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The 63 Canadians killed in the Iran plane crash



A passenger plane crash in Iran claimed 176 lives on Wednesday — and least 63 of them were Canadian. Others may have lived in Canada for work or school.

The Ukraine International Airlines flight came down in a field mere minutes after takeoff from Tehran‘s airport, killing all on board.

Ukrainian aviation authorities initially pointed to engine failure as the cause but later backtracked, saying the investigation was ongoing and that nothing had been ruled out.



The airline released a list of passengers and crew on board the plane following the tragedy. While it includes each person’s birth year, it does not indicate nationality.

Here is what we know about the victims who lived in Canada so far.


Ghanimat Azhdari

The ICCA Consortium confirmed Ghanimat Azhdari was on the plane when it crashed. Azhdari started her PhD at the University of Guelph this past September.

“We are in utter disbelief and heartbroken at the sudden loss of such a beautiful young life — a true force of nature,” officials from the ICCA Consortium said in a statement on their website.

“She was a dear friend to all of us and will be deeply missed.”

The statement says she was a geographic information specialist and had recently represented the consortium in a “series of UN Convention on Biological Diversity meetings in Montreal.”

“She was always smiling, wherever she went, and generously shared her experience, knowledge and powerful energy. A strong activist and advocate for the global Indigenous Peoples’ movement, this is not only a loss for our ICCA Consortium family but also for many communities, organizations and movements worldwide,” the statement reads.

Milad Ghasemi Ariani

A second University of Guelph student has also been identified as a passenger on the plane by the school. Milad Ghasemi Ariani was in a marketing and consumer studies program.

Delaram Dadashnejad

An Iranian international student who was studying at Langara College, Delaram Dadashnejad, was also identified as a victim in the crash.

Delaram Dadashnejad was an international student at Langara College.

Delaram Dadashnejad was an international student at Langara College.


Her ID that stated she was from B.C. was found at the crash site, according to Iranian state media.

In a statement, the college’s president and CEO Dr. Lane Trotter said Dadashnejad was taking university transfer classes and was flying back to Vancouver after visiting family in Tehran.

“The loss of one of our students is one that impacts our entire community,” Trotter said. “We are heartbroken over the fatal tragedy that took place; our thoughts and prayers are with those in mourning from this incident.”

Masoumeh and Mandieh Ghavi

Masoumeh Ghavi, an engineering student at Dalhousie University, had been in Iran visiting family on holiday before she was killed in a plane crash near Tehran.

Masoumeh Ghavi, an engineering student at Dalhousie University, had been in Iran visiting family on holiday before she was killed in a plane crash near Tehran.

Masoumeh Ghavi/Facebook

Nova Scotia resident Masoumeh Ghavi was studying engineering at Dalhousie University. She was travelling back to Canada alongside her sister, Mandieh Ghavi, who was also killed, according to the Dalhousie Iranian Student Society. The pair was in Iran to visit family over the holidays.

Ardalan Ebnoddin Hamidi, Niloufar Khamsi Razzaghi, Kamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi

Three members of a B.C. family were confirmed to be among those killed in the Tehran plane crash.

Ardalan Ebnoddin Hamidi and Niloufar Razzaghi, a husband and wife who lived in Vancouver with their teenage son, Kamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi, were killed on their way home after a holiday, according to family friends.

Kei Esmaeilpour, a friend and head of the Civic Association of Iranian Canadians, confirmed their deaths in a statement.

“Canadian society and Iranian community lost one of the best families,” Esmaeilpour said. “Ardalan Ebnoddin-Hamidi and his family was one of the most responsible Iranian-Canadian citizens. I extend my condolences to the community and to his family in Canada and in Iran.”

Parisa Eghbalian and Reera Esmaeilion

Parisa Eghbalian and her daughter Reera appear in this Facebook photo along with her husband.

Parisa Eghbalian and her daughter Reera appear in this Facebook photo along with her husband.

Parisa Eghbalian and her daughter, nine-year-old Reera Esmaeilion, were both on board the Ukranian flight. Eghbalian was a dentist and co-owner of Aurora Dentistry in Ontario. She owned the practice alongside her husband.

