Don Iveson endorses Ben Henderson as Edmonton Mill Woods Liberal candidate

·3 min read
Liberal candidate Ben Henderson speaks to media outside his campaign office in Mill Woods Tuesday as Mayor Don Iveson lends support to long-time city council colleague.  (Dave Bajer/CBC - image credit)
Liberal candidate Ben Henderson speaks to media outside his campaign office in Mill Woods Tuesday as Mayor Don Iveson lends support to long-time city council colleague. (Dave Bajer/CBC - image credit)

Mayor Don Iveson has thrown his support behind his long-time city council colleague, Ben Henderson, who's running as the Liberal Party candidate in Edmonton Mill Woods in the Sept. 20 federal election.

Iveson announced his vote of confidence at Henderson's campaign headquarters at 34th Avenue and 44th Street in Mill Woods and insisted it is not a partisan endorsement of the Liberal Party.

"I simply believe in Ben as a person of integrity and substance, as a real community leader, and I am personally endorsing him as a candidate for Member of Parliament here today," Iveson said.

Henderson and Iveson worked together for 14 years on Edmonton city council.

Iveson, the outgoing mayor of Edmonton, has not endorsed any other candidates in the federal election or the October municipal election.

Chaldeans Mensah, associate professor of political science at MacEwan University, said political endorsements can give candidates momentum but noted only six days are left in the campaign.

"I personally think the endorsement should have come earlier, it's a bit too late in the game," Mensah said Tuesday.

Still, Mensah said there is political weight behind Iveson's support, especially if Henderson promotes the news in the time left.

"It will influence a few people because the mayor of the city is an important figure — he's the voice of progressive Edmonton."

Alberta overwhelmingly votes Conservative in federal elections. In the 2019 election, the only non-Conservative candidate to win a seat was the NDP's Heather McPherson in Edmonton-Strathcona.

Conservative incumbent

Henderson is challenging incumbent Tim Uppal from the Conservative party.

Amarjeet Sohi won the Edmonton Mill Woods riding for the Liberal Party in 2015 — and served as a cabinet minister under Justin Trudeau — until he lost the seat to Uppal in 2019.

Mensah notes the dramatic shift in support for Uppal just two years ago.

"It tells me he has a reservoir of support in that riding," Mensah said.

Voters who believe the federal Liberals will win the election Sept. 20 could be swayed to vote for Henderson, Mensah said, as he could potentially become a cabinet minister.

"The desire to have somebody representing you at the cabinet table would be a big enticement for people in Mill woods to consider switching to Mr. Henderson."

With no liberal MPs from Edmonton in the past two years, it's been a challenge to get federal money for projects and investment in the biomedical and hydrogen industries, Iveson said.

"It is really important that Edmontonians have someone with a voice and a seat at the table."

Also in the riding, Nigel Logan is running for the federal NDP, Paul McCormack for the People's Party of Canada and Naomi Rankin for the Communist Party.

Residency questions

Henderson had been a city councillor since 2007.

For most of his time on council, Henderson lived just outside the ward he represented, Ward 8, which includes Old Strathcona, the University of Alberta, Bonnie Doon and Capilano.

He said he dedicated his time in that ward and intends to do the same in Mill Woods.

"That's what creates community," he said. "That's how you understand what's happening in a place and I absolutely make that commitment."

Uppal lives in Ottawa. He had moved there with his family after he was elected in 2008 as the MP for Edmonton–Sherwood Park in Stephen Harper's Conservative government.

Henderson is campaigning on affordable, accessible child care for Mill Woods families, affordable housing and creating quality, stable jobs in the energy sector and via regional economic diversification.

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