Good morning, Mark Iype in Edmonton today.
A four-week election campaign is a sprint, leaving candidates and voters (and journalists) exhausted. Daily campaign events and announcements start to blur together as the public tries to understand what parties are promising and who might be the best choice to lead the province.
Both United Conservative Party Leader Danielle Smith and her New Democratic Party rival, Rachel Notley, have worked hard to persuade voters that their vision for the future of Alberta is deserving of the support of voters.
And in an election that many are touting as one of the closest in the province’s history, there does not appear to be a shortage of enthusiasm if you look at advance-voting numbers. By end of day Friday, more than 600,000 Albertans had already cast their ballots – ahead of the 2019 election when around 37 per cent of votes were cast ahead of time.
While advance polls end on Saturday, the final days of campaigning had both leaders making their final pitches to voters, zeroing in on Calgary.
Always seen as the battleground where the election would be won or lost, both parties spent much of their time in the province’s biggest city, focused on a handful of ridings that could swing the election. While there are ridings in other parts of the province that should be watched closely, all eyes will be on Calgary Monday night.
And while the election is a two-party race, it has really always been about the leaders. Ms. Smith has had to fend off questions about her checkered political history, resurfaced comments from her media career, her connection to the conservative fringes of her party, a scathing Ethics Commissioner report and live controversies from her crop of candidates. However, she emerged from the leaders debate intact. As The Globe and Mail’s Kelly Cryderman wrote in her profile of Ms. Smith, her life and career has been a choose your own adventure book.
Ms. Notley, fighting to get back into the premier’s office, has worked to paint her opponent as untrustworthy and unfit for the position. She has tried to position the NDP as a pragmatic and stable choice in comparison with some of the chaos of the UCP campaign that would likely have derailed most parties long ago. Ms. Notley told The Globe’s Alanna Smith that she views the UCP Leader as a risky and unpredictable choice.
So as many more voters head to the polls on Monday, they have a choice between two very different leaders with two very different views of how Alberta should be governed. In what could be an excruciatingly close election, turnout could end up being the deciding factor.
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.