Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley gave a rip-roaring speech to the party faithful in Edmonton Saturday, but a consensus is emerging among the commentariat and many voters that the Opposition party’s communications strategy is failing and time is short to fix it.
The same day, veteran political commentator Charles Adler, a conservative who has grown disillusioned with the extremist direction taken by Canada’s Conservative parties in recent years, took to social media to note polls predicting a United Conservative Party majority in Alberta’s May election are probably right.
“No surprise,” Mr. Adler observed tartly. “Danielle Smith’s comms team ruthless & relentless. Rachel Notley’s comms team Lugubrious & Lethargic.”
It may have been a surprise to some readers that a frustrated Brian Mason, leader of the Alberta NDP from 2004 to 2014, immediately noted his agreement.
“I couldn’t agree more,” Mr. Mason tweeted soon after. “If the NDP doesn’t up its comms game immediately, they will lose the election in May. There’s too much at stake to keep fumbling around. Clearly, they need outside help.” (It was Mr. Mason who said that, by the way, although he has been reduced to tweeting from @bmasonNDP2 since encountering problems with his original @bmasonNDP Twitter account a few weeks ago.)
“I don’t think there’s a coherent NDP communications strategy,” Mr. Mason told me from his retirement home in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. “I’m getting very nervous. They’re showing no signs of an effective communications strategy in the lead-up to the election.”
“You have to define your opponent clearly,” he added, noting that the UCP’s communications staff has been quite successful at putting most of the truly outrageous statements by Premier Smith behind them.
By contrast, Mr. Mason said, “Rachel is one of the NDP’s best assets. She is seen as competent and is well liked. Contrasting her with Smith, who is seen as more extreme and increasingly dishonest, is an obvious comms tactic.
“I’d like the NDP to hit that one hard.”
But “the NDP’s focus is all over the place,” Mr. Mason continued. “They need to define three or four issues that will move the vote we need to move, and hammer them home repeatedly.”
An example, perhaps, is the “A Better Future for Alberta” signs hoisted by party supporters at Ms. Notley’s nomination meeting in Edmonton Saturday.
Readers will recall that Jason Kenney’s successful slogan – “Jobs, Economy, Pipelines” – was repeated relentlessly. As a political message it was powerful and effective, at once defining the newly created UCP as being for those things, and by false but persuasive implication, the NDP as against them, or at least hopelessly ineffective at making progress on those files.
So, it’s said here, that “Jobs, Healthcare, Education,” would be a more effective NDP catchphrase than “A Better Future,” better though the future might be under Ms. Notley’s leadership.
Read the comments on yesterday’s post on this blog, and you’ll see the same thoughts are in the minds of AlbertaPolitics.ca readers.
“As an NDP supporter I am underwhelmed by what I have seen so far in the party’s public offerings,” says one comment posted yesterday. “To me, the NDP is in a fight for its life as a party and for the future of the province. I find their communications and their strategies so far uninspiring and low key.”
Says another: “At the moment, the worst issue facing Notley and the NDP is themselves. The messaging seems to be off. … None have hammered home the reality that Smith intends to withdraw every single spending initiative (the UCP) reluctantly presented in their last budget.”
Not only is the NDP’s milquetoast messaging coming under fire for its lack of fire, but despite the party’s $7.2-million war chest from record-breaking donations it’s been slow off the mark with the tough campaign required for a non-Conservative party to win against Alberta’s skewed electoral math, where conservative rural ridings hold disproportionate power.
“The whole idea you can wait till the writ dropped to spend any money makes no sense to me,” Mr. Mason told me. “You really have to start early!”
“You need to start well before the official campaign to convince people of what your message is,” he explained, and despite raising more money than it ever has before, the NDP has been keeping its powder dry even though the shooting from the other side has already started, setting the UCP’s narrative in the minds of many voters.
Former Progressive Conservative deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk, a fierce NDP opponent during the 14 years he was MLA for Edmonton-Castle Downs, shares Mr. Mason’s fears about the damage Premier Smith will do to Alberta if she is given a four-year mandate.
Mr. Lukaszuk said he believes many Progressive Conservatives like himself can be persuaded to vote for the NDP because the prospect of four years of Danielle Smith as premier is so dire, and because NDP Leader Rachel Notley was “a very pragmatic premier” between 2015 and 2019.
Out of politics since he was defeated by the NDP’s Nicole Goehring in 2015, Mr. Lukaszuk says “I think I am not the only PC looking at this election knowing there are only two options. And PCs willing to be objective will have a hard time voting for the UCP.”
But to win over those Progressive Conservative voters, Mr. Mason’s former rival told me, “the NDP really needs to lay out its policy and convince voters that they are the rational choice.”
“The NDP needs to have a professionally managed communications campaign that personalizes their policies and shows Albertans what the impact of their policies versus UCP policies would be.”
