Rachel Notley declares candidacy for Edmonton-Strathcona, takes aim at Jason Kenney

Before a crowd of hundreds cheering her on, Rachel Notley declared her candidacy for the riding of Edmonton-Strathcona Sunday afternoon.

“Hello Alberta, my name is Rachel Notley, and I’m running to be the MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona. As it turns out, I’m also running to be your premier again,” she said.

Notley went on to thank her family for the support over the past four years. Her son, Ethan, introduced his mother to the stage.

“Having a premier for a mom, it’s not easy. In fact, there are times it’s fair to say it kind of sucks a bit,” Notley joked. “I’m inspired by you both. Ethan and Sophie, you are my rock.”

Cheers erupted when Notley said she planned to lead “Alberta’s first second-term NDP government” and when she poked fun at her “unladylike flair for tactical politics,” a direct reference to a recent comment made by UCP Leader Jason Kenney.

She went on to thank her supporters in her riding.

“I love the eclectic and eccentric mix of people who live here. This place has such character — uniquely Albertan character,” Notley said. “As premier, I look to Edmonton-Strathcona for hope and inspiration each day.”

Her campaign-style speech went on to list the values at stake in the coming election as she took aim at the UCP leader.

“We’ve learned about his views on women in politics,” Notley said. “Secretly filming MLAs is one thing, but an alleged conspiracy against an opponent’s leadership campaign takes it to a whole other level.

“Mr. Kenney owes Albertans a full accounting, not just empty denials, especially given that this morning we learned that these denials were not just calm, cool, confident lies, outright lies,” Notley said. “Mr. Kenney has demonstrated a profound absence of integrity, and Albertans deserve better.”

On Friday, RCMP told Global News that Alberta’s election commissioner handed an investigation over to them this week and that police are “looking into allegations based on information provided to us.”

Since the election commissioner began looking into Jeff Callaway‘s UCP leadership campaign, it has levied three fines, while the UCP has removed a Calgary candidate. Callaway’s campaign is alleged to have been launched to derail candidate Brian Jean’s chances and secure Kenney’s win. Callaway dropped out of the race in October 2017 and threw his support behind Kenney.

Leaked emails obtained by Global News appear to show that campaign managers for Kenney and Callaway worked together to attack Jean during the 2017 UCP leadership race.

The emails came to light just days after the RCMP confirmed it is looking into the race based on information provided by Alberta’s election commissioner, and the messages raise questions about Kenney’s involvement, if any, in the alleged backroom dealings. The documents include talking points and policy issues that can be used against Jean.

Kenney has not responded to a Global News request for comment on the leaked emails and their content. His representatives supplied previous statements from party officials, including a statement from UCP executive director Janice Harrington, which reads, in part:

“Mr. Kenney’s campaign has previously and repeatedly confirmed that there was communication between the Kenney leadership campaign and the Callaway leadership campaign.

“As we have previously said, communication between leadership campaigns is perfectly normal in a preferential ballot election and was within the rules of the 2017 UCP leadership election.”

Political analyst Chaldeans Mensah said that what is alleged to have happened during the UCP leadership race was the result of political parties moving from delegate conventions to membership-focused conventions.

“In the past, this would have been ordinary, it would have been acceptable,” Mensah said. “In an open delegate convention, what makes it a bit sinister is that it’s done secretly. People are not aware what is going on.”

“I think it maybe showed the fear of the Wildrose grassroots, maybe he [Kenney] thought the Wildrose grassroots were going to be voting for Mr. Jean.”

Mensah believes the writ will be dropped within days of Monday’s throne speech.

Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman spoke to reporters outside the Federal Building on Sunday morning, calling on Kenney to come clean about his involvement in the 2017 Conservative leadership race.

“I think Mr. Kenney really has to come clean about the donations, come clean about [his] direct involvement in Callaway’s campaign and come clean with the Alberta public about just how far he will go to take power back in this province,” Hoffman said.

“When we see people lying over and over again, we need to call it out; we need the truth,” she said.

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