Alberta Election 2019: What You Need to Know

The Alberta election is set for April 16. For 28 days, party leaders and candidates will criss-cross the province, followed by journalists eager to cover their every announcement – and gaffe. With an NDP government that’s low in the polls, a United Conservative Party leader that is being painted by the NDP as the devil-incarnate, and a former big-city mayor turned Alberta Party leader that thinks his party will finally make a break through – the campaign will be ugly and memorable. H+K will be there with you all along the way, keeping you up-to-date on the latest happenings.

For starters though, here are the basics: what you need to know about Election 2019.

Who’s running?

Alberta has four major parties, with three parties running candidates in every constituency:

Alberta’s NDP, led by Premier Rachel Notley, has been in power for four years and is asking voters to chose them to continue to “make life better for all Albertans.”

The United Conservative Party (UCP), will see its first general election with the Progressive Conservative Party and the Wildrose Party that merged into the UCP in 2017. Leader Jason Kenney is a seasoned campaigner leading a party that is ahead in the polls.

The Alberta Party (AP), is led by Stephen Mandel. In 2015, the AP sent one MLA to the legislature. It has gained two more with floor crossings in the past year. Mandel was a former Progressive Conservative MLA, winning a byelection in 2014 and serving as the Minister of Health until his defeat in 2015. However, Elections Alberta has deemed Mandel and five of his candidates ineligible to run for failing to file paper work after their nominations. The NDP enacted legislation that now sees Elections Alberta oversee internal party nominations and many see the penalty as too harsh for filing paperwork late.

The Alberta Liberal Party (ALP), led by David Khan. The party, once strong and the official opposition has struggled with its relevance. If Khan cannot win his seat, the party will most likely disappear into the wilderness.

Other parties, such as the Green Party and the Alberta Freedom Conservative  Party are two others that will come up from time to time during the election.

When are the key dates?

One debate will be held, April 4 at 5:30pm MDT, featuring the leaders of the four main parties. The debate will air on television, radio and be available on various digital platforms.

Advance polls are open April 9-13.

Where is my riding?

You may not be in the same riding that you were for the 2015 provincial election. The Electoral Boundaries Commission Act states electoral boundaries must be reviewed after every second election. The Alberta Legislature continues to have 87 seats, meaning 44 seats are needed for a majority. Reflecting slower population growth, 16 rural ridings have been consolidated into 13, while more rapid population increases have added one new riding in each of Calgary, Edmonton and the Airdrie-Cochrane area. These re-distributions have been seen as giving the NDP an advantage – less rural and more urban seats up for grabs.

You can find out which riding you’re in by entering your postal code here.

It’s all about the dolla dolla bills

The Alberta NDP kicked-off its term in 2015 introducing its inaugural piece of legislation, An Act to Renew Democracy which took effect on June 15, 2015. This legislation greatly impacted the fundraising efforts of the former PC Party and the former Wildrose Party. The newly-formed United Conservative Party has not faced fundraising challenges and has a large war chest to fight the NDP. Four other pieces of legislation have been introduced during the NDP’s term to make changes to electoral laws.

These new rules include:

  • A prohibition on corporate and union donations – only individuals can donate to parties, constituencies and candidate campaigns.
  • Only residents of Alberta are permitted to contribute to a candidate, constituency association, political party or leadership contestant. This includes purchasing a ticket to a fundraising event.
  • Donors must not exceed a total of $4,000 in any calendar year to any combination of a registered party, a registered constituency association, a registered candidate, a registered nomination contestant, and a registered leadership contestant.
  • The election expense limit for candidates is $50,000 and for each party’s central campaign is $2,000,000.
  • Political parties and candidates are prohibited from colluding with third party advertisers to circumvent contribution limits.
  • Third party advertisers are limited to spending $150,000 on political advertising from December 1 until the writ is called and $150,000 during the campaign period.

Other important things to keep in mind:

  • Anonymous contribution in excess of $50 are prohibited.
  • Donations in excess of $250 will be publicly reported.
  • No fundraising limits are in place for third party advertisers.

Seat distribution at dissolution

NDP: 52

UCP: 26

Alberta Party: 3

Alberta Liberal Party: 1

Alberta Freedom Conservative: 1

Progressive Conservative: 1

Independent: 2

Vacant: 1