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Why Rachel Notley can’t rely on Danielle Smith to stumble her way out of premier’s chair


In the midst of Danielle Smith’s incredible comments about Unrivaled “discrimination” against unvaccinated people and her apology for espousing Putin-friendly views during the invasion of Ukraine a few months ago, this seems to be exactly the first week the prime minister and her party could have dreamed of.

It’s the former prime minister and her party.

Smith’s damaging words, both live and recently pre-recorded, are a gift to Rachel Notley’s NDP, who can benefit simply by not being the one to say the troublesome things. so. And early poll numbers seems to be able to handle it.

These controversies did not stem from the NDP’s objectionable research, although it did put pressure on Smith’s self-inflicted wound by demanding an apology of both words.

Battle of the AGMs

There are more than 31 weeks left before the Albertans make a decision between these two main parties in the provincial elections in May, and this weekend offers a split-screen show of what’s to come.

The UCP held its annual general meeting at the Enoch Cree Nation outside Edmonton, while the Notley crew convened in Calgary, where both sides knew the election was likely to be won or lost.

At Smith’s rally, political watchers and conservatives alike will gauge the party’s degree of unity after a year of heavy turmoil that saw Jason Kenney out of office and a tighter race than expected. waited to replace him, which only brought Smith a win after a maximum of six votes. Not to mention these early bends ushered in the Premier Smith era.

There are long-standing controversies policy resolutions and an active group trying party table arrangement with his own rebels.

The NDP meeting is seen as a much softer, more upbeat meeting. The party, by all accounts, happily unites behind a leader set to contest a third consecutive election against an uncontested main rival. The big development that came out of that Calgary hotel ballroom? The official unveiling of the party’s new brand – a logo with blue skies over the mountains and orange prairies, and the phrase “Team Rachel Notley” front and center.

Brooks – Medicine Hat bypass candidate Gwendoline Dirk, left, holds up a sign with the new NDP logo and emphasis on their leader. (Twitter / Gwendoline Dirk)

It is soft-spoken on signs in the Brooks-Medicine Hat bypass. It’s no surprise to highlight a leader that the polls all have long display more popular than her party; but the most socialists in the ranks of the NDP might be bothered by the less subtle glow of Tory blue from a centre-left party seeking widespread appeal from disgruntled conservatives. (Previously there were also blue accents.)

Some New Democrats might be tempted to hope Smith stumbles further and misjudges will win them over – after all, it’s her notoriously evil pass from Wildrose going to the Tories helped sink the fortunes of both sides and brought the NDP to power in 2015 The Notley caucus almost never missed an opportunity to snipe at the UCP, as one of the few provincial levels for Canada’s establishment never gave in during the pandemic.

But many insiders will be looking at how well the first strike strategy went in 2019, when a lot of reliance on outside strategists. Jason Kenney scam and UCP candidates’ Comment problem led to the downfall of the government, dropping to 24 seats from 54 in the previous election.

And a hard math for the New Democrats.

In 2015, against both PC and Wildrose, they could win seats in Calgary, Banff and smaller centers with 35% of the vote or less. The same share of the vote in 2019 is good for heavy losses on those trips, meaning they have to vastly outperform the government’s winning results next time to have a shot. bring Notley back to the prime minister’s office.

Calgary à l’orange

NDP strategists realized that to expand beyond the party’s Edmonton base – with only five of its current 24 seats outside the capital – they had to bolster their reputation as inferior in terms of political power. economic problems, because of the memories of Notley’s not-so-pleasant performance as prime minister during Alberta’s severe economic downturn. Smith’s party will continue to see the NDP as economic wreckers, and tie her to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh of the federal NDP.

Can Notley distance itself from progressive Ottawa leaders and offer a credible vision for a future that requires more economic diversification, but a vision that doesn’t make executive suites either Or is the energy sector’s workforce going bad?

Her party has given some support on fighting inflation (such as expansion Provincial gas tax holiday) and more support for Downtown of Calgary, but the time for more policy is likely to draw closer to campaign season, when more public attention is given. For now, most of Notley’s effort is focused on just showing up in Calgary: her office says Edmontonians spend an average of two days a week in Cowtown, so much so that aides have been briefed on the matter. plan to rent her a place to stay instead of a hotel. .

Another key to building credibility that has largely ignored the NDP in previous elections is candidate selection. The 2015 win brought a lot of surprise winners and longtime candidates from NDP-friendly unions into office, and most were stuck for another (often unsuccessful) shot. in 2019.

Even a leadership-focused campaign could tend to promote some of her potential deputies in 2023. Veteran energy analyst Samir Kayande runs Calgary-Elbow also. drum; former vice president of economic development Calgary Court Ellingson won a contested nomination in Calgary – Foothills; and in Red Deer South, Barb Miller – a former Safeway cashier and labor organizer who won his seat in 2015 – lost the lawsuit to get back with Michelle Baer, ​​a former Red City attorney. Deer.

The NDP had 58 out of 87 candidates put forward midweek, compared with 36 for Smith’s party, according to follower nominated Dave Cournoyer.

As the campaign approaches, more attention will be focused on what Notley is offering. When the UCP describes the party as radical socialists, the NDP can position itself as the party of incrementalism and caution.

Danielle Smith waved to the crowd.
Danielle Smith celebrates after being selected as the new leader of the United Conservative Party. Focusing on attacking Jason Kenney in the 2019 election has failed to yield success, so Alberta’s NDP has no plans to rely on trying to cut Smith during next spring’s campaign. (Jeff McIntosh / Canadian Press)

Smith wants to boldly divorce Alberta from the federal pension plan and create a provincial police force, while bringing back the political smoke bomb of the Sovereignty Act; Notley did not want such risky measures. Smith will blow up Alberta’s Board of Health Services, while Notley is preaching modest changes aimed at expanding patient access. NDP leadership wants to go back to the old days of no fees for Kananaskis parks, and go back to the pre-Kenney process to update the educational program.

Terms like “authoritative” and “stable” often appear in NDP documents.

As for the second score, this Tuesday marks the eight-year anniversary of Rachel Notley as Alberta’s NDP leader. A different world of politics in Alberta at the time in 2014: Smith comfortably (apparently) leading the Wildrose opposition, Kenney was a cabinet minister in Stephen Harper’s federal government, and Jim Prentice was Wet feet and dry feet became the 16th Prime Minister of Alberta.

Smith is now the top 19, and Kenney puts Alberta in the unusual position of not having one, but two former prime ministers in the provincial legislature. The instability Smith brings may give No. 17 a better chance of making a comeback, but voters will first have to believe that veteran Notley and her party provide a political safe haven. treat.

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