Vowing to reinvest in education, make “bold reforms” necessary to fix health care, and put an end to plans to fire the RCMP and gamble with Albertans’ pensions, NDP Leader Rachel Notley accepted the nomination for her Edmonton-Strathcona riding yesterday. 

NDP MLAs Rakhi Pancholi (Edmonton-Whitemud) and Marie Renaud (St. Albert) after Ms. Notley’s speech (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

More than 1,000 people packed the atrium of the Productivity and Innovation Centre at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton to lustily cheer Ms. Notley’s nomination – and her nominators, Raj Pannu, who served as Edmonton-Strathcona’s MLA from 1997 to his retirement in 2008, and seconder Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, the party’s candidate in Edmonton-Rutherford.

Many of the party’s candidates from throughout Alberta were on the stage as well.

By any measure, it was a rousing speech suitable for the start of an election campaign in which, as Ms. Notley put it, “the choice in front of Albertans as we head into this election is stark.”

She excoriated Premier Danielle Smith and the record of the United Conservative Party. 

“Instead of demonizing teachers, firing educational assistants, cutting supports from vulnerable students, and forcing them to learn the most backwards curriculum in 50 years,” she promised, an NDP government would reinvest in classrooms, hire more teachers and educational assistants, and write a better school curriculum than the almost universally criticized version introduced by the UCP. 

Nominator Raj Pannu and seconder Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

And “instead of letting costs for families run out of control like the UCP did when they gave the big car insurance companies permission to jack up your premiums, or when they put in fake relief for the utility prices they allowed to go up, relief that you have to pay back when the polls close, we will do better.

“We will get your insurance costs under control, we will deal with skyrocketing utility rates to bring your costs down now and long after the election,” she said – sometimes barely audible over the cheers from the crowd. 

“Instead of multibillion-dollar handouts for big corporations, Alberta’s NDP will set the policies that draw new investment and create the jobs of the future,” she continued. 

“None of this ‘RStar’ free cash for Danielle Smith’s donors who don’t want to clean up after themselves,” she said. “We will lead our energy industry into the future.”

“Instead of fighting with health care workers and making Albertans pay more for their health care, even as it becomes harder to access, we will make the bold reforms necessary to ensure another million Albertans have access to doctors and family health teams,” Ms. Notley said. “Because we know that better health care starts with better primary care. It starts in the doctor’s office.”

NDP candidates Karen Shaw (Morinville-St. Albert) and Bill Tonita (Strathcona-Sherwood Park) warm up the crowd (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

“And friends, speaking of health care, only Danielle Smith could look at what’s going on around her and still try to tell Albertans, ‘the crisis is over’! The crisis, over? Seriously? I dare her to look in the eyes of the nurses and support workers on their second mandatory overtime shift, nearing collapse, and tell them the crisis over!”

“The truth is,” Ms. Notley said, “Danielle Smith doesn’t have the answers because she’s never spoken to those Albertans … who know what really matters.” How else, she asked, can we explain unpopular UCP schemes like replacing the RCMP with a provincial police force or eliminating the Canada Pension Plan? 

“They won’t say it out loud, but the UCP braintrust is absolutely coming for your pension,” Ms. Notley stated. “But, my friends, know this: Alberta’s NDP will be there and we will never let the UCP or Danielle Smith get their hands on it.”

It’s hard to argue with Ms. Notley when she says that “when the UCP’s primary campaign strategy is to keep their leader away from the microphone, that’s how you know that you cannot trust her or her party to run this province.

“On all the issues that matter to Albertans in this election – health care, education, affordability, jobs – Danielle Smith is the wrong person to tackle them.” 

Ms. Notley described the moment after the NDP’s election loss in 2019 when she decided to stay on as party leader and fight the serial reversal of NDP policies wrought by the UCP, including the right of students to form Gay-Straight Alliances in their schools. The UCP legislation that removed that right was known as Bill 8. 

The notorious social media shot of UCP MLAs splashing in the Legislature fountain in 2019 after they voted to eliminate GSAs in schools (Photo: Twitter/Ric McIver).

Said Ms. Notley: “It was in the middle of the summer of 2019, not long after the election, when every single UCP MLA, giddy with excitement, walked down the front steps of the Legislature and started splashing around in the fountains as if they were the cast of Friends!” 

The photo appeared on the screen behind her. 

“Looks like they’re having fun, right? Folks, let me tell you, these are the faces of the UCP about 30 minutes after they passed ‘Bill Hate’ and removed the right for kids to form a GSA at school! 

This is how your UCP Government celebrated the decision to end protections against bullying for children who just needed a place to feel safe! And, my friends, that lit a fire in me!”

Albertans are better than this, Ms. Notley asserted, and “New Democrat values are Alberta values …”

New Democrats, she said, believe “that public education is the great equalizer.

“And that public health care is something to be cherished, improved, and protected, at all cost.

“That in a fair and prosperous economy, every single worker deserves fair pay, fair benefits, a safe workplace and fair representation.” (None of the dire predictions about the $15 minimum wage introduced by the NDP came true, she noted.) 

“And, finally, we believe in respect for the dignity and human rights that each and every one of us was born with.

“Those are our values, and those are Alberta values.”

NOTE: Click here to hear my recording of Ms. Notley’s nomination acceptance speech. Sound quality is imperfect and applause at times makes it difficult to hear what she is saying. Nevertheless, most of it is there. DJC

Ms. Notley on stage during her remarks, NDP candidates from throughout Alberta behind her (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Join the Conversation


  1. You sort of see the battle lines being drawn for the upcoming election. The NDP wants it to be about health care and education and the UCP about Alberta first and fighting Trudeau. These are all important issues, that appeal a lot to existing constituencies for both parties, but I think big issues for undecided or less partisan voters will be other things like affordability and competence.

