Tuesday, March 4, 2008

King Eddie?

Holy crap.

Nation, NOBODY called this... not Tory party insiders, not private pollsters, not even Blake on a caffeine rush called this. 72 seats?

In fairness, that number may change - there were several very close races, most notably in Paul Hinman's constituency, where he lost by 39 votes. So there will be re-counts. Also remarkably close: Edmonton Rutherford (PC's by 64) and Calgary McCall (Liberals by 98). Of McCall, by the way, I wrote on February 23rd:
"I am going to be very surprised if I wake up on March 4th, and Darshan Kang isn't the MLA-Elect for McCall."

This is going to be a bit of a free-form piece, so try to keep up with the sudden changes in mid-stream.

951,451 people came out on March the 3rd to vote, and the people got it right. They always do. Had they elected 83 New Democrats, they'd have been just as right. The government is representative of the will of the people, as expressed in a free and fair election. The election was held, nearly a million Albertans expressed their opinions, and the make-up of the government will reflect that. Or, come as close as our current British Parliamentary First-Past-The-Post system will allow.

It continues to be worrisome, however, that the overall voter turn-out is so low. It could be that people don't feel engaged in the process. It could be that they feel their vote doesn't count. It could be problems with the voter's list (I know I'm on there twice, which means although I voted, I also didn't vote in the other riding - that has GOT to screw up the turn-out percentage). The voter's list is hopelessly screwed up anyhow - there has GOT to be a better way to keep that thing up to date. The number of volunteer man-hours spent trying to update the local voter's list by up to 6 campaigns in each of 83 ridings is staggering - we probably could have ended homelessness with that manpower.

Where do the Greens and Wildrose Alliance go from here? You feel bad for them - even if only a single MLA for each, we need people representing their key issues of sustainability and democratic reform. Their absence from the public stage is a detriment to the meaningful discourse we as a society need to have on these issues. Does this mean that the WAP is out of the 2012 televised debate? I really believe that had Read been allowed INTO the 2008 debate, the Greens may have won a seat or 2. They had high hopes in Lacombe-Ponoka, but still lost by 5,000 votes.

The enormity of this victory may spell the end for Ted Morton in cabinet. Ed showed clearly that he could carry the province without the support of the far right - and Morton has never stopped campaigning for the Premier's job. The question, then is this: Does Morton, tossed from cabinet, cross the floor to sit as the WAP's sole MLA? In so doing, he'd essentially guarantee himself that party's leadership, and he could take a run at Ed again in 4 years.

Despite all the polls foretelling doom, the Tories (as of this writing) suffer a net loss of one seat in Calgary (gain Elbow, lose Buffalo and McCall). Of the 18 MLA's elected in Calgary for the PC's, Ed has said he'll have room for 4 in his cabinet. Cabinet was, at last count, 21 members in size. Assuming he also has 4 ministers from Edmonton, does he intend to fill the other 13 spots with rural MLA's? I've got to tell you - it won't be as understandable after a provincial election as it was after the leadership race. Paying back your supporters is one thing. But as of right now, "your supporters" aren't a handful of rural MLA's, they're the 500,000 Albertans who voted for you - most of them in the cities.

Interesting race in Montrose, where the Progressive Conservative candidate came first, and the "Progressive Conservative" candidate came second.

I hear there were quite a few theories being bandied about at PC celebrations regarding the identity of yours truly. While I cannot confirm whether or not the guesses were accurate, I'll tell you this much: There are OTHER anonymous bloggers who accidentally outed themselves this week, without even realizing it.

Is Dave Taylor the next leader of the Alberta Liberals? Or will someone else keep the chair warm waiting for Bronco to make the jump as soon as a Calgary seat comes open for a byelection?

For Rachel Notley, 2012 starts tomorrow.

Oh, I stand corrected... in fact, one of my own readers predicted this exact result earlier today.

Kirk Schmidt said...

Well, if you take into account all parties, there's 8.4 x 10^56 combinations for the Alberta benches...

If we only consider the grits, tories, dippers, rosies, and greens, there's still 2.2 x 10^55 combinations. I predict that one of those combinations will be what we see in the legislature.

... well done, Kirk.

