Alberta Election Results 2012: Alison Redford Gets PC Majority, Defies Polls Projecting Wildrose Win (LIVE)

CP  |  By Posted: 04/23/2012 8:44 pm Updated: 04/24/2012 9:00 am

EDMONTON - Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives defied the pollsters Monday, winning a 12th consecutive majority government that will see them enter the record books as the unconquerable colossus of Canadian politics.

"Oh my! Oh my!" Redford told supporters at a rally in Calgary after the final vote totals were announced.

THE RESULTS, IN PHOTOS

"Today, Alberta, you spoke, and you spoke loudly.

"And I want you to know I heard you."

Redford said the election was about a choice "to put up walls or build bridges."

"It was a choice about Alberta's future, and Albertans chose to build bridges."

SEE HOW IT UNFOLDED ON OUR LIVE BLOG

Her Tories have been in power close to 41 years. By the time their new mandate ends, it will be 45.

They will then stand alone, surpassing the 1943-1985 Ontario PCs (42 years) and the Nova Scotia Liberals of 1882-1925 (43 years).

Redford's team took 61 of 87 seats compared with 17 for their Wildrose rival on the right.

The victory flew in the face of polls that had Redford's party trailing the Wildrose and its leader Danielle Smith for much of the campaign.

Redford's team appeared to benefit from soft Liberal supporters who switched to the Tories in a strategic swing.

In the final week there were suggestions homophobic and racist comments made by two Wildrose party candidates would translate into an intolerant government restricting the rights of women and minorities.

PC supporters took to the airwaves and social media to urge moderates to switch their votes to block a Wildrose win.

A website was even created featuring testimonials from young Albertans. One man said he would rather have rodents eat his face than vote PC, but was voting Tory anyway to block the Wildrose.

SLIDESHOW: GAFFES, HIGHLIGHTS AND CONTROVERSY IN THE CAMPAIGN

Raj Sherman's Liberal party, which had been the official Opposition heading into the campaign, saw its vote collapse into single digits with just five ridings, giving Tories back the vote support it had lost to the Wildrose.

Redford, speaking to reporters after her victory speech, reiterated that she doesn't rely on polls.

"The only poll that matters is this election one."

Smith won a seat in the legislature for the first time in the Highwood constituency south of Calgary. Her party dominated in the old Tory rural strongholds in southern Alberta plus some ridings in Calgary. They were shut out in Edmonton and northern Alberta.

Smith remained upbeat in her concession speech to supporters in High River.

"Tonight we found out that change might take a little longer than we thought," said Smith.

"We wanted to do better and we expected to do better. Am I surprised? Am I disappointed? Yeah. Am I discouraged? Not a chance.

"Albertans have decided that Wildrose might need some time to establish ourselves, and I relish the opportunity."

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Brian Mason's NDP doubled the party caucus to four — all in Edmonton.

Mason said he was thrilled at the outcome for his party, but he was also quick to congratulate Redford on her victory.

"I never thought that (overwhelming win) was going to happen, but you can't count the PCs out," he said.

The Tories' previous 11 majorities have been measured in large or larger majorities. The last time they were threatened was by a resurgent Liberal party in 1993. But under new leader Ralph Klein, the Tories took 51 of 83 seats to 32 for the Liberals and the dynasty rolled on.

Redford was re-elected in her Calgary-Elbow seat. She was chosen last fall by party members as leader, but now becomes Alberta's first elected female premier.

Tory cabinet ministers Doug Horner, Thomas Lukaszuk, Diana McQueen, Jeff Johnson, Dave Hancock, Verlyn Olson, Frank Oberle, Cal Dallas, Fred Horne, Heather Klimchuk, Greg Weadick, Thomas Lukaszuk, Doug Griffiths, Manmeet Bhullar, George VanderBurg and Jonathan Denis were all re-elected.

Redford will need a new energy minister, however. Ted Morton went down to defeat, as did Tourism Minister Jack Hayden, Agriculture Minister Evan Berger, and Transportation Minister Ray Danyluk.

Political scientist Harold Jansen said the Tories peaked at the right time.

Jansen said the Wildrose, after making announcement after announcement in the early days of the campaign, found itself without anything to offer in the final stretch, and ended up on the defensive while the Tories gained ground.

He agreed that the Liberal collapse benefited the PCs. In the last days, Jansen said, many of the Tory campaign announcements weren't unlike those of the Liberals.

"If you closed your eyes and changed the voice, it started to sound like the Liberals," said Jansen with the University of Lethbridge.

"I think we've seen a restructuring of the party system where the PCs have claimed the centre."

Sherman's party took five seats, including his own in a tight race in Edmonton-Meadowlark. He congratulated the other leaders and Redford.

"They offered a good vision, and we agreed with many parts of that vision," he said.

Redford, who took over as premier six months ago from Ed Stelmach, has some fences to mend.

She ran on her record of spending increases and no taxes, promising millions of dollars to build more schools and family health-care clinics. She also promised to put up an extra $3 billion over the next two decades to further develop oilsands products and protect the environment while not raising royalties.

