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April 16, 2019: United Conservative Party Leader and now premier-designate Jason Kenney speaks at his election night headquarters in Calgary.

CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters

The highlights

  • Jason Kenney’s United Conservatives rode a wave of economic angst and western alienation to power in Alberta’s Tuesday election, winning a decisive 63-seat majority. Mr. Kenney said in his victory speech that the UCP would “stand up and secure a fair deal for Alberta in this great country” and renewed attacks on the federal government, carbon taxation and critics of the oil and gas industry.
  • The NDP’s Rachel Notley, whose party’s seat count was cut by more than half, will now become Official Opposition leader after four eventful years in government. In her concession speech, she said the party had “fundamentally changed the politics of this province forever” and the fight against Mr. Kenney’s agenda was not over.
  • Some oil executives are cautiously optimistic about a Kenney premiership after he promised a more aggressive approach to increasing pipeline capacity. But the industry is still divided over whether to keep some Notley-era plans in place for now, such as an oil-by-rail scheme and a curtailment policy aimed at reducing a supply glut.
  • British Columbians braced for a renewed energy war with Alberta. Mr. Kenney had promised legal measures to “turn off the taps” on fuel exports to B.C. in retaliation for the Trans Mountain pipeline extension, which NDP Premier John Horgan’s government and several First Nations oppose. Mr. Kenney spoke with Mr. Horgan on Wednesday and offered some conciliatory language at a news conference: “We will begin with the path of diplomacy and … we hope that we don’t need to use more forceful measures to assert Alberta’s vital economic interests.”
  • The Alberta and Liberal parties were completely shut out in Tuesday’s election, including former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel, who failed to unseat the NDP incumbent in his Edmonton riding.


Alberta’s new political map

Alberta politics tends to be dynastic: One party holds majority rule for at least a decade until voters get tired of it and shift allegiance en masse to a party that’s never held government before. That’s what happened in 2015, when Rachel Notley’s New Democrats ended four decades of Progressive Conservative power. And on Tuesday, it happened again: Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party – a fusion of the old PC and Wildrose parties that had 25 seats at dissolution – was elected in 63 ridings, or 72 per cent of legislature seats. The UCP also captured more than 55 per cent of the popular vote, more than any winning party has earned since 2001.

Alberta general election, 2015 vs. 2019

2015

Edmonton

Calgary

Red Deer

Lethbridge

Peace River

Lesser Slave Lake

West Yellowhead

Drumheller-

Stettler

Alberta Party

Liberal

NDP

PC

Wildrose

2019*

Edmonton

Calgary

Red Deer

Lethbridge

Peace River

Lesser Slave Lake

West Yellowhead

Drumheller-

Stettler

NDP

UCP

*Unofficial results as of 8 a.m. ET

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: ELECTIONS ALBERTA

Alberta general election, 2015 vs. 2019

2015

Edmonton

Calgary

Red Deer

Lethbridge

Peace River

Lesser Slave Lake

West Yellowhead

Drumheller-

Stettler

Alberta Party

Liberal

NDP

PC

Wildrose

2019*

Edmonton

Calgary

Red Deer

Lethbridge

Peace River

Lesser Slave Lake

West Yellowhead

Drumheller-

Stettler

NDP

UCP

*Unofficial results as of 8 a.m. ET

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: ELECTIONS ALBERTA

Alberta general election, 2015 vs. 2019

2019*

2015

Edmonton

Calgary

Red Deer

Edmonton

Calgary

Red Deer

Lethbridge

Lethbridge

Peace River

Peace River

Lesser Slave Lake

Lesser Slave Lake

West Yellowhead

West Yellowhead

Drumheller-

Stettler

Drumheller-

Stettler

Alberta Party

Liberal

NDP

NDP

PC

UCP

Wildrose

*Unofficial results as of 8 a.m. ET

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: ELECTIONS ALBERTA

By Wednesday morning, the electoral map was a sea of UCP blue with islands of NDP orange in Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge. The New Democrats went from 60 per cent of legislative seats at dissolution to 28 per cent, and from 40.6 per cent of the popular vote in 2015′s election to 32.2 per cent this time around. The NDP is the first Alberta dynasty to last only one term, and with only one leader.

