Federal NDP looking to benefit from Alberta win
Michelle Zilio, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, May 6, 2015 9:06AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 6, 2015 6:33PM EDT
The federal NDP are trying to benefit from the "orange crush" that swept across Alberta in Tuesday's provincial election.
Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair's attempt to warm up to the party's provincial cousin comes after Alberta NDP Leader and now premier-designate Rachel Notley attempted to distance herself from him during the election campaign. At one point, Notley admitted they had not spoken in months.
But that didn't stop Mulcair from boasting about Tuesday's win in Alberta.
The party invited news cameras into its caucus meeting Wednesday morning to film chanting and singing MPs. Speaking to reporters after the caucus meeting, Mulcair said he was thrilled about the victory in Alberta and spoke with Notley on Tuesday night after the results came in.
"It bodes really well for the NDP across the country. We're so proud of the work that Rachel Notley and team did in the Alberta election," said Mulcair. "We've all got a spring in our step today.”
Mulcair spoke about the days when the NDP was underestimated in places in like Alberta and Quebec, where the party captured more than 50 federal seats in 2011. He said those areas have now become NDP strongholds.
And Mulcair did not hesitate to jump right into policy comparisons. For instance, he said the federal and provincial NDP in Alberta have similar positions on the Keystone XL pipeline.
"What was interesting in the campaign … was to hear Rachel Notley come out very clearly and say, ‘You know what Keystone XL represents? The export of Canadian jobs to the United States.’ Her approach is very similar to ours."
Nik Nanos, of Nanos Research, said on CTV News' Power Play said the NDP's win in Alberta could have a spillover effect for the upcoming federal election in Edmonton and Calgary.
"We are looking at weird and wild three-way splits, which we don’t know how they’ll produce seats," said Nanos
"If you're Stephen Harper or an Albertan MP -- especially in Calgary or Edmonton -- you’ve got … to be looking over your shoulder and wondering what's happening, because you woke up this morning and said 'I thought I knew my voters in my province.'"
Nanos said while it is unusual for provincial elections to affect federal voting patterns, the electorate may be more "open and vulnerable to changing their views" than they have been in the past.
He added that federal Conservatives will be hoping Notley stumbles in the run up to the election.
"'I'm sure the Conservatives are hoping beyond all hopes that there is some sort of misstep or controversy related to the new government and that they can point and tell Albertans 'maybe you weren’t happy with the previous government but look at what's happening now,'" said Nanos.
On the other hand, Alice Funke, of PunditsGuide.ca, told Power Play that the federal NDP has lost several politicians who had been earmarked as potential MPs to provincial ridings, including: Annie Mckitrick, Michael Connolly and Stepanie McLean.
Speaking in Ottawa on Wednesday afternoon, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau also congratulated Notley, saying that Tuesday's results underscored the desire for change in not only Alberta, but across the country.
"I think it's a message of not being taken for granted, that people need to earn their vote every time and that historical patterns don't necessarily drive voter behaviour now," said Trudeau.
Heading into their caucus meeting Wednesday, a number of Conservative MPs expressed disappointment and shock about the NDP victory in Alberta.
“I’m very disappointed, I must say," said Trade Minister Ed Fast.
Conservative MP David Tilson said he found the results "bewildering."
And Conservative backbencher Steven Fletcher said he was concerned he would wake up to an NDP win Wednesday morning.
“Well, I had some question if the sun was going to rise this morning. And when it did, there was an orange twinge to it. Very disconcerting," said Fletcher.
Notley shut down any concerns about her new caucus’s inexperience Wednesday. Speaking to reporters in Edmonton, Notley said she is confident her caucus will form a strong cabinet.
"We have people from all walks of life and I'm very confident that we'll be able to put together a very capable cabinet from a very capable caucus that reflects Albertans," said Notley.
Harper mention booed in Edmonton
Hours before her said she is looking forward to working with Harper. But the mention of Harper's name was met with boos.
"I need to say that I'm also looking forward to working with Prime Minister Harper on the many issues," said Notley, who was then interrupted by booing from the crowd.
Notley paused, waiting for the crowd to quiet before continuing.
"Because, you know, we're kind of part of this country, folks. So I am looking forward to working with Prime Minister Harper on the many issues and projects that engage our province with the federal government."
With their majority win on Tuesday night, Notley and the NDP ended amore-than-four-decade reign by the Progressive Conservatives in Alberta.
Harper, who represents the federal riding of Calgary Southwest, congratulated Notley on her win in a statement.
“I look forward to working with future Premier Notley on issues of importance for Albertans and all Canadians, including creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity across the province and country," the Prime Minister said.
He also had some words for departing Premier Jim Prentice, who stepped down as PC leader and resigned his newly-won seat just after his party’s defeat on Tuesday night.
“I would also like to thank outgoing Premier Jim Prentice for his public service and contribution to Alberta and Canada, and wish him the best in his future endeavours.”
Prentice was appointed to Harper’s cabinet in 2006 after the Conservatives won a minority government, holding a variety of portfolios during his time as a federal MP, including Indian Affairs, Industry and Environment.
‘Spring has arrived’
Polls leading up to the election showed a surge in support for the NDP, spurring speculation about a possible minority government. But the NDP grasped a comfortable majority Tuesday, winning 53 seats in the 87-seat legislature. The Wildrose took 21 seats, forming the Official opposition, while the PCs took only 10.
For Notley, whose father Grant, once led the Alberta NDP, political change was a long time coming for the province.
"To every Albertan, you know the weather is what it is, but I'll tell ya, spring has arrived."
Notley said she is also looking forward to working with the provinces on issues like the environment and energy.
"I'm looking forward to partnering with all of Canada's premiers on many, many issues including the need for a national approach to the environment in Canada."