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Alberta Politics

Alberta NDP leadership candidates consider splitting from the federal NDP

NDP members should remember there is no easy fix. Just ask the Alberta Liberals.

This action reflects the isolationist politics of Alberta, but more importantly it is the result of the deep, deep malaise at the top end of the federal party. There is the little Toronto power group which throws the ball back and fourth to each other – they feed off each other.

That was a quote from an Alberta Liberal activist attending the party’s convention in Calgary where members of the seatless party voted two-to-one to break ties and declare provincial independence from the Liberal Party of Canada led by Prime Minister Trudeau.

That was in February 1977.

Fast forward to today and, although the circumstances are different, you might hear something similar come from the mouth of an Alberta NDP member when talking about the provincial party’s relationship with the federal NDP in Ottawa.

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Alberta Politics

Danielle Smith’s transgender youth policy isn’t really about parental rights

“Parental rights” has a long history in Alberta and it’s not what it sounds like

When you write about politics for long enough you begin to notice certain themes and issues that pop up perennially year to year.

So when Premier Danielle Smith’s office released a 7-minute video last week laden with messages about parental rights, my mind immediately wandered back to the first time I heard that term in 2006.

Those were heady days to be a political writer in Alberta. The Ralph Klein era was coming to an end and there was a whiff of change in the air.

From the Progressive Conservative backbenches came a private members’ bill that, under the guise of parents rights, would force schools to notify parents anytime school material included a mention of same-sex marriage and that no student be required to attend or teacher be required to teach that part of the course. This was less than one year after same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada.

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Alberta Politics

Alberta NDP announces pre-Calgary Stampede leadership vote

Race to replace Rachel Notley starts on Feb. 5, new leader to be named on June 22. Yahoo!

If you had told me ten years ago, on January 30, 2014, that the perceived frontrunners for the Alberta NDP leadership race in 2024 would be the MLAs for Calgary-Mountain ViewEdmonton-Glenora and Edmonton-Whitemud, I probably would have laughed. Ten years ago today, Rachel Notley was nine months away from becoming NDP leader and none of these ridings would have even been on that party’s radar as winnable at that point.

Probably the most believable prediction from a decade ago might have been that then-Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith would be Premier in 2024, but there’s no way anyone back then could have predicted her path to the Premier’s Office today.

It’s hard to imagine a modern NDP in this province without Notley at its helm. She took the party from the fourth place fringe to government and solidified it as a political force in Alberta. As the NDP prepares to choose her successor, it’s even hard to compare the current version of the NDP to its pre-Notley version.

That’s a reality that NDP members from across Alberta are having to come to terms with after debating and discussing the leadership race at Red Deer Polytechnic last weekend.

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Thank you.

Thank you to everyone who has read, subscribed and shared my Daveberta Alberta politics columns.

I truly appreciate the support and feedback I’ve received from readers and subscribers since I first started publishing my Alberta politics column on Substack last year.

I’m excited to announce that we will be launching Season 7 of the Daveberta Podcast in the next few weeks with some exciting guests. I’m looking forward to returning the podcast to a regular monthly schedule in 2024.

And, in case you missed it, be sure to read my recent columns about the 10 things I’m watching in Alberta politics in 2024 and how Rachel Notley made the NDP relevant in Alberta politics.

Thanks again,

Dave

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Alberta Politics

10 things I’m watching in Alberta politics in 2024

From the price of oil to the influence of right-wing populist groups to the NDP leadership race and more

January is usually a quiet month in politics, making it a good time to look ahead at what to expect in the year to come. Here are ten things I will be watching that could have a big impact on Alberta politics in 2024:

1. Price of oil

Alberta is probably the only province where the international price of oil is at the top of the Premier’s daily briefing notes. The price of oil not only has a big impact on a lot of Albertans’ jobs, but also the provincial government’s revenue stream.

Relying heavily on the price of oil to pay for the day to day operations of public services, the Alberta government’s 2023/2024 budget projected as much as 25 percent of its revenue will come from oil and gas royalties.

If we go into this coming fiscal year starting April 1 with $72 per barrel, that might put the government into a situation where they either have to revise their spending plans or face a modest deficit,” University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe told CBC.

