Alberta Election Results: Brian Mason's NDP Double Seats To Four

CP  |  By Posted: 04/24/2012 1:02 am Updated: 04/25/2012 3:13 pm

EDMONTON - Four seats out of the Alberta legislature's 87 may not seem like much, but it was a cause for celebration by the province's New Democrats in the provincial election Monday.

"We're going to need a slightly bigger phone booth!" beamed leader Brian Mason as he spoke to enthusiastic supporters, who chanted his name and cheered as the results came in.

The four seats — all in Edmonton — are twice what the NDP had going into the campaign — enough for official party status and the extra resources that come with it.

"It doubles our voices," Mason said.

"That gives us the opportunity to be that voice that stands up in the legislature for public health care. We forced (Progressive Conservative Leader) Alison Redford during the campaign to say she would not privatize health care and we are going to hold her to that."

Mason, the oldest of the four major party leaders at 58, began the campaign on an elder statesman note.

Five days into the race, he chided his rivals for what he called a "negative tone" in exchanges between Progressive Conservative Leader Alison Redford, Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith and top Liberal Raj Sherman. He made the point in letters written to each of them.

On Monday night, he suggested that the Conservatives benefited from voter concerns about comments from some Wildrose candidates that were widely seen as anti-gay and racist.

"What disturbed me is not that they had some people among their candidates that had those views, but that Danielle Smith would not distance herself from them," said Mason. "That bothered me and it probably bothered a lot of other voters as well."

Mason conceded that the NDP might have wielded more clout if the vote had left them with the balance of power. But he promised to work with the government that Albertans elected — and warned the Tories and Wildrose that he expects the same from them.

"There's certainly been a lot of animosity between the PCs and the Wildrose, and that was evident in the legislature. I think it's up to both of those parties to approach the public's business in a mature and responsible way."

Mason's campaign occasionally jumped outside the box of New Democrat orthodoxy. He offered the campaign's only tax cut, a proposal to drop the rate on small businesses to two per cent from three.

Other proposals sounded more familiar from a left-of-centre party.

Taxes on large corporations and wealthy individuals would go up. Electricity rates would be re-regulated. The tax system would be rejigged to encourage energy companies to upgrade oilsands bitumen in Alberta instead of being shipped south of the border.

Mason promised Alberta seniors a break on prescription drugs that would cap out-of-pocket expenses at $25 a month. He also repeated a long-standing New Democrat commitment to increase the number of long-term care beds and pledged public funding for dental care for children under 18.

He scoffed, with characteristic bluntness, at Smith's assertion that the science behind climate change remains unsettled: "It's only disputed by phoney scientists funded by the oil industry," he said during the last leaders debate.

Mason's party has had an up-and-down relationship with Alberta voters.

In the late 1980s, the party had 16 seats and enjoyed the support of nearly one in three voters. A few years later, in the 1993 election, the New Democrats were wiped out and garnered only 11 per cent of the popular vote.

Mason, now in his third campaign, tied his best showing from 2004, when his party also won four seats.

The result means Albertans are likely to hear more from the man who's been in public life since 1989, when he quit his job as an Edmonton bus driver to run for city council.

"We're going to have a renewed NDP opposition in the legislature," he told supporters.

"We have put the party back in NDP and that's what we're going to do now."

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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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  • 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  |