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City’s perspective on NDP majority government

For the first time in 44 years Alberta has welcomed a new government into the Provincial Legislature. Mayor Bill Given says he is looking forward to working with the new NDP government but that not having a local MLA to represent the city in the government caucus will be a new challenge for himself and this city council.

“We’ll have to approach having our voice heard in a different way. Having said that, we are partners in many different organizations, including the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and the Mid-Size Cities Caucus. Those have different connections to government. I think we’re just going to have to re-examine the way that we lobby and the way that we advocate to ensure that we’re doing it in a way that’s appropriate for our changed context.”

During the campaign the NDP’s promised to do away with proposed cuts to healthcare and education in the Alberta. Given says protecting the availability of public services, particularly education, is a big priority for the city.

“We’re much the same as many residents that will be looking for cues from the new government about what steps they are going to take to protect those public services and we’ll be advocating on behalf of the residents of our community.”

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City Council has been short handed over the course of the election campaign as Councillors Rory Tarant and Kevin McLean stepped back to focus on their election bids. Given says he is happy to welcome both back to council chambers.

“We’re going to be back to full strength on city council which will be welcome. We appreciated the fact that both of those two would choose to let their names stand, but we’re absolutely happy to have them back in the council fold and to have a full team again.”

Given says regardless the obstacle created by no longer having a local MLA in the ruling caucus he is still looking forward to working with returning Grande Prairie – Wapiti PC MLA Wayne Drysdale and the new Grande Prairie – Smoky Wildrose MLA Todd Loewen.

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