EDMONTON — Alberta’s premier-designate Rachel Notley and the rest of her caucus met up Saturday for the first time since their historic election win.
“This morning our caucus is meeting to roll up our sleeves and get down to work for the people of our province,” Notley told reporters outside Government House, her entire caucus arrayed behind her.
“Albertans voted for change and they asked our team of new MLAs to do important work, the work of restoring honesty and integrity and trust to government.”
She noted the province now has a diverse group of caucus members representative of Alberta’s young demographic.
“Albertans have chosen to send people just like them to serve in our new government,” she said.
“We are young parents, we are grandparents, we are business owners and workers. We are nurses and health care professionals. We are students and we are teachers.
“We are people with long accomplished records of elected service and we are people who are new to politics.”
There is no date set yet to swear in Notley as premier as elections officials are still verifying ballots from Tuesday’s election.
The election elevated the NDP to power for the first time in Alberta’s history, closing the door on a Progressive Conservative dynasty that was just shy of 44 years.
The caucus has 28 men and 25 women.
“We have the highest percentage of women in any governing caucus in the country, and that is something to celebrate,” Notley said.
She also noted the median age of the caucus is under 40 years-old, matching the demographic of Alberta. The youngest is Thomas Dang, at 20.
“I feel very old all of a sudden,” joked Notley, 51.
The NDP caucus still might grow by one. Ballots are being recounted after NDP candidate Anam Kazim and PC incumbent Linda Johnson each finished in a tie for first with 7,015 votes apiece in Calgary-Glenmore.
Notley’s to-do list is long. She has to pick a cabinet and pass a budget, and the legislature must find a new Speaker to replace Gene Zwozdesky, who lost his seat Tuesday.
There are not a lot of seasoned politicians left to choose from. Just 17 of the politicians who were in the house when the writ dropped will be returning.
The NDP caucus had just four members in the house before the election, including Notley.
The Wildrose party, under new leader Brian Jean, has 21 members and returns as the official Opposition.
The Progressive Conservatives have nine and also need a new leader. Outgoing Premier Jim Prentice quit politics altogether on election night before the final votes were counted when it became clear the NDP would win a majority.
Prentice won his seat, and a byelection will now have to be called to replace him.
The Liberals are represented by leader David Swann. Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark was also elected.
Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press