WATCH ABOVE: What was just a rumour or suspicion is now reality – the NDP controls Alberta politics after winning a stunning majority and knocking the conservatives out of power for the first time in decades. Shallima Maharaj reports.
CALGARY – In a startling turn, Rachel Notley’s NDP won a majority government in Alberta, ending the 44-year reign of the Progressive Conservatives.
“I believe that change has finally come to Alberta,” said Notley in her victory speech Tuesday night.
She spoke to a lively crowd that cheered and chanted “Rachel” throughout her speech, especially when she referred to an exchange between herself and PC leader Jim Prentice during the leaders’ debate in which he told her “math is difficult.”
“I haven’t done the math yet, but I think–” she started, but was interrupted by chants from the crowd.
“Anyway…so I haven’t run the numbers yet, shall we say, but what I think is true is that we have elected the most women in any government in Canadian history…so that’s kind of cool.”
WATCH ABOVE: NDP’s Rachel Notley gives victory speech after Alberta’s 2015 election
Prentice retained his Calgary Foothills seat, but resigned as PC leader after his party’s stunning defeat.
Prentice congratulated Notley and the NDP, and said Notley “ran an excellent campaign and clearly has the confidence of Albertans.” Watch his concession speech below:
Prentice first won his seat in an October byelection after he was elected Tory leader to replace disgraced premier Alison Redford.
The Global News decision desk declared Brian Jean’s Wildrose as official opposition, who only took on the leadership a few weeks ago. Jean won his first seat Tuesday, taking Fort McMurray-Conklin away from Tory Don Scott, who was advanced education minister.
Liberal leader David Swann retained his seat in Calgary Mountain View and will now be the lone Liberal in the legislature. Alberta Party leader Greg Clark won his party’s first seat, beating PC Education Minister Gordon Dirks in Calgary Elbow.
The NDP fielded 87 candidates; some are university students and only four, including Notley, are incumbents. Before the election, that prompted questions about leadership. Notley said her candidates reflect Alberta and plenty of them are “leadership-type” people she could put into cabinet.
“It’s a really great group of MLAs,” Notley told reporters on Tuesday night.
“There are a few students amongst them. Not very many, but a few. And I think that’s great because we are the youngest province in the country and quite frankly post-secondary education is one of the issues that we need to do a better job on.
“So I’m very excited to be able to rely on their counsel, and their energy and their enthusiasm.”
Watch below: The moment victory was declared at NDP HQ
Analysts suggest Notley’s campaign was near-flawless and many political pundits said the tide started to turn with her victory over Prentice in the televised leaders’ debate that aired on Global News.
Notley’s unwavering message was the creation of jobs through tax incentives, promoting oil-refining jobs at home and restoring cuts to health care and classrooms.
Prentice dropped the writ a year earlier than necessary on April 7, and expected an easy victory for the PCs, whose party held 70 of 87 seats at dissolution. The NDP had never won more than 16 seats in an election.
Notley campaigned on having the wealthy pay more to fund better health care and education. She’s promised:
- A Resource Owners Rights Commission to review the royalties oil companies pay to the province.
- A boost in the corporate tax rate to 12 per cent from 10 per cent. Increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018. Current wage is $10.20.
- More tax brackets for high earners than the Tories are proposing: a 12 per cent rate on income between $125,000 and $150,000; 13 per cent on income between $150,000 and $200,000; 14 per cent between $200,000 and $300,000 and 15 per cent over $300,000. NDP would also roll back the Tory health levy.
- The creation of 2,000 long-term care spaces over four years.
- A ban on corporate and union donations to political parties.
Watch below: Video coverage from across the province in the Alberta 2015 election
With files from The Canadian Press