Published May 17, 2012 | 5:45 pm
Thursday, May 17, 2012 – 12:45Rupinder Kaur
On March 24, the NDP concluded its seven-month federal leadership race to replace Jack Layton. I was proud to be in Toronto at that convention and to be a part of history. Without a doubt, all the candidates who stepped forward brought innovative and fresh ideas on how to expand the work Jack Layton started and move the party towards forming government in the next election. In the end, Tom Mulcair won and I’m confident he’ll continue the Layton legacy.
Immediately after the convention, I left for Edmonton to work on the provincial election. Going into that campaign, my first emotion was sheer panic. I knew nothing about Alberta, especially about its politics. I admit I actually had to Google the name of the NDP leader.
But with the experience of surviving and working in the war room for two federal elections, my confidence steadied and in the end, I grew to adore Alberta.
I definitely can’t share political insights because I’m not in a position to provide analysis or deconstruct how the results unfolded. However, the one lesson I hope all Canadians take away is that you cannot trust pollsters and pundits on predicting an outcome, even if they swear by the crystal ball or the tea leaves they have looked at.
The 29-day campaign was exciting and I was on the tour with the leader, Brian Mason. Traveling around the province gave me a chance to see the real Alberta.
I went into the campaign with some pretty out-dated and unrealistic stereotypes – you know, the whole notion of Alberta being the “Texas of the North” with people wearing cowboy hats, driving huge trucks and munching on giant beef burgers. But what I saw was the opposite. I met people representing every corner of the world, speaking languages I have never heard of, and a warmth that was welcoming.
I didn’t travel the province from top to bottom, but the parts of Alberta which I saw reflected the realities I’ve seen across the country – families struggling to make ends meet, unable to find a family doctor and worried about how to sustain and protect the environment. One of the NDP’s priorities was to ensure that Alberta’s prosperity should allow everyone have access to high quality health care, a good education and first rate public services. In a province as rich as Alberta, the Conservatives continued down the path, carved out over 41 years, to pay more attention to their powerful friends in the oil companies rather than ordinary, hard-working families.
In the end, the Conservatives remain the provincial government and the Wildrose has become the Official Opposition. The Alberta NDP doubled their caucus, going from two seats to four. Overall, it was a great learning experience for me.
And for the record, no, I did not shop at the West Edmonton Mall but I did take advantage of the fact there is no provincial sales tax. So in addition to taking credit for doubling the NDP caucus, I am also taking credit for stimulating the local economy with all the shopping I did.
Now, I’m back in Ottawa – did I miss anything while I was gone?
(The writer is press secretary of New Democratic Party of Canada .The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not represent those of Saanj News)