Jodi Calahoo StonehouseMia Parker

As the internal Alberta NDP leadership vote approaches, the party is hosting a series of official debates throughout the province to introduce the leadership seekers.

The second official debate, hosted in Calgary on May 11, welcomed candidates Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, Kathleen Ganley, Sarah Hoffman, Naheed Nenshi and Gil McGowan in a format that had each deliver an introductory statement, answer a pre-screened audience question, debate one-on-one with the others, and deliver closing remarks.

Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse

Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse is Cree and Mohawk from Michel First Nation, and has been an MLA since the 2023 election. She was previously executive director for the Yellowhead Indigenous Education Foundation, and is a producer and broadcaster of Acimowin, an award-winning Indigenous radio program.

“We need long-term strategic planning that is going to plan for economic diversification, economic stability, while taking care of our waters, while taking care of our landscape, taking care of our elders and our children,” she said in her opening remarks. “It is absolutely essential that we start to do things differently.”

Calahoo Stonehouse’s proposed changes include community-based harm reduction strategies, which she highlighted in her response to her audience question.

“What I will do is we are going to invest in community,” she said. “It is about repairing the harm.”

Child poverty and the separation of kids from their parents are also hot issues for Calahoo Stonehouse.

“We have to support moms and dads,” she said. “We have to reduce poverty, which means getting to the fundamentals of economic diversification, economic equity, and lifting Alberta’s families.”

During the one-on-one debate portion of the event, she underlined the need for royalty agreements to hold industries operating in Alberta accountable.

“These are our resources. We need to act like resource owners and ensure that Albertans are getting their fair share.”

Calahoo Stonehouse is big on investments, at every level. 

“Of course, we’re going to increase the minimum wage,” she said. “With increasing minimum wage, we also have to support small businesses.”

Climate change is a major part of her campaign. Informed by Indigenous wisdom, Calahoo Stonehouse is set on finding solutions to protect Alberta’s waters and natural environments.

“The NDP are going to be net zero, we are going to get there. We are going to invest in entrepreneurs in innovation.”

“Alberta’s values are new democratic values and new democratic values are Alberta’s values,” said Calahoo Stonehouse.

She can be reached at info@voteforjodi.ca.

Kathleen Ganley

Kathleen Ganley

Kathleen Ganley has been an MLA since 2015 and served as minister of justice and solicitor general in the Rachel Notley government. She was previously a labour and employment lawyer.

“We need to talk to people about the things that are most important to them,” said Ganley in her opening remarks. “About how to keep a roof over their head and food on their table. We need to provide them with the real offer on the economy.”

Ganley was asked by an audience participant about the chronic underfunding of schools.

“We are now at the lowest per-student funding in the country, and we should absolutely be embarrassed about it,” she said, noting that in determining funding, government should be focusing not only on class size but also on class complexity and dynamics.

“We need to have not just teachers, but EAs in those classrooms to support our students to learn, because we don’t know what we lose when we don’t support those kids.”

Ganley criticized the current UCP government’s inaction on climate change, and the failure to invest in wildfire fighting.

“I think we all remember last summer having to keep our children indoors so they couldn’t go outside and play. That is a huge problem.”

“We absolutely must demand more action from our government,” said Ganley. “This is a government that can be pushed, but they have to be pushed by all of us standing up and acting together.”

Ganley emphasizes the value of collaboration and highlights the falling partnership between Alberta and the federal government.

“We are Canadians,” she said. “And when we refuse to work with the federal government, we really lose out.”

She also wants to see the government working with, and for, the citizens.

“We will invest in our people too, in our teachers, in our nurses, in our doctors, in every employee who works for the provincial government or school boards because they are critical thinkers,” she said.

“Call me old fashioned, but I believe we need to lead with ideas,” Ganley concluded. “When we talk about our ideas, we change hearts and minds.”

Kathleen Ganley can be contacted at info@teamganley.ca.

Sarah Hoffman

Sarah Hoffman

Sarah Hoffman has been an MLA since 2015, working before as a trustee and chair of the Edmonton Public School Board. Hoffman served as deputy premier under Rachel Notley and health minister, when she oversaw the establishment of the Calgary Cancer Centre and fought for better accessibility of women’s reproductive rights.

“We need to focus on health care, climate and housing,” she said in her opening remarks.

One of her leading policy proposals that she raised in the debate is rent control. Housing and cost of living expenses are top of mind for Hoffman.

