Edmonton city Coun. Mike Nickel loses UCP nomination bid

Edmonton city councillor Mike Nickel announced Wednesday morning he is seeking the United Conservative Party nomination in Edmonton-South. June 6, 2018. Morris Gamblin, Global News

Mike Nickel will be staying on as Edmonton’s city councillor for Ward 11 after losing his bid to become a United Conservative Party candidate in the upcoming provincial election.

Nickel lost to Tunde Obasan on Tuesday in the UCP’s nomination race in Edmonton-South.

READ MORE: Edmonton city councillor Mike Nickel seeks UCP nomination

“More than 800 United Conservative members in Edmonton-South voted to choose their candidate for the next election from amongst three great contestants,” UCP Leader Jason Kenney said in a news release.

“I would like to congratulate Tunde Obasan on winning this hotly contested race.”

Obasan is a Certified Professional Accountant, who describes himself on his website as a strong believer in conservative values who was active on Jason Kenney’s UCP leadership campaign.

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Will Farrell was the third candidate in the race.

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Edmonton-South will be a new riding for the 2019 election. It encompasses the city’s deep south, stretching from 156 Street to 91 Street south of Anthony Henday Drive.

READ MORE: Edmonton election 2017: Mike Nickel wins Ward 11

Nickel has been known as a conservative voice on city council and indicated his desire to move to provincial politics was partly due to his frustration over some of city council’s decisions.

“It started with the wading pool; that one broke my heart,” Nickel said in June when he announced his UCP bid. “Then I move over to the Metro Line, discussions around safety and closing that file, and then finally it was the demolition of the coliseum. I just said, ‘Maybe I’m not fit for this downtown narrative.'”

READ MORE: Makeover of fountain outside Edmonton City Hall to exceed initial $13M budget

Nickel initially became a city councillor in 2004 before losing his seat three years later to current Mayor Don Iveson. Nickel returned to council in 2013 and was re-elected in 2017.

He took a leave of absence from city council, without pay, during his UCP nomination bid.

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The Alberta NDP is raising concerns about the UCP candidate who won.

In a news release Wednesday, the party said Obasan is “endorsed by anti-choice activists.”

“Jason Kenney’s long history of opposing abortion rights sends a clear signal to anti-abortion activists,” NDP MLA Sarah Hoffman said.

“When it comes to rolling back women’s rights in this province, anti-abortion activists know they have a champion in Jason Kenney.”

READ MORE: Alberta UCP leader Jason Kenney says he won’t legislate on abortion

UCP Executive Director Janice Harrington said Kenney has been clear that he will not reopen “these divisive debates.”

“Just as a reminder, after running their own pro-life candidate this past summer, Premier Notley stated pro-lifers are welcome in the NDP,” Harrington wrote in an email.

Harrington was referring to Nicole Mooney who ran and lost for the NDP in the Innisfail-Sylvan Lake by-election.

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