ALBERTA

Alberta Election: Jim Prentice Says Voters Have Choice Between Two Parties In Election Race

05/02/2015 01:54 EDT | Updated 05/02/2016 05:12 EDT
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 suggesting 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 on Tuesday.

"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 Progressive 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, who has disavowed any influence from the federal NDP leader, attended a rally at the University of Calgary on Saturday afternoon where she was greeted by several hundred supporters chanting "Rachel, Rachel."

"I would like you all to look around the room. Look around the room my friends because this is what change looks like," she said.

Notley later told reporters it doesn't appear the negative campaign from the PCs is working.

"That's certainly not what we're hearing from voters. That's not what we're hearing on the doorsteps," Notley said.

"I think there are people who are somewhat offended by them in some respects but definitely what we're hearing, more than a negative reaction, is just that people are ready for change and they're liking the message that we're delivering."

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean, at a campaign event in Calgary on 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.

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."

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