Tonight, the United Conservative Party has defeated the Alberta NDP and will form a new majority government in Alberta’s legislature.
At the time of this writing with 95% percent of polls (aka “voting places”) reporting, the seat count is:
UCP – 51
NDP – 36
The UCP victory follows a months-long political campaign that, for all practical purposes, began with Danielle Smith’s election as party leader on October 7, 2022 — 234 days ago. Dominated by the voices (and baggage) of the two major party leaders, Alberta’s 31st election campaign has been front and centre for voters on tv, radio, in print, direct mail and social media. With polling numbers showing again and again that turnout would be critical, a record advance vote, 758,550 ballots cast, helped to address concerns that Alberta voters may have tuned out the long and often divisive campaign. And as we watch the results roll in tonight, Albertans appear to have embraced the opportunity. Just under 2.841 million people are registered to vote in the province. Unofficial turnout is 59%.
Danielle Smith’s team has held traditional conservative ridings in rural and small communities including Cardston-Siksika, Camrose and Peace River, and defended key battleground ridings including Morinville-St.Albert and Strathcona-Sherwood Park. For Smith, the victory completes her redemption from the infamous floor crossing to Jim Prentice’s Progressive Conservatives in 2014 and subsequent exit from elected politics with the loss of the PC nomination in Highwood in 2015. Six years as a talk radio host followed with Smith re-emerging in 2022 to defeat six contenders to become UCP leader. The support of 42,423 party members on the sixth ballot made Smith Premier, but only with tonight’s result does she become Alberta’s popularly elected head of government.
Dogged by past controversies throughout the campaign, the Premier-designate has urged Albertans to look forward and stay the course on UCP policies targeted at building a strong economic foundation to support the day-to-day lives of Albertans and the services the province can provide. Major campaign commitments from the UCP include:
- Creating a new 8 percent tax bracket on income under $60K. Albertans earning $60K or more will save $760. A two-parent family will save $1,520. The provincial tax bill of those earning less than $60K will be reduced by 20 percent.
- Extending the provincial fuel tax holiday (13 cents per litre) until December 31, 2023
- Expanding the Taxpayer Protection Act. Personal or business taxes cannot be increased without approval from Albertans in a referendum.
- Creating a signing bonus ($1,200 tax credit) for targeted skilled trades and professions where Alberta has shortages and putting in a place a tax credit ($3K to $10K) for students in high demand professions to stay and work in the province after graduation.
- Adding $100 million to the Alberta Enterprise Corporation to attract more venture capital investment.
- Doubling the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation loan capacity to $2 billion and expanding the types of projects that are eligible.
- Putting in place Public Health Care Guarantee. Albertans will not have to pay for a doctor or medical treatment. No medical services or prescriptions will be delisted.
- Establishing a Compassionate Intervention Act. A family member, doctor, or police officer will be able to petition a family court judge for a treatment order when someone is a danger to themselves or others. The treatment order would require that person to engage in treatment for their alcohol and/or drug use.
- $10-a-day daycare will be available to all Albertans by 2026.
- Adding 100 police officers to Edmonton and Calgary and extending the downtown sheriff redeployment pilot program until, at least, the end of 2023.
- Expanding the use of Alberta Sheriffs in the bail monitoring process.
- Ankle bracelet program for violent and/or sexual offenders on bail.
- Implementing a tourism strategy with a goal of doubling tourism spending in Alberta to $20 billion by 2030.
What comes next?
- Official election results will be announced on June 8. A candidate may seek a recount within 8 days of this official announcement.
- Premier Smith will name a new cabinet. The team will be central to Alberta’s politics. Its composition will immediately send a message to stakeholders and investors. The Premier will work to balance regional representation, experience, credentials, political outlook and loyalty in determining the new team.
- Cabinet Ministers and MLAs will be sworn in.
- Political staff will be appointed. Senior department officials and ABC leadership may see some changes.
- Mandate letters will be issued. In Alberta though, this is not guaranteed
And then — particularly after the Calgary Stampede (which is only 38 days away) — we should expect all concerned to take very well-earned vacations and to enjoy the August days in their home ridings. Traditionally, Alberta’s legislature will not reconvene for session until Halloween week. The Speech from the Throne which will open Alberta’s 31st Legislative Assembly will be of particular importance. Premier Smith may wish to accelerate the timeline but following a gruelling campaign, enthusiasm for doing so is understandably tempered.
What should you do next?
- Take a breath. With the exception of Alberta’s wildfire situation, no major public policy matters are going to be tackled in the next few weeks.
- Congratulate those who have won again. Introduce yourself to those who have won for the first time. Do not have an ask in either circumstance.
- Do your homework. Although the UCP did not release a complete, official election platform, major surprises are unlikely. The party has carried over a great deal of significant policy from the last government and has made a host of new commitments. Know and understand these and find ways to align with these positions.
- Offer to help. Bring your insights, expertise and resources to the table.
- Most of all, be patient. The next four years have only just begun.
It’s important to close with a thank you. Fourteen parties, 349 candidates, hundreds and hundreds of volunteers and thousands of party members and donors have participated in Alberta’s 31st Provincial General Election. It has been an enormous exercise in democracy made possible through all of those efforts. Albertans — and the H+K team — say thank you to all involved.
Authored by Natalie Sigalet, Tim Moro, Eliza Snider, Alex McBrien.