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Former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi wins Alberta NDP leadership

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Former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi will lead the Alberta NDP after receiving 86 per cent of the vote on the first ballot.

Nenshi received 62, 746 votes to beat out three sitting NDP MLAs -- Kathleen Ganley, Sarah Hoffman and Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse -- to replace outgoing leader Rachel Notley.

“I am truly humbled and honoured to have been selected to lead the Alberta NDP into its next era. The excitement and optimism I’ve felt throughout this leadership race proves that Albertans want a government they can trust and believe in," said Nenshi.

72, 930 members of the NDP voted in the leadership race, the results of which were announced to a crowd of supporters in downtown Calgary on Saturday afternoon.

"The Alberta NDP today is the largest provincial political party in Canada," Nenshi said to applause.

The race to replace Notley saw support for the Alberta New Democrats balloon, with numbers growing from just over 16,000 members in December to nearly 86,000 as of the end of April.

Notley, who congratulated Nenshi on stage on Saturday, announced she was stepping down as NDP leader in January, months after her party lost to Danielle Smith's United Conservative Party.

The NDP won 38 seats across the province, making the party the largest Opposition in Alberta history.

Prior to the noon Saturday deadline, 85.6 per cent of eligible NDP members had cast their ballot. Ganley received 5,899 votes, Hoffman received 3,063 and Calahoo Stonehouse received 1,222.

Nenshi used part of his first speech as leader of the NDP to take direct aim at Smith and her UCP.

"I think (Smith) misspoke. I think when she said she's 'the most freedom-loving politician in Canada,' she meant she's the most power-loving politician," Nenshi said.

Smith congratulated Nenshi on social media, posting, "Congratulations @nenshi on your victory. Serving as opposition leader is a great honour and I look forward to the dialogue we will have on how best to serve Albertans."

Nenshi, who does not have a seat in the Legislature, did not tip his hand Saturday about where he would consider running.

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