The arrival of spring this week marks not only the end of winter but the also the unofficial start of the first provincial election campaign since 2008.
And although not coming as a surprise, thanks to the new mandatory election date law in the province, the upcoming campaign may end up providing plenty of surprises, both for the Alison Redford Tories and for the opposition parties.
For their part the Tories wouldn't be smart to take anything for granted in the 2012 campaign in light of numerous high profile issues and concerns that have surfaced under Redford's leadership in recent months.
For example, Albertans everywhere will certainly be asking Tory candidates why household electricity costs have gone through the roof in recent times, in turn, causing no small amount of hardship for many urban and rural families.
Tory candidates will also be heavily grilled on health care, and specifically the very serious matter of physician intimidation and whether Albertans can trust Redford and her party colleagues to properly and fairly oversee the vital, and very expensive, health care system over the next four years.
For their part, Liberals and the NDP candidates will, naturally, be hoping that many voters will be dissatisfied with the Tory candidates' answers to the key issue questions and, in response, finally end the decades-long Progressive Conservative run of electoral success.
Of course the upcoming campaign will also show whether the decision by the Liberals and NDP not to join forces following their respective election defeats in 2008 was a wise one or something closer to folly.
As the campaign gets underway, there is speculation that the Wildrose Alliance under the leadership of Danielle Smith may be set to score major gains, both in the cities and in rural areas.
If Smith can lead her party to official opposition status, as a good many observers are predicting, it will be major shake-up and certainly represent a new era in Alberta politics. Of course it's always easier to predict than to deliver when it comes to politics at any level.
When then-premier Ed Stelmach launched the 2008 election campaign there was plenty of speculation that the Tories were in for a big fall in voter support. As things turned out, Stelmach lead his party to yet another big election victory, gaining seats and hammering the opposition parties in the process.
Whether the upcoming election campaign will end with results similar to 2008 remains anyone's guess, especially with the added Wildrose Alliance wildcard this time around.
What is known for sure is that Albertans everywhere, including right here in West Central Alberta, have plenty at stake in the springtime 2012 vote.