It started as a race to replace Rachel Notley as the leader of the Alberta NDP. Now, with former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi’s official entry, it’s become an existential crisis for Alberta’s progressive politicians. Just how far are they willing to go to beat Danielle Smith and the UCP in the next election — and what will they look like if they do?

Nenshi made no secret of his desire to make the Alberta NDP’s proverbial tent as big and broad as possible. "I want folks to feel comfortable voting for the Alberta NDP regardless of how they vote federally,” he told the Western Wheel’s Amir Said in an interview. “I want federal NDP voters and Liberal voters and Green voters and PPC voters and Conservative voters to all feel like the Alberta NDP is still a home for them provincially, and one way of doing that might be to ensure in our party that we are truly independent."

That might mean severing ties with the federal party, a long-simmering internal conversation that Nenshi just put to a boil. “I think tying us to people whose values we might not entirely share, that we don't have control over, costs more than it benefits.” The other candidates in the race to replace Notley have mooted a more diplomatic version of this message, most notably Rakhi Pancholi and Kathleen Ganley, but none have taken it on as directly as Nenshi. Now, whether any of them like it or not, this will be the de-facto ballot question when members (old and new) cast their votes in June.

This wouldn’t be nearly as controversial in a Liberal or Conservative leadership contest, where new members are always the coin of the realm. But New Democrats are a different species of political animal, and they have always guarded their ideological borders more carefully. Hence, the eternal struggle for many New Democrats: Do they want to make the party as big and broad as possible or do they want to police and purity test new members in order to safeguard their core principles?

This played out most recently at the 2016 federal NDP convention in Edmonton, where Thomas Mulcair was tossed out as leader after one election and the “Leap Manifesto” took centre stage. It was impossible to miss the contrast (and conflict) between Mulcair’s pragmatism and the Leap Manifesto’s more radical calls to action, and it foreshadowed some of the internal divisions that defined the Notley government’s four years in power.

Formal federal NDP founder Tommy Douglas famously articulated his own position on the matter more than 40 years ago at an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1933 Regina Manifesto. “If I could press a button tonight and bring a million people into this party, and knew that those people were coming in for some ulterior motive but they didn’t understand the kind of society we’re trying to build, I wouldn’t press the button because we don’t want those kinds of people.”

Nenshi’s button won’t bring a million new people into the Alberta NDP, but when he presses it — and he will — the party will see a surge of new members. Ironically, it might help other candidates attract a few new members of their own. “My membership sales go up every time he talks about entering the race,” Sarah Hoffman, the former deputy premier and candidate closest to Notley, told the Globe and Mail’s Carrie Tait. “They are worried about somebody from the outside who hasn’t ever really called himself a New Democrat being the leader of the party. They are motivated to be unapologetically New Democrat.” Julia Hayter, a Calgary MLA who is openly backing former justice minister Ganley, fired her own shots at the former mayor. “We have a guy stepping in to join our leadership race — someone who barely backed us when it mattered. Just like his endorsement, Naheed Nenshi is arriving at the last minute.”

In the end, though, these sorts of purity tests aren’t likely to matter to the people Nenshi is signing up. They don’t care that he hasn’t been a longtime NDP member. They don’t care that he hasn’t knocked on enough doors for them. And they don’t care that he hasn’t been suitably supportive of the party or its leader in past elections. All they care about is that they believe he represents the party’s best chance of defeating the UCP in 2027 and the province’s best chance of electing a government whose existence doesn’t revolve around fighting with Ottawa and rejecting the increasingly obvious realities of climate change.

If the other candidates in this race want to stop Nenshi, they’ll have to change that belief. They’ll have to prove to members that they can deliver the biggest win in 2027, not Nenshi, and that his political ceiling isn’t as high as his supporters might want to pretend — especially outside of Calgary. Most importantly, they’ll need to show their vision of both the party and the province’s future is more compelling than his.

The former mayor of Calgary is now officially part of the race to replace Rachel Notley as Alberta NDP leader. In the process, he's challenging the very nature of the party — and its inclination towards choosing principles over power.

