How a Party’s Nominees Reflect a Party’s Values

Racists, homophobes and xenophobes do not feel at home in the New Democratic Party consequently NDP nomination meetings are not derailed by bozo eruptions and do not attract much media attention.

This radio silence means many Albertans are uninformed about the quality of the nominees the NDP considers of sufficient character to represent the party in the 2019 election.

If the two nomination meetings Ms Soapbox attended last week are any indication, the caliber of NDP nominees is outstanding.

On Thursday Janet Eremenko was acclaimed the NDP candidate for Calgary-Elbow and on Saturday Anne McGrath was acclaimed the NDP candidate (replacing Stephanie McLean who is stepping down) for Calgary-Varsity.


Janet Eremenko NDP candidate Calgary-Elbow

Both women are stellar candidates with much in common.  They have a long history of community service, Janet works in poverty reduction in Calgary and has a strong sense of civic duty (she ran in the last municipal election).  Anne has been active in politics and social justice for decades.  She was Jack Layton’s chief of staff before becoming Rachael Notley’s principal secretary.  They’re both married with children and are deeply committed to making Alberta work for all Albertans.

They’re eloquent speakers who can clearly articulate the Notley government’s accomplishments including $25/day daycare, the $15 minimum wage, and increased support of public healthcare (the Cancer Clinic will be completed ahead of schedule), and public education and infrastructure.

They’re in the enviable position of running for a party that knows what it stands for; and is led by a leader with a reputation for intelligence, integrity, compassion and wit.


Anne McGrath NDP candidate for Calgary-Varsity

Janet and Anne’s supporters packed the venues;  Janet’s event was held at a popular restaurant, Anne’s took place in a community hall.  There was barely room to move let alone hear each other as lawyers, doctors, business executives, entrepreneurs, teachers, nurses, electricians, welders, union reps, seniors and university students pressed close to hear what everyone had to say.  They were noisy, optimistic and generous (both candidates raised thousands of dollars).

And why shouldn’t they be upbeat, they’d just won the trifecta.  Voters decide on how they will vote based on three things:  the party, the party leader, and the local candidate.  If they’re lucky they’ll nail two out of three, but rarely do all three elements line up like three cherries on a slot machine.

Until now.

NDP voters in Calgary-Elbow and Calgary-Varsity are over the moon because they like the NDP party, they like Rachel Notley, and they like their local candidates.  Compare this to the dilemma faced by UCP supporters who are still waiting to find out what their party stands for (their leader holds the pen and will tell them when he’s good and ready), who are concerned about their leader’s position on social issues, and who are being asked to support local UCP candidates who may have zero influence on the party’s leader and the party’s policies.

Janet and Anne’s supporters are well aware the 2019 election will be a hard slog, but they’re up for the challenge, looking forward to the chance to put Rachel Notley and their local candidate up against Jason Kenney and the UCP candidates.  They’re confident that most Albertans don’t want to drag the province backward to the Klein era, economically and socially, and would prefer to move forward into the 21st century with confidence and resolve.

A supporter summed up their position with a Notley quote:  “We’re not afraid of the future.  We own it!”

So yes, the NDP nomination meetings don’t get much media coverage, and for good reason.  The NDP field quality nominees while the UCP is plagued with racists, homophobes and xenophobes.

If you’re still not sure whose vision, Notley’s or Kenney’s, best reflects your Alberta, take a closer look at the NDP and UCP nominees, that’ll tell you all you need to know.

NOTE:  this post is about the quality of the people running for nomination for political office in Alberta.  If it reads like a puff piece for the NDP that’s because I’m comparing certain NDP nominees to certain UCP nominees.  

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41 Responses to How a Party’s Nominees Reflect a Party’s Values

  1. My hunch is that Kenney will rebrand UCP as the United Grievance Party and call it a platform.

    • James, the UGP has a nice ring to it. The thing I noticed at both of these nomination meetings was the lack of vitriol on the part of the nominees. They weren’t interested in painting Albertans out as victims of Ottawa or environmentalists or the UCP. Sure they talked about where the UCP would take the province (backward), but they didn’t try to be fear mongers, instead they focused on their vision for the future. It was grown up talk and very uplifting.

      • A bit tongue-in-cheek, but I don’t know what Kenney has left to build a platform out of.

        I too am encouraged by the growing maturity, sincerity and substance of political discourse in Alberta, UCP notwithstanding.

        It is difficult to overstate the magnitude of the challenges ahead of us, but…

        The opportunities we will create for ourselves along the way, especially for our youth and children, will be breathtaking in their number, size and diversity.

        That said, I believe we are still failing to effectively engage most of the progressive political energy in the province, which is indeed our youth and children.

