NDP lays foundation for 2023 election campaign at convention

By Catherine Griwkowsky June 7, 2021

In the first Alberta NDP convention since 2018, delegates passed fewer than a dozen policy amendments, three emergency resolutions and three constitutional amendments, and they confirmed Rachel Notley will stay on as leader.

In a speech at the convention, Notley promised a more ambitious climate target than the federal Liberals, with a goal of a net-zero electricity grid by 2035 and 60,000 new jobs linked to her clean energy transition plan.

In her speech, Notley took aim at Premier Jason Kenney’s job performance and called on supporters to propel the official Opposition into government.

“New Democrats don’t leave people behind, because unlike the UCP, we know that our strength comes from bringing people together,” Notley said.

Delegates voted 98.2 per cent in favour of keeping Notley on as leader (Ayes 607; Nays 11), meaning she will not face a separate leadership race.

“That’s a very cool number,” Notley said.

Earlier in the convention, Notley shared the stage with musician Jann Arden. Other speakers included NDP MP Heather McPherson, Alberta Federal of Labour president Gil McGowan and a group of Arizona Democrats.

Much of the time allocated for debate on resolutions was eaten up by process questions, leaving most of the 146 proposed resolutions untouched. Of those who spoke against motions, most felt they did not go far enough — regardless of the topic.

Several of the resolutions involved undoing repeals by the UCP government. Delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour of $10-per-day universal child care, a universal early childhood learning and child care program, the right to protest without penalty, restoring Program Unit Funding with increases in the future and reinstating the Lougheed-era coal policy.

Delegates also passed a resolution to legislate residential continuing care — including ending for-profit care and improving staff-to-patient ratios — as well as a resolution to bring in paid sick leave for all workers and ensure gender equity in economic recovery.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley takes the stage to deliver her commencement speech (credit: Twitter)

First motion up at the NDP convention is a return to affordable child care, this time $10/day rather than $25.

— Catherine Griwkowsky (@CGriwkowsky) June 5, 2021


Motions debated to address race and Indigenous issues
Other resolutions focused on addressing racial inequality.

Delegates passed an amended resolution that would create a race-based data collection advisory council aimed at reducing racism and systemic inequity in government. They also passed a motion to call for the creation of an action plan for Alberta Justice and Alberta Health Services to reduce Indigenous involvement in the criminal justice system.

Delegates voted in favour of an emergency resolution to search for further unmarked burial sites of Indigenous people and another that called for the NDP to immediately push the UCP to address the escalating opioid crisis by supporting calls for a safe drug supply. They also passed resolutions to repeal fees introduced in some provincial parks and to halt Bill 70, Covid-19 Related Measures Act.

The remaining policy amendments were debated by provincial council.

The party also passed constitutional amendments to its nomination process, including an amendment on equity seeking candidates that called for each general election to have at least 50 per cent of all nominated contestants who identify as women or other equity-seeking groups. The party also passed an amendment to create a disability caucus.

A proposed constitutional amendment to waive fees for low-income people was defeated.

Rural panel focused on earning respect of voters
After being shut out in rural Alberta last election, the NDP’s rural caucus held a “spicy” panel with rural municipal officials and former NDP candidates.

Panelists spoke about the need to earn respect from rural voters to be successful at the ballot box. They also expressed anger at the UCP’s changes to the coal policy, physician recruitment and the education curriculum, as well as a lack of access to broadband.