The first non-sitting MLA has jumped into the race to replace outgoing NDP Leader Brian Mason.
Labour activist Rod Loyola, of Edmonton, announced late last month that he was officially seeking the nomination of the leadership of the Alberta NDP. Loyola, a native of Chile until 1976, when military forces overthrew the government, made his family flee to Canada.
“Through that move, I have always found myself in the environment where I’m working with people on social issues, here in Canada and abroad,” he said. “Right now we need to highlight the indigenous issues and the treaty rights of people here in Canada.
“That is one of the main reasons, I decided to put my name forward for the position.”
That makes him a little different than his other candidates, according to Loyola.
“I’m a little different than Rachel (Notley) and David (Eggan), we are all putting forward the bread and butter issues of the NDP, health care, education.”
With no seats currently outside the Edmonton downtown core, Loyola said that connecting with all communities, whether that be rural or urban, is a must for the next leader of the Alberta NDP.
“I think that the party needs to build on the legacy that it already has, and try to connect with all communities across Alberta,” he said. “One of the approaches that I take as I’ve ventured into the leadership race, is reaching out to the special interest groups, including teachers and principals of schools.”
By doing that, Loyola said that he is finding out what is happening on the front lines of the education system.
“As I go around meeting with more and more people, the focus is to put together a plan that will highlight the solutions to the current problems that the people on the front lines are experiencing,” he explained.
“A party, with me as leader, would be focused on bringing together every Albertan, from every diverse community around this province into a broad coalition of grassroots activists.”
With the NDP currently holding fourth place in the Alberta legislature, Loyola said that the NDP are becoming a viable second option for all parties.
“People are ready for a change, they aren’t really sure about what that change is going to look like, but they are ready for it,” he said.
“I have conservatives calling into our campaign, saying they don’t want to vote for the Conservatives anymore, and they really don’t want to vote for the Wildrose. And the Liberals are nowhere to be found. They are finding out that the NDP are the only viable option now. This is making us a viable option for the whole entire province, and that message is what I will focus on as leader of the Alberta NDP, by getting out there and connecting with communities and individuals.”
Loyola said that the change he speaks of isn’t going to happen over night but a very long time.
“It’s a very grassroots approach, but if we start to focus our energy and resources on it, we can do it,“he said.
Loyola said that the NDP, while not in a financial position like the Wildrose or the PC party, have something more effective, people.
“We are counting on people, that understand and meet with our values,” he said. “So by focusing on values that bring people out, the NDP can make real strides.”
Current Leader Brian Mason announced his resignation in April, and will hold the position until Oct. 18, when the party will hold its first contested leadership race since 1996.