VICTORIA – NDP leader John Horgan remembers working with Alberta premier-elect Rachel Notley when she was a lawyer working for then-attorney general Ujjal Dosanjh, and he was a senior staffer in the NDP government in the 1990s.
Horgan said Wednesday he's "ecstatic" at the upset victory of the Alberta NDP, toppling the Progressive Conservative dynasty that ruled for 44 years. And he predicts that sea change in the politics of western Canada will benefit federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair this year and his party in 2017.
"I've known Rachel for some time," Horgan said. "She is as genuine as she looks. She is as competent as she sounds. I think that's good news for Canada."
The effect of Alberta's first-ever NDP government remains to be seen, with the province in a sharp downturn due to low oil prices. Notley's promises include raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and increasing corporate taxes at a time when the oil and gas industry is laying people off.
Horgan remains noncommittal about the proposed twinning of the TransMountain oil pipeline from northern Alberta to a shipping terminal at Burnaby. Notley has expressed support for that project, while opposing the Northern Gateway proposal to deliver Alberta heavy oil to Kitimat.
B.C. Energy Minister Bill Bennett said he doesn't expect any change in relations between the two provinces. Bennett shrugged off the Alberta vote, saying he mostly watched the Calgary Flames win over Anaheim in the Stanley Cup playoffs Tuesday night.
"It took 44 years to elect an NDP government in Alberta," Bennett quipped. "We've got 30 years left."