Who wants to be leader of the Alberta NDP?

NDP-Edmonton-Folk-Fest-Ad
The Alberta NDP will hold a leadership vote in October 2014. Photo from the NDP ad in the 2012 Edmonton Folk Music Festival program.

While most political chatter in Alberta is focused on how big Jim Prentice’s victory will be on the first ballot of the Progressive Conservative leadership vote on September 6, there is another race about to begin – the race to become the leader of the Alberta NDP.

Brian Mason
Brian Mason

At his press conference announcing departure, outgoing NDP leader Brian Mason told the media he has asked the NDP provincial executive to hold a leadership vote on or near the weekend of October 19. The party is expected to announce official rules or timelines for the leadership vote in the coming months.

No candidates have declared their plans to enter the race, but if more than one does, it would be the Alberta NDP’s first contested leadership race since 1996, when the feisty Pam Barrett was selected to replace former Member of Parliament Ross Harvey. A contested race would help generate interest and boost their membership numbers across the province.

While there is an opportunity for the NDP to make modest gains in the next election, their next leader will face some serious challenges. One will be to expand their party outside of its traditional base in Edmonton. This will require good candidates, good organization, and, of course, money.

Rachel Notley Edmonton MLA Strathcona NDP
Rachel Notley

The NDP have not won a seat outside of Edmonton since the 1989 election. Some NDP supporters hope the division of conservative voters and the final demise of the drifting Liberal Party led by Raj Sherman could help bolster their chances of expansion.

Perhaps the most thankless part of the job will be to try and convince Albertans that the NDP is not opposed to the province’s energy industry. While federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair‘s ‘Dutch Disease‘ comments were not helpful, observers of Alberta politics will have noticed the NDP softening their language around Alberta’s chief industry in recent years, replacing ‘tarsands’ with ‘oilsands’ and focusing on other big polluters, like the province’s dirty coal industry.

David Eggen
David Eggen

While there are rumours of potential outside candidates, there is a possibility that the party’s three remaining MLAs could throw their hats into the ring.

Deron Bilous
A teacher, he first ran for the NDP in Edmonton-Centre in 2008 and was elected as the MLA for Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview in 2012. Before his election, he taught at Edmonton’s Inner City High School. Considered rising star in the NDP, the 38-year old first-term MLA has proven himself to be a well-spoken and hard-working addition to the opposition benches.

David Eggen
A teacher, he first ran for the NDP in Edmonton-Centre in 2001 and was elected as the MLA for Edmonton-Calder in 2004, unseating PC MLA Brent Rathgeber. He was defeated in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. From 2008 to 2012, he served as executive director of the Friends of Medicare, an advocacy group promoting public health care in Alberta.

Deron Bilous MLA Edmonton Beverly Clareview NDP
Deron Bilous

Mr. Eggen is well-known as a hard-working MLA who is scrappy critic in the Legislature and rarely takes a break from door-knocking in his constituency between elections. Now as the NDP Health critic, he is an outspoken critic of privatization in Alberta’s health care system.

A phone poll conducted in February 2014, and captured on this blog, suggests that Mr. Eggen or his supporters have been preparing for a leadership campaign for months.

Rachel Notley
First elected as the MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona in 2008, Ms. Notley is an outstanding parliamentarian. Her knowledge of Assembly procedure has helped keep the NDP effective at blocking or slowing down PC legislation on more than a few occasions. Educated in law at Toronto’s Osgoode Hall, she worked as a staffer in British Columbia NDP government and was a Labour Relations Officer with the United Nurses of Alberta.

She is also the daughter of Grant Notley, a well-respected NDP leader and northern Alberta MLA from 1971 to 1984. Her supporters have already launched a Ready for Rachel Facebook page, which now has more than 550 Likes.


Aging Long-Shot ‘Blockhead’ candidate knocks off huge Journal Political Team to capture Yeggie Political Category Award

Congratulations to my blogger-in-arms David Climenhaga who walked away with the Best in Political and Current Affairs award at last night’s Yeggies gala in Edmonton. Mr. Climenhaga faced a handful of worthy contenders, including the Edmonton Journal‘s entire political reporting team.

4 thoughts on “Who wants to be leader of the Alberta NDP?”

  1. Hey Dave, In the Rachel Notley section, the link to the “Ready for Rachel” Facebook page doesn’t work.

    Thanks for an excellent site. I’m a 50 year old born and raised Albertan and wanted you to know that your site has become one of my most trusted resources for Alberta politics.

    Ken

  2. Dave, the dippers have peaked. Chasing Liberal votes is a horrible strategy and waste of time the hardcore 125,000 Liberals will never vote dipper. Talk to them. The Liberals have already seen the worst they saw half their vote hemmoragged away to Redford. You have to realize these are moderate MAINSTREAM ordinary progressives who work and have good paying jobs with two income families and they are not the least bit dipper minded most of them want the right balance somewhere just right of center.

    The dippers it seems are truly out of ideas and creativity. They have fundamentally not been able to connect with average ordinary Albertans to increase their social and environmental conciousness. Too caught up in politics of jousting with Liberals the Dipper grass roots is stagnated and possibly will be gone next election. Dippers need to strive to get ordinary Albertans to develop thoughtfulness and a social conscious, because it is that grass roots outreach that will transform politics in Alberta and bring about change. You have change people’s hearts mind and awareness to get their votes. Chasing the Liberals to last place is a failing strategy and a poor vision and an opportunity to focus on changing the hearts and minds of Albertans will be truly lost.

  3. @armchair, you might be right but it won’t matter; the best the NDP or Liberals can hope for is third party status.

    They are so close on almost every fundamental issue, if the Libs and NDP combined forces (with the Alberta Party) they could take more than 30% of the vote in a general. As it stands they fight each other for table scraps. Unite the right worked so well for the federal Cons, why can’t the left figure it out and unite. The few policy differences can be overcome.

  4. Watson…we need a strong center…its where most normal tax paying shafted families reside, a strong left will finish dead last…yes it freak in will. Most Albertans will give the finger to a left merger…..yes they will. A strong united center…Liberals…Alberta Party and most of the progressive votes coming back to the Liberals. Liberals are pro business….dippers are not biggest difference.

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