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The words they used: A breakdown of Rachel Notley and Jason Kenney’s opening speeches

Words can speak volumes, and sometimes the words we choose to use can say a lot, even if we take them out of context.

Sometimes it helps to step back and look at things from a distance during this Alberta election.

We took the opening salvo speeches from the two most likely contenders for the premiership – the Alberta NDP’s Rachel Notley and the United Conservative Party’s Jason Kenney – and looked at the words they were using in their first message to voters.

While Notley gave her speech in front of a multicultural backdrop of men, women and children in the architecturally eye-pleasing National Music Centre in Calgary, Kenney delivered his speech in a Leduc industrial yard, with a slate of coverall-clad, hardhat-wearing workers – all male – standing behind him.

During her election announcement speech, Notley was keen to draw distinctions between her government, and what a Kenney government might do.

In fact, “Kenney” became the third most used word in her speech.

Kenney, on the other hand, mentioned the premier by name exactly three times. Once on her own, and two other times when she was grouped with the Prime Minister as “Notley-Trudeau.”

He did, however, refer to the NDP 24 times in his speech.

In the list of most-used words, after Alberta/Albertans or their opponent, the other word that appeared in each of the leader’s top 3 was interesting. Notley used the word “want” 15 times in her speech, while Kenney used the word “will” 14 times.

We created these wordclouds to show the frequency of words in the two leaders’ speeches. The larger the word, the more frequently it was used.

Rachel Notley’s election kickoff speech (WORDCLOUDS.COM)
Jason Kenney’s election kickoff speech (WORDCLOUDS.COM)

Here are some other key words and the frequency with which each leader used them.

Kenney points to at least 14 different statistics in his speech, although we have not yet fact-checked each of his claims. Starting in the second paragraph, he provides one number after another on things such as take-home pay, unemployment and bankruptcies.

Notley, on the other hand, used no hard numbers or statistics in her entire speech. Her appeal was more to emotion.

One can draw their own conclusions on what sort of thematic emphasis each campaign will have based on their campaign launch speeches.

Should there be future high-level campaign speeches we’ll compare them once again to see if that message has changed.