Alberta voters handed Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party a majority government in Tuesday’s election, who ran a campaign promising to scrap the carbon tax and usher in a new era of fiscal conservatism.
The UCP victory is the result of a merger between Alberta’s two conservative parties after splitting the right-of-centre vote in the last provincial election.
Kenney, 50, was first elected to the Alberta legislature when he won a byelection in Calgary-Lougheed in December. He retained his seat on Tuesday night.
Kenney arrived at UCP election headquarters in Calgary to give his victory speech in the same blue pickup truck he has been campaigning in for months.
“What a great day for the province of Alberta,” Kenney said to a lively crowd.
“Today, our great province has sent a message to Canada and the world: Alberta is open for business.”
Watch below: Alberta Premier-designate Jason Kenney rode into UCP party headquarters in a blue truck to deliver his victory speech after his party won a majority government during the 2019 provincial election.
Kenney said his party’s victory is a message from struggling and unemployed Albertans and small business owners facing financial difficulties.
“Help is on the way and hope is on the horizon.”
Kenney said his government will be “obsessed with getting this province back to work.”
He said the UCP will take Alberta from “being the slowest-moving and most overregulated economy in Canada, to being one of the freest and fastest-moving economies in the world.”
Kenney reached out specifically to the business community.
“If you want to benefit from what will be the lowest taxes in Canada, if you want to benefit from a government that will cut its red-tape burden by one-third, if you want to benefit from Canada’s most educated population and a deep culture of enterprise and innovation, help us, come here, invest here, create jobs here, renew the Alberta advantage here.”
Watch below: Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party has won a majority government in Alberta. Here is a look back on election night, in under two minutes.
Kenney went on to deliver a scathing message to the environmental groups and others he says are impeding Alberta’s oil industry.
“There is a deep frustration in this province; a sense that we have contributed massively to the rest of Canada but that everywhere we turn, we are being blocked in and pinned down.”
“We have been targeted by a foreign-funded campaign of special interests, seeking to landlock Canadian energy,” he said to a chorus of boos.
Kenney criticized environmental groups such as the David Suzuki Foundation for helping limit potential customers for Alberta oil and gas.
“We’ve been selling our country’s greatest asset at firesale prices, losing billions of dollars of value that belongs to us.”
Watch below: Alberta Premier-designate Jason Kenney related a story during his victory speech of meeting a young supporter three years ago and wanting to keep a promise to bring change to the province.
Kenney also took aim at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“In Ottawa, we have a federal government that has made this bad situation… much worse, killing two pipelines, including Energy East.”
At that point, Kenney was interrupted with thunderous chants of, “Build that pipe! Build that pipe!”
Trudeau, meanwhile, tweeted his congratulations to Kenney and said he looks forward to working with him to create jobs in Alberta. He also thanked Notley for her service as premier.
Kenney said he spoke to NDP Leader Rachel Notley before delivering his speech.
“I look forward to working with her on an orderly transition. And let me thank our premier for her tremendous public service.”
He said their disagreements should never “diminish our respect for one another as Albertans who are devoted to making life better for our fellow citizens.”
“The path for power was through rural Alberta,” said Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University.
The unofficial results mean the NDP will form the Official Opposition.
Hal Danchilla is a longtime conservative political advisor who says he is a friend of Kenney’s.
“He has an awful lot of qualities that are the same as (former Progressive Conservative premier) Ralph Klein,” he said. “He says what he’s going to do, and then he finds a way of doing it.
“This is a great win for Jason, it’s a great win for this party.”
The UCP formed in 2017 after the conservative Wildrose Party merged with the Kenney-led Progressive Conservative Party in a push to “unite the right” to defeat the NDP, who surprised many when they stormed to power in 2015, ending 44 years of Progressive Conservative rule in Alberta.
The UCP ran a campaign focused on building pipelines and reviving the Alberta economy, which has struggled since the price of oil collapsed just before the NDP was elected and Notley became premier in 2015.
The UCP’s election victory ends a four-week campaign that’s been described by many political commentators as one of the province’s most divisive in recent memory. The UCP consistently came under attack by the NDP, labour groups, and advocates for sexual and visible minorities for various policy positions and for homophobic, white nationalist, and misogynistic remarks and social media posts by several of its candidates that came to light during the campaign.
Voter engagement was high in the 2019 election, as evidenced by nearly 700,000 voters setting a new record for ballots cast at advance polls.
Tuesday’s UCP win marks only the fifth change of government in Alberta history.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley retained her seat in Edmonton-Strathcona.
Notley smiled widely as she delivered a concession speech to her cheering supporters shortly before 10 p.m.
“It is on nights like tonight that I am very glad that we expanded Alberta’s craft beer industry,” she joked, prompting laughter from the crowd.
“Tonight’s result is not the one we hoped for or worked so hard for,” she said before expressing gratitude to her supporters, as they chanted, “Rachel! Rachel!”
Notley thanked her party’s volunteers and staff before addressing Albertans.
“My friends, four years ago, Albertans hired us to do a very big job at a very difficult time, and we did that job with purpose and we did it with integrity,” she said. “Today, Alberta is a better place because of it.”
“I am enormously proud of our record.”
Notley said Alberta is closer than ever to getting a pipeline that will bring the province’s oil to tidewater.
Watch below: Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley speaks to her supporters Tuesday — moments after learning that political rival Jason Kenney’s UCP was projected to take a majority government.
Notley acknowledged the UCP will take the province in a different direction.
“For those of us who are working for a more progressive Alberta, this may feel like a step back, but remember, we have made tremendous, tremendous progress.”
Watch below: Sally Houser, Rachel Notley’s senior advisor, speaks with Global News after learning of a projected UCP majority while Notley maintained her local seat.
Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel was defeated by NDP candidate Lorne Dach in the riding of Edmonton-McClung. The 73-year-old former Alberta health minister and Edmonton mayor said he was still happy with how his party did.
“Our party, I think we have to be very proud,” he said in a speech to supporters shortly before 10 p.m. “We went from two per cent to over ten per cent in the polls and still climbing.”
Watch below: Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel congratulated premier-elect Jason Kenney on his election victory. He also said everyone in the Alberta Party should be very proud of their efforts. Mandel did not win his seat in Edmonton-McClung.
Alberta Liberal Party Leader David Khan failed to win a seat in Calgary Mountain-View, the riding he was running in. It had been the party’s only seat in the legislature when it was dissolved.
“This was not our election but this is not the end of the Alberta Liberal Party,” he said. “We will regroup, reload and carry on.”
Watch below: Alberta Liberal Party Leader David Khan congratulates the United Conservative Party on their election win.