In ceding premiership to designate and UCP Leader Jason Kenney, NDP Leader Rachel Notley promised to never stop fighting for Albertans as the future leader of the opposition.

After hearing early results his party had won a majority of seats, Kenney announced to a celebratory crowd: “Friends, today our great province has sent a message to Canada and the world: Alberta is open for business.”

And as the premier-designate promised Alberta more jobs, pipelines, and a stronger position against the federal government, the outgoing premier addressed her own supporters.  

“Yes, tonight’s result is not the one we hoped for or worked hard for, but as I look out at all of you I am filled with a sense of gratitude and pride,” Notley told those at the NDP’s headquarters in Edmonton Tuesday night.

“Four years ago Albertans hired us to do a very big job at a very difficult time, and we did that job with purpose. And we did it with integrity. And today, Alberta is a better place because of it.”

The 28-day campaign had been characterized as nasty and full of attacks between the two party leaders, who fought to convince Alberta they could improve the province's economy.

Current tallies project a two-party government in Alberta, with the UCP having earned 63 seats in the legislature. The NDP have won 24.

“This may feel like a step back, but remember we have made tremendous, tremendous progress,” Notley said, recapping her party’s efforts to raise the minimum wage, make Alberta a climate change leader while diversifying the economy, and championing human rights.

“To every Albertan out there who identifies as LGBTQ2SA+, know you will always have a champion in me and in the Alberta NDP and in the Alberta NDP opposition.”

Notley added she respected Alberta’s vote and that she had promised to help the premier-designate and his party to transition to government.

“I wish him and his government well. We all do—we must—because we all love Alberta.”

In his victory speech, Kenney also thanked Notley for her service as premier.

However, Notley’s congratulation to Kenney and the UCP was accompanied by a guarantee to serve as a “rigorous and robust opposition, holding government to account.”

Amidst cheers, she said: “Governing in Alberta should never again be a divine right but always, always an earned privilege.”

She promised to continue to fight for the values with which the NDP governed over its four-year term, and called it an honour to have served as premier.

After thanking her family, team and home riding of Edmonton-Strathcona for continued support, Notley closed the night by saying she draws inspiration from those who came before her.

“Courage, my friends. It’s not too late to build a better world.”

Final election results are expected within a few days, delayed by a record turnout in advance polls by Albertans who voted outside their home riding.