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Alberta NDP sets rules for leadership contest naming new party leader by June

The Alberta NDP provincial council gathered in Red Deer on Jan. 27 to announce the rules and timelines for a leadership contest that will begin in the spring. (Emmanuel Prince-Thauvette/Radio-Canada - image credit)
The Alberta NDP provincial council gathered in Red Deer on Jan. 27 to announce the rules and timelines for a leadership contest that will begin in the spring. (Emmanuel Prince-Thauvette/Radio-Canada - image credit)

The Alberta NDP will have a new leader on June 22.

Alberta's New Democrats have mapped out rules for a leadership contest that will begin Feb. 5.

The party's provincial council issued the rules late Saturday, saying candidates who wish to run have until March 15 to register.

Application and disclosure forms for prospective leadership race contestants will be available Monday, according to Amanda Freistadt, chief returning officer of the Alberta NDP leadership race.

"I believe we're going to see a group of united candidates who are very, very interested in continuing and growing [the party's] legacy," Freistadt said.

Anyone seeking the leadership must be a member of the NDP for the last six months and pay a $60,000 entry fee. Each contestant in the leadership race will have a spending limit of $500,000.

Leadership contestants will also need to publicly disclose their donors.

"Dark money from extreme right-wing groups have no place in our movement," Freistadt said.

The party’s provincial council issued the rules late Saturday, saying candidates who wish to run have until March. 15 to register.
The party’s provincial council issued the rules late Saturday, saying candidates who wish to run have until March. 15 to register.

The party’s provincial council issued the rules late Saturday, saying candidates who wish to run have until March 15 to register. (Manuel Carrillos Avalos/Radio-Canada)

The leadership contest was triggered when former Alberta premier Rachel Notley stepped down as the provincial NDP leader earlier this month.

Notley, who led the Alberta NDP for almost a decade, said during a news conference earlier this month that the NDP's failure to win government in Alberta's 2023 election meant it was time for her to step down as leader.

Notley led the NDP to an upset electoral victory in 2015, ending 44 years of Progressive Conservative rule in the province.

After four years as Opposition leader, Notley and her team won 38 of the legislature's 87 seats in May 2023, forming the largest Opposition in the province's history.

Notley will stay on as leader until members choose a replacement.

A competitive party for government: political scientist

Feo Snagovsky, political scientist at the University of Alberta, said the Alberta NDP is now considered a competitive party for government.

"I think they're going to be a lot of people who are eyeing up that job as a potential pathway to one day becoming premier in a way that, you know, 15- to 20 years ago, someone running for leadership of the Alberta NDP didn't really ever have a hope of becoming premier," Snagovsky said in an interview with CBC News.

To build on Notley's success, Snagovsky said growing NDP membership in cities like Calgary, Red Deer, and Lethbridge can flip extra seats.

"There are a lot of people in Alberta who, for a very long time, would never even be able to entertain the idea of voting a democrat. And the longer the NDP remains competitive, the more that erodes," he said.

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley announced Tuesday she was stepping down from the top job within the party.
Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley announced Tuesday she was stepping down from the top job within the party.

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley announced earlier this month she was stepping down from the top job within the party. (Camille Pauvarel/Radio-Canada)

Alberta NDP deputy leader Sarah Hoffman, who is also the MLA for Edmonton-Glenora, did not say whether she will be running for leadership but an announcement will be made in the coming days.

"Tiny feet, big shoes to fill," Hoffman said Saturday.

"[Notley's] been an amazing presence and helped a lot of people who maybe didn't see themselves as NDP supporters in our movement," she said.

"There's going to be a number of us who are going to be talking about ways that we can engage more Albertans."

To vote in the leadership race, members have to be in good standing by purchasing or renewing their memberships by April 22.

The voting period will be from May 22 to June 22. Voters will be given a mail-in, telephone or online option to get their ballots in.