CALGARY — Alberta’s premier gave a defiant speech to delegates at the NDP convention in Calgary Saturday saying her government will continue to reject the “politics of austerity.”
It’s the first time the NDP has met since Premier Rachel Notley rolled to victory in Alberta just over a year ago.
“This is the elected team that is bringing progressive change to Alberta,” said Notley.
“This is a government that is kickin’ it, and taking names.”
The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, the precursor to the NDP, was founded in the southern Alberta city.
“Let’s remember, to begin, that the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation was founded right here in Calgary on August 1st, 1932,” she said.
It has been a tumultuous first year for the New Democrats, who have had to deal with plummeting oil prices that, along with the cost of delivering election promises, have left the government with an expected $10.1-billion deficit.
Notley outlined her government’s achievements over the past year in a 40 minute speech and promised not to abandon Albertans in need.
“The new government of Alberta – this NDP government — hasn’t responded to a price shock by making things worse,” Notley said.
“We’re protecting core services instead of slashing them. And we’re not downloading this economic shock onto families,” she added.
“In short, like more and more of the world, we reject the politics of austerity.”
The province will stay the course over the next three years and later told reporters she will not be making any adjustments to win favour with certain parts of the electorate, Notley said.
“I think at this point in government it’s really important to move forward on what you talk to people that you would run on and to not be sort of course changing all over place in some effort to do some sort of hyper-sophisticated reach out for an election that’s three years away.”
She also reiterated her plans to raise Alberta’s minimum wage to $15 an hour before the next election.
“And I want to hear the opposition promise they’ll take it away – that they’ll roll back the minimum wage to where it used to be – the lowest in the country,” she said.
“And then we’ll see what the people of Alberta think about that.”
Notley also expressed her pride in her government’s plan to bring in a carbon tax and its battle against climate change.
“We have to step up and be a big part of the solution to one of the world’s biggest problems – climate change,” she said.
Notley discussed the importance of Alberta finding ways of getting its oil and natural gas to market but never used the word pipeline in her speech. Afterward she said that wasn’t intentional and she will continue to argue on behalf of Alberta’s resource industry to anyone who will listen.
More than 900 delegates attended the speech. Notley received more than 20 standing ovations during her speech.
Her popularity carried over to a mandatory leadership vote where she received 97.8 per cent support.
“I think that we’re good,” said Notley with a laugh.
“I’m very pleased and very honoured to have gotten that level of support.”