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. 

Former environment minister Shannon Phillips, co-chair of Ms. Ganley’s campaign (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

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.

Former community and social services minister Irfan Sabir, the other co-chair of Ms. Ganley’s campaign (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

“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.”

Ganley campaign manager Jeremy Nolais (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

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. 

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is in Ottawa, trading shots with federal politicians (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

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.

Stay tuned! 

Join the Conversation


  1. And the race is on! A respectable number of good candidates and no landslide favorite should make this race interesting, generate more media coverage and get some public interest too.

    This is really what every party hopes for in a leadership race and in this case the NDP has also had the good sense not to fall into the trap of some others in the recent past and make it overly drawn out.

    This may also frustrate Smith, who I get the sense wants the spotlight to always be on her, for better or worse. It may lead Smith to do questionable or risky things to try draw back attention.

    On that note, Smith is in Ottawa on what should not be described as a charm offensive. She is probably about as welcome as a skunk at a garden party by her Federal Conservative colleagues, who probably wished she just opened that new provincial office in Ottawa via Zoom instead. After all, didn’t the antics of COVID Kenney sort of cost them the last election? Extreme and kooky provincial conservative premiers do not help them get or keep the support of moderate voters elsewhere that they will need to win the next Federal election.

    While this makes for an interesting break or get away for Smith, I’m not sure opening offices in other cities also really goes over that well with Alberta taxpayers, who are mindful of the additional expense. Its only early February and Smith seems to have been away a lot this year and when she’s been around, has been constantly stirring up controversy. The year is off to quite the start, but I’m not sure that is really a good sign for her politically.

  2. That’s not a very flattering photo of Marlaina Danielle Kolodnicki. Regardless of that, I have no respect for phony Conservatives and Reformers, who rob us of our oil and tax wealth, and use it to buy votes, or use it make their rich friends even richer, do the most priciest shenanigans, which lose us even more money, escalate poverty levels, wreck havoc on the public healthcare and public education systems, ruin the environment, cause utility costs to go to very unaffordable rates, and destroy jobs. This office in Ottawa is another foolish waste of money by the UCP. It will accomplish nothing of value. I didn’t expect to see a worse premier in Alberta than Ralph Klein, but here we are with Danielle Smith. We never saw this foolishness with Peter Lougheed, yet there are Albertans who are intent on blaming Rachel Notley and Justin Trudeau for the horrific mess these phony Conservatives and Reformers put us in. Peter Lougheed had cabinet ministers who praised Rachel Notley, because she was trying to get Alberta back on track with getting the proper oil royalty rates, and corporate tax rates that Peter Lougheed was getting, so important programs and services, as well as infrastructure, could get the proper funding they needed. I don’t see any sense in what the UCP are doing at all. I’m sure there are others who would agree with me.

    1. Someone here mentioned ‘Alberta’s oil and tax wealth’. Might I suggest that anytime you think of conservatives losing Alberta’s oil and (gas) wealth, remember that Alaska, starting their oil investment fund at the same time as Alberta, now have $47 billion compared to Alberta’s $22 billion. And Norway which is only slightly smaller than Alberta, and who started their sovereign wealth fund (oil money invested) fifteen years later, have a grand total of approximately $1.2 TRILLION.

      When the world moves away from oil as we must do if we care at all about our planet and being able to live here, which region do you think will be positioned to continuing their happy, thriving lifestyles? It will not be Alberta.

      These are figures to remember and points of concern, especially as these *&%^##*$ people now have Canadians CPP in their sites. An issue which is even more laughable considering the courts just ordered them to return the teachers pension fund back to Teachers Federation control after they very ‘ably’ lost $2.1 billion of it!

      I sure hope the new leader of the NDP party is as capable as I think Rachel Notley was and that as a group, they figure out the right moves to convince even the rural voters that UCP is not doing them any good at all.

  3. Ms. Ganley is no doubt sincere and competent. Unfortunately her milquetoast launch video and anodyne campaign website don’t really give any insight into how she plans to win over any of the rural or Calgary ridings that didn’t vote NDP in the last election, or how she intends to battle against the Smith/UCP gaslighting machine. If the offer of quiet, competent government was enough to win a general election we’d have a Notley government today so something more or different is clearly needed. These are early days in a long campaign and it makes sense to keep the powder dry, just so long as there is actually powder available and candidates intend to use it at some point.

  4. Interesting picture. Donning true tory blue and standing tall at the forefront of corporate Calgary’s headquarters. As libertarianism becomes more radical and moves further right the NDP seems to be caught in the slipstream.