Employees tell Global News they’ve been fielding calls all day from patients wishing to express shock and condolence to the family. The workers said they were devastated at the news of their deaths and that Eghbalian’s husband, Hamed Esmaeilion, was packing to go to Tehran.

The pair were on holiday in Iran for the past two weeks for Eghbalian’s sister’s engagement party.

Her husband described his grief on Facebook.

“Among the three of us, there is so much romance that will stay with me until I die,” he wrote.

Bahareh Haj Esfandiari, Anisa Sadeghi and Mehdi Sadeghi

Mehdi Sadeghi, 43, Bahareh Haj Esfandiari, 41, and Anisa Sadeghi, 10 were all confirmed dead in a plane crash that killed 63 Canadians on Tuesday night.

Mehdi Sadeghi, 43, Bahareh Haj Esfandiari, 41, and Anisa Sadeghi, 10 were all confirmed dead in a plane crash that killed 63 Canadians on Tuesday night.


Three members of a Winnipeg family are among the dead. Bahareh Haj Esfandiari, 41, Anisa Sadeghi, 10, and Mehdi Sadeghi, 43, were confirmed as victims of the plane crash by Welcome Place, where Esfandiari worked.

“We are deeply saddened to have learned a recent former employee was on the flight with her husband and daughter travelling back home to Canada after the holidays,” a Facebook post by the company reads.

Forough Khadem

Forough Khadem

Forough Khadem


A former PhD student at the University of Manitoba, Forough Khadem was confirmed as one of the victims by her colleagues. Khadem worked in immunology and with CancerCare Manitoba.

Evin Arsalani, Hiva Molani and Kurdia Molani

Evin Arsalani and her daughter, Kurdia, appear in this photo.

Evin Arsalani and her daughter, Kurdia, appear in this photo.

A family of three from Ajax, Ont., are among the victims.

Toronto resident Omid Arsalani told Global News that it was around 3 a.m. Wednesday when he learned that his sister, Evin Arsalani, 30, her husband, Hiva Molani, 38, and their one-year-old daughter Kurdia had been killed. The family was on their way home to Ajax, Ont. – about an hour outside Toronto – from Iran where they had attended a wedding on Dec. 8

“I just wish that I could wake up and that it would be a dream,” Arsalani said. “My sister was my best friend.”

Arsalani first learned about the crash when his older brother knocked on his door and told him his sister was on the flight.

“I opened the door and I had no idea what was going on,” he said. “I asked him are they okay are they alive? What’s going on?”

“He said ‘every soul on the plane is dead. Not one person made it.’”

Arsalani said the last time he spoke with his sister was Jan. 2 on her 30th birthday.

“The whole time we talked we cracked jokes, had a good time as she celebrated her birthday,” he said. “The last message I got from her was: only a brother can you like a father, bother you like a sister, and a brother can care for you like a mother. It was the last thing I got from her.”

Iman Ghaderpanah and Parinaz Ghaderpanah

Iman Ghaderpanah and Parinaz Ghaderpanah pictured in this undated photo.

Iman Ghaderpanah and Parinaz Ghaderpanah pictured in this undated photo.

(Parinaz Ghaderpanah/Facebook)

Global News has confirmed that married couple Iman Ghaderpanah, a mortgage specialist, and Parinaz Ghaderpanah, an RBC employee, are among the residents from the Greater Toronto area who died in the crash.

The couple volunteered regularly in Tirgan, an Iranian-Canadian non-profit that celebrates arts and culture, according to Mehrdad Ariannejad, who is on the board of directors.

“They were working very closely with us and we knew them personally,” Ariannejad told Global News. “They were really lovely, great people … Parinaz was an energetic person, a very positive person.”

Iman Ghaderpanah who worked with Mortgage Alliance in Toronto is remembered as a “well respected and friendly” colleague.

“It’s really sad news, very shocking,” Yasmine Soliman, director of communications at Mortgage Alliance, told Global News. “He was really well liked.”

RBC, where Parinaz worked as a branch manager, said it was deeply saddened to learn she and her husband were on the flight.

“Our thoughts are with all the victims and their families,” said Gillian McArdle, a spokesperson for RBC. “Our immediate focus is on supporting Ms. Ghaderpanah’s family and our colleagues and clients who worked with her.