That won’t be easy. It might not even be possible. But one thing is for sure: now that Nenshi is officially a member of the Alberta NDP, they’ll have to reckon with him one way or another.

Keep reading

Fawcett: "All [Nenshi supporters] care about is that they believe he represents the party’s best chance of defeating the UCP in 2027 and the province’s best chance of electing a government whose existence doesn’t revolve around fighting with Ottawa and rejecting the increasingly obvious realities of climate change."

Nenshi has no climate credentials. On the contrary.
While Nenshi brings some much needed star power to the contest, he sounds even more fossil-fuelled than Alberta's Pipeline Queen.

If Alberta’s tiny conclave of climate-crazed cardinals was unimpressed by former Premier Rachel Notley’s efforts to address our climate emergency, they are going to be even less enthused by the NDP candidates vying to be her successor.

The current raft of leadership candidates propose to continue the NDP’s parade down the petroleum path. All oppose the federal carbon “tax”, for example. Not one boasts any climate credentials. Not one supported the 2016 Leap Manifesto.

The otherwise admirable Nenshi parrots CAPP’s talking points without an ounce of scepticism. For someone who seems well versed on all other subjects under the sun, Nenshi’s ignorance on climate and energy issues is appalling. The King of Purple not only embraces the LNG fantasy, but also supports new oilsands export pipelines (TMX). He clearly has not done his homework.

“Naheed Nenshi: If you’re hyper-partisan, you may not want to read this column” (CTV News, May 26, 2023)
“Like almost all Albertans, I also believe that climate change is a critical problem, and that many solutions lie in the Canadian energy sector. I am very proud of our resource industry, and I believe that access to clean, safe, and affordable energy is one of the most powerful poverty-fighting tools we have. Canada can make huge contributions to reducing global emissions by displacing coal with liquified natural gas around the world and we need to be much better at building export infrastructure including pipelines.
“I must give Notley credit for one big thing, though. Conservative governments over a half century have failed to build even one mile of new oil pipeline to tidewater. The Trans Mountain Expansion would not have happened if not for Notley’s ferocious advocacy over a skeptical Trudeau and the ridiculous antics of BC NDP Premier John Horgan, who was intent on scaring away investment, even if he had no power to stop the pipeline. Do I wish TMX had been built with private capital instead of by the federal government? Absolutely. But after Horgan successfully ran off the private owner, this was the only path forward and it would not have happened without Notley.”

This moment in history is not calling for more oil-soaked petro-progressive politicians.

An Extrapolated History of Political Parties in Alberta
After suffering a dismal defeat to the NDP in 2015, the long-reigning Progressive Conservative (PC) Party merged with the right-wing Wildrose Party in 2017 to form the right-wing United Conservative Party of Alberta (UCP). Goodbye PCs.
In the centre, the Alberta Liberals and the Alberta Party were obliterated in 2019. Still moribund in 2023. Goodbye to them.
And so much for Alberta's centrist parties.
Or so you thought. But wait!

On the left, a progressive party named the NDP won the 2015 election against divided conservative parties. Hello, Rachel Notley.
In their infinite wisdom, Notley and her backroom advisors decided that power was more important than principle. On energy and climate, Notley tried to outconservative the conservatives. Albertans did not buy it. If your issue is pipelines, vote for the real O&G party.

In 2019, the now united UCP easily defeated the petro-progressive neoliberal NDP after one term.
In vain pursuit of power, Notley continued to chase the UCP to the right, abandoning progressives, and sacrificing traditional NDP policy positions.

As the 2023 election approached, sensible UCP politicians left politics, leaving the party to its wackadoodle leader and extremist base.
Despite obvious flaws in UCP leadership, the NDP lost again in 2023.
Goodbye, Rachel Notley.

Looking ahead…
If progressives under the NDP banner have not lost their party already, they are about to. What NDP leader Rachel Notley started, Naheed Nenshi will finish.
Under Nenshi, the provincial NDP will sever ties with the federal party. They will need a new name. Hmmm. How about the Progressive Conservative Party?
They will also need a new slogan. "We're less crazy than the other guys."
Progressives ("lefties") in Alberta will soon wake up to find themselves without a party — and without political representation in the legislature.
They will need a new name. Hmmm. How about the New Democratic Party?