        A touch of inspiration from rural southwest Alberta:

        Full disclosure: I might be related to one of the people in the article.

      • James, what an uplifting story! Young Annie Van Leeuwen nailed it when she said “There are changes that need to be made, and if I don’t make them, who’s going to?” Do you think there’s any chance we can get Jason Kenney to attend a student leadership conference so he can learn a thing or two about leadership from Annie and her classmates?

  2. Elaine Fleming says:

    It is a stark contrast between the candidates of the two parties, with the NDP people outweighing the UCP’s in such very important ways: community service, ethics, experience, competence, maturity … even Jason should be impressed and vote for them. Then there are the things like education and the average Alberta family’s issues, which he himself can’t possibly speak to.

    • Elaine, I smiled when you said even Jason should be impressed and vote for them. 🙂 Your point is well taken with respect to all of the issues Jason can’t speak to, sadly he doesn’t seem to be the least bit interested in learning more about them. He boycotted all the debates on abortion clinic bubble zones but met with the anti-choice people. He refused to meet with Mike Morrison to talk about LBGTQ+ issues, he shows no interest in looking for ways to diversify the economy or address climate change, instead he says he’ll cut reopen the coal mines and cut the carbon tax. You’d think he just landed here from the 1950s. Very strange.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan and Elaine: Yet, as part of the CPC, Jason Kenney supported his fellow colleague, Jim Prentice to get rid of coal fired power plants in Canada. Then, not that long ago, Jason Kenney stated that he supports the carbon tax. Where does Jason Kenney really stand?

  3. Roy Wright says:

    I too, have attended a few NDP events over the past few weeks, including one we hosted at our house. What struck me was the range of people attending these events including trades, professions, home makers and young and old, as Ms. Soapbox pointed out. The other striking feature was that people were friendly, cheerful and pretty darn upbeat about life. Assuming our newspapers and media are accurate, the right side of the political spectrum appear to be angry, mad and blaming everyone/everything trying to create divisive behaviour.

    I see the ranting down south of the border and find it disgusting at best. I also see it starting to play out in Alberta where the UCP candidates, attendees at events and the leader playing to the same style of angry and divisive politics. I WILL NOT play that game; we are very fortunate to live in Alberta and I much prefer to live my life in an upbeat and positive manner. Please do not get dragged down into the morass of bitter and angry, nasty people…we Albertans are better than that!

    • That’s right Roy. As you point out we’ve had first hand experience with the NDP party. They’re thoughtful, pragmatic and optimistic about the future. They don’t engage in fear mongering, playing the victim or over the top anger like the UCP. Just last week the UCP attacked Edmonton reporter Emma Graney for her coverage of Kenney’s speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. Kenney’s objection wasn’t that Graney’s coverage was inaccurate or biased, but that she reported the little bits of policy Kenney deigned to share with Albertans and what he shared was harsh. Perhaps he knows the only way the UCP will win is if they hide their agenda and inflame the public with lies and half-truths. Like you said, it’s a page out of Trump’s playbook and look how well that turned out.

  4. aratureis says:

    This is terrific. Your work always is. Thank you. How do I post this to Facebook?

    On Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 6:01 PM Susan on the Soapbox, wrote:

    > susanonthesoapbox posted: “Racists, homophobes and xenophobes do not feel > at home in the New Democratic Party consequently NDP nomination meetings > are not derailed by bozo eruptions and do not attract much media attention. > This radio silence means many Albertans are uninformed abo” >

  5. Brian says:

    You forgot to mention that Ann McGrath ran for the communist party, something that doesn’t resonate with modern voters.

    • Correct, Wiki says when Anne was a student she ran for the Communist Party in Edmonton-Strathcona in the 1984 federal election. When asked about her involvement with the party she said “I was young, probably naïve, interested in talking about politics and very influenced by friends and teachers.” She’s been a member of the NDP since at least 1993 when she ran in the 1993 provincial election.
      I’m a modern voter and it’s not an issue for me.

    • carlosbeca says:

      In what way would that be a problem? After all it does not seem to be when the person is from the ‘Soldiers of Odin’
      A communist is a person that believes that the State should control all means of production. Not any worse that believing that 6 people on the planet own more than 85% of the rest of us.
      Not sure why a modern person would prefer to agree with the current capitalist system where only 1% of the world population has any voice and power.
      It is just perception. It is like an alcoholic calling a weed smoker a junkie.