Razgar Rahimi

Razgar Rahimi appears in this undated photo.

Razgar Rahimi appears in this undated photo.

Dr. Razgar Rahimi, an engineering instructor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, died in the crash, the university announced Wednesday afternoon.

Rahimi died “along with his family,” the university said, but did not offer further details.

After getting engineering degrees from two universities in Iran, Rahimi got a PhD in electrical engineering from Oshawa, Ont.-based UOIT in 2018, according to his Linkedin profile. He taught electrical engineering, circuit design and introductory electronics.

Rahimi was born in 1981, a passenger list released by Ukraine International Airlines said. He would have been about 39.

Naser Pourshabanoshibi and Firouzeh Madani

Naser Pourshabanoshibi and Firouzeh Madani.

Naser Pourshabanoshibi and Firouzeh Madani.


Naser Pourshabanoshibi and Firouzeh Madani were also killed in the crash, according to family and friends who spoke to Global News.

Both lived in North Vancouver and had worked as doctors.

Mohammad Hossein (Daniel) Saket and Fatemeh (Faye) Kazerani

Mohammad Hossein (Daniel) Saket and Fatemeh (Faye) Kazerani.

Mohammad Hossein (Daniel) Saket and Fatemeh (Faye) Kazerani.


North Vancouver couple Mohammad Hossein Saket and Fatemeh Kazerani were also confirmed dead by family, as well as a local business owner.

Saket worked as an engineer and Kazerani worked as a hygienist, a cousin related to one of them told Global News.

Arvin Morattab and Aida Farzaneh

Aida Farzaneh and Arvin Morattab,

Aida Farzaneh and Arvin Morattab,

Aida Farzaneh/Facebook

A Montreal-based couple was identified by a friend as victims of the plane crash.

Arvin Morattab and Aida Farzaneh had both recently graduated from a PhD program at École de technologie supérieure. Farzaneh was a lecturer in the engineering department at the school.

“I can’t imagine that I have to use past tense when I’m talking about them,” said their friend, Aria Isapor.

Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani

Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani are among those who were killed in a plane crash outside of Tehran, Iran on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020.

Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani are among those who were killed in a plane crash outside of Tehran, Iran on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020.

Courtesy of Ali Dolatabadi

Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani, of Montreal, had recently married before their plane went down in Iran. According to social media, Ghafouri-Azar was a performance specialist at Pratt and Whitney Canada. Mamani worked for Bombardier.

Both studied at Concordia University, their LinkedIn pages show.

Pedram Jadidi

Pedram Jadidi appears in this undated photo provided by a close friend and classmate.

Pedram Jadidi appears in this undated photo provided by a close friend and classmate.

A civil engineering student at the University of Windsor, Pedram Jadidi had big dreams, according to a friend. He was born in Iran and travelled back over the Christmas holiday to visit family. His friend and classmate said he was returning to Canada to begin a new semester.

“Pedram had so many wishes,” his friend, Javad Sadeghi told Global News. “He lost his father just before he came to Canada. He had only his mother.”

He said Jadidi chose to fly with the Ukrainian airline because it was affordable and he was tight on cash, as he was supporting his mother back home.

Another friend, Faraz Talebpour, said he was supposed to be on the same flight but changed his ticket. He said he was supposed to room with Jadidi at some point, but plans fell through.

Hamidreza Setare and Samira Bashiri

Hamidreza Setare and Samira Bashiri appear in this photo provided by a close friend and classmate.

Hamidreza Setare and Samira Bashiri appear in this photo provided by a close friend and classmate.

Born in Iran, Hamidreza Setare was living in Windsor where he was a PhD student in mechanical engineering at the University of Windsor.

Setare and Samira Bashiri were married, according to a friend. Bashiri was also a student at the school, studying for a masters in medical biotechnology.

“Hamidreza was a very ambitious person,” said his friend, Javad Sadeghi. “He had plans to be a faculty member. He did his masters at Sharif University of Technology, the best university in Iran.”

Images of Setare provided by Sadeghi show the two posing on a field with a soccer ball and cleats.

Another friend and classmate, Faraz Talebpour, described the pair as “a lovely couple.”

