ATA News

Meet the NDP candidates

A graphic stating candidates with an Alberta flag

Five candidates are vying for the leadership of the New Democratic Party (NDP), which will announce their next leader on June 22.

As a non-partisan organization, the Alberta Teachers’ Association encourages its members to engage in the political affairs of the province through individual partisan and non-partisan activities. To that end, we seek to keep members informed about all political candidates and parties.

The five NDP candidates were invited to submit a biography and statement of educational beliefs for publication in the ATA News. Kathleen Ganley, Sarah Hoffman, Gil McGowan and Naheed Nenshi responded to the invitation.

Kathleen Ganley

Kathleen Ganley

I am running to be the leader of Alberta’s NDP and the next premier of Alberta. I was born and raised in Calgary and that is where I still live today with my six-year-old daughter. I pursued my education at the University of Calgary and have degrees in psychology, philosophy and law.

My career path led me to specialize in labour and employment law upon returning to Calgary. However, my passion for public service drove me to transition into politics, and in 2015, I proudly secured a seat in the Alberta legislature as a member of the New Democratic Party.

During my time in office, I had the honour of serving as minister of justice and solicitor general, where I championed justice reform and advocated for marginalized communities. My pragmatic approach to policymaking and unwavering commitment to social justice continue to guide my work in creating a more equitable society for all Albertans.

Statement of educational beliefs

I believe that public education is the great equalizer. It allows every child to reach their full potential and contribute meaningfully to their communities. It is the right of every child regardless of learning style or their parents’ bank balance.

I have a daughter with big ideas, and I believe that an education that supports her to chase them is the best gift I can give her. I believe every child deserves that.

I believe classrooms should be properly funded, teachers should be properly supported and in building enough schools for our growing population. 

I believe we must measure not just class sizes, but complexity, and fund for it.

I believe that teachers and school support staff deserve a raise, and that we should cut failed UCP programs like RStar and the “war room” and invest that money in our kids and their classrooms.

I believe we would benefit from a universal school nutrition program — because no kid should have to learn hungry.

My campaign is focused on building an economy that works for people and education is a cornerstone of that plan. The kids learning in our schools today could go on to cure a form of cancer or make real progress combating climate change — but not if we deprive them of their right to an education.

I will support public education. I will take action where the UCP has failed. After all, this is our future we’re talking about. 

Sarah Hoffman

Sarah Hoffman

Sarah Hoffman grew up in Kinuso, a small rural community, where her dad was the public school principal and her mom taught kindergarten. 

“When I told them I wanted to be a teacher too, they told me not to. These were the Klein years, and my father told me that teachers simply weren’t valued in Alberta. But I did it anyway!” 

While training to be a teacher, Sarah got involved in the NDP. In 2010, Rachel Notley encouraged her to run for the Edmonton Public School Board. 

“I ran and I won to keep our neighbourhood schools open when the Conservatives tried to close them. I’m proud of my record as a two-term trustee and chair of the Edmonton Public School Board.” 

Sarah is proud to be part of the NDP government that stopped Conservative cuts to education and built and renovated hundreds of schools in just four years. 

Statement of educational beliefs

Quality public education is fundamental to a successful democratic society. I am committed to properly funding Alberta’s public, Catholic and francophone schools.

The UCP is starving these schools in order to divert tax dollars to private and charter schools. This means longer drives and more overcrowded and complex classrooms for the majority of Alberta students, families and staff.

Charter schools have long desired to be regarded as part of the public system. Alberta should formalize this by providing a path to truly become public schools. The Edmonton Public School Board, which I was chair of, has had great success in offering programs of choice, as have other public and Catholic divisions.

I oppose private schools charging high fees, which excludes many families, while also receiving generous public support. As premier, I will reduce public funding for private schools that charge high fees.

I will hire more teachers, hire more EAs, introduce class size and complexity standards with public reporting, and build and renovate more schools.

I will work with teachers and education experts to develop a modern curriculum that is developmentally appropriate and reflects the diversity of Alberta’s students.

I’ve been a public school student, have a University of Alberta BEd and MEd, was the chair of EPSB, and education critic for the Alberta NDP. I will be your ally and always work for you, your colleagues, students and the families you all serve. I need your support now to make that happen. Please buy a membership at before April 22 to vote for me. 


