It’s Day 23 of the Alberta election, and leaders campaigned across the province. Rachel Notley and David Khan were in Calgary, Jason Kenney was in Fort McMurray, and Stephen Mandel was in Grande Prairie.
It was also the second day that advance polls were open and if Tuesday was any indicator, they will be busy. Elections Alberta said about 140,000 people turned out to cast ballots on the first day they were able to.
That’s more than twice as many people who showed up for the first day of advance polling in 2015, when about 58,000 Albertans voted. In total, a record-setting 235,000 Albertans took advantage of advance polls that election.
Getting Alberta’s economy running on all its fossil-fuel-powered cylinders again is at the heart of the province’s election campaign.
But some top energy thinkers warn there’s nothing any premier can really do to make that happen.
Mark Jaccard, a Simon Fraser University energy economist, says governments can’t change underlying international economic shifts working against the oilsands.
He’s urging Albertans to accept a stable industry and forget the bitumen-fuelled booms of the past.
Vaclav Smil from the University of Manitoba says while the worldwide move to renewable energy will take generations, high growth rates for fossil fuels may be gone.
Here’s where the leaders are Wednesday on the campaign trail:
NDP Leader Rachel Notley
Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley is urging small-c conservatives to come on board because they share core values with her party and not Jason Kenney’s United Conservatives.
Notley says it’s clear from the policies and comments from some UCP candidates that a Kenney government wouldn’t protect some religions and LGBTQ groups.
Speaking in Calgary as advance polls remain open for Tuesday’s election, Notley also urged voters to cast a ballot for the NDP — instead of for the Liberals or Alberta Party — so as to join forces to beat the UCP.
“If you have voted Progressive Conservative in the past, but you just don’t feel quite right voting for Jason Kenney because of his risky economic plan and his deep ties to extreme fringes, then my message to you is: ‘Join us,”’ said Notley.
“You may not agree with everything I’ve done, but we share core values. And we won’t attack minorities.”
Polls suggest the UCP is leading in the campaign, but Notley said she is spending more of her time in Calgary because the gap is closing as people focus their attention on Kenney’s policies.
Kenney has said his party believes in equality for all and he has touted his party’s ethnically diverse candidates.
But he has also promised to roll back some privacy protections for children who join gay-straight alliances at schools.
The UCP has seen a number of candidates or potential candidates step down or be removed over Islamophobic or homophobic remarks.
“There has been a systematic problem with the UCP in terms of many of the attitudes that have been articulated by their candidates,” Notley said.
“There are many, many people within the UCP that have troubling views and I don’t believe ought to be invited into our government in Edmonton.”
United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney
United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney took his pro-pipeline message to the heart of Alberta’s oilpatch Wednesday and promised to push back on policies he said are hollowing out Canada’s core industry.
Kenney told supporters at a rally in Fort McMurray that a UCP government would fight B.C. and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government if they continued to impede the oil sector.
Kenney has promised he would go to court to fight proposed federal legislation on how projects are assessed as both unconstitutional and as a major deterrent to future megaprojects.
He has also said he would proclaim legislation giving Alberta the power to reduce oil shipments to B.C. if that province continued to delay the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from Alberta to the west coast.
Notley has criticized Kenney’s approach as needlessly antagonistic and has said his plans could see Trans Mountain derailed just as shovels are ready to turn the ground on the pipeline.
Kenney says Notley’s failure to push back harder on Trans Mountain is the reason it remains in limbo.
“The NDP sold Alberta out to the Trudeau Liberals — and we won’t let that happen again,” Kenney said Wednesday to the cheers of supporters. “This election is really about three things: jobs, the economy, and pipelines.
“Our opponents think it’s about everything but that. They think it’s about mudslinging and attack ads and personal destruction.”
Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel
Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel was in Grande Prairie on Wednesday where he announced his party’s plan to expand the role of Alberta Sheriffs, which he said would provide support to the RCMP.
Mandel said his party would expand the scope of sheriffs to increase patrols, deliver summons and support local enforcement activities. This would free up the RCMP to address federal, inter-provincial and more serious crime, he explained.
“One of my biggest concerns is the rise in crime across Alberta. It’s clear people are victimized and the government is letting them down,” Mandel said.
“This is serious and we need to look at practical and real solutions to make Albertans feel safe. We need to be creative in how we deal with crime. We must ensure communities across Alberta from Lethbridge to Red Deer, Grande Prairie and everywhere in between are safe, secure and people feel comfortable.”
Mandel said his party would also allocate $10 million to lift the prosecutor wage freeze for prosecutors outside of Edmonton and Calgary, and hire 25 additional crown prosecutors.
The Alberta Party would also increase Legal Aid funding by $140 million over the next four years.
Another $5 million would be spent to fund a provincial victim services unit “so they can provide the staffing levels required to assist victims of crime in rural areas.”
Expediting the development of a Provincial Hate Crimes Unit and the review of the Police Act are also part of the Alberta Party’s mandate.
Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan
Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan was in Calgary on Wednesday where he announced his party’s renters protection policy.
Khan said the Liberal Party would protect displaced renters with the help of short-term financial aid.
He said his government would require landlords to pay $750 in relocation benefits to tenants displaced by a building disaster.
“Renters can use the funds to help them find temporary accommodations. We will amend the Residential Tenancies Act to ensure landlords fulfill this requirement. It will be the law,” Khan said in a media release.
Corus Alberta radio coverage
— With files from Karen Bartko, Caley Ramsay and Phil Heidenreich, Global News