Though most of Alberta voted blue in yesterday’s election, there were a few key races that went red, including two here in Edmonton. Current City Councillor Amarjeet Sohi narrowly won against incumbent Tim Uppal (Conservative) in Edmonton-Mill Woods, and Randy Boissonnault defeated James Cumming (Conservative) and Gil McGowan (NDP) in Edmonton-Centre.
Justin Trudeau & Amarjeet Sohi, photo by Sukhpreet Benipal
Sohi’s victory (assuming it is confirmed) means that Council will see it’s first by-election in more than 20 years. As I wrote earlier this year, a by-election must take place within 90 days according to the MGA, but the City is planning to ask the Province for a 30 day extension so that the Christmas holidays can be avoided. That will likely mean a nomination day sometime in January with the by-election taking place in mid-February.
Throughout his time on Council, Sohi has proven himself as a strong, effective leader who understands the importance of cities. He could have run for mayor in 2013 if Iveson hadn’t. Sohi has been a consistent supporter of both expanding the LRT here in Edmonton and of our city’s efforts to eliminate poverty. I’m sad to see him go from Council, and although he leaves behind a very capable group of colleagues, I know they’ll miss his wisdom and dedication. At the same time I’m thrilled to have such a great Edmonton champion in our nation’s government.
Randy Boissonnault was the other successful local Liberal candidate. I’m sure he’s excited to get to work in Ottawa, but I bet he could also use a moment to catch his breath as it feels like he has been campaigning forever! Boissonnault has been a consistent supporter of many important initiatives in Edmonton, including TEDxEdmonton and Startup Edmonton. He’ll bring a great Edmonton perspective to the government, and seems to have a strong relationship with Justin Trudeau as well.
Randy Boissonnault, photo by Dave Cournoyer
Edmonton-Centre was previously held by Laurie Hawn (Conservative) who announced he would not seek re-election after serving since 2006. He defeated Anne McLellan (Liberal) to win the seat, who was at the time the Deputy Prime Minister (the last person to hold that position as the Harper government did not name anyone).
We won’t know until November 4 if either Sohi or Boissonnault are named to Trudeau’s cabinet, but it’s a positive sign that the Prime Minister-elect was in both Edmonton and Calgary on Sunday doing some last minute campaigning.
It’s also a good thing that Edmonton has strong representation from all three parties, because opposition MPs do important work as well. Linda Duncan (NDP) won re-election in Edmonton-Strathcona, and Mike Lake (Conservative) won re-election in Edmonton-Wetaskiwin. Both have represented our city well in Ottawa and will continue to do so, although in slightly different roles. Joining them are new MPs like former City Councillor Kerry Diotte (Conservative) who should also bring an interesting municipal perspective to his new role.
Although we now have fewer Edmonton representatives in the government than we did under the Conservatives, I don’t think that necessarily puts us at a disadvantage. Trudeau and the Liberals are arguably a better fit with progressives like Premier Notley and Mayor Iveson. And the Liberal promise to invest $20 billion over 10 years in transit aligns very well with Edmonton’s top infrastructure priority.
For now I’m cautiously optimistic about what the new Liberal government means for Edmonton, and I’m thrilled for both Sohi and Boissonnault!