OKOTOKS, Alta. — With the Alberta election campaign in its final few days Progressive Conservative leader Jim Prentice said Saturday it is now a two-party race and Albertans will need to decide whether it is a “free enterprise” province or an NDP province.
Despite a number of polls showing a surging NDP and a tight race between the PCs and the Wildrose Party Prentice sees things differently.
While attending a pancake breakfast in Okotoks, just south of Calgary, Prentice told reporters there are really only two choices for voters.
“There are two clear visions of the future of the province. One is as a free-enterprise province — the other is as an NDP province and I don’t think Albertans want this to be an NDP province and I hear that everywhere we go,” Prentice said.
“I think it is clearly between the Progessive Conservative party and the NDP and our party is the only party that is campaigning the length and breadth of the province that can beat the NDP.”
The PCs have ramped up their attacks on NDP leader Rachel Notley in the waning days of the campaign accusing the New Democrats of being anti-energy, anti-business and anti-pipeline.
Prentice has also said the party’s budget plan doesn’t add up and the NDP plan to increase corporate taxes and review oil royalties would kill business and jobs. He said the NDP pipeline policy feels like “it was scripted by Thomas Mulcair.”
Notley was quick to disavow any influence from Mulcair after the federal NDP leader publicly praised her at an event in Regina.
Wildrose leader Brian Jean at a campaign event in Calgary Saturday said both the PCs and NDP will be in for a surprise on election day.
“Even if you don’t believe the polls every poll puts us either in first or second place. So we must exist. The truth is they want Albertans to ignore us,” Jean said.
“Albertans will get exactly what they vote for. They’re going to vote for change.”
Jean, who only took over as Wildrose leader a little over a month ago said he went in expecting it to be a time of rebuilding for the party after former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and eight other MLAs crossed the floor to join the ruling party in December.
He said the Wildrose rebirth has been easier than he expected.
“I didn’t expect people were so out for change and I’ve seen clearly from one part of the province to the other that they want change and they want a government they can trust.”
Jean announced the first piece of legislation a Wildrose government would pass would be a comprehensive Accountability Act and an independent panel to clean up government.
It would include banning corporate and union donations, ban MLAs elected under one party from crossing the floor and MLA recall legislation.
“We’re asking for 48 months to change that. The PCs are asking for 48 years,” he said reference the 44 years the PCs have been in power in Alberta.”
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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press