Alberta’s Progressive Conservative government has defied pollsters, winning a surprisingly overwhelming majority in an election that had been widely expected to bring about an end to their 41 years of power. With about half the polls reporting provincewide, Alison Redford’s PCs, who had been running seven to ten points behind the Wildrose Party until the final weekend, took 44 per cent of the popular vote and were on pace to take about 60 seats. Danielle Smith’s Wildrose movement fell victim to strategic “progressive” voting for the PCs, earning just 34 per cent of the vote and garnering just over 20 seats. The Liberal vote, 29 per cent in 2008, collapsed to 9% as leader Raj Sherman fell behind in his own Edmonton-Meadowlark seat. Four New Democrats have been elected or are leading in Edmonton.
Calgary business interests had issued a last-minute plea for voters to rally to the PCs, perhaps preventing a Wildrose invasion of the oil capital, and the Wildrose fell badly short of expectations in Alberta’s rural north. Smith has been declared elected in her Highwood riding and will lead the Opposition to Redford, whose political fate was said to be in doubt in the event of any outcome but a convincing win. Wildrose candidates Ron Leech and Allan Hunsperger, who made controversial remarks that became a focus in the last half of the 28-day campaign, lost their races. PC Energy Minister Ted Morton, considered an intellectual forefather of the libertarian-socon coalition that the Wildrose intended to mobilize, was defeated by the Wildrose candidate in Chestermere-Rocky View. The PC victory will allow the Alberta Tories to set a new record as the longest-serving provincial government since Confederation.