Two of Canada’s largest cities are getting new mayors, with Jyoti Gondek set to become mayor of Calgary and Amarjeet Sohi mayor of Edmonton.
“Congratulations on your historic wins!,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today in a tweet, noting he was looking forward to working with them and other winners in Alberta’s municipal elections.
The two incoming mayors were elected Monday. Ms. Gondek will be Calgary’s first female mayor and Mr. Sohi the first person of colour to hold the position in Edmonton. They are also both first-generation Canadians with Punjabi heritage.
Ms. Gondek, who has been a city councillor, and Mr. Sohi a former federal Liberal cabinet minister, replace high-profile predecessors Naheed Nenshi and Don Iveson respectively.
Both Mr. Nenshi and Mr. Iveson were key national voices on urban issues during their runs as mayors.
Here’s Alberta Bureau Chief James Keller with a Reporter’s Comment on the path ahead:
“[Ms. Gondek and Mr. Sohi] are taking power at a time of significant uncertainty in Alberta. The province’s economy is still suffering from a years-long downturn in the oil sector, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been more severe and more deadly in Alberta (and neighbouring Saskatchewan) than the rest of the country in the third and fourth waves. In Calgary, the hollowing out of the city’s downtown skyscrapers presents a particularly acute challenge for Ms. Gondek, as she looks to fill those offices while dealing with the impact to the city’s finances.
“In some ways, the election will continue both cities on the paths set by the previous mayors.
“The incoming mayors have far more in common with Mr. Nenshi and Mr. Iveson than their closest competitors, which in both cities were conservative candidates with reputations for stoking conflict and whose focus was largely on keeping taxes low and tackling public safety. Ms. Gondek and Mr. Sohi ran campaigns focusing on economy recovery but also tackling climate change and social issues such as mental health and addictions. They talked about fostering an economic recovery built on fairness and inclusiveness; Mr. Sohi used his victory speech to pledge to fight against racism and discrimination.”
Alberta Reporter Kelly Cryderman conducted exit interviews with both Mr. Nenshi and Mr. Iveson, accessible here.
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PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
Private meetings in Ottawa. Also, the Prime Minister speaks with Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet.
No public itineraries were issued by the offices of the other leaders.
In Maclean’s, Philippe J. Fournier writes that an early look at the Ontario provincial election looming next year shows dramatically different numbers from 2018, but the PCs still benefiting from a divided opposition. Story here.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on Justin Trudeau’s future as his government marks its sixth birthday: “All of which raises questions about Mr. Trudeau’s future. The improbable victory of 2015 would not have happened with anyone else at the helm, and in any event, after the Liberal debacle of 2011, almost no one wanted to lead. And Mr. Trudeau, who launched his career in politics not in a safe seat, but by running and winning in a Bloc Québécois riding, is still capable of being a formidable campaigner, as he – sometimes – demonstrated this year. It’s also hard to imagine another Liberal leader, an anglophone, winning 35 seats in Quebec.”
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how democracy is at stake as incidents and threats of violence are levelled against elected officials: “What’s happening? I agree with former Conservative minister James Moore, who points to the decline of mediating forces in society such as religious faith, local community groups and other social adhesives. In the absence of such supports, for many people, “their sense of identity, their sense of purpose, their sense of justice, their religiosity, their livelihood is getting dumped into politics,” he told me. “And politics can’t handle the weight of that.” The arrival of social media amplified that polarization, creating a new but false sense of community: Other people online who echo your beliefs and amplify your voice, while drowning out any voices of reason and compromise.”
Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on how the Prairies are showing Canada what a COVID-19 disaster looks like: “The country’s two Prairie provinces have gone on to become consumed by an ugly public-health emergency. The provinces are responsible for the highest per-capita death rates from COVID-19 in the country, and it’s not even close. And there’s one major reason why: In their zeal to pander to noisy anti-lockdown folks in their provinces (and in their respective parties and parliamentary caucuses), the Premiers decided to ignore the many loud warnings about opening things up too quickly, and went all in. Not long after, the Delta variant arrived and found two provinces with tens of thousands of vulnerable people to infect.”
Parag Khanna (Contributed to the Globe and Mail) on why Canada is the best destination for those searching for the American dream: “Every March and April I get antsy e-mails and phone calls from friends in London, Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore whose children have just been admitted to numerous fill-in-the-blank universities in America, Canada, Britain and elsewhere. After debating the merits of the schools and countries, they thank me and go back to fretting about their kids’ future. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a more frequent leaning toward sending their children to Canada. While American college graduates remain unsure what to do with their degrees, Canadian universities such as Waterloo have blended apprenticeships into their curricula as a requirement for graduation. This European-style vocational approach has proven very successful in adapting the work forces of Germany, Korea, and other advanced industrial economies to both global competition and technological automation.”
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