Alberta election: UCP promise jobs plan, NDP appeals to conservatives

By Alejandro Melgar, Courtney Theriault and The Canadian Press

On day four of the election, UCP leader Danielle Smith announced a jobs plan in the event she and the party get elected, while NDP leader Rachel Notley appealed to conservatives hesitant to vote for the UCP.

The plan Smith announced in Calgary is a bonus for “Alberta is Calling.”

“Targeted skilled trades and professions where we have labour shortages, including health care, child care, and trades; eligible newcomers will receive a $1,200 payment after their first full year of living here,” she said.

Smith also promised a “graduation retention tax credit,” a non-refundable tax credit of $3,000 to $10,000 to encourage new graduates to stay in Alberta “depending on the program in question.”

“This non-refundable tax credit will encourage graduates to stay and work within Alberta,” she said.

Meanwhile, Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley has delivered a direct message to people who have voted conservative in the past and are struggling with how to cast their ballots later this month.

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

“Many Albertans are honestly just a little bit exhausted by all the drama that we’ve had over the last four years to the UCP and the last six months under Danielle Smith,” she told reporters.

“Not only former conservatives but people who still consider themselves conservative, you need leadership you can trust.”

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley speaks to reporters outside the McDougall Centre in Calgary

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley speaks to reporters outside the McDougall Centre in Calgary on Thursday, May 4, 2023. (Nick Blakeney, CityNews image)

The UCP leader argues that her party’s vision actually aligns better with traditional NDP voters.

“Any union member who had been considering voting NDP should think twice. The NDP, instead with their ideological approach to resource revenue, it will cost blue-collar jobs, and it will cause blue-collar jobs to no longer exist with that early phase-out,” said Smith.

Smith was asked about Notley’s planned appeal to conservative voters.

She says undecided NDP supporters should consider the UCP because of its jobs strategy and a plan to address a shortage of qualified workers in nursing, child care and skilled trades with the use of bonuses and tax credits.

Meanwhile, Smith was questioned over how the party did the math behind its accusation that the NDP’s net-zero electricity grid proposal would cost taxpayers $87 billion.

The UCP put out the figure Wednesday as its first major attack on the NDP ahead of the May 29 election.

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The UCP says the NDP’s promise to convert the grid to net-zero by the end of 2035 would mean a 40 per cent spike in consumer electricity bills and be a mortal threat to the long-term health of Alberta’s economy.

However, a political scientist says the campaign promises to date find the UCP and NDP frequently tread on similar ground – especially as the NDP platform seems to echo a familiar name.

“On some policies, there’s a lot of similarities,” explained Lori Williams, a political scientist at Mount Royal University. “Economic policy, incentivizing certain industries, yeah, I think the Notley platform we’ve seen so far lines up pretty closely with the Peter Lougheed conservative policies.”

Meanwhile, the UCP have also found their political pendulum swinging towards the centre.

“It looks like the UCP strategy is to at least on some policy to cover similar ground to the NDP to undercut any advantage they might be able to gain,” added Williams.

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