Rachel Notley and a tale of two provinces

Premier Rachel Notley leads the first-ever NDP government in Alberta. In her speech to delegates at the 28th CLC Convention, she laid out her government’s successes and their decision to follow a progressive path, in comparison to the “prairie provinces east of Alberta.”

Notley’s speech followed a moving presentation and call to action on missing and murdered Indigenous women and started with this assurance: “In Alberta, we are with you. We will stand together to make Alberta and all of Canada a place where Indigenous women and girls can live full and promising lives without fear.”

“From our very first days in government, we were confronted with a choice,” she told the crowd. “Would we respond like past governments and impose severe cuts to the services that families rely on?”

Instead, she said her government has chosen a different route.

“Our first commitment is, and always will be, to put regular people at the center of our decisions,” she said.

She contrasted her government’s policies with those of the Saskatchewan government, highlighting the government’s tax break for the richest ten percent, its cuts to education and health care, and public sector wage roll backs. All this, said Notley, is to balance the books 36 months before Alberta does. In those 36 months, she said “we are making life more affordable, creating jobs, and protecting vital services.”

She highlighted how her government had instead opted to freeze tuition for three years, build schools, enhance health care services, and provide childcare spaces. They have the first majority women cabinet, she said, and are working to get more women on boards and committees across the province. They have committed to a $15 minimum wage by 2018.

“Stable and predictable may sound boring but that means we resisted efforts to go after the public service. No—we are honouring the public service contracts,” she said, to cheers from the audience.

Notley then explained Alberta’s energy plan, emphasizing that Alberta’s support of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project in combination with emissions caps and a tax on carbon would bring jobs to Alberta and the B.C. interior without raising emissions.

She praised the work of labour activists striving to make the world a better place, and for working to achieve a society in which all people are cared for and treated fairly at work.

“I see grit. I see people who are fearless, who are focused, and who work day in and day out to make life better for regular families,” she said. “I see a room full of people who know fully well that nothing gets taught, drilled, healed, planted, welded, or assembled without hardworking women and men like all of you, and the hardworking women and men you represent.”

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