Alberta NDP members are openly discussing splitting from the federal party after delegates agreed to support "Toronto political dilettantes" and their "garbage" Leap Manifesto at the party's national convention in Edmonton.
"I'm spitting angry," says Alberta labour leader Gil McGowan. "These downtown Toronto political dilettantes come to Alberta and track their garbage across our front lawn."
- Rachel Notley stands firm for pipelines at national NDP conference
- Leap Manifesto: NDP agrees to explore staunch stance on fossil fuels
- Mulcair 'a lame duck,' says political scientist on NDP convention results
- Rejecting Mulcair, NDP delegates vote in favour of new leadership race
The manifesto, which advocates a swift end to the use of fossil fuels, including a moratorium on new infrastructure projects such as pipelines, was spearheaded by documentary filmmaker Avi Lewis and his wife, anti-capitalism activist and author Naomi Klein.
McGowan said some Alberta NDP delegates were so upset over the document, they began to talk about separating from their federal counterparts.
"Members started coming to me to say, 'We have to write a resolution to our provincial convention to split from the federal party.'
"Those discussions are going on right now," said McGowan.
While Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and her cabinet ministers spoke out against the manifesto during the weekend, a motion adopting the principles of the document passed narrowly Sunday — opening the door to further debate.
"We had nothing to do with this nonsense," McGowan told CBC's Edmonton AM radio show on Monday.
McGowan, a party delegate and former federal NDP candidate, called support for the manifesto an "incredibly poor strategic decision" and "bad political optics."
'The people who wrote this very naive document have just handed a big stick to the Wildrose and the PCs.' -Gil McGowan, Alberta labour leader
"They didn't give any thought to the political problems they're creating for NDP in Alberta," he said. "They didn't give any credit for the work the Alberta government has been doing on climate change … the best climate change policies in the country, bar none."
The motion puts the Alberta New Democrats in an awkward position, he said.
"The people who wrote this very naive document have just handed a big stick to the Wildrose and the PCs," McGowan said.
In fact, Wildrose Leader Brian Jean wasted no time in calling the document "a radical anti-Alberta resolution," while Alberta PC Leader Ric McIver linked the Notley government to "radical socialist ideology."
The manifesto will be discussed in every NDP riding and brought back to the national party convention in two years, a year before the Alberta provincial election.
"It breaks my heart," McGowan said. "We finally elect a progressive government in Alberta and these people are not giving them room to govern."
But it was on a personal level he felt most betrayed, he said.
As a labour leader, the manifesto's disregard for working people annoyed McGowan the most.
"It makes them feel good to say that we have to deal with climate change and shut down the fossil fuel industry, but they ignore what they say has real implications for real people."