Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith (left), Progressive Conservative leader Alison Redford (right), Alberta Liberal leader Raj Sherman (centre left) and Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason (not shown) met at CBC studios in Edmonton, Alberta, on April 19, 2012 to take part in a leaders debate.
Credits: IAN KUCERAK/QMI AGENCY
It was the people of Alberta complaining under their breath about the Progressive Conservative government, but as of last Monday discontent with the PCs was far from open revolt.
I mean, the PCs won a big majority even if it wasn't all, you know, roses. Several cabinet ministers fell to Wildrose. Almost all of the rural south and two Calgary seats are now Wildrose green.
Four months ago no one expected Wildrose to make much headway against the PCs.
The economy was too strong and the PCs had a fresh new leader who represented change.
Three weeks ago Wildrose looked as though they would form a new majority government. A week ago Albertans broke off their brief, torrid affair with Wildrose when they discovered there were still thorns among the sweet smelling roses.
Unseating the incumbent party in Alberta provincial politics is a rare occurrence. As you probably know, by the time the next Alberta election rolls around the PCs will have been in power for 45 years.
Sometimes in Alberta we measure our political dynasties in geological time. In this case it's been eons since we had anyone else to complain about.
As I think through the psychology of the public's attachment to the Alberta PCs, it strikes me that getting rid of them would be a little like throwing out that couch you bought when you first got married.
It was great back then, really comfortable and looked terrific.
Then the kids came along and smeared it with what we hope is peanut butter. Pieces of potato chips fell down into every crevice along with lots of change - probably $50 billion at least.
Then we moved it to the basement and the kids, now teenagers, would hurl themselves down and the cushions started to sag and soon there were holes and it smelt musty.
You thought about putting a new cover on it, but who are we kidding? That smell!
Finally, after 41 years, you consider tossing it out and almost do it but then you think about the cost of a new couch. New couches can be very expensive, and would the new couch be as comfortable? Plus there are a lot of good memories associated with the old one.
In the end Albertans did the safe thing. We watched on as the PCs bought a new cover and a can of Febreze and made the old couch look and smell as good as it could. The old couch furnished them with another victory.
The big question is will Albertans have buyer's remorse?
A wave of voters left Wildrose in the last week of the campaign and went back to the PCs, in spite of and not because of the PC platform. They were nervous about handing over the keys to a bunch of rookies, some of whom had unusual views.
Now Wildrose will have four years to make all those PC switchers wish they had stayed put.