Anyone who thinks women are too emotional and unpredictable for a life in politics hasn’t met Rachel Notley and the Wonder Women.
Ms Soapbox had the pleasure of meeting some of the Wonder Women this weekend at the NDP Convention.
They’re smart and have a wicked sense of humour. When Finance Minister Joe Ceci told Environment Minister Shannon Phillips he enjoyed watching her take apart the Wildrose Opposition when they attacked the carbon levy, Ms Phillips replied “Actually I’m a nice person.”
And she is.
She’s also ten times more knowledgeable about the environment and climate change than the Opposition MLAS who are attempting to discredit the Climate Leadership Plan (which has the support of industry, environmentalists and First Nations by the way) with what Ed Whittingham, executive director of the Pembina Institute, characterizes as misinformation and outright lies.
They’re committed and tireless. Rachel Notley and Municipal Affairs minister Danielle Larivee moved heaven and earth to protect the residents of Fort McMurray after the worst forest fire in Alberta’s history. Both of them have families but their sole focus was on keeping the residents of Fort McMurray safe. Unlike a previous premier, neither of them checked into the Jasper Park Lodge for a little R&R over the weekend.
Even the crotchety Leader of the Official Opposition gave Ms Notley and Ms Larivee credit for a job well done…or was it credit for having a good communication plan throughout the emergency. It’s hard to tell with Mr Jean.
The Premier and Municipal Affairs minister will get a short break over the summer but unlike the rest of us they won’t be turning off their cell phones. They’re on call 24/7.
They’re affectionate. Ms Notley beams with pride when she talks about Baby Patrick, the first baby born to a sitting MLA, Ms Stephanie McLean, Minister of Service and Status of Women. Apparently, the cabinet ministers fight over who gets to hold Baby Patrick during cabinet meetings—others have a talking stick, Notley says, we have a baby.
They like to hug people. Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman gave Ms Soapbox “a squeeze” (hug) while at the same time juggling notebooks and a cell phone after meeting Ms Soapbox for the first time in the convention hall. Premier Notley’s speech was delayed a few minutes to give her time to hug her way up to the podium. The crowd didn’t care, it was busy waving signs and chanting NDP NDP NDP.
They get things done. While the Opposition spent an inordinate amount of time cranking up the Angry Machine, the government moved ahead with a royalty review and the climate leadership plan and enacted legislation prohibiting corporate election funding, increasing the minimum wage, establishing a progressive income tax regime, increasing corporate taxes and implementing laws to increase farm safety.
Ms Notley’s first year at the helm brought about dramatic change.
The next three years will be equally challenging—the government cannot continue to borrow, it will have to balance the budget. The economy may strengthen or it may not. And while Ms Notley recognizes that the foundation of Alberta’s economy is energy and access to global markets is vital; she also knows she has to move ahead with plans to develop a more diversified, value-added economy (which includes renewable energy) in order to achieve a brighter economic future.
Ms Notley is confident she’ll get there because as she succinctly puts it, when new people are elected to form a new government they take a new look at tough problems.
It’s no coincidence that good things have happened. Half of the new people in Ms Notley’s Cabinet are women.