Incoming premier promises to work with Edmonton, despite city's chilly reception

In his first speech following the UCP victory, premier-designate Jason Kenney promised to fight for Edmonton despite the city all but shutting his party out.

'We hope, in the next election, Edmonton will give us a second chance'

Incoming premier Jason Kenney speaks to the media in Edmonton the day after his party won a majority of seats in the 2019 provincial election. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

Premier-designate Jason Kenney will appoint a new cabinet on April 30 and will follow through on his promise to introduce a bill to repeal the carbon tax when the first sitting of the new legislature starts in May.

In his first speech since the UCP victory Tuesday night, Kenney re-iterated the key promises from his campaign. And, speaking in Edmonton, he extended an olive branch to the capital city, which all but shut his party out.

The NDP is projected to win 18 of 20 Edmonton ridings, with two others still considered too close to call as of Wednesday afternoon. The city is a burst of orange on an otherwise blue electoral map of Alberta.

"My goal is to lead a government that fights for the interests of all Albertans," Kenney said. "And we hope in the next election, Edmonton will give us a second chance."

Kenney acknowledged he was disappointed his party didn't make in-roads in the NDP stronghold and said there was a history of uphill battles for "free enterprise" parties in the city.

When asked why the UCP wasn't more successful in Edmonton, Kenney speculated the strong public service sector cushioned the capital from the economic downturn faced by the rest of Alberta.

"I think mainly it's because the number one issue in this election was jobs and the economy, and Edmonton has not been as severely affected as Calgary and other parts of the province by the economic downturn."

The UCP's best hope for a seat in Edmonton is in Edmonton-South West where Kaycee Madu is leading the NDP's John Archer, with about 97 per cent of polls reporting. But almost 6,000 votes from advance polls still need to be counted. 

Regional ridings such as Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville and Leduc-Beaumont turned blue on Tuesday night, offering Kenney a pool of candidates in the greater Edmonton region from which to select for his first cabinet. 

Kenney said he had spoken to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Wednesday morning, describing the conversation as cordial, with discussions about the need for a new pipeline and Bill C-69.

"We will begin with a path of diplomacy. We hope we don't need to use more forceful measures to assert Alberta's vital economic interests. But I think Prime Minister Justin Trudeau knows, if we can't get coastal access for our energy, this new government will vigorously stand up for Alberta."

The first sitting of the 30th legislature will happen in the third week of May, Kenney said.


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