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Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley woos small-c conservatives, says UCP would attack minorities

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley speaks to the media after testifying at a Senate Committee hearing on Bill C-48 in Calgary on April 9, 2019.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley is urging small-c conservatives to come on board arguing that they share core values with her party and not Jason Kenney’s United Conservatives.

Ms. Notley said Wednesday that it’s clear from the policies and comments from some UCP candidates that a Kenney government wouldn’t protect some religions and LGBTQ groups.

She also urged voters to cast a ballot in Tuesday’s election for the NDP instead of for the Liberals or Alberta Party – so as to join forces to beat the UCP.

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“If you have voted Progressive Conservative in the past, but you just don’t feel quite right voting for Jason Kenney because of his risky economic plan and his deep ties to extreme fringes, then my message to you is: ‘Join us,’ “ Ms. Notley said.

“You may not agree with everything I’ve done, but we share core values. And we won’t attack minorities.”

Asked how Mr. Kenney’s UCP would attack minorities, she said it was clear from comments made by some of the UCP candidates.

“There has been a systematic problem with the UCP in terms of many of the attitudes that have been articulated by their candidates,” she said. “There are many, many people within the UCP that have troubling views and I don’t believe ought to be invited into our government in Edmonton.”

The UCP has rejected or seen a number of candidates or potential candidates step down over Islamophobic or homophobic remarks.

Mr. Kenney has said they represent a small number of a broad coalition and that his party believes in equality for all. He has touted its ethnically diverse slate of candidates.

But he has also promised to roll back some privacy protections for children who join gay-straight alliances in schools.

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Mr. Kenney, speaking to supporters at a rally in Fort McMurray, said his focus remains on getting more Albertans back to work. “This election is really about three things: jobs, the economy and pipelines,” he said Wednesday.

“Our opponents think it’s about everything but that. They think it’s about mudslinging and attack ads and personal destruction.”

Both Mr. Kenney and Ms. Notley have focused on pipelines as the cornerstone policy to reduce Alberta’s unemployment levels, which currently exceed 7 per cent in Edmonton and Calgary.

Ms. Notley has said her work with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has kept the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project to the West Coast alive, despite numerous court delays and challenges. She predicts work should begin later this year.

Mr. Kenney says success, if it comes, on Trans Mountain has come at a high price. He said Ms. Notley has given Mr. Trudeau room to manoeuvre as he brought in a federal carbon tax, along with proposed changes to how energy projects are approved that even Ms. Notley has said will hurt the industry.

“The NDP sold Alberta out to the Trudeau Liberals, and we won’t let that happen again,” Mr. Kenney said.

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He promised to fight Ottawa’s projects approval bill in court as an unconstitutional power grab. He has also promised to proclaim legislation to reduce oil flowing to B.C. if that province continues to fight Trans Mountain.

“If we don’t get a coastal pipeline, if we don’t get a fair deal in the federation, we will never get back to achieving our full potential as the economic engine of Canada.”

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