Four more years for Olson
There's an old saying in the sports world that it doesn't matter how you win as long as you win.
PC Verlyn Olson didn't receive quite as many votes as he did in the 2008 provincial election but he won anyway and will be going back to the legislature as the MLA for Wetaskiwin-Camrose.
The final tally as of April 25 was 7,489 for Olson, 4,552, for Wildrose Party candidate Trevor Miller, 1,578, for NDP candidate Bruce Hinkley, 502 for Liberal candidate Owen Chubb and 192 for EverGreen candidate Mike Donnelly.
Olson spent a relaxing day around Camrose on election day, taking his grandsons for ice cream and catching up on errands with his wife Mardell.
The day before he had been in Wetaskiwin and in Red Deer, where he helped Mary Anne Jablonski with some of her door knocking.
He watched the numbers come in at Bittern Lake, a community chosen for its proximity to both Camrose and Wetaskiwin.
Olson had prepared himself for any outcome, favourable or not.
"I wouldn't have been surprised if we had lost big and I wouldn't have been surprised if we had won bigger than we did, and I wouldn't have been surprised by a minority government either way," he said. "It was just very very hard to read, and everybody I talked to had the same feeling. I spoke with several of my colleagues in the days before and I think we were all feeling the same way."
Olson said the uncertainty over what the final result might be motivated everyone on his campaign team to work hard.
"I felt as though I had just a fantastic team that ran a great campaign, and I was going to have no regrets in terms of our effort."
Olson said the message he heard loud and clear during the campaign was that the government needs to listen to the people of Alberta and make sure the actions it takes reflect their priorities.
"I think that Alison Redford's message has been that our party needs to reflect a modern Alberta, an Alberta that has changed a lot over recent years and continues to evolve by the day," he said. "I heard a discussion on CBC the other day where one of the commentators was saying that a third of the people who live in Alberta have only been here fifteen years or less. We need to reflect this changing Alberta while not giving up on the principles that made Alberta great in the first place."
Olson believes it is important to take seriously the concerns of all Albertans.
"I said in my little speech to those gathered at my election night party that I represent everybody in the Wetaskiwin-Camrose constituency, not just the people who voted for me," he said. "I take that part of it very seriously. I am happy to talk to and listen to people with all points of view."
While he was pleasantly surprised with his Party's showing in Calgary, Olson was disappointed with the loss of a few seats in a few southern rural areas, some of whom were close friends.
"They were outstanding MLAs doing a great job," he said. "I think maybe they got caught up in the swirl of discontent."
Olson is hopeful he will be invited by Premier Redford to be part of the new government cabinet as Justice Minister but knows that nothing is certain and that much could change.
"I am looking forward to what the Premier has in mind in terms of forming the cabinet. "I am impressed with the new people who have been elected."
Olson beat Liberal Keith Elliott by more than 6,000 votes in the 2008 election. LeRoy Johnson was the PC MLA from 1997 to 2008, while Ken Rostad was the PC MLA from 1986 to 1997. Gordon Stromberg was the MLA from 1971 to 1986.