The federal NDP has been making life difficult for the Alberta NDP since they formed government in 2015. From the introduction of the LEAP Manifesto at the federal NDP Convention held in Edmonton in 2016 the federal party has been nothing but trouble for the provincial party; and that doesn’t look like it’s about to change.
|The Canadian Press/Justin Tang|
Yesterday, federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh announced BC has his support in the Trans Mountain dispute. Certainly, from a political point of view, support for the federal party is much stronger in BC than it can ever hope to be in Alberta. This wasn’t an announcement without thought; the parent party chose a side between the warring sibling Premiers.
Having a federal counterpart can be both a benefit and a curse. In terms of support, visibility and credibility, such as with the CPC in Alberta and the Liberals in the east, having a federal counterpart endorse a provincial candidate can be a huge benefit. If a provincial candidate can access an existing voter base, there is also a greater likelihood of success.
Take, for instance, Devin Dreeshen‘s candidacy for the UCP in the upcoming Innisfail-Sylvan Lake by-election. His father, Earl Dreeshen, was first elected in 2008 to represent the CPC in the federal riding of Red Deer-Mountainview. The family name is a likely boon but there is also an existing base of support consisting of door knockers, donors and a current list of phone numbers and email addresses of probable voters. In politics, there are few things more valuable.
In the NDP’s case, at least in Alberta, their federal ties would best be described as a curse, as the opposition in the Legislature cannot help but gleefully mention at least a few times a week. Now Singh and the federal NDP have officially washed their hands of both Alberta and its governing party. The Alberta NDP can no longer ignore the fact that their connection to the federal NDP is a liability.
On the ground, few would disagree that Rachel Notley won the 2015 election in spite of her affiliation with the federal NDP and not because of it. The party’s provincial convention should be coming up soon and maybe the big question for the membership should be whether they would support the ND’s cutting the cord and making their own way in the world. It certainly appears they’re being forced to do that anyway.