    The UCP has probably spent enough on health care to avoid major crisis in the news in the next few months, but has not done enough to really fix it. People familiar with the health care system likely see and get this, but most were probably not big UCP voters anyways. The Feds seem to be doing their best to avoid confrontation with the Alberta government for now, taking away Smith’s talking point about fighting them.

    The UCP may think it has the affordability issue covered, but a temporary $100 a month that not everyone who needs it actually gets and which ends right after the election really doesn’t cut it. Similarly, they have also shuffled around the problem with electricity rates to later, by giving rebates now that will result in higher bills later. That’s the deferred part they don’t like to mention. They haven’t really done much about insurance rates, other than hope Albertans don’t notice how much lower they are in other provinces. However, that type of comparison information is easy to put in campaign brochure for the NDP.

    As for competence, Smith is capable of being a smooth communicator at times and has managed to keep her MLAs from quitting in large numbers, although I think there may still be some quiet quitting going on before the election. She has managed to stop talking about her kooky COVID and separatist ideas for now, but notably hasn’t actually disavowed them. I think her strategy to win enough support will be to promise more spending over the next few months than was in the budget, which while it had a lot of dollars, was still somehow more underwhelming than expected. This ought to really turn off the half or so of the UCP that claim to be fiscal conservatives, but perhaps there is no alternative for them other than to just stay home, although I guess there is always the Alberta party. The Alberta NDP had the misfortune to govern during more economically difficult times, but otherwise generally comes across as more competent.

    1. Neil: I have added a recording of the speech to the post. Saved that for today because it always takes me about an hour to figure out how to do it. DJC

  2. At the moment, the worst issue facing Notley and the NDP is themselves. The messaging seems to be off. While they are promising to restore funding and reason to public services management, this doesn’t place them that far off from where Danielle Smith and the UCP are right now. None have hammered home the reality that Smith intends to withdraw every single spending iniative they reluctantly presented in their last budget. The UCP broke all the furniture, but now they want to repair some of it, but they also have every intention of breaking even that furniture after the election. Notley hasn’t stressed that the UCP is a government of clowns or, worse, sociopaths. They actually enjoy lying and gaslighting, because it’s their fun activity. Moreover, throwing money at a crisis in the hope that it goes away isn’t an act of good governance. Again, it’s the work of sociopaths.

    It should also be promoted, though it may not be, that Take Back Alberta is aggressively moving to not only eliminate the nominations of troublesome UCP MLAs (those not loyal to TBA) but they are also moving to threaten voters who are doubtful of the UCP’s intentions. Notley must warn that the next election will be filled with voter intimidation

  3. Some of the most expensive healthcare in the world and she wants to give the maw more. Figures. Question is, how is she going to afford it. Expensive government services have to be paid for by private sector taxes. How is she going to afford increased monies to the public sector? Oh wait, more taxes, what was I thinking. That and universe juice. Sounds like the ndp.

  4. I have said it here before and I’ll say it again, the next election will be over the future and the very soul of Alberta. Will we be ruled by corporate fascists or by somewhat-sane centrists? The feel-good platitudes at the NDP convention may make some feel all warm and fuzzy inside but they are literally preaching to the choir. Notley had better be viewing this election as the most serious event of her/our lifetime because if the latest polls can be believed the moron voters of Alberta are leaning heavily towards the UCP yet again. If that’s true I guess you really can’t fix stupid.

  5. It sounds like Rachel Notley delivered an inspiring speech to the already committed. However, as an NDP supporter I am under-whelmed by what I have seen so far in the party’s public offerings. It is the same old health and education schtick as in the last go round and tweets about how wonderful our candidates are. In the meantime, every time I go on the internet, I am getting ads about affordable Alberta assistance (hooray UCP) or links to the 97 new taxes from the awful NDP. 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. I sincerely hope 1) that I start to see Rachel’s fighting spirit showing up in public on issues besides health and education, issues like UCP fiscal irresponsibility, my CPP and AB pensions, and a costly provincial police and 2) some effective use of communications strategies and media to get a winning message to Albertans. I have given generously to the party in the previous election and for the upcoming election. Now I am looking for them to show that they mean business!

  6. Perhaps, Rachel Notley should be a bit more specific about how to improve heath care. For example, stop privatization/use of private clinics paid for by AHS with public funds. It may cost about double for procedures done in a private clinic when compared to the cost of doing procedures through the public system with publicly funded staff, facilities etc.. (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) Also, promise to ensure that the provincial government will allocate the funds necessary to provide adequate health care through the public system.
    A second important issue is a plan to increase the number of places in Alberta medical schools.
    As far as increasing the number of residencies for doctors, including family physicians, is concerned, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons seems to be involved in this, so I’m not sure what mechanisms are available to increase residencies in Alberta. Maybe some other commenters understand this issue.
    As some commenters have written here, the NDP must broadcast its messages widely and ensure that Albertans see the NDP as force that will improve the life of citizens while being fiscally prudent. The message the austerity is essential has become so ingrained that many people now believe that providing anything for the common good is unaffordable, The NDP needs to develop a message that combats this perspective and persuades voters of the benefits of supporting public services and public facilities. Admittedly, this may be difficult to accomplish in the few weeks before the election.

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