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Diversity in Alberta's legislature

Diversity in Alberta’s Legislature

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After a victorious United Conservative Party victory in Monday’s election, Premier Danielle Smith is promising to work for the people of Alberta and to stand together against the Federal government. Despite a tough Alberta battle and losing seats against the Alberta New Democrats, there is work to be accomplished in terms of diversity in the cabinet. Kaycee Madu, former justice minister and minister of skilled trades and professions, lost his seat to Nathan Ip, NDP. Shortly after his defeat in Edmonton-South West, Madu tweeted, “I am very pleased to see that
our party @Alberta_UCP formed a majority government and will continue the hard work to make Alberta’s economy stronger, ensure health care is there for Albertans when and where they need it, take care of the most vulnerable and ensure Alberta’s children and young people are grounded and ready for the challenges of tomorrow.”

As he prepares to leave, other new faces enter the legislature. Rhiannon Hoyle is the first Black woman MLA in Alberta. As of Monday, she was elected to the Edmonton-South riding. Hoyle ran for Edmonton city council in October of 2021 and lost by a slim margin; however, she won her seat on May 29, 2023, which had formerly been held by Independent MLA Thomas Dang since 2019. Hoyle, an entrepreneur, and former president of the Heritage Point Community League, worked to build recreational facilities for various neighbourhoods. Hoyle tweeted,“Thank you for the kind words and your vote! I’m truly grateful.” Sharif Haji, former executive director of the Africa Centre, has served on various boards and committees. He is the co-founder of the Federation of African Canadians Economics (FACE), which helps aid Black businesses in Canada. He has also worked with the ministries of health, seniors, and housing.
On Monday, Haji became the first Somali-Canadian elected to the Alberta Legislature for the New Democratic Party. After thanking his fellow contestants, he shared, “I’m deeply honoured by the
confidence that the voters of Edmonton-Decore have shown in me and Alberta NDP.” He reiterated his commitment to listening to and responding to his constituents, even though he does not live in the riding. Voters embraced his campaign message for a better future, a riding with a high immigrant population. Congratulating Sharif by tweeting, “he brings enormous knowledge and experience, and I’m truly excited to work with him as part of our team,” is MLA David Shepherd, who has won the Edmonton-City Centre
riding for the New Democratic Party. Shepherd has worked as an MLA and extensively on anti-racism policy, and in particular, the Anti-Racism Act. A champion for technology and innovation sector, mental health, public health care and affordable housing, Shepherd will continue in his role as MLA.

Alberta NDP Leader, Rachel Notley, has been declared the Official Opposition after Monday’s provincial election. She promises to fight for Alberta’s future and hold the UCP government accountable. Danielle Smith, the official Premier of Alberta and leader of the UCP, shared her message to Albertans. “It is time to put partisanship, division, and personal and political attacks in the rear-view mirror. It is time to move forward together as all Albertans, no matter who we voted for.” Despite challenges that are sure to lie ahead, Albertans have voted and can look forward to changes, opportunities, and hope for a better tomorrow.

The UCP will now need to work with the Opposition as they have no representation in Edmonton. There is also the need for diversity within the UCP – as it stands, the UCP does not look like the province it governs.

What can the party do to promote diversity:

  1. Listen and work with the City of Edmonton councillors on matters affecting Edmonton.
  2. Work with Edmonton’s MLAs closely to hear what Edmonton needs.
  3. Create an open-door policy, so diverse groups can approach the government with ideas.
  4. Create an exclusive Ministry for Women headed by a woman, preferably a Black or Indigenous woman.
  5. Create an Anti-Racism Department staffed with a diverse staff.
  6. Put diversity and inclusion at the core of policies.
  7. Fulfill all campaign promises.
  8. Work in Alberta’s colleges and universities to support the real needs of Black Student Associations.
  9. Actively listen to people and organizations who work in the anti-racism space to hear their grassroots submissions.
  10. Support Black English-speaking media like LCCMedia.

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