The Tories were taken to task for granting themselves the richest salaries for provincial politicians in the country – about $163,000 on average. But it didn’t end there. Over the last decade, the party quietly and broadly changed the eligibility rules allowing more than 20 retiring politicians to walk away this year with six-figure golden handshakes.

To top it off, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation reported last month that members of the government’s largest legislature committee, mostly Tories, had been receiving $1,000 a month but had not met in over three years.

Redford stopped the bleeding early in the campaign, promising to end the six-figure handouts and ordering her members who sat on the no-meet committee to pay it all back.

With a week to go, polls suggested the Wildrose was headed for a majority. But then Smith's party got hung up in the razor wire of social issues and she had to fight off critics who suggested her party had a hidden agenda.

The criticism firmed up around the issue of conscience rights — allowing civil servants to opt out of doing jobs they morally object to, such as marrying gay couples or prescribing birth control.

When there was a suggestion that her party could use a citizens-initiated referendum to end public funding for abortion, Smith disclosed that she was, in fact, pro-choice and pro-gay marriage.

As the campaign entered its final week, Wildrose candidates entered the spotlight. A year-old blog surfaced from Edmonton candidate Allan Hunsperger suggesting gay people would "suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire" if they didn't change their lifestyles. He pulled the comments down and Smith stood by him.

Wildrose Calgary candidate Ron Leech was forced to apologize for suggesting in a radio interview that he had an advantage in his constituency because he is white and could speak for everyone. Again, Smith stood by her candidate.

Both Hunsperger and Leech were defeated.

Smith herself was shouted down at a leaders forum last week when she questioned the science of climate change.

Environmentalists feared that a Smith government that still didn't believe in climate change would not push hard to clean up toxic emissions from the oilsands.

The Liberals took to calling the election a choice between Tory "bullies" and Wildrose "bigots."

Smith said in the end voters just weren't ready to take the giant leap her party was asking of them. She also acknowledged the Wildrose stumbled in the final days.

"I think we had a few self-inflicted wounds in the last week of the campaign, and maybe that was enough to make people pause and say, 'Hmmm ... maybe this group needs a little more seasoning,'" she said.

"I know that we do have to do a little more work to be able to earn the trust of Albertans. We knew it was a monumental task to try to go from four seats to government within 2 1/2 years of me becoming leader."


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  • All Smiles

    Alberta PC party leader Alison Redford celebrates her win in the provincial election in Calgary, Alta., Monday, April 23, 2012. Redford led the PC Alberta party to another majority win beating out the new comer Wildrose party.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

  • Alberta PC party leader Alison Redford celebrates her win in the provincial election in Calgary, Alta., Monday, April 23, 2012. Redford led the PC Alberta party to another majority win beating out the new comer Wildrose party.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

  • Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith waves to the crowd in High River, Alberta, Monday, April, 23, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

  • Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith receives a hug following her speech as her party placed second in the Alberta election in High River, Alberta, Monday, April, 23, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

  • Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith greets supporters in High River, Alberta, Monday, April, 23, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

  • Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason celebrates his showing in the provincial election in Edmonton Alta. Monday April 23, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson.

  • Party supporters cheer election returns at the Alberta PC party venue in Calgary, Alta., Monday, April 23, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

  • Party supporters cheer election returns at the Alberta PC party venue in Calgary, Alta., Monday, April 23, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

  • Protester Brigette DePape holds up a sign as Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith leaves a polling station in High River, Alberta to cast her ballot for the Alberta election Monday, April, 23, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

  • Protester Brigette DePape holds up a sign as Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith leaves a polling station in High River, Alberta to cast her ballot for the Alberta election Monday, April, 23, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

  • Protester Brigette DePape holds up a sign as Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith leaves a polling station in High River, Alberta to cast her ballot for the Alberta election Monday, April, 23, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

  • Protester Brigette DePape holds up a sign as Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith leaves a polling station in High River, Alberta to cast her ballot for the Alberta election Monday, April, 23, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

  • Returning officers look on as Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith puts her ballot into the voters box at a polling station in High River, Alberta to cast her ballot for the Alberta election Monday, April, 23, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

  • Returning officers look on as Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith puts her ballot into the voters box at a polling station in High River, Alberta to cast her ballot for the Alberta election Monday, April, 23, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)






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One last update: Alberta Liberal leader Raj Sherman has won his seat in Edmonton after a very, very tight race.

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Thanks for following our live blog. Be sure to check back in the morning for analysis and to find out if Raj Sherman will win that seat.

Leading or elected as of 11 p.m. MT:
PC: 62
Wildrose: 17
Liberals: 4

NDP: 4

Popular Vote:
PC: 44 per cent
Wildrose: 35 per cent
NDP: 10 per cent

Liberals: 9 per cent

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Alberta Liberal leader Raj Sherman is back in the lead in his Edmonton riding, but the votes are less than 20 ballots apart. This is one riding where a winner won't be declared until the bitter end.

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Wildrose leader Danielle Smith had a number of post-election media interviews scheduled but has apparently decided to cancel some or all of them.

@ NEWSBOYCALLSEN : Danielle Smith cancels a whack of interviews this week. Risky move. It can either reek of arrogance or sheer terror.

