The NDP and the UCP hold dueling political conventions in Alberta.
Two of Alberta’s main political parties held their own separate conventions on Saturday in a bid to build support and unofficially launch their campaigns ahead of next spring’s general election.
Leader of the United Conservative Party of Alberta and newly elected Premier Danielle Smith met with hundreds of supporters and caucus members in Edmonton, while NDP Leader Rachel Notley sought more votes in Calgary.
The two sides offered different solutions to issues facing Albertans, including affordability, health care and education.
Here is a glimpse of the interior.
SMITH VISES NOTLEY
Danielle Smith addressed UCP party members and caucus at a convention at the River Cree Casino and Resort in Edmonton.
She began her speech by focusing on what her party has been up to over the past 10 days and highlighting its transition to power as the NDP launched several attacks against her.
Smith touted his recent cabinet decisions and doubled down on his apologies for his past comments about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I want to ask you to please help our new Ukrainians in Alberta who are fleeing Russia’s terrible invasion of Ukraine. We need to help each of these new Albertans and their families find a place to live and a community and friends that belong to them,” she added. said.
Leader of the United Conservative Party of Alberta and newly elected Premier Danielle Smith met with hundreds of her supporters and caucus members in Edmonton, while NDP Leader Rachel Notley sought to garner more votes in Calgary.
Smith then spoke of a recent caucus retreat where she played paintball with several UCP MPs. She called the gathering a “team-building” opportunity.
« There were four main themes that came out of that discussion, » she said.
“One: Affordability and the inflation crisis caused by the NDP-Liberal coalition in Ottawa. Two: jobs and the economy in this time of global economic uncertainty. Three: Improve Health Care Fast Track and Four: Stand Up to the NDP-Liberal Coalition Government in Ottawa. »
The newly elected Prime Minister continued to refer to Rachel Notley as someone focused on anti-energy policies and a ‘300% increase in carbon taxes’, placing her political views as the same as Jagmeet Singh and Justin Trudeau.
« As a government, we cannot solve the inflation crisis alone, but we can certainly keep our books balanced and we can ensure that Albertans and their families are better able to weather this storm, » said said Smith.
« Rachel Notley is well known – she’s 100% behind this carbon tax increase. It’s what she thinks is good for Alberta families. »
Smith has promised to help resolve emergency room lines and address what she calls an « emergency medical services » crisis in Alberta.
She went on to talk about fighting for Alberta and calling for the elimination of equalization payments to Ottawa, which she says Notley won’t do.
« So when Ottawa attacks our energy workers again, we won’t budge on equalization, when they triple the carbon tax, when they lock up our resources and confiscate legal firearms, what do you think? ‘she will do ?
« She will do what she has always done. Absolutely nothing. »
NOTLEY FOCUS ON ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION, PUBLIC SERVICES AND TAX FREEZE
NDP Leader Rachel Notley has promised to focus on affordability, economic diversification and more positive changes to the health and education systems.
In a speech to more than 1,400 party members at the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Calgary, she touted an economic platform that includes caps on utility rates, auto insurance freezes, the deferral of the collection of a gas tax and the capping of post-secondary tuition fees.
If elected, the NDP also plans to build hundreds of schools across the province and would implement what it calls an « aggressive » program to build affordable housing.
Plans to increase support for seniors and low-income families are also underway, along with reversing cuts to child and family benefits.
« UCP has many plans to lay off people, but no idea how to hire them, including the medical professionals we desperately need, » Notley said.
“Their plans are little more than a recipe for more cost, more chaos and more conflict. Our party will take a different path.
Notley says she plans to position her party as an alternative to the UCP. She did not mention Smith in her speech, but did address their relationship during a scrum with reporters.
« I certainly have no ill will against her personally, but I am concerned that some of her statements and some of her policies will be hurtful to real Albertans who will suffer the consequences, » he said. she declared.
“A lot of my speech was really focused on forward-looking policy offerings. We have a pretty good idea of where Albertans stand and now we want to talk to them about what they can expect from us.
The NDP convention in Calgary also included several policy resolutions for debate, including measures to promote clean energy, eliminating Kananaskis Park fees, establishing rail networks in Alberta, increasing social benefits and lowering the voting age provincially.
If the resolutions are adopted by the delegates, it does not mean that a certain policy will be implemented in an electoral strategy. However, member contributions to these conventions generally determine the types of pledges offered during an election campaign.
The NDP has nominated the majority of its candidates for next May’s general election and, if elected, plans to implement gender parity in its cabinet.
CALGARY IS THE “BATTLEFIELD”
Political pundits say Notley likely chose to hold his convention in Calgary because that’s where the NDP needs to cover more ground, holding just three of the city’s 26 seats in the Legislative Assembly.
« Calgary is the battleground, » said Lori Williams, a political scientist at Mount Royal University.
“The NDP has released all kinds of videos and press releases focused on some of the challenges Calgary has faced, especially things like downtown vacancy rates. Some really interesting things have come out of the NDP on how to solve some of the issues that Calgary is facing and I think that’s just an indication that that’s where there are seats that are up for grabs.
Williams also noted that the NDP’s decision to bring in former ATB chief economist Todd Hirsh could help the party bring a credible and meaningful source of information on how best to spend excess funds. if they are elected.
« SMITH MUST UNITE HIS PARTY »
As for some of the challenges ahead of Danielle Smith, this will most likely take the form of uniting her party members.
Williams says there are plenty of UCP members who have a clear vision of where they’d like to take the party, but she’ll have to hold that support together
« Some of the strongest visions or the strongest emotions around these policies and ideas were the people who brought Danielle Smith to power and it more or less created an expectation that their support will have to be rewarded with some of the policies that she spoke during the campaign. »
“But Smith has plenty of time to counter some of the damage she has done to her own leadership over the past week and if some of the policy alternatives she is suggesting and pursuing are actually successful, it may help distract some of those controversies. »