Many of the battleground ridings profiled by The Globe and Mail went to the United Conservatives:

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  • In Red Deer, where the election debate focused on health care, NDP incumbents lost both ridings to UCP challengers: Adriana LaGrange in Red Deer-North and Jason Stephan in Red Deer-South.
  • The ridings straddling Fort McMurray, where some voters shared their apprehensions about a Kenney premiership, were each won by UCP incumbents: Tany Yao in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo and Laila Goodridge in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche.
  • The two ridings in Lethbridge, where a supervised drug-consumption site was a wedge issue between the main parties, were split between NDP incumbent Shannon Phillips in Lethbridge-West and UCP newcomer Nathan Neudorf in Lethbridge-East.
  • In the NDP’s urban stronghold, New Democrat incumbent Lorne Dach held on to Edmonton-McClung, and Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel failed to win his sought-after seat.

United Conservative Party supporters celebrate in Calgary on election night.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press


What will Kenney do now?

What did he promise to do?

Alberta’s election was a divisive slugfest over climate, pipelines, social programs and the ailing Alberta economy. Here’s a full recap of where the parties stood on major issues. The big changes Mr. Kenney promised to make include:

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
  • Repealing Alberta's carbon tax as the new government's first act
  • Filing a legal challenge against the federal climate framework, which taxes provinces without their own carbon taxes or cap-and-trade systems
  • Imposing a new tax on large industrial emitters
  • Cancelling Ms. Notley’s $3.7-billion oil-by-rail leasing program
ECONOMY AND JOBS
  • Cutting corporate tax rates from 12 per cent to 8 per cent
  • Cutting the minimum wage for workers 17 and under from $15 to $13 an hour
  • Freezing government spending for four years
  • Balancing the budget by 2022
HEALTH
  • Maintaining health spending at current levels, but cutting administrative costs
  • Reducing surgical wait times to no more than 16 weeks, down from the current 37 for hip replacements and 41 for knee replacements
  • Suspending the creation of new supervised drug-use sites and reviewing whether existing sites should continue to operate
EDUCATION
  • Allowing teachers to tell parents whether children join gay-straight alliances in schools
  • Reviving standardized tests for students in Grades 1-3
  • Cancelling "discovery learning" methods for subjects like math
  • Requiring universities to establish “free speech” policies like the ones instituted in Ontario

A Jason Kenney primer

Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

Premiership is the latest of many political careers for Mr. Kenney. He’s been an anti-taxation activist and foe of Alberta premier Ralph Klein; an opposition MP for Reform, then the Canadian Alliance, then the united federal Conservatives; a cabinet minister at the right hand of Stephen Harper; the last leader of the defeated Alberta Progressive Conservatives; and the first leader of the United Conservative Party. The threads uniting all of these are social conservatism, bellicose populism and a belief that Albertans get less out of Confederation than they’ve contributed to it. “I think a lot of Albertans feel like they’re under siege,” Mr. Kenney told The Globe and Mail in an interview during the election campaign, though he denied that he’s been the one stoking anger in the province: “I’m trying to do the opposite. I’m trying to redirect the frustration into a positive political direction.”

During the campaign, Mr. Kenney had to distance himself from controversy over UCP candidates’ past remarks using white nationalist, homophobic and transphobic talking points. He was also dogged by questions about how he came to lead the UCP in 2017. Leaked e-mails purported to show the Kenney camp supported one rival, Jeff Callaway, as a stalking horse to oppose another contender, Brian Jean. Mr. Kenney denied any impropriety. Elections Alberta and the RCMP are investigating Mr. Callaway’s campaign donations.

Profile: Jason Kenney says Alberta is 'under siege'

Is he officially the premier yet?

