Ralph Klein, the flamboyant, ex-mayor of Calgary, has led his Conservative party to a majority in the Alberta provincial elections.
Klein, who replaced Don Getty last December, led his Tories to 51 seats, while Liberal leader Laurence Decore took 32.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the incredible beating which the New Democrats suffered. The party failed to win one seat and its leader, Ray Martin, resigned in disgrace. Observers blame the loss on the poor performance of the Ontario and British Columbia New Democrat governments.
The new leader seems to have a largely populist following. He made no promises during his campaign and often railed against the record of his predecessor, Don Getty.
“He’s extremely popular with Albertans,” said George Barr of Campaign Life Alberta, noting the fact that Klein won the election handily despite taking over when the Tories had only a 17% approval rating.
Though the new premier is not likely to radically change the province’s abortion policy, Barr feels some progress might be made.
“Klein doesn’t believe in abortion,” said Barr, “and I feel he might be open to discussion.” However, he warned against undue optimism.
Liberal leader Laurence Decore had earlier spoken of closing abortion “clinics” but later backed down when challenged.