Alberta Politics
Former MP, federal minister and candidate for mayor of Edmonton, Amarjeet Sohi (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Former city councillor and federal minister Amarjeet Sohi to announce bid to become Edmonton Mayor today

Posted on May 17, 2021, 2:09 am
6 mins

If a pipeline to tidewater is as important to Alberta as folks around here seem to think it is, Amarjeet Sohi has done far more to make one a reality than Premier Jason Kenney ever did. 

In 2018 and 2019, as natural resources minister in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal cabinet, Mr. Sohi played a key role in the federal policy of pushing the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project forward despite strong opposition in many parts of the country and a rather iffy business case. 

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, who is not seeking re-election, before he adopted his current grizzled beard (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Construction of that controversial megaproject, now fully owned by the federal government, is under way with completion expected in December 2022.

While the former city bus driver, trade unionist, and respected progressive Edmonton city councillor was rolling up his sleeves in Ottawa, Alberta’s premier was engaged in mostly performative pipeline-boosting activities of dubious effectiveness. 

These included damning the federal government for not proceeding fast enough on the file, organizing a political “inquiry” to investigate a conspiracy theory about environmental groups’ supposedly anti-Alberta agendas, setting up a “war room” that has been a constant embarrassment since the day it opened, and giving $1.3 billion to a private corporation to build a pipeline to the U.S. Gulf Coast – cash that disappeared into the ether the day Joseph Biden was sworn in as President of the United States. 

Unlike Mr. Sohi’s effort, which produced tangible results, none of this has done anything to get a pipeline a centimetre closer to the ocean, which is what we used to call tidewater when I was a kid growing up in a seaport town. 

So you’d think Mr. Sohi, at least, would get some credit for this effort. 

Well, if you did, you mustn’t have been paying enough attention to the practice of federal politics in Alberta, where no matter what the Liberals to, they are assailed and defamed by the Conservative establishment. This usually works with voters, leaving Alberta with no voice at the federal table, enabling the cycle to continue. 

That’s certainly what happened in the October 2019 federal election, when after one term in office Mr. Sohi’s job as MP for Edmonton Mill Woods was swept away on yet another blue tide of uninspiring Conservative time-servers who can’t seem to get anything done in or out of government. 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

The usual suspects in the Conservative establishment and its media cheerleaders who did what they could to undermine Mr. Sohi when he was working on the pipeline file, have never given him any credit for the work he did on this supposedly vital national task. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Sohi, a talented politician with an inspiring backstory that includes serving time as a political prisoner in India, must have been frustrated. There have been repeated rumours he is planning a return to municipal politics, which have increased in intensity since Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson announced last fall he wouldn’t be seeking re-election in this October’s municipal election. 

Yesterday afternoon, the buzz on social media was that Mr. Sohi will launch his campaign to be Edmonton’s mayor this morning at 10 o’clock. 

In an email to supporters reported on Twitter by the Progress Report, Mr. Sohi said, “as you may have suspected, tomorrow, I will be officially announcing that I am running in the upcoming election in October. … I believe we can emerge from the COVID-19 crisis as a more unified, prosperous and more inclusive community.”

Promising policies that prioritize “equality, access, economic growth, and stronger communities,” Mr. Sohi said his website at Sohi.ca will go live today with details of his platform. 

Mr. Sohi will be a strong candidate in Edmonton, a city with a long progressive tradition in politics. He should be capable of appealing to both Liberal and NDP voters, and perhaps some disillusioned red Tories too. He may even benefit from Premier Kenney’s current unpopularity and lack of success on almost all fronts. 

It sure wouldn’t hurt Edmonton to have someone in a high-profile office who enjoys some credibility with Canada’s national government to speak up for our faltering regional economy. Heaven knows, our premier seems to have other things on his mind these days. 

26 Comments to: Former city councillor and federal minister Amarjeet Sohi to announce bid to become Edmonton Mayor today

  1. Anonymous

    May 17th, 2021

    Don Iveson certainly had controversies. I’d say the last person Edmonton needs for mayor is Mike Nickel. In Calgary, there is a nutcase harrassing people, like healthcare workers, and he wants to be mayor of Calgary. We really have to avoid the UCP types for being mayor, because we know the damage the UCP has done to Alberta, in such a short time frame. No doubt, Postmedia will be out in full force, endorsing the Conservatives, like they always do, but we have to be aware of that and vote the opposite of who they endorse.

