Labour leader Gil McGowan becomes latest candidate to officially enter NDP leadership race

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Longtime Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) president Gil McGowan is the latest to enter the race to become the next leader of the Alberta New Democratic Party (NDP).

McGowan, 56, officially joined the contest on Thursday, but said he recently tested positive for COVID-19 and won’t be doing any public appearances until he tests negative.

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“I won’t be doing an official campaign launch event until sometime next week,” he posted to social media.

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“When I do, I’ll host one event in Calgary and another in Edmonton. I’ll visit many other communities around the province throughout the course of the 15-week campaign.”

McGowan added he plans to stay on as AFL president throughout the campaign.

“I was elected to serve the interests of Alberta workers from AFL-affiliated unions and I intend to continue doing that throughout this spring.”

He also responded to accusations from the UCP that he should step down from his role as president to ensure unions dues aren’t used as a slush fund for his campaign.

“I will not be using any labour movement resources for my leadership bid,” he stated.

“As per Alberta election finance rules, my campaign will be financed by donations from individual supporters.”

He stated on social media that he is now seeking to collect the minimum of 50 nomination signatures from party members as set out in the party’s leadership rules.

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The deadline for getting those signatures is March 15, and as per the rules, they must come from five different regions: Edmonton, Calgary, central Alberta, northern Alberta, and southern Alberta.

The rules further state, that least 25 of those signatures must come from women, and at least 20 should come from members belonging to “equity seeking groups” which the party says includes persons of colour, Indigenous, living with a disability, youth, and 2SLGBTQ+.

McGowan previously ran for the federal NDP in 2015 and becomes the fifth candidate — and the only one who is not an elected official — to be seeking the position, joining MLAs Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, Kathleen Ganley, Sarah Hoffman, and Rakhi Pancholi.

He is the only active male candidate after Edmonton-City Centre MLA David Shepherd withdrew soon after joining the race, citing health issues.

Postmedia columnist Don Braid has reported that former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi will join the race on Monday though, as a non-party member, he must first receive special approval from the party.

The deadline for candidates to enter the leadership race is next Friday, March 15.

The deadline for membership sales for members to be eligible to vote in the leadership race is April 22.

Ballots use a ranked preferential format and will be counted on June 22 when the winner will be announced.

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