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Official Opposition

R.B. Bennett, Alberta's second leader of the OppositionIn Alberta the Official Opposition consists of MLAs belonging to the party with the second highest number of seats in the Assembly.  Opposition parties present themselves as alternatives to the government, criticizing policies, offering their own policies, and keeping the public aware of what the government is doing or not doing.

The opposition is a government-in-waiting, and the Leader of the Opposition is a Premier-in-waiting. J.H. Prowse, future Leader of the Opposition In Alberta, however, most opposition leaders have waited in vain: the only Leader of the Opposition to become Premier was Peter Lougheed.  Moreover, Alberta is notorious for landslide elections that render the opposition a tiny minority in the Assembly.  Consequently, five Legislatures saw the Speaker decline to recognize any Official Opposition, choosing instead to divide the leader's allowance equally among several opposition members.

Grant Notley, leader of the New Democratic Party, 1967-1984The 20th Legislature (1982-86) was unique.  It had a four-member opposition, two New Democrats and Two Independents.  The two Independents joined forces and then vied for Official Opposition status, which brought extra funding and privileges.  After hearing arguments for both sides, Speaker Gerard Amerongen chose the New Democrats under Grant Notley, and the party remained the Official Opposition until the 1993 election

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