In Alberta, governments live and die by the price of oil.

2. Influence of right-wing populist and separatist groups

Without a doubt the influence of populist and separatist groups has grown in Alberta politics in recent years. Nowhere is this more pronounced than inside the governing United Conservative Party since Danielle Smith became Premier in October 2022 after riding the wave of populist discontent that pushed out former premier Jason Kenney.

In the closing months of 2023, newly elected UCP President Rob Smith spent nearly two hours on a livestream hosted by Alberta Prosperity Project CEO Chris Scott and past Independence Party of Alberta candidate Kerry Lambert.

The APP has advocated for the creation of a Republic of Alberta and is currently calling for a referendum on Alberta’s independence from Canada. Scott gained notoriety in conservative circles during the COVID-19 pandemic when his restaurant in the central Alberta hamlet of Mirror remained open in contravention of public health rules.

Also, in the final days of 2023, the UCP highlighted an endorsement from University of Calgary professor Barry Cooper in its year-end fundraising pitch on social media. Cooper has compared Alberta to pre-revolutionary colonial America in 1775 and has called for a referendum on separation from Canada. He is also a co-founder of the Free Alberta Strategy, an autonomist documentchampioned by Premier Smith’s Chief of Staff Rob Anderson.

And, on January 24, Smith will host and interview American media personality and conspiracy theorist Tucker Carlson at an event in Calgary that has been promoted by the APP and other influential right-wing groups like Alberta Proud, and Take Back Alberta (which is reported to be under investigation by Elections Alberta).

3. The race to replace Rachel Notley

It is hard to imagine the modern Alberta NDP without Rachel Notley, but she announced last week that she will not lead the NDP into the 2027 election and will step down as leader when her successor is chosen, likely later this year.

The leadership race jockeying has already begun, with at least five MLAs sending signals that they plan to run: Calgary-Mountain View MLA Kathleen Ganley, Edmonton-Glenora MLA Sarah Hoffman, Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Rakhi Pancholi, Edmonton-City Centre MLA David Shepherd, and Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse.

The NDP Provincial Council will meet on January 27 to discuss timelines and rules for the leadership race. The winner of the race will lead the 38-MLA NDP Caucus into 2025 and the party into the 2027 provincial election.

I am planning to write a lot more about this leadership race in the weeks and months to come.

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Alberta Politics

Rachel Notley made the NDP relevant in Alberta

Notley announces she won’t lead the NDP into the next election, kicking off a leadership race

It’s the end of an era in Alberta politics. Former premier Rachel Notley announced today that she will not lead the Alberta NDP into the next election.

Alberta politics hasn’t been the same since Notley won the leadership of the NDP almost ten years ago.

When the 3,589 votes were counted on October 18, 2014, Notley won 70 percent of the vote and assumed the leadership of a party that was in fourth place with 4 MLAs and hadn’t won a seat outside of Edmonton in 25 years.

That all changed in Spring 2015, when Notley and her NDP slayed the 44-year old Progressive Conservative dynasty and shattered the mould of Alberta politics.

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Alberta Politics

Vote for the Best of Alberta Politics in 2023

You shared your picks. It’s now time to vote for the top 3.

With more than a thousand submissions made in the annual Best of Alberta Politics survey, your choices have been sorted and you can now vote for the top 3 choices in each category.

Voting for the top 3 will be open until Dec. 17 at 8:00 p.m. and the winners will be announced on December 19.

This is the seventh annual edition of this survey and it is all about celebrating the best in Alberta politics, so if there is a person who doesn’t fit neatly into any of these categories who deserves some kudos, please send me an email and let me know.

Thank you and good luck.

Dave

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Alberta Politics

The race to replace Rachel Notley as leader of the Alberta NDP

Choose wisely. Notley’s successor could be the next Premier of Alberta

Rachel Notley has been one of the Alberta NDP’s greatest assets since she took up the reins of the party in 2014. Under Notley’s leadership, the NDP went from a small and scrappy opposition party to form government in 2015 and then solidify itself as a viable political force and the singular opposition to the United Conservative Party after 2019.

And after 9 years as the helm of the Alberta NDP she helped transform, it’s likely she will not lead them into the 2027 election.

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