Alberta Election: How parties beyond the NDP and UCP could affect the outcome

Click to play video: 'Alberta election: Other parties hope to join ‘two-horse race’'
Alberta election: Other parties hope to join ‘two-horse race’
In an election dominated by the Alberta NDP and UCP, some voters say they're looking for alternative choices. Fourteen parties are fielding candidates this election. Provincial affairs reporter Saif Kaisar explains what roles those candidates could play come May 29 election day – May 23, 2023

The Alberta election is for all intents and purposes an increasingly polarizing two-horse race between the Alberta NDP and the United Conservative Party — but other parties have the potential to affect the results in select ridings.

There are 87 ridings in Alberta and the UCP and NDP are the only two running a full slate of candidates.

But at least one political analyst says parties like the Alberta Party and Green Party of Alberta could play a role in some outcomes.

Lori Williams, associate professor of policy studies at Mount Royal University in Calgary, said choices besides the NDP and UCP could make a difference in ridings where the vote will be close.

One of those ridings is Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, where she said there are three possible conservative candidates.

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Incumbent UCP Tany Yao lost nomination to Zukifl Mujahid, who was then disqualified by the party after “legal matters” came up after his nomination.

“The Take Back Alberta board there disagrees with that,” Williams said.

Take Back Alberta is a registered third-party advertiser in the election that takes credit for ousting Jason Kenney from power and “has its sights set on stopping the NDP,” according to its website.

TBA claims to control half of the UCP governing board. Leader David Parker has said the group has its eye on controlling the other half after next year’s vote.

Click to play video: '‘Take Back Alberta’ claims to to control United Conservative Party, premier’s office'
‘Take Back Alberta’ claims to to control United Conservative Party, premier’s office

Williams said Mujahid is now running as an independent and Yao is back in as the UCP’s candidate.

“There’s another right-leaning independent running in that that riding potentially,” Williams said, in reference to Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo councillor Funky Banjoko.

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“Those right-wing votes could be split enough for another party to come up the middle.”

Another riding with the potential for a dramatic outcome is Brooks-Medicine Hat, where UCP leader Danielle Smith is running against Alberta Party Leader and former Brooks mayor Barry Morishita.

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“Polling is indicating it’s close and there might be a possibility of a vote for the Alberta Party,” Williams said.

Williams said Alberta isn’t the only province to have two parties dominate the election, citing B.C.’s Liberals and NDP as an example.

“But I think we are a little more polarized than other provinces right now, partly because of the influence of the far right sort of fringes or extremes in this election.

“A lot of moderate voters are looking at that and wondering where they can cast their vote.”

Alberta Party Leader Barry Morishita and Green Party of Alberta Leader Jordan Wilkie campaigning in May 2023. Global News

Both Morishita and Green Party Leader Jordan Wilkie say they’re hearing complaints about the two main parties while door-knocking and campaigning.

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” I think over the last six months, we’ve seen a really big shift from people kind of had already picked their sides to where they’re really lost,” Morishita said while door knocking this week in Sherwood Park.

He said the right-leaning UCP and left-leaning NDP are creating a divide in the province.

“People are not sure of the leadership that they’re being shown here during the campaign, in particular with the sniping, the name-calling and the blaming.

Click to play video: 'New leader of Alberta Party aims to address political polarization'
New leader of Alberta Party aims to address political polarization

Wilkie is an Edmonton firefighter and is running as a candidate in Edmonton-Rutherford. He said both the UCP and NDP present similar policies and Albertans need more choices.

“We need these third voices and fourth voices because the people of Alberta are simply not being represented. We have a very diverse population in regards to what they value,” he said.

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Wilkie said Alberta needs a third party in play to act as a referee in what is increasingly becoming a divisive political climate in Alberta.

“I think it’s time that we get elected and that we can be that in-between these two parties that simply can’t get along, don’t talk, and they don’t have solutions for the people.”

Williams said it’s unlikely, based on polling, that anyone besides the UCP and the NDP will actually win seats — but the alternative candidates do stand a faint chance in select ridings where there’s been drama surrounding the candidates for the bigger parties.

She used southern Alberta’s Livingstone-Macleod as an example, where both NDP candidate Kevin Van Tighem and UCP candidate Chelsae Petrovic have been found to have made controversial comments.

Van Tighem called people in the energy sector entitled resource exploiters and Petrovic said heart attack victims should be taking more personal accountability for their health.

“In some of those ridings where unusual things are going on, it is potentially a possibility that there could be enough of a wave of a spreading of the vote over enough different candidates that either the Alberta Party, given where they’re running or even potentially the Green Party, too, to win a seat.”

Click to play video: 'Livingstone-Macleod UCP candidate criticizes heart attack victims'
Livingstone-Macleod UCP candidate criticizes heart attack victims

The Green Party of Alberta has 41 candidates running in the election, while the Alberta Party has 19.

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Williams said while they have fewer overall bodies, the Alberta Party seems to have been more strategic in where they’re running candidates and they could have a chance in some ridings to come out on top.

“The Green Party is running more candidates, but they aren’t running in competitive ridings,” she said.

She cautioned however, the hope isn’t high given the smaller parties limited resources, fundraising and organizational tools available to them.

“It’s really an open question whether they’ll actually win any seats in this election.”

The Alberta Liberal Party, most recently the official opposition from 1993 until 2012, has shrunk in recent years and has just 13 candidates running this time around.

The election is Monday, May 29. Advance voting started Tuesday and runs through to Saturday.

Click to play video: 'Alberta election: Party leaders take advantage of advance polls on opening day'
Alberta election: Party leaders take advantage of advance polls on opening day

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