Alberta election: NDP hopes to woo undecided conservatives; UCP looks to workers

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley makes a campaign announcement in Calgary, Alta., on Thursday, May 4, 2023. Albertans go to the polls on May 29. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley delivered a direct message Thursday to people who have voted conservative in the past and are undecided on how to cast their ballots later this month.

Notley stood outside McDougall Centre, the provincial government offices in downtown Calgary, to say she could offer trusted leadership if her party wins the provincial election on May 29.

“We’ve been out in communities and on doorsteps talking to Albertans,” she said at a news conference. “Everywhere I go, I am hearing though from conservatives — former conservatives and current conservatives — who are struggling and who can’t quite bring themselves to vote for Danielle Smith.”

Polling has suggested Smith, leader of the United Conservative Party, could face a challenge on the doorsteps given her conflicting comments, rollbacks and clarifications on a range of policies such as COVID-19 prosecutions, restrictions for the unvaccinated and her sovereignty act.

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Notley said Thursday that the NDP has a strong plan for better health care and would work to create tens of thousands of well-paying jobs.

“You know me and you know what I stand for. I mean what I say and I say what I mean. I don’t flip-flop day by day. I look at all of the evidence and I ask experts for their opinions,” she said. “As a leader, that’s just what one has to do.

“So, to all Albertans who are looking for better and are not sure about my party, let me say this: I will be a premier for all Albertans.”

Click to play video: 'Albertans place importance on cost of living and health care this election: poll'
Albertans place importance on cost of living and health care this election: poll

Notley promised, if elected, not to raise income taxes, fees or personal costs. She said she’s also worried about Alberta’s economic future and would take steps to keep the budget balanced.

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Earlier in the day, Smith was asked about Notley’s planned appeal to conservative voters and whether the UCP had its own strategy to recruit NDP voters.

“Absolutely,” she said. “We have a jobs strategy.”

Smith promised Thursday to address a shortage of qualified workers in nursing, child care and skilled trades with the use of bonuses and tax credits.

“Whether you are a blue-collar worker or whether you are a front-line nurse or other health professional, these are the kind of things that are going to make a real difference in people’s lives, these are the kinds of reasons people will want to come to Alberta,” she said.

“I would think any union member who had been considering voting for the NDP should think twice.”

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Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, said Smith’s comments that union workers should vote for her would be funny if they weren’t so offensive.

“The UCP is the party that froze the minimum wage,” he said in a statement. “It’s the party that made it harder for workers to join unions and bargain collectively.

“The UCP exacerbated public-sector staff shortages and chased health-care workers out of the province during a pandemic.”

McGowan added there’s no credible reason why any workers should vote for Smith.

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