ALBERTA

Alberta Election 2015: NDP Says Candidate Team In Place To Fight Looming Election

04/06/2015 04:45 EDT | Updated 06/06/2015 05:59 EDT
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EDMONTON - Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley announced Monday that her candidate team is in place and ready to contest an election that could begin as early as Tuesday.

Notley said 85 candidates are confirmed, with the final two contested constituencies to be settled this week.

Premier Jim Prentice is expected to drop the writ this week to send Albertans to the polls, and has called a news conference for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday to make a "major" announcement.

The NDP has four seats in the legislature, all in Edmonton, but Notley said the party now has more resources and quality candidates to run a provincewide campaign to win government.

"We're going to work across the province," Notley told reporters at a riding office while campaign volunteers worked behind her preparing candidate lawn signs.

"It's going to be unlike any campaign this party has run in a couple of decades, so I'll be travelling all over the place."

Prentice and the Progressive Conservatives also have 85 candidates, with the remaining two expected to be in place by late Monday.

The Wildrose party has officially announced 47 candidates, while the Alberta Party has 29 and the Liberals 26.

One of those Wildrose candidates is former party president Jeff Callaway.

Callaway announced Monday that he was stepping down from the post in order to run in Calgary-North West, pitting him against PC backbencher Sandra Jansen.

Callaway said it's important that voters have alternatives to not give Prentice a "blank cheque to raise taxes, increase deficit spending, and burdening Albertan’s future with significant debt."

Also Monday, the Alberta Federation of Labour said it will take down its "Better Way Alberta" campaign website when the writ is dropped to comply with election laws governing third-party advertising.

The AFL cannot register as a third-party advertiser, but said Elections Alberta has advised the Better Way Alberta campaign is third-party advertising.

The campaign features videos of Prentice as the cartoon captain of a ship that is struggling to stay afloat in stormy seas after tax giveaways to corporations and the wealthy.

AFL president Gil McGowan said the rules are too restrictive and that shutting down a website is akin to telling Albertans what they can and can't ready during an election.

According to provincial law, the next election should not take place until the spring of 2016.

However, the law allows for earlier campaigns if extraordinary measures demand it.

Prentice has said the budget his government introduced March 26 is a new blueprint governing how the province saves and spends and it needs a mandate from voters to implement.

The budget increases taxes and fees virtually across the board, while reducing spending, running up a $5-billion deficit this year and $30-billion in debt by 2020.

Prentice said the low price of oil demands Alberta fundamentally revisit its financial priorities so that day-to-day program spending does not rise and fall with the price of oil.

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