Mayor of Edmonton criticizes Kenney for reopening strategy and lack of action toward opioid crisis
EDMONTON -- Edmonton’s mayor is not holding back when it comes to his opinions on provincial policy and what it’s like working with the current government of Alberta.
With only a few months left of his term as mayor and no campaign for re-election, Don Iveson is questioning the province’s reopening plan, state of the economy, approach to homelessness, and the opioid crisis.
Iveson told media Thursday that the picture the province is painting of a near-normal summer could become reality, but everything in the pandemic response until then would have to go perfectly.
“I think it’s a very aggressive plan,” he said. “You know staking this on the ‘yahoo moment’ of the Stampede and working backwards from that, which seems to be the timeline."
While he believes counting on this being a normal summer is possible for Edmonton and the province, he is not sure the approach Kenney unveiled is the one that will get us there.
“It’s possible, but it’s by no means guaranteed,” Iveson added. “I think the government of Alberta is wagering heavily on everything going right between now and then.”
“I think staking the health of our population, and then ultimately the health of the economy which depends on the health of our population, on those kinds of milestones, may not be the right things to anchor this to.”
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He is worried that should the province not reach the milestones and the promise of the ‘best summer’ that the premier has been sharing, that a sense of complacency could set in.
“I wouldn’t want any sort of complacency to set in for our population in the mean time in anticipation of that because that is precisely what’ll jeopardize the kind of summer we hope to have,” he said.
As for the fate of major festivals happening in Edmonton this summer, Iveson says it is too soon to say.
The strong criticism towards the premier from the 14-year city politician is a different tone for Iveson.
“Yes, I’ve been more forthright about those frustrations because I think holding back didn’t get us the (right) result,” he shared.
According to Iveson, he is simply channeling frustration that he is hearing from Edmontonains on provincial matters.
“I think I’ve shown working with five premiers and two different prime ministers that I can work with anybody who is prepared to be a willing partner to build a great city for Edmontonians,” Iveson said. “I just don’t have that in Jason Kenney’s UCP government.”
OPIOID CRISIS IS NOT BEING DEALT WITH EFFECTIVLEY BY UCP: IVESON
Iveson’s biggest qualm with the province is their approach to the opioid crisis plaguing the province.
Last Friday, three men died from drug overdoses in a downtown park.
“I lay this squarely at the feet of the government of Alberta,” Iveson said. “Full stop.
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“The gaps in the system are the gaps in their system,” he added. “The city can’t fill all of them, though we have gone way out of our way to try.”
He says the lack of action on affordable housing is “now costing lives.”
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Last year marked the deadliest year on record for overdose deaths in Alberta. Nearly 1,300 Albertans died from drug overdose in 2020 – mostly from opioids.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson