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Alberta’s 2019 election underway as Premier Notley drops the writ

WATCH ABOVE: Alberta's NDP leader Rachel Notley dropped the writ for the 2019 election

An Alberta election that some political pundits have said could be one for the ages will be held in 28 days, on Tuesday, April 16.

“It is time for an election,” NDP Leader Rachel Notley exclaimed at an event in Calgary, where she dropped the writ on Tuesday morning.

“I am pleased to announce that Albertans will go to the polls on April 16.”

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Much of Notley’s speech was aimed at conservative voters who may have lost faith in the current conservative options in Alberta.

READ MORE: How Global News is covering Alberta election 2019

WATCH BELOW: The gloves are off and the battle for Albertans’ votes has begun. Tom Vernon reports on Day 1 of the provincial election campaign.

2019 Alberta election campaign gets underway
2019 Alberta election campaign gets underway
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“If you consider yourself to be a progressive or a moderate voter, I hope to earn your support in this election campaign. We share common values and priorities –values that Jason Kenney fundamentally rejects.”

She also pointed to what many have called Kenney’s divisive style of politics, asking supporters at her speech whether Albertans should stick together, or turn on each other.

WATCH BELOW: When dropping the writ, Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley spoke to UCP supporters who may not like Jason Kenney as party leader

Notley targets conservative voters dissatisfied with Kenney
Notley targets conservative voters dissatisfied with Kenney

Another big topic was pipelines, with Notley promising that another NDP government would get a pipeline to tidewater built, saying that after four years of pushing, a pipeline is closer than ever before.

“I think that we will get it built. I will keep talking to Canadians. I will keep pushing people in B.C., I will keep pushing the federal government and we will make darn sure that thing gets built. It is fundamental to Albertans’ futures and to Canadians.”

WATCH BELOW: On Tuesday morning, Premier Rachel Notley announced the Alberta election will be held April 16. Kendra Slugoski reports.

Alberta Election: Premier Rachel Notley drops writ
Alberta Election: Premier Rachel Notley drops writ

Notley called the election one day after Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell delivered the Speech from the Throne, which outlined the accomplishments of Notley’s government over the previous four years.

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The 2019 election will see Notley and the NDP attempt to be re-elected, after winning a majority for the first time in the party’s history in 2015.

The party’s stunning election win four years ago put an end to the Progressive Conservatives’ 44-year reign in Alberta.

READ MORE: Alberta election promise tracker — Where do the parties stand on the major issues?

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley holding a news conference in Calgary to drop the writ, triggering the 2019 Alberta election. March 19, 2019.
Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley holding a news conference in Calgary to drop the writ, triggering the 2019 Alberta election. March 19, 2019. Jenna Freeman, Global News

Since the 2015 election, the Progressive Conservatives merged with the Wildrose Party to form the United Conservative Party.

WATCH BELOW: Political experts discuss strategy for Alberta’s 2019 election

Political experts discuss strategy for Alberta’s 2019 election
Political experts discuss strategy for Alberta’s 2019 election

READ MORE: Alberta election fact check

For the UCP and leader Jason Kenney, which has served as the official opposition for the past two years, the 2019 election will be its first chance to try to return a conservative government to Alberta.

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Kenney, speaking at an event in Leduc on Tuesday afternoon, said the main question his campaign wants Albertans to think about is: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

“The NDP has the worst economic record since the Great Depression nine decades ago,” Kenney said.

“So if you’re worse off today than you were four years ago, vote for change.”

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Kenney said details of his party’s plan – which he referred to as a “fight-back strategy” would be outlined later this week.

But he promised the creation of a “war room” in the government that would be resourced to “respond in real time to all of the lies and myths told about our ethical energy industry.”

WATCH BELOW: Global News’ Jenna Freeman has reaction from Calgary to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley dropping the writ and calling an election for April 16.

Calgary reaction to Alberta premier setting election date
Calgary reaction to Alberta premier setting election date

When asked if he thought the Callaway scandal that broke over the weekend would affect his campaign, Kenney said no. He said Albertans will be voting in this election based on jobs, economy and pipelines.

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“They’re going to vote for change to have a government that will stop apologizing for this province and start defending it.”

According to an Ipsos/Global News poll released Tuesday morning, Kenney and the UCP have a considerable lead over Notley and the NDP leading up to the election.

The numbers didn’t concern Notley though as she joked that if polls more than 30 days out of an election were accurate, “I’d be leaving here today for a meeting with Mayor Bill Smith.

“Polls don’t decide elections; voters do.”

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READ MORE: Find your riding and candidates for Alberta election 2019

The Alberta Party, led by former Edmonton mayor and PC MLA Stephen Mandel, the Alberta Liberals led by David Khan, and the Freedom Conservative Party led by former UCP MLA Derek Fildebrandt, are also vying for votes.

From left to right: NDP leader Rachel Notley, UCP leader Jason Kenney, Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel, Freedom Conservative Party leader Derek Fildebrandt, Alberta Liberal leader David Khan.
From left to right: NDP leader Rachel Notley, UCP leader Jason Kenney, Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel, Freedom Conservative Party leader Derek Fildebrandt, Alberta Liberal leader David Khan. The Canadian Press

READ MORE: UCP leads NDP as 2019 election campaign underway: Ipsos poll

Since January, when the provincial government announced a date for the throne speech, the NDP has been busy with a steady stream of funding and policy announcements, while opposition parties have also been busy making campaign-style promises and hosting media events.

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Alberta’s chief electoral officer, Glen Resler, issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying he had implemented new legislation that will likely make it easier for Albertans to vote.

“I am pleased to implement new legislation for the general election that will provide electors with new and improved voting opportunities, such as an additional day of advance poll voting and the ability for all electors to vote at any advance poll location in the province, using our vote-anywhere technology,” he said.

Resler also said 87 returning offices officially opened across the province on Tuesday and that a mail-in special ballot is now available for those who can’t vote in person on April 16.

Candidate nominations end on March 29 at 2 p.m., and advance polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. between April 9 and April 13.

Watch below: The leaders of the Alberta Party, the Alberta Liberal Party and the Freedom Conservatives agree on at least one thing, that it’s time for change in the province. Dallas Flexhaug has more from Day 1 of the provincial election campaign.

Mandel, Fildebrandt and Khan say it’s time for change in Alberta
Mandel, Fildebrandt and Khan say it’s time for change in Alberta

You can keep up to date with the 2019 Alberta election campaign here.

— With files from Karen Bartko, Global News

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Watch below: Gord Steinke speaks to Global News Radio’s Danielle Smith about Day 1 of the Alberta election campaign.

Gord Steinke speaks to Global News Radio’s Danielle Smith about Day 1 of Alberta election campaign
Gord Steinke speaks to Global News Radio’s Danielle Smith about Day 1 of Alberta election campaign
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