Progressive Conservative leader Alison Redford after winning a majority in the Alberta election in Calgary, Alberta.Monday April 23, 2012.
Credits: AL CHAREST/QMI AGENCY
CALGARY -- Next time, it will be a 45-year dynasty.
The question resounded Monday until the door of every polling station shut.
In a roller-coaster of an election campaign, a pull-no-punches exhibition of political pugilism where almost every day brought another drama, could Albertans toss the PCs?
Many of us thought yes. The expert polls and their expert arithmetic figured yes. Deeper thinkers than the one residing on this page said yes. This page bet yes.
But the answer from throughout the province is a resounding No.
Let us be clear. Let us not mince words. Let us in no way sugarcoat reality.
The PCs are in and they are in for four more years. They will do what they will do. It is their province to govern.
Premier Alison Redford, who faced down her opposition, has received her vindication and a mighty endorsement it is.
Redford stood in an almost-empty campaign HQ for a Calgary riding Saturday and said her party would be just fine on election day.
She smiled. She laughed. She looked relaxed. We wondered why.
Her pollsters said she had the lead. So did Susan Elliott, her campaign boss. We wanted to see those polls. No longer.
We were told a groundswell of revolt could be heard and felt at the doors. It was huge. In some cases it was reported to be overwhelming.
Well, it wasn't there or changed where X marks the spot or a whole lot of people need their eyes and ears checked.
Some of us wondered about the last few days. Redford was more out and about than Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith. She was the one who looked like she had the wind in her sails.
On the Wildrose end, we were told everything was alright. Onward and upward.
Some of us head-scratched over whether there was any damage done by Wildrose candidate Ron Leech, who said it was an advantage running as a white guy in a multi-cultural riding.
We were told not much. Almost nothing. Who will commission a post-mortem poll? I'll throw in.
Now we are here with the results for all to see.
Redford said Alberta changed and she can say it tomorrow and the day after and the day after. She said she was connected to what Albertans wanted and she can make that claim now.
She has her majority mandate.
Early in the new year the Tories had a big lead in the polls.
It evaporated over about eight weeks. Suddenly everybody was talking Wildrose. Where two months back, Wildrosers looked at 20 seats as a moral victory, on Monday they were looking at government.
The litany of discontent is there.
Redford's talk of taxes, a health-care probe that isn't much of one, no decision on how we pay politicians before the election, an .05 drinking law, evidence of the PCs bullying local communities, the Gary Mar affair where we still don't know the fate of Alberta's envoy.
And then the biggest bit of nasty -- Redford's failure of leadership in dealing promptly with the do-nothing committee where Tory MLAs scored $1,000 a month every month for more than three years and wouldn't give back the cash without a long and anguished cajoling.
Yes, with only four members in the legislature this past spring, Wildrose pounded the Tories over "the culture of corruption."
Redford decried the tone but the polls showed the populist attack had traction.
The Wildrose rode a wild rise of emotion fed by the discontent, though in Edmonton, the seat of government, they were always near nowhere.
This is what all the numbers said. But the numbers were of recent jumpers on the bandwagon, quick converts to the cause. Many jumped off even more quickly. What went up fast, came down fast.
The squeaky wheel didn't get the grease.
The theme of the last week of the ballot battle was fear and a possible stampede of cold feet against Wildrose.
Fear of the unknown. Fear of inexperience. Fear of supposedly scary people.
Others rallied, with much passion and no apologies, to the Progressive Conservative tent to stop the Wildrose. These were former opponents of Torydom -- Liberals, NDPers, self-styled progressives of no fixed political address.
A Wildrose campaign started strong and peaked early and had the oxygen taken out of it in the final days as the last number-crunches pointed to a tightening of the ballot battle and continued indecision. There was no strong finish.
It is Redford who seals the deal.
This scribbler texts a wise person Monday night asking for a piece to the puzzle.
The wise one says Albertans are more averse to risk than we thought.
That's one way of putting it.