Alberta’s United Conservative Party jumped out to a lead over the NDP in early returns Monday in what was forecast to be a tight race in the provincial election.
Danielle Smith’s UCP was holding strong in its traditional rural strongholds while Rachel Notley’s NDP was faring well in Edmonton, where it won all but one seat in 2019.
Early results were still mixed in the key battleground of Calgary, with about 10 per cent of polls reporting, according to Elections Alberta.
Here are the incoming results by riding:
Braid: Despite the wild and angry campaign, Alberta will settle down
Albertans haven’t gone crazy, OK? We’re still just regular Canadians who want decent, competent government and a team that can win a Stanley Cup.
Despite all appearances, this campaign was never about which side was more dangerous. It was about capturing the reasonable middle where most Albertans park their politics. Both parties tried to do that by demonizing the other, while offering policies and solutions well within the bounds of reason.
Memorable quotes from the campaign trail
Candidates for both the United Conservative Party and New Democrats have been campaigning over the last four weeks for their party to form the next Alberta government.
Here are some memorable quotes from the campaign:
“(The NDP) devastated the Alberta economy. They created policies that drove investment out, drove jobs out, and we had to reverse all of that,” UCP Leader Danielle Smith said on May 1, the day the writ was dropped. “The choice in this election couldn’t be clearer. It’s a choice between a UCP government that will cut your taxes and make life more affordable or an NDP government that will make you pay more across the board.”
“I am satisfied Mr. Pawlowski intended to incite the audience to continue the blockade — intended to incite protesters to commit mischief,” Justice Gordon Krinke said in Lethbridge on May 2, when he found Calgary pastor Artur Pawlowski guilty of charges related to his role in protests against COVID-19 public health measures. In a leaked phone call between Smith and Pawlowski, before his trial, Smith told Pawlowski the charges against him were politically motivated and she would make inquiries on his behalf and report back.
“(Smith) has a policy of not speaking publicly on matters before the courts, except when she’s talking to the person who’s before the courts about how she’s going to interfere with the matter before the courts,” Notley said when asked to comment on Smith’s no comment on the Pawlowski case. “That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard from her. OK, maybe it’s not the most ridiculous, because there’s a lot of ridiculous.”
“(Judicial independence) is a fundamental pillar of our democracy. The premier breached this principle by discussing the accused’s case,” ethics commissioner Marguerite Trussler said in her report released May 18 into Smith’s actions as premier when she called her justice minister about Pawlowski’s case.
“I’ve asked the ethics commissioner to give advice,” Smith said May 19. “I am a non-lawyer. As premier, I do need to be able to get advice from my top official, my top legal adviser. If she has recommendations on how to do that better next time, I will absolutely accept them.”
— The Canadian Press
Special measures in place to enable voting for electors affected by wildfires
Alberta’s 2023 election campaign has taken place alongside a record-breaking spring for wildfires in Alberta. Ten communities were under evacuation orders Monday.
Elections Alberta has set up alternate voting locations for those displaced. Evacuation has been added as an eligible reason to vote by special ballot and mobile voting stations have been placed in evacuation centres.
— The Canadian Press
Calgary region had 7 of the top 10 busiest advance polling stations in Alberta last week
Electors in Calgary and area were among the most eager to get to the polls.
Of the 10 busiest polling stations in the province during the advance polling period last week, seven were in Calgary, Elections Alberta said on Monday.
And of those seven, four were in the southern half of Calgary and another was located south of the city.
Generally speaking, more Alberta voters chose to cast their ballot during the advance voting period than ever before.
“For the second election in a row we have seen record-breaking voter turnout during advance voting days,” said Chief Electoral Officer Glen Resler in a statement issued Monday morning. “In 2019, we saw 700,476 ballots cast during the five days of advance voting, this year we have welcomed 758,550 to the polls so far.”
