Albertans will go to the polls May 5.
Alberta Premier Jim Prentice surprised no one today when he announced the election at his first campaign stop in Edmonton.
For months Prentice has warned Albertans he would need a mandate to bring in his tough budget released in March that raised income taxes, cut spending and created a big $5 billion deficit, the largest in the province’s history.
It will be Albertans who decide if the Progressive Conservatives are given the mandate to govern the province, a position they’ve held for 43 years.
Last election, the PCs, led by former premier Alison Redford, faced a cranky electorate, especially in rural Alberta, where they turfed the Tories for the Wildrose party, led by Danielle Smith.
Redford was forced to resign after 15 months over excess office and travel expenses. Just before Christmas, Smith led eight of the 17 Wildrose party members to the PCs, throwing the Wildrose party into disarray.
Last week Smith ran for the PC nomination in her High River riding and lost. Five of the floor crossers either lost their seat or resigned. About 40 percent of members will not be running again, or running for a different party.
The PCs have expected to have candidates in all 87 ridings, as have the NDP. Half of the NDP candidates are women. Support for the NDP is rising under new leader, Rachel Notley, especially in Edmonton and Lethbridge.
The Wildrose’s new leader, former MP from Ft. McMurray, Brian Jean, hopes to field a full slate of candidates within a few days.
The Liberal party has suffered badly in recent years with a rotating list of leaders and little enthusiasm.