If the Federal NDP came into this weekend looking for direction, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley tried to show delegates that the road to success is paved in black gold.
Notley’s keynote speech to 1,794 delegates in Edmonton, praised pipelines while at the same time claiming Canada can develop natural resources in an environmentally-friendly way.
Her speech took dead aim at the Leap Manifesto supporters who came to this convention believing the NDP needs a radical way forward that eschews pipeline development in favour of more sustainable energy.
Politics is a full contact sport and Notley isn’t afraid to get her elbows up. Still it was bold when just a few minutes into her speech the Premier asked all members of her caucus and the Alberta delegates to rise in the room. By asking the imposing number of people on their feet, Notley was sending a clear message that her speech and her vision had support.
Careful not to alienate anyone in the room, Notley continued through her carefully crafted speech with the grace and authority of renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma.
“I am asking you to always remember that hundreds of thousands of Canadians work in resource industries – here and across Canada,” Notley said as she hit the first few notes of her composition.
Then came the difficult dance.
Balancing the fight to get Albertans back to work while quelling any fears environmentals may have, Notley told the crowd “We need to be able to get the best possible world price for the oil we produce here, at the level of production that will be responsibly allowed under a climate change plan that is focused effectively on reducing the amount of carbon in each barrel of oil.”
Pivoting in the way the Federal campaign simply did not do in 2015, Notley built to the crescendo answering the question left hanging by her previous statement.
“The way to do that is through pipelines to tidewater that allows us to diversify our markets and upgrade our products here in Canada.”
As the applause continued to build, her final note went nearly unheard but it reinforced her vision.
“Pipelines that are built by Canadians, using Canadian steel.”
It was a clear message to her people and the entire party.
“If you’re looking for a way forward, follow me”.
The speech certainly captivated the room, but it remains to be seen if the Federal branch of the party will find its new identity in (of all places) Alberta.