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Rachel Notley delivers ‘campaign-ish’ style speech at Alberta NDP convention

CALGARY — Alberta’s NDP leader Rachel Notley poked fun at the United Conservative Party, it’s recent turmoil and focused on the upcoming provincial election Saturday but never mentioned Danielle Smith once in her speech to her party’s convention.

“They’ve had quite a year. I never thought I’d say this about Jason Kenney but I kind of miss him. Weird right?,” Notley said.

“He may not have finished a whole term as a premier but he has lasted much longer than that head of lettuce on TV in Great Britain. The big question is will his successor be able to say the same?”

Notley said she expects both she and the NDP will be the focus of much of the discussion at the UCP gathering.

“Because we’re just a week away from Halloween and we frighten the hell out of them. They’ve going to tell some spooky stories about sinister New Democrats and their scary alliances.”

Not once in her speech did she mention Smith by name and told reporters she hadn’t spoken to Smith, elected as UCP leader earlier this month, in three or four years but said their relationship had always been “collegial.”

“What we’ve been hearing from Albertans is that Albertans know the current leader of the UCP, they know who she is, they know what she has to say and more and more as a result they’re coming to us to say ‘OK, what’s your plan?'” Notley told reporters.

“I certainly don’t have any ill will against her personally. I do worry about the hurtfulness of some of her statements, some of her policies with respect to real Albertans, with respect to what the consequences of those decisions will be.”

About 1,200 people are registered for the NDP convention, which Notley says is it’s largest ever.

She spent much of her speech laying out election-style promises including repealing many of the United Conservative Party cuts to benefits for family and seniors supports and reining in costs for consumers.

“After the last election … some folks were ready to write us off. They thought we’d just fade away. But thanks to you, we are bigger and more confident.” 

Notley served as premier from 2015 to 2019. She reminded delegates this is the last party gathering before next year’s provincial election, and promised to put a rate cap on utility bills, freeze auto insurance rates and keep the provincial gas tax off at the pumps until inflation returns to more normal levels.

She acknowledged that this does have the appearance of an election campaign launch.

“I think that’s pretty fair to say. So yeah it’s getting campaign-ish for sure. It’s in that stage. The -ish stage.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published October 22, 2022.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press