Gil McGowan

Gil McGowan

Gil McGowan is the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. He co-chaired Premier Rachel Notley’s Energy Diversification Advisory Committee and helped implement diversification recommendations with the Notley and Kenney governments. He has advised the federal government on energy and labour policy through the Just Transition Taskforce. As chair of the Coal Transition Coalition, he helped negotiate a sector-wide transition program for workers affected by the coal power phaseout.

Gil spearheaded a push to diversify Alberta’s economy with a bold economic blueprint, “Skate to Where the Puck is Going.” That campaign helped unlock billions of federal investment tax credits for projects in the lower carbon economy, creating thousands of Alberta jobs.

He chaired the Local Authorities Pension Plan, safeguarding a $60 billion investment fund that provides retirement security to 300,000 Albertans, and fights to protect our public services, schools and heath care from cuts and privatization.

Statement of educational beliefs

Teachers want the best for their students. But the UCP is holding you back.

They’ve cut per student funding to lowest in Canada and pushed class sizes to highest. They’ve made politically motivated curriculum changes. Their bargaining shows contempt for the important profession you’ve chosen. They’ve got their eye on your pension.

I respect the job you do. Across the world, there is no good society without good education. Education prepares us for life. It builds out skills. It engages us.

I want to bring down class size. I want more classroom resources and more equitable student opportunities. I want a curriculum based on what’s best for students, not conservative politicians. And I will safeguard your pension.

But these important changes will never happen until the UCP is gone.

I have a plan to beat Danielle Smith. It adds the missing piece to our electoral coalition. Every major poll shows the NDP is well behind with economically anxious workers. To win — so we can then improve education — we need a leader with an economic plan focused on their economic worries. That is my life passion.

I’ve served as the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour for nearly two decades. The voters the NDP needs to win are people I work for everyday. I know them intimately. As teachers, I’m sure you know them, too.

I am seeking to lead the Alberta NDP so we can complete our winning voting coalition — then get to work improving Alberta education. 

Naheed Nenshi

Naheed Nenshi

Naheed Nenshi’s early life, marked by his family’s resilience during the ‘80s recession and the pivotal role of public services in his education and success, laid the foundation for his community contributions to follow. He learned from incredible teachers in public schools in Red Deer County and Calgary. 

Prior to becoming a three-term mayor of Alberta’s largest city, Naheed was an educator and became Canada’s first tenured professor of nonprofit management at Mount Royal University. As a business consultant, his clients included the United Nations, and he advised on how corporations can help the world’s poorest people. 

Naheed was recognized as “the best mayor in the world” in 2014 by The City Mayors Foundation. He also received the President’s Award from the Canadian Institute of Planners and the Humanitarian Award from the Canadian Psychological Association for his contribution to community mental health.

Statement of educational beliefs

First and foremost, we must hire more teachers to create smaller class sizes and create conditions that will support student success. The UCP ended class size reporting requirements in 2019 when they started cutting education so that Albertans wouldn’t know how bad it was getting.

From there, at minimum, our investment in education, including teachers, educational assistants, specialized supports and facilities needs to keep pace with growth in student population and inflation. But Alberta should set its sights much higher than that. Until recently, Alberta had one of the best public education systems in Canada. Underinvestment and misplaced, ideological meddling in the curriculum by Danielle Smith’s UCP continue to erode this advantage. 

We know that excellence in primary and secondary public education (and in early childhood education before that) is crucial for ensuring Alberta’s continued prosperity. We need to arm our kids with the love of learning and the critical thinking skills they need to succeed as adults. Rebuilding strength in our public education system must begin on a foundation of trust and respect for the educators parents entrust their kids with everyday. A government led by Naheed Nenshi will prioritize restoring excellence in public education and making the investments necessary to ensure every child can reach their potential. 

Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse

Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse

Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Edmonton-Rutherford and a proud member of Michel First Nation, Treaty 6, seeks to lead the Alberta NDP and become the next premier, emphasizing unity in facing challenges like climate change and economic security.

Her leadership approach is grounded in hard work, collaboration and community connection, demonstrating a commitment to listen and provide decisive leadership. Jodi’s journey involves learning from elders, earning an undergraduate degree in Native Studies and pursuing a master’s degree with a focus on water security. ❚