Looking at post-secondary students in Alberta, Hoffman wants to get back to a time when a student can work full time for four months over the summer, and raise enough money to afford to live for the next eight months.

She also wants to see post-secondaries supported in other ways.

“We need to invest in post-secondaries. We need to make sure that we continue to support academic freedom, which is absolutely under attack by this current administration in the province,” she said.

“Making sure that post-secondary is available for every Albertan who has a desire to achieve their full potential, go on and study and be able to use those skills to contribute to the local economy is a very high priority for me.”

Climate change is another high priority for Hoffman.

“We have the worst air today in Alberta anywhere in the world, and we deserve a government that’s going to take serious leadership to make sure that kids can breathe the air on a hot summer’s day,” she said.

Hoffman proposes holding energy providers to a greater standard of environmental stewardship.

“We need to make sure that we’re acting seriously to protect our environment for all of us.”

Hoffman wants to keep money in workers’ pockets, and out of corporate landlords’ pockets, and agrees that increasing wages is necessary, and must be accompanied by protection for renters.

“We need to make sure that we are building co-op housing, permanent supportive housing, social housing, affordable housing tied to rent, and I absolutely am thrilled to have a plan to be able to deliver on that.”

In her closing statement, Hoffman promised that if she’s premier she will make living more affordable, ensure everyone has a family doctor, and ensure Alberta’s air stays breathable.

Sarah Hoffman can be reached at info@sarahhoffman.ca.

Naheed Nenshi

Naheed Nenshi

Naheed Nenshi was Calgary’s mayor from 2010 to 2021 and is passionate about service to the community. In his leadership in Calgary he prioritized transit, roads, recreation centres and libraries.

“We can get an Alberta that preserves opportunity and dignity for everyone, for workers, for students, for young people, for all of us who need health care, for the kind of Alberta that we want to build together,” he opened.

Nenshi’s priorities are “building the team, improving the processes of the party, getting ourselves battle ready for the election, figuring out how we’re going to win the election,” and listening to Albertans.

One of his goals is improving the way the NDP speaks to men, trade sector workers and oil and gas workers.

Though Nenshi noted he was proud to have the most caucus endorsements, he butted heads with some of the MLAs on stage when he was criticized for some of his actions as mayor of Calgary.

Sarah Hoffman questioned Nenshi’s decision to close Midfield Park’s 170 affordable housing units, leaving many with unpaid mortgages and no place to live.

Nenshi said that every resident had the opportunity to move into a new Calgary home, and when Hoffman talked of two residents who were unable to find a home, he accused her of fear mongering about homelessness.

Gil McGowan brought a letter signed by Nenshi as mayor, alleging that in the letter he “asked the UCP to help the City of Calgary sidestep worker rights, privatize services and quash a duly negotiated contract with thousands of City of Calgary workers.”

“I would never rip up a collective agreement,” replied Nenshi.

He said the letter was a tactic against the right-leaning council and that with it  he was able to stop the privatization of golf courses and minimize the privatization of waste collection in the city.

Naheed Nenchi can be reached at info@nenshi.ca.

Gil McGowan

Two days after the debate, Gil McGowan announced his withdrawal from the race, citing insufficient funds raised for the $60,000 race entry fee.

“If I don’t raise another $50,000 soon, I’m toast,” he said, concluding his remarks at the debate.

But after having been booed by the crowd for not properly sharing his time with interlocutor Sarah Hoffman, his support seemed less enthusiastic. 

As president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, his platform emphasized unions and labour rights, as well as the needed inclusivity of the party to trade sector workers.

“I made very clear what I stand for: bold social democratic policies, public auto insurance, public power, economic diversification,” McGowan said in his closing remarks.

“I want to stand up to the convoy crowd. I want to stand up to big oil companies and big utilities when they’re acting not in the public interest. And I would stop the denial on issues like climate change and Covid.”

Voting

Ballots will be distributed by June 3 to eligible voters, meaning those who have held NDP membership since April 22, 2024. Voting can happen online, by mail, or on the telephone, and all votes must be received by June 22.

Preferential ballots will be used, meaning voters will rank their preferences of the four candidates — Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, Kathleen Ganley, Sarah Hoffman and Naheed Nenshi.

More information about the leadership race can be found at www.albertandp.ca.

By Mia Parker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 15, 2024 at 12:51

This item reprinted with permission from   Shootin' the Breeze   Pincher Creek, Alberta

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