By Trevor Busch
Alberta is in uncharted political waters following last week’s majority election victory for the NDP, which saw the erasure of the PC’s four-decade political dynasty.
Although unsuccessful in his bid to become Cardston-Taber-Warner’s MLA, NDP candidate Aaron Haugen still managed to shatter constituency election records, taking in almost 20 per cent of the total vote.
Prior to Tuesday’s historic victory, the NDP had never managed to secure more than six per cent of the popular vote in the riding, last captured in 1997.
As for the fear-mongering ramping up in defeated conservative ranks across the province and nationally about an NDP government in Alberta, Haugen admitted he was hardly surprised by the reaction.
“Not really. It’s bound to happen.”
Haugen isn’t buying that a dead split amongst conservative voters in the province between the Wildrose and the PCs allowed the NDP to ‘steal’ the election.
“No, I think people just looked for a different alternative,” said Haugen.
“The demographics of the province have changed, and younger people and people that have come to our province don’t fear a change of government anymore.”
Haugen was tight-lipped about how democratic socialist ideas are likely to play in a province that has had some form of conservative government at the top for more than a century.
“We’ll have to wait and see. I can’t predict the future.”
Considering Cardston-Taber-Warner’s popular vote breakdown with the NDP posting nearly 20 per cent, Haugen is convinced rural voters are slowly becoming more amenable to left-of-centre ideas and parties in Alberta.
“Yes. I think they are. I think we’re seeing people who haven’t voted before come out and vote. In general, turnout increased across the province, and I think more people decided they wanted to have their voice heard this time. It’s definitely something we didn’t see happening when we began thinking about this back in January, when we started looking at candidates for the rural ridings.”
Haugen is hoping the ground swell of support seen in the riding will translate into the NDP establishing more firm roots in Cardston-Taber-Warner in the future.
“Thank you for your support, and hopefully you can get together and stick with the party, and maybe we can get a riding association together, and make some improvements.”