Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley says she would lead a “stable, no surprises government” focused on growing the Alberta economy and providing strong public health care and education if elected next year.
Notley spoke about her party’s plans Thursday at a sold-out Calgary Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
“Our economy is changing and we need to make sure Albertans — and Alberta — are ready,” Notley told about 375 members of the city’s business community, arts and social organizations, and universities.
“We need to be bold, we need to be forward-looking, we need collaboration and we need leadership.”
Notley, who served as premier from 2015 to 2019, said the start of the legislative session has been raucous with the United Conservative government’s sovereignty bill, which rejects the federal government’s overarching authority.
Business groups, including the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, have warned the legal uncertainty surrounding the sovereignty act is not good for investment.
Notley said she’s also concerned and hopes to hear little about the act going forward.
“The sooner we can stop talking about it, the sooner investors can take a deep breath and hopefully get back to work in terms of planning to make investments here in Alberta,” Notley told reporters following her speech.
Chamber president and CEO Deborah Yedlin said she heard a good response from those who attended.
“Everybody in the room is very, very focused on certainty and stability,” she said. “That was certainly the message that she was projecting into the room as well.
“At the end of the day, the only way businesses make investments is based on certainty from an investment standpoint.”
Yedlin said the speech sold out in 72 hours, which is quick for a leader of the Opposition, and had a wait-list.
“Everybody is looking to hear from her in terms of what a government led by the NDP would look like relative to where we are today,” she said. “There are a lot of things that people are very focused on.
“One is a competitive investment environment, the other is making sure that there’s health care for Albertans that is accessible and affordable. Same thing with education and infrastructure. People are looking for the messaging to understand where the NDP sits today and the lessons learned from being in government beforehand.”
The UCP government was quick to respond to Notley’s speech in a statement.
“In government, Rachel Notley’s reckless economic agenda drove Alberta’s economy in the wrong direction and she would do it again if given the chance,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Rebecca Schulz, who’s a member of the UCP government from Calgary. “She has a clear record of failing on the economy.”
Notley said her NDP government was successful on the Trans Mountain expansion project to British Columbia, the first new oil pipeline to the ocean from Alberta in 50 years.
“We succeeded with TMX, and we can succeed at restoring our reputation as a cosmopolitan jurisdiction,” she said during her speech. “We should always be a pioneer of growth and new ways of doing things and we can do that as part of a strong and united Canada.”
She added that she learned a lot about the job as premier in the past seven years.
“As a first-time government, I know we made some mistakes,” she said. “As leader, I have been determined to own them, and fix them.”
The next provincial election is set to be held in May.