Smith's policy could push UCP-aligned councillors into open

Smith's policy could push UCP-aligned councillors into open

· The Pulse

So sweeping are Premier Danielle Smith's recently proposed changes to gender-affirming care, treatments, and therapies that municipal politics will be fundamentally shaped by the discussions that follow — including, as discussed on Episode 249 of Speaking Municipally, the 2025 election.

Co-host Troy Pavlek described the sense-making that followed Smith's announcement, where municipal politicians and organizations have voiced their opposition, as the "speaking out phase." He pointed to Coun. Andrew Knack's message to the LGBTQIA2S+ community — "You do matter. You are loved. And we will be with you every step of the way." — as drawing a rhetorical line that many Edmonton voters will expect from city representatives.

"I suspect, given the politics of Edmonton, this is going to become a mandatory statement to make," Pavlek said. "People are going to be looking to their city councillors to speak out both against this and in support of the people who (the proposed changes) would inevitably harm."

Pavlek and co-host Mack Male discussed the oft-unspoken politics that the potential changes could force out into the open at Edmonton's city council.

Councillors Tim Cartmell and Sarah Hamilton, who Male and Pavlek described as UCP-aligned members of Edmonton's council, may now have to concretely say where they stand while considering what any stance might mean if the UCP's push to bring political parties into municipal elections also becomes a reality.

"It will be very interesting to see how we have our more conservative councillors interact with this policy and either stand up or don't stand up for their constituents," Pavlek said. "Because should there be provincial parties in the next municipal election, speaking out against the UCP government may well cost you your seat in a conservative-aligned ward."

Hear more about those issues as well as EPCOR's water trouble and efforts to reopen city hall on the Feb. 2 episode of Taproot's civic affairs podcast. You'll also hear reporter Stephanie Swensrude on proposals to meet council's budget reallocation goals and managing editor Tim Querengesser on the sad state of the Valley Line's shelters.

Photo: Coun. Sarah Hamilton at the October 2021 swearing in ceremony for Edmonton's current city council. (Mack Male/Flickr)