PHOTOS: NDP Leader Rachel Notley speaks with a throng of media yesterday in East Edmonton, telling them her party will field a full slate of 87 candidates in the next provincial election, expected to be called today. Below: NDP Edmonton-Gold Bar candidate Marlin Schmidt, Ms. Notley’s image as it was fed to CTV News, and Edmonton-Gold Bar Conservative MLA David Dorward. Mr. Dorward’s clone is visible behind him. (Joke. Sort of.)

In politics, timing may not be everything, but it sure helps. Alberta New Democratic Party Leader Rachel Notley demonstrated excellent timing yesterday when she picked a slow Easter Monday to announce her party now has a nearly full slate of 85 candidates for the year-early provincial election expected to be called by a cynical Progressive Conservative Government today.

At any rate, a huge throng of media, with cameras and other electronic paraphernalia in tow, turned up to record Ms. Notley making her not-very-startling announcement at Edmonton-Gold Bar NDP candidate Marlin Schmidt’s campaign headquarters in the easternmost and least trendy block of Whyte Avenue.

I say not very startling because as long as I can remember, the Alberta New Democrats have fielded a full slate, even on such Biblically stony and determinedly Conservative fields as those surrounding constituencies like Cardston-Taber-Warner.

Still, with the NDP said to be polling above 30 per cent in the Capital Region, and the appalling PCs under Premier Jim Prentice celebrating their looming 44th anniversary in power with their recent put-people-last budget and plans for an early election nobody but them desires, there was an undeniable buzz to the event that, if only in my imagination, felt the tiniest bit like the last time Jack Layton came to town.

Ms. Notley insisted she’s “running to give Albertans a genuine alternative that they can choose” – in other words, to be the premier, which is pretty bold for a party with four MLAs in a province that has elected and re-elected the same crowd 21 times under a couple of different guises since the demise of the United Farmers Government nearly 80 years ago.

And, heaven knows, as blogger Susan Wright pointed out in her thoughtful analysis of the Prentice Tories’ everything-for-big-business budget in which you don’t count and neither do your children, Albertans need an alternative.

Ms. Notley noted with pride that half her party’s candidates are women.

A campaign that emphasizes the NDP’s potential as government, as opposed to the recently eviscerated Wildrose Party’s current strategy of asking please to be given another chance to form the Opposition even though its last leader and most of its caucus defected to the PCs, is a gamble, but longer odds have produced winners – if not in living memory in Alberta.

In the case of both Ms. Notley’s NDP and the Wildrose under new leader Brian Jean, about whom very little is known by Albertans, it may come down to the normally trite American dictum that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.

And this will be a fight, have no doubt, in which the Tories under Mr. Prentice hold almost all the advantages, having had many years to write the rules in their own favour, tilt the proverbial playing field steeply in the same direction and fill a multi-million-dollar war chest with the generous help of their many friends in commerce so they can vastly outspend all their opponents.

Well, Ms. Notley said, NDP volunteers are energized and will make up in shoe leather what they lack in corporate cash. Still, it’s a Goliath they’re taking on, without so much as a slingshot.

I very much doubt the NDP will form the government, but they could just the same really achieve something remarkable in this election – or not. It may well depend on factors that, unlike the timing of a news conference by their leader, are not entirely under their control.

It might bode well for New Democrats that the Alberta Liberals are in deep disarray, the Greens tiny and marginalized and the Alberta Party barely on the radar, but all these parties will be competing for the same progressive vote in many ridings.

Ironically, the biggest help to the NDP in the Edmonton area will likely have to come from the Wildrose Party, which needs to run strong candidates in ridings here to give disillusioned voters on the right appalled at the breathtaking cynicism of the Prentice Tories a place to put their votes if they can’t bring themselves to vote NDP this time.

According to blogger Dave Cournoyer, who through his blog does the professional media’s nomination research for them, the Wildrose Party has so far only nominated 48 of 87 candidates. (That compares with 85 for both the NDP and the Tories as of yesterday. The final two NDP candidates are expected to be nominated tomorrow, the Tories’ today.)

One of the ridings for which the Wildrosers haven’t yet found a candidate is Edmonton-Gold Bar, where the media met Ms. Notley today and where the energetic and upbeat Mr. Schmidt’s chances of knocking off PC MLA David Dorward would be considerably enhanced by the presence of a strong Wildroser on the ballot.

