Calgary, Edmonton mayors expect good relationship with re-elected UCP government
The mayors of Alberta's two largest cities say they expect a good relationship with a re-elected United Conservative Party government, despite its loss of seats in Calgary and Edmonton.
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek and Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi held news conferences Tuesday to congratulate Premier Danielle Smith and the UCP on their victory.
“Standing up for the values that make us a strong civil society, that's the job that our council is committed to do together with our provincial counterparts,” Gondek said at Calgary City Hall. “We are also committed to working with our new provincial government.”
Gondek said she will be seeking a meeting with Smith as soon as possible.
Smith had no public appearances scheduled Tuesday, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also congratulated her and said he would be speaking to her later that afternoon.
“We'll continue to work on growing the economy, on fighting climate change and on supporting Albertans into the future,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.
Sohi said he would also be requesting a meeting with Smith once she gets settled.
“It's more important than ever that the provincial government builds a strong, good relationship with city councils here in Edmonton as well as in Calgary,” he said at Edmonton City Hall.
“We represent two-thirds of the population.”
Sohi said he would do everything he can to maintain that relationship.
The UCP dominated outside the two big cities while retaining enough support in Calgary to lessen the pain of an NDP sweep in Edmonton and win a second consecutive majority government.
Several of Smith's cabinet ministers were unseated, including former health minister Jason Copping and former mental health and addiction minister Nicholas Milliken in Calgary, as well as deputy premier Kaycee Madu in Edmonton.
“Unfortunately, Edmonton will not be represented at the cabinet,” said Sohi. “So, I believe the provincial government has a responsibility to ensure that Edmonton voices are included.
“Calgary still has representation. We don't. I hope the provincial government will keep that in mind that a million people in our city - we've got to have a voice.”
Some of the key issues raised Tuesday by Sohi and Gondek include affordability, public transit, mental health and addictions.
Gondek said she expects the UCP's re-election to be good news for a $1.2-billion deal to replace the aging Saddledome with a new arena for the Calgary Flames.
She added, however, that it's also time for all politicians to take a stand against hate and divisiveness.
“I remain concerned about a small, but loud faction of Albertans who are espousing views that do not align in any way with broader society,” she said.
“There is no room for hate in a city or a province that is slowly recovering from an economic recession that stood to cripple us. We rose up from those dire straights and we have created economic stability. We created a workforce that is stronger because it is comprised of diverse people.
“That's why homophobic, misogynistic, transphobic and racist views cannot be tolerated.”
A UCP candidate, Jennifer Johnson, won her seat in Lacombe-Ponoka - despite having to apologize for comments she made last year comparing transgender students to feces.
Smith has said Johnson would not sit in caucus if she won her seat. But Smith later said she believes in redemption and second chances, so Johnson's future with the party is unclear.
There are also questions around what role a growing faction within the UCP called Take Back Alberta will have with Smith's government.
The fundamentalist libertarian movement has links to last year's protest against COVID-19 restrictions that blocked the main United States border crossing at Coutts, Alta., for two weeks. The group successfully backed a slate that forms half the UCP governing board with plans later this year to take over the other half.