Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley says she will lead a “stable, no-surprises” government focused on growing the Alberta economy and providing strong public health care and education if elected next year.
Notley spoke about her party’s plans Thursday at a sold-out Calgary Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
“Our economy is changing and we need to make sure Albertans — and Alberta — are ready,” Notley told 375 members of the city’s business community, arts and social organizations and universities.
“We need to be brave, we need to look forward, we need cooperation and we need leadership.”
Notley, who served as premier from 2015 to 2019, said the start of the legislative session had been fraught with the United Conservative government’s sovereignty bill, which rejects the federal government’s overarching authority.
Business groups, including the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, have warned the legal uncertainty surrounding the sovereignty law is not good for investment.
READ MORE: Alberta’s sovereignty act damaging business: Calgary Chamber of Commerce
Notley said she, too, is concerned and hopes to hear little about the act going forward.
“The sooner we can stop talking about it, the sooner investors can take a deep breath and hopefully get back to work in terms of planning to make investments here in Alberta,” Notley told reporters after her speech.
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Chamber President and CEO Deborah Yedlin said she heard a great response from those who attended.
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“Everyone in the room is very, very focused on certainty and stability,” she said. “That was certainly also the message she projected in the room.
“At the end of the day, the only way businesses make investments is based on certainty from an investment standpoint.”
Yedlin said the speech sold out within 72 hours, which is fast for an opposition leader, and had a waiting list.
“Everyone wants to hear from her in terms of what an NDP-led government would look like relative to where we are today,” she said. “There are many things that people are very focused on.
“One is a competitive investment environment, the other is to make sure that there is health care for Albertans that is accessible and affordable. Same thing with education and infrastructure. People are looking for the messages to understand where the NDP sits today and the lessons learned from being in government beforehand.”
The UCP government was quick to respond to Notley’s speech in a statement.
“In government, Rachel Notley’s reckless economic agenda has driven Alberta’s economy in the wrong direction and she will do it again if given the chance,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Rebecca Schulz, who is a member of the UCP government. is from Calgary. “She has a clear record of failure in the economy.”
Notley said her NDP government was successful with the Trans Mountain expansion project into British Columbia, the first new oil pipeline to the sea from Alberta in 50 years.
“We succeeded with TMX, and we can succeed in restoring our reputation as a cosmopolitan jurisdiction,” she said during her speech. “We must always pioneer growth and new ways of doing things and we can do that as part of a strong and united Canada.”
She added that she has learned a lot about the job of prime minister in the past seven years.
“As a first-time government, I know we made some mistakes,” she said. “As a leader, I was determined to own them and fix them.”
The next provincial election will be held in May.
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