The Alberta election is now under way with voters set to go to the polls on May 29, in a race that could see the return of the NDP to government in the province or a new term for a government that has been a tough critic of the federal Liberals.
United Conservative Leader Danielle Smith and New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley both kicked off their campaigns Monday in Calgary, expected to be a major battleground.
Calgary, where support can swing among elections, has 26 of 87 seats in the Alberta legislature.
The NDP won 15 seats in the city in the 2015 election that saw them come to power for the first time. Four years later, in 2019, the UCP under former leader Jason Kenney won 23 ridings as part of a majority that defeated Ms. Notley’s NDP government.
Ms. Notley is attempting a comeback rare in Canadian politics as a former premier seeking to lead her party back to government after previously hsving been at the helm of the party’s defeat.
Ms. Smith, a former leader of Alberta’s Wildrose Party, has been premier since she won the UCP leadership last fall, succeeding Mr. Kenney as party leader and premier.
In power, she has been a prominent critic of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and his government’s policies on energy. Her government passed legislation allowing them to direct provincial agencies to ignore federal laws. (There’s an explainer here.)
She has been under fire over varied controversies, including calls to a Calgary pastor about his criminal trial (story here), and suggesting people who choose not to get the COVID-19 vaccine are the “most discriminated-against group” of her lifetime (story here)
“I’m not perfect. Everybody knows that,” Ms. Smith told a news conference on Monday. “I have had 27 years in the public eye. I’ve spoken and written millions of words. Sometimes I make mistakes, and every time I make a mistake I acknowledge it. I apologize if I have hurt anybody, and I promise to do better,” she said. “People don’t expect their politicians to be perfect.”
She said she and the UCP will be offering stability and continuity, and a focus on creating jobs and encouraging investment and making life more affordable.
Ms. Notley told a news conference that the election is about the hopes of families after four years of a UCP government that has often been in crisis. “It is time for stability. It is time for common sense, and, yes, it is also time for trusted leadership,” she said.
There’s a story here on the election kickoff. And Carrie Tait reports here on how Calgary is a battle in the provincial election. Also, please check the newsletter section on The Decibel for additional coverage of Alberta politics as the election begins.
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you're reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.
CANADA A `HIGH-PRIORITY TARGET’ TO CHINA - China sees Canada as a “high-priority target” and employs “incentives and punishment” as part of a vast influence network directed at legislators, business executives and diaspora communities in this country, according to a top-secret intelligence assessment from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Story here.
DEAL ENDS PSAC STRIKE - The Public Service Alliance of Canada and the federal government announced early Monday that new tentative agreements have been reached with the Treasury Board, bringing an end to the strike affecting 120,000 of its members across the country though nearly 35,000 workers at the Canada Revenue Agency remain on the picket line. Story here.
CANADA HAS HALTED RESCUE FLIGHTS FROM SUDAN - Canada and some of its allies halted rescue flights from Sudan’s capital on the weekend, as escalating fighting between rival military factions made it too dangerous to continue. But with an estimated 230 Canadians who want to leave still stranded in the country, evacuation efforts continue through other means. Story here.
CARNEY SAYS HE SUPPORTS TRUDEAU - Former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney says he will attend the upcoming Liberal convention in Ottawa, that he believes the party is “on the right track,” and that he supports Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Story here from CTV.
OTTAWA RESUMES LONG-RUNNING BATTLE OVER PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES - Industries affected by Ottawa’s long-delayed drug price reform are hoping the turmoil will end soon as a parliamentary committee continues its investigation this week into the chaos behind the scenes. Story here.
SENTENCING HEARING UNDERWAY FOR MAN WHO THREW GRAVEL AT TRUDEAU- The Ontario man who pleaded guilty to throwing gravel at the Prime Minister will learn his fate next week as the sentencing hearing began on Monday in a London courtroom. Story here from Global News.
TORY NOMINATION RACES - Branden Leslie has been nominated as the Conservative Party of Canada candidate for a federal by-election in Manitoba’s Portage-Lisgar riding, previously held by veteran Conservative MP Candace Bergen, a former interim party leader. Story here from CBC. Meanwhile, Roman Baber, a former member of the Ontario legislature who sought the leadership of the federal Conservatives, is seeking the Conservative nomination in the Toronto riding of York Centre. Story here from The Record.
