Notley hopes for momentum shift as provincial election campaign winds down

CALGARY — Alberta's NDP leader said she's hopeful momentum is moving toward her party in the waning days of what has been a nasty provincial election campaign.

"We're really feeling good on the ground and we're certainly seeing that there's a lot of volatility, a lot of movement," Rachel Notley told reporters Sunday while visiting a Sikh temple in northeast Calgary.

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Notley was scheduled to head to Edmonton for a rally later Sunday before returning to Calgary — a key battleground — on Monday. The rival United Conservatives are focusing their final campaign push in Edmonton.

Election day is Tuesday.

Notley said the fact that a whopping 696,000 people voted in advance polls — shattering the previous record of 235,000 in 2015 — doesn't necessarily portend a change election.

Part of it may be due to a rule change that allowed early voters to cast ballots anywhere — not just in their home riding, she suggested.

"Maybe turnout's really up because of that. Maybe turnout's really up because it's convenient. Or maybe ultimately not that many people vote on Tuesday," she said.

"It's a little too early to tell, but I'm very happy that we've been able to succeed in making it easier for people to vote."

Notley's chief rival, United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney, has spent much of the campaign attacking the NDP's record on pipelines and the economy, never missing an opportunity mention her co-operation with Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on those matters.

The UCP has laid out an aggressive plan to go after oil and gas industry critics, including setting up a war room and stoking a number of legal battles. It has also vowed to proclaim a law that would stop the flow of energy to neighbouring B.C. over its blocking of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

On Sunday, Notley once again accused Kenney of political grandstanding, saying his plans threaten to alienate the very people Alberta needs to have on-side to ensure its energy gets to market.

"He's declaring a war in order to further national political objectives, but Alberta may well be the casualty in that," she said Sunday.

"I don't think that he's prepared to stand up for Albertans. He's just grandstanding."

Kenney spent Sunday in Edmonton attending Palm Sunday services and celebrating the Vaisakhi festival with members of that city's Sikh community. He was scheduled to meet with First Nations leaders in the evening.

On Monday, he plans to join candidates door knocking, capitalizing on what the party says is growing support in the provincial capital.

"In the past, we have sadly seen provincial governments with little or no representation from this vibrant city, and we can never let that happen again," Kenney said in a statement Sunday, when he had no media availabilities scheduled.

"We have an amazing team of Edmonton and region candidates eager to fight for this city, for jobs and for Alberta, and we need them in the next legislature. That's why I will be here in Edmonton right through to election day."

© The Outlook