The ballots were cast. The votes counted. The political landscape of Alberta is different today than it was yesterday. Than it has been for the last 4 decades.
Yesterday, Albertans spoke with every ballot cast.
Yesterday, they said “Enough”.
Enough cronyism. Enough political opportunism and corporate favouritism. Enough of the dynasty.
And like an addict craving one more hit, I could not draw myself away from watching the results on TV. I could not get enough of each political pundit’s viewpoint, the colour coded results showing riding after riding falling under “The Orange Crush”, as media have dubbed the National Democratic Party (NDP) and its charismatic leader, Rachel Notley. I couldn’t quit watching images of cheering crowds chanting “Rachel! Rachel! Rachel!” and the deafening silence of the defeated who had nothing left to say except, “Good-bye”.
Good-bye Jim Prentice. Your leadership has failed. Your hubris undermined you and the party.
Fear of the unknown is an irrational being. This morning’s headlines are littered with references to economic collapse, departure of business, killing off of the “Alberta advantage.”
What the headlines and politicos forget is, we are resilient. We are entrepreneurial. We are creative.
The NDP are untried, and inexperienced. No one is sure what they will do once they take up the reigns of power. No one knows how they will respond to the financial crisis the collapse of oil prices has brought to provincial coffers, and to the economic fortunes of our province.
What everyone does know is the people of Alberta are still the same people they were yesterday. We still value hard work, stick-to-itness and working together. We still value each other, being good neighbours, taking care of one another. We still value fair pay, fair play and fairness in all our affairs.
The difference today is, political change is here to stay. The status quo has been shaken. The balance of power not just tilted but turned upside down.
With the undoing of the conservative juggernaut that has gripped our political landscape with such totalitarian control no one could foresee the fall of the mighty PCs, there is much unrest amongst those who man the ivory towers and pump the oil and gas that fuels our economy. Where will they go to curry favour? Who will they cosy up to gain political currency?
Uncertainty fosters creativity. It generates new ideas, new ways of doing things, new roads to explore. While the path may be untrod, the future unknown, there is much that we can count on today.
Today, spring blossoms are bursting forth. Grass is turning green. Dandelions poke their heads up from cracks in the sidewalk and along roads and ditches wild flowers are showing their colours. Wheat fields are being ploughed and in the heart of every Albertan beats the hope that this change will bring new growth, new ideas, new possibilities that will bring us closer to creating a great province, for everyone. Not just those who fill the coffers or hold the purse-strings but those who stand on the margins watching the Alberta advantage miss the mark.
Today, the possibility of every Albertan getting a fair chance at change, shimmers on the horizon, calling each of us to continue what this election has shown so clearly. When we speak up, when we raise our voices together and cast our votes, we can and do make a difference.
Sometimes, change can be scary, but a world where change never happens, is even scarier. And with the PCs, change was not on the agenda.
Now it is.
Now, what we must do is keep our voices strong, keep speaking up and keep ensuring our leaders work for us, not the party. We must keep working together, keep building new paths, new ways of being a province where every voice counts, every voice is heard and every voice makes a difference.
We the people have spoken. It’s time for change.