The NDP is right now deciding whether to launch the provincial election campaign next week, or wait somewhat longer, hoping for a scrap of good luck and maybe a major stumble by UCP leader Jason Kenney.
The UCP, meanwhile, wanted the vote held yesterday. There are bubbling party discontents and investigations that carry a whiff of scandal. Delay could mean danger.
Premier Rachel Notley’s nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona is set for Sunday, March 17. The NDP has now nominated candidates in almost all 87 ridings.
On Monday, March 18, the legislature opens with a throne speech.
Notley could go to the lieutenant-governor the next day and ask that the writ be dropped for an election April 16. But by all accounts, she hasn’t made the timing decision yet.
The province is at a strange point of pre-election drift. Kenney keeps saying he’ll cancel many NDP plans. He vows to halt $3.7 billion in spending on rail cars to carry oil, and to quit contracts for big solar projects.
On Monday, he promised to stop the huge project to centralize medical lab testing in a new building in Edmonton. Kenney claimed this would save $650 million — almost enough for a new hospital.
He says the current system for X-rays, blood work and many other tests works pretty well, without spending anything extra.
That’s certainly true in Calgary, where quick access to tests has improved enormously over the past decade.
Kenney also said Monday he’ll soon promise cuts to more projects the UCP considers wasteful.