Pedersen wins in Medicine Hat

Tuesday, 24 April 2012 00:00 Alex Mccuaig


It has to be considered an upset victory in Medicine Hat as the Wildrose Party and Blake Pedersen wrestled the city riding from the PCs after the Tory’s 35-year stranglehold on the constituency.
“You get into this and it’s a dream to try to chase something that may be out of reach — to be here today, standing where I am, it’s pretty amazing, awesome,” said Pedersen.
Pedersen’s lead was established within the first six polling stations reporting and it never let up.
While PC Darren Hirsch’s campaign office tracked and recorded the latest poll-by-poll results and the mood grew increasingly tense, Pedersen appeared relaxed and more than happy to forgo the polling board and watch the results trickle in on TV.
It wasn’t until Hirsch stepped inside the Wildrose campaign office to concede did it appear to sink in for Pedersen that he’d taken the seat.
As for the issue which played the most in his favour, Pedersen replied, “the fact the PCs made promises and broke them down here more than once and I think it was one of those things that resonated and we just didn’t seem to be getting the attention.
“I think voters just said we needed a change, at least in this part of the country.”
Pedersen said the race was a battle, something he gave credit to all candidates for fighting.
But he said it will be up to him and fellow Wildrose MLA Drew Barnes to stand up for southeastern Alberta in the provincial opposition.
“I know this election was a little bit divisive and I guess we’ll have to see how it all plays out,” said Pedersen.
“We don’t hold the government so we’re definitely going to have to hold the PCs accountable.”
The Hirsch camp appeared to share what the PC candidate called “shock” at the riding election result.
The one issue which played on the Medicine Hat voter, Hirsch said, was the ‘forgotten corner’ stigma that appeared to resonate with the electorate.
“I’m honestly not too surprised,” said Liberal candidate Matthew Sandford about the local results. While every candidate wants to win, Sandford said Pedersen has always been a friendly face throughout the campaign, always going out of his way to talk with him.
“To have someone as personable as Blake, I’m certainly happy for him.”
NDP riding president Wally Regehr said the disdain over land-use legislation was a particular reason for the area’s shift to the Wildrose.
“There’s no doubt the property rights issue was huge,” said Regehr.
“Danielle Smith was on that two years ago before it was even on the radar. They played it extremely well.
“I went to a meeting that had 400 people, and they were mad, yelling and screaming. With that kind of hatred — it was hatred plain and simple… there’s no point saying look at this clause or that clause (in the election). It was way too late for that.”
Unofficial final results are: Pedersen (Wildrose) 6,030 votes, Hirsch (PC) 5,341, Perrier (NDP) 1,168, Sandford (Liberal) 1,101, Graham Murray (EverGreen) 212.