By Kevin J Sabo
For the Advance
Spring has arrived in Alberta, and change is in the air.
The change of season isn’t the only change Albertans face. Albertans were out in near record numbers to the advance polls before the Apr. 16 Alberta general election, which is projected to see a United Conservative Party majority mandate, potentially unseating the current NDP government.
What is drawing the large numbers this election? It can be summed up with people wanting a change in government.
“There is a need for change,” said Castor resident Rosheen Bagshaw outside the polling station on Apr. 16. “The government needs to focus on Canada and the people of Canada. I’m tired of this bickering between the parties.”
Bagshaw’s sentiment was echoed by several others outside the polling station in Castor. For Castor resident Brian Fiss, he put it more bluntly. “Thought I’d better get out, because our existing government is failing us,” said Fiss. “I want to make sure they don’t get back in.”
Polls remain open until 8 p.m. on Apr. 16, with unofficial results being reported the same evening. Official results will be available in 10 days time.
This election will see all parties fight for the right to form legislature number 30 in Edmonton. Alberta has had five separate parties run the province since its inception in 1905. The Liberal Party of Alberta won the mandate during the first four elections, followed by the United Farmers of Alberta from 1921-1935.
The Alberta Social Credit Party won the mandate nine times following the demise of the United Farmers in 1935, ruling the province until they were defeated by the Progressive Conservatives in 1971.
The Progressive Conservatives held onto a dynasty of governance, winning mandates in 12 different elections between 1971 and their defeat in the 2015 election at the hands of Rachel Notley and the N.D.P.
Should the United Conservative Party win the election on April 16th, it will bring two firsts to the province. It will be the first time a party has reclaimed the majority after losing it, seeing as the United Conservatives were formed out of a merger between the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party, and for the NDP, it will be the first time in Alberta history that a party has lost the right to rule after one mandate.
Regardless of the outcome, the 2019 Alberta general election will be one for the history books.