Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Going to Need a Slightly Bigger Phone Booth:' NDP Doubles Seats to 4 in Alberta: NDP Doubles Seats to Four in Alberta Election

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Going to Need a Slightly Bigger Phone Booth:' NDP Doubles Seats to 4 in Alberta: NDP Doubles Seats to Four in Alberta Election

Article excerpt

EDMONTON - Four seats out of the Alberta legislature's 87 may not seem like much, but it was a cause for celebration by the province's New Democrats in the provincial election Monday.

"We're going to need a slightly bigger phone booth!" beamed leader Brian Mason as he spoke to enthusiastic supporters, who chanted his name and cheered as the results came in.

The four seats -- all in Edmonton -- are twice what the NDP had going into the campaign -- enough for official party status and the extra resources that come with it.

"It doubles our voices," Mason said.

"That gives us the opportunity to be that voice that stands up in the legislature for public health care. We forced (Progressive Conservative Leader) Alison Redford during the campaign to say she would not privatize health care and we are going to hold her to that."

Mason, the oldest of the four major party leaders at 58, began the campaign on an elder statesman note.

Five days into the race, he chided his rivals for what he called a "negative tone" in exchanges between Progressive Conservative Leader Alison Redford, Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith and top Liberal Raj Sherman. He made the point in letters written to each of them.

On Monday night, he suggested that the Conservatives benefited from voter concerns about comments from some Wildrose candidates that were widely seen as anti-gay and racist.

"What disturbed me is not that they had some people among their candidates that had those views, but that Danielle Smith would not distance herself from them," said Mason. "That bothered me and it probably bothered a lot of other voters as well."

Mason conceded that the NDP might have wielded more clout if the vote had left them with the balance of power. But he promised to work with the government that Albertans elected -- and warned the Tories and Wildrose that he expects the same from them.

"There's certainly been a lot of animosity between the PCs and the Wildrose, and that was evident in the legislature. …

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