Writ drops for Alberta provincial election on May 29

The 31st Provincial General Election in Alberta will be held on May 29th. The United Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party launched election campaigns in Calgary on Monday.

By Logan Stein, Shilpa Downton, and Alejandro Melgar

Alberta’s chief electoral officer, Glen Resler, says the election campaign has now begun for May 29.

“We are excited to welcome Albertans back to the polls this month,” Resler said.

“Returning Officers have been appointed, and we are in the process of recruiting and training nearly 20,000 Election Officers to conduct voting in the 87 electoral divisions across the province.”

Danielle Smith’s United Conservatives and Rachel Notley’s New Democrats have already been unofficially campaigning for weeks, with both leaders appearing at rallies over the weekend and the NDP releasing a campaign song.

“Albertans want a government that isn’t going to tear down healthcare. It’s a government that’s going to build up and make our healthcare stronger,” Notley said.

Meanwhile, Smith said, “I am hopeful because the UCP has a plan to create opportunities for all Albertans by growing the economy, attracting jobs, and keeping taxes low.”

Over the next four weeks, both parties are expected to focus on what each party has done wrong during its time in office.

Smith held her first campaign event in Auburn Bay in southeast Calgary, away from her riding in Brooks-Medicine Hat.

She says a UCP government will create a new eight per cent tax bracket on income under $60,000.

“This means that every Albertan earning over $60,000 or more will save $760. That is $1,500 per family Albertans earning less than $60,000 will see a 20 per cent reduction to their provincial tax bill,” she told reporters with other UCP members.

“This permanent, billion-dollar tax cut will provide meaningful, timely tax relief to Albertans in a time when they need it most.”

UCP leader Danielle Smith with other UCP in Calgary

UCP leader Danielle Smith with other UCP in Calgary on Monday, May 1, 2023. (Nick Blakeney, CityNews image)

Meanwhile, NDP leader Rachel Notley has plans for economic relief, including adding more jobs and a lower cost of living.

“We will lower the costs that make life more expensive for you and your family. We’ll reindex and raise benefits for families for seniors, and for Albertans with disabilities,” she said in an event to kick off the election in Calgary.

“We will freeze car insurance, putting an end to the UCP’s pandering to big insurance. We’ll restore rental supplements and house another 40,000 Albertans who can’t afford their own.”

It’s anticipated to be one of the most competitive provincial elections to date, with Calgary as its battleground.

Read More: Who will become Alberta’s next premier? A look at Danielle Smith and Rachel Notley

The NDP won with Notley leading the party in 2015 – the first for the NDP in Alberta – before former premier Jason Kenney won with the UCP in 2019.

Kenney garnered a tepid endorsement in a leadership review last spring and quit, despite still winning over 50 per cent of the vote.

Smith then won the UCP leadership race in October to replace him by campaigning to stand up for Alberta interests against the feds. She won with just over 50 per cent of the vote.

Those two conservative parties mended fences to defeat Notley as the new United Conservative Party in 2019.

Watch: Calgary’s vote decisive in Alberta election

The cost of living, healthcare concerns, and crime are believed to be some of the biggest concerns for voters around Alberta.

Mount Royal University economist Lori Williams tells CityNews this time might lead to “disinformation” for voters to sift through when deciding what they want.

“The closer and more competitive the election is, the tougher it tends to be, and the more negative it tends to be,” she said.

“And I think, increasingly, with the impact of social media and the influence of outside actors, not just those who aren’t involved in the campaign directly, or even outside of Alberta, even outside of the country, we know that there’s going to be disinformation that’s going to be bombarding Albertans.”

She says the previous comments made by Smith could come back to affect the outcome of the race, adding Ken Boson, an advisor to Stephen Harper, said comments Smith made could lead to people like him not voting at all, or “perhaps even to vote for the NDP.”

“But it’s not just what Danielle Smith says or has written. It’s also where she stands on issues and who she has to advise her to help her and making decisions for the future of the province,” she said.

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Voters will go to the polls on May 29, and Williams says Calgary will be the battleground where the result could be decided.

“The fact that many of these ridings are so close, they can be decided by literally a handful of votes,” Williams said.

“Look at Calgary Glenmore, which was tied in 2015 on the first count. On a second count, the NDP candidate won by six votes.”

She says the UCP will be spending a lot of time in Calgary but will focus on other issues that concern Albertans.

-With files from The Canadian Press

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