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EDITORIAL: Win or warning?

A win or a warning? That's the question many media outlets in Alberta were asking, after Premier Danielle Smith's recent win in the Brooks-Medicine Hat byelection last week. On Nov.
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A win or a warning?

That's the question many media outlets in Alberta were asking, after Premier Danielle Smith's recent win in the Brooks-Medicine Hat byelection last week. 

On Nov. 8, Alberta's recently christened premier and leader of the UCP officially earned back a seat in the provincial legislature after a seven-year absence. She won the seat with 54.5 per cent of the vote, while her closest competitors (Gwendoline Dirk from the NDP and Barry Morishita from the Alberta Party) collected 26.7 per cent and 16.5 per cent, respectively. The remaining few per cent of votes were divvied up by a pair of independent candidates: Bob Blayone and Jeevan Mangat.

While not necessarily a landslide, Smith's victory in Brooks-Medicine Hat was still decisive. After all, she managed to receive a majority of votes in a five-candidate byelection, and nearly 30 per cent more than her closest opponent – despite the High Riverite being a parachute candidate with no prior ties to Brooks-Medicine Hat. 

But it's still very interesting to see that in a very conservative rural riding, almost 46 per cent of voters opted not to vote for a very conservative rural candidate. That hesitancy to support Smith may show a holdover in negative public opinion from her earlier floor-crossing in 2014, when she defected from the Wildrose Party to join the Progressive Conservatives. 

Some NDP supporters lamented at the perceived vote-splitting between Dirk and Morishita, who previously served as Brookers' mayor before becoming the centrist Alberta Party's leader a few years ago. But even combined, their total percentage of votes still falls short of Smith's. 

Regardless, Smith has earned a way back into the legislature. The complaints about her not being an elected premier are no longer valid. But with less than half a year before the provincial election is slated to take place, she'll have a lot work to do in a very short period of time to convince Albertans to keep her around. 

 


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