And that needs to start now, he added. “I don’t think it’s too late, although it’s getting to be extremely late.”
Whether many other Progressive Conservatives are willing to publicly back the pragmatic leadership of Ms. Notley, as Mr. Lukaszuk hopes, remains to be seen.
I don’t think the NDP needs to get a bunch of former PCs to publicly back them, like the former Deputy Premier is, to win. However, they do need more than a few to privately back them.
Perhaps the NDP strategists are wiser than me, it is possible, but I am puzzled why they seem to be holding back at this point. Is it complacency? Are they hoping or waiting for Smith to self destruct? It hasn’t happened yet and she is capable of smooth communication for a period of time. Yes, the mask will eventually slip, I am sure, but it does no good for the NDP if that only happens after the election.
An election is a short period of time and the time to shape the agenda is much more fleeting than one thinks. I recall waiting for more than one unsuccessful opposition campaign to take off that never did. Yes, a government can shoot itself in the foot, but they also have the advantage of generally setting the agenda. A successful opposition campaign has to take that away. You do not wait for someone to notice you or hope the quality of your ideas prevails. They may not. You have to seize center stage and the microphone, it will not be handed to you by the government.
I do agree that the ANDP will need a much better comms strategy to win. They are also missing an excited base that will cheerlead for them though. Where the UCP (especially under Smith) very effectively use energized constituent groups, the NDP is not nearly as strong in this area.
Even though the UCP comms may have done a great job of reassuring the chattering class that she is moderate enough to be trusted, the large amount of excitement and buzz Smith created in different corners of the province with her seemingly off-the-wall positions continue to benefit her party in the present.
What is exciting and inspiring about the NDP? Or are they going to rely on a fear-based, “look how terrible Smith is” campaign?
Things aren’t great in Alberta right now, but there also not that bad either. So why vote for Rachel and the NDP? Why vote for change?
They need to figure these things out yesterday.
The issue isn’t about the NDP. It’s about people being complacent and not standing up to the UCP and their lies, not holding them to account for their very pricey shenanigans, and not pointing out how the UCP’s policies are harming people. The media, especially Postmedia, is also responsible for enabling and propping up the UCP. Why aren’t they questioning the lies the UCP are spreading about the NDP, such as how the NDP put in 97 tax increases, when it isn’t true? Nor is the media holding the UCP to account for their other big mistakes. Look at the UCP’s latest gathering in Edmonton. A fair amount of the people who were present, were seniors. So many people are so easily fooled and mislead by these pretend conservatives and Reformers. It’s pretty sad.
It would appear Ms Notley and her party are following in the steps of Bob Rae and the Ontario NDP. In other words, “one and done”.
Like Tommy Douglas in the ancient days of yore who gave rip roaring speeches to jammed packed arenas of gathered faithful but failed to generate any excitement in the outside world, RN seems to be falling into that same trap. Trying to fit a round peg into octagon-sided hole. It fits but not very snugly.
Could it be a majority of Albertans actually like the idea of Preston Manning’s pandemic response review panel? It may not accomplish much other than some good old fashioned sh*t disturbing. A payback for two years of lockdowns and vaccine mandates that in retrospect didn’t make much sense.
Meanwhile RN was actually advocating there should be a door-to-door campaign to convince the unvaxed to get the shot. We know who they are! she proclaimed. Like a true zealot. She was probably calculating since the majority were jabbed they must “believe in the science.” Completely ignoring the fact the shots were given under duress, you had to get the shot or else loose your job.
Buddy not even health care workers lost their job for refusing the vaccine.
Buddy, the City of Calgary policy enacted in autumn, 2021 stated implicitly that all City workers would be terminated by Christmas if they did not undergo the mRNA procedure. This policy was only modified when the Police Association flexed their muscle and the City backed down, providing the opportunity for the “hesitant” to submit the completely unreliable results of rapid tests two or three times per week in lieu.
I believe the NDP do have a communications strategy. Their strategy is to be deferential, unfailingly polite and gracious, lest they upset anyone. Needless to say, using this strategy they will be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Take a simple catch phrase and repeat it ad nauseum. It worked for both Rob and Doug Ford, it should work for Rachel Notley. The communications team for the NDP ought to be fired.
Mr Mason is absolutely correct. The NDP communication needs an overall!!! 5 alarm fire requires urgent remedy.
Another astute article here, as always!
For me, the election boils down to a matter of trust.
Do I trust Smith to protect the east slopes of the Rockies and restrict open pit coal mining and rampant ATV use in vulnerable areas? NO!
Do I trust Smith to properly fund public health care? NO!
Do I trust Smith to develop a modern, effective curriculum for adequately funded public classrooms? NO!
Do I trust Smith not to waste tax dollars in support of wild schemes that benefit her cronies? NO!
Do I trust Smith to protect my CPP? NO!
Do I trust Smith to leave the RCMP in St. Albert? NO!
