Months of criss-crossing the province, selling memberships and promoting the NDP cause will all come to a head this Saturday in the provincial capital, when the Alberta NDP crown a new leader of the party.
Three candidates have been vying for the position of leader of the fourth place party – Rod Loyola, David Eggen and Rachel Notley.
One of them will replace outgoing leader Brian Mason, who announced early this year that he would be stepping down as leader after serving in the party’s top job for 10 years.
With polls showing an increase in support for the fourth-place NDP, the new leader will have a quick turn- around before entering the legislature when the session resumes with a speech from the throne in November.
The Lloydminster Source spoke with the candidates on the Tuesday before the leadership convention in Edmonton.
Eggen was the first candidate to announce his intention to seek the leadership of the Alberta NDP.
Eggen, who has been an MLA for eight years, said that during the leadership race, he has seen the political winds change in the province of Alberta.
“I have never seen the landscape change as quickly as I have in the last few months,” he said.
Eggen said that he has noticed people in Alberta are looking for a new place to call home politically.
“And they are very interested in an alternative to the governing Progres- sive Conservatives,” he said.
He added that the leadership race for the Alberta NDP has come at a good time.
“We have never had so much interest in the NDP.”
The issues that he seems to hear the most about when he travels around the province are the same.
“People are concerned about the policies around education and health care,” he said.
“I think that infrastructure is an issue effecting everyone in the province and meeting the needs of the rapidly growing population,” Eggen said.
“Alberta is booming in all corners of the province and we need the infrastructure to keep pace with that rapid growth.”
Eggen admits that a high employment rate in a strong economy is a great thing to have, but people he has spoken with across the province during the leadership race have told him that they are finding it hard to live in the province.
“A lot of people and families are finding it hard to live with the rent costs and utilities cost,” he said.
“There are two edges to the economic boom that we have felt here in Alberta.”
With the governing PC party in power for 43 years, Eggen said that people have begun looking for the next option in their political lives, and more are identifying with the NDP than ever before.
“People are giving us more credibility, in the polls and in the volunteers, there is a percentage of people who are looking at us,” he said.
Eggen said that he has found with having two right-wing parties in the province, more left leaning Albertans are looking for the NDP as the viable option.
With the leadership results expected sometime after 1 p.m. on Saturday, Eggen says that if he is chosen as the candidate to lead the party, his first priority will be helping the four candidates win in the upcoming byelections.
“I have helped out in (Edmonton-Whitemud) and I’m hearing the sounds of change, so if elected on Saturday, I will be making sure we stay competitive in those races,” he said.
Eggen then said that he will be setting his sights for the return of the legislature in November.
“We have a new premier and new key cabinet position ... if they can win their seats,” Eggen jokingly said.
“I will be looking to have a clearly direct message for this fall session.”
Rachel Notley is hoping to follow in her father’s footsteps.
Notley, who is the presumed front-runner of the leadership, has picked up the endorsements of numerous NDP supporters from around the province and Canada.
She was first elected in 2008, and then re-elected in 2012, Notley’s campaign was reached numerous times for comments on the upcoming leadership election on Saturday, and due to scheduling conflicts could not be reached for comments.
Rod Loyola Union activist
Rod Loyola is a relative newcomer to the political game.
Currently the president of the Non-Academic Staff Associa- tion (NASA the Union) at the University of Alberta, Loyola was the last to announce his candidacy for the Alberta NDP leadership.
The Loyola campaign was contacted twice for comment on the end of the leadership race, but no response was given at print time.
Candidates will be given a chance to speak to party supporters at Stutton Place in Edmonton on Saturday. After candidate speeches, voting will begin at 1:45 p.m. with results expected around 3:30 p.m. that afternoon.