The NDP and Alberta

Greg Fingas puts some hope in Linda Duncan’s shadow cabinet assignment.

Second, the choice of Linda Duncan as critic for Public Works and Government Services may make for a neat bit of strategy. A strong Alberta figure charged with criticizing patronage, waste and mismanagement should serve to raise serious questions among the Cons’ base- and that may not only help to shake loose populist votes on the prairies, but also put at least somewhat of a dent in the Cons’ fund-raising and activist networks.

The NDP’s ability to win seats in Saskatchewan was a preoccupation of Thomas Mulcair during the party’s leadership race. But what about Alberta?

The New Democrats currently hold just Ms. Duncan’s seat in the province, but over the last seven elections the party’s share of the popular vote in Alberta has gone from 4.1% to 5.7% to 5.4% to 9.5% to 11.6% to 12.7% to 16.8%. It hasn’t been that high since 1988 when the NDP took 17.4% of the vote in Alberta. (At that time, the NDP was the official opposition in the provincial legislature.) Ms. Duncan’s victory over Rahim Jaffer in 2008 was supposed to have been a fluke, but she increased both her vote and her margin of victory in 2011.

The provincial party is only polling at 11% in the current Alberta election, but the math is complicated and presuming the NDP wins a smattering of seats, it’s not inconceivable that they could end up being relevant players in a minority parliament.