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What the election taught me

This year’s election was the first time I was able to vote in a provincial election. It wasn’t just interesting for me because I was voting for the first time – I was engaged with the things that were happening and excited to be a part of history in the making.

My family moved to northern Alberta from Newfoundland when I was young. I’ve lived in this province for most of my life, but I discover more about it every day. For example, I’ve always known about how Alberta’s economy has relied on oil and gas, but I didn’t know that in 1971 the Great Canadian Oil Sands were producing more than 30,000 barrels per day. Today, Alberta produces more than 2.3-million barrels per day. Tidbits like this began to open me up more to learning about the province.

Currently, I’m in my third year of journalism at Mount Royal University, and I’ve been taking a minor in political science. This past semester – during the ramping-up of the election – I took a course called Alberta Government and Politics, which taught me a lot about Alberta’s political history.

 It was a great class to take at the time of an election. My professor, political analyst Duane Bratt, recently released a book with his MRU colleagues about the 2015 election, called Orange Chinook. Through the class and the book, I learned about the importance of the 2015 provincial election.

That election ended a 44-year Progressive Conservative dynasty. Although the NDP were the underdogs before the election, the party was able to beat out two contending conservative parties with a majority government – another thing I learned about Albertans is that we have elected majority governments throughout the province’s entire political history. The knowledge helped me draw connections and realize the importance of our most recent election.

Rachel Notley and the NDP became the first party in Alberta history to not win re-election after their first term. Albertans voted in another majority government, with the UCP winning 63 of the 87 seats in legislature. And this is the first time Albertans elected a two-party legislature since 1993.

This election also marked the first time I saw people really care about the issues and what politicians were saying. It was very clear on Election Day that the engagement for this election was very high – the highest voter turnout in Alberta since the early 1980s, and definitely the highest turnout since I’ve been in the province.

If anything, I think this election both changed history and maintained it, and I enjoyed being a part of it.
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