Jason Kenney has capped his three-year goal of uniting Alberta’s political right, leading his United Conservative Party to a majority election win over the province’s first NDP government.
“Today Albertans have chosen hope over fear, and unity over division,” a jubilant Kenney told supporters in Calgary on Tuesday night. “They have chosen free enterprise values over the politics of resentment.
“Friends, tonight the silent majority has spoken.”
Created in 2017 through a merger of the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties, the UCP is projected to win or leading 63 of 87 seats.
Equalization, pipelines in Kenney’s sights
In his victory speech, Kenney vowed to get a “fair deal” with Ottawa on equalization payments and to fight other provinces and the federal government for pipelines.
He also promised to combat “foreign-funded special interests” like the Tides Foundation and the David Suzuki Foundation, which he accused of leading “a campaign of economic sabotage” against Alberta.
“Your days of pushing around Albertans with impunity just ended,” Kenney said as the crowd roared and chanted his name.
Kenney told the people who did not vote for the UCP that he respects and honours their choice.
“We will strive to be a government for all Albertans, not just those who voted for us,” he said.
Notley to lead Official Opposition
Notley’s NDP is projected to be elected or leading in 24 seats, down from 52, and will become Alberta’s Official Opposition. The majority of NDP support was concentrated in Notley’s home base of Edmonton.
The Alberta Party and the Alberta Liberals were both shut out, electing none of their candidates. The Alberta Party had three seats in the last legislature; the Liberals had one.
Notley confirmed she intends to carry on and lead the Official Opposition.
“It has been an incredible honour to serve as a premier and it will be an honour to serve as leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition,” Notley told supporters in Edmonton.
Notley committed to fighting for social issues, such as moving more children out of poverty. She also vowed that the NDP will stand up to bigotry and support the rights of LGBTQ Albertans.
“Know you will always have a champion in me and in the Alberta NDP and a champion in the Opposition.”
In Calgary, the UCP was elected or leading in 23 of 26 ridings. The NDP won three seats in Calgary: Kathleen Ganley in Calgary-Mountain View, Irfan Sabir in Calgary-McCall, and Joe Ceci in Calgary-Buffalo. Shannon Phillips was leading by less than 400 votes in Lethbridge-West.
Kenney, who was a cabinet minister in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, won the leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservative party in 2016 before leading the PCs into a successful 2017 merger with the Wildrose Party. That same year, he won the UCP leadership handily in a contest later marred by controversy.
Liberals, Alberta Party shut out
The election was a disappointment for the Alberta Party and the Liberal Party.
Liberal Leader David Khan lost in Calgary-Mountain View, the party’s only seat in the legislature.
“The political pendulum has swung away from moderate, progressive politics toward a more conservative position,” Khan said. “That is the will of the people.”
In his concession speech, Khan urged Kenney to remove UCP members who have expressed intolerant views.
“With your victory comes great responsibility. You will be the premier for all Albertans. This includes the vulnerable, those with special needs and the LGBTQ2S+ community,” he said. “Do not abuse your authority. Be fair and inclusive in your decisions.”
Despite the loss, Mandel said he was optimistic about the future of the Alberta Party.
“I really believe, deeply, this is the party of the future in this province,” Mandel told supporters.
“When people get away from polarization and start looking at what a party can be, and what our province can be, hopefully, they will begin to look in a different way and see that the Alberta Party is the answer.”
The premier-designate will take office with a cloud of allegations from the UCP leadership race of 2017 hanging over his head
Last week, CBC News revealed fraudulent emails were used to cast ballots for Kenney, and that the matter has come to the attention of the RCMP who have interviewed at least one person whose name was attached to a fake email address. Kenney has defended the voting process used during the party’s internal campaign.
Peter Singh, who was elected for the UCP in Calgary-East, had his business searched by the RCMP on Thursday. His lawyer confirmed the search warrant was executed in connection to allegations of voter fraud during the leadership campaign.