Pat Stier and the Wildrose Party are back in familiar territory as Alberta’s Official Opposition.
This time they will be facing Rachel Notley and the New Democrats, who lived up to advance billing in the polls to form a majority government in Tuesday’s provincial election.
“Although it was more or less predicted, it is shocking and appalling to think that we’re going to be under an NDP government here in Alberta,” said Stier, who was returned as Livingstone-Macleod MLA. “So far across Canada, provinces that have gone with an NDP government haven’t turned out to be very prosperous in the end and they finally had to change.”
“We hope this one as it unfolds is something we can work with as an opposition to be effective and try and maintain some sort of status quo.”
Stier earned 7,357 votes to finish ahead of Progressive Conservative candidate Evan Berger, who had 6,410 votes. New Democrat Aileen Burke earned 4,226 votes, and Liberal Alida Hess drew 459.
Notley and the New Democrats won 54 seats, followed by the Wildrose Party with 21, the Progressive Conservatives with 10, and the Liberal Party and Alberta Party, each with one seat.
Stier said the old adage that government defeats itself was in play on Tuesday.
“What we’ve obviously seen is what many people call the ‘anger mode’ come out,” Stier said. “It appears to me the people of Alberta, after seeing the budget the PCs handed down, and after seeing all the different things that were going on in their government the past three years . . . decided now it was time to push the button and take their votes elsewhere, and they’ve done so, in a big way.”
Progressive Conservative Party leader Jim Prentice was elected in the Calgary Foothills riding, but the end of 43 years of Tory rule also brought a premature end to his career.
Prentice said Tuesday he called the election because his party didn’t have the mandate to make the decisions to deal with the challenges facing Alberta due to the collapse of oil prices.
“As the leader of this party I accept responsibility for tonight’s outcome,” Prentice said. “I also accept responsibility for the decisions that led up to this evening.”
Prentice said he didn’t regret entering provincial politics to take the leadership of the PC party.
“Clearly my contribution to public life is now at an end,” Prentice said, adding he resigned as leader and will step aside as MLA for Calgary Foothills.
Stier isn’t certain what to expect as he begins his second term in the Legislature, particularly in opposition to a New Democrat government.
“We differ in so many ways from that party,” Stier said. “We’ll be looking at how to work amongst ourselves to represent Albertans, no matter what party they belong to, to hold this new government accountable.”