The Alberta NDP is facing pressure from within to rebrand in order to distance themselves from their federal counterparts and the leadership of Jagmeet Singh.
Led by Brian Malkinson, a former party candidate, a faction known as Alberta’s Progressive Future (APF), suggests that the current name of the NDP is costing the party votes due to its association with the federal NDP and perceived influence from Singh.
Malkinson explained in a press release that half of all voters have an incorrect assumption about the level of influence the federal NDP has on the policy of the Alberta NDP.
He added that while Alberta NDP is completely autonomous from the federal party, sharing the same name has created confusion for the average Alberta voter.
“This confusion is very effectively exploited by the UCP and will continue to be for as long as the provincial party has the same name as the federal NDP,” said Malkinson.
A recent poll by Janet Brown Opinion Research, commissioned by the APF, indicates that 50% of respondents believe the federal NDP exerts considerable influence over the provincial party.
The survey revealed that while 12% of respondents expressed a potential willingness to vote for the NDP, they do not currently support the party. Additionally, another 12% indicated they are unlikely to vote for the NDP but are open to supporting a different party with a centre or centre-left orientation.
Malkinson interprets these findings as an opportunity to potentially expand the party’s voter base by up to 24%.
The APF’s initiative is gaining traction among NDP members who have experienced electoral defeats, particularly in Calgary and its surroundings.
Members who support a name change include Taneen Rudyk, Michelle Baer, Rosman Valencia, Michael Lisboa-Smith, Andrew Stewart, and David Cloutier.
Despite the support from various NDP members, Rachel Notley told reporters Wednesday, “I am very proud of the name ‘NDP.’” She added that she’s comfortable with the relationship between her party and the federal NDP.
Notley’s determination to uphold the NDP name is deeply rooted in her family’s political heritage. Her father, Grant Notley, was the leader of the Alberta NDP from 1968 until his tragic death in 1984. Under his leadership, the party, established in 1962, made a significant breakthrough by winning its first seat in the 1971 provincial election, with the elder Notley securing a victory in the constituency cementing the party’s future foothold in Alberta.
In Alberta and most provinces, the provincial and federal branches of the NDP are intertwined through a shared membership system. Malkinson said that the APF urges the Alberta NDP to reevaluate its joint membership arrangement with the federal party.
This rebranding discussion emerges in the wake of successive electoral defeats for the Alberta NDP, both with Notley at the helm, with the most recent loss being approximately an 8.5% margin in the popular vote.
With the next provincial general election scheduled for May 31, 2027, the party faces critical decisions on its branding and policy direction to recapture electoral success.