CALGARY — United Conservative Leader Danielle Smith continually linked her NDP opponent with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at an election rally Thursday night.
Several hundred supporters flocked into a tent in the parking lot of a resort and casino in Calgary, which is believed to be the main battleground in the lead-up to Monday's Alberta election.
"What an amazing turnout. It looks like we might have some pretty strong support in Calgary, now doesn't it?" Smith said.
"Elections matter and this election will matter for a lot of reasons. It's going to matter for the economy. It's going to matter for affordability. It's going to matter for health care."
Smith reiterated her party's campaign promises and spent much of her 20-minute speech attacking NDP Leader Rachel Notley, who was elected premier in 2015 before losing to the fledgling United Conservative Party under Jason Kenney four years later.
"The United Conservative Party is running on our record of success and economic growth because we are proud of it. Notley, on the other hand, is running away from her record as premier, isn't she?" Smith said.
"She increased personal income tax and people fled the province by the thousands. She raised business taxes ... she brought in a carbon tax that she never ran on and it increased the cost of everything and now thanks to her pal Justin Trudeau, we can't get rid of it."
Smith also targeted Notley for her proposal to raise business taxes to 11 per cent over the next three years from eight per cent if she is re-elected.
She also linked Notley with Trudeau over her support for both Ottawa's goal of requiring electrical grids to be net-zero by 2035 and pending federal legislation, dubbed "just transition,'' which is billed as helping Canadian workers adapt to the global move toward renewable energy.
"There is the Notley-Trudeau plan to 'just transition' Alberta out of oil and natural gas," she said.
Smith has previously accused the federal Liberal government of imposing discriminatory policies and legislation on non-renewable resource development that she says is frustrating Alberta's energy sector.
In December, her United Conservative government passed a sovereignty act that grants Alberta the power to direct its agencies to flout federal laws and initiatives deemed harmful to provincial interests.
"As long as I'm premier, I will never permit any Liberal prime minister or any Ottawa politician to phase out our energy industry or the jobs of our amazing energy workers," she said.
"No way. No how. That's not going to happen."
Earlier in the day, the UCP said it would create a fund to build recreation facilities across the province if they win the election. The party said it would dedicate $80 million over four years to get facilities built in rapidly growing communities.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2023.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press