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City council, not losing UCP candidates, should inform on Edmonton issues: mayor

Click to play video: 'City council, not losing UCP candidates, should inform on Edmonton issues: mayor'
City council, not losing UCP candidates, should inform on Edmonton issues: mayor
Members of Edmonton city council want the Alberta government to seek their input over UCP candidates who ran in Edmonton ridings but lost when it comes to local issues and priorities. Morgan Black has more. – May 31, 2023

Edmonton politicians say they are the ones who speak on behalf of the city’s residents.

This is in response to what Alberta Premier Danielle Smith told 630 CHED’s Shaye Ganam on Monday. Smith said that because the United Conservative Party didn’t win any seats in the election Monday, she would consult the losing candidates on Edmonton issues.

“I’m going to put together an Edmonton council of some of the candidates who I know are going to want to run again. There are a couple of fantastic candidates in Edmonton, and some got a lot closer than I think anybody ever would have expected,” Smith said.

“I’m going to rely on them to continue giving me advice because our capital city is vitally important to the overall success of Alberta,” she said.

LISTEN: Alberta Premier Danielle Smith talks to 630 CHED’s Shaye Ganam in her first interview after being re-elected.

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In an emailed statement, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said the unsuccessful candidates shouldn’t be the ones representing the city.

“Premier Smith is free to seek advice from her party members, but I want to be clear, they don’t have the mandate to speak on behalf of Edmontonians,” Sohi said.

“That responsibility and accountability is vested in duly elected Edmonton city council.”

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Sohi said he encourages Smith to reach out to work with city council to understand the needs of Edmontonians.

In a statement shared with Global News later Wednesday, the premier’s office said: “The premier understands the importance of including views and issues of all Albertans – including residents in Edmonton.

“As always, she will continue to work with Edmonton City Council to continue to address local priorities.

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“Additionally, elected representatives in Edmonton provide valuable perspective for their constituents and are always welcome to provide feedback to the government.”\

Click to play video: '‘People are pretty excited’: Alberta premier Danielle Smith on what people should expect from her'
‘People are pretty excited’: Alberta premier Danielle Smith on what people should expect from her

Ward Nakota Isga Coun. Andrew Knack said it’s good for Smith to hear from the unsuccessful candidates, as each of them was supported by at least a portion of Edmontonians.

He said that he’s giving Smith the benefit of the doubt and assumes that she didn’t mention city council because it’s a given that she’ll meet with the councillors.

However, Knack said it’s important for politicians to engage with people who have different viewpoints — both constituents and representatives from other parties.

“If you’re only seeking advice of the people who ran for your party, you’re going to be caught up in an echo chamber and that is one of the worst places to be,” he said.

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“You want to make sure you’re reaching everyone possible, as many different perspectives as possible, because that allows you to make the most informed decisions.”

Knack suggested Smith hold monthly meetings on Edmonton issues.

“Let’s sit down with MLAs, city councillors, the UCP candidates that were unsuccessful, … come together, work on common issues, make sure the Edmonton voice is being heard clearly, directly by the premier, by the ministers,” he said.

Click to play video: 'UCP wins Alberta election but no Edmonton seats. What now?'
UCP wins Alberta election but no Edmonton seats. What now?

Brendan Boyd, a political scientist at MacEwan University, said that while consulting with party members is natural, it would be problematic if Smith appointed an official council that would have direct involvement in decision-making.

“There are other ways to hear what Edmontonians are thinking and hear what their demands and what their issues are,” Boyd said.

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Boyd said something similar to this had happened before, like in the 2019 federal election, when no Liberal MPs were elected in Alberta or Saskatchewan. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Jim Carr, an MP in Winnipeg, as a “special representative for the Prairies.”

Click to play video: '‘He’s like my parliamentary dad’: Politicians of all stripes fondly remember Winnipeg MP Jim Carr'
‘He’s like my parliamentary dad’: Politicians of all stripes fondly remember Winnipeg MP Jim Carr

But unelected candidates having a consulting role in government is rare, he said.

“I think it sets a bad precedent because that’s the purpose of the election — to determine who is going to represent that region.”

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