'Alberta is open for business': UCP wins majority in provincial election
Published Tuesday, April 16, 2019 6:28AM MDT Last Updated Wednesday, April 17, 2019 11:16AM MDT
United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney will be the next premier of Alberta, as CTV News projects the conservatives will form a majority government.
“Thank you, fellow Albertans!” Kenney told a roaring crowd Tuesday night. “Friends, today our great province has sent a message to Canada and the world: Alberta is open for business.”
At one point in his speech, supporters broke into a chant, "Build that pipe. Build that pipe."
The premier-designate was quick to jump in: "I’m sorry. I’ve got to correct you. We never should have ended up with the faint hope of one pipeline. It’s build those pipes.”
Kenney helped form the UCP party in 2017 and cruised to a victory against Rachel Notley and her one-term NDP government two years later.
In a heated 28-day campaign, the premier-designate criticized Notley for her alliance with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, her inability to get the Trans Mountain expansion built, and the NDP's ballooning debt. Notley, in turn, questioned Kenney's leadership due to the constant controversies surrounding the UCP, including the allegations of a “kamikaze” campaign and homophobic comments made by candidate Mark Smith.
However, amongst the UCP wins was Smith, who earned a seat in Drayton Valley-Devon.
It was unknown if support would remain strong for the UCP in his riding after the homophobic remarks were surfaced. According to early election results, Smith won an estimated 74.7 per cent of the riding’s votes. NDP’s Kieran Quirke received 380 votes, or about 14 per cent.
CTV News is projecting a win for Kenney in Calgary-Lougheed, while Notley will hold onto her seat in Edmonton-Strathcona and serve as leader of the opposition, which she called “an honour.”
In her concession speech at the Edmonton Convention Centre, Notley said she accepted the decision made by Albertans and congratulated Kenney.
“I wish him and his government well. We all do. We must, because we all love Alberta.”
Notley also touted her party’s record on climate change, health care, education and reducing youth poverty.
“Today Alberta is a better place because of it,” Notley said.
“This may feel like a step back, but remember, we have made tremendous, tremendous, progress.”
Trudeau issued a statement to congratulate Alberta’s premier-designate.
“I look forward to working with the provincial government to create good, middle class jobs, build infrastructure, and grow the businesses and industries at the heart of Alberta’s prosperity so the province can remain competitive in our changing economy.”
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson echoed the sentiment, promising to “work earnestly with the new government to ensure Edmonton has the infrastructure, housing, climate resilience, regional prosperity and community supports in place to thrive for generations to come.”
Leader of the Conservative Party Andrew Scheer wrote on Twitter, “Congratulations to my friend @jkenney on his victory in Alberta tonight!” Scheer added that he looked forward to working with Kenney and the conservatives on helping Alberta get “back on track.”
Projections currently give the UCP 63 seats—the majority of them in Calgary and rural Alberta—and 24 seats for the NDP, with a strong presence in the Edmonton area.
That the NDP has kept support in Edmonton means several candidates have been reelected, including downtown’s Dave Shepherd, who won just under 64 per cent of the vote. His UCP opponent, Lily Le, received 22 per cent of the vote. NDP member Sarah Hoffman was reelected in her riding, Edmonton-Glenora, with about 57 per cent of the vote.
The NDP is also leading in Edmonton-McClung, Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel’s riding. Mandel earned just 4,055 votes, or 21.5 per cent of the McClung’s support.
The Alberta Party has not earned a seat in the election.
Addressing his supporters Tuesday night, Mandel said the early results hadn’t shaken his faith in the party.
“I really believe deeply this is the party of the future in this province when people get away from this polarization and start looking ideas and what a party can be, what our province can be,” he said.
“I can’t not tell you the number of times people came up to me and said, ‘I wanted to vote for you but I am concerned about,’ ‘I really like you but I am concerned about...’
“The ‘concerned about’ hurt us a lot,” Mandel told the crowd.
In Alberta Liberal Party Leader David Khan's speech, he spoke partly to Kenney directly: “With your victory comes great responsibility. You will be the premier of all Albertans. This includes the vulnerable, those with special needs, and the LGBTQ2S+ community. Do not abuse your authority. Be fair and inclusive in your decisions.”
He urged Kenney to remove those who had expressed offensive views from the party before addressing projections that predict the Liberals will earn no seats in the legislature.
"We believed in the quality of our ideas, and the virtue of our values, but the political pendulum has swung away from modern, progressive politics, towards a more conservative position. That is the will of the people. This was not our election, but this is not the end of the Alberta Liberal Party. We will regroup, reload, and carry on,” Khan said.
Officials predicted a record-breaking voter turnout after nearly 700,000 Albertans voted in the advance poll.
More than a third of advance ballots were cast outside of the voter’s electoral district. Those votes will be sent to Edmonton, where counting will begin on Wednesday.
Notley and Mandel voted Tuesday morning, while Kenney and Khan cast their ballots in the advance polls.