No regrets: Joe Ceci proud of NDP campaign, ready to embrace opposition role
NDP's former finince minister vows not to let UCP government 'steamroll over the vulnerable'
Joe Ceci has been re-elected, this time to represent Calgary-Buffalo. The NDP's former finance minister, who also served as a city councillor in Calgary (1995-2010), beat out UCP candidate Tom Olsen in a close race during Tuesday's provincial election.
Ceci joined the Calgary Eyeopener on Wednesday to talk about it. This is an abridged version of the conversation.
Q. How are you feeling this morning?
A. We're survivors. Last night, I guess you could put Joe Ceci in Calgary-Buffalo into the survivor column.
Q. How do you describe what happened last night?
A. We put our record forward. We laid out a detailed agenda for the future. Diversification, continuing to support services and not privatize anything. I think Albertans looked at that, they appreciated it, but they didn't return us in the numbers we needed. I take that to mean that we've got some work to do in opposition to get the message across.
Q. There has been criticism that the campaign run by the New Democrats very quickly turned negative and focused on partisan and personal attacks. Are you really fine with the campaign that you ran, given the results?
A. It wasn't personal at all. It was talking about the record of the premier-designate, it was letting Albertans know what that record is, and it's not stellar. It is attacking people, and divisive over his career. And we needed to put that out there. I'm fine with that. We believe that Mr. Kenney needs to be a person who brings people together as opposed to divides. Talking to Quebec, not saying anything about B.C., this is not how you build friends for the province.
Q. I think history will show you were the finance minister during a very difficult time in Alberta' history. Do you feel as if somehow you got dealt a bad hand?
A. No, I feel like I'm a finance minister who worked with an incredible leader in Rachel Notley to make sure that we did not go back in time with Albertans. We did not cut their services. We did not say to them "now you're gonna have to find your own way." We had their backs. I think we did incredible work in terms of supporting the whole issue of pipeline development in this country. That is going to happen, and Rachel Notley can take credit for it. They went from four in 10 Canadians who believed in the need for those, to seven in 10. And that's not the doing of the premier-designate, that's the doing of the former premier.
Q. Now you will watch from the other side of the aisle. What will you be looking for as you look across the aisle?
A. I'm going to hold the government's feet to the fire so they don't steamroll over the vulnerable, over the things that have been improved in this province like reducing child poverty by 44,000 kids. I'm so pleased that there are improvements in the social conditions of this province as a result of Rachel Notley and her team.
Q. You have a strong hold in Edmonton. Elsewhere in the province, it's an awful lot of blue. What will your role be, here in Calgary?
A. I think there will be many who say, "Look, we need somebody to be our voice in the legislature," and advocacy. Standing up for building coalitions across the province, getting to know what the issues are and provide that perspective that will be different than the government perspective — that's the role I look forward to.