Here were the 10 busiest polling stations during the advance voting period, May 23-27, according to Elections Alberta:
- ED 83 (St. Albert): St. Albert Centre
- ED 81 (Sherwood Park): Sherwood Park Mall
- ED 01 (Calgary-Acadia): Southcentre Mall
- ED 14 (Calgary-Hays): McKenzie Towne Church
- ED 08 (Calgary-Edgemont): Foothills Alliance Church
- ED 65 (Highwood): Okotoks Centennial Hall
- ED 02 (Calgary-Beddington): Huntington Hills Community Hall and Sportsplex
- ED 33 (Edmonton-Gold Bar): Bonnie Doon Centre
- ED 47 (Airdrie-Cochrane): Frank Wills Memorial Hall
- ED 23 (Calgary-Shaw): Cardel Rec South
Alberta votes in the strangest — and closest — election in its political history
Whoever wins the Alberta election on Monday, it will be one of the strangest campaigns ever fought in the province, with plenty of drama but few policy issues, and the real possibility of the closest outcome in Alberta political history.
In 2015, when the NDP won, it was the reversal of 40 years of conservative rule, aided by vote-splitting and a voting public whose patience was at an end. In 2019, when the United Conservatives won, it was a massive victory, featuring a re-energized right-wing movement looking to revitalize the province’s economy.
It’s about Rachel Notley, leader of the NDP, and Danielle Smith, leader of the United Conservative Party, writes Tyler Dawson.
Alberta arrives at election day following bitter campaign
Albertans head to the polls Monday to elect their next government, wrapping up a divisive four-week campaign that’s seen each leading party pitch their vision for the province while taking aim at the opposing leader’s record.
Voters are set to decide whether they’ll re-elect Danielle Smith’s United Conservatives, or return to an NDP government headed by Rachel Notley, in a battle between premiers past and present.
Alberta election: Everything you need to know before you vote
Albertans go to the polls on May 29 — today.
While there are plenty of promises and policies from the parties to wade through, it’s also important to brush up on voting information.
Before you cast your ballot, here’s what you need to know.
Promises made: Where the NDP and UCP stand on top issues in Alberta election campaign
With Alberta’s election hitting the home stretch, what have the leading political parties in the province done or promised to do if elected today?
Both the UCP and the NDP have been making promises for weeks on major issues leading up to the official campaign, which began in May.
Here are some highlights, which don’t reflect the entirety of the platforms.
Profiles of main party leaders Danielle Smith and Rachel Notley
UCP Leader Danielle Smith
Succeeding Jason Kenney, Smith comes from roots in the socially conservative Wildrose Party. She has been premier since October 2022 after she won the UCP’s leadership race.
Smith, 52, who holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Calgary with a major in English and a minor in economics, started her career in media. First as an extra in the Vancouver film and television industry and then as a journalist on radio, television and in print. While working as a radio broadcaster in March 2020, Smith tweeted and later deleted claims that the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine is a cure for COVID-19.
Smith was a lobbyist for the Alberta Enterprise Group, encouraging capital investment and big business in Alberta. She introduced the Alberta Sovereignty Act to prevent the enforcement of “federal rules deemed harmful to Alberta’s interests.” The act passed but only with significant changes to remove the legislation-rewriting powers the original measure would have given Smith and her cabinet.
Since 2017, Smith and her husband, David Moretta, have owned and operated the Dining Car at High River station, a converted rail car in High River.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley
Notley, 59, became premier of Alberta in 2015, ending 44 years of Progressive Conservative Party rule in the Western Canadian province. She lost re-election in 2019 to Kenney.
The daughter of former Alberta New Democratic Party leader Grant Notley, Rachel Notley was a labour advocate and lawyer before entering politics. She specialised in workers’ rights and health and safety. She advocated for the rights of special-needs children with the organisation Moms on the Move.
The campaign has taken place alongside a record-breaking spring for wildfires in Alberta. Ten communities were under evacuation orders Monday.
Elections Alberta has set up alternate voting locations for those displaced. Evacuation has been added as an eligible reason to vote by special ballot and mobile voting stations have been placed in evacuation centres.
Incident Command Centres are working to have special ballots delivered to fire fighters and emergency crews.
war demonstration before she was ten years old.
While premier, Notley gave Canada its first $15 minimum wage, stabilised funding for healthcare, restricted money in elections and increased taxes on corporations and the wealthy. Her government introduced harm-reduction measures targeting the opioid and fentanyl epidemic.
