Highlights from Crestview Strategy’s weekly newsletters:
The Alberta campaign is officially underway. The election period began on May 1 and polls will close on May 29. Party leaders are hard at work meeting voters and speaking to the press about why they are the best choice to represent Albertans. Local candidates are knocking on doors across the province, in hopes of earning their vote on election day. As a result, both parties are dedicating significant attention and time to Calgary. Calgary will be a key battleground in the election, with many of its swing ridings likely to signal the final outcome of the election.
Hot weather this past week in Alberta has caused more than 100 wildfires to burn across the province. Mandatory evacuations were called in Drayton Valley, Edson. Parts of Strathcona County and several other regions, leading to the province to enter a state of emergency. Rachel Notley has reached out and offered advice to Danielle Smith due to her experience during the Fort McMurray fires in 2016. The emergency has led several local campaigns to be suspended in and around the affected areas, so that efforts can be dedicated to providing Albertans with support and safety. Both Notley and Smith have stated that it is too early to tell if it is necessary to delay the election. It is anticipated that Elections Alberta will make accommodations to those in impacted areas, but there has been no comment to date on a potential later election day.
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs is leading a trade delegation to the Netherlands and France this week to promote the province as a global energy leader. Premier Higgs will highlight his government’s energy vision at the World Hydrogen Summit, and how it can help address worldwide energy challenges. The delegation will include officials from the Belledune Port Authority, who are pursuing a green hydrogen production plant, and Opportunities New Brunswick. In Paris, Premier Higgs’ meeting will focus on energy, economic relations, and the New Brunswick-France Development Strategy.
This upcoming week marks the last week of the Spring session for the BC NDP government, the first session under Premier David Eby. On May 11, house business will close and the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia will rise for the summer, returning in October for a seven-week fall session. The first legislative session under Premier Eby was light on new legislation but heavy on funding announcements as Eby made significant investments in housing, skills training, affordability, and infrastructure leading up to and following his first Budget – released in February – since becoming Premier in November 2022. Expect Eby to return in the Fall session with a more focused and ambitious legislative agenda.
The province is supporting Moderna’s vaccine manufacturing expansion in Ontario with a $4 million investment through the Ontario Together Fund. Moderna is partnering with Novocol Pharma to implement additional manufacturing capacities in their Cambridge facility to facilitate an end-to-end mRNA vaccine manufacturing and distribution supply chain throughout Canada.
Ontario has upgraded its PRESTO system to enable in-transit fare payments with a debit card, including those on a smartphone or smartwatch. The upgrade will extend to riders on GO Transit, UP Express, Brampton Transit, Burlington Transit, Durham Region Transit, Hamilton Street Railway, MiWay in Mississauga, Oakville Transit, and York Region Transit. The province is working with the TTC to introduce similar payment options for Toronto commuters by the summer.
Liberals elect Sachit Mehra as new party president
Sachit Mehra has been elected the new president of the federal Liberals. The president serves as the head of the party bureaucracy, sitting on the national board of directors. The main tasks are ensuring election readiness, supporting fundraising efforts and recruiting volunteers. They are not responsible for crafting policy, but do act as a key liaison for the party and the leader’s office. The Liberals elected Robbie Schuett as the party’s English Vice-President, Élisabeth D’Amours as French Vice-President, Elise Bartlett as Party Secretary, and Liam Olsen as National Chair of the Young Liberals of Canada. 24 official party policies were passed at the convention, with the top 5 priorities being 1) affordable housing, 2) building a Windsor-Quebec City high speed rail line, 3) investing in Canadian defence and security, 4) primary health care availability, and 5) a basic entitlement of 4 weeks of paid vacation per completed year of employment.
Last week’s campaign trail was marked by the future of transit in the suburbs, and the Gardiner Expressway as several mayoral candidates presented contrasting plans for both. Mitzie Hunter vowed to build the Waterfront East LRT and expand the Sheppard subway east extension. Olivia Chow and Josh Matlow said they would rebuild the Gardiner Expressway’s eastern portion as a ground-level boulevard. Chow unveiled her plan to build a dedicated busway to replace the Scarborough RT, a commitment Hunter and Ana Bailão have also supported. Brad Bradford announced his plan to speed up the Gardiner rebuild by two years by allowing 24/7 construction, while Mark Saunders said he would re-open King Street to all traffic.