Zahra Naghibi

Zahra Naghibi appears in this undated photo from LinkedIn.

Zahra Naghibi appears in this undated photo from LinkedIn.

Zahra Naghibi was an Iranian-born PhD candidate and research assistant at the University of Windsor’s Turbulence and Energy Lab, according to lab director David S.K. Ting.

She was also an active student leader who served as co-chair of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers’ Young Professionals Affinity Group, according to IEEE co-chair Faraz Talebpour.

“She was so kind to everyone else. She was just the definition of positivity,” Talebpour told Global News from Iran. He says Naghibi was among five people he knew on the flight, and he would have been on it too if he hadn’t altered his travel plans.

Talebpour described Naghibi as an incredible scientist, engineer, leader and person.

“She was one of the kindest, good-hearted people that I got to know,” he said.

Arash Pourzarabi and Pooneh Gorji

Arash Pourzarabi and his wife, Pooneh Gorji appear in their recent wedding photo.

Arash Pourzarabi and his wife, Pooneh Gorji appear in their recent wedding photo.

Arash Pourzarabi and his new wife, Pooneh Gorji, were both computer science researchers at the University of Alberta.

They had their wedding in Iran and were returning to Edmonton to continue their studies, Akbari confirmed.

Amir Hossein Saeedinia

Amir Hossein Saeedinia appears in this undated photo.

Amir Hossein Saeedinia appears in this undated photo.

Amir Hossein Saeedinia, born in 1994, was a new PhD student at the University of Alberta’s Centre for Design of Advanced Materials. An advisor confirmed to Global News that Saeedinia was set to arrive in Edmonton to begin his studies this week and that he was a passenger on the flight.

Mohammad and Zeynab Asadi Lari

Mohammad Asadi Lari and Zeynab Asadi Lari in a Twitter photo.

Mohammad Asadi Lari and Zeynab Asadi Lari in a Twitter photo.

Zeynab Asadi Lari/Twitter

Twenty-three year old Mohammad Asadi Lari and his 21-year-old sister Zeynab Asadi Lari were on the plane as well, friends of the siblings told Global News.

The pair were from Vancouver, and had left the University of British Columbia to study in Toronto. Zeynab was finishing her bachelor of sciences, while her brother had earned his medical degree.

Another friend, Saman Arfaie, wrote on Facebook that Mohammad was “one of my dearest and closest friends.”

“It has been a tragedy that words would not be able to describe, nor do justice, to the magnitude and scope of it,” Arfaie wrote. “We lost some remarkable people today. Their lives and hopes cut short too soon.”

Fareed Arasteh

Fareed Arasteh is shown in a handout photo from his LinkedIn profile. Arasteh has been confirmed as one of the victims of the Iran plane crash.THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-LinkedIn MANDATORY CREDIT

Fareed Arasteh is shown in a handout photo from his LinkedIn profile. Arasteh has been confirmed as one of the victims of the Iran plane crash.THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-LinkedIn MANDATORY CREDIT


The death of Fareed Arasteh was confirmed by Carleton University, where he was a PhD student in biology.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Arasteh was expected to complete his PhD in molecular genetics in 2023. He had previously worked and studied in Tehran.

Mansour Pourjam

Carleton University also confirmed the death of Mansour Pourjam, who was a biology alumnus.

Iman Aghabali

Iman Aghabali was confirmed to be a victim in the plane crash in Iran on Jan. 8 2020.

Iman Aghabali was confirmed to be a victim in the plane crash in Iran on Jan. 8 2020.

McMaster University

Iman Aghabali is believed to be dead, McMaster University said in a press release. Aghabali was a graduate student at the university in Hamilton, Ont. in the Faculty of Engineering.

According to a profile posted on the university’s website, Aghabali previously studied at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran.

Mehdi Eshaghian

Mehdi Eshaghian was confirmed to be a victim in the plane crash in Iran on Jan. 8 2020.

Mehdi Eshaghian was confirmed to be a victim in the plane crash in Iran on Jan. 8 2020.

The McMaster University press release also said that another PhD student, named Mehdi Eshaghian, is believed to be dead.

Eshaghian studied in Tehran before coming to Canada and joining McMaster in September 2018.

