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Deputy PM’s visit opportunity to share local concerns, successes: Grande Prairie mayor

Grande Prairie Mayor Jackie Clayton believes the Deputy Prime Minister left the city with a better knowledge of the opportunities available in our region. Clayton had a one-on-one with Chrystia Freeland Friday after she met with representatives of UFA and skilled tradespeople from Northwestern Polytechnic.

“It really was a nice chance for me and stakeholders of our community to share wins in this region, successes, what’s on the radar, and for the federal government to be able to get a better understanding of what’s happening in this region.”

In addition to discussing the need to support growth in trades, Clayton says she and the Deputy Prime Minister also touched on caribou as Species at Risk, what needs to happen for the city to get another Court of Queen’s Bench judge, retroactive pay for the RCMP under their new collective agreement, and support for Ukrainians.

“I’ve heard a few comments in the community of some of the needs that are missing in that transition of Ukrainians coming into Canada. Obviously, the municipality and the province is doing what they can but as a federal immigration strategy, there needs to be some tweaks in order to support immigrants and Ukrainians in particular.”

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Clayton notes that recently, the city has been supported by the federal government in the construction of the Grande Prairie Activity & Reception Centre and the new bike skills park. She says to have a politician as high-ranking as the Deputy Prime Minister visit our region is a good opportunity to share its story as well as its concerns, especially when the local Conservative MP is not a part of the party in power.

“The Liberals are the federal government in government right now and we need to have those conversations; as an elected leader I need to represent the residents of Grande Prairie and sometimes that means having conversations with different governments.”

That sentiment was echoed in a statement and video released by the mayor in response to an incident involving Freeland while she was in Grande Prairie. Videos on social media show people approaching her while she was at city hall, calling her a traitor, swearing at her, and telling her to leave the province.

Clayton called it a “disgusting display of hatred and abuse”.

“The Deputy Pime Minister came to a part of the country where there is a great divergence of views between many residents and Canada’s governing party. During her time here, I was able to witness many individuals express their concerns with federal policies in a very constructive, respectful manner.”

Freeland, who is originally from Peace River, did not have a stop at city hall on her official itinerary and it seems to have been by chance that the individuals encountered her. She also responded Saturday after the incident made national headlines.

“What happened yesterday was wrong. Nobody, anywhere, should have to put up with threats and intimidation,” she wrote on Twitter, saying “one unpleasant incident” doesn’t change the otherwise warm reception she received on her trip.

The situation appeared to have been de-escalated by City of Grande Prairie staff. Speaking to Friday, the Grande Prairie RCMP said no arrests were made.

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