In the March 12 provincial election, Albertans exercised their democratic right to demand change by demanding the status quo.
Ralph Klein and the Progressive Conservatives stormed back into power, claiming 74 of a possible 83 seats. The Liberals saw their leader dethroned as eight pre-election seats went to the Conservatives. The New Democrats kept both their seats in the legislature.
University of Calgary Associate Vice-president Student Affairs Dr. Peggy Patterson expressed mixed sentiments regarding the beefed-up Tory government.
"There's some stability there. We know how this government works so at least it will be easier to interact with them," she said of future university-government interactions. Patterson emphasized that post-secondary administrators would be vigilant regarding the conservative agenda for privatized universities.
Campus political clubs also expressed mixed sentiments over the election results.
"All the parties were shocked at the final seat numbers," said Sine Ziegler, Director and Secretary of the Campus New Democrats. "The ND shock was due to the fact that the lost Liberal seats went to the Tories. We fought so hard in the Calgary campaigns, but after seeing what a tough battle the election really was, we are thrilled to have kept our Edmonton seats with a clear majority in the ridings. The next election starts today."
President of the U of C Liberal Association Bryndis Whitson expressed similar sentiments.
"Of course we're disappointed," she said. "As a club, we worked very hard in the campaigns all across Calgary and it's a big disappointment that we only got seven seats in the entire province and only one in southern Alberta."
Whitson criticized the frivolity of Klein's victory address and expressed concern over the future of post-secondary education under Klein's administration.
"Students are going to feel the impact of this government," she declared. "They've never listened when we've protested tuition and they won't listen now. I can see tuition going up and more funding for certain professional programs while the rest fall by the wayside, I can see them saying 'most of Alberta voted for us so you must be the silent minority.'"
Patterson was somewhat more optimistic as to how the PC's will regard post-secondary education.
"Certainly there will be an encouragement to look for continuing support for education," said Patterson. "The case has been made through the election and the campaigns that there would be more funding coming [to post-secondary institutions] and we're hopeful that [the provincial government] will continue to follow through with the commitments they've made as far as the Renner report and in other areas."
The campus PCs could not be reached for comment.