  6. Susan – permission to copy and share on FB, Twitter?

  7. Dwayne says:

    Susan: This is another great blog. This is going to be a very interesting provincial election, to say the least. I know the UCP is not helping themselves by having bad candidates come up, who say and do stupid things, have hate groups (like the Sons of Odin) RSVP to their events, and then the UCP wants to return to the bad policies of the Alberta PCs (with the proposed austerity and the desire to return to the flat tax, etc.), but the media (in particular Postmedia) is turning a blind eye to all of that. I even see letter writers, in particular, who write to The Sun, who are on a mission to try and discredit the positive accomplishments of the NDP, with blatant lies, misinformation and spin. Also, the UCP has already raised more money than the NDP, but it is never questioned by the media who their donors are. It seems to be glorified.
    I remember clearly how bad the Alberta PCs were for decades (excluding Peter Lougheed’s government), by failing to save money, from not getting the right oil royalty rates, doing so many of the most costliest scandals, having a flat tax disaster, privatizing and deregulating essential services, like utilities, thereby increasing their costs, then failing to properly upkeep anything, like hospitals, roads and schools. Quite frankly, I do not see the UCP being any different and I do not want to see them in power. Given the circumstances they were dealt with, such as decades of fiscal mismanagement by the Alberta PCs, followed by a crash in oil prices, 4 years ago, I think the NDP have done a fine job so far. They are worthy of being elected again. They have candidates who want to look to the future to help all Albertans. I also think that Rachel Notley is the best premier Alberta has had since Peter Lougheed.
    Hope you have a great week.

    • Dwayne, thanks for your great comments. I’d like to pick up on your point about Postmedia becoming a platform for the UCP. The level of partisanship exhibited by our major daily newspapers is appalling. Recently I spoke with a young journalist who said journalists are leaving these newspapers in droves because they’ve come to realize that staying with the paper will do more harm than good to their reputations. The fact that what was once considered a plum job (working for a daily in a major city) is now a detriment speaks volumes.

  8. J.E.Molnar says:

    You are absolutely right Ms Soapbox —you don’t have to look very hard to discover the differences between the UCP and the NDP candidates or currently elected MLAs for that matter.

    The recent purging of UCP nomination candidates should by now be a wake-up call to all Albertans. Instead of looking at the discarding of racist, homophobic and xenophobic candidates as a mere UCP political inconvenience, Albertans should recognize this as an alarming trend. While the candidates with their odious views were punted from the election race, chances are pretty, pretty good they remain card-carrying members of the party. How many more non-candidates and aspiring ones hold memberships in the party with similar views as those ousted candidates? My bet is a significant number, who likely migrated from the Wildrose “Lake of Fire” party and are now embedded with memberships in the UCP. Far right Conservatives in Alberta can change their name—but they can’t change their DNA.

    • “Far right Conservatives in Alberta can change their name—but they can’t change their DNA.” That’s a great way to put it J.E. The fact that moderate conservatives continue to support the UCP notwithstanding its appeal to racists, homophobes and xenophobes is very concerning. Some of my moderate conservative friends tell me they’re uncomfortable with Kenney’s position on social issues but they’ll “hold their nose” and vote for him anyway because they like his economic policies. This makes absolutely no sense. Kenney has NO economic policies, he has memes like “kill the carbon tax” and “bring back the flat tax”. Furthermore you can’t separate a government’s economic policies from its social policies. (See Trump example). The harsh reality is a voter who supports a party and a leader that attracts racists, homophobes and xenophobes is supporting racists, homophobes and xenophobes. Period.

    • Brent McFadyen says:

      You are so correct they cannot change their DNA. They are basically angry at everyone but themselves . They do not want to do anything constructive for the overall population like health care, education,transportation, or to diversify our oil based economy. They wish to return to the dark ages where they belong.

      • Brent, I’ve been trying to understand conservatives for a long time, my most recent attempt crashed and burned when I read an excerpt from Stephen Harper’s latest book Right Here, Right Now. Harper said conservatives ended the cold war, people could be divided into the “somewheres” (people who were closely tied to a place and were nationalistic) and the “anywheres” (people who felt comfortable anywhere and were not particularly nationalistic). He even said there was a difference between people who showered in the morning (presumably because they went to desk jobs) and those who showered in the evening (presumably because they did manual labour and worked up a sweat). There are enough labels floating around to divide people, adding these goofy labels doesn’t help.

  9. WatsonS says:

    Jason Kenney fully intends to run right through the election with no platform at all. That’s his best bet to win. If he actually starts taking positions he will start losing voters. His entire strategy was to turn this into a 2 party election and then simply insight anger and divisiveness to make the vote not for him and his ideas but against the NDP. And it’ll probably work if he can keep the eruptions to a minimum.

    • Bob Raynard says:

      I agree, Watson. Sadly, the media will probably let him get away with it.

