Liberal Randy Boissonnault claims victory in Edmonton Centre

After 40 hours of waiting for Elections Canada to tally votes, Liberal Randy Boissonnault got the answer he wanted.

MP-elect says riding needs a progressive representative in Ottawa

Liberal candidate Randy Boissonnault has won the Edmonton Centre riding in a tight three-way race in the 2021 federal election. (Terry Reith/CBC )

After 40 hours of waiting for Elections Canada to tally votes, Liberal Randy Boissonnault got the answer he wanted.

Voters in Edmonton Centre would return him to Ottawa, with a skinny 577-vote margin over Conservative  incumbent James Cumming.

Boissonnault previously served as the MP for the riding from 2015 until 2019, when he lost the seat to Cumming.

Results posted Wednesday by Elections Canada show Boissonnault gained 33.7 per cent of the vote compared to Cumming's 32.5 per cent in Monday's federal election, with NDP challenger Heather MacKenzie in a close third-place finish.

"Everybody breathed a sigh of relief," Boissonnault said Wednesday. "There's joy. There's happiness. There's also a serious tone knowing all the work that has to be done."

Due to the pandemic, many more people voted by mail-in ballot. Workers didn't start counting those and other special ballots until Tuesday morning.

Pointing to nearly 63 per cent of ballots cast in the riding for him or MacKenzie, Boissonnault said it was time for a progressive candidate to represent the area.

He said that's the message he'll carry when dealing with Alberta's United Conservative Party government, which has repeatedly slammed the federal Liberal government's energy and environmental policies, fiscal stabilization program and equalization formula, which is soon to be the subject of a provincial referendum.

Boissonnault's win, along with his colleague George Chahal in Calgary Skyview, was a breakthrough the party was hoping for after the party was shut out of Alberta and Saskatchewan in the 2019 federal election, he said.

He wouldn't weigh in on whether that could lead to a cabinet post for either of them.

Thirty of Alberta's 34 seats went to the Conservatives on election night. The NDP also snapped up two Edmonton seats.

Boissonnault wants to convince supporters of Alberta's oil and gas sector that he's working in their favour, after the Liberals passed laws that industry defenders say will stop the construction of new pipelines and block export options.

Boissonnault says workers tell him they know an energy transition is coming — they just want it to be gradual, and eased by government.

He says the federal government will help with worker retraining and invest revenue from the federal-government owned TMX pipeline into a green transition fund.

"The greenest barrel of oil that comes out of the ground is the first one that the rest of the world's going to want to buy," he said. "We have really smart people and really dedicated workers in the oil and gas sector who want to contribute to the greening of the industry."

The Liberals' $10-a-day child-care promise is another of his priorities. The provincial and federal governments failed to reach a child-care deal in the days before the election.

In a video posted to Twitter on Wednesday, Cumming said his team didn't get the result they wanted. He thanked his volunteers, his family and voters for their support.

He also congratulated Boissonnault.

"You know what this riding's like," Cumming said. "They demand performance, and I hope that you will stand up to the citizens of Edmonton Centre."

Cumming said he isn't sure what his next move will be.

His campaign did not respond to a request for an interview on Wednesday evening.


Janet French

Provincial affairs reporter

Janet French covers the Alberta Legislature for CBC Edmonton. She previously spent 15 years working at newspapers, including the Edmonton Journal and Saskatoon StarPhoenix. You can reach her at janet.french@cbc.ca.