July 21st, 2024

Nenshi tells Hat crowd NDP momentum has grown tenfold since Notley stepped down

By BRENDAN MILLER on June 20, 2024.

Former Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi speaks to a full house in Medicine Hat Wednesday during a town hall held at the Monarch Theatre. The town hall was held three days prior to the NDP leadership vote being held on Saturday.--NEWS PHOTO BRENDAN MILLER

bmiller@medicinehatnews.com

Former Calgary mayor and NDP leadership candidate Naheed Nenshi spoke Wednesday to more than 350 supporters during a town hall event held at the Monarch Theatre as NDP members will learn of their next leader this Saturday.

During his address Nenshi spoke about growing support the NDP has received since the 2023 election and says party membership has increased tenfold in regions across the province, including mid-sized cities like Medicine Hat.

Nenshi said when Rachel Notley stepped down as party leader at the beginning of the year, the NDP had 8,000 active members across the province. That number has grown to more than 85,000 active members who are eligible to vote in the leadership race.

Gwendoline Dirk, former NDP candidate for Brooks-Medicine Hat, confirmed there are more than 1,000 active NDP party members throughout the ridings of Brooks-Medicine Hat and Cypress-Medicine Hat.

“We’ve increased by more than 10 times,” said Nenshi, who explained numbers in memberships in Calgary grew by more than 12 times, in Edmonton grew by eight times and the support in the rest of the province grew by more than nine times.

“What I’ve been hearing from Albertans across the province is we’ve had enough,” said Nenshi. “We’ve had enough of the government that takes us for fools. We’ve had enough of the government that forces us to think small. Enough of the politics that asks us to be defensive and think that what we’ve got now is as good as it’s ever going to get.”

Nenshi encouraged members of the party who haven’t voted in the leadership race to cast their ballots online or over the phone before Saturday at noon when the NDP will host their leadership premiere event at the Hyatt Regency in Calgary.

Nenshi explained that traditionally voter turnout in leadership races across Canada is “very,very low,” stating that UCP leadership vote for Danielle Smith in 2022 had less than a 50 per cent turnout from its members to become one of the largest political parties in Canada with 42,174 votes.

However, Nenshi says current numbers show 76 per cent of active NDP members have already voted in the leadership race out of more than 85,000 members.

“I want the winner on Saturday to be able to say that they got more votes than any provincial leadership candidates in Canadian history.”

Nenshi also spoke about the importance of defending Alberta’s potential and emphasized the importance in fostering a sense of belonging and co-operation in the community.

Nenshi told the News before taking stage that he’s been meeting people from all concerns of the province during his leadership campaign and says momentum is growing among voters who don’t feel represented by the current government.

“(Those) who really feel left out by the politics that we’ve got, which essentially tells people don’t hope for any better, this is as good as it’s going to get, let’s defend what we’ve got” said Nenshi. “Which essentially tells people, ‘don’t hope for any better,’ and now I really feel like we’ve tapped into something here in Alberta that is about people saying, ‘no, we want to do better, we want to be better.'”

The leadership race that will determine the next leader of Alberta’s Official Opposition includes four remaining candidates – Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, Kathleen Ganley, Sarah Hoffman and Naheed Nenshi.

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