NDP house leader Rachel Notley to decide soon if she’ll join leader race

Alberta NDP legislature member Rachel Notley said Monday she will decide within the next few weeks whether to join the race to become the party’s next leader.

EDMONTON — Alberta NDP legislature member Rachel Notley said Monday she will decide within the next few weeks whether to join the race to become the party’s next leader.

“I’m deliberating on it,” said Notley in an interview, adding that decision will come “within the month.”

Notley, the party’s house leader, said her answer depends on a number of factors, including how the nomination process will work.

“I’m not clear when everything is going to fire up,” said Notley, the MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona.

Brian Stokes, the NDP’s executive director, said a committee has been working for a month on nomination deadlines, fundraising rules and fees.

He said the party executive is to meet Tuesday night to ratify or rejig as necessary the committee’s report. Details are to be announced soon after.

“They’ll be setting the date for opening the nominations at the meeting (Tuesday),” said Stokes.

“The only thing we won’t have is the actual balloting process. We’ll develop that over the next couple of months.”

Stokes said the party is still looking at logistics and cost of having members vote electronically as well as in person.

The party already has its first unofficial candidate. MLA David Eggen has said he will run for the leadership when nominations open.

Eggen had previously said he’d be interested. He said he decided to announce on the weekend to end speculation.

“I just wanted to be straight up. When they open this thing, I will be the first in line to file my papers,” said Eggen, who represents Edmonton-Calder and serves as caucus whip.

The new leader will be chosen at a party conference in Edmonton on Oct. 18-19 to replace current leader Brian Mason.

Mason announced last month that he would step down at the convention. He said he had taken the party as far as he could and suggested a fresh face is needed if the NDP is to make a breakthrough and become a solid alternative to the two dominant right-centre parties in the province — the Wildrose and the Progressive Conservatives.

Eggen agreed.

“There’s a growing fatigue watching two conservative parties essentially battle it out to see who can be more right wing, and make more cuts and compromise the public interest,” he said.

“People want a stronger public health-care and education system.”

The NDP is the fourth party in the legislature with four of a possible 87 seats, all in Edmonton.

Eggen agreed that re-establishing a base outside Edmonton, especially in Calgary, is critical.

“There are many neighbourhoods and a whole socio-economic class of people in Calgary that are identical to Edmonton. It’s just a question of working (to bring out the vote).

“We will get good candidates in there. They’ll have some time (to prepare) and we’ll win some of those seats back.”

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