Premier Jim Prentice has chalked up his victory in the Oct. 27 provincial byelections to a positive approach.
Prentice handily won his own seat in Calgary Foothills and led his party to victories in three other ridings, Calgary Elbow, Calgary West and Edmonton Whitemud.
“Tonight is a clear victory for optimism over negativity,” Prentice told the crowd at his campaign headquarters after the results were in.
Prentice attributed the success of his campaign to “reconnecting the government with the needs and priorities of Albertans.”
That “reconnecting” started six weeks ago when he was elected leader of the PC party, to succeed the discredited Alison Redford.
It was confirmed by the 13,000 doors Prentice and his volunteers knocked on in Calgary Foothills during the byelection campaign.
“You don’t get good government unless you talk to people,” Prentice said.
The message that the premier heard is that “Albertans want a lot more action and a lot less talk,” said Prentice.
“They want a lot less politics and a lot more good government.”
That means providing more schools, senior care facilities and an overall health system “that works,” while respecting taxpayers, he said.
The Progressive Conservative party swept the three other ridings in byelections Monday night as Education Minister Gordon Dirks won Calgary Elbow, Health Minister Stephen Mandel took Edmonton Whitemud and PC candidate Mike Ellis narrowly beat out Wild Rose Alliance candidate and former public school board chair Sheila Taylor by 315 votes in Calgary West.
The Tory sweep was just one surprise on the night.
Another was the fact the Wild Rose, which had been riding high in opinion polls going into the byelection campaigns, finished second in total votes in the four ridings, with 28 per cent, to 44 per cent for the Tories.
Wild Rose also finished third in two of the ridings.
Alberta Party candidate Greg Clark wound up second behind Dirks in Elbow, while the New Democrats came in second in Whitemud.
The overall results had some some pundits questioning Wild Rose leader Danielle Smith’s leadership and her strategy of criticizing the government’s record instead of emphasizing what a Wild Rose government would do.
Prentice, meanwhile, saw the byelections as the start of a PC revival.
“Tonight is really just the first step,” Prentice said.
“It shows that by putting the government back into the hands of Albertans, this is the right path forward.”
“We are going to restore the trust of the people of Alberta in this government,” said Prentice.
“It’s time to get to work.”