Do I trust Smith to stand up to her base and not push for a separate Alberta? NO!
Do I trust Smith to keep her budget promises past election day? NO!
The questions go on.
Do I trust Notley to develop science based responses to public health risks? YES!
Do I trust Notley to diversify our economy and future proof energy sector jobs? YES!
Do I trust Notley to support municipalities as they struggle with issues of housing and drug addiction? YES!
Do I trust Notley to keep provincial parks public? YES!
Do I trust Notley to build positive relationships with other levels of government? YES!
So as we approach election day, the questions remain.
Do I trust Smith? NO!
Do I trust Notley? YES!
I think the NDP should hire you, Andy.
Our NDP challenger for Dale Nally’s riding doorknocked us the other day.
I will support her 100%, but I have to say I was dismayed at how watered-down the message was. Kinda just, “hey, we’re better on health care and education…” *crickets chirping*
The NDP really need to go on the attack and highlight just how awful the UCP has been (fights with health care workers officially and unofficially, evidence of obstruction of justice by Madu and Smith, idiot ideological games with our children’s education, boondoggles like the war room, the list goes on) and how terrible Smith has already *told us* she will be if she perceives she has some sort of “mandate” after May to enact the crazy schemes she and Barry Cooper dreamt up in her O&G-fume-filled radio booth… she will be a disaster, and the UCP has been fully captured by industry and TBA, so I don’t expect a shift towards sanity to come from within.
Remember, everyone, that up until a few weeks ago, many people who post on this site were convinced that the UCP would be postponing the election, and I expect that the NDP strategists acknowledged that was a very real possibility as well. I imagine the UCP would have loved to see the NDP blow their campaign chest early, then postpone the election until after the NDP’s message has worn off.
Bob: That may have been because “counsel was leading the witness” – that is to say, I thought it very likely the UCP would delay the election of there was any chance of losing, which there appeared to be as long as Jason Kenney was leader. Things have since turned in their favour, but I still wouldn’t rule it out in the event their positive polls begin to recede. DJC
“Jobs, Healthcare, Education,” perfect. But, how does on get them to use it, NOW?
For months the UCP has been using taxpayer dollars to promote its “affordability package” through slick TV ads running in heavy rotation and at least three householders delivered to my mailbox. This paid public advertising has been hard for the NDP to compete with, even with the NDP’s hefty war chest. Talking to some folks better connected than I at Saturday’s rally left me with the impression that the party sees Rachel’s nomination as the launch of a more active phase of the campaign. The ad that aired during last night’s Oscars featuring Rachel making a pitch for film dollars might be evidence of this.
The UCP candidate in my riding is already door-knocking. I found his “Elect me!” card on my front door last week. Is that even legal?
Of course it’s legal. NDP candidates have been door knocking in UCP held ridings for many months. If no one is home, it’s standard practice to leave a candidate card. I was told on the weekend by a Calgary organizer that one of our candidates there has recruited over 200 volunteers, and that this not atypical.
Start following NDP candidates on Twitter and you will find out many have been door knocking multiple times per week for many months. In competitive ridings, an effective ground game can be the difference between victory and defeat.
On my way home from a camp shift I saw an official-looking road sign on the Courtenay city boundary: “Welcome to Hagen Country” emblazoned with the BC Socred party’s logo, a stylized provincial arms. Hagen was our Socred MLA, but the election had long been over. I wrote a letter to the editor of the local rag complaining that by law campaign signs are to be removed soon after elections. Otherwise this politically partisan sign had no business on the side of the Queen’s Highway. Then I left for another camp shift.
Got back and my housemate was relieved because a disgruntled, dyed-in-the bush Socred resident had been repeatedly phoning to bitch about my letter. As it happened, his surname and first initial were the same as mine and apparently he’d been catching flame from other members of his party’s riding association who thought it was this old Socred warhorse who wrote the sign complaint. He’d been demanding that I publish a clarification, but by the time I got back he’d given up on that and instead wrote his own letter to the editor threatening to take legal action—and making the clarification himself: “a certain Scott…,” et cetera.
But I noticed Hagen’s road sign was gone. I got on with my life.
But Hagen was subsequently defeated and followed by a series of female NDP MLAs who sat in the Assembly on the government side (during the “NDP 90s”). Under the NDP government, the new and sorely needed inland Island Highway was finally built (with thousands of private driveways on the Old Island Highway between Courtenay and Campbell river which I regularly commuted, I’d witnessed many fatal MVIs as Island traffic steadily increased over the previous three decades).
A stretch of this highway was dedicated as “Ginger Goodwin Way” —replete with a road sign—for the famed labour leader and martyr who was shot dead by a bounty-hunter as he hid in the bush from authorities during a prolonged coal mine strike in 1918, sparking Canada’s only national general strike (one day) in protest. The sign marked where the highway passed Goodwin’s grave site on the hill above.
