CALGARY – Rachel Notley put her name forward Monday to be the next leader of the Alberta NDP, building on the foundation laid 30 years ago by her father.
Notley said a window of opportunity has opened as the governing Progressive Conservatives have failed to deliver on social reform issues.
“Albertans are looking for a change,” said Notley.
“I think I have the leadership and the skill and the passion necessary to attract those Albertans who are seeking a more reflective version of what they want to see in politics.”
She made her campaign announcement in Calgary in the morning and had an event set for the afternoon in Edmonton.
The NDP has four seats, all in Edmonton.
Notley said if she wins the leadership contest, she will be spending a lot of time in Calgary.
“If we’re going to make a serious run for government we need to represent Albertans who are tired of the old Tory policies from across the province,” she said.
“Calgary is Alberta’s biggest city, and we have some work to do.”
NDP member David Eggen has already announced he will also run to replace current leader Brian Mason.
Mason announced his resignation in April, saying if the party was to take the next step to gain broad support, a fresh face at the helm was needed.
He will step down after a new leader is picked at a convention in Edmonton on Oct. 18.
Notley, 50, worked as a labour lawyer until she won the Edmonton-Strathcona riding for the NDP in 2008. She was re-elected by a wide margin in 2012.
Her father, Grant Notley, was party leader from 1968 until he died in a plane crash in northern Alberta in October 1984.
Two years later, the party made its breakthrough, winning 16 seats in the 1986 general election to become the official opposition.
Grant Notley was, for most of his time in government, the only NDP MLA, gaining respect and reputation for his tireless championing of social causes.
His former northern Alberta riding of Fairview-Spirit River has since been renamed Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley. A park in Edmonton is also named after him.
Rachel Notley said she will be building not only on her father’s work, but on the work of many others.
“In the long run, probably the single biggest thing I take from his legacy personally is that you need to work three times as hard as any other candidate from any other party if you’re going to be successful,” she said.
“That’s the work ethic that I’m going to bring to this.”
The nomination period closes on Aug. 5. The entry fee is $5,000 and the spending limit is $100,000.
Eggen, who filed his nomination papers on Friday, said Monday there will be debates over the course of the summer with Notley and anyone else who throws their hat in the ring.
“We will have an excellent race. Rachel is a formidable candidate,” said Eggen.
“(But) we also have lots of resources and people across the province to run a good campaign, too.
“Albertans will benefit from this process. We will have a good discussion about where we should go as a province.”
He agreed that Calgary is key to growing the party heading into the 2016 election.
“We need to regain ground that we have had in Calgary, and in other cities, too,” he said.
“We know that it’s a very dynamic city with lots of new people moving in with ideas and progressive politics.”
— By Dean Bennett in Edmonton