    Reply
  2. Dave

    May 17th, 2021

    I agree fully Mr. Sohi didn’t get much if any credit for his efforts and results. Meanwhile, Kenney who was one of his biggest critics accomplished nothing on pipelines.

    It is ironic, but more than that the partisan blindness here is frustrating and self sabotaging. The politician who actually accomplished things for this province was defeated, the one who became Premier has proved spectacularly ineffective. No wonder Alberta is in the position we are.

    I think Mr. Sohi could make a fine mayor of Edmonton, although there are other solid candidates too. I think he might also be a better asset for us if he ran again Federally, but perhaps he decided it was a thankless job.

    Reply
  3. Bob Raynard

    May 17th, 2021

    I welcome the appearance of a big name candidate that will offer a viable alternative to Mike Nickel.

    Reply
  4. Geoffrey Pounder

    May 17th, 2021

    Climenhaga: “…giving $1.3 billion to a private corporation to build a pipeline to the U.S. Gulf Coast – cash that disappeared into the ether the day Joseph Biden was sworn in as President of the United States.
    “Unlike Mr. Sohi’s effort, which produced tangible results, none of this has done anything to get a pipeline a centimetre closer to the ocean … So you’d think Mr. Sohi, at least, would get some credit for this effort.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the $1.3 billion disappear into TC Energy’s pockets?
    Perhaps Premier Kenney could find another $1.3 billion to buy TC Energy shares for Albertans, so we can get some of our money back. From Ralph Bucks to Jason Shares.

    It’s true. The Liberals and AB NDP have proved far more effective than the Conservatives in delivering on Big Oil’s and Corporate Canada’s agenda. Trudeau & Co. have persuaded many Canadians that we can both act on climate and double down on fossil fuels.
    Trudeau, Notley, Sohi, et al. moved the ball on the Trans Mountain pipeline down to the ten-yard line. Their signal achievement was to “push country-wide support for pipelines from 40% to 70%.” Something Harper, Scheer, and Kenney could never dream of doing.
    When Canada fails to meet its climate targets in coming decades, it’s important that Canadians thank the right people.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      May 17th, 2021

      Geoffrey: Yes, you are correct. The money disappeared into TC Energy’s pockets. So describing it as disappearing into the ether, even though with humourous intent, was probably not the best approach. Mea culpa. DJC

      Reply
      • pogo

        May 17th, 2021

        My heaven! Good lord! Well the day has come. I could edit this post of yours. I won’t! Mr. Sohi is the best candidate. Now, take that with a grain of salt maybe, but my peeps have been being dumby *uck voters in greater Edmonton forever!

        Reply
        • Jeff Shupenia

          May 22nd, 2021

          No he’s not, unless you like progressives stealing your money all the time.

          Reply
      • Jeff Shupenia

        May 22nd, 2021

        Sohi’s economic growth??? Thanks for the laugh, he has done more than any other Albertan to kill our economy, I see you forgot his economic killing votes on bills that directly harm Alberta’s economy, Sohi’s a fool.

        Reply
    • Mike J Danysh

      May 17th, 2021

      Geoffery, I agree with you that the Trudeau Liberals and Notley NDP advanced the pipeline to actual construction. (I’m ambivalent about the need and the economics, but that’s for another blog.)

      Isn’t it amazing, how much you can get done when you don’t insult people, and try to work WITH them?

      Reply
      • Jeff Shupenia

        May 22nd, 2021

        Mike you have information that is not true, if Trudeau had actually done his job as PM there would have been no need for “Canadian’s to buy the pipeline, political acumen is lost on Trudeau and Notley, Notley did everything to stop the pipeline except in her last 9 months as Premier because she knew she would lose if she didn’t push it hard, once again your information is incorrect.

        Reply
  5. David

    May 17th, 2021

    It’s official now. Sohi is running for mayor. Good for him, good for Edmonton, and good for Alberta.

    Sohi will bring a strong rapport with the Trudeau Liberals. Nickel will have no rapport.

