Another provincial election, the same result. Edmonton is left to wonder, where do we fit in?
I’ve seen mayors cry and yell in council chambers, give angry speeches at Chamber of Commerce lunches and scheme mercilessly — all to get the provincial government to pay attention.
It’s rarely worked, if ever. I long for the Mandel/Stelmach days.
The problem with provincial-municipal relationships has been widely debated. Aside from all the handwringing, there is a clear truth that can’t be overlooked. Constitutionally, municipalities exist at the pleasure of the province. There is a huge power imbalance. However, this is not what I want to discuss here. What I want to discuss is how this imbalance is particularly bad for Edmonton and how we need to think differently as soon as possible.
This recent election is the latest splash of cold water in our face. It’s time to wake up.
The issue that needs to be addressed is our lack of focus on being a Capital City.
Currently we are too focused on politics as a way out of our poor standing within the provincial discourse. Even if the New Democrats had won, it would have only partially soothed our chronic pain. They win every seat in Edmonton, too easily, and immediately their focus shifts to Calgary and holding and expanding their seats there.
Where the UCP needs to hold Calgary to maintain a majority, the NDP needs to grow in Calgary — so everything, politically, is about Calgary. Rural Alberta and other mid-sized cities are reliably conservative so long as the United Conservative Party doesn’t fail at the “united” part.