CALGARY - The patriarch of Alberta's Progressive Conservative party has made a plea to Conservatives who have switched to the rival Wildrose, by pledging support for Alison Redford Saturday.
Former premier Peter Lougheed said in a news release that he and his family have even been doorknocking on behalf of Redford and the Progressive Conservatives.
"I want them to think about it and I want them to listen carefully to what Alison Redford is saying, to reflect on what I've been saying, to look forward to an Alberta in the future," Lougheed said in the news release, which used comments the former premier made to CTV.
"She's a positive thinker and she has an up-to-date view of the province. She knows the issues, she knows the province, she has had great experience internationally and had a great feel for Canada at large," he added.
"This is a harder campaign...because we’ve been there for 40 years and obviously these are difficult and challenging times."
Lougheed was carried to power in 1971 and knocked off the Social Credit Party that had ruled Alberta for decades. It's the same sort of wave that Wildrose is hoping for on April 23.
Lougheed's endorsement comes at a crucial time for the Conservatives who have been both trailing and running neck-and-neck with the Wildrose in the first three weeks of the campaign.
The Wildrose, a party further right than the right-centre Tories, is made up of many ex-Tories who feel their former party has abandoned its roots of fiscal conservatism and grassroots decision making.
With her party's success so far Wildrose leader Danielle Smith was offering no apologies for keeping a tight rein on both successful and failed candidates in the current provincial election campaign.
"I think people were expecting that we would have a bunch of eruptions and explosions and undisciplined candidates through the course of the election campaign. I'm sorry to disappoint you," Smith told reporters at a campaign stop in Calgary Saturday.
"I mean you can continue I suppose hoping that one of them is going to have a bozo eruption and I suppose maybe that's what you're upset about is that our candidates are seriously focused on the messages we're putting forward in this campaign."
During the campaign the platform has focused on allowing MLAs to have free votes in the legislature and the use of citizen sponsored referendum to return power to the grassroots.
But Smith confirmed that anyone who sought a party nomination for Wildrose were required to post a $1000 good conduct bond and so far only the winning candidates have had the cash returned.
"We're not going to return those good conduct bonds to the failed nominees until after the election because we're wanting to make sure through the process of our nominations that we have respectful nominations, that people respect the outcome and they don't try to sabotage the candidate who defeated them," Smith said.
"Sometimes nominations get kind of heated and sometimes nominees don't accept the outcome and so as a result we wanted to make sure they have an incentive to stand behind the result of our elected nominee."
Smith used a visit to Calgary's Stars Air Ambulance to announced Wildrose would expand the scope of a judicial health inquiry to include allegations of doctor intimidation and queue jumping. She accused Premier Alison Redford of not just breaking her promise of holding a full inquiry - she says she "shattered it".
Smith told reporters in Calgary that a Wildrose government would be bound to the recommendations of a full inquiry into allegations raised by the Health Quality Council report.
"We will examine the scope of the inquiry and expand it to look at the issue of intimidation of health care professionals," she said.
"We have to make sure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated. We also need a thorough investigation into the allegations of bullying and intimidation of our health care professionals by bureaucrats and politicians and of queue jumping by political insiders."
The report blamed the Conservative government for taking a struggling hospital system and running it off the road, which led to widespread intimidation of doctors who complained about the deteriorating patient care.
Smith said her party, if elected, would follow the recommendations of the inquiry.
Here's a look back at some of the most memorable moments from the campaign.
A blog post saying that gays were destined to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/04/15/wildrose-anti-gay-blog-alberta_n_1427008.html" target="_hplink">burn in a "lake of fire" for eternity was brought to light on April 16.</a> Allan Hunsperger, a pastor who's running as a Wildrose candidate in Edmonton South, also referenced Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way': "You see, you can live the way you were born, and if you die the way you were born then you will suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire, hell, a place of eternal suffering." Wildrose leader Danielle Smith said she was aware of Hunsperger's religious views.