    Reply
    • Jeff Shupenia

      May 22nd, 2021

      No he won’t.

      Reply
  6. Just Me

    May 17th, 2021

    Sohi presents an outstanding option for mayor.

    Of course, the UCP crowd will favour Mike Nickel, the rage-machine on Twitter. At it can be said that Nickel has accomplished something…but only on Twitter, it seems.

    It will be amusing to see which candidate in Calgary and Edmonton will accept Kenney’s ringing endorsement.

    One would think that any candidate, right now, would be treating an endorsement from Premier Crying & Angry Midget like catching the Black Death. But I suspect Kevin J. Johnson is open to Kenney’s support, even if Kenney *claims* to despise him. As for Sohi, I can hear Kenney beating the drum for Nickel, as well as denouncing Venezulan-socialism, Cuban-socialism, and every other kind of socialism he claims to have encountered the victims of.

    Silly Season is getting started. Woo-Hoo.

    Reply
  7. Mike J Danysh

    May 17th, 2021

    Re caption, Mayor “Done” Iveson? It’s a good pun, though I’m sure it’s just a typo….

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      May 18th, 2021

      Fixed. Thank you, Mike. DJC

      Reply
  8. Mike J Danysh

    May 17th, 2021

    Amarjeet Sohi was my city councillor and later MP. I complain a lot about politics and politicians, but Mr. Sohi was far better than most. I’m glad he’s decided to run for mayor; he’ll get my vote.

    Reply
    • Gerald

      May 18th, 2021

      I too had Mr Sohi as my ward councillor and mp. My civic responsibility workload with respect to the municipal mayoral vote just became moot; I will vote for Mr. Sohi again.

      Perhaps one day Mr. Sohi will be leader of a national party …

      Reply
  9. Andrew

    May 17th, 2021

    While I’m as relieved as others Mr. Sohi has agreed to run, now legitimate criticisms can be addressed. Edmonton is moving swiftly towards the most privatized public transit system in Canada. The federal Liberal propensity for P3’s at the Canada Infrastructure Bank doesn’t help (the SE LRT line, the newly introduced on-demand system for example) all happened while he was a cabinet minister. Lots of Council transparency/accountability issues around the arena deal too.

    Reply
  10. G ENZ

    May 17th, 2021

    Has anyone done a total accounting of how much money this UCP gov’t has cost regular Albertans during their term?

    And I’m not just talking about the obvious stuff like the $1.3B mentioned above, and the $4.5B corporate tax giveaway early in their mandate. I’m also wondering about the hundreds of millions the UCP didn’t claim from the feds, like the COVID wage top-ups, the support dollars for school COVID protocols, the new money for more judges in this province, and the other programs that would have helped Albertans. Very few of these dollars were claimed, due to a childish opposition to the Liberals, and a stubborn refusal to give Justin Trudeau (or Mr Sohi) an ounce of credit. These were federal dollars collected through taxes and royalties we paid – the UCP failed to claim our own money, to make a puerile point. And the UCP have the audacity to claim we’re not getting our fair share from the Feds.

    Add in the Auditor Generals report about fiscal irregularities in Gov’t accounting, and stupid mistakes like AIMco losing $2.1B in a badly conceived investing strategy, and we’re talking some serious money this UCP gong show is responsible for costing us – and they claim they are prudent conservative managers. This gov’t could not effectively run a convenience store.

    If anyone has produced a full and accurate accounting of losses, and unclaimed dollars that are essentially lost, I and numerous other Albertans would appreciate perusing it.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      May 18th, 2021

      G ENZ: It’s at least $60 billion the UCP has cost Albertans, from different very pricey shenanigans. The debt they have given Alberta is now over $100 billion.
      – $10 billion disappeared from corporate tax cuts, with no jobs gained from these.
      – $7.5 billion thrown out on the dead end pipeline. We still see no trace of the $6 billion loan guarantees.
      – $4 billion in pension money disappeared.
      – Almost $2 billion went away from the Heritage Savings Trust Fund.
      – $25 billion had been borrowed by the UCP, and Albertans don’t know what this money had been used for. Albertans weren’t consulted on this matter.
      – Provincial assistance for the Covid-19 pandemic in Alberta, totaled $16 billion. This money wasn’t used in the right way.
      – $1.6 billion was gone on some type of accounting mishap.
      – The War Room, and its associated costs, are very costly.
      – Plane trips to different locals, which costed lots and yielded no rewards for Alberta.
      – Panel after panel, pretending to consult with Albertans, with a fixed outcome by the UCP.
      – Giving their friends high paying salaries, for meaningless posts.
      – racking up bills from visits to lavish hotels.
      – grant money is wasted on the petrochemical industry. One company got over $400 million recently.
      – Advertising, which has been biased and partisan, and very costly.
      The UCP’s shenanigans certainly don’t come cheap, that’s for sure.

