No experience, no problem: Alberta's NDP rookies scramble to govern

Thu May 7, 2015 7:05pm EDT
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By Nia Williams and Scott Haggett

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Alberta's new left-leaning government, which sensationally ended the Conservative party's 44-year run in Canada's energy heartland this week, is undertaking a crash course that could be called: "Ruling for Rookies."

The election victory by the New Democratic Party (NDP) on Tuesday will deliver one of the most inexperienced parties ever to take office in Canada. The party previously held just four of 87 seats in the legislature and only a few of its 53 new lawmakers have ever held public office.

Among resumes that list experience as union workers, yoga teacher, lawyers, students and salespeople, talk is already focusing on an oncologist who could become health minister and an economic policy analyst who may take the finance portfolio.

With that, hasty steps are being taken to prepare dozens of new legislators to lead a province that is home to the world's third-biggest proven oil reserves and with an economy bigger than Ireland's.

"They are starting to come out of the haze now and asking things like 'When do I get paid?' and 'Do I have to quit my day job?' There are questions about offices and cell phones and things like that," said NDP strategist Brian Stokes, the party's deputy election campaign director.

First step: Take down the embarrassing Facebook pictures, such as that of a 26-year-old legislator posing next to a marijuana t-shirt or another with a manicured hand giving the middle finger to the Canadian flag.

Second step: Arrange media training for the 49 newly elected legislators, who were rarely in the public eye before the 28-day campaign kicked off last month. Urge them not to publicly praise former Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, as one has in the past.

Third step: Have university-students-turned-legislators suspend school to sit in the provincial legislature.   Continued...