In short, the centrists — the former PC, Alberta Liberals, and Alberta Party members who lost their parties —will now take over and rebrand the NDP.
If progressives want to reclaim a voice in Alberta politics, they will need to found a new party, having given away their old one. Whether it was lost or stolen is up for debate.

A decade from now, Alberta will have a centrist party in power replacing the old PCs.
The right-wing fringe, also under new management and a new name, will fight it out with the newly resurrected progressive party to sit in opposition.
What goes around comes around.

People tend to misunderstand the "principles vs power" conflict. One thing that pushes us towards such a misunderstanding is calling it that in the first place. The question is, what is power FOR? And there are two answers. The first is just to have it. But if you have actual political objectives, the question is not exactly principles vs power--it's power vs power. The problem with watering down principles to gain power is that then, when you get it, you may still not achieve the political objectives. And if you aren't achieving your political objectives, do you really have power?

This is not to say that hyperpurity is always the answer. But social democratic political parties have, one after another in Britain and Europe, diluted their principles to such a homeopathic degree that once "in power" they achieve nothing whatsoever. Ideally, the point of a political party is not to adjust principles to what the public thinks, but to have principles that are good and solid, and then CONVINCE the public that they are good and solid principles which will benefit the public. You don't want to trim your sails to put you in the middle of the "Overton Window", you want to drag the window to where you are. That's certainly what Conservatives and Republicans have been doing, with considerable success. In practice you generally need to do some bending to the reality of where people are, but if you aren't doing some of that convincing as well, enough so that you retain enough of your principles to have a programme once in power that isn't useless, the whole exercise is pointless.

The question is how much bending is too much. And in fact, there is also the question of how much bending becomes counterproductive even on its own terms. Parties that stand for nothing aren't popular more than briefly, because they never do anything worth supporting them for. Often it seems, particularly in tough times, people will support parties with repugnant policies and vile principles as long as they are strongly held, parties who give the impression they will do something dramatic about the problems of the day even if it's something counterproductive, before they will support a party that seems wishy-washy. The European social democratic parties singlemindedly pursued electability at the expense of principle, and the result was they lost ground electorally, these days often to fascists.

So, taking the article's example of Thomas Mulcair. His predecessor, Jack Layton, was all in all fairly left in his politics. He was friendly and cheerful about it, but the content was more solidly NDP than had been seen in a while. And he did by far the best the NDP ever did in an election. Thomas Mulcair is a decent man, but he is fundamentally a Liberal with strongish environmental principles. His campaign was sufficiently careful and centrist that Justin Trudeau outflanked him on the left, and the result was the collapse of most of what Jack achieved. Clearly dropping your principles is not a reliable road to power.

After all that, oddly I don't have a solid opinion on the question of Naheed Nenshi. I don't know enough about the man, what his principles and his record as mayor are actually like. There's nothing necessarily wrong with claiming you're going for a big tent approach . . . the fact is that many policies advanced by the left-ish end of the NDP actually have majority public support when they're polled without being told who supports them or where on the ideological spectrum they're supposed to fit. So a person could easily speak the language of broad front, actually advance policies that a broad spectrum of the public could get on board with, and still be pushing for solid NDP policies. For all I know that's Nenshi's intent. Or maybe it isn't, I don't know.

I'll be paying attention for any comments Nenshi makes for or against renewables. His previous comments supporting TMX occurred years ago, and the very rapid advance in wind and solar in Alberta since then may (or may not) have garnered his attention.

Even Notley came out swinging in favour of lifting the Smith Ban on renewables, which, being so close to her retirement announcent made her statements rather cheeky in the context of her vocal support of TMX and sarcastic criticism of TMX critics. She even cited the rampant advancement of wind and solar in US Red States led by Smith's heros in the MAGA Republican Party as examples.

Five minutes on Google trying to find any comments by Nenshi on renewables didn't yield any immediate results. If Nenshi, as premier, lifts the Smith Ban then I am confident the economic power of renewables will quickly aid the transition of Alberta's electricity grid, and the public will likely be in support because they will be sick and tired of paying the highest power rates in the land by the next election.