Amirhossien Ghasemi

Amirhossiwn Ghasemi

Amirhossiwn Ghasemi


Amirhossien Ghasemi, 32, was a grad student of biomedical engineering the University of Manitoba and a doctor.

Amir Shirzadi, a board member with the Manitoba Iranian Student Association, said his good friend Ghasemi was on his way back to Winnipeg after visiting family in Iran.

“I saw him before he left the country,” said Shirzadi, who added that the two played games together.

“I can’t use past tense. I think he’s coming back. We play again. We talk again. It’s too difficult to use past tense, too difficult. No one can believe it.”

Marzieh (Mari) Foroutan and Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani

The University of Waterloo confirmed that two PHD students, Marzieh Foroutan, called Mari, and Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani, studying at the school were among the victims of Wednesday’s deadly crash.

“Everyone at Waterloo is shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Mari Foroutan and Mansour Esfahani,” Waterloo president Feridun Hamdullahpur said in a statement. “Our hearts ache for them, their friends and family with whom we all mourn together.”

According to his LinkedIn page, Esfahani was studying construction automation and management at the school.

Foroutan’s bio on the university’s web site says that her studies focused “on the application of new algorithms and technologies in remote sensing to study climate change.”

— With files from Maham Abedi, Rebecca Joseph, Andrew Russell, Patrick Cain, Caryn Lieberman, Josh Elliott, Kevin Nielsen

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Uganda’s president signs into law anti-gay legislation with death penalty in some cases



Uganda's president signs into law anti-gay legislation

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Uganda’s president has signed into law anti-gay legislation supported by many in this East African country but widely condemned by rights activists and others abroad.

The version of the bill signed by President Yoweri Museveni doesn’t criminalize those who identify as LGBTQ+, a key concern for some rights campaigners who condemned an earlier draft of the legislation as an egregious attack on human rights.

But the new law still prescribes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” which is defined as cases of sexual relations involving people infected with HIV, as well as with minors and other categories of vulnerable people.

A suspect convicted of “attempted aggravated homosexuality” can be imprisoned for up to 14 years, according to the legislation.


Parliamentary Speaker Anita Among said in a statement that the president had “answered the cries of our people” in signing the bill.

“With a lot of humility, I thank my colleagues the Members of Parliament for withstanding all the pressure from bullies and doomsday conspiracy theorists in the interest of our country,” the statement said.

Museveni had returned the bill to the national assembly in April, asking for changes that would differentiate between identifying as LGBTQ+ and actually engaging in homosexual acts. That angered some lawmakers, including some who feared the president would proceed to veto the bill amid international pressure. Lawmakers passed an amended version of the bill earlier in May.

LGBTQ+ rights campaigners say the new legislation is unnecessary in a country where homosexuality has long been illegal under a colonial-era law criminalizing sexual activity “against the order of nature.” The punishment for that offense is life imprisonment.

The United States had warned of economic consequences over legislation described by Amnesty International as “draconian and overly broad.” In a statement from the White House later Monday, U.S. President Joe Biden called the new law “a tragic violation of universal human rights — one that is not worthy of the Ugandan people, and one that jeopardizes the prospects of critical economic growth for the entire country.”

“I join with people around the world — including many in Uganda — in calling for its immediate repeal. No one should have to live in constant fear for their life or being subjected to violence and discrimination. It is wrong,” Biden said.

The United Nations Human Rights Office said it was “appalled that the draconian and discriminatory anti-gay bill is now law,” describing the legislation as ”a recipe for systematic violations of the rights” of LGBTQ+ people and others.

In a joint statement the leaders of the U.N. AIDS program, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund said they were “deeply concerned about the harmful impact” of the legislation on public health and the HIV response.

“Uganda’s progress on its HIV response is now in grave jeopardy,” the statement said. “The Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 will obstruct health education and the outreach that can help end AIDS as a public health threat.”

That statement noted that “stigma and discrimination associated with the passage of the Act has already led to reduced access to prevention as well as treatment services” for LGBTQ+ people.

Rights activists have the option of appealing the legislation before the courts. Later Monday, one group of activists and academics petitioned the constitutional court seeking an injunction against enforcement of the law.

