Edmonton

Alberta NDP has sometimes 'fallen short' on respect for staff and volunteers, Notley says

Alberta Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley, a week after acknowledging her party is investigating allegations of mistreatment of volunteers, said Wednesday there are problems.

15 constituency presidents, regional vice-presidents wrote letter asking for investigation into mistreatment

Alberta Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley, a week after acknowledging her party is investigating allegations of mistreatment of volunteers, said Wednesday there are problems.

"Our party is committed to providing a safe, respectful, and welcoming environment for volunteers, for employees, and for all Albertans. But it's clear that in some cases we have fallen short of that commitment," Notley said in an email to NDP members.

"As leader, I take this very seriously. It is critically important to me that all of our members feel included and respected."

Notley does not provide details of where and how the party fell short, and was not made available for an interview.

Three months ago, 15 constituency presidents and regional vice-presidents wrote a letter to Notley and the rest of the party executive calling for an independent investigation on what they termed a pattern of mistreatment of volunteers.

They also said there were concerns over how candidates were being picked in nomination races, with long waits for some possible candidates, leading to questions of possible favouritism.

The letter further flagged concerns of constituency association presidents being left out of the loop on issues and that their input was not being taken seriously higher up.

Notley spoke to the letter a week ago after it was leaked to the media. At that time, she said an investigation was underway and noted "there are two sides to every story."

Multiple volunteers and former volunteers have told The Canadian Press of repeated instances of being verbally abused by staff, belittled and harangued in one-on-one sessions or in groups.

The NDP's provincial secretary, Brandon Stevens, confirmed discussions were held in March with the letter writers but declined in an interview last week to say what was learned or whether there was merit to the allegations of mistreatment.

Notley, in her Wednesday email, said work is being done.

"An update to our anti-harassment policy, guided by an independent third party, has been under way since the fall of 2021 and will be completed and released at our fall convention," she said.

As for the other concerns cited in the March letter, Notley wrote: "I'm grateful to all the volunteers who have taken part in the conversations that followed throughout the spring, which are helping us put together a package of recommendations that will be discussed with members in the weeks ahead.

"The steps we are taking will be shared and discussed further this weekend," she said.

"These conversations can be uncomfortable, but they are essential. I am confident they will make our party stronger."

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