You have rhetoric and you have money. Money in the form of major savings on consumer utility bills (not to mention huge business opportunities) could make lifting the Smith Ban a potent campaign policy. It would be in competition with the NDP's donation tally from the oil industry, but that us likely far lower and less meaningful than industry using Smith and her UCP as sock puppets.

Nenshi will have a fork in the road ahead. The future is clean energy. The economic facts will force the issue if the science and superior ethics don't. If he chooses a radiant future, the hard work will be in making the transition as smooth as possible. If he chooses a dark future, then the world will kiss Alberta goodbye, as it is currently under Smith There is no way to walk both paths without major injury; Nenshi would just be another Trudeau in that case.

Once again, the economic power of renewables will, be assured, catalyze the energy transition no matter what the politicians say or do. The best advice for Nenshi would be to go with the flow and fight for affordable energy and a healthy future.

"diluted their principles to such a homeopathic degree" - nice turn of phrase!

Let me reframe this moral purity discussion, as I did with some fellow Alberta New Democrats recently: We're going to need to decide whether we want to shout from the moral high ground, or whether we want to actually get shit done.
For one, I want to get shit done. In a 2 party province, that means winning. So I'm looking to the leader that can win.
I'm not convinced Nenshi is the magic bullet. But we didn't win last time because, at the end of the day, we just didn't get enough votes. And moral purity contests won't convince those who didn't vote NDP to change next time.

A resolution from the devil's advocate:
Be it resolved: it is useful, even essential, to have a political party on the left that defends progressive, social democratic, and scientific/environmental principles. A party that anchors political debate in science / reality / sanity.
Further, it is useful to have such a political party on the left even if it never wins an election or forms government.

Corollary: A polity and a political debate deprived of voices on the left is impoverished.

Absent a truly progressive party on the left, centrist parties like the present-day Notley/Nenshi NDP will continue to chase conservative parties to the right. Trying to outconservative the conservatives in a vain attempt to win power.
The upshot? Our political parties — now run by lobbyists, with the grassroots kept at a distance — stray from the public interest and increasingly cater to corporate interests. As we see today with the NDP and UCP.

Notley's shift to the right was a strategic blunder. No matter how much the NDP pander to the O&G industry, they will never win the votes of pipeline supporters. If you base your vote on pipelines, you vote for the real O&G party?
Yes, I am happy to see the NDP fail as they chase the UCP to the right. Success would be a disaster for Alberta's progressive movement. As the Alberta NDP morphs into PC-lite, Alberta progressives are left without representation. No one left to defend and sell social democratic principles and science-based, progressive policy.
It will not be Jason Kenney or Danielle Smith who erode and finally erase the progressive party in Alberta. It will be the NDP. It was Notley and her backroom advisors who shifted the window. Ordinary and future Albertans will pay the price.

Notley's climate and energy policies represent a setback to the progressive movement in Alberta. Notley & Co. threw environmentalists and climate activists under her diesel bus.
Given a one-term opportunity to show Albertans what a truly progressive government reliant on science-based policies looks like, the NDP brain trust balked. Far from leading the NDP to glory, Notley blew it up. Notley's true legacy.

What does the NDP gain by abandoning progressive principles and policy?
What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his soul?
What does it profit a political party to gain power if it sacrifices its principles?

Under our first-past-the-post system, Alberta's current two-party state breeds cankers in our democracy like strategic voting and the urge to stifle dissent. When the progressive party departs, progressive voters are left at the station to choose between the lesser of two evils.
Why must any voter in Canada be forced to choose the lesser of two evils? If we do that, we still choose evil. Which makes us complicit.We should reject evil in all its forms, greater or lesser.
Progressives who believe in a better tomorrow — not a less worse future — should reject that unhappy fate. Force the erstwhile progressive party to give us a better choice. Our progressive parties have been hijacked by lobbyists, party insiders, and backroom advisors. Time to take back our progressive parties. Reclaim our power as voters.
Politicians and parties will take progressive voters for granted, but only if we let them. Let us take back our power.

