Just a few short months after residents of Alberta went to the polls for civic elections, they’ll be heading back into the booths following the announcement last week that there will be a provincial election on Monday, March 3.
As of press time, four candidates have thrown their hats into the ring to contest the Lacombe-Ponoka riding including incumbent MLA Ray Prins of the ruling Conservative party.
Other candidates for the seat include Joe Anglin of Rimbey who will represent the Green Party of Alberta, Edith McPhedran of Pelican Point on Buffalo Lake who will be representing the Liberal Party and Steve Bradshaw who will carry the colours of the New Democratic Party.
During the last provincial election, which was held on Monday, Nov. 24, 2004, Prins easily won the Lacombe-Ponoka seat after garnering more than 6,900 votes compared to Ed Klop of the Alberta Alliance Party who finished well back in second place with 2,349 votes.
Other candidates and their votes from the 2004 election were Glen T. Simmonds of the Liberal Party who received 2,218 votes; Jim Graves of the NDP with 1,124 and Teena Cormack of the Social Credit Party who garnered 307 votes.
Prins’ victory in 2004 reflected that of the Conservative Party across Alberta as they took 62 of a possible 83 seats to easily retain power. Following the Conservatives, the Liberal Party won 16 seats to remain as the official Opposition. Following them were the New Democrats who elected four members and the Alberta Alliance Party who elected one.
A rural riding in central Alberta, Lacombe-Ponoka was formed in 2004 through the combination of the western half of Lacombe-Stettler (north and west of Buffalo Lake) with most of Ponoka-Rimbey (save for the area east of Highway 56 and the area west of Bluffton). Communities include Rimbey, Ponoka, Bashaw, Lacombe and Blackfalds. The riding has 40,437 residents.
According to Wikipedia.com, agriculture, followed by the health care and social service sectors were the main providers of jobs in Lacombe-Ponoka in 2004. The average household income amounted to $54,286 which, at the time was well below the Alberta average.
The history of the old Ponoka-Rimbey riding was largely the history of two Conservatives: D.J. McCrimmon and Halvar Jonson. McCrimmon was elected in 1971, unseating the Social Credit incumbent by 17 votes, and served as MLA until 1982. Jonson succeeded him, winning office by a comfortable margin over a Western Canada Concept candidate. In 1986, 1989, 1993 and 1997 Jonson triumphed by ever-wider margins, defeating NDP, Liberal and Social Credit runners-up. In 2001, he beat Liberal Tim Falkiner by a five-to-one margin.
The Drumheller riding, created in 1993, only had one MLA, Progressive Conservative Judy Gordon. She was first elected that year, defeating Liberal Ed Whiteside by almost 3,600 votes. In 1997, Social Credit challenger Bob Argent fared no better, falling by 4,689 votes. Almost 6,000 votes separated Gordon and Liberal Doug McDavid in 2001.
The electoral district was established during the creation of the province and used from the 1905 Alberta general election. The district was redrawn frequently over the years but had remained largely a thin slice in central Alberta. The district was re-distributed in the 1986 Alberta general election and became Ponoka-Rimbey.
The following is a list of the winning candidate in the Rimbey/Ponoka/Stettler riding, their party and the years that they held office dating back to the inception of the province in 1905.
John R. McLeod – Liberal 1905-1909; William A. Campbell – Liberal 1909-1917; Charles Cunningham – Conservative 1917-1921; Percival Baker – United Farmers of Alberta 1921-1921; John Edward Brownlee – United Farmers of Alberta 1921-1935; Edith Rogers – Social Credit 1935-1940; Percy McKelvey – Independent 1940-1944; Ora Moore – Social Credit 1944-1952; Glen F. Johnston – Social Credit 1952-1967; Neville Roper – Social Credit 1967-1971; Don McCrimmon – Progressive Conservative 1971-1982; Halvar Jonson – Progressive Conservative 1982-2004; Ray Prins – Conservative 2004-current.
Check future editions of the Rimbey Review for a closer look at the local candidates.