Citizen Hagen began a letter-writing campaign (to the same paper) to have this highway sign removed, repeatedly and at length denigrating Goodwin as a radical communist and fugitive from the law (Goodwin had black-lung disease common among coal miners and was initially classified unfit for military service in WW I, but was then conscripted to thwart his strike organizing, upon which he fled to the woods where sympathizers sustained him). Hagens’ vitriol was conspicuous because, although Goodwin had been dead for eight decades, labour leaders annually commemorate Miners’ Day at his grave site, now above the new highway (as they still do). Hagen’s wife wrote a local history column in the same paper and also did her bit to tarnish Goodwin’s legacy.
Some years later Hagen was re-elected, this time as a BC Liberal (the Socred’s successor party). He became cabinet minister and, in this capacity, had the Ginger Goodwin Way sign removed, naturally under protest from labour leaders, workers and other members of the public.
And I wondered if it was all out of spite since I’d gotten Hagen’s “Welcome to Hagen Country” road sign removed. It certainly wasn’t because the Goodwin Way sign contravened electoral laws.
Stan Hagen later died while in office.
A few decades later the NDP had regained government (and this particular riding, too) and, once again, this stretch of the new Island Highway is dedicated as “Ginger Goodwin Way.”
Lets all be armchair Quarterbacks. If Alberta voters cannot see who is best, then it’s all on them. If they want Alberta to suffer the same fate as Ontario, so be it. Nit-picking the Comm strategy is a waste of time.
“Milquetoast” campaigns have habitually beggared the NDP —curious for any party that aspires to govern.
I’ll never forget the 2013 BC election: The Opposition NDP went in with a 20-point lead—normally an insurmountable advantage—yet it failed to defeat the proven corrupt and scandal-plagued BC Liberal government of 12 years. What the hell happened?
Like Alberta premier Danielle Smith, Christy Clark was a right-wing radio talk-show host before returning to politics in 2011 after disgraced BC Liberal premier Gordon Campbell was fired by his caucus. She also shocked all by winning the leadership race, becoming premier without a seat. After losing her by-election bid for Campbell’s vacated riding, she won a seat by parachuting into a safer riding, thence proving to be an astoundingly inept caretaker premier until the next fixed election-date two years later.
By 2013, the Opposition NDP had lost three elections in a row. It won 33 seats in 2005, resurrected by its new leader Carole James but, despite BC Liberal scandals, the NDP won only two more seats in 2009. Mounting scandals sank Campbell to single-digit popularity, and the party was rocked by his ouster, yet James took no advantage of the government’s predicament and was turfed by a frustrated caucus for her misplaced passivity. MLA Adrain Dix was elected leader.
I attended that convention virtually. My guy, John Horgan, dropped out after two ballots following a whisper campaign that made him out to be too intemperate—“too Irish” and “too hot-headed” to lead the high and noble office of the “workers’ party.” When the victorious Dix announced his “positive politics” policy, a friend and fellow Dipper phoned me: didn’t even say hello, simply said, “We’re fucked.” As much as I didn’t want to believe it, I knew he was right: we’d seen this before.
Bob Skelly, was an excellent MLA of high intelligence and ethical fibre, but when elected leader of the BC NDP Opposition, the province’s vicious news media targeted his natural shyness with merciless ridicule prior to the 1986 election—which the incumbent Socreds won.
When NDP Premier Glen Clark stepped down under trumped-up BC Liberal charges that he took a bribe (he was subsequently exonerated), his Attorney General, Ujjal Dosanjh (who initiated the bribery investigation) edged folksy MLA Corky Evans for the leadership by making him out to be ‘too outspoken’ for Premier’s office. The party was reduced to two seats in the following 2001 election.
Thus, after the pacifistic Carole James’ ouster for ignoring the opportunity to exploit the BC Liberals’ much deserved unpopularity, it seemed illogical for her successor to adopt similar passivity —especially when Christy Clark’s only political forte was crude character assassination by shrill ridicule, warranted or not.
It shouldn’t have taken much retrospection to see that Dix’s “positive politics” campaign policy was foolish and bound to fail. Unsurprisingly, Christy mopped the floor with him during the leaders’ TV debate as he gallantly turned the other cheek. Voters, polling 20-points in the NDP’s favour when the writ was dropped, were completely turned off by his refusal to even put up his dukes. Christy’s campaign, in contrast, was nothing but bombast and a preposterous, single-note promise of wiping out the BC debt in a single term by constructing up to 15 LNG-export facilities along the Coast. And she won.
The following term saw Christy add fully a quarter of BC’s debt —now somewhere north of $110 billion—while building none of those promised LNG facilities. With absolutely zero policy chops, shady heavyweights in her cabinet were free to reign over massive gaming, forest tenure, civil forfeiture, and accounting abuses while the bubbly bubble-head ribbed that her MLAs’ many conflicts of interests were “only perceived” conflicts. As the 2013 election approached, she gleefully kicked off the next expected shit-kicking with a wholly unfounded accusation that the NDP had illegally hacked into her party’s official website. It was almost as if she thought the Dippers’ new leader would say, “gosh, I’m so sorry.”
