'I'm not done fighting': Rachel Notley lays out choice for electors in 2019
Alberta premier delivers fiery speech to Alberta NDP convention
Albertans have a choice in the next election between a government that helps the wealthy and elite political insiders or one that helps families and working people, Premier Rachel Notley told the NDP convention in Edmonton Sunday.
The premier and party leader gave a campaign-style exhortation to 1,200 delegates in a hotel in downtown Edmonton, where she announced that she would be a candidate in the spring election.
"The politics of hope always trumps the politics of division and anger. That is my conviction," she said. "This is why I am not done fighting. We have only just begun. Oh, and by the way, my name is Rachel Notley, and I am running again to be your premier."
The remarks were received with whoops and cheers from the delegates, who frequently leapt to their feet to chant "Four more years. Four more years."
Notley asked the crowd what kind of future they wanted to see — the vision offered by her party, or one with Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party in charge.
Notley says she will announce a major new energy diversification program in the the coming weeks. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ableg?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ableg</a>—@MBellefontaine
"Is it built for everyday Albertans — workers and their families? Or is it built for those at the top — elite political insiders and the wealthiest one per cent?" she asked.
"Should the people you elect fight for themselves or fight for you? Are we building a province for the many or the few? I'm in it for everybody, for the many, and I'm fighting for you."
Notley's remarks come as the NDP continues to trail the UCP in the polls. The election is expected to be called this spring.
Jason Nixon, the UCP house leader and MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, attended the convention to watch Notley's speech. He scoffed at her characterization of his party's supporters as elitist.
"The people I represent in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre would find it comical if you called them elites, and their lives are worse since the NDP government took power three and a half years ago," he said.
Nixon said the NDP convention struck him as a feel-good, pre-election rally with very little meaningful debate on policy.
'We will never back down'
The NDP is attempting to paint the UCP as heirs of the entitled attitude that got the Progressive Conservatives booted out of office with Notley's victory in 2015.
For some, their efforts were bolstered by a letter from the Motor Dealers' Association of Alberta that was leaked last week, suggesting Kenney made promises in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars in political donations.
The association represents automobile dealerships in the province. The letter from chairman Andrew Robinson said Kenney had met with the association and made promises that included rollbacks to consumer protections introduced by the NDP government.
In return, the dealers agreed to donate up to $1 million to a pro-UCP political action committee called Shaping Alberta. Donations from dealerships represented nearly half the $375,000 raised by the PAC in the third quarter of the fiscal year.
The Alberta NDP filed a complaint with Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson alleging Kenney and Shaping Alberta deliberately violated Alberta's election financing laws, which set limits on donations and prohibit corporate donations being made to political parties.
"Mr. Kenney insists, over and over again, that he's not for sale. But it sure sounds like he's willing to work out one heck of a lease," Notley said. "We will not be bought off, and we will never back down."
Nixon said he has been with his leader at hundreds of events and has never seen him exhibit the behaviour Notley described.
He said Kenney is "a man of principle" and that Notley's characterizations are not true.
The party passed resolutions which included adding optical and dental services to Medicare, banning corporate and union donations to municipal political candidates, and expanding broadband internet to all regions of Alberta.
Other resolutions that were passed were in favour of increasing AISH and seniors benefits to keep up with the cost of living, and expanding the government's $25-a-day daycare program across the province.
The party debated and passed two last-minute "emergency" resolutions. One was in support of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, CUPW, whose members are in rotating strikes across the country.
The other resolution condemns "conservative political operatives who collude with third-party political action committees to circumvent donor limits and break electoral laws."