Arthur Kent is going to go onto CHQR in the next few days and cry about how the Tory party didn't fully invest in his riding, and that's why the voter turn-out was low for him. Hey, Art: voter turn-out was low everywhere. But everyone else had volunteers working phones feverishly in their campaign offices, trying to remind people to get out and vote for them - that wasn't the party, that was local campaigns. Shaw and Fish Creek got no help from Edmonton whatsoever, and they both won. Don't blame the party, blame yourself. And get over yourself, while you're at it. Just because people know your name doesn't mean they should have to kiss your ass to keep you happy.

"Star" Liberal candidates lost in Calgary as well - notably "Don't Call Me Mike" Robinson (by 1200), Cathie Williams (by 2200) and Laura Shutiak (by 2800).

Speaking of ridings in South Calgary (a few of them come to mind): Sometimes it's nice to see unpleasant things happen to unpleasant people. I know, that kind of Schadenfreude makes me a bad person. But I don't care. The candidates in question reaped what they sowed.

To my liberal-minded readers, and those on the far right, all I can tell you is this: I feel your frustration. The consolation I can offer you is this - the PC party insiders who were sweating this result all day were not doing so because they wanted to feel important. They were doing so because they believed that Albertans might rise up and take them to task for the problems in this party. And there ARE problems, that have to be addressed. The insiders know this. The Premier knows this. Fine-tuning the royalty decision. Environmental issues. Electoral reform. Infrastructure. Inefficiencies in government resulting in unsustainable spending. The list is long.

But you know what? Despite this landslide tonight, I trust that Ed will get to work on fixing those problems.

Why, you ask?


Ed's a farmer. He knows better than anyone that the first day after a bumper harvest, you get to work on laying the foundations for a better one next year. You rest on your laurels, and you starve.


Kirk Schmidt said...

Roughly only 1 in 4 eligible voters cast for the PCs, 1 in 9 cast for the Liberals, and about 1 in 11 cast other votes.

ES, and ES's readers - we should try to brainstorm ideas on how we, as pundits, citizens, etc., can motivate voters and essentially run a cross-partisan get-out-the-vote. We've got 4 years, and I know there are some fantastic minds that read this weblog - I think we can do something spectacular if we work together on it.

Kirk Schmidt said...

Let me just add that if people take an interest in brainstorming something, send me an email at
kirk (at) kirkschmidt.ca
and I'll try to put all of us together in some sort of discussion group/private blog and see what we can come up with.

wuzzles said...

While the overwhelming PC majority does come as a surprise, it's the low voter turnout that defines this election for me.

The physical act of voting can be as easy as microwaving a burrito, and yet nearly 60% of us think we can come up with a good excuse not to vote?

Making an informed vote is easier than keeping up-to-date with Prison Break or Lost.

Even if you don't like any of the candidates, a spoiled ballot sends a more significant message than does sitting at home and watching TV.

There's a great contradiction at work here. We live in an internet age where (thanks to Facebook, Myspace, Blogs, etc.) everyone can have a voice - and many of us use that voice. However, voting is still the loudest voice we have, and not even half of us want to speak up.

Anonymous said...

Nice sentiments, but given his campaign promises (and lack thereof) and how they were basically panned by the very groups they were supposed to support, I'm afraid I don't believe you. Oh, I believe that he knows the problems, I just don't believe that anything will be done.

This is a man who had nearly a decade in the Infrastructure position, and only came up with a 20 year capital plan in the last 3 months or so, supposedly to fix what's been going on for 37 years, nearly a quarter of which was under his watch in the first place. (And does anybody else remember his idea to switch the fast and slow lanes on the highway to save on maintenance costs?)

I only hope Albertans continue to work hard to carry this government for the next 4 years or so before the incompetence destroys our environment and health and education systems.

With no opposition to make press to the people, Albertans are going to be blindsided when this all goes tits-up.

Anonymous said...

I would like to hazard a guess that the turn out was so low because the Libs and the NDs and the Alliance and the Greens and the whoever else didn't get their vote out. The PCs GOT THEIR VOTE OUT. 500000+ is a good number of voters. The rest did not get their people out. It could be because they don't have a base. They have no support because the people don't like what they are offering. Let's not be silly here, the PCs did their part for voter turnout, they got their folks out for the most part. The rest didn't. So if you want to blame anybody for low turnout, blame the others. It's easier that way...