As a progressive I'm naturally pretty thrilled by Albertans' decision to elect an NDP government in Alberta last night. I believe new premier Rachel Notley has the smarts, compassion and grit to make Alberta a better place.
But at the same time I'm sad that I wasn't a part of such a historic moment - and I could have been. Back in 2006 I took a job with Kevin Taft's Liberals because I honestly believed that party stood the best chance of toppling the Progressive Conservatives. Even though I considered myself a New Democrat at heart, Taft's Liberals were progressive enough to pass muster, at least when factoring in the pragmatic desire to win government.
Well, we all know how that turned out. During the six and a half years and two elections I stuck with the Liberals, we went through three leaders and lost a little less than half our MLAs with each passing vote. After the election of 2012 I'd finally had enough, and moved on.
I'm proud of the work I did for the Liberals, and I don't regret my years with them. But today I wish I'd followed my heart and dreamed bigger. It would have been pretty amazing to be on Notley's team, to experience victory rather than defeat, and to know that victory meant a better tomorrow for Albertans - particularly the vulnerable and disadvantaged, or so I hope and believe.
While I'm disappointed in myself, my failure of imagination or simple cowardice - call it what you want - merely highlights the virtues of those stalwart New Democrat volunteers and perennial candidates who finally earned their richly deserved rewards last night. I'm very happy for the many Albertans who bled orange for years or even decades for their moment in history.
Perhaps the most bittersweet moment for me was watching my friend Naomi's sister, Jessica Littlewood, win Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville for the NDP handily. When I ran there in 2008 against Ed Stelmach, he beat me by 10,000 votes. And in a strange coincidence, Naomi shot my official photographs for my campaign. Needless to say I'm delighted for Jessica and Naomi, but it doesn't take any of the sting out of that 2008 loss.
What's important, though, is not that any particular person or party wins any particular election. What's important is that we govern ourselves with wisdom and caring, and there are people in every political party who really do have the best interests of the people at heart. That's why I'm so happy Liberal leader David Swann held on to his seat last night; he'll continue to be an important voice for public health care and farm worker safety in the Legislature, and this time around the governing party might be more sympathetic to his concerns. We can hope!