Mr. Prentice has scheduled a news conference to announce something at 10:30 this morning in Edmonton.

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  1. We can talk all about the NDP’s full slate we want.

    The real question is, how many of them will be in Las Vegas on vacation come election day ;)?

  2. Nothing has changed under Prentice; nothing at all.

    Large corporations still receive unfair tax advantage. Majority of taxes are paid by the phantom middle income earners. Prentice tells us we shouldn’t mind because we are making good money. Truly Conservative.

    Your insurance has gone up 30% to pay for flooding in High River which flooded because the Conservatives ignored advice for 15 years or more that it was going to happen. Prentice used the flooding as a photo op to promote himself.
    They did nothing; you pay for it.

    The Conservatives have hit the power line build with their favorite indirect taxation scam. This time it is 30.00 per month for an undetermined (forever) charge attributed to unforeseen costs. There are 1.5 million meters spinning in Alberta. That nets them 1 billion dollars every two years!

    The Conservatives have taken over 700 Billion dollars from the Heritage Trust fund and used it as tax money in General Revenues. Would be nice to have some of that now.

    Starting as the Tar Sands plants matured (we were about to start to collect our 34% royalty on oil): When Ralph came in royalty was at 34% on completed (paid for) plants and only 1% until the plants were collecting their costs from us. Alberta taxpayers paid for every cent and then some of the cost of those oil sands plants! When Ralph left office the royalty was a 16%. An interim minister then, Ron Liepert who announced just before leaving office that our royalty was now at 6% and falling and we should tighten our belts! Royalty now at zero percent and has been zero for the past 2 years. Prentice is not going to change that he made that clear.

    You, as taxpayers paid for all of the build and cost on those plants including interest payments. Now you get zero; pay even more! That is Conservatives at work.

    Canadian High Commissioner Stewart Beck told India that we discount our oil by 30% going into the market place. That is directly out of the pockets of the producers and the Alberta economy! an article by the Star that shows how much we have been ripped off by the Conservatives.

    The comparison with Norway is accurate and valid. They have had a Socialist Government since their split from Sweden. They have more than a Trillion dollars in the bank; they offer free university education for those who want it and free no strings for premium health care. They produce less oil than Alberta does! Norway also cautions oil as a prime fuel is on its way out!

    The vote did not give these guys the Majority! They got in with just 23% of the vote. If you are reading this odds are good you didn’t vote! Shape up and save some money!

    I’m going to support and vote for the Alberta NDP see if we cant turn this wreck of a province around!

  3. Edmonton Goodbar puts the lie to Ms. Blakeman’s much lauded move of running for three parties at the same time – a lame duck attempt to unite progressive voters. Foolishly the Alberta Party decided to nominate Christina Stasia as a candidate in a riding where Marlin Schmidt was 300 votes shy of defeating David Dorward last go round. Ms. Stasia is an active fundraiser for the Alberta Party crew presently ensconced in Edmonton City Hall (Andrew Knack was out door knocking for her the other day). If she truly believed in the changes she claims to want to see in the province she would withdraw and allow Marlin to capture as much of the progressive vote as possible.

  4. The #Alberta Party is was an invention of the oil industry and the purpose was to split or draw off votes from the left giving the cons a greater chance. They have had I think 5 leaders in as many years. Up until now their message was vote for us, we will be anything you want us to be!. That’s what first caught my eye.

    Now with a real social presence showing up across Canada and Alberta they have put up what could be under normal circumstance a legitimate leader. From what I know of the guy he’s really a fine fellow; accomplished.

    But I’m very sure he is a continuation of the first 5, just make the noises votes will come.

  5. The NDP’s full slate is not so full as it may first seem. They are running at least one cardboard candidate, in Drumheller-Stettler. Emily Shannon is from Drumheller and her parents still live there, but how can residents get behind a candidate, platform notwithstanding, who was parachuted in from Edmonton, so that the Alberta NDP can claim they have a full slate? Was there not someone available who actually resides within the constituency?

    1. How can residents get behind such a candidate? Same way residents of Victoria B.C. got behind John A. Macdonald, or residents of Burnaby or Nanaimo got behind Tommy Douglas, I guess. Seems to me Ms. Shannon has a stronger connection to the community where she’s running than either of those two gentlemen, both of whom, history shows, served their communities and their country well.

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