SNOOP DOG VS REYNOLDS IN SENATORS BIDS - Rap legend Snoop Dogg is joining a bid led by Los Angeles-based producer Neko Sparks for ownership of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, a prize also being sought by Canadian actor and businessman Ryan Reynolds, attached to a potential bid from real estate developers Remington Group. Story here.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, May 1, accessible here.
MINISTERS ON THE ROAD - Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett, in Toronto, launched Mental Health Week announcing $2.8-million for a community-based health leadership program. Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is in Kenya to help inform Canada’s response to the crisis in Sudan. (Story here.) Infrastructure Minister Dominic LeBlanc and Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan, in St. John’s with Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey made an infrastructure announcement.
FEDERAL LIBERAL CONVENTION THIS WEEK - Federal Liberals are gathering in Ottawa this week for their national convention, which runs from Thursday to Saturday. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will speak to the gathering on Thursday. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau is also delivering a virtual keynote address. Hilary Clinton, the former U.S. first lady, senator, secretary of state and Democratic presidential nominee, will participate Friday in an on-stage, keynote conversation with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. And former prime minister Jean Chretien is also scheduled to take to the stage on Friday. Other party conventions will be held later this year. The federal Conservatives are holding their gathering in Quebec City in September. And the NDP is holding their convention in Hamilton in October.
OTTAWA MAYOR ON WELLINGTON - Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe “just out for my run this morning” provides an update here on the return of traffic to the iconic stretch of Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill. Until last week, the street had been closed since the early 2002 convoy protests.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Ottawa, held private meetings, and attended Question Period, Mr. Trudeau was also scheduled to speak with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, on the last day of a two-day tour of Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean had an agenda that included meetings with municipal elected officials, the chamber of commerce, and unions as well as a news conference on a 12-point Bloc plan for the region,
No schedules released for other leaders.
As the Alberta election starts Monday, Calgary reporter Carrie Tait is on the Globe and Mail podcast to talk about the Take Back Alberta network of people who share the same values: no vaccine mandates, no pandemic lockdowns – and Christian faith. Together, its members are trying to reshape politics in the province from the ground up. The Decibel is here.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on Alberta’s oil-rich future and a pivotal election: “Alberta is entering a new era, one of greater oil wealth than the country’s richest province has ever seen. There are vast possibilities and major challenges. The month-long election campaign, set to begin Monday, comes at this critical juncture. What’s changed is the oil sands. They have come of age from the building spree of the early 2000s. Companies for years paid low royalty rates in a system designed to allow them to first recover billions of dollars in costs. Most operators now pay higher royalty rates.”
Rob Csernyik (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how the end of the PSAC public sector strike is only the beginning: “Though the government and about 120,000 Treasury Board workers have reached a deal, this country’s largest public sector strike happened at this time for a reason – it reflects wider salary frustrations across industries. The strike marks the beginning of a bigger movement. Workers are tired of being condescended to in salary discussions, and having to put up with deflections and other excuses instead of having direct, honest conversations. Employers disregard this at their peril: more strikes will loom. Despite recent, remarkable changes to some components of the compensation amalgam – think non-cash measures designed to improve work-life balance – an overhaul of how fiscal matters get discussed remains overdue. This spring will not be silent.”
Paul Socka (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how involuntary confinement must always be a last resort: “Most would agree that it is unacceptable for a society to lock people up because they cannot afford shelter. However, the conversation changes when we are talking about people with significant mental illness. Many people are not familiar with mental illness. That unfamiliarity can scare them, or at least make them uneasy – not the ideal mindset for the perfect park day. Many may also believe, out of good intentions, that the best thing that can happen for a homeless person with mental illness is to be hospitalized and medicated. Involuntary treatment and confinement can be packaged then as a societal “win-win”: we get to enjoy the park, they get shelter and treatment.”
Tom Mulcair (CTV) on deconstructing what Mark Carney is saying and not saying about the federal Liberals: “In the meantime, the upcoming Liberal convention will be anything but the usual snooze fest. Expect Trudeau to deliver a barn burner where every word has been weighed in the full knowledge that every phrase will be parsed. Carney says he’s going there to listen. I’m betting that he’s going to hear a lot of positive things. I had the good fortune to invite him to give a keynote speech and to address a smaller graduate class at l’Université de Montréal on economic and environmental issues. He’s a brilliant, engaging character, who still speaks fluent French despite his years away. His current job is to think about the future of the planet. I’m guessing he’s also taking some time to think about his own future.”