An anti-gay bill enacted in 2014 was later nullified by a panel of judges who cited a lack of quorum in the plenary session that had passed that particular bill. Any legal challenge this time is likely to be heard on the merits, rather than on technical questions.

Anti-gay sentiment in Uganda has grown in recent weeks amid news coverage alleging sodomy in boarding schools, including a prestigious school for boys where a parent accused a teacher of abusing her son.

The February decision of the Church of England ’s national assembly to continue banning church weddings for same-sex couples while allowing priests to bless same-sex marriages and civil partnerships outraged many in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa.

Homosexuality is criminalized in more than 30 of Africa’s 54 countries. Some Africans see it as behavior imported from abroad and not a sexual orientation.

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Alberta voters await election results as polls close across province



Polls have closed across most ridings in Alberta.

As votes are counted and results trickle in, Albertans must now wait to see who will lead the province through the next four years.

Many have already made their voices heard during last week’s advance polls: 758,550 votes were cast, smashing the previous record of 700,476 in 2019.

If all goes to plan, by the end of tonight Albertans will have elected 87 MLAs to represent them in the province’s 31st legislative assembly. Although Calgary has been cited as the deciding battleground, there are plenty of ridings to watch with every election offering its own surprises.


CBC News will be hosting live coverage throughout the evening. You can watch it here from 7:30 p.m. MT. A comprehensive list on how you can follow the election is listed below. 

Although there are many parties from either end of the political spectrum — from communists to separatists — the race is very much a rematch of 2019’s contest between the United Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party.

A lot has changed since the UCP took the province four years ago. The world weathered the COVID-19 pandemic, the governing party chose a new leader, and oil prices have returned prosperity to the provincial coffers.

Danielle Smith leads the UCP, having won the leadership race this fall after Jason Kenney’s resignation. This will be her second attempt at taking the premiership in an election, having led the Wildrose Party into 2012.

Rachel Notley meanwhile leads the NDP for her third election as leader. She won a four-year term as premier in 2015 before losing to Kenney in 2019.

Both offer their own vision of Alberta’s future.

The long campaign

The election officially started on May 1, although campaigning began much earlier.

On that first day, Smith and Notley held Calgary kick-off events singing the refrain to songs that would play on repeat in the coming weeks.

Smith promised to keep taxes low. The UCP has pledged to make its first legislation an amendment so income taxes can only be raised through referendum.

Notley promised she would fix the health-care system. The NDP have committed to offering signing bonuses up to $10,000 to attract doctors, nurses and other health professionals.

Cost of living, health care, public safety and other issues have been as much the basis of attacks as of promises.

The UCP hammered Notley’s plan to return the corporate tax rate to 11 per cent. The NDP lambasted Smith after she was found to have breached the conflict of interest act. And on it went.

Albertans were finally able to see the two leaders go head-to-head in the sole election debate on May 18, although the exchange hardly produced headline-making gaffes or declarations.

For many in the province, politics has been the least of their concerns. Wildfires erupted throughout central and northern Alberta in early May, threatening communities and forcing thousands to evacuate from their homes.

There were unsuccessful calls to postpone the election but Elections Alberta has said it will ensure every eligible Albertan gets to vote.

Here are more ways you can follow the election results.


Here is where to watch the CBC News election special starting at 7:30 p.m. MT:


The Alberta Votes 2023: Election Night special starts at 7:30 p.m. MT, led by CBC Edmonton host Nancy Carlson and CBC Calgary host Rob Brown.

They will be joined by Radio Active host Jessica Ng to break down results riding by riding.

Find your local channel.

On radio

CBC Radio’s special election coverage will start at 7:30 p.m. MT. Alberta at Noon host Judy Aldous and CBC Edmonton’s Tahirih Foroozan will deliver immediate results as Albertans select the province’s next government.

Judy will be joined by panellists Tina Faiz, Jeromy Farkas, Monte Solberg and Corey Hogan for instant analysis, CBC’s Scott Dippel for context on swing ridings, as well as guest voices from across the province.



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Alberta United Conservatives win majority government, NDP makes inroads in Calgary



Canadanewsmedia has projected a United Conservative Party majority government in Alberta.