Horgan instead deployed the ancient tactic of surprise, immediately demanding a public retraction and apology else his party sue Christy and hers. That she was taken unawares was measured by her subsequent, uncharacteristic campaign rhetoric which thence remained conspicuously measured for the rest of the campaign (after leaving a begrudging sort-of-apology on his answering machine). Although winning more seats than the NDP, the BC Liberals were reduced to a minority which didn’t survive its first confidence vote, and the NDP became government for the first time in 16 years—with the help of three Green MLAs.
Horgan proved to be the most popular Premier in Canada and, in the midst of the Covid pandemic, won a convincing majority to become the first BC NDP Premier to win two elections, and back-to-back to boot. The BC Liberal opposition and right-wing news media haven’t dared to put that old “kick-me” sign on the NDP’s back ever since.
Perhaps women are from Venus—I dunno—but the same phenomenon was seen with two female leaders of the federal NDP: like Carole James, they were good, intelligent and ethical leaders, but their party languished at both popular and election polls—they were too nice. Same way Ontario’s Andrea Horwath: the NDP leader could have hammered the D’ohFo’s Conservatives on so many fronts in the recent election but came off as boring, seeming to play it too safe with the same old socialist-lite rhetoric. And now, like BC when it re-elected Christy in 2013, Ontario is sorry.
While we all hope Alberta’s Rachel Notley’s experience as one-term Premier will work to her advantage, it’s not with a little consternation that we admit her victory in 2015 was due to many other factors than her single, well-placed, TV-debate rejoinder to PC premier Prentice’s “math is hard” boner. Whether that counts as the kind of aggressiveness the NDP has long sorely lacked is an open question.
I suppose the Prairie Baptist preacher sought to temper unions’ rough and tumble reputation when Christian socialism amalgamated with labour activists in 1961, but would Tommy Douglas have condoned passivity as the perennial booby prize for the New Democratic Party? Being above bullheadedness might be the ideal of schoolmarms and nurses—the caring professions—but it’s hard to deny that voters consistently respond more enthusiastically to blood and teeth on the floor than they do to “positive politics” and pious politeness. (My MLA’s wife looked appalled when I said that to him on my veranda, but he, being the actual candidate, assured me that Horgan wouldn’t disappoint —and they both won their seats and the government.) So, what is it that repeatedly undercuts the NDP with freely-landed undercuts and jabs from their partisan rivals?
IMHO, a party which spends so much time in the wilderness tends to be populated with volunteers who tend to be the most dedicated, ideological of members. Unfortunately, those high ideals of civility and decorum are not what’s needed during the campaign phase of politics. When I complained about a party hack being altogether too dedicated to the ideal, his boss replied: “Well, yeah, but he’s been with the party for a long time,” I guess meaning he was owed the position.
Rachel Notley’s NDP has the salutary feature that it’s actually been in power and, hopefully, it fully understands the appropriate place for idealism (for example, in proselytizing and policy-making) is not the bear-pit of the campaign. “Campaign” refers to “war,” after all.
Let’s not blame the Dippers for keeping their powder dry thus far: these are extremely anomalous times—especially in Alberta, after all. But the time is at hand to—please excuse me—split a few lips and bust a few heads for the sake of a better world. Sound contradictory? Well, “what about” Danielle Smith’s dotty vision for a great federate of a great nation?
Get ready, my Alberta friends.
Scotty: Tommy was a boxer as well as a Protestant preacher. Manitoba lightweight champ in 1922. In the six-round fight in which he won the championship, he came out with a broken nose and several fewer teeth – and you shouldda seen the other guy! He was not a political pacifist. DJC
Correct: I can’t imagine Tommy sitting back at taking it. But I can really imagine some modern-day Dippers seeing him that way. It’s frustrating as hell.
I agree, in fact I’ve been thinking this ever since Christmas, to the point where I have been wondering do we need a new leader who will get out and fight. To hell with niceties, ad hominem attacks directed at Smith are necessary to counter the lies she spews on a daily basis. I am in a state of disbelief at how our party is handling this election, the most important in our history. If Notley doesn’t get into the game soon then we’re doomed to four more years of this woman who will undoubtedly take us down the Trumpian path to fascism and the end of democracy, because if Smith wins it will open the door to the national CPC to take the next federal election despite the fact that PP is as bad a leader as Smith, if not worse.
There is no hyperbole here, it is time to get the fight on NOW.
Tell me what I want to hear to get elected . Whenever you are gifted with a banking error in your favor you spend it like a drunken sailor Klein in the local watering hole for example what’s Danielle Smith’s favourite Calgary watering hole ? #PetroTreasury #ableg
I believe the NDP is more trustworthy, serious and competent than the UCP; as an independent I will be voting for them.
