In Edmonton Mill Woods, where incumbent Liberal Amarjeet Sohi and Conservative Tim Uppal are squaring off for a rematch of 2015’s election, both frontrunners agree that the oil sector is a vital priority — they just disagree on how, exactly, to support it.
Sohi, 55, the former bus driver, three-term city councillor, infrastructure minister and natural resources minister in Justin Trudeau’s cabinet touts his recent political track record as unmatched, especially in securing investment and support for a long list of local projects from freeway and road improvements to flood mitigation.
“I have done more than any other conservative minister ever — including (UCP) premier (Jason) Kenney — to advocate and fix a broken process on the TransMountain pipeline expansion.” He points to his work engaging with Indigenous communities in the past year, important in moving the project towards construction.
“Once the TransMountain pipeline is completed, people will remember the work that I’ve done on that project, and people will remember that it happened under the leadership of Trudeau.”
There are a lot of familiar issues on the campaign trail — from pipelines, jobs, the economy, the cost of living and affordability, even race and identity — but much has changed. Environmental issues have become more prominent than they were in 2015.
“More young people are talking about environmental sustainability,” says Sohi.
The issue of residency has also sparked debate in the riding. Living in the riding is important to him because it opens doors to more casual conversations, and makes him a better advocate for his constituents, Sohi says.
Meanwhile, Uppal lives in Ottawa where his children attend school, and says he would keep the same schedule as many MPs who reside in Ottawa, including maintaining an active office in Edmonton Mill Woods.
Uppal, 44, is a former banker, radio host and lately a business consultant who grew up in Mill Woods and served first as the minister of state for democratic reform and later as the minister of state for multiculturalism under Stephen Harper. He was the MP for Edmonton Sherwood Park for two terms until 2015. Just as Sohi has criticisms of Jason Kenney, Uppal has a lot to say about the face of the Liberal party.
“Our oilsands industry has been devastated because of Justin Trudeau’s policies, and the local Liberals have supported those policies,” he says.
Uppal says that he hears from constituents how disappointed they are by Bill C-69, which overhauled the regulatory review process for pipelines, and Bill C-48, which prohibits oil tankers that are carrying more than 12,500 metric tons of crude oil.
A Conservative government would try to reverse job losses in Alberta since the fall of oil prices in 2016 by supporting industry and scrapping the carbon tax, he says.
While Sohi eked out a win over Uppal by 92 votes last time, the latest polling by 338Canada puts the Conservative candidate Uppal in the lead with 46.4 per cent support.
The riding’s NDP candidate, Nigel Logan, ran for city council in 2017 and says he was inspired to get into politics in part by Harper-era legislation, including a bill introduced by Uppal that would have banned face-coverings at citizenship ceremonies.
“I wanted to see more equity for ordinary people. For me it’s about serving community,” said Logan, a 35-year-old IT professional. A resident of the area, he says the NDP’s promised pharmacare plan is what most people want to talk with him about. “I lead with it at the doors,” he says.
It has supported politicians from across the spectrum, but Rachel Notley’s NDP won the area by at least 50 per cent in the April provincial election. It’s also a diverse riding, with about 49 per cent of residents identifying as a visible minority, according to Statistics Canada.
“I don’t think it’s at all defined who is going to win,” says Logan.
Green Party candidate Tanya Herbert, 30, is a teacher and former engineer running to shift the debate towards environmental issues. Climate change is a growing concern among Canadians, and Herbert, who also ran under the Green banner in the provincial election, says she believes it should be number one.
“There are a ton of Green party ideas that are not only practical but necessary for a low-carbon future,” she says.
First-time candidate Annie Young, 45, works for the provincial government in program and policy development and is running for the new right-wing People’s Party of Canada.
Don Melanson, 68, works for Canada Post and is running as the pro-life Christian Heritage Party’s candidate federally after running provincially with the Alberta Advantage Party.
- Tweddle Place
- Michaels Park
- Lee Ridge
- Crawford Plains
- Pollard Meadows
- Daly Grove
- Wild Rose
- Kiniski Gardens
- Jackson Heights