The Alberta NDP made it official yesterday, announcing that Danielle Larivee will once again be the party’s candidate in the Lesser Slave Lake riding.
As I said when I reported last month that Ms. Larivee planned to seek the NDP nomination in the riding she represented between 2015 and 2019, this is a positive development for Alberta politics.
Ms. Larivee, a public health nurse and 40-year resident of the Town of Slave Lake, was an extremely capable member of Rachel Notley’s NDP cabinet for most of her time in office.
During that time she served in three ministries – Municipal Affairs, Status of Women, and Children’s Services. When she took charge of the Children’s Services Ministry, it was experiencing serious problems, and her job was to develop and implement a plan to get Alberta’s troubled child intervention system on track.
She took the lead in managing the aftermath of the 2016 Fort McMurray Fire and the northern city’s recovery from the fire.
Full disclosure, I have worked with Ms. Larivee at United Nurses of Alberta, where she is first vice-president, since 2019, and I think very highly of her talents as a manager, communicator and advocate for public health care.
I believe it will be good for Alberta and good for the communities of the Lesser Slave Lake riding if she is elected once again, although it would be UNA’s loss.
In a news release from the NDP, Ms. Larivee yesterday committed herself to keeping Alberta’s health care system public.
“I am a Registered Nurse and have been providing care in the Lesser Slave Lake area for over 24 years,” she said. “I understand the pressure that health care workers face day to day.”
“The choices made by this UCP Government and their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has made life very difficult for those in this area,” she also said, adding that Slave Lake, and all Alberta communities, “deserve better than the UCP.” Heaven knows, it’s hard to argue with that sentiment!
Certainly Lesser Slave Lake has not been well represented since the UCP sweep of 2019 by MLA Pat Rehn, an absentee representative who spent so much time tending to his business in Texas he had municipal officials in the riding calling for his head in 2021.
He even experienced a short exile on the Independent benches of the Legislature after he took a controversial mid-pandemic winter holiday in Mexico in December 2020, but was invited back to the UCP Caucus to shore up Premier Kenney’s flagging support in mid-January last year.
It will be interesting to see if the UCP lets him run again in the next general election.
By contrast, despite her her challenging roles in cabinet, Ms. Larivee had a reputation as a hard-working constituency MLA.
In her current role as first vice-president of the United Nurses of Alberta, Ms. Larivee is a prominent spokesperson for health care issues. “Our public health care system is not safe in the hands of Kenney and the UCP,” she has said. “They keep moving forward with privatizing our public health care, they attacked the front line instead of supporting it, with little care for the crisis they have created. I am prepared to fight for high quality public health care instead of dismantling it.”
With talk of an early election in the air, the NDP has been busy nominating candidates in recent days, as has the UCP.
Political Blogger Dave Cournoyer keeps track party candidate nominations regularly on his Daveberta.ca blog, as in this recent post.