Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley has won a majority government, ending the 44-year reign of the Progressive Conservatives.
Notley’s NDP will form the next government and the Wildrose Party under Brian Jean will form the official opposition
“I think we might have made a little bit of history tonight,” she said. “Friends, I believe change has finally come to Alberta.”
Notley’s NDP had won or was leading in 54 of the province’s 87 seats giving her a majority government.
She said her party would work for Albertans and give them a voice at the table.
“I want to pledge to you the people of Alberta that we will work everyday to earn your trust,” she said.
She also extended a hand to the province’s business community, some of which expressed doubts about an NDP government.
“Our government will be a good partner and we will work with you to grow our economy and secure a more prosperous future for every Albertan in every community,” she said.
The party swept Edmonton, including many of the outlying communities, taking out cabinet ministers like Stephen Mandel and long serving MLAs like Gene Zwozdesky.
The party also made considerable inroads in Calgary and rural Alberta paving the road to victory.
The NDP room was electric as all of the major television networks, declared the party winners and more and more candidates claimed their riding.
Supporter Keith Turnbull was overjoyed at the result. He said he ran for the party 11 years ago and got just 12 per cent of the vote.
“This is very different from that time,” he said.
Seven months almost to the day after he took the reins of the Tory empire, Jim Prentice calmly took the stage at the downtown Calgary Metropolitan Centre and announced his immediate resignation.
Polling had suggested that the NDP were on track for victory Tuesday, but few, if any, predicted the Progressive Conservatives would stumble to fewer than a dozen seats.
Prentice’s stunning resignation drew gasps from a small contingent of supporters who gathered to watch his conciliation speech. The crowd was starkly different that a raucous one in 2012 that gathered as the party soared to what many believed was an improbable win over the Wildrose.
“Though I am personally saddened by the decision, the voters are always right in our democracy and so it is this evening,” Prentice told the solemn crowd, which had watched in agony as results trickled in over two hours.
“I share your disappointment,” Prentice told the crowd, later adding, “I also accept responsibility for the decision that led up to this evening.”
Prentice will also relinquish his post as MLA for Calgary-Foothills, a longstanding Tory stronghold that did stay in the party’s corner Tuesday.
Doreen Barrie, a political scientist with the University of Calgary, said the NDP campaign was “flawless,” and the PC effort was the exact opposite.
“There were so many gaffes, it was actually astounding,” she said, adding Tuesday’s result gave clear indication of Albertans’ disgust with the longstanding government.
“The PC brand, it was so badly tarnished that they just wanted to get rid of them,” she said.
Notley’s charisma helped turn seats towards the orange column that many thought were never in doubt, Barrie said.
“She’s telling people that Albertans are going to come first,” she said.
“That the corporations that haven’t been paying their way are no longer going to get away with that and, I think, people like to hear that.”