The May 5 Alberta election was not a good day for the PC government.
After 44 year of holding the reins of political power in the province, Albertans have announced loudly and clearly they are ready for change.
And change is what they got.
The election saw the New Democratic Party winning in 53 ridings. Wildrose has claimed 21 seats, while the PCs saw their political dynasty collapse as they managed to hold onto only 10. The resignation of Premier Jim Prentice means a byelection will need to be held to determine who will hold the seat in that riding.
As of press time last Thursday, a tie in one of the Cal- gary ridings has yet to be determined.
The Liberals and Alberta Party each claimed one seat.
According to Elections Alberta, voter turnout was more than 57.01 per cent, the highest voter turnout since 1993 and up nearly four per cent from 2012.
Rimbey Mayor Rick Pankiw was surprised with the election results because, he pointed out, the NDPs have not been major players in Alberta’s political arena.
“They came out of nowhere and by 8:40 p.m. they were declared as a majority government. I wouldn’t have believed it.”
Pankiw attributes the NDPs success, at least in part, to the charisma and leadership qualities of Rachel Notley.
The mayor is not ready to make a prediction regarding how the NDP’s rule will affect municipal government.
“It’s far too early to tell,” he said. “I think it will be a huge learning curve. It will take at least six years (for the premier) to figure out the cabinet, especially the finance minister. That is the toughest role to fill in the province.”
Ponoka County Reeve Paul McLauchlin said he is “cautiously excited” about the new government.
“Let’s give them a chance.”
McLauchlin said he has had to deal with the PCs every year while he has been Reeve.
“Every year we have had to go to them hat in hand hoping for substantial funding.”
McLauchlin said he understands the need to raise corporate taxes.
“It doesn’t need to be the lowest in the country to have a successful economy,” he said. “The NDPs will have to clean house and knock a few heads together,” but Albertans are motivated to want change.
McLauchlin said he looking forward to working with the new Wildrose MLAs in Ponoka County. Jason Nixon won the seat in Parliament for the Wildrose in the Rim- bey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre riding, defeating PC candidate Tammy Cote, NDP Hannah Schlamp and Independent Joe Anglin. Ron Orr won the Lacombe-Ponoka riding, defeating NDP candidate Doug hart, PC candidate Peter DeWitt and Tony Jeglum from the Alberta Party.
“I’m excited to work with them both,” he said.