  5. “imprecise communications”
    -MLA’s office — re: recording ban…( Chat News)
    We didn’t have enough time to correct, yada yada…sure !!

    Marlaina on P&Politics
    Q. what medical people did you speak to
    A. Lots….but I spoke to one woman who has had the surgery and she actually “sued the government ” and she regrets getting it done because she was pressured.
    So I have not been able to find anything about a lawsuit (Lois Cardinal)…anyone??

    Marlaina on X yesterday:

    “What an incredible turnout**
    “Thank you Ottawa for the wonderful reception at the Canada Strong &Free event this evening.”

    **She got an even bigger reception around the Macdonald building. I’m wondering why she didn’t mention them ? (tfic)

    subtext: PP getting caught emailing the caucus to ‘zip it’
    when asked to comment on DS’s policies proposal, pretending deafness “what was the last part of the question”…did a quick reprogramming and then plugged in the greatest hits—after 8 yrs, axe the tax, yada yada…When asked again, it is JT’s fault, of course, Premiers should look after education &healthcare.
    I wonder if someone should tell him that….never mind.

    And then we’ll have
    “Marlaina goes to Washington”.
    So that will be an interesting itinerary. Stay posted.

  6. So, Alberta has an *embassy* in Ottawa. Wow. Double-wow.

    Maybe Tucker Carlson can get Putin to be the first to recognize the Alberta Republic? Or Kingdom? Or, whatever asinine thing the UCP dream up.

  7. Kathleen Ganley is off to a great start in her leadership campaign.

    Today she was endorsed by former Alberta NDP Leader Raj Pannu, adding to an already impressive list of endorsements.

  8. Nice reference to Shakespeare’s Battle of Agincourt speech!
    When I first read it as a geeky 15-year-old, it really got my blood going.
    Thanks for posting the Ganley launch material. Methinks an exciting and energizing leadership race may lie ahead for the NDP.

    1. Thanks, Andy. It was you, of course, who reminded me, and what more could I say than, “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more”? DJC

  9. Somebody said Albertans will be mindful of the public expense Danielle Smith has committed to the Alberta Foreign Embassy in Canada’s Capital, but the UCP has committed so many wasteful sins, some so huge you can’t see both ends at the same time from anywhere but outer space, that she could install Sasquatch at the reception desk, give it a living-out allowance and a roll of Timbit tickets to hand out at the next Freedumb convoy —and still presume to win the next election.

  10. Marlaina on X-
    “I want to thank @James Dodds* for organizing an investor round table today in Toronto…….”

    * James Dodds-Director of Metrolinx.
    James is the bank’s strategy officer for the World Economic Forum (WEF) and has represented TD internationally…..

    Well, oops ,I certainly hope that Marlaina’s supporters don’t find out about this, awkward!!

  11. Ganley…..yawn.

    Does anyone know who the Ottawa ambassador will be at the Official Embassy of the Republic of Oilbertastan (RoO)? Did Ben Harper finally punch his ticket out of Hicksville and is now heading for the big city?

  12. Just a wry comment here. Pre 1984 in the Grant Notley era NDP signs, literature etc. were brown. Even photos in the literature got tinted brown. At present in Alberta the NDP literature is orange, and photos are untinted – a real improvement imho. If I understand it, Mr. Nenshi’s political colour is purple. Orange and purple blended together are, ready for it . . . brown. So is this some kind of harbinger of things to be?

  13. The mere fact that the term “Nenshimania” had to be coined based solely on the possibility he might run says a lot about the lack of enthusiasm for the establishment candidates who evoke more of a “meh” reaction.

    What the party needs is a populist, not a pragmatist – someone who can provide a bold, inspiring vision, not just different shades of Notley.

    1. Don’t forget that bold, “old” visions like universal public healthcare need to be protected else the reacto-visionaries at the TBAUCP pragmatically take it apart. Yeah, granted, it’s sort of ‘meh,’ —but it still needs to be done and it’s certainly going to get more popular the more the TBAUPC succeeds at wrecking public healthcare.

  14. It’s obvious to me that Smith is certain her pal Pierre Poilievre will win the federal election and she wants to be right there to help him any way she can and get perks for Alberta like our pension plan she is hellbent on stealing. I haven’t forgotten what the former MLAs taught me. While these reformers help the rich steal the peoples oil and tax wealth they will do anything to try to replace it with privatization or anything else they can get their hands on, like equalization payments.

  15. I think Kathleen Ganley would be a very good choice because she might be able to connect with the younger voters on a lot of issues.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.