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What's in a name?: Alberta NDP members and former candidates pitch party rebrand

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A group of Alberta NDP members and former candidates are lobbying the party to change its name.

The three letters that currently title the provincial party are too often synonymous with the federal NDP, according to Alberta’s Progressive Future (APF) spokesman Brian Malkinson.

"I'm a big fan of doing everything we can to make sure that our message is being judged on the merits of our platform, not on a misconception that our policy is made in Ottawa," he said.

Malkinson and the APF argue perception around the name has hurt the provincial NDP's reputation and made it too easy for the reigning United Conservative Party to attack its rival.

In fact, the former New Democrat minister suggests it could've been a difference-maker in this year's election.

"With a change, there's a significant chunk of voters that would be up for grabs," Malkinson told CTV News.

"And it's possible the name is that block."

Six other candidates -- all NDPers who lost their races in May -- are listed as supporters of the idea.

POLLING PROOF?

A Janet Brown Opinion Research poll conducted on behalf of APF shows 51 per cent of respondents believe the federal NDP has "some" or "a great deal" of influence on the provincial NDP.

Twelve per cent say they're not likely to vote for the Alberta NDP but would cast a ballot for another centre or centre-left party.

The telephone and online survey talked to 900 Albertan adults between Sept. 13 and 26.

It has a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Malkinson, who last ran in 2019 as the Calgary-Currie incumbent, says his party's name did carry some negativity at the doors while campaigning.

"This did come up, and it's something that gets in the way of our candidates talking about what the actual policies are," he said Wednesday.

Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams agrees it's an impediment.

"Just something about that name is a bridge too far for some folks," she said.

"When you're in an election that is as close as our last election was, this is the sort of thing that could make a difference."

NOT ON BOARD

CTV News asked Rachel Notley about the potential name swap on Wednesday.

She didn't seem interested.

"Efforts to change the name are just shortcuts for doing the hardcore work of just building support and establishing a record people can trust," she said.

Notley also shot down the idea that the current branding was hurting the party, instead suggesting it's often associated with strong health care and education policies.

"In fact," she said, "it gives us credibility on key issues that Albertans really care about."

Williams isn't convinced.

She believes Notley will be ousted by her party before the next election, and it could open the door for a completely new brand.

"If we look at potentially the combination of a new name to the party and a new leader, that I think starts to look like it could introduce new dynamics into the Alberta electoral map," she said.

"And a party with a new name could essentially establish its own brand and provide an appealing alternative."

INCOMING

APF says it'll spend the next few months focus-grouping and researching the idea further.

It's already launched a campaign on social media and at albertasprogressivefuture.ca for public input on the issue.

A potential new name hasn't yet been chosen. 

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