Ms. Notley is still the Premier until April 30, when Mr. Kenney and his cabinet will be sworn in by Lieutenant-Governor Lois Mitchell. Until then, you can call Mr. Kenney the “premier-designate.” (Resist the urge to call him “premier-elect,” because there is no such thing in Canada. No province directly elects its premiers, they’re just the leaders of whichever party or coalition forms government.)

What will Notley do now?

NDP Leader Rachel Notley, flanked by her son Ethan and daughter Sophie, reacts to her loss at her election night party in Edmonton.

CANDACE ELLIOTT/Reuters

With the NDP’s seat count cut by more than half, Ms. Notley – who made clear before election day that she wouldn’t resign if the NDP lost – pivoted quickly into her new role of Official Opposition leader. On Tuesday night, she congratulated Mr. Kenney and rallied her supporters to oppose his political agenda. She invoked the legacy of her father, Grant Notley, who was the NDP’s lone MLA in the 1970s and briefly led the party in Official Opposition before his death in 1984:

I was seven years old when my Dad was first elected to the legislature of this province, and that was the same year that the Conservatives first took power. I was 51 when we ended the era of one-party rule. Today, politics in Alberta has changed forever. Governing in Alberta should never again be a divine right but always, always an earned privilege.

Profile: How Rachel Notley won the respect of Albertans

What will the smaller parties do now?

Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel, left, poses for a selfie with a supporter in his riding while out campaigning in Edmonton on March 28.

Jason Franson/The Globe and Mail

For centrist parties hoping to claim middle ground in the election, Tuesday night was a total drubbing. The Alberta Party failed to gain any seats, and the Liberals went from one MLA to none. Mr. Mandel, who failed to unseat the NDP incumbent in his Edmonton riding, said the polarized election made it hard for the Alberta Party to find support, but it would regroup and run a full slate in the next election:

I really believe deeply this is the party of the future in this province when people get away from this polarization and start looking at ideas, and what our party and our province can do.

What this means for the rest of Canada

Federal government

Alberta’s election was as much a referendum on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as it was on Ms. Notley’s NDP: Mr. Kenney routinely denounced the “Trudeau-Notley alliance,” accused Ms. Notley of having “sold us down the river” by agreeing to the federal carbon-pricing plan and campaigned alongside Mr. Trudeau’s Conservative rival, Andrew Scheer. With a federal election coming up in October, Mr. Trudeau now has a determined enemy in Alberta who has promised a legal and political battle against carbon taxation.

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B.C. government

After months of political tensions over the Trans Mountain pipeline extension, which his government opposes, NDP Premier John Horgan had a hard time getting enthusiastic about either candidate in Alberta’s election. Whereas Ms. Notley wrote legislation that would let Alberta throttle B.C.'s supplies of oil and gas, but didn’t use it, Mr. Kenney says he would bring those measures into law at his first cabinet meeting and play hardball with the B.C. and federal governments until Trans Mountain is built. Mr. Kenney’s election could soon ignite more legal and trade conflict between the neighbouring provinces.

The Gang of Four, now the Furious Five

Mr. Kenney now joins the ranks of provincial premiers – Ontario’s Doug Ford, Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe, Manitoba’s Brian Pallister and New Brunswick’s Blaine Higgs – who have balked at the federal carbon tax and are fighting it in court. Mr. Kenney had promised to scrap Alberta’s carbon tax and file a legal challenge to the federal tax.

Analysis and commentary

Editorial: There is more heat than light in Kenney’s call for Alberta to ‘fight back’

Trevor Tombe: Coming soon: Jason Kenney’s economic reality check

Barrie McKenna: Jason Kenney is selling false hope to Albertans on pipelines

Gary Mason: Economic worries trumped concerns about UCP. Now what?

Campbell Clark: Kenney victory another thorn in side of Trudeau as he seeks re-election

From the comments: ‘Trudeau sabotaged Notley’s re-election.' Readers respond to Kenney’s victory

Compiled by Globe staff

With reports from James Keller, Justin Giovannetti, Jana G. Pruden, Jeffrey Jones and Justine Hunter

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