Alberta Votes·Profile

Rachel Notley: New Democratic Party leader

Rachel Notley was elected leader of the Alberta NDP in October 2014, but the 50-year-old lawyer was taking on the role she was long expected to fill.

Father was first elected to the legislative assembly in 1971

Rachel Notley became NDP leader in October after capturing 70 per cent of the vote. (Dean Bennett/Canadian Press)

Rachel Notley
Party leader since October 2014

Age: 50
Occupation before politics: Lawyer
Education: Bachelor of arts, law degree
First year elected to Alberta legislature: 2008
Candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona

Rachel Notley was only elected leader of the Alberta New Democratic Party in October 2014, but in a way, the 50-year-old lawyer was taking on the role she was long expected to fill.

Notley has party in her blood. Her father Grant Notley was the provincial NDP leader from 1968 until he was killed in a plane crash in 1984 at the age of 45.

After Brian Mason resigned as NDP leader last year, Notley easily defeated her opponents, NDP MLA David Eggen and candidate Rod Loyola, winning 70 per cent of the vote. 

The CBC's Kim Trynacity asked Notley what her father would have thought of her win.

"I think he would be very proud. I think he would be shocked that I spoke for less than 45 minutes," she said with a smile. 

"But obviously he would be proud and certainly I want to build on the work that he did, and that others have done, and that Brian Mason has done to present to Albertans a party that will really represent their interests first."

Notley will now lead the NDP into an election where the party hopes to expand on the four seats they have now. The last time the party was Alberta's Official Opposition was in 1986, when 16 NDP candidates were elected to the legislative assembly. 

Opposition interest

Alberta's opposition parties face an uphill battle. Over the past few months, the Wildrose has been decimated by floor-crossings and resignations, leaving the party with five of the 17 MLAs elected in 2012 and a newly-minted leader.

Rachel Notley led a memorial in honour of her father, Grant Notley, the day after she won the leadership of the NDP. (CBC)

Three of the five Liberal caucus members are not running this spring, and David Swann is taking over the leadership until the party can organize a contest.

With both parties in shambles, Notley emerged as strongest opposition leader in the spring session of the legislative assembly.

Notley grew up in Fairview with her parents and two younger brothers. Her father was first elected to the legislative assembly in 1971 and for years was Alberta's sole NDP MLA.

Notley obtained her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Alberta and graduated from Osgoode Hall law school. She worked for labour unions and was an adviser to Ujjal Dosanjh when he was the attorney general of British Columbia.

Notley returned to Alberta and was first elected to represent the Edmonton-Strathcona riding in 2008.

She lives in Edmonton and is married with a teenage son and daughter. 


  • An earlier version of this story said Notley has two teenage sons. In fact, she has a son and a daughter.
    Apr 16, 2015 10:25 AM MT


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