Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

New Democratic Party leader Rachel Notley greets supporters after her party swept the polls, ousting the Tories, who have ruled Alberta for 44 years. (Photo: Rachel Notley/Facebook)

In Blow to Tar Sands Industry, NDP Sweeps Alberta Elections

In historic shake-up, Canadian voters overwhelming back party that promised higher corporate taxes and less support for pipelines

Lauren McCauley

In what some say is a clear rebuke of Big Oil dominance in the region, voters in Alberta, Canada on Tuesday overwhelming backed the liberal New Democratic Party, ousting the tar sands industry-friendly Progressive Conservatives led by outgoing Premier Jim Prentice.

Alberta is frequently referred to as "Canada's most conservative province," and the Progressive Conservative Party, known as the Tories, have held power there for the past 44 years.

"I think we might have made a little bit of history tonight," NDP leader Rachel Notley told supporters Tuesday night. "Friends, I believe, that change has finally come to Alberta. New people, new ideas and a fresh start for our great province."

The NDP, which claimed over 41 percent of the popular vote, won 53 legislative seats, beating the right-win Wildrose Party, which took 21, while the PCs only landed 10 seats. According to CBC, "There was a tie in one Calgary riding—Calgary-Glenmore—between the PCs and NDP. A recount will take place in the next few days. The Liberals and the Alberta Party each claimed one seat."

Notley had campaigned on promises to boost corporate taxes, scale back support for pipeline projects, and phase out coal power more quickly.

The shake-up comes amid scrutiny over the Alberta government's failure to collect billions in resource revenue from oil and gas development, which has deprived province taxpayers from their fair share of profits from the region's dominant industry. Notley has sworn to review the government's current royalty policy over objections from the energy industry.

Following the NDP victory, Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein congratulated Notley on Twitter and offered hopeful advice for the province's future energy policy:

And Alberta-based blogger and journalist David Climenhaga said the prospect of a liberal power-shift in Alberta had many voters exclaiming: "Pinch me! Am I dreaming?" 

"There's a reason for this," Climenhaga writes.

He continues:

If there's anything at all to the idea that Alberta's still conservative place, it's this: After literally generations of conservative governments in power Edmonton, there's a little tiny Tory in the back of every one of our Albertan heads whispering, 'No you can't!'

You can't change anything. You can't protect the environment and still provide energy to the world. You can't benefit from the resources you own like the good people of Alaska or Norway do because … well, you just can't

For several generations now, our tiny inner Tory has been, as a famous American conservative once put it in a slightly different context, "a nattering nabob of negativism." 

Don't try to change anything. Our inner Tory says, You can't do it. Don't try to build a better Alberta. You can't do it. Forget about a more diversified economy. You can't do it. Don't ask us to pay our share when we tell you to pay yours. You can't do it.

So Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley's pitch perfect campaign, which crested at exactly the right moment, achieved the feat of allowing us Albertans to think, "Yes we can!"


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Warren, Sanders, and Others Blast Biden's 'Failure' on Federal Cannabis Policy

While commending Biden's pardons and commutations, six senators wrote that "much more has to be done to address the racist and harmful legacy of cannabis policies on Black and Brown communities."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Broken' Capitalist Food System Drives Soaring Global Hunger: Oxfam

Criticism from the charity's food policy director came in response to a new United Nations report revealing that around 1 in 10 people worldwide went hungry last year.

Brett Wilkins ·


With Manchin's Backing, Senate Dems Unveil Plan to Let Medicare Negotiate Drug Prices

"This compromise will lower prices, cut costs, and stop the drug corporations from raising their prices faster than the rate of inflation," said Margarida Jorge of Lower Drug Prices Now.

Jake Johnson ·


'Fight for Us Goddamnit': Frustration Grows Over Biden Fecklessness Amid GOP Destruction

"We simply cannot make promises, hector people to vote, and then refuse to use our full power when they do," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Julia Conley ·


EPA Likely Underestimating Amount of Toxic Forever Chemicals in US Water: Analysis

"The EPA is doing the bare minimum it can and that's putting people's health at risk," said the policy director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo