Skip to main content

Good morning, Mark Iype in Edmonton today.

We’ve reached the midway point of the Alberta election campaign and things aren’t much clearer today than they were when things kicked off on May 1.

If you believe the competing poll numbers that have popped up over the last few days, the next premier of Alberta will be … United Conservative Party Leader Danielle Smith. Or maybe it’s New Democratic Party Leader Rachel Notley. Like I was saying, things remain as hazy as Calgary shrouded in the eerie glow of wildfire smoke.

The wildfires continue to rage in the northern and central parts of the province. Thousands of people remain out of their homes as firefighters battle the blazes that are being fanned by gusty winds and extreme heat in some parts of the province.

As The Globe’s Kelly Cryderman wrote last week, it’s made for a tricky situation, especially for Ms. Smith, who must bounce back and forth between being a campaigning political leader and the premier of a province dealing with a crisis.

As Kelly said in her column, “usually, candidates step away from any policy during an election campaign, except, of course, when the province is facing an emergency.”

And this definitely qualifies as an emergency.

While hundreds of firefighters have arrived from the U.S. and other provinces to help, the situation remains dangerous and could get worse in the days ahead.

Despite the complications raised by the wildfires, the campaign has continued with both parties announcing new policies over the last few days.

On Monday, the UCP continued to focus on public safety, making official what The Globe’s Alanna Smith had previously reported was being considered by the party months ago – a law that would broaden involuntary treatment for people with severe drug addictions.

While the practice is controversial among some experts, Ms. Smith on Monday said the proposed law would provide family members, doctors, psychologists and police the right to petition a non-criminal judge to issue a treatment order.

Then on Tuesday, the NDP released a costed plan for its campaign pitches if it is elected on May 29. But the highlight of its three-year plan to keep the budget balanced while increasing spending was to raise the corporate income tax rate to 11 per cent from eight – a risky move with just two weeks before tax-averse Albertans head to the polls.

However, while wildfires burn and parties snipe back and forth over party platforms, all eyes will turn to the televised leaders debate scheduled for Thursday night at 7 p.m. Debates are often arguments over nuances in policy, that while important, don’t exactly make for good TV. I don’t think there are very many people anticipating that will be the case when we finally see Ms. Smith and Ms. Notley go head-to-head.

And maybe, things will be just a little clearer on Friday morning.

This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief Mark Iype. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

Follow the authors of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

Check Following for new articles