While rural and small-town Alberta, traditionally the Conservative electoral heartland, are finding ways to put pressure on Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party, the province’s big cities seem to have concluded discretion is the better part of valour.
Former Edmonton Public School trustee Michael Janz, who filed his candidacy papers for Edmonton City Council in the city’s Ward papastew this morning, obviously thinks that needs to change. And who better to demand a fair deal for Edmonton in Alberta?
Heaven knows, there’s a better case for that argument than for Premier Jason Kenney’s weak case that Alberta isn’t getting a fair deal from Ottawa.
And maybe it will resonate in a ward that contains the University of Alberta, which is being unfairly hammered harder than any other educational institution by the Kenney Government’s brutal post-secondary spending cuts.
Mr. Janz is certainly someone who could pursue such a strategy. Despite the timidity of most public school board members, he was never afraid to advocate pushing the provincial government hard on funding and education policy issues.
He’s not only challenged education cuts and called loudly for a fair deal for public schools, as opposed to the private schools the premier loves, he’s publicly acknowledged the climate emergency and called for sharing such resources as school buses with the city’s Catholic schools. (They didn’t like the idea.)
He’s even been willing to take on the Mayfair Golf Club’s millionaires over the favourable lease they get from the city! He called the city’s latest 18-year deal with the club “a sweetheart deal for a very wealthy, very small group of Edmontonians for a very, very long time.” He’s called for the land to be opened to public use, as in a park, not a golf course.
After three terms and more than a decade on the public school board, Janz made it known last week he wouldn’t be seeking re-election there.
His announcement he’d be running for a city council seat wasn’t a complete surprise. On March 2, many progressive activists in Edmonton received an email indicating he was pondering a run in the Oct. 18 municipal election.
Janz has received endorsements from a raft of progressive voices in Edmonton, among them Edmonton-Glenora NDP MLA Sarah Hoffman, a former senior cabinet member and school trustee; former city councillor and University of Alberta board chair Michael Phair; former municipal affairs minister Danielle Larivee; former Alberta NDP leader and Edmonton-Strathcona MLA Raj Pannu; and former Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman.
Ward papastew, the former Ward 8, is located near the geographic centre of Edmonton, south of the North Saskatchewan River. In 2020, Edmonton City Council voted to rename the wards with Indigenous names. It occupies much of the same territory as the federal and provincial Edmonton Strathcona ridings, both represented by New Democrats.