A conservative candidate unseated the New Democratic Party premier of Alberta Tuesday, the first time a challenger has done so to a first-term Albertan premier.
Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Party roundly bested Rachel Notley, who had been premier since 2015.
Kenney supported pipeline development, economic deregulation, and opposition to foreign interference. After arriving at a victory party in his truck, Kenney promised a major change to Alberta's public practice and image. "Tonight I send a message to businesses everywhere: if you want to benefit from what will be the lowest taxes in Canada, a government that will cut its red tape burden by at least one third, with Canada’s best educated population and a deep culture of enterprise and innovation, come to Alberta," he said.
Kenney campaigned on a conservative platform, seeking the premiership to oppose Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. According to the National Post:
Kenney has promised that his UCP government will start with a bang, launching a frantic first 100 days of legislation to undo the work of the previous NDP government. Beyond repealing the provincial carbon tax, their first move will be to make law a bill passed last year that would "turn off the taps" on oil and gas shipments to British Columbia, a move Kenney hopes will give him leverage if the west coast province tries to further interfere with the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
After that, Kenney will begin knocking down the many dominos contained in his massive campaign platform, with a focus on boosting investment in the province. Cutting the corporate tax rate, lowering the youth minimum wage and big push on deregulation are all on the docket in Kenney’s first session.
Kenney charged that external political organizations had for too long worked against Canadian interest. "We Albertans are patient and we’re fair-minded," he said, "but we’ve had enough of your defamation and double-standards."
Speaking to supporters, Kenney heralded a change in the way Canadians do business. "With this election, we begin to stand up for ourselves, for our jobs and for our future. Today, we Albertans begin to fight back," he said. "We will tell the truth assertively and we will use every means at our disposal to hold you to account."
Addressing "those foreign-funded special interests who have been leading a campaign of economic sabotage against this great province," Kenney named names. "To the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, to the Tides Foundation, to LeadNow, to the David Suzuki Foundation, and to all of the others, your days of pushing around Albertans with impunity just ended," he said.
The results received warm reactions from numerous figures.
Hillel Neuer of UN Watch, a Geneva-based watchdog group, praised Kenney's record. Neuer thanked him for his part in the "struggle against tyranny, racism and antisemitism at the UN."
Others praised him for his tax policy. Americans for Tax Reform celebrated Kenney's election as the death of any Albertan carbon tax. In a statement, the group praised the results as "the latest in a long line of defeats for carbon tax pushing politicians around the world." Kenney's opponent, Notley, had supported the carbon tax, before walking back her stance in the days before the election.
Scott Hennig, president and CEO of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said in a statement that Kenney's energy and tax policy had made a difference. "From its very introduction, the carbon tax has been very unpopular in Alberta," he said. "Kenney recognized this, and committed that Bill 1 would be to scrap the carbon tax. Clearly, it has been a big vote-getter for his party."
On Wednesday, Kenney made clear his priorities moving forward. In a notice to media, his office described him as "ready to get to work on jobs, the economy, and pipelines."
Notley conceded as returns came in. "I wish him and his government well. We all do, we must. Because we all love Alberta," she said.