The nanton News: Stier wins seat in Livingstone-Macleod

 

Claresholm - There was a loud cheer of party faithful at the Claresholm Legion as the Wildrose’s Pat Stier was re-elected on May 5.

Unofficially, Stier finished with 947 votes more than Progressive Conservative candidate Evan Berger. Stier had 7,357 votes, Berger 6,410, the NDP’s Aileen Burke 4,226 and Liberal candidate Alida Hess 459.

“I am proud to say we have formed the official opposition party,” said Stier. “We will hold this government accountable no matter what they bring forward. We will advocate for Albertans no matter what or who they voted for or believe in.

“We will work for them and will try to make the changes we have always believed in, and that's by keeping the dollars in the pockets of Albertans so they can raise their families, get the education they need and get the health care they need.”

In an historic election, Albertans voted in an NDP majority government under the leadership of Rachel Notley. The NDP won 53 of 87 seats in the legislature, with the Wildrose back as official opposition after winning 21 seats.

The PCs won 10 seats, although former Premier Jim Prentice resigned his Calgary-Foothills seat on election night. There was a tie in one Calgary riding — Calgary-Glenmore — between the PCs and NDP, and the Alberta Party and Liberals each won one seat.

Stier said he looks forward to the next four years.

“Our team we have had in the past will come back with us, and we will be rebuilding our legislative staff with those members again,” he said. “We will be getting ready and prepared to do the job we need to do.”

Stier said the Wildrose is “nervous” about what the NDP brings to Alberta.

“Ms. Notley is a very bright lady and I have a lot of respect for her,” he said. “She is very capable and we will see what kinds of legislation she wants to pursue on the promises she has been making.”

Stier was excited that Wildrose leader Brian Jean won his seat.

“Mr. Jean came to the party at a time when we needed him. He has a large academic background and he has years and years experience in the big leagues in Ottawa. Thankfully he did make it; that is wonderful to see. The guy has stamina and courage like nobody I know.”

The atmosphere at the Claresholm Golf course was somber after Progressive Conservative candidate Evan Berger, just like in 2012, was defeated again by Stier.

The PCs, who had governed the province for more than four decades, finished with just 10 seats, and former Premier Jim Prentice resigned both the party’s leadership and his seat in Calgary-Foothills.

“I was surprised at the results of the evening, but I was not surprised at Jim Prentice's decision. He took it personally,” said Berger. “We had a good run for 44 years. We had the best growth, the best record, the best of everything in Canada. Now things will change. We will see.”

Berger sees changes in the banking industry and the oil and gas industry.

“I am intrigued by the NDP forming the provincial government and I was very surprised at the seats they took,” said Berger. “That was built out of the leader's debate more than anything and it was amazing the way that went down; it wouldn't have mattered, in some respects, what anyone else would have done. People were impressed with the way Rachel handled herself. When she talked over everyone, made her look to some like she couldn't control herself; but to others, she came across as powerful. She's capable but I worry about the others that were elected. When they go to pick a cabinet, I don't think there is a whole lot of depth of experience.”

With the NDP having an inexperienced team, Berger predicts difficulties in explaining the way things are done.

“Change is good, but I am not sure you want it all at once,” he said.

For Berger, who has been in politics since 1992, he says he will go back to farming and “enjoying himself.”

“I am looking forward to working with my family and getting back to farming and raising cattle. I am looking at a couple different business opportunities that I am involved with,” said Berger.

He said he will be around in the community, helping out and staying active, but cast doubt on whether he would run for political office again.

“I think, for me, do I want to pound that pavement again?” he said. “It's someone else's turn to come up to the plate. It's not something you should take lightly. The MLA needs to be engaged in the riding and I hope Mr. Stier gets more acquainted with some of the communities he hasn't been to in a while.”