      • WatsonS and Bob, you’re probably right. You’d think Albertans would understand Kenney doesn’t care about them after this week’s revelation that he promised to bring in legislation that would benefit the Motor Dealers Association in return for funding. He says he didn’t make any promises, but that’s certainly not the impression he gave the MDA who said he promised to unwind consumer protections as well as OH&S, WCB and Labour Code protections. I don’t know what it will take for Albertans to wake up.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Bob the media is on his side so they will let him get away with it – that is their objective

    • Carlos Beca says:

      His strategy is the same that has been slowly been implemented in the democratic world.
      Gradually get the citizenry used to fear, control and one party system. It is easier to govern and faster to serve his sick ideology.
      It is all in the same process Hitler used in the 1930s just redesigned to get around a more educated society. unfortunately it is working. Remember Joseph Goebbels? Just take a look how he slowly got Germans to hate Jews.
      For those of you that were born and raised in Canada and believe this will never happen here – please wake up. It can happen anywhere and it is developing right in front of our eyes. We depend on the US for 20% of our GDP and 1.9 million jobs. It takes way more than just a government to avoid going where they are moving to. This has been happening for a while and it is called ‘The Fall of the Empire” – again we just have to read history. They are obviously declining, and for a nation with the power of the US it could have enormous consequences. We are especially vulnerable.
      Who do you think has created the conditions for someone to send these bombs to top level Democrats?

      • Carlos, you’ve made such an important observation. Sarah Kendzior, an American writer/anthropologist who studies dictatorships has been warning Americans about what Trump is doing ever since he was elected. She and others were ignored because the Americans (and Canadians) are too naive and selfish to think about what these tyrants are doing. The US is in the grip of domestic terrorism, letter bombs are being mailed to influential Democrats with no concern for the innocent bystanders who may be killed or maimed in the process and Trump is pats himself on the back at being a good boy because he’s toned down his toxic rhetoric for a day. Everything he’s said so far is just lip service, if he’s seriously concerned about this he must apologize for inciting violence in the first place.

        The US is a mess, the same thing can happen to Canada in the blink of an eye.

        Anyone who wants to read a simple little book about the process and what we can do to stop it should pick up Timothy Snyder’s book called On Tyranny.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Susan I am glad you agree with me on this. It is a very serious matter and I am concerned we are taking it too lightly. Furthermore none of the top politicians in Canada seems to be interested in it. I have not heard a word about the state of our democracy. I have not heard one criticism about the state of politics in the US. Everyone is focusing on Saudi Arabia and Turkey and Yemen and whatever else. It sounds like an excuse to avoid dealing with our own situation. Discussing the situation in the US is only done with light smiles and innuendos during the news. We are known for being kind, generous and respectful but in my opinion we are being weak and avoiding reality. As a Canadian I take the opportunity to talk about it here because there are no other places. It is frustrating and dangerous.
        Amazingly in poll taking this month in the US 30% of Americans believe that a civil war is possible in the US within 5 years.

  10. GoinFawr says:

    Re: “This radio silence means many Albertans are uninformed about the quality of the nominees the NDP considers of sufficient character to represent the party in the 2019 election”

    Well, thank YOU for the information Susan, courtesy of your blog at least if Albertans bother to look they can find out something about the NDP, despite the mainstream media’s blackout of their accomplishments and policies. Not that this is anything new for the party,

    “It was almost impossible to get an objective statement of our policy or even an adequate description of any piece of legislation printed in the daily press. We would hand the press a statement and either it would not be printed at all or it would be run in such a distorted form that it looks almost meaningless and would appear among the classified ads, while the criticism of the legislature would be plainly visible on the front page with a two-inch headline.”

    Why that sounds familiar!

    “The newspapers said we were going to socialize everything, that the government would own the farms, the corner store, the barber-shop, and the beauty parlor, and that everybody would be working for the state. When that didn’t happen, they had to give some explanation. So the explanation was that we had betrayed our principles, we were no longer Socialists and we were now reactionaries, having departed from our original ideals. In effect, we were now traitors, because we didn’t do the horrible things they promised we would. They had built up a straw man and now they were knocking it down.”
    – T Douglas

    So you see some things will never change, but thanks to the interwebs and folks like you at least they are being called out and having a light shone on them more often these days.


    • GoinFawr: Thanks for those poignant quotes from Tommy Douglas. The biased and inaccurate media coverage of the NDP is augmented by the baloney coming directly from Jason Kenney himself. He attacked Alberta’s carbon tax by saying most Albertans will not receive rebate cheques, Economists Trevor Tombe and Andrea Leach rebutted this by pointing out rebate cheques are sent to families, not children (who Kenney must have included in order to justify his statement about “most” Albertans). The truth is that 2/3 of Alberta households will get rebate cheques. The fact Kenney plays fast and loose with information that is so easy to verify is frightening.