Her husband, Lou Arab, is a communications representative for the Canadian Union of Public Employees and a campaign strategist for the NDP. Notley and Arab live with their two children in the historic Old Strathcona district in Edmonton.
Julia Malott: Nope, parents are not ‘fascists’ for being skeptical of gender politics
In the coming days, Canada will see heightened activity in the nation’s ongoing gender identity politics debate. The “1 Million March 4 Children” protest against how gender identity is taught in schools, is set to occur on Wednesday, with synchronized events in more than 50 cities countrywide. Two days later, separate Toronto rally will spotlight two figures prominent in the gender-critical movement: Chris Elston, colloquially known as “Billboard Chris” for his distinctive method of protesting against childhood medical transition, and Josh Alexander, a Renfrew, Ontario student who was expelled earlier this year after objecting in class to his school’s transgender washroom policy.
As parents’ voices grow louder, there’s a perception in the progressive left that all of these emerging movements are rooted and inspired by “far-right” extremism. Many in leftist circles suggest that parental rights advocacy is a dog-whistle: a veiled attempt to advance anti-transgender policies. A recently leaked video from an Ontario Federation of Labour meeting offers a glimpse into how some of the province’s most influential union members perceive these protests. As one member notably stated during the meeting: “The fascists are organizing in the streets … . This is far more than a far-right transphobic protest. They’re fundamentally racist, they’re fundamentally anti-union, they are fundamentally transphobic, and it’s just a matter of time before they come for us.”
It’s a grave mistake to deride the parental collective pushing back against the status-quo as fascist sympathizers motivated by transgender hate. A glance past such alarmist rhetoric reveals that — while a fringe group of hate has always existed — the concerns many parents are championing are much more moderate than a “far-right” moniker suggests.
For many parents, the core issue at hand is preserving their agency and autonomy over the ideological content of their children’s education. They want transparency about what is being taught, the option to excuse their child from content they believe doesn’t align with their values, and the discretion to determine age-appropriateness for activities, such as certain reading material or events like drag queen performances at schools. Perhaps least surprisingly, parents want to be involved in the key decisions of their own child undergoing a social transition in the classroom.
The matter of social transition behind parents’ backs in particular is so condemning of their role in upbringing that it has thrust the entire gamut of gender identity matters into the national spotlight, revealing just how out of balance transgender accommodation has become. The manner in which the left has responded — by doubling down in their rhetoric and deriding parents as militant zealots, has played powerfully into the rapid growth of this grassroots movement.
Many parents, even amid those who will stand in protest, have little desire to limit other families’ decisions regarding gender teachings and expression for their children. They realize that their objective of ensuring their own parental autonomy is intertwined with safeguarding those same freedoms for other families as well.
So where do we go from here? What might a balanced approach to parental rights look like within the nuanced landscape of gender identity politics? Fortunately, we need not start from scratch; history offers us a model for the coexistence of diverse ideologies within our educational institutions. Look no further than religion.
Amid religious diversity, we teach acceptance. Students are taught to make space for varied faith expression among their peers, whether through clothing or other customs, and with a strong desire to maintain neutral, religious symbols are not adorned by the institution. The lesson for students is to embrace and include, even where personal beliefs diverge; Meanwhile, the guiding principle for the institution is to avoid actions that display favouritism toward any specific religious doctrine.
Such a solution could address a significant portion of the concerns fuelling the rising parental unrest. Moderate parents would applaud such an education system, and this would still be inclusive of transgender students. But in order for this to be realized, the two factions moving ever further apart will first need to come to the table and talk. Given the recent rhetoric from progressive quarters, the prospect of this dialogue anytime soon appears distant.
Ex-diplomat says Poland asked him to keep tabs on Alberta politician
A month after Global Affairs Canada told CBC News it was looking into claims that the Polish government asked one of its diplomats in Canada to gather information on a former Alberta cabinet minister, the dismissed consul general at the centre of the affair says he still hasn’t heard from the department on the matter.
Andrzej Mańkowski told CBC News the only official he has heard from is a B.C. bureaucrat who asked him to return his diplomatic licence plates and identification.
“[Officials with Global Affairs] haven’t tried talking to me,” he said.
