In Maclean’s, Colby Cosh reflects on the sudden end to the Conservative era in Alberta:
…[i]t made me start to believe the impossible: that Alberta could really elect an NDP government, and snuff out the PCs like a cheap cigar. Even with plenty of local knowledge, it’s dangerous to model an election without some further model in your head of what your friends, neighbours and family — really, any people who don’t have non-negotiable partisan commitments — are thinking.
With the Alberta Progressive Conservatives in flames, their leader having fled not only his leadership but the Assembly seat to which he was just re-elected, there will now commence a certain amount of mythologizing of new NDP premier-designate Rachel Notley. It’s inevitable; it might even be wrong to resist it. She did what literally dozens of opposition politicians in Alberta before her could not. It’s a file of men and women stretching back through time — intelligent, sincere, often likeable people, Notley’s father among them, who spent careers trying to make holes in the great PC wall and never left a respectable dent. Even the coldest-hearted conservative crank must wish that the irresistible, gamine Pam Barrett could be here to see all this, or that Sheldon Chumir were on hand to make penetrating observations about the fate of his Liberals.
But even Notley might admit that the main difference between her and them is timing and good fortune; that this election was not really about her, or about any sudden mass affection for the NDP. By many, the New Democrats were adopted, temporarily or not, as a vehicle for retribution. The nearly unanimous sentiment of the Alberta voter on this night was: taken for granted for too long. Albertans were determined to send a message to pervasive, enduring power that had begun to resemble Philip K. Dick’s Black Iron Prison.
It’s been more than 25 years since I last visited Alberta, so I can’t even pretend to know what the average voter has been thinking over the last few months, but I can’t imagine that anyone on the political right was happy with the contrived collapse of the Wildrose Party. It showed that all the people who’d been working so hard to create a more conservative option to the Alberta PC party were either suckers or traitors. The budget the PC government brought in would have been offensive to many supporters even in less traditionally conservative provinces than Alberta (I don’t think Premier Wynne could have been re-elected in Ontario on the basis of a budget quite like that). In the wake of the Alison Redford era, the very last thing the PCs should have done is shown just that much contempt for the people who elected them.
Yet, they did.
And now they reap the just reward for their sins. And with the size of the majority they’ve handed the NDP under Premier-designate Rachel Notley, it’ll be at least five years for the conservatives to meditate on their sins … if they stick around to contest the next election, that is.