If the progressive party shifts right, they risk losing my vote. If the greater evil takes power for a term, that's on the NDP leadership, not me.
Just about the only leverage we citizens have in our representative democracy is our vote. By withholding our votes, progressives send the party a clear message. Reform and revise your policies — or else. Do not take us for granted. If you fail us, do not expect our support.
If someone has taken your political representation away, take it back. If you cannot reform the party leadership, give them the boot. Yes, even if it means suffering the other party for four years. That applies in the case of Trudeau, Horgan, Eby, and Biden as well.
One step back, two steps forward. The only way to ensure politicians and parties remain accountable to voters. Otherwise, we can kiss democracy — the power of the people — goodbye.

Hang on to those pearls.

“Taking back your power” is meaningless if you don’t form government. Notley’s government was far from perfect, but was a helluva lot better than the fascist-lite regime we have now. And I’m not conceding to them.

No, not "meaningless", as noted above.
It is extremely beneficial to have a political party on the left that defends progressive, social democratic, and scientific/environmental principles. A party that anchors political debate in science / reality / sanity. Even if it never wins an election or forms government.
We need progressive voices in the legislature/parliament/public square even if they never hold the reins of power. Someone needs to make the argument.
What is distinctly less helpful is progressive parties sliding right and abandoning the progressive movement in vain pursuit of power.

The federal NDP has never formed government. Yet its policy influence over the years, especially in minority Liberal governments like this one, has been invaluable.

The federal NDP is an irrelevant example in the current Alberta context. In case you hadn’t noticed there are 5 parties in the HoC.

Principles and moralizing don’t reduce child poverty. They don’t stop bullying trans kids. They don’t reduce housing costs. They don’t protect water, air or earth, nor expand workplace protections, nor entrench reproductive freedoms. Doing those things in Alberta means winning. Winning means getting more votes. And, if you hadn’t noticed, there are more votes in Alberta in the middle than in the left.

Jim wrote: "There are 5 parties in the HoC."
At least seven parties plus independents ran in the last provincial election. Until the 2019 election, five parties were represented in the legislature.
Election results are determined only on election day. If there is no progressive party/candidates/voice during the campaign, progressive views go unheard and progressive candidates are not elected.
We need a strong progressive voice — at all times. The rationale for the NDP's existence.

Jim wrote: "there are more votes in Alberta in the middle than in the left."
Not a reason to deny the left a political voice, party, and representation.

Fundamental to government is seeing to public safety and survival. Addressing threats to life, homes, communities, and livelihoods. Or, as you put it, "protecting "water, air, and earth". Concerns central to the climate and energy file. When the Earth is impoverished, we are all the poorer.
In pandering to the petroleum industry, Notley's NDP government failed on several fronts, not just climate and energy. Indigenous issues, public health, water quality, biodiversity, and others mentioned below all suffered.

Your argument hinges on the unproven assumption that the NDP can win power by shifting right. Based on what evidence?
Notley won in 2015 against a divided conservative movement. The NDP will never vanquish a united conservative party in Alberta. Let that sink in.
In 2023, Notley ran against a wackadoodle UCP leader and still lost. Danielle Smith was the only reason the election was close. Notley was up against an non-stop fabulist. A motormouth who spins fictions effortlessly, freely, and fluently, with no BS filter on notions either incoming or outgoing. Someone with a long history of outrageous ideas and comments. A seething cauldron of denial and ignorance. Yet in the televised debate, a nervous Notley failed to land a punch. Against a half-sensible leader like Travis Toews, the UCP would have won by a landslide.
Time to get real. There will be no Premier Ganley. No Premier Hoffman. No Premier Pancholi. Nenshi has no pull in rural Alberta. If the polls get too close, the UCP can trade Smith for a blue fencepost and still win.

The NDP's shift to the right was a political blunder. Notley's oil-soaked "pragmatism" foundered on delusion and denial. Most pipeline boosters would not vote NDP if Notley built a billion pipelines. Pandering to fossil fuel dinosaurs just fed the right-wing frenzy. A pipeline project became the rallying flag for Albertans, whose sense of grievance against Ottawa burns eternal. Fuelling the right-wing rage machine. Pipeline supporters will vote for the real thing. Notley's pipeline hysterics only inflamed Albertans against the NDP and alienated her own supporters.

