacks of investments in our future in order to pay short term ‘smithbucks’ now.

    Redford ran a campaign on geographic fairness, infrastructure investment, and tolerance.

    Any other result in this election would have been concerning indeed.

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