Beacon readers favour PCs or NDP, with WRP playing spoiler in Alberta election guesses
Will there be a new Alberta political party in power after Tuesday? We polled Beacon News readers for their take on one of the most interesting Alberta election campaigns in recent memory.
A victory would secure a 13th consecutive majority government for the Tories, who have governed since they swept the Social Credit party out of office 44 years ago. The Socred dynasty lasted 36 years. Premier Jim Prentice was upbeat as he and his wife Karen arrived to vote in his constituency, Calgary-Foothills.
Maybe he shouldn’t be. Public opinion polls have been predicting a PCAA defeat and an NDP majority win for days.
But how accurate are the pollsters? Voters are skeptical after pollsters got it wrong in the 2012 Alberta election and other elections across Canada since.
“I predict another embarrassment for pollsters. Remember BC [2013 election]? And before that, too many to remember,” says Calgary reader Colin Bennett. “Polling is no longer scientific, but rather propaganda.”
Some readers think the winds of change aren’t really blowing at all. “I know the last time we had an election, people said they’d make a change, I’m not sure that change will really happen,” says Shannon Seward of Stettler.
If that’s the case, then count on Prentice’s PCs rising Phoenix-like from the ashes of the campaign to extend their political dynasty to 48 years.
Edmonton social media queen Kathleen Smith pines for change, but is reconciled to the Tories squeaking in with a slight majority:
PCAA win majority with 52 seats
WRP 17 seats – Official opposition
NDP 14 seats – Only seat outside of Edmonton will be in Lethbridge
ALP 2 seats – Blakeman and Khan, Swann is gone
AP 1 seat – Greg Clark in Elbow
Independent 1 seat – Joe Anglin
Smith is not alone. Fellow Edmontonian Kimberly Misik is predicting similar results: “PC 51, WRP 19, NDP 14, Lib 2, AB 1. And 4 cabinet ministers lose their seats.”
Then those who are listening to the polls – and the clamour for a new set of bosses in the Legislature – and are siding with the “Notley Crue.” NDP Leader Rachel Notley voted at an advance poll. She fought back tears Tuesday as she thanked a handful of rowdy volunteers at a home on the southside of Edmonton.
“We’ve got this thing that’s going and we may have a major, major breakthrough,” she said, pausing and fanning her face with her hands as she tried to keep her emotions in check.
Allan Marston of Calgary is a former PC stalwart who angrily defected to the Wildrose after watching the multitude of faux pas by Prentice in just a few months as premier. Despite his newfound political sympathies, he’s calling an NDP minority or majority government.
“All the signs (not polls) point to a change in direction in Alberta. Higher voter turnout in the early vote by 32%. Social media participation by most people who have never voted before or never cared much before,” he said.
“I also detect a huge amount of anger and frustration even by journalists at the Sun and Herald though their newspapers have chosen to play it safe with their endorsements.”
Philip Liesemer of Irricana wears his political sympathies on his sleeve – NDP all the way. No surprise that he’s calling an NDP majority: “The only question is by how much. Anybody who sees it any differently is completely ignoring the current climate and desperately clinging to the past.”
Another Calgary NDP supporter, Scott McTavish, says Prentice is likely losing for the second time to the NDP, recalling the PC leader’s defeat many years ago to Bob Hawkesworth. “Perhaps going forward it may be forever known as the Prentice curse,” he laughs.
McTavish is calling an oddity: An NDP minority government supported by the arch-conservative Wildrose Party.
“Crazy as it sounds but there is so much anger toward the mismanagement and entrenched entitlement of the PC’s that the WRP will be happy to help the NDP clean house while appearing socially moderate,” he said.
Dale D’Silva thinks the NDP will win the most seats, but expects the PCs and to be supported by the WRP a minority government.
Speaking of the Wildrose, only one reader picked them to win the most seats, though short of a majority. Steve Ricketts of Edmonton thinks rural Alberta will overwhelmingly vote WRP, the NDP will be strong in the cities, especially Edmonton, leaving the PCs to pick up crumbs where they can. He’s calling 34 for the WRP, 27 for the NDP, 22 for the PCs and the Libs and Alberta Party picking up the last few seats.
The other three parties in this election – Green, Liberal and Alberta – were given short shrift by Beacon readers.
Liberal Leader David Swann has been widely panned for running a lacklustre campaign after he spurned entreaties from the Greens and Alberta Party to unite in some ridings. Most readers think he will lose his seat and the party will be humbled, picking up only one or two seats.
Greg Clark, the popular Alberta Party leader, is an emotional favourite for many, who would like to see him knock off PC education minister Gordon Dirks. The former Calgary Board of Education executive director and Grant Devine Conservative cabinet minister from 1980s Saskatchewan came under fire for falsely claiming to be a big supporter of gay-straight alliances during the campaign. Clark is thought to be running neck and neck with Dirks in Calgary Elbow.
Janet Keeping and the Green Party were shut out of the final tallies by all Beacon readers. Not the Greens’ year, it appears.
Finally, were the Beacon readers with, well, unusual votes or party allegiances.
Shaun T. Polczer says he voted Communist – the party ran only two candidates, one of them in his riding. “I don’t really care what the outcome is, none of the parties earned my vote and especially not Big Blue. If they win, whatever… same old,” he said.
We leave the last word to Curtis Joynt of Calgary: “I predict that we’ll know the results by 9 tonight. I further predict that many tears of joy and angst will be shed. Finally, I predict many dire claims of doom and gloom and ‘the sky is falling’ from partisans of every stripe.”