Alberta Politics
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley as she prepared to leave the stage after her speech in Edmonton yesterday (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Rachel Notley, one of the finest political orators of her generation, raises the rafters with optimistic speech in Edmonton

Posted on April 15, 2019, 2:31 am
9 mins

Rachel Notley looked and sounded like a politician on a roll yesterday afternoon as she addressed at least 1,500 people sardined into Edmonton’s Polish Hall – energized, by turns forceful, funny, and inspiring.

This runs counter to the media narrative about this 2019 election campaign from the get-go, of course, not to mention the United Conservative Party’s dark storyline.

Ms. Notley during her remarks (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

But when Alberta’s first NDP premier proclaimed, “on Tuesday, my friends, we are gonna bring it home,” Ms. Notley sure gave the impression of someone with the wind in her sails at what is certain to be one of the final events before the general election.

Ms. Notley is one of the finest orators of the current generation of political leaders in the English-speaking world. Indeed, it could be argued she is one of the only fine speakers among the current crop of Canadian politicians. And whatever Tuesday brings, she was in top form yesterday.

She started with a joke:

“We’ve seen a lot in the last little while: Shocking betrayals. Intense internal fights. Attacks on kids and the most vulnerable. But you know what? It’s all coming to an end.” (Beat … beat …) “Because tonight, tonight we turn into the final season of Game of Thrones.

“And here’s the spoiler: Just like in Alberta, the bad guys, the Whitewalkers, they’re not gonna win! Because – you know what? – we have a couple of dragons, and their names are … The Truth!”

She built up her audience:

“Across the province, our support is growing. The demand for lawn signs – and some of you may have heard this, but honest to God, this is true! The demand for lawn signs is so huge that we have actually caused a national shortage of orange ink!

She told them why she fights:

“I’m proud to fight for the young woman who was forced to choose between being a mom and joining the workforce. Let me tell you, when we hold women back, we hold Alberta back, and that’s why I’m fighting for her.

“I am fighting for the young man who came up to me in a store and told me that the higher minimum wage genuinely allowed him to stay in school and get the skills and he needs. And I’m gonna defend him, and I’m gonna defend that minimum wage!

Ms. Notley high-fives a supporter as she leaves Edmonton’s Polish Hall (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

“I’m gonna keep fighting for him, and I’m gonna keep fighting for the woman who came up to me recently, teary-eyed, telling me how hard it was for her to come out, and thanking me and our crew for standing up for her. And I’m telling you, my friends, I’m gonna keep fighting for her.

“Or the grandmother on a fixed income, with sky-high medication costs. Or the mom who benefitted from the boost to AISH payments. Or the pipefitters who deserve their time-and-a-half overtime pay! And for the nurses who want to make sure that they can actually care for their patients.”

“That’s why we’re here. That’s why we do this.”

She defended the campaign’s aggressive stance against the policies and activities of the United Conservative Party opposition, and its leader, Jason Kenney.

“It’s true. We’ve run a tough campaign against the UCP. But like that wise old pastor from the Prairies, Tommy Douglas, once said: If you’re gonna lie about me, I’m gonna tell the truth about you!

“And so we have made sure that Albertans know exactly who Jason Kenney is, and the risk that he presents to Alberta. Because those risks are real. They’re real for you. For your family. And real for Edmonton.

“Mr. Kenney has been clear. He will cancel our rail deal. A $2-billion hit to jobs and investment.

“And his reckless stunt, something he doubled down on just yesterday once again, will put Trans Mountain and that pipeline to tidewater absolutely at risk.

“You know, according to a new report, just released a couple of days ago, by respected, international investment analysts, if Mr. Kenney is allowed to win on Tuesday, the Canadian energy sector should actually brace for a significant amount of uncertainty, and risk.

“And not only that. What’s also clear is that Jason Kenney is actually what those people who don’t want us to get that pipeline built are hoping for: An easy target.

“We don’t need Jason Kenney’s stunts. Stunts paid for with your money. We need shovels in the ground and we need them now. My friends, we are simply too close to let Jason Kenney mess up Trans Mountain.

Those are not the only risks of electing a UCP government, of course, Ms. Notley asserted. School fees will go up, road tolls will be applied, and overtime pay will be cut. “And to pay for his $4.5-billion tax break for corporations, a tax break that won’t create jobs, he will make deep cuts to things that matter to families.

“Kids in our schools will get less. Patients in our hospitals will wait longer. And our seniors will have fewer supports to help them age safely. And our public services and the people who provide them, they will get slashed.

