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Albert's Choice: What Jason Kenney Can Do for the rest of Canada



After a bitter four-week campaign of controversy and personal attacks, Jason Kenney's Conservative Party has sold Rachel Notley and NDP in Albert's provincial elections.

The UCP award marks a return to Alberta's center-right policy after Notley's 44th anniversary of Progressive Conservative Rule's victory in 2015. It also marks the first time a government has failed to win a renewed mandate in the province at first attempt.

Albert's NDP stays in 24 places, and the UCP will have a majority rule after winning 63 seats on Tuesday night.

Many of the campaign focused on Albert's struggling economy, employment and building management after the world oil price crashed in 2015 and hit the province into a recession.

Standing before encouraging followers after his victory on Tuesday night, Kenney announced that the province was now "open to business" and promised to stand up for Albertan's.

As the prime minister prepares to "fight back" against the federal government, here's what the election results can mean for the rest of the country.

Tower in Trudeau side

Kenya's win in Alberta is expected to be a major headache for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after the former federal cabinet member repeatedly pledged during the campaign to challenge the federal liberals from everything from regional coal tax to how Ottawa allocates funds to the provincial government services.

David Stewart, a professor of political science at the University of Calgary, said that Kenney has made clear that he is planning to have a confrontation with the federal government.

"I think they [Trudeau government] should be prepared at the end of the coal tax, the end of some form of cooperation on climate change with the province of Alberta and from having any kind of ally in this part of the country, Stewart told the CTV News Channel after the election results came in.

Kenney has already pledged to push for a reduction in federal income taxes on Albertans as well as changes in employment insurance to better help those who lost their jobs during the energy boom.

Former Federal Minister of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has also focused on how federal money is redistributed to provinces. He has also threatened to hold a referendum in 2021 to remove equalization, a program that "has" provinces to give money to Ottawa to distribute to "not having" provinces.

Even Notley's working relationship with Trudeau came under fire under the leadership of the election, with Kenney accusing them of a "Trudeau-Notley Alliance" that put Ottawa's interests in front of the province.

"Kenney fought so much against Prime Minister Trudeau that he did to Premier Notley," Stewart said. "I think Notley's association with Trudeau really hurt her in this campaign."

For his part, Trudeau said he was looking forward to working with Albert's Prime Minister to grow the economy and create jobs.

"Together, we will address issues of importance to Albertans and all Canadians, including … taking decisive action against climate change while marketing our natural resources," he said in a statement.

Coal tax

The Prime Minister's plan to work with Kenney on tackling climate change can at an early stage meet a roadblock if the prime committee follows through its plans to scrap the coal tax.

Throughout his campaign, Kenney said that his first business order would be to introduce the coal tax law. The move would interrupt the province's current coal price program to eventually replace it with a new system aimed at large greenhouse gas emissions.

"He will cancel Albert's coal tax and it obviously leaves the floor open for the federal government's coal tax to apply to Alberta," Stewart said.

If Kenya's government does not come up with a new coal fee that is satisfactory for Ottawa, the federal government responds by introducing its own price as it has done in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick.

But Kenney has pledged to follow the other provinces' leadership and bring the federal government to court to challenge the constitution of the climate change plan.

Albert's premiere-nominated stance on the coal tax means that the four premieres currently against the program will have another ally in their fight against Ottawa. Kenney will join Saskatchewan's Scott Moe, Manitoba's Brian Pallister, New Brunswick's Blaine Higgs and Ontario's Doug Ford in their opposition to the coal pricing system.

On Tuesday, Ford welcomed news of Keny's victory tweeting his congratulations to his "friend" in Alberta.

"Ontario has another strong partner who will fight for Canadian families against job-killing federal coal tax!" He said.

Moe echoed that feeling with his own congratulations to tweet to Kenney on Tuesday.

"Tonight Alberta has chosen a free corporate government, and Saskatchewan is delighted to have another ally at the table fighting for pipelines and resisting the disastrous Trudeau coal tax," he said.

pipeline Politics

Trudeau will not be the only goal for the new premier in Alberta. A battle forms between Alberta and its neighbor in the west across the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline, which would allow Alberta to send dilute bitumen to the British Columbia coast.

BC. Premier John Horgon's government, along with environmental activists and indigenous groups in the province, has consistently opposed the project, which has faced many delays since the federal government bought it last year to run the project through.

In response to these delays, Kenney has promised to "shut down the cranes" or cut off oil and gas transports to B.C. if they hinder pipeline construction. He also said he would roll back a number of Notley's environmental measures and go for critics' movements.

"It will be a much more confrontational style of the provincial government relative to both our neighbor in the West and also to the federal government," Stewart predicted.

With files from The Canadian Press


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