The voters of Innisfail – Sylvan Lake have elected UCP candidate Devin Dreeshen as their new MLA.
Unofficial results show Dreeshen garnering 8,033 votes in Thursday’s by-election, nearly 82 per cent of eligible voters who cast a ballot.
Other candidates included the NDP’s Nicole Mooney who picked up 907 votes with just over 9 per cent of eligible voter support in the riding, the Alberta Party’s Abigail Douglass with 729 votes for over 7 per cent of the vote count percentage. The Liberal’s Nick Jansen picked up 93 votes for just under one per cent of eligible voter support while Independent candidate David Inscho collected 63 votes for 0.64 per cent of the vote.
UCP Leader Jason Kenney joined Dreeshen for a celebration at the Hideout in Gasoline Alley Thursday evening and greeted a supportive crowd chanting “Devin, Devin, Devin…”
Kenney says voters in central and northern Alberta where fellow UCP candidate Laila Goodridge was elected in the other by-election in Fort McMurray – Conklin, have spoken with a clear voice.
“They want a common sense government focused on jobs and economic growth that will stand up for and defend Alberta,” says Kenney. “Tonight, central and northern Albertans voted for hope and for change. They voted by huge numbers to send this failed NDP government a message that you’re living on borrowed time and next year we’re going to fire this NDP government and scrap their carbon tax to get Alberta’s economy back on track.”
Dreeshen told the crowd he was humbled by the results and of the efforts of his supporters.
“It’s been a four week campaign and everybody put in tremendous hours and tremendous work and I’m just really appreciative and thank you all very much for all of your help,” he told the crowd. “But this is just the beginning. This is a by-election win, it’s tremendous, it’s an amazing result but ultimately next election 2019 when the entire province is voting and watching and everyone is paying attention, we all need to push our conservative message, our positive, amazing conservative message of how Alberta can be a better province.”
Speaking to reporters following his address to the crowd, Kenney says both Dreeshen and Goodridge will play a role in the UCP’s shadow cabinet.
“We’ll sit down and sort out what role makes the most sense,” explains Kenney. “Devin has tremendous expertise in agricultural policy, he’s from a fifth generation Alberta farmer who was a senior policy advisor for several years to the federal agriculture minister and traveled around the world getting market access for Alberta and Canadian ag products but he has a diverse set of skills, as does Laila.”
Earlier in the week, Vice Media published an article accusing Dreeshen of trying to hide his past as a Donald Trump campaigner two years ago.
Dreeshen says he’s spent many years working provincial, federal and international campaigns and simply went down to participate in the American process.
“When I was down there, I wasn’t picking a particular candidate, it was just to see how the American system worked,” he explains. “So to me, the fact that he is the President of the United States and I have made great contacts there, I think it’s just a huge benefit for us.”
Kenney adds that he too sees Dreeshen’s experience with the Trump campaign in 2016 as a feature and not a bug.
“I’ll tell you, if I’m Premier and going down to represent Alberta’s economic interests in Washington, I’d like to have somebody who actually knows some of the people in the administration. I think that’s helpful to Alberta’s interests.”
In response to the by-election results, Liberal candidate Nick Jansen issued the following statement in a press release: “I want to take this opportunity to thank my parents, my team and my supporters. It was a hard-fought campaign and I respect the decision of voters. I was proud to run under the leadership of David Khan and will keep working with the party to promote Khan’s forward-thinking vision.”
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