Ed Stelmach elected new Alberta premier

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Ed Stelmach has won the race to lead Alberta's governing Progressive Conservative party beating out former Treasurer Jim Dinning and Ted Morton. Stelmach, now premier-Designate of Alberta, will be sworn in as Premier of the Canadian province once outgoing leader Ralph Klein leaves office later this month.

Stelmach placed third on the first ballot of the party's leadership election last Saturday behind Dinning, the favourite, who was in first place and former university professor Morton who was in second place. The top three contenders in the eight candidate race proceeded to the second ballot vote which occurred yesterday.

Stelmach was the surprise leader last night as the first choice of 51,764 voters (35.9%) to Dinning's 51,282 (35.6%). Morton placed third with 41,243 votes (28.6%) and was eliminated from the contest which then proceeded to counting the second choices cast by Morton's supporters on the preferential ballot. Once the second choices of Morton's supporters were factored in Stelmach surged ahead to win a clear victory by a margin of over 20,000 votes in the instant runoff.

The vote was open to all Albertans who purchased a five dollar party membership including members of other political parties. Over 144,000 ballots were cast and reports indicate that a number of members of more moderate parties voted in order to prevent a victory by Morton, a social conservative and supporter of allowing private health insurance to compete with the province's public system of Medicare and has been portrayed as a "right-wing extremist" by his opponents.

The Alberta Progressive Conservatives have ruled the western province continually since 1971. Stelmach will be the province's fourth successive Progressive Conservative premier.