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St. Albert only NDP stronghold in regional Edmonton area

While a wave of blue crashed across the province last week, the St. Albert riding remained a NDP seat, despite other suburban areas around Edmonton switching to support the UCP.
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NDP Leader Rachel Notley, centre, joined then-candidates Marie Renaud and Natalie Birnie in St. Albert for a rally prior to the provincial election. Renaud, who was re-elected to her St. Albert seat, is one of the few regional Edmonton NDP candidates to join the new legislative assembly. JENNIFER HENDERSON/St. Albert Gazette

While a wave of blue crashed across the province last week, the St. Albert riding remained an NDP seat, despite other suburban areas around Edmonton switching to support the UCP.

Edmonton itself showed strong NDP support, with party leader Rachel Notley and leaders in her former government, including Sarah Hoffman and Marlin Schmidt, holding their positions despite the party losing over half its seats across the province.

But in municipalities around the Edmonton area, St. Albert MLA incumbent Marie Renaud was the only NDP candidate to retain her seat. Former Municipal Affairs minister Shaye Anderson of Leduc-Beaumont, Jessica Littlewood of Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, Erin Babcock of Spruce Grove-Stony Plain, former Agriculture and Forestry minister Oneil Carlier of Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland and Annie McKitrick of Strathcona-Sherwood Park all lost theirs to UCP candidates. The new riding of Morinville-St. Albert selected Dale Nally of the UCP to be their next MLA.

Renaud and her team credit the hard work her volunteers did, not only through the campaign but over the past four years leading up to the election. Renaud and the local NDP continued door knocking when the 2015 election ended and never quit.

“We have been scrapping for four years. We never stopped. I think what you are seeing is our investment.”

Denis Lapierre, the CFO and treasurer of the local NDP constituency association, said they knew four years ago they needed to start working again right away if they didn’t want to become an “accidental government.”

“We were an example to the rest of the province,” Lapierre said.

Another one of the team’s big strengths, Lapierre said, was that they had a really strong candidate in Renaud.

The CFO said after the election around 50 of the members of the riding got together and decided they needed to be out door knocking right away and make sure they have a lot of money in the bank.

“We accomplished both and I think they helped us weather the storm,” Lapierre said, adding they knew this election would be a fight.

Dave St. Arnaud, St. Albert NDP electoral district association vice-president, said with the campaign wrapped up, they will be starting to work toward the next election right away.

“We take down this campaign, then we build on what we did for the past four years ago and what we did during the campaign season,” St. Arnaud said following the election.

Another strength of their team, St. Arnaud said, is they are a grassroots-driven group who worked consistently over the four years.

“It really was grassroots. It was a ragtag group of people, but it was consistency and it was not giving up, it was asking for money, it was all the stuff that you need and once we finally got that together we had a decent ground game,” St. Arnaud said.

“I think if the different constituencies kind of emulate sort of what we did in St. Albert here that I think you can have effective associations across most of the province."

Jennifer Henderson

About the Author: Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson is the editor of the St. Albert Gazette and has been with Great West Media since 2015
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