Former UCP candidate Jennifer Johnson is the newly-minted MLA for the Lacombe-Ponoka riding as an independent.
“It’s a humble privilege to gain the trust and votes of the constituents of Lacombe-Ponoka and the role of MLA is one I take with all seriousness,” said Johnson in a statement, who at press time had received 14,218 votes.
“It’s my intent to work hard, to represent all constituents, and speak on their behalf.
“Thank you to all those who voted today, thank you to Ron Orr for his service over the last eight years, and thank you to all the many dedicated volunteers who made this happen. You are the heart of Alberta.”
Dave Dale, the riding’s NDP candidate who was in a distant second place with 4,948 votes (at press time), said, “I think this campaign was different from campaigns in the past. The feelings when we were knocking on doors – there were a lot more people who were interested in talking about their concerns, and they were much more open to the NDP message,” he said.
“I think also that this campaign was not just about winning the election – it was about bringing the community together,” he said.
“Like my campaign manager Elaine (Cripps) said, we created a space where everyone felt welcome and heard – we embraced the diversity and inclusivity, and we rejected hate and intolerance,” he said.
“And as a result, we built a stronger, more resilient community. I’m very proud of what we accomplished together.”
Earlier this month, UCP Leader Danielle Smith announced that Johnson would not sit as a member of the party’s caucus in the legislature if she won the Lacombe-Ponoka riding after audio had surfaced from Johnson speaking to the Western Unity Group in Stettler.
While speaking, she said Alberta’s education system ranks among the highest in the world for achievement, but such accomplishments mean little when set against the issue of transgender students in schools.
Smith said that Johnson, “Had used offensive language and a vile analogy when speaking about the 2SLGBTQIA+ community for which she has apologized.
“Elected officials have a responsibility to represent all communities. Although there are certainly legitimate policy discussions to be had on youth transgender issues, the language used by Ms. Johnson regarding children identifying as transgender is simply unacceptable and does not reflect the values of our party or province,” Smith said.
Johnson, as mentioned, later apologized for the comments. Still, Smith said Johnson would not be a part of the UCP caucus.
“Although I am concerned about potentially life-altering medical procedures for young children, this is an extremely sensitive topic for so many and I need to do a much better job communicating my concerns and objectives in a manner that is respectful to teachers, parents, and those in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community,” said Johnson.
“I apologize for the way I discussed these issues in September of 2022. I have nothing but love and compassion for everyone equally and am embarrassed that I have caused hurt in this way.