Conservatives win 11th straight electoral majority
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ben lemphers/for Metro EDMONTON
The Tory dynasty has found its prince, extending its provincial reign to more than four decades while handing the Alberta Liberals an embarrassing defeat in yesterday’s election.
Voters flocked to Conservative Leader Ed Stelmach’s message of "Change that works for Albertans," proving he could rebrand an aging party as a new leader.
Stelmach entered his packed Edmonton campaign office late last night with Christina Aguilera’s song Ain’t No Other Man blaring in the background.
"Welcome to Alberta’s century," he told the boisterous crowd. "Friends, today Albertans have spoken."
He said he is humbled by the large victory.
"Ladies and gentlemen, it’s not really how long you govern, but how well you govern," he said of his party’s 11th consecutive victory.
Flanked by party faithful, Stelmach, 56, said his party has worked hard to earn the trust of Albertans and shown it’s not afraid to lead.
"As all Albertans know, our province is a beacon of hope and it’s a beacon of inspiration," he said to loud cheers. "And that beacon must shine in every corner of this province, across our country, and across the world."
At press time last night, unofficial results showed the Tories had secured 73 seats out of the 83-seat legislature — nine more than in the 2004 election. The Liberals lost seven seats while the New Democrats lost their grasp on two Edmonton ridings.
The Wildrose Alliance, a right-wing party bent on pulling Conservative votes, made no inroads and lost its single southern riding.
The Green party also failed in its run at winning any seats — despite capturing about eight per cent of voter support in the polls.
In conceding defeat to Stelmach last night, Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft said his party faithful should hold their heads high.
"The Alberta Liberals will continue to fight," he said, vowing to stay on as leader. "We will stand tall in the legislature … and to stick up for the best interests of Albertans. There will be no free ride, I can tell that to the government."
Prior to yesterday’s stunning landside election results, political observers offered a wide variety of contradictory predictions, citing the influx of nearly 300,000 new Albertans since the last election as a potential wild card.
But in oil-rich and debt-free Alberta, a 28-day election campaign bent on the idea of change appeared seemingly uneventful, with few big issues sticking to campaign tires as political leaders trudged across the province.
While major issues like health care were addressed, pressing issues like the prospect of introducing nuclear power in Alberta were overshadowed by debate on auto insurance, oil royalties and child care.