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Alberta Premier Jim Prentice gives a keynote address at the World Heavy Oil Congress in Edmonton Alberta, March 25, 2015. The Premier has said he will need a new mandate to govern as the province grapples with a plunge in oil prices and declining economic fortunes.

Jason Franson/The Globe and Mail

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice will be making an announcement on Tuesday morning in which he is widely expected to call an early election.

Less than two weeks ago, Mr. Prentice's Progressive Conservative government tabled a budget with a number of tax hikes and a record $5-billion deficit. The Premier has said he will need a new mandate to govern as the province grapples with a plunge in oil prices and declining economic fortunes.

Party officials say that Mr. Prentice will be speaking not as Premier but as the PC Leader when he makes a "major announcement" Tuesday morning in Edmonton. Tory candidates have been told to gather at the event.

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After the announcement, Mr. Prentice will travel by bus to his boyhood hometown of Grande Cache, Alta., while making a number of stops along the way. Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Grande Cache is a coal-mining town. Mr. Prentice worked as a coal miner in his youth.

The Premier's government schedule for the week is clear, except for a cabinet meeting at 9 a.m. at the Alberta Legislature on Tuesday. If Mr. Prentice were to request an election after that meeting, the office of the province's Lieutenant-Governor, Donald Ethell, is only a few metres away.

Alberta has a fixed-election law that stipulates a vote must be held in the three months before June 1, 2016. However, the law does allow the province's Lieutenant-Governor to dissolve the legislature when asked.

Officials in Mr. Prentice's office would not confirm whether the Premier was going to call an election. Over the past month, Mr. Prentice has repeatedly made the case for why he would call an early vote.

New Democratic Leader Rachel Notley said on Monday afternoon that her party was ready to contest the election. With nearly a full slate of candidates, she has vowed to challenge the PCs for government. "We're going to work across the province," she said.

Ms. Notley's party could win official opposition status for the first time in decades. Mr. Prentice's PCs have held power for nearly 44 years. The Premier himself was sworn in last September after Alison Redford's resignation from the position over allegations of office and travel misspending.

The Wildrose Party, shaken by the defection of former leader Danielle Smith and eight other MLAs last December, has said it will have candidates ready for each of the province's 87 ridings by the end of the week.

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