Former deputy premier Sarah Hoffman and NDP MLA for Edmonton-Glenora, held a news conference in Edmonton on Sunday morning, launching her leadership campaign.
The 43-year-old joins fellow MLAs, Kathleen Ganley and Rakhi Pancholi, in the race to replace Rachel Notley as leader of the NDP.
“I’m so happy to be here at Woodcroft Hall which is where my elected provincial career began and together we beat a conservative cabinet minister and we formed the very first NDP government in Alberta history,” Hoffman told the crowd. “Lets do it again, we must do it again.”
New democrats are essential to solving the problems that face us today, we must fix public health care,” Hoffman continued.
She went on to list the priorities of her campaign which would be health, climate and housing and highlighted the accomplishments of the first Alberta NDP government, including the construction of the Calgary Cancer Centre, the new emergency room at the Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton, stopping harassment outside abortion clinics, and making sure Alberta was the first province to fully fund the abortion pill.
“I dramatically cut wait times for breast cancer surgery. I connected more parents with midwives than ever before. I followed the science of harm reduction, and that saves lives,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman recounted how she got her start in politics thanks to Rachel Notley encouraging her to run for the school board.
“Girls like me weren’t supposed to go into politics, I’m fat, I’m sassy and I have a really hard time pretending to be somebody I’m not,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman served as deputy premier and minister of health in Rachel Notley’s cabinet. Before that, she was a member of the Edmonton Public School Board, where she also served as chair.
“I’m proud of our record,” Hoffman said. “So many Albertans are struggling to keep a roof over their heads so as your premier I will fix the housing crisis. I won’t stop until we get the job done.”
She said she would work hard to ensure every Albertan had access to a family doctor and work hard to end climate change.
“When it’s barely February and farmers are already worried about drought conditions, we need to do something,” Hoffman continued. “We will get things done because who else will?”
“The big challenge will be them (candidates) differentiating themselves from one another,” said Michael Demoor, Dean of Social Science at Kings University in Edmonton. “Sarah Hoffman is a dynamic person, she says what’s on her mind, but again it’s well established New Democrats with track records, who are publicly well known. The difference will be if a candidate comes in from left field.”
Demoore pointed to the speculation about former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi possibly entering the leadership race.
“This is going to be much more exciting than any other NDP leadership race we’ve seen in a long time and that’s partially because it’s going to be obviously contested, by people who want the job. Now you’ve got a party that is a serious competitor for government. The next leader could be a potential premier.” Demoore continued.
Notley announced she was stepping down last month.
The person who emerges victorious in the leadership race will replace someone who has led the party for almost a decade. Notley also served as premier from 2015 to 2019 after leading the NDP to its first-ever provincial election victory in Alberta.
Notley has said she plans to remain in her current role as party leader until a replacement is selected. She has also said she does not plan to endorse a candidate.
After announcing she would be leaving her position as leader, Notley said she believed her decision was in the best interests of the party, the party’s caucus as well as her “own preferences.”
Alberta’s last provincial election saw the NDP lose to the United Conservative Party.
Party members must be in good standing by purchasing or renewing their membership by April 22 in order to vote in the contest.
The NDP has said the race will have a spending limit of $500,000 per contestant and that fees will total $60,000 per candidate.
The new NDP leader will be chosen in June.
– with files from Phil Heidenreich and The Canadian Press