By Fabian Mayer, April 9 2015 —
Albertans are heading to the polls this spring after Premier Jim Prentice called an election for May 5. He made the announcement to supporters in Edmonton Tuesday morning.
The PC’s provincial budget will be a central issue in the spring election.
Finance minister Robin Campbell said the budget was meant to get Alberta off “the resource-revenue roller coaster.” It included a $5-billion deficit, new taxes and fees and considerable spending cuts.
The budget drew scorn from both sides of the political spectrum with the Wildrose criticizing tax increases while the NDP and Liberals slammed spending cuts.
In 2011 the PCs made an amendment to Alberta’s election act that would introduce fixed elections every four years. The next vote was not supposed to be held until spring 2016.
Prentice became Premier in September of 2014 by winning a PC leadership vote. He has not yet faced a general election.
Prentice said he called the election to “ask Albertans for a mandate” to lead following what he called a “radical” budget.
The PCs currently hold 70 of 87 seats in the Alberta legislature. The official opposition, the Wildrose Party, were reduced to five MLAs when nine of their members, including leader Danielle Smith, crossed the floor to join to the PCs in December.
The PCs have governed Alberta for 43 consecutive years. However, a recent online poll conducted by ThinkHQ Public Affairs shows Alberta’s ruling party trailing both the Wildrose and NDP province-wide. The Wildrose scored 31 per cent of popular support with the NDP nabbing 26 per cent. The PCs were a close third with 25.
Five parties will contest the riding of Calgary–Varsity, the riding that includes the University of Calgary.