Alberta NDP responds to internal letter alleging mistreatment of volunteers

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EDMONTON — A letter from 15 Alberta NDP riding presidents and regional vice-presidents calls on Opposition Leader Rachel Notley and the party to investigate what he alleges is disrespect and misconduct. treatment of party volunteers.

The letter, obtained by The Canadian Press, also expresses concerns about the fairness of the selection process for NDP candidates.

The letter was sent three months ago.

Notley, when asked about the letter at a news conference on Tuesday, said the executive is looking into the matter. She noted that the letter contained general allegations but was not followed by specifics and specifics.

“There are two sides to every story,” Notley said.

“Sometimes there are disagreements and conflicts, and therefore it’s really important to go through the process because that’s what people on both sides of these things deserve to have.”

She would not undertake to make the results of the investigation public.

The letter asks Notley and the NDP executive to “initiate a process of independent review of reported cases of disrespect or mistreatment of volunteers by party staff.”

He adds: “Some people have reported instances of disrespect towards (constituency associations) and central party staff, which suggests behavior inconsistent with party principles.

“In our view, the gravity of the cases that have been brought to our attention requires an independent investigation to gather the facts and provide recommendations.

“It’s essential to restore trust.”

The letter also asks for clear expectations and timelines for screening candidates, perhaps through a nominating committee.

“Some candidates have been in the vet for a year, creating mistrust between the candidate, the (district association) and the party for fear of patronage,” the letter said.

“There must be clear milestones, and timeline-based expectations for progress must be communicated clearly and regularly.”

The letter says there are concerns that riding association presidents are being kept abreast of the conversations and that their input is not taken seriously at higher levels.

“Volunteers (from riding associations) are the backbone of the New Democratic Party of Alberta, and while we may not all have the experience and responsibility given to party staff, we expect to be spoken to and corresponded with in a manner that upholds our party’s commitment to uphold,” the letter reads.

Notley disagreed with the favoritism allegations. She said the delays and other verification issues were more about mechanics and logistics, and said the party is working to resolve this issue.

“It’s both positive and negative when your party is increasingly seen to be on the road to government, your nominations become a lot more contested,” Notley said.

“These are, to some extent, growing pains.”

Brandon Stevens, the party’s chief executive, said he had already met with and heard the letter writers’ concerns, but declined to discuss what had been learned or confirm whether the allegation of willful mistreatment was true.

Stevens said they are considering changes to the party’s anti-harassment policy, among other recommendations, with an announcement coming as soon as this week.

“That means protecting our volunteers from harassment (and) protecting our staff from harassment,” Stevens said.

“And also just making sure that we have not only (an) anti-harassment policy, but a workplace respect document that helps govern the interactions that volunteers have with each other and that volunteers and staff have between them.

The NDP is moving quickly to choose candidates with the next election scheduled for May 29, 2023.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 7, 2022.

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