Mańkowski showed CBC News a copy of a letter dated Aug. 31 he received from B.C.’s Chief of Protocol for Intergovernmental Relations Lucy Lobmeier asking him to turn in his identity card and to return his diplomatic plates “within 30 days of this letter.” She also thanked him for his service.
Mańkowski alleges he was dismissed from his post in late July after he refused to carry out orders from the Polish government to gather information about Thomas Lukaszuk, a former deputy premier of Alberta who often provides commentary to CBC News about the province’s politics.
“It’s clear that Polish diplomacy during Communist times, the main responsibility was to collect information, to gather information on some Polish representatives abroad,” Mańkowski said, adding he felt as if the request was a throwback to that time.
“The analogy’s extremely evident.”
Last month, Global Affairs Canada said it was taking the allegations seriously.
Spying allegations ‘out of this world’: ambassador
In August, Lukaszuk said he believed he had been targeted by Poland’s department of foreign affairs over his activism against a controversial Polish pastor, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, who has private radio and television stations in Poland.
Rydzyk, who has ties to the Polish government, has been criticized for delivering sermons featuring homophobic and anti-Semitic views and for preaching against the European Union.
Lukaszuk also shared what he said were encrypted messages Polish government officials sent to Mańkowski asking him over the course of a year to prepare notes on the former Alberta politician.
CBC News has not independently verified these messages were official government communications. Mańkowski did not dispute their veracity in his interview.
“Asking for my opinion about Lukaszuk was just a kind of trap, was just a political test of my loyalty,” he said.
Poland’s Ambassador to Canada Witold Dzielski called the allegation “totally absurd.”
“The idea of Polish diplomacy spying on a former provincial politician … it’s really out of this world,” Dzielski said.
He said he has never met Lukaszuk and did not know of his previous career in politics before Lukaszuk emailed him about an unrelated consular matter long before the reports about Mańkowski came out.
Dzielski said that if the notes cited by Lukaszuk are real, they were leaked illegally because they would constitute private diplomatic communications.
The affair has captured attention in Polish media, where the story first broke.
In July, Polish opposition politicians cited the messages released by Lukaszuk when they asked Piotr Wawrzyk, a secretary of state in the government’s foreign affairs department, whether Mańkowski was dismissed because he refused to spy on Lukaszuk.
In reply, Wawrzyk said the government could recall a diplomat who refused to carry out an assignment.
Wawrzyk, who was also a deputy foreign minister, has since been fired himself over an unrelated matter both local media outlets and Reuters have linked to a clandestine scheme awarding migrants visas in exchange for cash.
On Saturday, The Associated Press noted he had been hospitalized following an apparent sucide attempt.
“The minister, Wawrzyk, was laid off because of a totally different subject,” Dzielski said.
He pointed out that those documents were cited by opposition politicians in the context of a heated election campaign.
Dzielski� also said it’s normal for diplomats to be asked to gather information on notable members of diaspora communities.
‘A very marginal conversation’
“We are working very closely with them,” he said. “It is obvious and natural, and it is an element of diplomatic workshops, that we provide and we build ourselves opinions about the quality of cooperation with particular actors.”
He said Global Affairs has spoken to him about the allegations. “We had a very marginal conversation on this which reflects the level of seriousness of this topic,” he said.
A NATO member, Poland has worked closely with Canada to help out its neighbour Ukraine ever since Russia launched its full-scale invasion last year.
Asked for comment, Global Affairs said in a media statement it “continues to work closely with security and intelligence community partners to assess the situation and identify next steps as appropriate.”
The department said last month it had contacted Lukaszuk and that it took the responsibility of protecting Canadians from “transnational repression” very seriously.
Put politics aside to solve housing crisis, or your kids might never own a home: Raitt
The Current20:05Putting politics aside to tackle the housing crisis
Political leaders of all stripes must find a way to work together to solve the housing and climate crises impacting Canadians, says former Conservative MP Lisa Raitt.
“Toronto is the best example. NDP mayor, provincial premier who’s Conservative, federal Liberal who’s the prime minister,” said Raitt, co-lead of the new non-governmental Task Force for Housing and Climate, which launched Tuesday.