In opposition, the NDP voiced support for a comprehensive healthy study on cancers in Fort Chipewyan. In government, the only sound was crickets:

"[Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation,] said his people continue to die from cancer at alarmingly high rates, a fact he blamed on oilsands developments. 'Whatever food I'm bringing in from the bush, it is getting our people sick.' The chief said he had hoped that after four decades of Conservative rule in Alberta, things would be different when the NDP government came to power in May 2015. But under the Rachel Notley government, he said, it's business as usual. 'I feel very, very ashamed to call myself an Albertan. I feel very, very ashamed to call myself a Canadian citizen.'" (January 2017)

Dr John O'Connor: "Pre-election, the NDP/Rachel Notley were vocally supportive of bringing accountability and responsibility to bear on the environmental and health impacts, especially downstream, of the tarsands. After the AB Cancer Board report on Fort Chipewyan, she was notably outspoken on the need to comply with the recommendation for a comprehensive health study of Fort Chip, which was never even started.
"Now—it's buried and forgotten. Such hypocrisy."

This testimony from Jim Storrie of Progress Alberta:
"Before working with Progress Alberta, my experience in politics was through the federal and Alberta NDP. The first campaign I seriously worked on was Janis Irwin’s federal bid for Edmonton-Griesbach in 2015. For years I volunteered prolifically for several provincial constituency associations. And for a while I worked for the Alberta NDP caucus canvassing rural areas.
"… On policy, the Alberta NDP and the federal NDP are in exact harmony but for one file. On social issues, on material matters, even on foreign policy these are two caucuses that say the same things. The only point of disagreement is that the federal NDP are more critical of fossil fuel corporations.
"But if you speak to a typical Alberta NDP member today, two things I’m certain they are not going to say are that 'the Alberta NDP should do more to appease oil and gas lobbyists' and 'the Alberta NDP should lead less and follow the polls more.'
"The paucity of ideas on display last week is a real bad sign. It’s a sign that candidates think simply returning to the policies of the Notley administration is good enough.
"Ousting the United Conservative Party is necessary for progress in this province, but it’s not sufficient.
"Remember: the Notley administration did not substantively raise AISH. The Notley administration gave public sector employees zeroes in wage negotiations over and over and over again. The Notley administration did not implement a mass program to retrain laid-off resource workers. The Notley administration left AHS in a thin enough state that COVID and Kenney were able to bowl it right over.
"Homelessness was already rising under the Notley administration, but they undertook no massive public housing build. Police brutality—especially gruesome now that the UCP are leaning on the cops to suppress the symptoms of poverty—was completely ignored.
"Today we need to be hearing about how the next Alberta NDP administration will go beyond Rachel Notley’s. Instead, candidates are going sideways. Let’s demand a little more from these people."
"Alberta NDP disaffiliation pitches aren’t just bad—they’re lazy" (Feb 20, 2024)

>>Dr John O'Connor: "Pre-election, the NDP/Rachel Notley were vocally supportive of bringing accountability and responsibility to bear on the environmental and health impacts, especially downstream, of the tarsands. After the AB Cancer Board report on Fort Chipewyan, she was notably outspoken on the need to comply with the recommendation for a comprehensive health study of Fort Chip, which was never even started.
"Now—it's buried and forgotten. Such hypocrisy."<<

She was too busy dissing BC and environmentalists over TMX.

Jim wrote: "Winning means getting more votes. And, if you hadn’t noticed, there are more votes in Alberta in the middle than in the left."

In that case, a centrist party should win election after election. We used to call that party the Progressive Conservatives (PC).
If the NDP morphs into PC-lite, and the progressive voice in Alberta politics disappears, what is the result? We resurrect the PCs/Liberals/Alberta Party under the centrist banner, and lose the progressive NDP's voice. What does that gain us?

We are right back in 2014 again, only without a progressive voice on the left. A net loss.

Goodness me, what I have provoked.

