Albertans will head to the polls April 16 after Premier Rachel Notley announced the election in Calgary this morning.
At the time of the announcement, the New Democratic Party held a majority of seats in the legislature with 52 seats, as compared to 25 held by the United Conservative Party, three by the Alberta Party, three independents, and one each for the Alberta Liberals, Freedom Conservative Party, and Progressive Conservatives and one seat vacant.
Athabasca County is for the most part in the Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock riding, which stretches from St. Vincent on Smoky Lake County's eastern boundary to Swan Hills at the County of Barrhead's western boundary, cutting off to the south at Barrhead, Westlock, Thorhild and Smoky Lake counties' boundaries.
In Athabasca County, Wandering River and Amesbury have been cut off and lumped into the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche riding.
The Elections Alberta website has more detailed information for voters who are unsure which riding they are part of.
In her announcement, Notley attacked Jason Kenney, the leader of the UCP who has been embroiled by reports of collaboration with rival leadership candidates during the 2017 UCP leadership race and investigation of donations made to Jeff Callaway, who also ran.
“In this campaign Mr. Kenney needs to come clean. It’s a campaign about who is going to be the premier of Alberta and about who is fit to be the premier of Alberta,” said Notley.
“If you consider yourself to be a progressive or moderate voter, I hope to earn your support in this election campaign. We share common values and priorities. Values that Jason Kenney fundamentally rejects. We are the progressive, moderate mainstream of Alberta politics and of Alberta history. We fight for our province, we fight for our energy industry without building firewalls against the rest of Canada,” said Notley.
“We are on track to balance our budget without destroying the public services. We help people who need help rather than just wealthiest and luckiest,” said Notley.
According to the third quarter fiscal update released by the province in February, the budget is expected to balance by the 2023-24 fiscal year. The deficit for 2018-19 is estimated at $6.9 billion as opposed to the $8.8 billion budgeted.
As a province, Alberta has been running deficits since the 2008-09 budget, which was tabled by Premier Ed Stelmach expecting a surplus of $1.6 billion and saw a billion-dollar deficit by the third quarter.
In the years since then, deficits ranging from $2 billion (2013-14) to $10.4 billion (2016-17) have been approved by the legislature following creative accounting that does not include increasing debt to finance capital spending in deficit projections.
The fledging Alberta Independence Party has put forward Rochester's Buster Malcolm as a candidate, while the Alberta Party appointed Wayne Rufiange to run March 5.
The United Conservative Party's Glenn van Dijken — the incumbent MLA in the Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock riding — earned his nomination July 14 with 70 per cent of the constituency's vote against Monty Bauer.
Smoky Lake resident Therese Taschuk became the NDP's candidate for the riding after she was acclaimed at the nomination meeting March 17 at Clyde Community Hall.
— With files from Meredith Kerr