      Reply
  11. Alan K. Spiller

    May 17th, 2021

    Don’t forget it was Notley and Trudeau who also agreed to work with our oil executives who wanted the Carbon Tax implemented to show the world that they did care about the pollution they were creating and to try to help them sell their oil. Not to mention getting the celebrities off their backs.
    Stephen Harper refused to do it, and the TransCanada pipeline executives were furious with Harper for not working with them. I agree it would be smart to elect Sohi to work with our oil executives and Trudeau.

    Now if we can get Notley re elected it would make a good start for getting our oil industry back to normal. The three of them are certainly a lot smarter than all of these bumbling reformer party fools, who can’t get anything right. They aren’t even smart enough to suggest that we should be following in Peter Lougheed’s footsteps by collecting proper royalties, and taxes and running this province properly, like he did and Norway and Alaska are doing. Instead they deliberately try to destroy everything Lougheed stood for. Where is the intelligence in that?

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      May 18th, 2021

      ALAN K. SPILLER: Edmonton voters certainly must be cautious about any Reform type candidates, or pretend Conservatives becoming the mayor of the city. This would include Mike Nickel. Anyone who shows allegiance and support to the UCP will be very bad.

      Reply
  12. Suresh Agarwal

    May 18th, 2021

    I have no interest in politics, at any level or as a blog writer and don’t claim to be an expert in reading people’s minds and Behaviours. but Lived in the Greater Edmonton area for nearly 40+ years and worked with the Business owners, managers and property owners to understand the pulse of the Edmontonians and Northern Alberta.
    My observations are
    Albertans especially Edmontonians are much respectful and understand the Values provided by past and present National, Provincial and Municipal politicians.
    – As an Edmontonian in the past and watched the progress made in Edmonton when Amarjit Sohi held the Position as Councillor
    The city councillors including Sohi approved and progressed remarkably well from small projects like improved Bus routes, LRT, to Community centres, at the National Level, his workings were always commendable due to his balance approach with his long term Canadian well being
    Sohi Performed much better than any other politician of his tenure as a one-time Political Leader. As an observer Sohi has these qualities: Calm &collective, Think thru the problems for solutions keeping Canadian’s best interests.
    Notely, a leader in a true sense leading the Province as their next Premier and Sohi as Edmonton mayor together should form a Team with their own Progressive but economically balanced ideologies

    Reply
  13. Alan K. Spiller

    May 19th, 2021

    I certainly agree with you. Even former MLAs from the Lougheed era were stating she was a lot more like Peter Lougheed than any of these phoney conservatives were. Those of us from the world of finance certainly know that she was on the right track . The only way we will ever get out of the finance mess is by increasing corporate taxes and increase royalties back up to the Lougheed levels.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      May 19th, 2021

      ALAN K. SPILLER: You are right. Had Peter Lougheed still been with us, I think he would be criticizing the UCP in so many ways. From my recollection, Peter Lougheed had a disdain for Reformers. It is puzzling how Albertans sit there and take this.

      Reply
      • Alan K. Spiller

        May 19th, 2021

        My late parents knew Lougheed well from being such strong volunteers for their party and dad donating around $30,000. to them. His energy minister Bill Dickie was a brother in law of one of my uncles.

        Lougheed never hide the fact that he refused to appear anywhere in public where Klein was and refused to attend his retirement party. He had no respect for Klein what so ever.

        Our family didn’t either and we had known klein’s family since the early 1960’s. Dad called him that sleazy bastard, because that’s what he was. Even his own family members tried to help us vote him out. Ignorant Albertans wouldn’t let us.

        Reply

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