If I can summarize, you’re suggesting it’s not possible for another party to defeat the conservative hordes in Alberta, so the NDP should retreat to the comfort of being a moral voice, and let someone else do the sausage making.

Fine. I’m not giving up. The stakes are too high.

Not worth giving up key principles for power. Why enter politics in the first place if you cannot sell and defend your values and policies? If all parties simply go where the votes are, that eliminates any role for leadership. All we need is the People party. The Poll party.
Which gives us government by poll.

Under government by poll, there would be no need for politicians to inform themselves, consult experts, consider wider context, provide leadership, temper public emotion and impulsivity with foresight, and deliberate with wisdom. Ill-informed and misguided opinion is just as valid as informed opinion based on facts, evidence, and context.
Who speaks for minorities, future generations, and other species? Future generations have an interest in environmental protection. Unfortunately, they do not vote. Who speaks for wildlife?
Politicians should resist the temptation to govern by poll. Policy should be based on the best available science and evidence.

What are you proposing? A centrist takeover of the NDP by the defeated PCs/Liberals/Alberta Party — and the erasure of the progressive NDP. That takes us right back to 2014 without a progressive NDP.
If the centrists have what it takes to win — most of the votes are in the middle, as you say — why not let the centrists form their own party and govern? And retain the progressive NDP. You get the best of both worlds. The right-wing fringe is sidelined, and the progressive NDP keep on fighting the good fight. Maybe they support the centrist party in a minority government.
No sense in erasing the progressive NDP. Especially if a rebranded NDP can't defeat the UCP.

To win, the centrist party cannot be a rebranded NDP — under Nenshi or anyone else. Rural folks won't buy a rebranded NDP. It must be conservative blue.
To win a sufficient chunk of the rural vote, the winning centrist party will have to look like the old PCs. Old white men, I am sorry to say. Nenshi will not win the rural vote.
Just being realistic. Look at town and municipality councils in Alberta. Not a lot of diversity. The urban multi-ethnic NDP holds little appeal.

The AB NDP have no hope of winning against a united conservative party no matter how far they slide to the right. Not under Notley, Nenshi, or anybody else.

I disagree. See you at the ballot box.

Have a good night.

When I read the UCP MLAs stating communism, socialism I know that their ignorance is right up front and they are clueless about political systems and so many other things.
I tried working the census up here near Cold Lake in 2021and was called a socialist for being vaccinated and wearing a mask. I eventually quit after being threatened!
We have a Premier who was fired by the Province of Alberta from the Calgary Board of Education as the Board became dysfunctional! And then led the Wildrose Party and PC parties into opposition by crossing the floor in the legislature. Ah, how soon we forget & how the RRR now control the UCP and how far down the rabbit hole we are. Threatened by a candidate who has proven leadership, ethics and ability. The things every UCP member complains daily about our Federal PM. A sad situation. Perhaps real fear as well!

Agreed, the rabbit hole is indeed THE reality before us along with the accompanying connotation of sheer craziness. Which is why so many of us progressive, thinking people are instinctively and truly terrified of what could be coming.
Geoffrey's conservative-adjacent insistence on PROPERLY punishing the progressive vehicles we currently HAVE, i.e. the Liberals and the NDP, utterly ignores, again, THE reality before us, that 30-40 percent that CAN in fact wobble up to FIFTY as it has in the States with the help of pernicious social media, and WE DON'T HAVE TIME on climate change. Later IS too late, and Nenshi will come around. Also, he went to school with Smith at U of C, and knows that he will be able to wipe up the floor with her, starting with the fact that HE was the president of the Student's Union there. AND he went on to Harvard.
Max's article is good and he hits the nail on the head, that at this point where we are trapped and cowering under provincial "governance" by the dregs of the evil, misbegotten UCP, distilled down to the undue influence of lake of fire evangelicals......NO ONE CARES about "party identity" OR "purity," otherwise known, again, as the "NARCISSISM of small differences." All we care about is getting rid of the crazies, period, and Nenshi has thankfully, SO thankfully, thrown us a lifeline.
I'm a feminist big time but bring on the tall, charismatic guy (who does seem to be another closet gay, his business, AND a Muslim, but the most "civilized" sect, but which is also personal for him, and he's smart enough not to lead with) who can clear the decks and WIN like he did in Calgary for 11 years by gathering consensus, by being "purple" and so beyond the currently stagnant and crushing fray.
Big sighs of relief all around because a true leader has finally emerged.

