St. Albert’s two new NDP MLAs were thrilled and somewhat stunned at the breadth of their victory on Tuesday night.
Interviewed at the NDP’s victory celebration in downtown Edmonton, Marie Renaud and Trevor Horne were the clear winners with nearly all of the polls reporting.
They will be joining the new NDP majority government led by Rachel Notley, who led her team to capturing an estimated 54 seats as of midnight.
The scene at the Westin hotel downtown was one of jubilation, with singing, dancing, chanting and an ecstatic crowd listening to Notley speak.
Renaud, the new MLA for St. Albert, nearly doubled the votes garnered by incumbent Progressive Conservative MLA Stephen Khan.
“We just made history,” Renaud told the Gazette after premier-elect Notley addressed the crowd.
She said she’d heard anger at the doors, and promised to work hard for St. Albert.
Renaud said one of her first steps will be to begin the transition process at LoSeCa, where she is currently the executive director. She’s also thrilled so many women were elected.
Horne, the new MLA for Spruce Grove-St. Albert, was still somewhat in shock when he spoke to the Gazette.
Asked how he felt having just gone from studying political science to being an elected politician, he said he wasn’t sure it had sunk in yet.
He had heard at the doors that people liked Notley.
The university student quipped one of his first steps in his new role would have to be some shopping.
“I think I need a new wardrobe,” Horne said.
Just before midnight, with 97 of 97 polls reporting in the St. Albert riding, Renaud had received 12,219 votes.
Earlier in the evening outgoing MLA Khan spoke to the Gazette. He offered congratulations to Renaud and said he was proud of his time as MLA for St. Albert.
“I’m very proud of my time representing St. Albert and that doesn’t change,” Khan said.
Khan was first elected in 2011. He was briefly a cabinet minister under Alison Redford and was appointed to Jim Prentice’s cabinet as service minister in September.
“I’m very excited to get to spend some time with my family,” Khan said, adding he’ll be taking the summer off and is looking forward to his new “job” as a volunteer coach for a Paul Kane’s high school volleyball team.
“The voters always get it right at the end of the day,” Khan said.
He praised the support from his volunteers, and said he was very surprised at the results.
In Spruce Grove-St. Albert with all but one poll reporting, Horne had received 10,915 votes, well ahead of PC candidate Rus Matichuk.
Earlier in the evening, the atmosphere was subdued at Matichuk’s campaign office as the numbers rolled in and revealed he had not been elected MLA.
In his consolation speech, he thanked his campaign team for their work and pontificated on the future of the province — a future with an NDP majority and the higher taxes they have promised.
Although defeated in the election, Matichuk was upbeat about the campaign he and his team had run.
“We touched an awful lot of people in the constituency,” he said. “We did the best we could.”
He said the biggest challenge he faced while campaigning is the amount of “misinformation” that existed about the Progressive Conservative party and its plans, which meant he had to spend 10 minutes correcting voters’ misconceptions. While those conversations yielded positive results, it wasn’t enough.
“You can’t spend 10 minutes at 18,000 homes,” he said. “I wish I had time to connect with more people.”
Matichuk suggested the mainstream media was largely to blame for some of those misconceptions, as the message on the news was consistently one of “preaching change.”
Matichuk said his biggest challenge, however, came from within the party itself in terms of the messaging coming from the provincial headquarters, and he said he wished he could have influenced that messaging early on.
He said his future plans are difficult to project, suggesting he might return to a career in corporate finance, but in the meantime he finished out the evening with his campaign team.
“Let’s eat, drink and be merry,” he told the small assembled crowd.