At the Leduc Civic Centre, on Thursday September 11, in front a group of enthusiastic party followers and curious Alberta voters, three New Democrat Party (NDP) candidates got together to participate in a Forum geared at showcasing their platforms, as they run for the position of NDP leader, a vote that will take place on October 8, 2014. Rachel Notley, David Eggen and Rod Loyola are the three front runners in this leadership race.
The Forum was introduced by Gary Hansen, president of the Leduc-Beaumont NDP Constituency Association. Mr. Hansen was happy to share that, “a lot of Alberta voters are studying the political landscape, seeking progressive alternatives. People can sign up for an NDP membership before September 21st to make their voices heard in the election of a future Alberta NDP leader, and to vote before October 18. Following this, the newly elected leader will face the task of creating a greater excitement about the NDP’s mandate and plans for reform in the province.”
The mediator of the Forum was a Beaumont resident who has run in a federal campaign as an NDP candidate a few years ago. Youthfully dynamic, Philip Penrod was a congenial host of the proceedings, explaining to the guests and candidates the five minute limit to each candidate’s opening statements, and answers to the questions already planned on the topics of Health Care, Education and Energy. This is the party’s first contested leadership race since 1996, as the current NDP leader Brian Mason has announced his resignation last spring, effective upon the election of a new leader.
Rachel Notley is the NDP MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona. As the daughter of the late Grant Notley, the first NDP member to make it into the provincial legislature, Rachel is very knowledgeable on NDP values and political procedures. She believes that Alberta should get a much better market value for the resources it exports, and that we have to establish a comprehensive renewable energy policy. She berated the, “atrocious” costs of post-secondary education and the unacceptable class sizes in Alberta, and added that we should plan for more schools and affordable education. Her campaign recently announced the creation of a Breakfast Program, knowing that kids learn better on a full stomach. For information on Ms. Notley’s beliefs and values, visit www.readyforrachel.ca.
David Eggen is the NDP MLA for Edmonton-Calder and the NDP Health Critic. He believes that the privatization of certain areas of Health Care, such as pharmacy and chiropractic medicine, is unacceptable, and fails to serve the needs of Albertans. “We need a national Pharmacare program, and we need to make our Alberta public health care stronger.”
“Energy is central to our responsibilities towards education and health care. We need to develop the wind, solar, and geo-thermal industries that address the future of our province. We should be the owners and drivers of our energy economy,” were some of Mr. Eggen’s dynamic comments. For an in-depth look at David Eggen’s values and vision, visit www.davideggen.ca.
Rod Loyola is the NDP Candidate for Edmonton-Ellerslie, a labour activist and a tireless community champion. “Our kids are not our future, they are our present. We have to build a stronger school system, and build post-secondary institutions that are connected to each other.” He has a firm belief that the elderly and people with disabilities want to live in their homes longer, rather than in institutions. “Home care must be re-integrated into our Health Care system.”
Knowing that 500,000 people in Alberta look after an elderly relative, he wants to work towards, “ensuring that more people are trained in providing quality respite for these caregivers.” “We need to bring honor back to the profession of politics,” was a well-received statement in this forum. A closer look at Mr. Loyola’s platform can be found at www.rodloyola.ca.
Before October 8, the New Democratic Party’s Vote Day, three more NDP forums will have taken place in Alberta, showcasing the platforms of these three leaderships candidates, who invite Alberta voters to look into their individual visions if they are looking at progressive change.