Canada's most conservative province elects leftist party

AP News
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Posted: May 06, 2015 1:03 AM

TORONTO (AP) — Alberta, Canada's most conservative province, elected a left-of-center government, ending a 44-year-old conservative party dynasty,

Voters in the western oil-rich province chose a New Democratic Party government in Tuesday's election. Few had predicted such a result just 28 days ago when the election was called by Progressive Conservative Alberta Premier Jim Prentice, a former cabinet minister in Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative federal government.

"Pigs do fly," CTV television host Don Martin tweeted.

After the votes were tallied, Prentice announced that he is done with public life and is stepping down as the leader of the Progressive Conservative party in the province. He also will vacate the seat he won in Tuesday's election.

Alberta is sometimes called the Texas of the North.

"I think we might have made a little bit of history tonight," incoming New Democratic Premier Rachel Notely said. "Change has finally come to Alberta."

Nelson Wiseman, a University of Toronto political science professor, said the result doesn't mean Harper won't do well in his home province in October's federal election.

Wiseman said it shows the NDP isn't as radical as it once was and that campaigns matter. He said gaffes by Prentice and voter fatigue with Alberta's Progressive Conservative party contributed.

"The main message is a social democratic party isn't all that radical any more. Americans are freaked out by socialism but when Tony Blair was in power in the U.K. they related to him as a strong ally," Wiseman said.

Notely has vowed to raise corporate tax rates and conduct a review of the province's royalty structure to ensure that Albertans are getting a fair return for their oil and gas resources. Alberta has the world's third largest oil reserves, with 170 billion barrels of proven reserves.

Prentice was previously one of Harper's most trusted cabinet ministers and was considered a candidate to replace Harper one day.