Singh says parties united as Alberta NDP looks to separate from federal branch
Singh says parties united as Alberta NDP looks to separate from federal branch

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says he’s “united” with Alberta New Democrats even as the provincial party’s new leader seeks to distance himself from the federal branch.

After former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi won the Alberta NDP’s leadership contest in a landslide victory on Saturday, he told reporters that he won’t wait on putting the question to the membership of whether to separate from the federal party.

But Singh says the two parties remain “united” in their goal of defeating Conservatives provincially and federally. 

“Right now at the provincial level in Alberta, provincially in a lot of places, Conservatives are a threat to people. Conservatives are directly attacking healthcare, education, they’re even attacking pensions,” Singh told reporters at a press conference on Thursday. 

Nenshi spoke about his desire to leave the federal NDP during the leadership campaign. After winning the leadership contest, he said a decision could be made at the party’s convention next spring.

“That’s what members are really talking about, and I hear it every day,” Nenshi told reporters Saturday. “And the way I like to lead is, I don’t like things that are bubbling under the surface, so I’d like to surface that conversation with members as soon as possible.”

Differences in party policy creates problems for the provincial party in energy rich Alberta. For example, Nenshi and former Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley supported the Trans Mountain pipeline project, but Singh didn’t. 

“We just couldn’t get him there,” Nenshi told the Toronto Star this month. “So I think that that has left a lingering issue that the federal NDP doesn’t really understand Alberta.”

Still, Notley told the Calgary Herald as recently as last week that “running away” from the federal brand is “silly, superficial, short-sighted.” 

Members of provincial NDP branches automatically become members of Singh’s federal party. That’s unique to the New Democrats compared to Canada’s other major political parties. It’s a feature the United Conservative Party has used to successfully attack their opponents. 

During the 2023 general election campaign, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith frequently pointed out the connection between the two parties as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau government’s fell in the polls but continued to be propped up by Singh. 

In one video, Smith criticized the “Liberal-NDP coalition” for seeking to lock in the equalization payments for years to come.

“Rachel Notley has had days to respond and stand up to her bosses in Ottawa,” Smith said.

The party is now extending its line of attack, with a new ad tying Nenshi to the prime minister and calling him “Trudeau’s choice for Alberta.” 

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