Will this be game over for Notley, or Smith?

Monday’s election results will look like a real-life episode of HBOs Succession, only with a lot less profanity.

No one can say with any certainty how Monday’s provincial election will play out, which should make for riveting TV viewing if you find looking at numbers on a screen riveting. Everything is in play. It could be a near tie. It could be a five or ten-seat margin for the victors. Or it could be an old-school thumping for either the UCP or the NDP. No result will surprise me.

But I can make one prediction with some certainty: this election will mark the swan song for Danielle Smith or Rachel Notley. Neither can survive a defeat, and a loss will send both parties into a spiral of self-doubt.

Take Danielle Smith … please. 

Smith has proven herself, insane utterance by insane utterance, to be unfit to lead. Among her greatest hits: she compared the vaccinated to followers of Hitler; said the unvaccinated were the most discriminated people she has seen in her lifetime; stopped wearing a poppy because of COVID restrictions; has displayed total ignorance of the powers of the premier. The avalanche of craziness has buried whatever the UCP stands for. Throw in the shadowy pressure group Take Back Alberta, which takes credit for putting Smith in power and is asking supporters to act as “security” at polling stations, and you’ve got a hot mess of a leader and a party. If the UCP had chosen a moderate, respectful conservative, like former Minister of Finance Travis Toews, I believe they would likely cruise to victory on Monday.

Smith will justifiably wear the defeat, and conservatives do not like losers (or, when you consider the fate of Jason Kenney, they don’t like winners much either). 

And what if the Rachel Notley Party loses? 

Her party pulled off the most shocking victory in Alberta history in 2015, going from four seats to a majority government. By 2019, they were out of power, Alberta’s first one-term government. She survived as leader because of her still potent popularity.

If the Notley party loses, Rachel’s record, to put it in sports terms, will be 1-2. A loss to Smith will almost certainly spell the end of the Notley era. After all, if you can’t beat the least qualified, most divisive person ever to be premier, then whom can you beat? Even the NDP faithful – who know the party has survived and thrived mostly on Notley’s personal popularity – will have no choice but to find another leader. If you thought Notley looks old now, wait another four years.

If Smith loses, and especially if she loses badly, the UCP could splinter (again) into one far-right wing conservative faction and another more old-school, progressive conservative wing that served Alberta well for decades. As for the NDP, losing the election – and more importantly, losing Notley – will present an existential crisis for the semi-socialists. With Notley no longer around to keep a lid on things, the hard-core lefties will surely take over the party, perhaps opening the door for a centrist party, like the Alberta Party, to finally make some headway with the public.

So which party do I hope will win? That’s like asking if you want a heart attack or a stroke. Either way, Alberta will survive. But one leader will not.  


By Maurice Tougas

Maurice Tougas is a lifelong Albertan, award-winning writer and reporter, and a former MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark.

1 comment

  1. I am an outsider, BC ,no less.
    BC witnessed numerable NDP losses to right wing politics for years until the right wing became brazen with their greed!
    The ‘lefties’ came to power and IMHO became quite centrist possibly true ‘Liberal” as opposed to the Liberal alliance that was of right wing and left leaning Conservatives.
    Should Smith win , I predict a narrow majority, Alberta will soon realise that putting up withe her was a huge mistake.
    Her Trumpian values will further divide Alberta and a state( poor choice of word) of will create more problems than answers.


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