Rachel has risen? Danielle redeemed?

CHRIST’S RESURRECTION (recently celebrated by Christians observing the Latin calendar) is a leap of faith. For believers, it’s evidence for life after death. And a promise of redemption no matter how rotten you’ve been.

In the instance of Alberta’s body politic, and the last two provincial elections, is it possible to roll away the stone? Will Rachel Notley and her New Democrats (ND) ascend once more into the Legislature? 

And what of Danielle Smith’s United Conservative Party (UCP)? Can they repent and redeem themselves? Will voters forgive & forget their mean-spiritedness these past four years?

While Christianity has a place in heaven for contrite reprobates, Premier Smith doesn’t understand you don’t talk to ‘river of fire’ evangelicals who are as ideologically rigid as the greeniacs who would have all of us eliminated because nature is pure and humanity isn’t. 

Premier Smith’s blindspots are harder and harder to ignore. It won’t take the devil to tempt a majority of Albertans to un-elect Smith’s UCP, come May 29th.

Which begats the question: Exactly who are these people that identify as Alberta’s New Democrats

The UCP would have you believe Notley is cozying up to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and federal NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh. A vote for an Alberta NDP equates to support for the status quo in Ottawa!

Though it’s a frightening spectre, intended to deter any right-minded voter from having a boo at Alberta NDs, we encourage you to take a second look.


Notley’s ND are not the federal New Democrats. Technically, they may be shaded by the same umbrella but it’s a shared space that’s beyond uncomfortable.

They’re not the Saskatchewan New Democrats either. And while they’re pragmatic, like the B.C. ND’s, there are differences too.

As for any trust between Notley and Trudeau (the younger), that’s surely implausible. When premier of Alberta, Notley was screwed over by Trudeau. She isn’t ever likely to forget how that felt and how the relationship played out at the polls.


Voters should be vigilant in teasing out the many strings pulling elected politicians in one direction or another. To whom…or what…do political actors owe their allegiance? It’s a question on every voter’s mind. 

Of course, the pat answer to the question (by any elected politician) goes along the lines of… “I’m loyal to my constituents. I owe my allegiance to the people of Alberta.” Yadda, yadda. We’ve all been buffalo’d before and know that there are always ties that pull politicians in the direction of certain policies and choices; some good, some bad.  

So, get out your flashlight and flush out the strings that connect Rachel’s NDs to influence—inside and outside the province. 

Friends in B.C., the ones who lean centre-left, claim to be coming to Alberta to help Rachel with the upcoming election. They position themselves as saviours coming to the rescue of Alberta voters.

Stop, please.

If a political party in Alberta can’t build the wherewithal to muster its own get-out-the-vote structures and organizational capacity, province-wide, what’s the value of politicos from across the country scurrying to do the work of getting a party elected?

As for Jagmeet and the federal NDs, it would help Rachel, especially in Calgary, if they resist temptation and keep their nose out of Alberta politics.

Please, stay away.

Pretend we’re not related. That would be most helpful. 


Pundits predict Calgary will decide the fate of Alberta in the upcoming contest. As irritating as that is for many Albertans, including the New Democrats, we suspect there’s some truth in the calculus. But there are a few caveats. 

Calgary is often cited as a right-leaning, business-oriented city modelled on American counterparts, such as they are in Montana or Texas. Once upon a time, that would have been a fair assessment. But it’s also the city that elected Jyoti Gondek and Naheed Nenshi. And even if polls suggest a “weariness with left-of-centre politicians,” it would be unwise to paint over the differences in political opinions. 

Janet Brown, the pollster, has run some numbers, looking at Calgary’s four quadrants. Her polling suggests that northern parts of the city are open to voting ND but the southern quadrants, not-so-much. And, she suggests, there are a few constituencies outside Calgary (and Edmonton) that could swing in Rachel’s direction.

There will be some people looking up at the flagpole to see which way the wind is blowing. And they will be confused by a frayed flag that’s wrapped itself tight around the pole. Will they show up on election day and vote? That too is a big question. 


Indeed. What has been resurrected in Alberta’s political landscape?

Since the last election, Rachel’s NDs have changed somewhat; they’re not the gang they once were. Don even finds Sarah Hoffman, his MLA in Edmonton-Glenora, to be an approachable, genuine person and not the fire-breathing avatar he once conjured up in his mind. 

So we’re throwing down the gauntlet: New Democrats in Alberta—define yourself, more clearly. No blather and bluster and crap designed to confuse or corrupt smart people. Are you folks just saying stuff & anything it takes to get elected?

Pray tell: Who are you now ND? 

As for the rest of us? 

Ms. Notley (and any elected leader) will need all concerned to be of assistance—the next four years are bound to be head-turners. The Saudis cranked down the taps, and the price of oil shot up in North America and everywhere else that’s not aligned with the Russia-China cabal.  The oil sands will be a thing until such a time, they aren’t. If elected premier, Notley will have to play off her base, yet somehow retain them… a parlour trick perhaps. But one that surely won’t rely on the gospel of Justin Trudeau. 

