It was packed, absolutely packed, at Rachel Notley’s cocktail party at Hotel Arts in Calgary last Wednesday.
The event was billed as an evening of cocktails and conversation with Rachel Notley and her caucus. Tickets were available with a minimum $250 donation and the place was jammed.
Ms Notley gave a short speech highlighting the good things the NDP government is doing for Calgary, including building the long overdue Cancer Centre, finishing the Ring Road and funding the Green Line. She talked about the collapse of oil prices, the Fort McMurray fire, tariffs, and opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. She described what her government had done to stabilize the economy and strengthen the social safety net in anticipation of better times which by all accounts are returning.
She praised Albertans’ resilience and said we’re ready to face the future with confidence and optimism.
But you don’t really care about all that do you, you want to hear the gossip…
Wow, I didn’t expect to see you here! Federal and provincial Liberals and long-time conservatives showed up in droves. Had they abandoned their parties or simply realized that now is not the time for brand loyalty? As one long time liberal put it, “A brand is something you wear on your backside. I’m supporting Rachel because she’s accomplished a lot”.
Check out at all The Suits: Business men and women in dapper suits came straight from work. These were the same people who’d had a Defcon 1 meltdown when the NDP came to power in 2015, terrified about the loss of their long-standing relationships with PC politicians. They’ve got new contacts now; the economy is improving and they’re not afraid to show their support for the NDP.
People ask me if I’m a socialist. I’m a capitalist: A venture capitalist with significant holdings in Canada and the US explained why capitalists should support the NDP. He said the focus should be on the size of the pie and how the pie is divided; he warned that a capitalist who fights to keep the last 10% of the pie (by opposing an increase in the minimum wage for example) risks losing the other 90%. Look at the mess in the US, he said, not smart.
Trickle down economics doesn’t work: If it did, both Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan would have received a Noble prize for alleviating poverty.
The NDP message is divisive: Really? How? It divides the rich from everyone else (said the superrich conservative). If there’s a better way to describe the impact of Kenney’s 10% flat tax than saying it benefits those making more than $128,000/year while chopping the healthcare and education budgets by $700 million, we’d love to hear it.
Alberta needs a provincial sales tax: Every other province in the country has a PST. It’s a reliable and sustainable source of income. Agreed, but it’s political suicide; or to put it another way, Albertans are big babies and won’t stand for it. Pity.
Some people will vote UCP no matter what: True, but we don’t need all the votes, we just need enough to tip the balance in our favour. What about the Alberta Party? What about them, or the Liberals or the Greens? It’s a two-party contest: Rachel vs Kenney. (Refer to the “Wow, I didn’t expect to see you here” comments).
Can the NDP can win in 2019? You bet they can. Forget the polls which are unreliable and premature. Look at the energy and commitment in this room. These people want Rachel to win and they’ll devote their money, time, and talent to make it happen.
It’s a wrap
The cocktail party was still going strong when Mr and Ms Soapbox called it a night. We’d stuffed ourselves with canapes, we’d chatted with Rachel and her MLAs and connected with more NDP supporters than we dreamed possible at an NDP fundraiser in downtown Calgary.
We were struck by one thing. If Rachel’s cocktail party is an indication of things to come, we’d witnessed the start of a phenomenon.
It’s called the Orange Wave.