Without a member of the governing Liberal Party to represent Alberta’s capital in the cabinet, there is some concern about the weight Edmonton will have on the decision-making table.
“This is the scenario that was concerning me,” said Ward 8 Coun. Ben Henderson on Monday evening as the two previously-held Liberal seats in Edmonton turned Conservative blue. “We’ve gone from having a strong and effective voice in cabinet to not having anybody in caucus, let alone in cabinet.”
Former Edmonton city councillor Amarjeet Sohi served as minister for two high-profile portfolios in the Liberal cabinet, but was defeated in the riding of Edmonton Mill Woods by Conservative candidate Tim Uppal. Randy Boissonnault also lost his seat in Edmonton Centre with NDP candidate Heather McPherson taking the only non-Conservative seat in Edmonton Strathcona.
Edmonton Strathcona becomes the only non-Conservative seat in Alberta after voting in NDP Heather McPherson
Prior to the election, Henderson raised his hesitancy of not having a voice in cabinet to fight for city needs, specifically infrastructure funding.
Conservatives take Edmonton Centre in upset over Liberal incumbent
“We were spoiled the last couple of years because we had a voice in cabinet,” Henderson said.
“I made a few promises when I said I’d run for office and I will maintain those promises. I am here to represent all the constituents of Edmonton Centre. I’ll do that with all my heart and I can assure you I will stand up for everybody in this riding, not just the conservatives, but everybody in this riding that deserves our support.
He pointed to funding for the LRT, affordable housing and the Yellowhead Freeway conversion as projects Sohi fought for under the infrastructure portfolio.
Henderson said he believes the Liberal government’s current commitments to infrastructure funding and affordable housing will remain in place for the city, but it’s how the city advocates for help that could be impacted.
“I think we should give a round of applause for all of those who entered into this race, who competed, competed hard, and Randy Boissonnault for his four years of service. Let’s give them a huge round of applause,” Cumming said.
Mayor Don Iveson took to social media Monday night to congratulate Justin Trudeau on his re-election.
“This has been a long campaign, a passionate campaign and at times, a divisive campaign. There have been strong feelings on all sides. But tonight is about looking forward, about working together, about honoring our Canadian values.”
Federal election: Conservatives near Alberta sweep, pull upsets in Edmonton Centre, Mill Woods but Liberals win minority government
“Regardless of how the electoral map looks, mayors across the country are united in our efforts to build globally competitive cities,” Iveson said in a tweet.
On behalf of #yegcc I offer my congratulations to Prime Minister @JustinTrudeau. I look forward to building on last 4 years of advancing the interests of all big cities & to ensure #YegMetroRegion continues to thrive. #elxn43 #cdnpoli
The sole riding in Alberta that didn’t vote Conservative in Monday’s federal election was Edmonton Strathcona, which remained NDP, despite the retirement of three-term MP Linda Duncan.
Iveson and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities have called for a public transit fund and permanent doubling of the gas tax as their top priorities. The Liberal Party has committed to an additional $3 billion in transit funding, but hasn’t committed to the gas tax ask.
Premier Jason Kenney didn’t comment on the results Monday night, but has shown his allegiance to the Conservative Party throughout the campaign, calling the party the best choice for Alberta’s oil and gas industry.
“I hope that you’ll vote for a new federal government that will help get a fair deal for Alberta, that will help us to responsibly develop our resources,” Kenney said in a video posted to Twitter Monday afternoon.
The Edmonton and Calgary chambers of commerce issued a joint release Monday congratulating the Liberal Party on its minority government and stressing the importance of working with all sides, as Alberta voted largely in opposition to their re-election.
“Canada is at a crossroads, and we must take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to us. We can make bold choices now to boost competitiveness or risk watching from the sidelines as other nations compete and win,” said Edmonton Chamber of Commerce CEO Janet Riopel in the statement.
The Liberals were shut out of Alberta on Monday night when incumbents Amarjeet Sohi, Randy Boissonnault and Kent Hehr lost their seats as the Conservatives almost swept the province.
Canadians elected a Liberal minority government but not a single one of the party's MPs will come from Alberta. Conservative candidates were victorious in 33 of the 34 Alberta ridings.
Candidate Heather McPherson was able to keep Edmonton-Strathcona in NDP hands. The central-Edmonton riding had been represented by NDP MP Linda Duncan for 11 years.
McPherson told reporters that her campaign took nothing for granted and worked right up "to the very last hour."
"Holding this seat was really important to us," she said. "It was really important that Alberta, all Albertans, have one progressive candidate representing them in Ottawa, and I'm so delighted I'm that candidate."
Sohi, natural resources minister in Justin Trudeau's cabinet, was defeated in Edmonton Mill Woods by Conservative Tim Uppal.
Uppal was the MP for Edmonton-Sherwood Park from 2008 to 2015. He ran in Edmonton Mill Woods in 2015 but lost to Sohi by 92 votes.
"I am so happy and proud to have the support that I got here, and I will represent them in every single way possible that I can," Uppal said at his campaign party. "We want to make sure that Alberta's economy comes back on track, and we'll hold Justin Trudeau to account."
Edmonton Centre was also anticipated to be a close contest, but Conservative James Cumming upset Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault with CTV News declaring the race with 37 out of 204 polling stations reporting.
In his concession speech, Sohi said he was proud of the work he did to ensure the federal government did additional consultation with Indigenous communities on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
"Yes, we lost the election today, because democracy is something wonderful and we need to accept the results of people because serving in office and being a politician is not a right," Sohi said. "It's a privilege … that all of us have to continue to work hard to earn."
In Edmonton Centre, Boissonnault lost his bid for a second term to Conservative James Cumming, his closest challenger in the 2015 election.
Cumming, the CEO of an Edmonton business development company, said his priority is getting Alberta's economy back on track.
"We need to get policies that are going to help not only Alberta but the rest of Western Canada," he told reporters at his campaign headquarters.
"We knocked on over 60,000 doors and I'm telling you people told me that they feel that they're they're not getting ahead. We're going to hold [the government's] feet to the fire to make sure that that happens."
Boissonnault told his supporters that it was an honour to have represented Edmonton Centre in the House of Commons.
"Edmonton has my heart and soul and I'm not going anywhere," he said to cheers from the crowd. "The future may look a little different right now, but just as you have been there to support me and us, and our noble cause, know this — I will be there to support you."
In Calgary Centre, Kent Hehr, one of two Liberals elected in Calgary four years ago, was defeated by Conservative Greg McLean in Calgary Centre.
Conservative candidate Jag Sahota won in Calgary Skyview, which elected Liberal Darshan Kang in 2015. Kang left the Liberal caucus following sexual harassment allegations. He sat as an independent for the rest of this term and did not run for re-election.
Conservative Kerry Diotte won a second term in Edmonton Griesbach, defeating high-profile NDP challenger Mark Cherrington. Conservative Matt Jeneroux was re-elected in Edmonton Riverbend. Michael Cooper was also re-elected for the Conservatives in St. Albert-Edmonton.
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