Alberta election: If Jason Kenney wins Trudeau may be in for a headache, experts warn
And depending on who the winner is, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have to deal with another conservative premier amid a federal election year.
Kenney has publicly attacked Trudeau’s Liberals numerous times over issues such as pipelines and the federally imposed carbon tax. He has even vowed a legal challenge of the tax if elected.
Meanwhile, Notley, who has previously fought against Trudeau over the Trans Mountain pipeline, has been accused by the UCP of allying with Ottawa and “selling out” Alberta. Kenney even referred to the leaders as the “Notley-Trudeau alliance.”
A Global News/Ipsos poll released Monday shows that while support for the NDP has continued to grow throughout the campaign, a majority of the province still supports Kenney’s UCP.
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Political issues such as jobs, the economy and oil and gas are impacting Albertans heading into the polls, and these concerns may also be top of mind during the federal election.
“Carbon tax is going to be an issue in the October election and we are seeing that on display in the Alberta election,” Andrew McDougall, a lecturer of political science at the University of Toronto Scarborough, said. “Right now we have court cases launching against the federal carbon tax. And I think this something the government will have to deal with.”
What happens if Kenney wins?
A win for Kenney’s United Conservatives, as predicted by the polls, means a return to the right-centre for Alberta.
“In terms of the national campaign, Kenney winning adds another conservative voice in the premier table that is critical of Trudeau,” said Jared Wesley, a political scientist with the University of Alberta.
He said Kenney may campaign against Trudeau in the federal election with other conservative leaders, such as Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe.
“He is playing the role of the unofficial opposition,” Wesley said.
McDougall agreed, saying Kenney is going to have an antagonistic relationship with Ottawa — but Trudeau knows to expect this.
“I think at this point Trudeau is playing a bigger role in the Alberta election than another way around. Kenney is making a big point about western alienation and Ottawa, saying Ottawa is not looking out for Alberta’s interest.”
McDougall said Alberta has typically always been a conservative province and not a strong region for the Liberals. So Trudeau may not be anticipating getting a lot of seats or support with this election anyway.
One thing is certain, Kenney. who served under Stephen Harper, will be a thorn in Trudeau’s side as the UCP leader has a long history in federal politics.
“He understands Ottawa and Trudeau know this,” McDougall said. “And he may able to get Trudeau with this insider knowledge.”
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Nelson Wiseman, a University of Toronto political science professor, said just because Alberta may vote in Kenney, it does not mean they will vote this way in the federal election.
“People vote differently depending on if it’s a federal or provincial election,” Wiseman said. However, Alberta is usually a conservative province, so people may vote this way in the upcoming election, he added.
What happens if Notley wins?
Although the UCP is favoured to win the Alberta election, if Notley does grab re-election, this will be a huge “upset” for the Conservatives, McDougall said.
“There would be a lot of discussion on what went wrong with Kenney, as he seemed like he had it in the bag,” he said.
And any upset for the Conservatives may help Trudeau, he added.
Wiseman also believes Notley won’t win the Alberta election. But on the chance that she does get it, he said, it probably won’t help the federal NDPs.
“Jagmeet Singh has not been campaigning for her,” he said. “So if she does win, it may not have an impact on the federal party.”
What does Scheer think?
Although the UCPs are not the same party as the Conservatives, McDougall said Andrew Scheer would probably prefer Kenney to win.
Scheer even appeared alongside Kenney at a campaign rally Thursday, in which they attacked the so-called Trudeau-Notley alliance.
“Rachel Notley and Justin Trudeau are cut from the same cloth. They both have the same attitude towards our energy sector. They have both demonized those who have built an industry,” Scheer said during the rally.
But Wesley believes Scheer may be more conflicted about the UCP than people first assume. Kenney has made election promises that may also haunt Scheer if he were to win the federal election.
“If Kenney becomes premier and Scheer wins the election, he has to deal with Kenney who promised a referendum on equalization and to turn off the gasoline taps to B.C.,” he said.
“They can campaign together, but at the end of the day, will they see eye to eye?”
Alberta’s provincial election is set to take place April 16, while the federal election is set to happen on Oct. 21.
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