      • GoinFawr says:

        Here’s another thing to JKenney example worth keeping on the tip of your tongue before the next election:

        I don’t get it, these absolutist ‘free market’ proponents always go on about how it supposedly defaults to offer ‘perfect knowledge’ (and how that is an essential element for a level playing field), yet in practice they always seem to seek to cloud and/or obscure the consumers’ view.

        Meanwhile, those they would decry with the epithet ‘socialist’ seek to keep the playing field in balance to the benefit of HONEST businesses AND the consumer:

        “More transparency is good for consumers and it’s good for Alberta’s many trustworthy auto businesses, too,”- Service Alberta Minister Brian Malkinson

        I couldn’t even make this stuff up.

  11. I have known Ann and Brian Pincott for decades. Both are exceptional candidates, highly knowledgeable about the political process, and fine human beings. With strength like that, the NDP and our province are in good hands.

    • Well said Dr Dickson. I received a comment today that sounded like something straight out of the McCarthy era Red Scare days. Rather than comment about Anne’s qualifications the commentator asked if I had communist leanings. That’s right up there with Kenney criticizing Peter Lougheed for creating neo-Stalinist make-work projects. Pathetic.

  12. David says:

    The government seems to be handling its nominations in a very organized and methodical way, which may not get much media attention, but may actually be a very productive way to go about things.

    I think a lot of the UCP troubles with nominations are understandable given they are trying to cobble together a party from one predecessor that tried to be a big tent party and another one which mostly rejected that approach. Also one of the predecessor parties was quite elite top down and the other professed to very grassroots focused. I suppose if they gain power the UCP may manage to hold such an unwieldy group together for some time, but if they somehow fail I wonder if the whole thing will manage to hold together very long without eventually blowing up.

  13. David, you’ve identified a major problem with the UCP, it’s a mishmash of the worst of the PCs and the worst of the Wildrose. They’re united in one thing, and that’s ousting the NDP. If they succeed, they’ll land in the Legislature with no vision, no strategy, nothing, and it won’t be long before all the power hungry MLAs are at each other’s throats. Harper had the ability to hold the federal conseratives together, Kenney does not. Kenney reminds me of those executives you see in large corporations, they’re good second bananas, but lousy CEOs.

    • Dwayne says:

      Susan: With the way the UCP is going, I can’t see them ruling Alberta. The media, and others will not be able to hide their wrongdoings, no matter how hard they try. It will still keep happening, and the UCP will sink.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Dwayne I do not know if are from Alberta.

        If you are – I love your optimism
        If not – I am sorry for the wake up call

        All that Jason Kenney has to do is what he has already done – promising to cancel the carbon tax and the throne is captured. He knows that extremely well. Once he gets in there the process initiated by Ralph Klein will continue and that is what matters to the so called conservatives today. The platform is ready just waiting for power. The annihilation of public space and public services and the total enslaving to private interests. They do not believe in a strong state unless they are the rulers. They do not want public education after their kids have gone through and they do not believe in public health care after they have put enough money aside to survive old age in a good rich environment.
        Every single time they show up here to discuss any issue, the sentences are ready – cut taxes and the second coming of the Alberta Advantage and of course get rid of those communist regulations that do not allow business to thrive like for example allow more pollution and finalize the poisoning of our rivers.

  14. Carlos and Dwayne, I believe the NDP has a chance to win the next election however I agree with Carlos that it’s going to be difficult because too many Albertans are prepared to believe the UCP’s promises without any critical analysis. They should be asking themselves why Kenney continues to argue against the carbon tax when every economist and clear thinking conservative pundit in the country agrees it is the right approach. They should be asking how Kenney will balance the budget without damaging their children’s education, surely they all can’t afford to send their kids to Strathcona Tweedsmuir (tuition starts at $15,400 for kindergarten and goes up to $22,900 for grades 10 to 12 plus additional fees that run to $5000/year). They should ask how Kenney will get rid of the deficit without damaging healthcare, surely they all can’t afford fly to the Mayo clinic for an annual checkup and even if they could Mayo won’t do them any good if they have a heart attack at 2 a.m. and can’t find an ambulance let alone an operating theatre.
    These people have their heads in the sand, but I’ve noticed more and more women asking questions about $25/day daycare, class room sizes, and healthcare for their families. I hope they ignore their husband’s “economic case” for Kenney and vote to support themselves and their families.

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