Wildrose leader Danielle Smith found herself <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/04/20/danielle-smith-booed-climate-change-alberta-election-debate_n_1439858.html" target="_hplink">on the receiving end of booing and mockery at a debate on April 19 for questioning climate change .</a> "There is still a debate in the scientific community," said Smith before being drowned out by a chorus of boos and catcalls. PC leader Alison Redford said Smith leading the province would be an embarrassment.
Wildrose candidate Ron Leech <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/04/17/ron-leech-wildrose-candidate_n_1432653.html" target="_hplink">made some controversial remarks about race on a South Asian radio show.</a> "I think as a Caucasian I have an advantage. When different community leaders such as a Sikh leader or a Muslim leader speaks, they really speak to their own people in many ways. As a Caucasian, I believe that I can speak to all the community," said Leech. He apologized for his remarks on April 24, saying that his comments did not come out the way he intended.
During the April 12 debate, the candidates for the Wildrose, Liberal and NDP took the opportunity to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/04/12/alberta-election-debate_n_1419850.html" target="_hplink">gang up on Progressive Conservative leader Alison Redford</a>. It was an unsurprising tactic given that the Tories have held power in Alberta for 11 consecutive majority governments, although polls reveal the Wildrose may have a fighting chance.
When the Wildrose first rolled out their campaign bus, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/03/23/alberta-wildrose-campaign_n_1375998.html" target="_hplink">there was something distinctly odd about the wheel placement </a>in relation to Smith's image. Late night host Jay Leno even poked fun at the busty bus before a new, less suggestive design rolled out.
An April 10 poll showed that Danielle Smith's Wildrose party was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/04/11/alberta-election-2012-poll_n_1417267.html" target="_hplink">neck and neck with the Progressive Conservatives</a>. The Leger Marketing poll showed the Wildrose has the support of 36 per cent of Albertans, compared to 34 per cent for the governing Tories.
This Hour Has 22 Minutes gave their own take on the Alberta election by poking fun at the similarities between Alison Redford and Danielle Smith. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/04/03/alberta-election-2012-22-minutes_n_1400747.html" target="_hplink">CLICK TO WATCH</a>
Progressive Conservative staffer<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/03/31/pc-staffer-resigns-danielle-smith-wildrose-tweet_n_1393807.html" target="_hplink"> Amanda Wilkie "resigned" on March 31 after tweeting</a> "If @ElectDanielle likes young and growing families so much, why doesn't she have children of her own? #wrp family pack = insincere." Backlash came swiftly from the PC, the Wildrose and Twitter users alike. Alison Redford herself issues an apology, but not before Smith revealed that she didn't have children due to fertility issues.
In a moment of levity, but mostly embarrassment for Danielle Smith, the Wildrose leader's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/03/31/danielle-smith-dogs-wildrose-alberta_n_1394069.html" target="_hplink">dogs got frisky during a photo op in Calgary</a>.
In a province where conservative values dominate politics, Brian Mason's NDP and Raj Sherman's Liberals are left to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/04/06/alberta-election-liberals-ndp-edmonton_n_1408884.html" target="_hplink">duke it out in left-leaning pockets such as Edmonton</a>.
On April 10, for the second time, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith was called out for her<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/04/10/danielle-smith-pro-choice-gay-marriage_n_1416319.html" target="_hplink"> supposed opposing stance on abortion and gay marriage</a>. Smith however snuffed out the controversy: "When our members elected me they knew they were electing a candidate that was pro-choice and pro-gay marriage." The issues came up earlier in the election when <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/04/07/alberta-election-abortion-social-issues_n_1409963.html" target="_hplink">Smith was less forthcoming</a> on the subjects.
Alberta's education minister Thomas Lukaszuk claimed he was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/04/07/thomas-lukaszuk-assault_n_1410308.html" target="_hplink">assaulted while canvassing in an Edmonton neighbourhood</a>. He said he knocked on the door of a residence with a Wildrose support sign and, once recognized, was punched by the resident within. The resident, Al Michalchuk, says he merely nudged Lukaszuk when he refused to leave.