The Alberta election result was widely predicted but no one actually believed it until it happened. After 44 consecutive years of Progressive Conservative governments, many still thought that the polls might be proven wrong and the PCs would, once again, be returned to power. But, after four decades, the people of Alberta have held to their tradition of unceremoniously dumping the reigning party in power and have given the provincial NDP a decisive majority mandate.
So what happens next? Premier-Elect Rachel Notley will take time to choose who will be in cabinet. Similar to the federal NDP in 2011, the Premier-Elect will have to make decisions about how to move forward with a new and politically inexperienced caucus. The difference between the federal and provincial situations, however, is that the stakes of being in government are higher and make any misstep more pronounced.
Over the next few weeks, the goal of the provincial NDP leadership will be to continue to highlight the strengths of their accomplished leader while making careful choices on cabinet and staff in the Premier’s Office. Behind the scenes, they will be relying on the experience of those who have worked (and are working) for the federal NDP to make the transition to government successful.
The process of forming a government and choosing a cabinet will take time and, as a result of this electoral house cleaning, the role of the bureaucracy in Alberta will be increasingly important. Industry and stakeholders will have to get to know the players at this level much better than in the past.
The electoral ground has shifted in Alberta and a new model for doing business has been created. It will be important for companies to fully understand how this new model will work and to position themselves for success.