Some Edmonton politicians are skeptical of the city’s political parties

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Some Edmonton-area politicians are skeptical after Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said she would like to open the door to political parties at the city level.

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In an interview with Postmedia columnist Rick Bell published Wednesday, Smith said she’s been lobbied over the issue in both Calgary and Edmonton.

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« It might be something that makes sense for big cities rather than smaller towns, but there seems to be an appetite for it in Calgary and Edmonton, » she said, adding that it will ask its ministers to consult each other on the question.

In a statement to Postmedia, Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said he hadn’t heard anything about the idea from the premier or the UCP government, but he thinks the current system is working well.

“At a time when we are seeing such political polarization across the country, keeping city councils unaffiliated with a political party is the best approach,” he said.

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Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Edmonton Ward O-day’min Coun. Anne Stevenson acknowledged that such a system could make things easier for voters and help provide support for those who face barriers to entering politics.

However, Stevenson said that at the municipal governance level, she doesn’t think it’s helpful.

« I really appreciate the non-partisan nature of municipal politics and it’s something I would like to see continue in Alberta, » she said.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley told an independent press conference Wednesday in Medicine Hat that the province should not impose such a system on any municipality.

« It’s up to the community, the voters and the candidates to decide, » Notley said.

This is not common in Canada to run under party banners in municipal elections, but there are examples, including Vancouver, where the A Better City list won a landslide election victory this month.

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University of Calgary political scientist Jack Lucas, who focuses on municipal politics, told Postmedia that nothing legally prevents candidates from running under a specific Conservative or Progressive banner, and there have already been examples of partisan competition in the Edmonton and Calgary elections.

« There’s a lot of evidence that candidates are running and seeing themselves as candidates, in a particular part of the ideological spectrum, » Lucas said.

Lucas said party labels provide valuable information to voters, but they can have a downside.

« When you have political parties in the mix, it’s hard to deny that even issues that don’t seem to necessarily divide people along left-right lines, or other lines, tend to become an issue anyway. partisan bickering, » he said. said.

— With files from Lauren Boothby and Keith Gerein

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