Albertans are frustrated with the current state of affairs in the province and their votes are likely to be influenced by subjects like the carbon tax, the changing climate and general issues of affordability, political analysts say.
In a conversation with Judy Aldous on Alberta at Noon, Lori Williams, a political scientist at Mount Royal University and Kristy Kirkup, national affairs reporter for The Globe and Mail, weighed in on the political forecast in Alberta for the upcoming federal election.
Key issues will vary greatly by province, Williams said.
“It’s almost like there are going to be different issues depending on what region you’re in,” Williams said. “I don’t think I’ve seen this kind of diversity in terms of what the focus is, because the problems are different across the country.”
Focus in Alberta
“I think it’s important to note that, essentially, the parties have been test driving their campaign strategies … for months now,” Kirkup said.
“Key issues that we are going to hear about on the election campaign trail include talking about affordability … everything from housing to childcare.”
She also noted the Conservative and Liberal campaign slogans of “It’s time for you to get ahead” and “Choose Forward,” saying both are targeted at middle-class Canadians.
Both agreed climate change will be a central topic in campaigning, but respective party approaches to the subject will vary.
Carbon tax a key issue
The federal carbon tax could hamper the Liberal Party’s electoral prospects, Williams said.
“It’s a tough uphill battle for Justin Trudeau to be running on a tax. If he’s successful, that’ll be historic,” she said.
“The carbon tax comes with rebates and many people in the middle class will actually get more back than they are putting in to the carbon tax and all the revenues come back to each province. Whether that satisfies Albertans or not is another question.”
The Conservatives will hammer home an oppositional stance to the federal carbon tax during the next 40 days, Kirkup said.
“With the federal Conservatives the clear opposition to the federal carbon tax … you can anticipate that this is also going to be a key theme for the election campaign,” Kirkup said.
Frustration in Alberta
Williams said that despite progress in certain areas by the Liberal Party, many Albertans are frustrated with the overall direction of the country over the past four years.
“There’s huge frustration in Alberta and you hear it everywhere,” Williams said. “There’s a lot of animosity toward Justin Trudeau.”
Despite the frustration, Williams said the Liberal Party’s achievements included purchasing the Trans Mountain pipeline and making significant gains in addressing unemployment.
“But the reality is that Albertans are struggling,” Williams said. “They don’t think the rest of the country recognizes the contribution that Alberta has made historically or are caring enough about what’s best, not just for Alberta’s oil industry but for the future of Canada economically.”
Though the Liberal Party picked up four seats in Alberta in the 2015 election, their prospects are looking dim in October — 338Canada’s popular vote projection for Alberta shows the Conservatives set to pick up 61 per cent of the vote.
This could mean the province will see entirely Conservative representation in Parliament once again.
“I don’t think we’re gonna be very busy here in Alberta, because it’s going to go back to what it used to be before 2015, where it looks like the Conservatives are going to virtually sweep,” Williams said.
“I mean, there may be one or two seats in play depending on how the campaign goes, but we will not likely have many, if any, seats that are not Conservative … Alberta’s not going to be a very terrible battleground state.”