Amen to that.

P.S. Some of you have been asking what we’re up to: Don is creating podcasts for Iron & Earth, & Donna has a weekly newspaper column Dishing with DKG in the National Post. But, rest assured, this blog—and the opportunity to speak to fellow Albertans—continues to be a heart-felt priority.

This column is the consensus opinion of the writers Donna Kennedy-Glans & Don Hill. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to BEYOND POLARITY — scroll down on your phone or tablet, or look to the right in the panel beside this post. Enter your email to FOLLOW, a wheel spins, hamsters get fed.

10 thoughts on “Rachel has risen? Danielle redeemed?

  1. Election 2023 Themesong: Fools to the left – jokers on the right – stuck in the middle with you!

    1. That’s a good line, Greg, but unfortunately all I could think of when I read it was the underwear commercial. Not really the middle you want to be in!

  2. Alberta’s just dug itself out of a hole, economically (thanks, Putin!) and I have absolutely no confidence that an NDP government won’t jump back into the hole and start digging again. On the other hand, four more years of ‘bozo eruptions’ is enough to make me want to hide under the blankets. I suppose there’s perhaps the prospect it might not be four years if the current trend of Conservative Premiers being unable to serve a full term continues. Either way, the only thing I’m confident about is that things can always get worse! What a dismal choice we have this May…

    1. Quynn, there is no denying the deficits that the NDP ran up while they were in government, and heaven knows the conservative media made a lot of political hay reporting them.

      Have you ever noticed, however, that even though there was a lot of reporting about how much the NDP spent, there was never anything written about what they spent the money on? I would argue that the NDP just continued to fund the services that Albertans need, even though there wasn’t the resource revenue to cover it.

      If you compare that to Jason Kenney spending a billion dollars to build a pipeline to nowhere, or Danielle Smith proposing forgoing $20 billion in royalties so get oil companies to do the clean-up they are already required to do, and you have to ask yourself who really is the better money manager.

    2. Quynn, first off, my apologies for my late response to your comment; I can only plead that I erroneously missed it when you first made that comment.

      Now, I offer a bit of a counter thought to your dislike of bozo eruptions (such a wonderfully dismissive term but I will continue to use it).

      Bozo eruptions allow some weird folks and weird thoughts to come forth, that is absolutely true. However, however, however, I think that it is important to allow weirdness to come out so that weird ideas that – perhaps – the greater public may be harboring to be explored and – if appropriate – be put down or – again, if appropriate – become more mainstream. In some cases, what mainstream thought considers to be weird today can become mainstream thought tomorrow.

      In other words, while bozo eruptions are distracting to the issue of actually governing, they are an important (I think) way for democracy to function because the alternative is for a party to be very controlled and very dismissive of alternative viewpoints with the result that the populace ultimately thinks that “they” (i.e. whichever party) don’t represent “me” and I need to start a new party because “they” won’t even talk about “my” issues.

      I offer as an example Jason Kenney who dominated the UCP and controlled a lot of the issues that were addressed to such an extent that his party rebelled and defenestrated him. Now, you can think that was good or bad or be indifferent but his reluctance to consider and debate with his critics certainly did him no good. I think that he could have kept his job as party leader if he had dealt with the criticisms openly and defended his various approaches and, even, changed some of his approaches if that was sufficiently demonstrated by the majority of his party. His intransigence and his “my way or the highway” approach did him no favors and resulted in a very unhappy party.

      To put it differently, bozo eruptions are important and allow a party to show diversity and to allow debate. In other words, it allows a big tent party to function without becoming a smaller and smaller tent so that it ultimately becomes a pup tent. There! A sufficient metaphor for you?

  3. Donna, you say, “Notley’s ND are not the federal New Democrats.”

    I cannot help but note that, legally speaking, Notley’s ND ARE the federal New Democrats. You know – well, you should know – that when one becomes a member in the Alberta New Democrats you are automatically a member of the federal New Democrats. Further, you know – well, you should know – that when you become a member of the federal New Democrats you are automatically a member of Notley’s New Democrats.

    Carrying that thought further, Article XII, paragraph 1. of the federal NDP constitution states, “Each province of Canada shall have a fully autonomous provincial Party, provided its constitution and principles are not in conflict with those of the Federal Party.” Again, you either know or should know this.

    In other words, the federal and Alberta NDP ARE THE SAME PARTY. So, if the federal NDP supports JT and the Sunshine Gang in power in Ottawa, then so does the Alberta NDP.

    Now, whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is up to each voter to determine for themselves but, please, it is false and misleading to say that, “Notley’s ND are not the federal New Democrats.” Again, it is up to each voter to determine their own thoughts on that relationship but there is a relationship.

