Editorial – Time to put out political wildfires

Richard Froese

The provincial election is over and the United Conservative Party gets another mandate, winning 48 of 87 seats in the Alberta Legislature.

Premier Danielle Smith and the UCP have retained their roles to rule the province. The incumbent party hung on to power on election day May 29 despite opinion polls during the campaign that indicated a tight race with the New Democratic Party and Leader Rachel Notley.

Opinion polls showed many voters opposed Smith as leader and premier, even if they support the party.

As voters know from the past, the only election poll that counts is the official ballot.

Smith finally has the official mandate by voters to serve as premier after UCP members voted her the party leader and premier, announced Oct. 6.

The UCP won a majority government with 49 seats, down from the previous election in 2019.

On the other hand, the NDP won 38 seats to form the largest Opposition Party in Alberta history.

Several key UCP cabinet ministers also lost or did no seek re-election.

All three local electoral divisions were retained by UCP candidates.

Congratulations to new Lesser Slave Lake MLA Scott Sinclair, who collected about 64.3 per cent of the votes. Sinclair says he is committed to local communities and priorities.

NDP candidate and former cabinet minister Danielle Larivee received 33.2 per cent.

Many local political followers believed Larivee may be returned considering the UCP candidate was new and were concerned with Smith as premier.

Larivee had a strong record in her riding as an MLA from 2015-19.

Incumbent UCP MLAs soundly defeated their opponents. Central Peace – Notley MLA Todd Loewen was supported by 77.7 per cent of voters and Peace River MLA Dan Williams won 74.8 per cent of the vote in his riding.

Loewen was limited to time on the campaign trail. Appointed the minister of forestry, parks and tourism on Oct. 21, he was busy with wildfires throughout northern Alberta, in which he was evacuated from his home in the Valleyview area.

Loewen and Williams are the only UCP MLAs in the Peace region who returned to office.

Expect Loewen to continue in cabinet to be a strong voice for the northwest when Smith announces her new cabinet in the coming weeks. Whether that is the same post or a new portfolio, Loewen will put local priorities and concerns front and centre at the cabinet table.

Firefighters have worked hard to control, contain and extinguish wildfires in the past month. May that inspire Smith and Notley and their MLAs to work together as one to put out political fires that divide and destroy.

Do what’s best to build stronger relationships for a better future for citizens, communities, Alberta and Canada.

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