On the brink

This is a strange day in Alberta.  For the first time in recent memory, we don't know what kind of government we're going to wake up to tomorrow.  I can't imagine what the political players in this drama are feeling as the hours tick by with under three hours left to vote.

I'm sure the leaders in the two parties vying for power are starting to feel butterflies, reviewing drafts of speeches they will ultimately deliver later this evening, either in victory or gracious defeat.  Based on myriad polls, the outcome of the vote is still very much up in the air - "too close to call," they say.

The countless hours of campaigning, knocking on thousands of doors, weathering public forums, debates and election rhetoric, all come down to the next couple of hours.  For some, long political careers hang in the balance. For others, dreams and aspirations of life in the legislature are within reach.

Apparently, the last time an Alberta election result was uncertain was in 1993, when new Conservative leader Ralph Klein fended off a surging red tide led by former Edmonton mayor Laurence Decore.  My memories of this contest are fleeting, as I was new to the province, programming a radio station in former Premier Don Getty's riding.  Back in those days, the threat of a change in government didn't have any direct impact on my life, as I was pretty focused on my broadcasting career.  Times have really changed in that regard.

I work in the public sector and serve in local government, both of which are hugely connected to the provincial government.  What happens tonight, regardless of who lands in the winner's circle, is going to have a direct impact on almost everything I do.  So, the butterflies being felt by the leaders and their contingent of candidates, I'm feeling too.

No matter the political stripe, I have tremendous respect and admiration for every single person whose name is on a ballot today.  There are going to be a lot more losers than winners when the dust settles on this one.  When you run into those who don't make the cut in the coming days and weeks, take a moment to thank them for their courage and contribution to the province.  They have been an integral part of democracy's resurgence in Alberta in this historic election.  Every single one will need a kind word, a pat on the back, and sincere encouragement as they carry on with their lives.

The winners, on the other hand, will feel jubilation on a scale they probably haven't experienced previously.  The intense feelings of achievement will have been well earned, and they will deserve our heartfelt congratulations, no matter the party.  The job for which they have applied will begin in earnest as the sun rises in Alberta on April 24th.

We are on the brink of something, the shape of which is yet to be determined.  Hang on for a wild ride as the polls close at 8 pm.

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