May '23 Alberta Election: A Guide for Beginners
Updated: Apr 29
If you have been on YouTube lately, you probably have come across video ads by the UCP & NDP parties "exposing" each other or attributing negative outcomes or policies to each other. The videos are very negative, but who do we believe? To avoid misinformation, it is important for us to understand our political system and the powers of each branch of government.
In this article, we briefly summarize the powers of the provincial government, provide an overview of parties and give a snapshot of the political situation in the province.
Powers & responsibilities of the provincial government in Alberta
The provincial government in Alberta has a wide range of powers and responsibilities, some of which include:
1. Resource and land management: The provincial government has the power to manage and regulate natural resources such as oil, gas, minerals, and forestry. They are also responsible for the management and regulation of public land.
2. Health care: The provincial government is responsible for the administration and delivery of health care services to Albertans. This includes funding and overseeing hospitals, health clinics, and other health care facilities.
3. Education: The provincial government is responsible for funding and administering the public education system in Alberta, from primary to secondary and post-secondary education.
4. Legislative power: The provincial government has the power to create, amend or repeal laws within their jurisdiction, as defined within the Canadian constitution.
5. Social services: The provincial government is responsible for the administration and delivery of social services to its residents. These services may include disability support, income support, and child welfare services.
6. Transportation: The provincial government is responsible for the regulation and maintenance of Alberta's highways, roads, and bridges.
Now that we have a better understanding of the Government of Alberta's responsibilities, let's talk parties.
There are several political parties in Alberta, each with their own unique ideologies and political goals. The major parties currently represented in the provincial legislature are:
1. United Conservative Party (UCP) - The United Conservative Party was formed in 2017 as a merger between the Progressive Conservative Party and the Wildrose Party. The party is currently led by Premier Danielle Smith and seeks to promote conservative values and reduce government intervention in the economy.
2. Alberta New Democratic Party (NDP) - The Alberta New Democratic Party is a social democratic party that values public ownership and government intervention in the economy. The party currently holds the second most seats in the legislature and is led by Rachel Notley, who was Alberta's Premier from 2015 to 2019.
3. Alberta Liberal Party - The Alberta Liberal Party is a centrist party that advocates for individual freedom, social justice and environmental responsibility. The party is currently led by interim leader, John Roggeveen.
4. Alberta Party - The Alberta Party is a centrist party that focuses on fiscal responsibility, socially progressive policies and positive change for Albertans. The party is currently led by Barry Morishita.
What happened with the last election?
The last provincial election in Alberta was held on April 16th, 2019. The election saw Jason Kenney's United Conservative Party (UCP) win a majority government, defeating Rachel Notley's New Democratic Party (NDP) who had been in power since 2015. The UCP won 63 of the province's 87 seats, while the NDP won 24 seats. The election was largely focused on issues such as jobs, the economy, pipelines, government spending, taxes and healthcare. The election turnout was approximately 64%, with over 1.9 million eligible voters participating.
Kenney left office a few months ago after his intention to step down as Alberta’s premier. But the new reality seemed a bit divisive, with Danielle Smith winning the leadership race. The new leader of the conservative party, Danielle Smith is a controversial politician who is more susceptible to making political mistakes. This is evidently clear with more leaks by the NDP that put Smith in a position to be scorned and distrusted. It is worth noting that the NDP is poised to gain back a good number of seats; however, the question remains if it is possible to do so in a booming oil and gas world.
The provincial election in Alberta remains a question of not only left and right or public or private health care, but rather a much more fundamental choice of the way Albertans want to see their province moving forward. With a vision not only for today's economy, but for many generations to come.