St. Albert, Alberta
I hope readers will forgive me if I don’t do my usual newsroom shtick and instead just make a few personal observations about last night’s NDP nomination meeting here in St. Albert, where I live.
I won’t keep you in suspense. Marie Renaud, MLA for St. Albert, won the nomination for the redrawn riding. It was contested by Trevor Horne, MLA for Spruce Grove-St. Albert, who had seen his riding redistributed out of existence.
As it was for me, I’m sure this was a bittersweet moment for a lot of us at the packed meeting in the St. Albert Curling Club – well over 200 people, I’d say – because we hold both New Democrat MLAs in high esteem.
That said, Ms. Renaud is a terrific candidate and a great MLA – smart, articulate, brave and humane. Before she entered politics, she devoted much of her adult life to working with people with developmental disabilities, 15 years as director of St. Albert’s Lo-Se-Ca Foundation, which provides housing and other supports to adults with developmental challenges.
Her nominator was a young man who was helped by Lo-Se-Ca.
The 2019 general election will be a tough contest – and perhaps the most important general election in Alberta history, given the alternative. Despite what you may have been told, don’t count out people of principle like Ms. Renaud.
It was only six years ago, remember, that the NDP didn’t even have a constituency association in this town. It had one once upon a time, but in those long years of the Tory Dynasty, it just went away.
It came back to life at a meeting on Aug. 30, 2012, and I hope readers will forgive me for mentioning that the meeting took place at my house. It had to be somewhere, and this is where it was. Last night’s crowd wouldn’t have fit inside, even if we’d used all the rooms.
As far as I could tell, everybody who was at that first meeting was there last night – except maybe one guy, and he’s now the minister of economic development and trade. Health Minister Sarah Hoffman was there to represent cabinet instead.
The focus back in 2012, as I recall, was more federal than provincial, but Deron Bilous, who had just been elected that spring as NDP MLA for Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview, swung by to give us some advice on the hard work ahead.
I had a few moments of doubt it would ever get off the ground, but it did in time for the provincial general election on May 5, 2015.
What is so astonishing is that there were another 190 or so St. Albertans at the Curling Club last night, and when Denis Lapierre, with whom I served on the St. Albert Public Library Board, made us all feel guilty, they coughed up more than $4,000, maybe a lot more.
Look, perhaps the United Conservative Party has more members than the Alberta NDP. They certainly keep saying they do. But everyone at that meeting last night was a living, breathing human being, not a figment of someone’s imagination – and there were no weird shenanigans about the way the vote was conducted.
It made me choke up to see all those good St. Albert people there – many of whom were never New Democrats before the last four years but came out because the choice is so stark between Premier Rachel Notley and Jason Kenney, the leader of the Opposition.
On the way home, CKUA was playing The Band’s version of Bruce Springsteen’s Atlantic City over my car radio: “Everything dies, baby that’s a fact. But maybe everything that dies some day comes back.”
The NDP certainly did in St. Albert, and we’re lucky it happened.