Fort McMurray-Conklin voters elect new UCP MLA Laila Goodridge

The United Conservative Party has retained seats up for grabs in two provincial byelections Thursday.

UCP retain two seats in the legislature as Albertans participate in byelections

Laila Goodridge poses with a sign while campaigning in Fort McMurray's Beacon Hill neighbourhood. Goodridge was elected the MLA in Fort McMurray-Conklin during a byelection Thursday. (Michelle Bellefontaine/CBC )

The United Conservative Party has retained both seats up for grabs in two provincial byelections Thursday.

Unofficial results show that in Fort McMurray-Conklin, UCP candidate Laila Goodridge captured almost two-thirds of the votes with 2,635 compared to the second-place finisher Jane Stroud of the NDP with 1,181.

Goodridge said it was difficult to engage the public in a byelection in the middle of the summer on a weekday, but was pleased so many voters showed they are interested in the "blue wave that's coming forward."

She said that while she was campaigning, she heard a lot of concern about lost jobs in the region, the carbon tax, and the government's response to the wildfires that swept the Fort McMurray area in 2016.

"I heard lots of challenges of people trying to adjust after the fire. Lots of people who still aren't back in their homes."​

In Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, UCP candidate Devin Dreeshen ran away with the vote tally, amassing 8,033 votes, representing a staggering 82 per cent of the total.

Dreeshen's closest competitor, NDP candidate Nicole Mooney finished with 907 votes while Alberta Party candidate Abigail Douglass got 729.

UCP leader Jason Kenney will hold a news conference Friday with his two newly elected MLAs. In a statement, Kenney reiterated that his party is on the right track to win the next provincial election in 2019. 

"Albertans reject the NDP government's failed high-tax, high-debt policies. Albertans want a common-sense government focused on jobs, not the failed high-tax ideology of the NDP," Kenney said. 

The byelections were triggered by the resignations of UCP MLA Don MacIntyre in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake and former Wildrose leader and UCP MLA Brian Jean in Fort McMurray-Conklin.

Jean stepped down from his seat in March after losing the United Conservative Party leadership race to Kenney.

MacIntyre resigned in February after he was charged with sexual offences with a minor.

Advance poll numbers for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake for the two votes were similar: 2,845 people voted last week compared with 2,826 in 2015.

There are 33,227 registered voters in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake and 13,222 in Fort McMurray-Conklin.