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Alberta PC party leader Alison Redford celebrates her win in the provincial election in Calgary, Alta., Monday, April 23, 2012. Redford led the PC Alberta party to another majority win beating out the new comer Wildrose party.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

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Redford kept it short and sweet.

From the Canadian Press:

Redford stood for a moment on the stage at her Calgary headquarters and her first words to her supporters were simply: "Oh my. Oh my.''

"Today, Alberta, you spoke, and you spoke loudly,'' Redford said.

"And I want you to know I heard you.''

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Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith waves to the crowd in High River, Alberta, Monday, April, 23, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

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In the mean time, numbers are still fluctuating slightly for the PCs and Wildrose:

PC: 61
Wildrose: 19
NDP: 4

Liberals: 3

Liberal leader Raj Sherman is still trailing in his riding around 70 votes behind the PC.

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"Well folks we just found out that change might take a little longer than we thought," Wildrose leader Smith tells the crowd as she takes the stage.

"Am I disappointed? Yeah. Am I discouraged? Not a chance."

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Even though a PC majority government is nothing new for Alberta, this election still has some interesting results:

  • Alison Redford is the first woman to be elected Premier of Alberta
  • The Wildrose have become the official opposition with a gain of 20 seats from four
  • The NDP have doubled their seats from two to four

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Check out Huffington Post Canada blogger Steve Lafleur's live blog for more insight into tonight's election results.

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Remember that Wildrose candidate who had this message for gay people?

"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."

He didn't fare so well. The PC candidate took Edmonton-South West with a 1,400 vote lead over Hunsperger.

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The Liberals are down in seats from dissolution, from eight to four. Did strategic voting, as promoted in the "I Never Thought I'd Vote PC" video, have an effect?

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Party supporters cheer election returns at the Alberta PC party venue in Calgary, Alta., Monday, April 23, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

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All the party leaders are comfortably leading for the seats in their respective ridings except for Liberal Raj Sherman who is still battling it out with the PC candidate, with the votes too close to call.

Total seats leading or elected:

PC: 61
Wildrose: 19
NDP: 4

Liberals: 3

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With 61 seats to the Wildrose's 19, we're calling it: the Tories will extend their reign over Alberta for another term.

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Party supporters cheer election returns at the Alberta PC party venue in Calgary, Alta., Monday, April 23, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

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CTV Calgary has just declared a PC majority government.

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@ Premier_Redford : Thank you to everyone who voted today! #abvote

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Here's how the votes are breaking out so far by popular vote percentage:

PC: 44 per cent
Wildrose: 35 per cent
Liberals: 9 per cent
NDP: 10 per cent

Alberta Party: 1 per cent

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In PC leader Redford's riding of Calgary-Elbow, the incumbent Premier is leading with more than double the votes of the Wildrose candidate.

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The Wildrose are certainly looking at more seats than they had at dissolution, but nowhere near the majority polls predicted.

Did a series of gaffes by Wildrose candidates, including an anti-gay blog post and a racial comment on a South Asian radio show, hurt their chances? Check out those blunders and other campaign highlights in our slideshow.

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Leading or elected:

PC: 57
Wildrose: 20
NDP: 4

Liberal: 2

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Wildrose leader Danielle Smith is fighting for the win in her riding of Highwood. She's 16 votes behind the PC candidate in early results.

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Despite pre-election polls projecting a Wildrose majority, it looks like the PCs are already hovering around the magic number of 44 seats needed for a majority.

Leading or elected:

PC: 45
Wildrose: 22
NDP: 2

Liberal: 1

Keep in mind these are still very early results.

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Alberta Liberal leader Raj Sherman is trailing closely behind the PC candidate in his riding of Edmonton-Meadowlark with 90 votes to the PC's 117.

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The Tories and the Wildrose are still the front-runners but the Liberals and NDP have made gains.

Leading or elected:

PC: 26
Wildrose: 16
Liberals: 1

NDP: 2

120 of 6,765 polls reporting

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Seats leading or elected:

PC: 11

Wildrose: 9

Still early results with only 33 of 6765 polls reporting.

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A poll released by Forum Research Inc. yesterday showed the Wildrose poised to win a majority with 41 per cent of voter support and the PCs trailing at 32 per cent.

We'll find out if the Tories will lose their 40 years of power tonight.

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The Tories have the slightest of leads in the first results (seats leading or elected):

PC: 2

Wildrose: 1

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Loading Slideshow...
  • Highlights Of The Alberta Election

    Here's a look back at some of the most memorable moments from the campaign.

  • Wildrose Anti-Gay Blog Revealed

    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.

  • Smith Booed, Mocked

    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.

  • Candidate Makes 'White Advantage' Comment

    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.

  • Redford Under Seige

    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.

  • Bus Cleavage

    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.

  • Closing The Gap

    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.

  • 22 Minutes Pokes Fun At Candidates

    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>

  • PC Staffer Gets Personal

    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.

  • Awkward!

    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>.

  • The Other Guys

    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>.

  • Controversial Issues

    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.

  • Tory Candidate Assaulted

    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.

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Filed by Lauren Strapagiel  |