Fort McMurray teacher Ariana Mancini is running for the Alberta NDP nomination in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche ahead of the upcoming by-election in the riding.
Mancini teaches Grade 4 at Ecole Dickinsfield School in Fort McMurray and is on the executive of Fort McMurray Local 48 of the Alberta Teachers Association.
“Conservatives have failed to deliver on the promises they made in the last election. Their corporate tax cuts haven’t created the jobs they promised,” Mancini said in a press release. “Under Jason Kenney, life is getting more expensive: income taxes are up, insurance rates are up, electricity rates are up, tuition is up.
“It’s time we had representation in our region that believed in making life more affordable for families,” Mancini said.
A nomination meeting is scheduled for Dec. 9 and Mancini is expected to be acclaimed. NDP leader Rachel Notley will be in Fort McMurray for what the party describes will be a nomination rally.
This will be Mancini’s second time running for the provincial NDP.
In 2015 she placed second behind Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean (who is also running for the United Conservative Party nomination to run this by-election) and ahead of incumbent Progressive Conservative MLA Don Scott (who would later serve as Mayor of Wood Buffalo from 2017 to 2021) in the former Fort McMurray-Conklin riding.
NDP are the underdog in this race
Despite Notley’s NDP leading in the province-wide polls since last November and Premier Jason Kenney reaching record low approval ratings, it will be an uphill battle for any party other than the UCP to win this by-election. Voters in this region of north east Alberta have reliably elected Conservative candidates for over three decades.
Popular municipal councillor Jane Stroud was only able to earn 24 per cent as the NDP candidate in the 2019 election, and you have to look all the way back to 1986 to find the last time a New Democrat was elected in the area (NDP MLA Leo Piquette represented Athabasca-Lac La Biche from 1986 to 1989).
The last time a candidate from a non-Conservative party was elected in this area was in 1993, when Adam Germain was elected in Fort McMurray and Paul Langevin was elected in Lac La Biche-St. Paul under the Liberal Party banner (though, the Liberals in that election were arguably more conservative than they have ever been since).
All that said, by-elections can sometimes produce unexpected results.
The nasty feud between Jean and Kenney, unhappiness with the UCP’s response to COVID-19, persistent high unemployment, displeasure with the forced provincial centralization of ambulance dispatch, and skepticism about the UCP’s move to abandon the RCMP and form a provincial police force might just be a few of the issues that help voters decide who to cast their ballot.
The by-election in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche must be called by Feb. 15, 2022.