With files from Alex Chippin
It was an historic night in Alberta politics as the Progressive Conservative Party’s 44-year reign as the majority governing party came to an end on May 5. With the PCs reduced to third-party status, Premier Jim Prentice resigned as leader and gave up his seat in Calgary-Foothills.
The NDP will form a majority government after winning 54 seats on Tuesday night, unofficially. The Wildrose will form the official Opposition after claiming 21 seats. The PCs finished with just 11 seats.
In Lloydminster-Vermilion, incumbent PC MLA Richard Starke held on to his seat, taking 47.2 per cent of the vote. Wildrose candidate Danny Hozack won 33.5 per cent of the vote while the NDP’s Saba Mossagizi finished in third with 19.3 per cent of the electorate.
Starke was greeted by cheers as he entered his constituency office. After shaking hands and watching the results come in he addressed the appreciative crowd.
“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for being here tonight and thank you for gathering on what is a night that I suspect many of us will remember,” Starke said. “Many of us will remember it for different reasons. But I will tell you that I will always remember this night and I will always be grateful to you for being here and for providing me with such outstanding support for the last three years.”
Starke says while some people in the room may not have agreed with the election results, he accepts the decision of the electorate and looks forward to returning to Edmonton.
“Our PC caucus will tackle our role in opposition and we will tackle it the same way as we have tackled our role in government: with vision, with passion, with integrity,” he said. “As opposition members we will constructively criticize policy and not personality. We will be constructive and not destructive, and our gaze will be fixed not on future electoral success but indeed on Alberta’s success.”
Starke ended his speech on a positive note.
“Ladies and gentleman, tomorrow the task of building a better, stronger and more resilient Alberta begins anew. A have a new task to do but I will tackle that task with vigour, with responsibility and with integrity. As I’ve always said: We have work to do and I’m eager to get back to work,” he said.
Hozack falls short
Meanwhile, Hozack watched the election results pour in at his residence in Streamstown, accompanied by family and friends. While early results had the Hozack camp optimistic, faces began to grow longer with the night.
Despite coming up short for the second straight provincial election, Hozack says he has no regrets about how he campaigned, and knew that overtaking Starke presented a steep challenge.
“We felt like we touched base with a lot of people, we did our best to get the message out to them,” he said. “When we started our team, the head office told us that they thought Lloydminster would be one of the 10 toughest ridings in Alberta to win. And while we did our best, clearly it was more than we were up to.”
Hozack also offered praise to his Progressive Conservative counterpart.
“He’s a likeable fellow, he really is. He’s been in the community for most of his life, as have I, so I wish him well,” he said.
For more on the 2015 Alberta election, see Thursday’s Source.