EDMONTON—Alberta Premier Rachel Notley made a plea to NDP members across Canada to support her province’s plan to tackle climate change while it pursues resource development—including a pipeline.
In a rousing speech Saturday to the Edmonton convention, Notley took aim at the so-called “Leap Manifesto”—a policy blueprint driven by activists inside the NDP that openly rejects building additional pipelines and calls for Canada to wean itself off fossil fuels by 2050.
Notley’s words were motivated by her government’s frustration with NDP Leader Tom Mulcair’s openness to exploring ideas in the manifesto as well as by an effort from rank-and-file New Democrats who want to debate the document as the party considers its future.
After a tough election defeat, it’s always tempting to hide in slogans and dreams, Notley said.
“That is just a form of giving up,” she said. “New Democrats never give up.”
Alberta has already put forward a concrete plan as opposed to aspirational ideas, she added.
In November, the province announced plans to impose an economy-wide carbon tax by 2017 and a cap on emissions from the oilsands. The government is also moving to phase out the province’s coal-fired power generation by 2030.
“That is what you get to do when you move up from manifestos, to the detailed, principled, practical plans you can really implement by winning an election,” Notley said.
“That’s how we remain true to the principles and values of our party and of our pioneers.”
She also suggested conversations around the leap document have fuelled critics in the province.
“There are voices in our party who want to wave all this away and give those Conservatives … exactly what they need to return to office and to carry on with their agenda,” she said. “Progressive parties of government don’t let that happen.”
The speech made no mention of Mulcair’s political future.
Following the speech, deputy Alberta premier Sarah Hoffman said it is time for Canada to pull together as a country and support the province’s efforts.
“I think there’s a few times where Albertans feel … like people east of Ontario don’t necessarily hear what we are trying to say around some of the good work that we are doing here in Alberta,” she said. “Certainly, we’ve been suffering with the economic downturn.”
Pipelines are the safest way to transport oil, Hoffman added.
Avi Lewis, one of the key drivers behind the manifesto, insists the document is also a massive jobs plan for Alberta.
“Investments in renewable energy create six to eight times more jobs than fossil fuel investments,” Lewis said.
“At least 70,000 workers in this province … have been abandoned by the oil and gas industry, laid off after the price crashed … we are saying to this government and all governments that you should create vast numbers of good jobs, unionized jobs … in the shift off fossil fuels.”
His father, former Ontario NDP leader Stephen Lewis, also stressed the importance of the leap debate in an impassioned speech on Saturday.
“Maybe we haven’t had enough to drive us forward, the last election would seem to indicate that,” he said after the address.
“I genuinely think this kind of thing re-energizes the party, makes the party feel good they have something to chew on intellectually … I don’t want to compromise Rachel Notley. You know, I just don’t think we are. She’s just too damn strong.”
Mulcair faces a critical leadership review on Sunday where rank-and-file delegates will vote to determine if he should stay at the helm of the party.
The vote will follow a ballot on a joint resolution from the ridings of Toronto-Danforth and Vancouver-East that calls for a debate on policies that could flow from the manifesto.