Rachel Notley steps down, sparks leadership race in Alberta NDP
Rachel Notley steps down, sparks leadership race in Alberta NDP

The leader of Alberta’s NDP and former premier, Rachel Notley, has announced her resignation, initiating a leadership race within the party. 

After months of speculation, Notley announced her intention to resign as leader of the Alberta NDP at a news conference in Edmonton on Tuesday.

“I’m not going to lead the party into the next election,” she said, according to the Calgary Herald. “I will be stepping down as leader once the party chooses a new leader.”

Notley’s decision comes after serving as the NDP leader since 2014 and serving as the Premier of Alberta from 2015 to 2019. Notley has served as an NDP member since 2008.

Notley carried out her family legacy as leader of the NDP. Her father, Grant Notley, was a former NDP leader and passed away in a plane crash in 1984.

After announcing her retirement Tuesday morning in a speech to NDP caucus members, Notley said she would remain as leader of the party while the party conducted a leadership race.

The Tuesday announcement comes amid poor polling and two straight losses to majority United Conservative Party (UCP) governments. 

Notley wants to focus on helping a smooth transition of leadership power.

“I want to give whoever becomes the new leader enough time to put their own stamp on the party and to bring everybody together to make sure the party is election ready,” she told the Toronto Star.

Notley said she doesn’t know her next steps and is unsure whether she will fulfil her current term as the legislature member for Edmonton-Strathcona, where she won the last five elections. Notley has not ruled out running again, according to the Canadian Press.

Caucus members Rakhi Pancholi, David Shepherd, Sarah Hoffman, and Kathleen Ganley are rumoured to be considering running for leadership, according to the Canadian Press.

The Counter Signal also noted Janis Irwin and Shannon Phillips as potential contenders. 

Notley will not be endorsing any candidate, she said. 

Notley’s leadership saw the NDP rise to power in the 2015 provincial election, marking a dramatic shift in Alberta’s political history. 

After losing the 2023 election to Alberta Premier Danielle Smith in May, Notley’s NDP captured 38 of 87 legislature seats, making the party the largest Official Opposition in Alberta’s history.

“We have now solidly established a two-party province,” said Notley.

Notley said that some of her fondest accomplishments are getting approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, building a new Calgary cancer hospital, reducing child poverty, investing in schools and hospitals, phasing out coal-fired electricity, kick-starting renewable energy investment, and raising Alberta’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. 

Critics have attributed the loss of coal-fired power to Alberta’s electricity shortage and power emergency last weekend. 

She did not mince her words of Alberta’s current premier. 

“I think that the UCP obviously represents a significant threat to the wellbeing of our province and individual Albertans and their families,” said Notley.

“It is incredibly important that Albertans have a strong, competent choice to make as they try to get rid of Danielle Smith,” added Notley. “I’m very confident that no matter what the outcome is for our leadership race, that’s what Alberta’s NDP will be able to offer Albertans in the next election.”

Smith previously spoke out against Notley while running for Alberta’s Premiership in 2023.

“She doesn’t want to run on her record because it was an absolute disaster,” said Smith in May.

Smith warned Albertans that Notley’s goals would align with the federal government’s.

“She wants to achieve the 2035 net-zero target put forward by Justin Trudeau — that’ll cost $52 billion dollars, that’ll increase your power bill by 40%, and we can’t afford to do that.”

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