By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Westlock County Councillor Maureen Kubinec ensured Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock remained in PC hands Monday night after garnering 45 per cent of the vote. Kubinec received 7,447 votes, 341 more than Wildrose candidate and former Alberta Report publisher Link Byfield who received 7,106 votes (43 per cent). Byfield was the frontrunner throughout the evening with a healthy to moderate lead until Westlock and Morinville vote tallies began coming in around 10:30 p.m.
Speaking within moments of her victory, Kubinec said she was pumped from the win. “I’m definitely pumped and glad to have the nail biter over,” she said. “It was so close and we were just on pins and needles here. But we are quite excited.”
The PC candidate said having the opportunity to present her case at a number of All Candidate Forums in the region played a strong part in her victory. “I actually think that the forums played more of a part in this than might have been the case in the past,” she said, adding the Morinville forum helped get her position out. “I actually got a lot of positive feedback after that forum and people said I came and I listened, thought and made my decision.”
But while pleased to have won, Kubinec said she felt the closeness of the race meant she could have done better. “I think the property rights issue may have played a part in some of the more rural polls,” she said. “I needed to get the message out clearer that people’s property rights are not in jeopardy.”
As was the case throughout most parts of the province, the two conservative candidates took the majority of votes in what pollsters had predicted as a Wildrose win provincially. The ultimate outcome defied the polls with the PCs winning another majority government.
Kubinec said she was only partly surprised by her party’s strong standing in the province in light of those polls. “We were kind of told from the first meeting I went to after I won the nomination that they would be that,” she said of the polls. “They told us don’t listen to the polls. Don’t read the newspaper. Just put your head down and work. And that’s what our team did. It paid off. Polls are polls. The one that counted was tonight.”
Wildrose candidate displeased with PC tactics
For Wildrose candidate Link Byfield, the message the PCs got out was a less than honourable one. “I think the PCs fought a very dishonest campaign,” Byfield said. “They accused us of the same, but they fought a very dishonest campaign. There was a lot of hysterical fear mongering, and I think it will come back to haunt them because it was dishonourable to fight a campaign that way.”
Byfield said while the PCs accused his party of fear mongering on the matter of property rights and power lines, they were wrong. “The people of this province are going to see that we were right and it is going to cost us dearly as a province because we are proceeding apace,” he said, adding it leaves him with a bad feeling for the province. “We seem to keep making the same mistake. As one old guy in this part of the riding put it a little while ago: When the hull of the boat is rotten; it doesn’t help to change the captain. That’s what we keep trying to do.”
Byfield said at some point Albertans will have to learn the PCs are out of ideas, out of credibility and out of integrity. “I don’t say that of any individual MLA,” he said. “The group, collectively, is quite dishonourable, and dishonourable organizations cause problems.”
He sees the next four years under PC rule as one with a number of disappointments: clinics the province cannot afford, and deficits regardless of how high oil prices climb. “I may be wrong but I don’t think I am,” he said.
Combination of factors in PC win
Byfield said he felt there were two factors in the PCs win Monday night that in some cases drove people away from the Wildrose and in other cases drove voters away from the Liberals to the PCs. “One was the almost hysterical fear mongering which characterized the last week of their campaign,” he said. “The other one was the enormous volume of fraudulent Wildrose calls that hit people all through the riding in the last couple days of the campaign.” The former he feels lead traditional left of centre voters to vote for the PCs in opposition to the Wildrose. In the latter, the multiple calls frustrated some Wildrose supporters.
Whatever the reasons, left of centre parties received smaller percentages of votes in the constituency than they did four years ago. Liberal Leslie Penny, who took second place in the 2008 election with 15.25 per cent of the vote, received the fourth slot this time around with only 6 per cent or 929 votes. NDP candidate Trudy Grebenstein received 6 per cent of the vote with 983 ballots cast in her favour, 56 more votes than the 927 votes her predecessor Rod Olstad received in 2008. Morinville resident Lisa Grant received 1 per cent of the vote with 188 ballots cast in her favour, 291 votes fewer than the 479 votes than Dan Evans received in 2008 with the now defunct Alberta Greens.
But while some parties were up and others down, voters came out in record numbers during this election. The 2008 election saw 47.9 per cent of the then 24,792 electors coming out to the polls, casting 11,831 votes. Those numbers were up considerably this election with 16,653 votes cast during the advance polls and on Election Day.
Johnson wins Athabasca Redwater
PC Jeff Johnson took Athabasca Redwater Monday night with 52 per cent of the vote. Johnson was followed by Wildrose candidate Travis Olson with 33.3 per cent of the vote, NDP candidate Mandy Melnyk with 12.7 per cent of the vote, and Liberal Gino Akbari with 2.6 per cent of the vote. In total 15,241 votes were cast in Athabasca Redwater, a number considerably higher than the 11,008 votes cast In the 2008 general election.
Horner re-elected in Spruce Grove St. Albert
PC Doug Horner was re-elected in his constituency with 55 per cent of the vote. Horner was followed by Wildrose candidate Travis Hughes who took 27 per cent of the vote. The two candidates were followed by Liberal Chris Austin with 9.1 per cent of the vote and NDP J.J. Trudeau with 9 per cent of the vote.
Note: All results are unofficial until final ballot counts are verified by Elections Alberta