Yesterday was the official start of the Alberta NDP leadership race and Kathleen Ganley was the first to make official what pretty well everyone in political Alberta already knew – to wit, that, yes, the former justice minister is running to replace Rachel Notley as the leader of the Opposition party.
It’s been pretty obvious this was going to happen since Jan. 10, when the Calgary-Mountain View MLA posted a video that was widely seen as a soft launch of her campaign – even though it was nearly a week before Ms. Notley announced she was stepping down. About all Ms. Ganley said on that video was that she grew up here and knew who she was.
So we can now say that Ms. Ganley, the first to unofficially announce her campaign, is also the first to make it officially official with a polished website, a slick campaign video, and a long list of endorsements, including some from big name New Democrats like former environment minister Shannon Phillips and former community and social services minister Irfan Sabir, her campaign co-chairs.
Others offering their endorsements include former municipal affairs minister Danielle Larivee, Calgary-North East MLA Gurinder Brar, environmentalist Kevin Van Tighem, and retired CUPE Alberta president Marle Roberts.
The list also includes Jeremy Nolais, her campaign manager, which seems slightly unorthodox – but maybe that’s just me. Under the circumstances, he’d better endorse her!
“The UCP have the wrong priorities – they’re hurting families and they’re bad for business,” Ms. Ganley said in her announcement.
“What this province needs is less drama,” the Calgary lawyer continued – which, it’s fair to say, Ms. Ganley is quite capable of delivering. “It needs experienced and competent leadership, focused on what matters most.”
The danger, of course – and perhaps the opportunity for some other candidate with a Calgary postal code – is that despite the governing United Conservative Party’s terrible policies, too many voters in Calgary may perversely enjoy the drama stirred up by Premier Danielle Smith, even if they agree the results do far more harm than good.
Within the next few days, readers can count on MLAs Sarah Hoffman, Rakhi Pancholi, and David Shepherd all to officially announce that they too are in the race.
Ms. Hoffman, the MLA for Edmonton-Glenmore and the capable health minister in Ms. Notley’s cabinet from 2015 to 2019, also released a soft-launch video on Jan. 27 saying that she was resigning her party positions and was “filled with hope and optimism for the future of our party.”
Ms. Pancholi is the MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud and Mr. Shepherd is MLA for Edmonton-City Centre, and for them as for Ms. Ganley and Ms. Hoffman it’s tactically important that they start their campaigns as soon as possible after lining up the $60,000 fees required to enter the race and enough extra cash to spend decently on the effort. Candidates are limited to spending $500,000 on their campaigns.
As for former Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi – who as noted in this space yesterday is enjoying showers of Nenshimania in media and among members of the public – he can afford to perform the dance of a thousand veils about his intentions for a little longer to see if the enthusiasm continues to build.
Assuming the party grants him a waiver for not having been a member long enough, like any other candidate he has until March 15 before having to put up or shut up.
In Ottawa to open office and gaslight, Danielle Smith draws fire and ire
Meanwhile, UCP Premier Danielle Smith was in Ottawa yesterday, officially to open a symbolic Alberta office in the national capital, but also deliver a performance of her characteristic aggressive gaslighting and be seen defending her government’s anti-trans policies, complaining there are too many French-speaking federal civil servants, and barking about the Trudeau Government’s clean energy regulations.
The premier has never been shy about confronting the federal Liberals, who have seldom been very aggressive in response.
But facing an energized Conservative Opposition, both Liberal and New Democrat MPs seem to have been inspired to stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage, as someone said.
For their part, Conservative MPs have been ordered to keep their lips zipped, which is probably wise given their comfortable position in the polls.
Never really having experienced meaningful pushback, it’ll be interesting to see how Ms. Smith reacts – not to mention what public opinion does as a result.