A historic night in Alberta left NDP feeling sweet, Progressive Conservatives feeling bitter, and the Wildrose Party feeling bittersweet.
“As much as I’m grateful that they voted for change in Alberta, I wish they’d have voted for a different kind of change in Lloydminster,” said Danny Hozack, Wildrose Party candidate in Vermilion-Lloydminster.
Previous speculation of a major political shift coming to Alberta had Hozack optimistic as he took in the election with family and friends at his home in Streamstown, Alta. But by the end of the night, Hozack had lost nearly 1.2 per cent of the vote from the 2012 election and was left searching for answers.
“I must admit, I’m surprised with the results here,” he said. “We had a better feeling going in to this than we had last time from the number of people that said they were voting Wildrose.”
Final numbers pegged Hozack at 33.3 per cent of the vote in Vermilion-Lloydminster, sandwiched between PC incumbent MLA Richard Starke’s 47.3 per cent and NDP’s Saba Mossagizi’s 19.3 per cent.
Dethroning Starke was never going to be easy. The Wildrose Party called Vermilion-Lloydminster one of the 10 most difficult seats in the province to win. Hozack says he has no regrets about how he campaigned and conceded that Starke’s stranglehold on the riding was too much to overcome.
“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,” said Hozack, who also described Starke as a hard-worker.
As for the direction of his party, Hozack asserted his confidence in Brian Jean, who became party leader at the end of March following a disarray of sorts under the previous regime. After the Wildrose increased their 2012 election total by four seats, taking their total to 21, Jean will now be official Opposition leader.
“Brian Jean has had experience in Ottawa in opposition, he’s had experience as part of a governing minority party and as part of a governing majority party,” said Hozack.
“Brian is a very professional person. He will continue to promote our values, he will continue to advocate on behalf of Albertans for health care that works, for getting value for our money and for accountability.”
Jean served the federal Conservatives from 2004 to 2014, when he resigned his seat.
Despite finding the short end of the stick for the second consecutive provincial election, Hozack was still able to find positives from the election process.
“My grandson was door-knocking with us all month and on Saturday when my daughter went to vote, my grandson said, ‘Where’s my ballot?’ He didn’t understand you had to be 18 to vote, and now he knows, but he’ll certainly be ready to vote by the time he’s 18.”
The question for Hozack now becomes, what’s next? And that’s a question for which Hozack doesn’t yet have an answer.
“Tomorrow, I better get back to my day job,” he said. “And then we will see what happens after that.”