Premier Rachel Notley and her NDP government is one and done, knocked from the saddle Tuesday by Jason Kenney, whose United Conservatives won a majority in the Alberta election.
The UCP, formed two years ago by a merger of the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose parties, claimed the lion’s share of rural seats, and was leading or had captured many seats in Calgary.
Partial results for Red Deer-South and Red Deer-North show UCP candidates Jason Stephan and Adriana LaGrange with substantial leads over NDP incumbents Barb Miller and Kim Schreiner.
The UCP has also posted leads over the NDP in outlaying ridings, such as Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, Lacombe-Ponoka, Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, Olds-Disbury-Three Hills and Drumheller-Stettler.
Notley’s NDP held on to its traditional base in Edmonton, which it swept in 2015, but was losing in many of the surrounding municipalities, rural ridings and Calgary constituencies it captured four years ago.
Kenney, who won his riding in Calgary-Lougheed, is a former federal Conservative cabinet minister under Stephen Harper.
He will take the top job after successfully leveraging voter angst over Alberta’s sluggish economy with a jobs, jobs, jobs message and a promise to wage war on all who oppose its oil and gas industry, particularly Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Kenney has derisively called it “the Trudeau-Notley alliance” – a partnership he says has turned Alberta into a doormat for Trudeau and other oil industry foes in return for no more than a faint and as yet unrealized promise of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to the West Coast.
Kenney has promised to kill Alberta’s homegrown carbon tax, fight the federal carbon tax in court, and do what he can to help the federal Conservatives defeat Trudeau in the federal October vote.
Trudeau was asked in Kitchener, Ont., earlier Tuesday whether he was concerned about his climate plan should Kenney win.
“We have chosen to put a price on pollution right across the country and there are conservative politicians who are using taxpayer money to fight a price on pollution in court,” he responded.
“They are using your dollars to try to make pollution free again, which makes no sense.”
Trudeau said the federal government would continue to work on growing the economy while tackling climate change in a smart way.
Once Kenney is sworn in, Canada will be back to having zero female premiers.
Notley’s NDP was trying to win a second mandate after toppling the wheezing, scandal-scarred 44-year Progressive Conservative dynasty in 2015 by winning 54 seats in the 87 legislature.
In the previous two decades, the NDP had never been able to elect more than four MLAs, and had been shut out of Calgary since the 1980s.
Interest in the election was high as leaders launched personal attacks while promoting their platforms as the best blueprint for Alberta’s fragile economy.
Almost 700,000 people voted in advance polls, well above the record 235,000 who did in 2015.
The province, once a money-making dynamo thanks to sky-high oil prices, has been struggling for years with sluggish returns on royalties, reduced drilling activity and unemployment levels stubbornly above seven per cent in Calgary and Edmonton.