Here is my try for a slogan:
Good jobs, good economy, good health.
For a stable and secure tomorrow.
OK, I’ve never even considered voting NDP, but two things stand out:
– Smith may have surreptitiously innolculated herself from revelations of past starements. Considerable dirty laundry has already been aired and yet all of the supposed bad things that result from holding unacceptable views haven’t happened. Kind of like everybody already knew Ralph Klein drank too much
-the electorate doesn’t believe that any politician can truely move the needle on the entrenched health and education systems, so those issues won’t resonate
IMHO Brian Mason is spot on.
He is ringing the alarm. I hope some is listening. Perhaps time for some Party personnel and strategy changes.
When Adrian Dix declared a “positive politics” campaign policy (2013 election) where BC NDP candidates were not permitted to attack the corrupt BC Liberal record but only to speak in Dipper platitudes, many protested that his rival Christy Clark had no qualm about going negative on the NDP, or attacking its leader on made-up controversies or purely by ad hominem. As the campaign began, NDP in-house survey indicated that its 20-point lead going int to campaign was rapidly evaporating as Dix, taking the high road, ignored baseless but damaging accusations and mischaracterizations while whistling pretty policy tunes through the graveyard. Colleagues and former NDP big wigs including interim leaders and, no less, the former Premier, Mike Harcourt, begged Dix to up his game and parry against BC Liberal leader Christy Clark’s daily stream of free vitriol, to go to the hair salon and to the tailor—but would he listen?
Put it this way: Harcourt publicly announced he was tearing up his party membership in protest in Dix’s stubbornness and laudable but woefully misplaced ethics—even as in-house polling showed disaster approaching (seemingly acknowledged with a last minute flurry of campaign stops all around the province that only made the NDP look suddenly desperate to reverse course). Result: the most disappointing NDP campaign since Dave Barrett lost the NDP’s first term of government in 1975 almost four decades earlier.
Tons of good advice but did the party leader listen?
In 2015 Notley campaigned on praising Peter Lougheed for what he had done for Albertans and promised to increase corporate taxes and royalties back up to his levels. It got her elected. From a bankers stand point the fact that Alberta was in financial ruin and Norway and Alaska weren’t proved she was right, and every lawyer, accountant, oilman, banker and former MLA from the Lougheed era I talked to agreed. However the international oil industry crash of 2014 made it impossible to raise them quickly and it was decided to do it gradually and she increased corporate taxes by 2%, and its my understanding that she was planning to begin increasing royalties in 2021, but never got the chance. However I fully agree she had better start telling us what her plans are and what she spent money on trying to fix the mess she inherited or she will get defeated. She is constantly being blamed for creating the debt while building 55 schools we desperately needed, there are four in my area of Edmonton. What scares me the most is that we will see another stupid Ralph Klein situation where conservatives state that there is nothing conservative about Smith, and they only vote conservative, so they refuse to vote. One was my late father after he had donated around $30,000. to the Alberta Conservative Party over the years he refused to vote for Klein. Of course knowing him personally like our family did had a lot to do with it, we knew what a jerk he was. Klein was getting majorities with only 32% of the vote , and our senior friends who worked at the polling stations were only seeing ignorant seniors voting , who were believing every lie he told them. There are some very intelligent people writing on David’s blog and we all need to send emails to Rachel outline our concerns and what she should be doing to get herself elected. There are just too many stupid seniors in this province who are believing every lie these Reformers feed them and she likely can use our help.I knew her dad when I was manager of the Royal Bank in Peace River and I was very impressed with him, too bad he isn’t here to give her some advise, I bet he could have. So let’s give her ours, it may help her out.
Michelle Obama once said “When they go low, we go high…”
The message for Notley and the ABNDP: Go high and blow their f&*$# heads off!
Seriously. There is no point soft-selling their message when the average Alberta voter is a complete moron. Over the last three years, the UCP has provided amp evidence that they will steal anything that isn’t nailed down. Worse, they will begin promised spending initiatives, before yanking them the day after the election.
Think it will never happen? In the aftermath of the 1988, Mulroney’s PCs promised an abundance of programs that included everything, including a national daycare strategy. In fact, the PCs were in a bidding war with the NDP during that election, while John Turner and the Liberals preached austerity. Mulroney was swept to his second majority. The very next day, Finance Minister Michael Wilson had to deliver the bad news to Canadians that they had been had; there would be no increased health care spending, or daycare strategy, or whatever else Mulroney promised in his fits of hyperbole and desperation.
Smith intends to follow the same play.
I live in Rachel Notley’s riding, and I have been thinking about this issue for a while now. On December 28, 2022, I sent this email to her office:
“I’ve seen many news articles in which Rachel Notley speaks out against the UCP. I agree that most of what the UCP is doing is appalling, and I agree that Rachel needs to call them on it.
