3 First Nations MLAs emerge victorious in Alberta

A hotly contested election shows a major split between the two cities.

While Alberta’s United Conservative Party (UCP) emerged victorious after a tight race in a bitterly contested election, two First Nations candidates were elected in Edmonton, and one in rural Alberta.

“We have two Indigenous candidates as MLAs in this province. That is huge. This is a win for our communities,” Brooks Arcand-Paul, newly elected MLA for the New Democratic Party told APTN News. Arcand-Paul is from Alexander First Nation.

“This will be a strong voice to ensure that every single Albertan, whether they are Indigenous, whether they are queer, whether they are members of communities that require diversity and inclusion, we will speak with them on their behalf.”

Alberta election two first nations mlas
Brooks Arcand-Paul, Newly elected MLA in Edmonton. Photo: Chris Stewart/APTN

Smith’s UCP won nearly all ridings outside Alberta’s two largest cities while retaining enough support in Calgary to overcome an NDP sweep in Edmonton.

“To paraphrase our dear friend (former Alberta premier) Ralph Klein, welcome to another miracle on the Prairies,” Smith told cheering supporters on the Calgary Stampede grounds.

There were actually three Indigenous winners last night. The candidate for Lesser Slave Lake, Scott Sinclair also identifies as Indigenous.

APTN emailed both political parties inquiring about Indigenous candidates but did not hear back from the United Conservative Party.

According to an online profile about Sinclair he is a small business owner and “gives motivational speeches for Indigenous youth.”

Newly elected MLA Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, who previously sat on the Edmonton Police Commission said she enjoyed her time campaigning, not only in her own riding but across the province.

“I was fortunate enough to be able to travel Banff, Canmore, spent some time in Morley. Really encouraging people to get out and vote.

“Went up north to Lesser Slave Lake, to Driftpile, to those beautiful nations. It’s exciting to see our people get involved in provincial politics,” said Calahoo Stonehouse.

Calahoo Stonehouse is from the Michel Band.

NDP leader Rachel Notley


She introduced Rachel Notley to a crowd of supporters when she spoke on election night. As she welcomed the crowd, Calahoo Stonehouse also spoke about obligations under Treaty 6.

“We have a mutual obligation under this Treaty,” said Calahoo Stonehouse.

The UCP was shut out of Edmonton losing their one seat held by a scandal-plagued Kaycee Madu who was removed from his seat as Justice minister by former premier Jason Kenney after an investigation found that he phoned the Edmonton police chief Dale McFee to discuss a $300 distracted driving ticket from March 2021.

Rick Wilson, the previous Indigenous Relations minister was elected in Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin.

In Calgary, Smith thanked the hundreds of thousands of Albertans who voted UCP, but also addressed those who did not.

“Though I didn’t do enough in your judgment to win your support in this election, I will work every day to listen, to improve and to demonstrate to you that I can be trusted to improve on the issues you care so deeply about,” said Smith.

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The UCP were winning or elected in 49 seats to 38 for Rachel Notley’s NDP in the 87-seat legislature.

The change represents a 14-seat swing compared to the 63-24 vote split between the two parties in 2019.

Smith ran on a platform of fighting crime and lowering personal income taxes in what is already the lowest-taxed jurisdiction in Canada. She promised a bill forbidding any future hikes to corporate or personal income taxes without a referendum.

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Alberta election. NDP supporters and Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse on election night. Photo: Chris Stewart/APTN

She also aimed to woo voters in Calgary by announcing, on the eve of the race, a $330-million provincial contribution to a $1.2-billion deal with the city and the owners of the Calgary Flames for a new NHL arena.

Some of Smith’s MLAs will be dealing with comments they made during the campaign. Jennifer Johnson was the winning UCP candidate in Lacombe-Ponoka, but her future wasn’t clear.

During the campaign, Johnson apologized for comments she made last year comparing transgender students to feces. Smith has said Johnson would not sit in the UCP caucus because of the remarks but later, when asked about Johnson, said she believes in redemption and second chances.

There are questions around what role a growing faction within the party called Take Back Alberta will have with Smith’s government.

The fundamentalist libertarian movement has links to last year’s protest against COVID-19 restrictions that blocked the main United States border crossing at Coutts, Alta., for two weeks. The group successfully backed a slate that forms half the UCP governing board with plans later this year to take over the other half.

With files from the Canadian Press

Corrections: An earlier version of the article did not list the win by Scott Sinclair. APTN regrets the error. 

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