United Conservative Party Wins Majority in Alberta
Posted on April 17, 2019
Yesterday, Albertans went to the polls demanding change and that is exactly what they got. The United Conservative Party and its leader Jason Kenney won 63 of 87 seats and will form a majority government for the next four years. The NDP will form the Official Opposition with 24 seats. No other parties won seats in the election.
Navigator will be heading into the field today to conduct a series of focus groups across the province. This will provide us with critical information regarding why Albertans voted the way they did and what they expect from their new government. Stay tuned for Navigator’s in-depth analysis of our research and a full dissection of today’s election results.
Despite the result, the 2019 election campaign was one of the most divisive in recent memory.
Since the creation of the United Conservative Party (UCP) in 2017, the party has consistently polled ahead of the NDP. The UCP held the lead going into the election, and while the NDP tried to narrow the gap, a UCP victory appeared almost inevitable.
Navigator conducted polling in January to determine what issues would shape this election campaign. Our polling showed that Albertans had three issues top of mind – jobs, Alberta’s economic situation, and pipelines. Jason Kenney and the UCP effectively capitalized on those issues and spent the entire campaign hammering home their policy solutions.
The NDP attempted to define the UCP as a party of mistrust, deception, and exclusion, however, when it came to election day, Albertans appear not to have been swayed. The UCP remained disciplined on the issues that they knew would move voters.
The UCP needed at least 44 seats to form a majority government in the 87-seat legislature. With their 63 seats, the UCP has more than enough to secure a majority.
The UCP also captured around 55.2 per cent of the popular vote. This was helped by their success in capturing the urban vote in Calgary.
Final turnout numbers are not yet available, but turnout is expected to be extremely high. Turnout is expected to significantly exceed the 1.4 million from the 2015 election.
Advance Polling Delay
Advance polling played a significant role in this election. Nearly 700,000 votes were cast during the advance period between the 9 and 13 of April, almost three times as many as in 2015. These numbers were helped by a new advance polling policy known as ‘vote anywhere’ ballots. Albertans voting in advance polls could vote at any polling station across the province instead of being forced to vote in their home riding. 223,000 Albertans participated in this new program. These votes cannot be counted on election night and instead will be processed over the coming days. While it will not affect the final result of the election, there are ridings such as Calgary-Mountainview and Calgary-Falconridge that are currently very close and may change hands depending on the final count.
Cabinet and Transition Team
Jason Kenney and the UCP have been preparing for this result for months and will already have a significant portion of a transition team assembled. That transition team will be further fleshed out in the coming days. Early cabinet selection discussions will also be underway immediately pending the official election result.
This new government ran their campaign on meaningful change, so expectations will be high. The government will want to show action on Albertans’ priorities as soon as possible so a formal cabinet announcement and changes at the senior level of the civil service will come swiftly.
First 100 Days
Like the Doug Ford administration in Ontario, the new UCP government intends to get right down to work. This likely means calling the legislature in for an early spring/summer session
Early priorities for this session would be a Speech from the Throne and an initial budget. Kenney has repeatedly promised that Bill 1 of the new government will be the Carbon Tax Repeal Act which will fulfill one of his key election promises regarding the carbon tax. Other government priorities may include the proclamation of Bill 12 (the turn off the taps legislation), the canceling of the previous government’s rail contract, or even the removal of production caps for the energy industry.
What Could Change?
An Alberta UCP government means that every province between British Columbia and Atlantic Canada now has a conservative leaning government. Ontario, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick have already taken the federal government to court over the carbon tax, and the UCP government has pledged to join that fight. This will likely be the beginning of an acrimonious relationship between the Trudeau Liberals and Alberta’s new government. Jason Kenney has already promised to fight Ottawa on the carbon tax, equalization, pipelines, and Bills C-69 and C-48.
An actively hostile government in Alberta may cause the federal government to re-evaluate its priorities heading into an October election. The Trans Mountain Pipeline is exceptionally valuable to the people of Alberta but is unlikely to win votes in other parts of the country. An additional six-month delay on the consultation process to push the decision past October is not beyond the realms of possibility.
Federal Bill C-69 is another significant concern for many Albertans. Jason Kenney campaigned hard against the Bill throughout the election period and has promised to take the federal government to court should the Bill be passed. The federal government may be less keen to make changes to the Bill should Alberta’s new government commit to playing hardball on other issues. In fact, Ottawa may go so far as to deliberately make changes to the Bill to spite the Alberta government. This could include changes to critical pieces of the legislation such as the project exemption list.Back to The Alberta Election Guide