By Tim Kalinowski
Over the past week Albertans have been going through an extended election post-mortem. For some the NDP majority ushered in a new spirit of populism and accountability in government; for others it was a disaster waiting to happen. All anyone can agree on is the election represented historic change.
Mayor Ernie Reimer of Redcliff said the one thing he is sure of post-election is he is happy to see the Progressive Conservative 44-year dynasty gone.
“I am certainly glad we have a change because with the former government, and some of the ministers, I sometimes felt they were looking down their noses at us and asking us to beg a little harder for what our needs were. To me, that was very disheartening. I did not enjoy those sessions at all,” said Reimer.
Reimer was cautiously hopeful the NDP would bring a new tone to its dealings with cities and towns in the province to help address their infrastructure concerns. He wasn’t, however, expecting any miracles.
“Our needs are funding for infrastructure. That’s number one. We need funding for that in order for the town to grow. We’ve also got a lot of businesses that have been closing here in Redcliff. And we’ve had lots of lay-offs. So how are we going to replace the work force? How are we going to attract new businesses? We need to get people back to work. I don’t know how they are going to address that situation.”
Reimer was also very aware of the historic nature of the electoral change which came to Alberta last Tuesday.
“It’s a pretty extraordinary moment in Alberta history,” said Reimer. “Change is sometimes as good as a rest, they say. And it’s going to be new blood and a new spirit in government. With bated breath we await and see if it’s going to be a good thing.”
Cypress County Reeve Richard Oster was also uncertain about what an NDP government meant to the future of the province, and about what that government’s dealings will be with the counties.
“I have no idea what it’s going to be like working with an NDP government,” admitted Oster. “I am wondering, and I just don’t know enough about how the NDP operates to know how it’s going to effect us. I am just surprised by the (election) result, and it will be interesting to see how it goes.”
Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes said he was looking forward to representing Wildrose values in the upcoming NDP dominated legislature. And to remind the NDP about the conservative principles which drive many Albertans.
“I am definitely not happy with an NDP majority, but I feel the Wildrose commitment to no tax increases and the Wildrose commitment to less bureaucracy is the right one. I am grateful I will be returned as part of the official opposition. I am looking forward to working hard with the people in the legislature for a stronger Alberta,” said Barnes.
Farmworkers Union of Alberta president, and former Liberal party candidate, Eric Musekamp said he expects great things from the new NDP government. He was looking forward to taking off his candidate hat and returning to his farm workers advocacy role in the weeks and months ahead.
“It’s a victory for the working man, and, certainly, my favourite cause of farm workers’ rights,” said Musekamp.