Elections in Alberta see Conservatives retain power after a shift to the right

Voters in Alberta, the oil-rich western province that is a bastion of conservatism in Canada, kept the government in power on Monday, but Conservatives have substantially reduced the number of seats it holds in the legislature, according to data from the broadcaster canadian national.

The result, while a victory for the Conservatives, will likely be seen as a rejection of the policies of Danielle Smith, far-right leader of the United Conservative Party, who served as premier of Alberta for seven months. Ms Smith came to power after the party effectively rejected a more moderate Conservative, Jason Kenney, as premier over his refusal to end pandemic restrictions and vaccine mandates.

That uprising, led by a socially conservative wing of the party, reflected anger in Canada that also led to the formation of a trucking convoy that paralyzed Ottawa, the national capital, for nearly a month.

The views of Ms Smith, a former radio talk show host and newspaper columnist who formerly led another Conservative party, are firmly aligned with that faction. You stated that the unvaccinated were the “the most discriminated group” he had seen in his life and suggested it police officers applying pandemic measures had committed crimes. In May, a video surfaced comparing people who chose to be vaccinated Germans who came to support Hitler.

He has previously said that right-wing politicians in the United States were his political role models and pitched ideas, such as tariffs for public health care services, that enjoy little support across the political spectrum.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation predicted early Tuesday morning that Ms. Smith and the United Conservatives would be back in power. But the broadcaster’s data also shows that the party led or was elected in just 52 constituencies, down from the 63 it held before the vote. Unless the final number of seats turns out to be substantially higher, it will be the thinnest margin of victory in Alberta history.

Many political analysts said ahead of election night that the Conservatives would win landslide under Mr Kenney or another more moderate leader.

In a victory speech, Ms. Smith said her first act when the legislature reconvenes would be to introduce a law requiring any future personal or business tax increases to be approved by voters in a referendum, suggesting that it would make the province more attractive to investors.

“We are opening our doors wide for businesses, big and small,” he said.

He went on to reject planned federal caps on carbon emissions from the energy industry, saying they would not be “inflicted” on the province.

As anticipated, the United Conservatives were strongest in rural areas. The New Democratic Party, led by lawyer and former premier Rachel Notley, has had a strong impact in Edmonton, the provincial capital and one of the province’s most left-leaning sections, as well as in Calgary, the largest city, which generally supports conservatives.

As of early Tuesday, the New Democrats, a center-left party co-founded by organized labor, had been elected or led in 35 constituencies, gaining 11 seats.

Mrs Smith’s victory will challenge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. One of her first acts as premier was to introduce legislation that she said would allow the province to refuse to enforce federal laws, a measure many legal experts deem unconstitutional.

Under the United Conservatives, the future of the province’s carbon tax, which is deeply unpopular with the right, and other climate change measures could be in jeopardy.

When the New Democrats held power in Alberta from 2015 to 2019, after an unprecedented victory that resulted in the Conservatives split into two parties, Ms. Notley agreed to introduce carbon taxes in exchange for the government buying of Trudeau of a pipeline to the Pacific Coast to ensure its expansion.

Canada’s oil and gas production, which is largely based in Alberta, accounts for 28% of the country’s carbon emissions.

Mr. Trudeau said the federal government would enact limits on the industry’s emissions. Ms Smith on Tuesday morning called the plan a “de facto cap on production” and promised to block the measure.

The New Democratic Party’s victory in 2015 ended a string of conservative governments in Alberta dating back to the Great Depression. But Ms. Notley’s victory coincided with a crash in oil prices that crippled the province’s economy, sending party approval ratings plummeting.

On Tuesday morning, Ms Notley said she accepted responsibility for the party’s election campaign shortcomings but said she would continue as leader.

“Even though we haven’t achieved the result we wanted, we have taken an important step towards it,” he told supporters.