NDP provincial candidates have been perennial cellar dwellers in Red Deer but party Leader Rachel Notley isn’t fazed.
Every day on the campaign trail she is hearing from disenchanted past-conservative voters who are willing to make the switch to NDP.
Notley said their strategy is to continue to talk about the issues that matter to Albertans
“And be open and honest and committed and passionate about the fact we will follow through on our platform and give people an alternative that is balanced but also reflects their needs and their views.
“By doing that we’re hearing form people that they are prepared to give us a second look,” she said during a campaign stop in Red Deer’s West Park neighbourhood on Saturday afternoon.
During her speech, Notley took issue with Progressive Conservative Leader Jim Prentice’s dismissal on Friday of the left-leaning party’s prospects, saying “Alberta is not an NDP province.”
Prentice’s comments are just another example of Tory arrogance and entitlement, she told dozens of cheering supporters braving the cold at the West Park Community Centre.
“Albertans need to choose who they want to be their government, who reflects their interests. And they should not be told who they are and what they are.”
Notley said many voters are coming to the conclusion that the choice is between two conservative parties willing to under-fund education and health to maintain “corporate tax give-aways,” and her party, which wants to protect health care and education while asking those who can afford it to contribute a little more.
“That is the balanced approach to ensure that we are representing the interests of regular Albertans and their families …,” she added.
In an interview with local media, Notley wouldn’t bite on a question asking her to predict how many seats she expects to win.
“We’re very optimistic. As I say I’m running for premier, so we’re going to push to get as many seats as we can that gets us to that point.
“After more than 44 years I think this government has had more than enough second chances,” she said.
“I think it’s time for a government that will listen to the people of Alberta and put those people at forefront and make those people their priority.”
Notley was asked how to make her promised royalty review palatable to the oil and gas industry, which pulled out all the stops in battling former premier Ed Stelmach’s review.
“It’s really a question of making it palatable to Albertans,” countered Notley.
“I think it’s a question of talking about it openly, looking at the best practices and looking at the best opinions and listening to industry very carefully and ensuring that one of the principles that guides our decision is ensuring the sustainability of the industry and the protection of jobs.
“So we’re going to do that, but we’re also going to do that in the context of ensuring that we get the best value that we can for Albertans.”