NDP wave pulls down Alta. Tories, ag minister

Alberta’s incumbent agriculture and rural development minister is among the casualties of the provincial New Democrats’ unprecedented majority in Tuesday’s election.

Verlyn Olson, the MLA for Wetaskiwin-Camrose since 2008, the province’s ag and rural development minister since 2012, and its acting justice minister for about a week and a half, was downed by NDP candidate Bruce Hinkley by a spread of 1,578 votes.

In all, Rachel Notley’s NDP was elected or leading in 54 of the province’s 87 ridings on Monday night, followed by Brian Jean’s Wildrose in official opposition with 21 seats.

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Premier Jim Prentice’s Progressive Conservatives held just 10 ridings, followed by the Alberta Party and Liberals with one each. Prentice on Tuesday night immediately announced his resignation both as party leader and as MLA for Calgary-Foothills, where he beat NDP challenger Anne Wilson by a spread of 1,415 votes.

(One riding, Calgary-Glenmore, is logged in the NDP’s win column but, as of Tuesday night, was stuck in a tie between incumbent Tory MLA Linda Johnson and NDP candidate Anam Kazim at 7,015 votes each with all polls reporting.)

Notley’s incumbent agriculture critic, Edmonton schoolteacher David Eggen, easily held onto his riding of Edmonton-Calder on Tuesday night, beating Tory candidate Tom Bradley by a spread of 9,615 votes.

Among other options for the NDP on the ag file are Oneil Carlier, a regional representative for the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and former geotechnical technician with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, who won the Whitecourt-Ste. Anne riding on Tuesday against Tory MLA George VanderBurg and Wildrose candidate John Bos.

Another option is Colin Piquette, a former ethics and law professor at the University of Alberta and director with the Boyle District Agricultural Society, who won the riding of Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater from Prentice’s minister for seniors, Jeff Johnson. Raised on a farm near Plamondon, Piquette now works in the family insurance business in Boyle.

Among the other parties’ leaders on the ag file, ex-Wildrose ag critic and Mossleigh-area grain grower Ian Donovan — who jumped to the Tories last November — lost his riding of Little Bow to Wildrose candidate David Schneider by a spread of just 12 votes.

The Tories’ associate ag minister, farmer Everett McDonald — who recently filled in for Olson when the minister took sick leave — came in third in his riding of Grande Prairie-Smoky against farmer and outfitter Todd Loewen, the Wildrose candidate he defeated in 2012.

The Tories’ transportation minister Wayne Drysdale, a Grande Prairie-area farmer and former board member with Alberta Beef Producers and Alberta Milk Producers, held his seat of Grande Prairie-Wapiti over NDP challenger Mary Dahr. — AGCanada.com Network

 

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