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Rachel Notley gives final scheduled press conference as leader of the Alberta NDP

Rachel Notley gave her last scheduled press conference and legislature address as Alberta NDP leader on Wednesday.

By Sean Amato

With her family looking on and her team surrounding her Rachel Notley gave what is likely to be her final news conference as Leader of the Alberta NDP.

Later in the house, a standing ovation, even from the UCP.

“Thank her for all her years of service to Edmontonians and Albertans and to wish her all the best in what comes next,” said Premier Danielle Smith.

With the legislature expected to wrap up the spring session Wednesday, it was probably also Notley’s final day in the chair of the Official Opposition Leader.

Notley was first elected in 2008. At the time she and the now-retired Brian Mason were the only NDP MLAs.

Notley announced last June that she was considering stepping aside as leader. Two weeks later her NDP gained seats but lost a second-straight election to the UCP.

She made her eventual resignation official in January, saying she wanted to make way for fresh voices.

But the respect she’s earned as Alberta’s first-ever NDP Premier, is evident even in her opponents.

“She’s a highly skilled politician. Often doesn’t take any prisoners, which is a compliment, just to be clear,” said Ric McIver, Municipal Affairs Minister.

Brian Jean, Jobs Minister adding, “My policies are in a much different place than where her policies are, but I respect her and the position that she holds.”

Notley’s policy legacy — a $15 dollar minimum wage, cutting childhood poverty in half, and an oil pipeline to the B.C. coast. Her government also racked up tens of billion of dollars in debt, which was in part due to a collapse in oil prices.

“Rachel Notley was a very pragmatic leader. Definitely brought them to the center. She knew that they couldn’t be this far-left party with just those ideals,” explained Tom Vernon, Crestview Strategy.

Notley also gained a reputation with her own MLAs as a passionate defender of her ideals.

“I’ve learned to not cross her when she’s in that mode, because she doesn’t fool around. She’s fierce? Oh yeah. And I love that about her and I consider her my friend too,” explained David Eggen, Alberta NDP.

As for what’s next, aside from more family time, Notley wouldn’t say. She’s still the MLA for Edmonton Strathcona, and suggested during a house address Wednesday she just might run for that seat again.

“It’s been an incredible run. And I’m so proud to have played such a key role, I think I can say this, in building Alberta’s biggest official opposition,” said Notley.

The Alberta NDP will choose a new leader on June 22.

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