"Geoffrey's conservative-adjacent insistence on PROPERLY punishing the progressive vehicles we currently HAVE"

Because citizens who fervently advocate for a stronger progressive grassroots voice in politics — and oppose the takeover of right-sliding political parties by neoliberal corporate lobbyists and backroom advisors — must be conservatives in disguise.
Brilliant logic, Ms. Pargeter.

Right back at you Mr. Pounder.
Completely ignoring the political reality isn't any more logical than ignoring the climate reality, and words like "fervent" and "grassroots" bring conservatism to mind.

What political reality are you talking about? If you have a real argument, make it.

Political reality: The nominally progressive AB NDP chased the UCP to the right, but was still defeated. A political blunder.
Political reality: The NDP have no hope of winning against a united conservative party no matter how far they slide to the right. Not under Notley, Nenshi, or anybody else.
Political reality: The right-sliding NDP will be taken over by former PCs/Liberals/Alberta Party members, leaving progressives without a voice or political representation.

TP: "Words like 'fervent' and 'grassroots' bring conservatism to mind."
On Google, "grassroots" "ndp" returns 554,000 results.
On Google, "grassroots" "alberta ndp" returns 5,630 results.
You obviously do not know the meaning of "grassroots". The rank and file of any party.

Ever observed a NDP rally led by Rachel Notley? No enthusiasm, no zeal, no conviction, no persistence, no warmth, no passion? That's what "fervent" means.

"If you ask the most fervent partisans of Alberta’s nominally progressive New Democratic Party (NDP), they will tell you that they did a great job in the May 29 provincial election."
"A Canadian Lesson in How Not to Politick in a Right-Wing Stronghold" (2023)

If we're questioning a basic understanding of terms, thereby also impugning my intelligence, (definitely a conservative-adjacent thing to do btw and something you do more consistently than anyone else commenting here, even with people who essentially AGREE with you), let's look at REALITY then: "the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them."
So in the context of politics in this province, we can talk about the how and why of what DID happen and what IS happening now from our various perspectives (usually enjoyable since, again, we ARE mostly progressive types) but what WILL happen unavoidably remains in the realm of pure speculation, or opinion. Because this is one of the most difficult realities we face as mortal human beings, that sheer unpredictability, the more fearful among us, definitively the "conservatives," are the ones most likely to cope through blanket denialism. This takes several forms, like becoming fretfully, excessively argumentative and/or dogmatic, i.e. "inclined to lay down principles as incontrovertibly true." This explains religion in a nutshell, and why many of us are trying to brace ourselves by asserting Trump and PP WILL win.
But no matter how many statistics and quotes are trotted out ad nauseam, even from years ago, as if the quoted progressive politicians (despite being deemed the total opposite) weren't people capable of changing their minds with the times like most rational, thinking people do, we have to remain open-minded and honest about the fact that no one knows, and act accordingly.

You attack me incessantly -- and now you play the victim.
As long as you persist in your nonsensical attacks — impugning my progressive credentials and calling me a conservative or conservative-adjacent, despite all the evidence to the contrary, I shall continue to question your judgment -- and defend myself against your slanders.

Criticism of centrist parties (Liberal/NDP) can come from BOTH sides of the spectrum. Left and right. Not just the Conservatives. None of my comments suggest an affinity for or sympathy with right-wing views. Just because someone criticizes your beloved Liberals does not mean that they support the Conservatives.
Logic fail.

And still you did not answer my question.

Two excellent comments by Pounder and Polson.
I'd agree with Polson that the extent to which Nenshi and the other candidates will move the NDP towards a more progressive stance on issues of current concern is still an open question. I imagine much of the answer lies in the degree to which Albertans really do care about these issues, and the politician's perceptions of the degree of that care. I'll be watching the NDP candidates closely, listening carefully to what they say and assessing their ability and desire to actually do what they say, despite living in Ontario.