“Keeping Alberta the best place in Canada to do business,” she summed up, “should not mean that we ask those with the least to give up the most.

“The economy needs to grow. The economy needs to diversify. But the economy needs to work for everybody.”

She concluded:

“People like to say Alberta is a conservative province. … But it’s not. It’s not a UCP province. It’s not a Liberal Party province. It’s not an NDP or an Alberta Party province. It’s none of those things.”

“Alberta belongs to all Albertans. And Albertans expect a government that fights for all Albertans.

“People actually see, and feel, and know, when governments don’t do that. And that’s why Alberta elections have a way of surprising people. And you know what? I think this one will too.”

Readers will forgive me for quoting Ms. Notley at such length. I believe one of the gravest flaws of modern journalism is our failure to allow our politicians to speak for themselves. You can hear the entire speech for yourself here.

8 Comments to: Rachel Notley, one of the finest political orators of her generation, raises the rafters with optimistic speech in Edmonton

  1. St Albertan

    April 15th, 2019

    Well, this old (c)onservative has done his best! I figure I got at least ten votes out for Marie Renaud. I just don’t get this new bloody mindedness and I never thought I’d be looking out on a world that seems so shaky. Anyway, thanks to all who voted and a special thanks to David. We should all be grateful for this blog!

  2. Geoffrey Pounder

    April 15th, 2019

    I am less interested in the rhetorical skills of Notley and her speechwriters — how smoothly she recites Big Oil’s talking points — and more concerned about whether she is telling the truth.

    Several analysts (e.g., Robyn Allan, Andrew Nikiforuk, J. David Hughes) have ripped Notley’s pipeline propaganda and fraudulent climate plan to shreds.

    I take for granted that right-wing politicians lie and cheat.
    On climate science, neither side knows what they’re talking about.

    Is it better to be lied to by “progressive” politicians?
    I say it’s worse. Because they eliminate the progressive option and mislead progressives into supporting neoliberal agendas.

    • Murphy

      April 16th, 2019

      The oil-and-gas/finance kleptocratic oligarchy wields the power to bring the province to it’s knees economically. I have come to accept that Notley was either going to have the province laid to economic waste by the withdrawal of capital or bow to the oily casino operators. Nobody is going to win a pitched battle with the masters at this juncture.

      • Geoffrey Pounder

        April 17th, 2019

        If the NDP stands no chance against a united lunatic fringe party…
        If Notley was always a one-term premier…
        If UCP victory was inevitable…

        …then it doesn’t matter. You may as well go for broke. You have nothing to lose. So be fearless.
        Retain your principles, govern with integrity, base your policies on the best available science, and tell the truth.
        Set out a roadmap for AB’s sustainable long-term future. Show Albertans what a progressive govt looks like at its best.

        The results of kowtowing to Big Oil, swerving to the right, adopting neoliberal policies, pandering to conservatives, denying science, defying the IPCC, and misleading Canadians about pipelines and oilsands, became clear last night.
        For the NDP, disaster.
        Not only do the NDP lose the election, they also lose their good name, their principles, and respect.
        A neoliberal NDP also dashes our hopes.

        Notley’s turn to the right was cynicism, not pragmatism. Playing up fears of the UCP bogeyman, Notley counted on NDP supporters to effectively abandon their principles and follow her to the dark side.
        Not just a political defeat. But also moral — and climate — disaster.
        Will AB progressives turn back before it’s too late?

  3. Jim

    April 15th, 2019

    Just curious how many security personal does Notley have? Also curious who pays for security while on the campaign? Judging by your pictures the people not smiling or looking at Notley are security, they appear to know what they are doing.

    • David Climenhaga

      April 16th, 2019

      From what I’ve noticed, Ms. Notley usually has about three security people from the Alberta Sheriffs at big events like this, and often just one. This seems to me to be similar for other Alberta premiers in recent times. Obviously, when women politicians seem to bring out the crazy in so many Albertans, this is entirely appropriate, possibly inadequate, and a necessary cost of democracy. The security men and women in the government’s employ, in my opinion, are highly professional and never too aggressive with normal citizens. DJC

  4. John B.

    April 16th, 2019

    An associate who supports all things libertarian advised me that the story about the ink isn’t true. He said that, while this type of infraction might seem minor in the world of political untruthfulness, it’s a very serious matter when the NDP is involved because of the habitual sanctimony of that party that the others are forced to endure (when their whoppers are exposed, I’ve presumed).


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