    1. Hmmmm… well, Ken, consider you’re a Quebecer, eh. And, ummm… consider you’re of the view (as many once held in la belle province), “Quebec pour les Quebeois” but, errr…you’re _technically_ and _automatically_ by association, a Canadian. And your passport with the Quebec address says as much. Seriously: I don’t know many folks who are terribly interested in statistical evidence of the Christ on the cross. Mind you, they are some who are obsessed with these kinds of technicalities… Notley 2.0 — fingers-crossed — is a reboot of Lougheed’s red tory PROGRESSIVE conservatives. The UCP, meantime, is an abomination. The horror, oh, the horror…

  4. Don, two initial thoughts. First, thanks for reading and responding to my comment; second, I apologize for my tardiness in responding – I was occupied in doing that April tax thing when I first saw your comment and am only now returning.

    Yes, I know, I know, that for many folks the relationship between the federal and provincial NDP is a “technical” thing and so many folks don’t pay attention. Yup, I know. And, yes, I know, I know, that many folks cast Rachel as a latter day Peter Lougheed.

    I differ from “many folks.” I do pay attention to the relationship between the Alberta and federal NDP. I look at it this way. There are various provincial political parties that have changed their names and/or have publicly stated that any similarity of names do not reflect a similarity of political position: BC Liberals vs. federal Liberals, Saskatchewan PCs and Liberals became the Saskatchewan Party, etc. In other words, other parties have separated from federal cousins, why not the Alberta NDP?

    Rachel COULD say that she doesn’t buy into the complete package of federal NDP policies and that she doesn’t like A or B or C but she doesn’t. So, as they say, the devil is in the details…..and the details say that the policies are required to be common.

    She may or may not be likeable and “modern,” hence the comparison to Peter Lougheed. I am of an age that I could and did vote in the election that brought Lougheed to power and I therefore remember him quite vividly. As it happens I did not vote PC – I actually voted NDP, the leader of which was Rachel’s father, Grant, of course.

    So, why do I distrust Rachel and think her a believer in the federal NDP policies? Well, she has vociferously touted the “just transition” that is a slogan for the destruction of Alberta’s economy and the replacement of good paying Alberta oilpatch related jobs with service economy, minimal wage type jobs.

    Further, it is her very own history. I recall very clearly her campaign in 2015 where in no way whatsoever did she float the idea of a carbon tax. I do not take any position on the merit or demerit of the idea of the carbon tax; I will allow others to deal with that topic. Instead, I believe fervently that, given that the carbon tax was introduced so promptly after taking power that she clearly had planned it but did not wish to tell we, the voters, of her plan during the election. That means that she was actively deceiving us.

    By contrast, there is currently a possibility being floated of provincial sales tax. Personally, I a) hate the idea of it; and b) think it is a good idea to try to get off the royalty roller coaster [contradictory, no?]. My point is that Smith has previously publicly mused that a provincial sales tax “might” be a good idea but has also said that any such change would be discussed openly and subject to public consultation.

    So, my point is that Rachel hid her plan for the carbon tax (again, notwithstanding whether it was or was not ultimately a good idea).

    And, again, going back to Lougheed, he was very clear in the election that brought him to power what his policies were and he was still elected. Rachel? Not at all in 2015.

    And, finally, Don, my apologies for the length of this response.

    1. Ken, okay. I would love to have you on board managing the ship that is the Alberta Legislative Assembly. You ‘spot the waldos’, yes. And good on you.

      Quibble be a quibble: Ms. Notley _and_ Ms. Smith both chimed in on the ‘just transition’ teeshirt, as something they wouldn’t put on, or over, ‘the people’ in the former petroleum paradise. The phrase-that-pays is dated, btw. It started out as a left labour ‘thing’ in the 90s (that’s 1990s, but the 19th century would have been a good guess).

      Alberta has needed a provincial sales tax for eons.

      And love ’em or not, the ND will be the next government because (a) scandals run in threes (one recently tagged on the premier, two to go), (b) the rats are bailing on the UCP (no rats in Alberta, true, but you know the kind of vermin of which I speak), and (c) watch for a blizzard of lucrative appointments & sundry — Orders in Council stuff — before all fall down go boom. And, should this all come to pass, what might one call the UCP for the history books — conservative? Naw… try the United Crony Party.

      As for Ms. Notley’s crew: I wish them well. And I stand by ready & able to assist if need be: we’re all in the same boat now. The way Trudeau (the younger) fiscally runs Canada, the province of Alberta led by a Premier Notley would do well to reacquaint themselves with Trudeau (the elder) and his ’80s federal confiscatory ‘sharing’ narrative.

  5. Don, we agree that Alberta does need a sales tax. I know that I won’t like it [who does like a tax, particularly, a new tax?] but I do believe that it is needed.

    Now, depending who does the introduction, it might be sold as a way to reduce income or other taxes – which would be a large, large mistake in my view – or in sold to the public in some other way. Having said that, I absolutely insist that any such introduction without first either having it in a campaign platform or having a thorough public airing beforehand would be wrong, not to say duplicitous. But then, we are speaking of politicians. [Apologies to Donna!]

    As for your apparent prediction of a win for Notley, it may or may not be so. We shall see. But, then, your reference to Trudeaux I and II and Notley should also reference Jean Chretien and his finance minister, Paul Martin and their truly forced-upon-them measures in the mid nineties.

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