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Political observers suggest that even if the United Conservative candidate retains a northern Alberta seat for the governing party in today’s by-election, it will be a loss for Premier Jason Kenney.

UCP candidate Brian Jean is the perceived front-runner in the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche vote and has been open about wanting to oust Kenney as leader and premier.

Jean is a former leader of the Wildrose Party and ran for the UCP leadership after the Wildrose merged with the Progressive Conservatives, but lost to Kenney.

Jean has been openly critical of Kenney’s leadership, as have the two other candidates: Paul Hinman, leader of the Wildrose Independence Party, and the NDP’s Ariana Mancini.

Advance voting in the constituency drew just shy of 2,000 people this time compared with just over 5,300 early ballots in the last provincial election.

That represents about eight per cent of eligible voters – a 12 per cent drop from 2019.

Polls are to be open until 8 p.m. tonight.

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