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EDITORIAL: Provincial election mercifully over, governance future still uncertain

EDITORIAL: The dust has settled, and the provincial election is over.
Cartoon by Patrick LaMontagne/

The dust has settled, and the provincial election is over.

Whether or not people like the results are ultimately up to each individual, but with a UCP majority government, and as of right now, an NDP riding, Banff-Kananaskis could be in a perilous place when it comes to representation in the provincial legislature.

It’s not to say the government will ignore or abandon the needs of residents in the distant mountains, but a locale is always better represented when they have as large a voice as possible when it comes to making legislation.

Though all governments are designed and intended to be as inclusive as possible, reality always proves otherwise.

But with fewer than 200 votes separating the NDP’s Sarah Elmeligi and the UCP’s Miranda Rosin, a potential recount could be in the cards to cross every 't' and dot every 'i' before the official results are finalized by Elections Alberta.

In the Bow Valley, questions on affordable housing, the environment, climate change, Indigenous relations, tourism and ambulance services will all be top of mind as the new government takes shape.

At the same time, the matter of provincial downloading of services on municipalities – which in turn impacts local taxpayers – and whether a provincial police force to replace the RCMP are all important questions.

The last year has seen Banff, Canmore and Jasper make significant progress in gaining a form of special status when it comes to being a tourism destination. The position of the three communities puts an onerous tax burden on residents who are left to pick up the tab on infrastructure needs for the millions of people who visit each year.

Rosin was able to get first reading for the tourism bill, but the writ being dropped quashed any attempt to see it returned until a new legislature begins.

The UCP captured the majority, but also lost a ton of seats and sitting MLAs. Gone are high-ranking ministers in Jason Copping and Jeremy Nixon, while a little more than a handful of votes could keep Tyler Shandro out of government.

The party remains just as fractured as it was in the tailspin of Jason Kenney’s leadership and has only been united to ensure an NDP government doesn’t take shape.

If that unity can be maintained for the long run, especially with such divisive voices, is yet to be seen.

However, even under the non-stop controversy that was Danielle Smith’s campaigning and almost daily common sensical errors, voters still weren’t swayed by the NDP.

Unlike in 2019, voters turned out in Banff-Kananaskis, especially in Canmore and at advanced polls in droves.

In the last provincial election, roughly 30 per cent of eligible Canmore voters turned out. While results are still unofficial until June 8 at the latest, the fact that 75.43 per cent of eligible voters in the riding turned out is impressive.

Of course, in Alberta an elected premier doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll last the entire term.

Jason Kenney, Alison Redford, Ed Stelmach and Ralph Klein all left their spots as premier before their term had ended. Jim Prentice, Danielle Smith and Dave Hancock also took turns holding the main chair after previous leaders left.

The lone premier since 2006 to make their way to the end of a term was Rachel Notley, who on election night sounded as if she would be sticking around for the foreseeable future.

The coming weeks, future mandate letters to ministries and the vision and goals outlined will spell what the ensuing months and years will look like.

For many in the Bow Valley, they’ll likely be looking to the west eager, hoping and wishing for British Columbia to invade and finally annex the Rocky Mountains.

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