In the end, it wasn't even close. And Rachel Notley's knock-out of the nearly 44-year-old Progressive Conservative dynasty wasn't confined to getting most of the seats in Alberta's two major cities -- though she did that handily -- as many of the pundits predicted. The NDP took almost all of the cities from north to south, both national parks and a whole lot of places you've never heard of in between.

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This article was published 7/5/2015 (2616 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Opinion

In the end, it wasn't even close. And Rachel Notley's knock-out of the nearly 44-year-old Progressive Conservative dynasty wasn't confined to getting most of the seats in Alberta's two major cities -- though she did that handily -- as many of the pundits predicted. The NDP took almost all of the cities from north to south, both national parks and a whole lot of places you've never heard of in between.

Pre-election polls showed Notley's team drew their support across every demographic -- youth, seniors, low-income earners, high-income earners. While the other parties and all the pundits spent the past 28 days dismissing those polls, those of us on the orange team out on the doorsteps returned to our campaign offices each day and whispered to each other, as if afraid to break it: "This is real."

I have long maintained that the pollsters didn't get it wrong in the 2012 election. The pollsters in 2012 had it right. Up until the last weekend when the Wildrose party "Lake of Fire" controversy made voters fearful the party was a little too socially conservative for their liking, the party actually was heading toward victory. Had the pollsters not stopped polling that last weekend, they would have identified the massive shift of centre and left votes to the PCs those of us on the doorsteps observed.

And so it was again in 2015 that the pollsters got it right. Almost eerily so. Take a bow, pollsters.

Too busy to bow, Notley will spend the next several days on a number of transition tasks, not the least of which is assembling a cabinet. Which means there will be endless pearl-clutching about a lack of experience on the orange bench to be heard on talk radio for at least a little while longer. This narrative failed so miserably as a fear tactic during the campaign, it makes me wonder why they continue.

The fact is Notley has a wonderfully diverse talent pool into which she can go fishing for cabinet ministers. Sure, there are a couple of students and a yoga instructor. But there are also lawyers, folks with municipal government experience, scientists, artists, labour leaders and a doctor. Regardless of their professional credentials, that these are the people Albertans chose to represent them seems to be lost upon the disgruntled today.

And, frankly, considering the discord, chaos and instability the Progressive Conservatives have offered over the past few years, it might just be that a little bit of yoga is exactly what our legislators need. I hear it grounds you.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are celebrating that Alberta just elected its first openly gay MLA and that the government caucus has almost 50 per cent women -- a record in our nation. We're proud that our premier-designate reached out to First Nations peoples and nations in her acceptance speech and promised to work with them as true partners.

We're eager to see what an energy strategy that actually considers the environment rather than just paying lip service to it looks like.

We're astonished that conservatives at all levels fail to understand it was their inaction on regulating the oilsands that led to the reputation of dirty oil that has impeded the construction of their beloved pipelines, and we're optimistic the NDP will find a way to strike a balance between responsibly developing our resources while protecting our environment. We look forward to a government that puts people before profits. We're grateful hope won out over fear.

This is my eighth general election campaign as a New Democrat in Alberta, and since we lost all of our seats in 1993, it's been a long, winding and uphill road back up, to be sure. But at Tuesday night's victory when a big burly guy I know came up to me with tears in his eyes and said, "I've been in Alberta for 30 years, and this is the first time I've ever felt like I belonged," I knew every defeat and every step that brought us here was worth it. I've also grown to believe it was inevitable.

Albertans have a long history of populism. It's important to them to feel like they've got a voice in the seat of power, something the Progressive Conservatives seemed to have forgotten a very long time ago. They might have survived all the scandals and evidence of cronyism, but when Jim Prentice and his team made it clear they served corporations first and people were an afterthought, it was Rachel Notley who stepped up to fill that populist void.

Alberta didn't elect the NDP out of protest. They elected the NDP out of hope. And, as Notley told the assembled legislature press gallery Wednesday morning, Alberta is going to be "A-OK."

 

Mimi Williams is a freelance writer in Alberta. She is a regular contributor to Vue Weekly. She also volunteers for the NDP.