“And if they don’t figure this out, one voter is going to punish them all.”
The new task force is concerned with accelerating the construction of new homes, while ensuring that’s done in a sustainable way. In a press release, the group of former city mayors, planners, developers, economists and affordable housing advocates said it intends to convene until April 2024 to develop policy recommendations. The work is supported by the Clean Economy Fund, a charitable foundation.
Raitt held several senior cabinet posts under former prime minister Stephen Harper. But as co-lead of the task force, Raitt said she won’t engage in the political partisanship that she thinks “poisons the well” around these issues.
“Part of the reason why we’re coming together as the task force is to have a real pragmatic and practical conversation about these issues instead of weaponizing it into a political arena, and finger pointing back and forth,” she told The Current’s Matt Galloway.
Canada needs to build an extra 3.5 million new units by the end of the decade, over and above what’s already in the works, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. A report this week showed rental costs have increased 9.6 per cent from Aug. 2022 to 2023, to an average now of $2,117 a month.
This week, the federal government announced it would cut the federal goods and services tax (GST) from the construction of new rental apartments, in an effort to spur new development. The Liberal government also pledged $74 million to build thousands of homes in London, Ont., — the first in what it hopes will be a series of agreements to accelerate housing construction.
Speaking in London on Wednesday, Housing Minister Sean Fraser called on municipalities to “legalize housing,” urging them to remove “sluggish permit-approval processes” and zoning obstacles if they expect federal investment in housing construction.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre criticized the government’s plans as not going far enough, while pointing out it echoes some of his party’s proposals. He’s proposed measures that tie federal funding to the number of housing starts. Funding would be withheld from cities that fail to increase the number of homes built by 15 per cent, while cities that pass that threshold would receive bonuses.
Poilievre’s proposals also include a “NIMBY” fine on municipalities that block construction because of opposition from local residents, and the sale of 15 per cent of federally owned buildings so the land can be used to build affordable homes.
Don Iveson, former mayor of Edmonton and co-lead of the task force, said he understands why partisan politics can creep into the debate — but Canadians expect more.
He said the task force intends “to help all orders of government” understand what’s needed to tackle these problems from an economic, technical and planning perspective.
“We’re not going to be able to solve the housing crisis [by] building housing the way we built it for the last several generations,” said said Iveson, who was mayor of Edmonton from 2013 to 2021.
Your kids need a place to live: Raitt
Iveson said the challenge of scaling up housing construction will require some new ways of thinking.
That might mean a greater emphasis on automation and building houses from components prefabricated off-site, which he described as “essentially a more factory approach” that could also reduce construction costs.
Raitt said the task force will examine where houses are built, and in what kind of density, to ensure scaling up can “get the most bang for the buck.”
That might mean Canadians might need to have difficult conversations, including whether to build multi-storey buildings instead of single-family homes.
Raitt said older Canadians who already own their own homes might not like the idea of taller buildings going up around them, but they should speak to their kids about it.
“They don’t care if it’s going to be four, six storeys in a residential neighbourhood. They just want a place that they know that they can purchase,” she said.
“Talk about whether or not our kids are going to have a place to live, let alone rent, let alone own, let alone a house in the communities where they were brought up, because right now it’s not looking so good.”
Counting the cost of climate change
When it comes to climate change and sustainability, the task force’s goals come down to a “very simple equation,” Raitt said.
“Whatever we’re building now is going to be here in 2050. So if it’s going to be part of the calculation of our net-zero aspirations, whatever they’re going to be,” she said.
She said the task force will work to formulate ways to build housing that take emissions into account, but don’t include prohibitive costs that slow down the rate of construction.
“It’s going to be a little bit more costly to build with climate indications built in … but you’ve got to make sure that there’s policies surrounding that to make sure it still makes it affordable,” she said.
Iveson said wildfires, floods, heat domes and extreme weather events are already disrupting the economy, as well as posing huge financial burdens for the Canadians caught up in them.
“Climate change is already costing us a fortune,” he told Galloway.
Building without those climate considerations “maybe seems affordable in the short term, but it’s false economy when it comes to the real costs ahead of us,” he said.
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