Take a deep breath. We are in the final stretch before an imminent spring election, and in today’s first installment reviewing the preparedness of Alberta’s political parties we’ll be doing a deep dive on the NDP.
When the NDP and Rachel Notley won in 2015, it took almost everybody by surprise and brought in a new class of MLAs without much political experience. As they prepare for the election as the incumbent you would expect the circumstances surrounding nominations to be quite different with hotly contested nominations and strong interest in running for the government of the day.
Instead, at this point in time, there have only been four ridings where more than one individual put their name forward for a nomination, and only two contested nominations: one in St. Albert where sitting MLA Marie Renaud defeated her caucus colleague Trevor Horne, and the other in Calgary-North East that resulted in allegations of voter fraud after Gurbachan Brar defeated Roop Rai.
As of January 11, the NDP have nominated candidates in 37 of 87 ridings, with 23 additional nominations scheduled to take place between today and February 7, 2019.
A full list of individuals registered as NDP nomination contestants with Elections Alberta is accessible here.
Ridings to watch
Former city councillor and current Finance Minister Joe Ceci will be running in Calgary-Buffalo, moving over from Calgary-Fort where he found electoral success in 2015. In the previous election he won 49.8 percent of the vote with the previous PC and Wildrose parties getting 44 per cent combined in Calgary-Fort.
In Calgary-Buffalo he will be up against Tom Olsen as the UCP candidate who worked as a journalist and as director of media relations under the previous PC government. Chemical engineer Omar Masood has also been nominated for the Alberta Party in the riding.
Current Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley has moved from her current riding of Calgary-Buffalo to the open seat of Calgary-Mountain View, vacated by outgoing Liberal MLA David Swann. In 2015 she captured 35.1 per cent of the vote in Calgary-Buffalo, with the previous PC and Wildrose parties getting 38.3 percent combined.
This is a race to watch for a vote split between four very competent candidates, including Ganley, Liberal leader David Khan, UCP candidate Caylan Ford and familiar name from the 770 CHQR drive home show Alberta Party candidate Angela Kokott.
Anne McGrath has been acclaimed as the NDP candidate in this riding. McGrath ran twice in the 1990s for the federal NDP before becoming a political operative for the NDP federally, serving as Jack Layton’s chief of staff and director of political operations for the NDP.
She moved back to Alberta to serve in various capacities for Premier Notley, including most recently as executive director of the Premier’s southern Alberta office. She will be up against Jason Copping for the UCP, who won the nomination by defeating five other candidates and Alberta Party candidate Beth Barberree who captured 4.5 per cent of the vote for the party in Calgary-Hawkwood in 2015.
Previous NDP federal candidate Janis Irwin will be carrying the flag for the NDP party as former leader and well-liked MLA Brian Mason retires. In 2015, Mason captured 78.1 per cent of the vote in this riding. Irwin has served as Director of Stakeholder Relations for the Premier since April 2018 and is well regarded in the party and her community.
In the federal 2015 election, Irwin narrowly lost out to CPC candidate Kerry Diotte in Edmonton Griesbach which overlaps with the provincial riding.
The UCP have yet to select a candidate in this constituency, but this is about as sure of a bet for the NDP as any seat in Edmonton (aside from Edmonton-Strathcona, Notley’s home riding). Tish Prouse has been selected as the candidate for the Alberta Party.
Campaign war chest
The most recently available financial numbers from the NDP show that from January 1, 2018 to September 30, 2018 the party raised $1,862,378.50 from donors. You can expect that number to climb when fourth quarter numbers become available with a strong push for end of year and the NDP’s convention taking place from October 26-28 of last year.
You can also expect the NDP to be running a very different campaign from 2015, when the NDP started in a perceived distant third and had total expenses of $1,635,991.36 compared to the $4.3 million spent by the incumbent PC party.
The NDP are anticipated to run on the strength of their leader Rachel Notley’s brand as opposed to the NDP banner, and have yet to release a campaign platform. In the 2015 election their platform was released April 19, a full 12 days after the election was called.
As previously mentioned in the Roundup, a good hint at themes the NDP government will point to in the election can be found in the end of year statements sent out - stating that Alberta’s economic recovery continues under their watch, that they’re putting families firstwith programs like $25 a day daycare and building new schools, and making post secondary education more affordable.
Check back next week for a rundown of the United Conservative Party and their election readiness efforts leading up to the spring election.