Leader Danielle Smith and her party rode a wave of rural support to victory, but the NDP made inroads in the traditional conservative stronghold of Calgary.

UCP Leader Danielle Smith won her seat in Brooks-Medicine Hat and other key cabinet members were also returned, including Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, Agriculture Minister Nate Horner, Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson and Affordability and Utilities Minister Matt Jones.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley won her seat in Edmonton-Strathcona for a fifth time and her party was on track to sweep the capital.


No election winner had been called more than two hours after polls closed at 8 p.m. Elections Alberta said in a statement it was moving as fast as possible.

“We are not seeing any issues at this time, but understand that people are keen to see the results,” said Elections Alberta in a statement.

“Processing the votes takes some time. The hand count of today’s ballot is occurring.”

To win, the NDP needed to flip 20 seats in the 87-seat legislature and early results showed promise in multiple Calgary constituencies outside of traditional UCP core support in the south end of the city.

UCP cabinet heavyweights in the city were facing stiff challenges from the NDP, including Justice Minister Tyler Shandro in Calgary-Acadia and Health Minister Jason Copping in Calgary-Varsity.

Calgary cabinet minister Nicholas Milliken, responsible for mental health and addiction, was defeated in Calgary-Currie by the NDP’s Janet Eremenko.

Smith’s two deputy premiers were also in tough against Notley’s crew: Kaycee Madu in Edmonton-South West and Nathan Neudorf in Lethbridge-East.

The UCP was seeking a second mandate while the NDP was fighting to regain the majority government it lost to the UCP in 2019.

Voter turnout was expected to be strong, given advance polls set a record of 758,540 votes cast, eclipsing the previous record of more than 700,000 in 2019.

The campaign took place alongside a record-breaking spring for wildfires in Alberta. Ten communities were under evacuation orders Monday.

Elections Alberta set up alternate voting locations for those displaced. Evacuation was added as an eligible reason to vote by special ballot and mobile voting stations were placed in evacuation centres.

To win, the NDP would have to continue its dominance in Edmonton, flip the majority in Calgary and hope for some help in smaller cities, while defeating scores of UCP incumbents including cabinet ministers.

The UCP won 63 seats under then-leader Jason Kenney in 2019 to 24 for Notley’s NDP in the 87-seat legislature.

Polls suggested the UCP should continue its near total domination in rural areas and smaller centres, giving it a cushion of up to 40 or so seats to reach the 44 needed to form a majority government.

The month-long campaign was dominated by the economy and health care.

Albertans are struggling with high costs for consumer goods, a shortage of family doctors and long waits in emergency rooms.

Smith promised to keep Alberta the lowest tax regime in Canada.

Her government, she said, would introduce a law to mandate a referendum before any personal or corporate income tax hikes. There would also be tax changes to benefit those making more than $60,000 a year, at a cost of $1 billion annually to the treasury.

The NDP promised to maintain Alberta’s status as Canada’s lowest tax regime. It pledged to end the tax on small businesses and raise the corporate income tax to 11 per cent from eight per cent, which it said would help pay for investments in health and education while keeping the books balanced and maintaining the lowest corporate rate in Canada.

The NDP also promised legislation to counteract UCP policies that hiked the cost of utilities, auto insurance, a range of fees and tuition.

Both leaders promised to preserve the publicly funded health system while creating more primary care teams — physicians accompanied by related specialists such as nurses and therapists — so more Albertans are able to access a family doctor and not clog emergency wards for care.

Polls showed trust was a key issue, with Notley viewed more favourably than her party and vice versa for Smith.

Smith was dogged during the campaign by past comments she made comparing those who took the COVID-19 vaccine to credulous followers of Adolf Hitler. A report also came out mid-campaign from the province’s ethics commissioner that concluded Smith undermined the rule of law by pressuring her justice minister to end the criminal court case of a COVID-19 protester.

The future isn’t clear for Jennifer Johnson, the winning UCP candidate in Lacombe-Ponoka.

During the campaign, Johnson apologized for comments last year comparing transgender students to feces. Smith has said Johnson would not sit in the UCP caucus because of the remarks but later said, when asked about Johnson, that she believes in redemption and second chances.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2023.

More coming.

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