The problem as I see it is that the NDP is trying to use logic and facts against an opponent that targets people who want easy solutions, even when there are none.
Beat them at their own game. They have Experienced, Caring, Decisive. They have Alberta Strong and Free.
Maybe the NDP could adopt Healthcare, Housing, and Hope as a slogan. All of them are in short supply these days, and specific promises around all of them can be expanded on in longer news articles and social media posts.
I know that the NDP has good ideas and excellent candidates ready for the next election. It just seems to me that you are overestimating both the intelligence and the attention span of the average voter.”
I have heard nothing back.
Tis all the captured (Rick Bell et al., The Herald, Global &c.) and beggared media (CBC) feeling obliged to “two-sides to the story” that allows the UCP to set the message
I find it a very sorry state of affairs if what politics in Canada has become; is an ugly, dirty, dishonest campaign of lies, misinformation and manipulation of the electorate. As my sister said to me today, what ever happened to politicians being civil servants, representing the people? Everything I’ve noticed in the last 3 yrs of Canadian politics is a creeping sludge of t’rump brand underhanded rhetoric, glorified by the Post and it’s subsidiaries. The fact that they can get away with marketing that slimy cesspool of scum Peterson shows that the D Pecker style of media is alive and well in Canada.
That PP’S and Dani’s base are falling into the t’rump trap is not just sad, it’s maddening. Add mad Max, in their, stirring the pot and the results are not going to be pretty.
Case in point, and with my sincere apologies to the good people of St Albert, but what were the rest thinking when they elected M Cooper?? Again IMHO;
that is one of the sorriest things of a politician, I have witnessed .
If Skippy was Harper’s chihuahua, then, he is PP’S snarling, sneering raccoon. Having managed to survive the era of “the little woman ” ,his misogynistic, contemptuous attitude is a step back in time, and I believe that most women are as repelled by that smug condescending attitude as I am. With PP deliberately missing the speech of the head of the EU, Ursula von der Leyden, it speaks volumes to where he gets his talking points from.
AND just a sidebar, why the heck isn’t somebody making a ruckus about the ‘menage a trois’ of PP , Ana & Cooper, milking the taxpayers with their housing scheme, all the while PP’S plopping pellets about how only he can fix Canada’s housing problems–makes me start gnashing my teeth….Bring it home, the latest sound bite, where he seems never to be as he’s off ” campaigning “, and why hasn’t Elections Canada tagged him for it ? and for what its worth, if he does get elected, between him & his “bring home the mines” and that lawsuit from the Australian coal mining co. , that Dani hasn’t mentioned once, goodbye parks, indigenous people’s claims be darned, PP is going to give them all their rights to look after themselves and if they fall for it, bring on FIPA…
The same applies to the Bcup( in BC), so I guess that the NDP is trying to maintain a level of what remains as a civilized society without resorting to the denigrated tactics of the UCP. It says alot that conservatives are speaking out, and also makes me reconsider the rumors that Erin O’toole was the victim of a coup by Skippy & co….especially with all the talk of “Beijing “…
Oh to be able to pick up a newspaper and get actual information from investigative reporters, or watch the news and not get fluff . Everytime I have trouble accessing this site I worry, and with Google’s attempts at intimidation for access to news, I feel like we’re one step closer to having the rug pulled out from under us.
For the future of my family and friends in Alberta, I hope that RN can find a way to not have to resort to the base tactics, but sometimes you have to speak at the level of the people you’re trying to get through to, as much as it goes against the grain. Risk or reward ???
Regardless of the comms and Smith sort of holding her tongue so to speak, the bottom line is while it may appear as though she is privoting, her heart is clearly still with private for pay health care, Alberta police force and and Alberta Pension. None of these things are good for Albertans and despite what she or others might say, she has not moved on that.
While I liked the Oscars ad, I fell that the NDP need to showcase their bench strength. Get their critics out there talking about their areas of concern and how they’d fix it.
Follow up: PP doing a presser in New Westminister Tues—-
a “Polievre Government”**
will sue big Pharma for $44 billion……
(Okay boys and girls, can you say dicktator , correction, all us common people…WTF already??)
what does this have to do with Rachel and the NDP..??
==health care/ funding/ drug addiction/ therapy options etc. and another step in the privatization of said “health care “.
PP was doing his usual,; yada yada–Trudeau–yada yada 8yrs yada –Liberals/NDP drugs-yada yada.
Now the interesting part, he said he was at the Last Door, and going on about all the fine work they do…..so I had to go searching and got an eyefull.
I guess they should do great work
if the going rate starts at $15,000+ for a 45 day plan,
yikes …alittle more research and lo and behold….crumb trail includes Danielle Smith, Jason Kenny, Marshall Smith, Wilson aka Mr Lululemon himself with a topping of $500+ per ticket at conference, paid by the government of Alberta….well sounds totally legit right??
impo….if it looks like a skunk,acts like a skunk, you shouldn’t automatically think Pepe` la Phew, that’s for us Gen Z’s or something like that, I’ve given up trying to figure it out.
