Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Rakhi Pancholi to run in NDP leadership race

The contest to replace Rachel Notley as the leader of the Alberta NDP is now a two-person race.

Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Rakhi Pancholi announced Thursday she is entering the competition to replace Notley, who has been at the helm of the party for almost a decade.

Pancholi’s announcement comes on the heels of fellow NDP MLA Kathleen Ganley’s declaration Monday that she was kicking off the competition to lead the Official Opposition.

In a video posted to X, formerly Twitter, Thursday, the two-term MLA highlighted Alberta’s successes.

“Alberta is a place of hope, of optimism, of opportunity,” Pancholi said. “A place where caring about each other is something we take pride in, and there’s no challenge Alberta can’t take on.”

However, she didn’t shy away from calling out the United Conservative government on what she sees as the province’s faults.

“But the story the current govern ment tells us about Alberta is too small for such a big place,” she said. “We see it in the choices they make, the fears they exploit, and the fights they pick. But that’s not the Alberta I know.”

The candidate also touched briefly on energy and climate change, housing, the healthcare system, and education in her official announcement.

“Alberta is a place where we think big, where we don’t shy away from a challenge, where we step up and lead,” Pancholi said. “We can have a strong economy and invest in each other at the same time.”

READ MORE: Notley says she’ll step down from Alberta NDP helm to make way for fresh voices

Calgary MLA Kathleen Ganley was the first to announce her run for the position, saying her experience is what makes her the right person for the job.

“I think I have the experience of being in government, of standing with my colleagues,” she said Monday. “I think I’ve been instrumental to our growth here in Calgary and I think I’ve put together an incredible team that has the confidence to lead this province.”

Though just the two women have added their name to the ballot so far, others are expected to be added in the coming days.

Names suggested by political scientists, commentators, and members of the public include former Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, as well as MLA’s Sarah Hoffman and David Shepherd.

The race to replace Notley will wrap up on June 22.

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