FILE PHOTO: Alberta Premier Danielle Smith speaks during the Canada Strong and Free Networking Conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada March 23, 2023.
FILE PHOTO: Alberta Premier Danielle Smith speaks during the Canada Strong and Free Networking Conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada March 23, 2023. REUTERS/Lars Hagberg/File Photo/File Photo

Smith's UCP wins Alberta election - CBC News projection

According to a CBC News projection, Danielle Smith's United Conservative Party has won the Alberta provincial election, securing another four years in power.

By Nia Williams and Amber Bracken

EDMONTON, Alberta (Reuters) -Danielle Smith's United Conservative Party (UCP) has won the Alberta provincial election, according to a CBC News projection, securing another four years in power for the right-wing government of Canada's largest oil-producing province.

The victory likely heralds further friction between Smith and Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over climate policies that affect Alberta's oil sector, which produces the majority of Canada's 4.9 million barrels per day of crude.

The UCP defeated Rachel Notley's left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) in a closely-fought election that focused on affordability and healthcare.

The victory hands Smith, 52, a mandate to pursue her promises to cut taxes for Albertans and push back against perceived federal government over-reach, including Trudeau's ambitious climate plans.

Her supporters were undeterred by a series of controversies since Smith became premier in October, including a report from Alberta's ethics commissioner this month that said the premier breached conflict of interest rules by discussing a pandemic-related prosecution case with her justice minister.

Smith's victory means Trudeau's government will likely face further tension with Alberta as the Liberals try to cut carbon emissions 40-45% by 2030.

The oil sands province is Canada's highest-emitting province, and Ottawa will only be able to achieve its climate plan with significant reductions from Alberta.

Smith is fiercely opposed to a Liberal plan to cap oil and gas emissions, arguing it will lead to a production cut, and the federal goal of a net-zero electricity grid by 2035.

FILE PHOTO: New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Rachel Notley speaks during a provincial election campaign rally in Calgary, Alberta, Canada May 27, 2023.
FILE PHOTO: New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Rachel Notley speaks during a provincial election campaign rally in Calgary, Alberta, Canada May 27, 2023. REUTERS/Todd Korol/File Photo

The UCP's victory also cements a shift to the right in Alberta politics. The western province has traditionally been a bastion of conservativism but Smith also garnered support from a growing Alberta populist movement spurred on by opposition to pandemic-era public health restrictions and distrust of the federal government in Ottawa.

Her government will be bolstered by robust oil prices that are enabling Alberta to pocket record resource revenues. Even so, provincial unemployment at 5.9% sits above the Canadian average of 5%, which is partly a hangover from the energy sector downsizing during the 2014-15 oil price crash, and the healthcare system is under strain.

During the election campaign the UCP promised to enact a law guaranteeing governments cannot raise personal or income taxes without approval from Albertans in a referendum.

The government is also looking into policies like Alberta leaving the Canadian Pension Plan, which all Canadians have to pay into, and replacing the national Royal Canadian Mounted Police with a provincial force.

(Reporting by Nia Williams and Ismail Shakil;Editing by Denny Thomas, Deepa Babington and Michael Perry)

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