NEWS

Alberta premier-designate Rachel Notley to meet with new caucus

05/09/2015 07:00 EDT | Updated 05/09/2016 05:59 EDT
Premier-designate Rachel Notley will meet with her newly elected caucus for the first time this morning since her party toppled the 44-year Progressive Conservative dynasty on Tuesday.

Albertans elected 53 NDP candidates, more than enough for Notley to form a majority government.  

Former NDP leader Brian Mason, who was re-elected to his seat in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood, expects the meeting in Edmonton to be a meet and greet session. 

"I'm certain we'll have a report from the leader," he said. "I'm certain, also, that it's going to be very upbeat. Other than that, I don't really know."

The party has brought in its federal counterparts to help with the transition: Anne McGrath, chief of staff to former federal NDP leader Jack Layton and national director of the party; and strategist Brian Topp, who ran for the NDP leadership after Layton's death.

Mason said the group is working with the Alberta NDP to figure out practical issues like how to operate the caucus, how to deal with the senior civil servants and how many ministers Notley should appoint to her cabinet.

The group is also overseeing the hiring of staff for Notley, her ministers and new members of the legislature.

20-year-old wins Edmonton seat 

Then there's the issue of rookie legislators.

The Alberta NDP held only four seats before the start of the campaign, so many of these newly elected members have little political experience — some are barely out of their teens.

Thomas Dang, 20, unseated the Progressive Conservative incumbent in Edmonton-South West. The University of Alberta computer science student was involved with the NDP on campus, but not in government.

Dang admits he has a lot to learn in order to properly serve his constituents, but he's confident he'll get the help he needs.

"We have very good staff, very good caucus, we have very experienced MLAs already there helping out and working together," he said.

While the Speaker's office schools new members like Dang on ethics, expense policies and how the legislature functions, Mason said the rest of the mentoring has to come from the party.

The former city councillor and 15-year veteran of the Alberta Legislature has this advice for the rookies: lie low and learn the ropes first.

"Don't speak up on things or answer questions that are designed to cause you problems," he said. "Learn your job first. Learn your constituents.… I think the basic message is 'learn before you leap.'"

MORE:cbcNews