Edmonton’s Riverbend riding is a sprawling territory, bordered on the north and the west by the North Saskatchewan river, going as far south as Ellerslie, and cornered off in the east by Calgary Trail. The issue on everyone’s mind in the southeast riding during this election? Energy and the environment. Our energy sector and job market are intertwined, so for many Riverbend resident’s the future of oil is also the future of job security and income.
Jacqueline Hunt is a Riverbend resident who able to sum up the issues on behalf of the riding without hesitation: “I think we have to find a way to be extremely aggressive about countering the effects of climate change, without it resulting in huge economic negative impact on Alberta and Riverbend.”
The incumbent is Conservative Party’s Matt Jeneroux, a University of Alberta graduate and the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure. Jeneroux won the 2015 election with 50% of the voter support. Jeneroux was not available for interview, but his website’s platform speaks to oil and climate policies. The Conservatives “A Real Plan to Protect Our Environment” promises to do away with carbon tax, force high-emission companies to invest in green technology, increase our capacity to transport natural gas and oil around the country using pipelines, and to invest in general environmental protection plans.
The primary opposition for Matt Jeneroux will no doubt be the Liberal’s Tariq Chaudary. The businessman, teacher, and deeply involved community figure, who has spent the last 15 years as a part of the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation, lost with 30% of the vote during the 2015 election. Unfortunately, Chaudary was unable to make time for an interview. Like Jeneroux, he is focussed on jobs and the environment, vowing “to take ambitious action to fight climate change, by committing Canada to net zero by 2050.” Chaudary and the Liberal’s also discuss taxes, but rather than the carbon tax, it is a “a tax cut, where a middle class family gets $600 and the wealthiest one per cent get zero.”
This is Green party candidate Valerie Kennedy’s fourth time running. A former Concordia University of Edmonton professor who initially entered politics to try and inspire more critical thinking in voters, she believes in the “importance of filtering platforms and information that comes in, and secondly, being able to actually listen to people and trying to hear what they’re saying.” After 12 years of being involved in Riverbend politics, she has a solid notion of the issues concerning Riverbend residents- aside from the general issue of climate change, which, as the Green candidate, “is naturally the one that comes first,” says Kennedy. Kennedy feels that the riding has some contending forces: “there is a healthy percentage that says the environment is the big issue, and another healthy percentage that says ‘my gosh, they’re asking us to change.’” Although she feels that affordable housing and healthcare are also pressing, it boils down to “wrestling with climate change and wrestling with jobs.”
Kevin Morris is the People’s Party of Canada’s candidate. A software builder who doesn’t consider politics his “ideal gig” but rather something that he “felt a duty to do” after he claims to have seen “freedom of speech being eroded, and that we as a province were being completely disrespected and ripped off by other provinces.” Morris quickly listed off the three issues he feels Riverbend cares most strongly about: “we can’t get our energy sectors to work because our pipelines are blocked, we’re staring down the barrel of an unfair carbon tax, unfair transfer payments coming from Alberta going to other provinces.” He believes that the People’s Party of Canada is best for Riverbend because of the party’s libertarian “simple laws that apply to the whole equally.” His feelings of duty become clearer when you look at his Twitter, where he said that Canada “is one election away from socialism and the cancelling of free speech.”
The NDP candidate is Audrey Redman, who did not respond to a request for an interview. Redman has a degree in psychology, and works as program manager for Boyle Street services. She focusses mainly on the marginalized and low-income in Canada. In an interview with the Edmonton Journal, Redman said her “main priorities would be adding universal pharmacare and dental coverage.”
As mentioned before, Jacqueline Hunt, Riverbend resident, said the riding is split this year on issues of energy and income. Who will come on out top? Likely it will be the candidate who is able to balance these issues the most eloquently.