The upstart Wildrose party received a stunning rebuke from Alberta voters last night. Election bells that were supposed to ring a death knell for the Progressive Conservative dynasty in Alberta sounded peals of victory to celebrate the PC’s sweeping majority.
Prior to the vote, pundits seemed pretty sure of a win for the Wildrose—the election would serve only to confirm the actual margin of victory. Few, if any, predicted the reversal of fortune suffered by the new conservative party.
As with the federal Conservatives in 2004, an earlier lead by the Wildrose seemed to have evaporated on the final days of the campaign, and, at least in part, for much the same reason: controversial—some would say intolerant and outrageous—comments made by a couple of candidates.
Despite her pleasant personality and appearance of competence, gaffes by members of her team and a lacklustre platform hampered Wildrose leader Danielle Smith in her attempt to offer the alternative to Alison Redford’s liberal-like Progressive Conservatives that Alberta’s voters were looking for.
In the end, voters decided Wildrose needed more seasoning and gave it a term as official opposition. Hopefully for the conservative movement, that party will use the time to smooth off some of its rough edges. In the meantime, I am certainly looking forward to hearing Ms. Smith debate Ms. Redford in the legislature.
And in four years we’ll see what happens in round two.