Anyway, thanks to Press Progress
‘Recovery Industry ‘ groups attacking safe supply in BC ,have
deep ties with conservative political actors…..well worth the read.
PP did his little schpiel, answered “5 ” questions that were allotted to the media, though the answers weren’t what was asked, as per usual, then , as per usual, hightailed it out of Last Door on to another photo OP., hoping that he wouldn’t find Premier Eby anywhere close by, or he’d have some explaining to do.
So about the 6 (?) other treatment centers that Danielle was touting? Now there’s something for RN and her staff to look into, ad to the list, at least.
and DJC , maybe you can answer question that was brought up, what would be the difference between the BC Gov class action lawsuit and PP saying he was going to’ sue them ‘ ..??
I don’t think “RN” is too keen on turning over that particular rock. This was the situation in 2009:
“NDP calling for youth centre investigation
By Gwendolyn Richards
The Calgary Herald
The provincial NDP’s children and youth services critic is calling for an investigation into an addictions recovery centre in Calgary following reports some teens were victims of abuse.
Edmonton-Strathcona MLA Rachel Notley made the call for the investigation following question period Tuesday, where the issue was raised…
Notley said the government has an obligation to examine the allegations.”
What became of that investigation by 2018:
“Thank you for your email regarding your experience with the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre (AARC).
I am very sorry to hear about your negative experiences with AARC, and that they have sued xxxx xxxxx and others who appeared on CBC’s The Fifth Estate. The Government of Alberta is aware of AARC and its treatment model and shares many of your concerns.
…Thank you for reaching out to help us understand your concerns with private addiction operators. The Minister of Health will be in touch with updates as regulations are developed.
Premier of Alberta”
“Please click below to listen to the three radio interviews that CHQR 770’s Danielle Smith conducted in lieu of emceeing AARC’s 2020 Miracle Gala, which was cancelled due to COVID-19.”
Someone once said, “never underestimate the stupidity of the average voter.” Many Albertans must be suckers for punishment, because they keep shooting themselves in the foot.
The Alberta NDP has lost touch with their base, the working people of Alberta. Brian Mason is a perfect example of who they once represented he was a bus driver after all. In Red Deer they are running a senior municipal bureaucrat lawyer who didn’t miss a pay cheque during the pandemic. The NDP could have exploited the Kenney government’s pandemic response but it is hard to do when you select a candidate who is tied to that response. Regardless of your opinion on the pandemic response this type of person doesn’t connect with the traditional working class base of the NDP who suffered under restrictions.
If the NDP is serious about winning they would speak directly to their base, not union leadership but the actual union workers. Not the ATA but actual teachers in the classroom. When the NDP went negative in the last campaign things went off the rails. As I see it there are similarities between those 2 parties south of the border, the UCP is the party of business but the NDP has become the party of big multi-national business. If Notley wants to be the successor to Lougheed’s legacy she needs to do what PC governments of old did successfully, reign in the extreme elements of the party.
I think the ND’s should focus HARD on public healthcare. It is THE single most important issue in the province, if not the country. NDs also need more candidates like Gwendolyn from Medicine Hat, who won’t talk down to so-called average Albertans, or view them as Convoy Con-artist wannabes. And I really don’t think the “celebrity candidate” personalized appeal messages work at all. Glad BM has spoken up.
First things first, all. Paint your opponent in colours the voting public will remember, hopefully they see black. Make sure the public sees them for their continuing bad work. Governments defeat themselves. Then when you have accomplished this, proceed to present a realistic, and optimistic program for the future. Amend the platform in campaign,if needed, to insert advantageous wedges. Such as, maybe improving the highway to Fort McMurray or such, or money for Preventive Social Services perhaps? And a bit of luck helps (think lake of fire.)
Vote! In Canada, it’s so easy, no long lineups, lots of voting places, early voting for weeks! Just try to vote in certain southern US states (I’m a dual).
Vote. It takes a few minutes of time, that’s it!
Your decision lasts at least 4 years! We Albertans are smart and fair.
Very thoughtful and provocative comments and all seem to have the same theme, that the NDs have got a lot of work to do if they hope to be the victor in this election. Never have they had so much to work with yet seem to be so silent on pushing back on the failures, lies, disinformation and misinformation we hear every day from Dani and her govt. . Notice also how Smith has gone silent on Rstar, pensions and police. This needs to be Addressed because sure as the day is long all of this will be pushed on us just like the Sovereignty Act was. We cannot let the UCP back in power, most of DS’s associates are former Wild Rose so we will get the extremist far right party if she wins the election. Also, none of what was promised in that inflated budget will come to pass.
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