WASHINGTON, D.C. – Not to be negative, but the federal New Democrats might want to hold off scheduling the nomination to choose Linda Duncan’s successor until just after next spring’s provincial election.
Then again – given the fraught relationship these days between the federal NDP and the Alberta branch of Canada’s social democratic party – perhaps not!
Ms. Duncan, of course, is the NDP Member of Parliament for Edmonton Strathcona. She announced this morning that she would not be seeking re-election in the federal election expected for October 2019. It won’t be on the front page of the Washington Post tomorrow, but thanks to the Internet, the news could still be heard here in the Imperial Planetary Capital.
Ms. Duncan, who comes from the green branch of the federal party, has shown signs of discomfort lately with the not-quite-so-green inclinations of the government of Premier Rachel Notley that was elected in 2015.
The potential for family strife arising from that situation, plus the fact Ms. Duncan is now 69, may make the idea of stepping out of active politics an appealing one.
A lawyer by profession who was first elected in 2008, and re-elected in 2011 and 2015, she said in a short but effusive news release that she is “profoundly grateful” for the honour of being elected three times to serve the riding.
“I will continue working hard inside and outside the House of Commons to hold the government accountable for its responsibilities to Canadians,” the former environmental law specialist and Environment Canada employee said with careful neutrality.
Seriously, though, however the Alberta election that’s supposed to fall between March and May next spring shakes out – and the outcome is not necessarily the foregone conclusion of the Opposition and media narratives – there are likely to be some high-quality NDP candidates with experience in government available to face new challenges come the fall.
Of course, if Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decides to call an early election to take advantage of the chaos and division among the federal Conservatives the strategic electoral equation changes a bit.
Either way, the NDP should pick wisely – perhaps looking for someone who can appeal to Albertans more broadly outside the environs of the University of Alberta – because if the 2015 provincial election proves anything, it’s that change can happen in Alberta, and if you’re playing a long game, it probably will.
As Ms. Duncan observed in a letter to her constituents on her web page, “as my dear friend Jack Layton was so fond of declaring, “don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.” No one knows that better that Alberta New Democrats.