Yesterday I cast my online ballot for a new leader of Alberta’s NDP, our current quite exceptional incumbent deciding to move on to other pursuits. In keeping with the preferential ballot, I selected the former mayor of our fine city, Naheed Nenshi, as number one.

He is a newcomer to the party, having expressed disinterest in party politics in the past, bur that doesn’t particularly concern me. I’m not a great fan of party politics myself. I have long been a member of the NDP, but not because of any commitment to ideology, more because I believe that of the choices available it represents the best potential for equitable and socially just governance.

Indeed, Nenshi’s lack of political baggage may be an advantage in that it opens his appeal to a broader audience. This has already been demonstrated. Within days of announcing his candidacy, membership in the party soared.

He was a solid down to earth mayor. He is a progressive, has a strong personal appeal and has proven his mettle during a crisis. He earned broad praise for his leadership during the infamous 2013 flood.

My number two choice was Sarah Hoffman, former Minister of Health and Deputy Premier. Sarah is an old time social democrat, fierce pursuer of social justice. If this wasn’t Alberta I might have put her at number one, but it is Alberta and Sarah’s version of social democracy might be a little strong for this province.

At number three I have Kathleen Ganley, former Minister of Justice and Solicitor General. Like Nenshi, her base is in Calgary, where the party has its best chances of making further gains. Her constituency has the largest membership of any NDP riding in the province. Pundits suggest she is currently running second behind the former mayor. Ms. Ganley has run a classy campaign as I have discussed previously but, for me, lacks the fire of Hoffman.

Last of the four choices remaining in the race is Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse. She sits in fourth place for me for no other reason than that I know little about her. She has only been in the legislature since the 2023 election, so I have had little opportunity to take her political measure. Maybe next time, Jodi.

The slate offered was impressive, including two former cabinet ministers and a three-term mayor of one of Canada’s major cities. The party should be in good hands with any one of these proven politicians at the helm.

Mind you, whoever wins will have big shoes to fill. Rachel Notley was an exceptional leader who I think could have replaced Peter Lougheed as the province’s best premier if she had had at least on more term to prove herself. In addition to her abilities and character, she brought credibility to the party just being the daughter of one of Albert’s most respected politicians, Grant Notley, who died tragically too young.

As the leader of the opposition, there is lots for the new leader and her/his party to oppose. We have a premier bent on expanding her power at all levels while promoting her pet industry at all costs. Her libertarian mindset does not bode well for either social services or labour peace. And then there’s her seeming preference for pseudoscience over science. A full plate indeed for the new leader.

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