Federal election: Too early to call in battleground riding of Edmonton Mill Woods, Conservative incumbent Tim Uppal with the early lead

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Federal election: Too early to call in battleground riding of Edmonton Mill Woods, Conservative incumbent Tim Uppal with the early lead

Author of the article:

Lauren Boothby, Dustin Cook

Conservative incumbent Tim Uppal at his campaign office gets re-elected in the Edmonton Mill Woods riding, September 20, 2021. Ed Kaiser/Postmedia
Conservative incumbent Tim Uppal at his campaign office gets re-elected in the Edmonton Mill Woods riding, September 20, 2021. Ed Kaiser/Postmedia Photo by Ed Kaiser /20094146A

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Conservative Tim Uppal has been re-elected in Edmonton Mill Woods for a second consecutive term.

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The incumbent bested Liberal hopeful and four-term city councillor Ben Henderson, who took a leave of absence from his Ward 8 council post to run for the seat. The polls throughout the campaign had projected a neck-and-neck race in the riding between the two, and despite the Canadian Press calling the race for Uppal, neither candidate declared victory Monday night as they awaited the results from mail-in ballots.

Just after 1 a.m. Tuesday, results from 199 out of 200 of polls showed Uppal with 37.9 per cent of the votes followed by Henderson at 33.7 per cent. New Democratic Party candidate Nigel Logan placed third with 22.1 per cent of the votes, People’s Party of Canada candidate Paul Edward McCormack came in a distant fourth with 6.1 per cent, and Communist candidate Naomi Rankin placed last with 0.3 per cent of the votes.

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A crowd of about 100 supporters cheered and chanted his name as Uppal arrived at the party held in a parking lot outside his campaign office around 10: 40 p.m.

Standing in the back of a black pickup truck, he thanked them for their enthusiastic support.

“This was an election that nobody wanted, but you guys, you stepped up. You all stepped up again and again and again, so thank you from all of us, from my family, from everybody here, thank you so much,” he said.

But Uppal did not declare himself the winner, cautioning supporters that the mail-in ballots had yet to be counted.

“I’m going to say one thing, friends, and I don’t want to ruin your night, but there are a number of mail-in ballots to count,” he said. “So everybody say a prayer, we’re going to have a good day tonight, a good day tomorrow, and we’re going to come through this, but it’s not done yet.”

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After speaking to supporters, Uppal told reporters he hopes to help get Alberta’s economy “back on track” though representation in Ottawa. Asked if heard much on the campaign trail about Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Uppal said he heard some, but that most people were concerned about Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

Uppal, a three-term member of Parliament, won the riding back for the Conservatives in 2019 with 50 per cent of the vote after losing his seat in the 2015 election to Liberal challenger Amarjeet Sohi by just 92 votes.

Prior to serving in Edmonton Mill Woods, Uppal won two elections for the Conservatives in Edmonton–Sherwood Park in 2008 and 2011, serving as Minister of State for Democratic Reform and as Minister of State, Multiculturalism in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet. He was the first turban-wearing Sikh to be appointed to a federal cabinet.

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He also worked as a residential mortgage broker for TD Canada Trust prior to his political career as well as a senior adviser to the Conservative Party of Canada, and hosted a radio show for Edmonton’s CKER.

Just after the polls closed, Henderson said he was proud of the campaign he ran for the Liberals no matter how the result turned out.

“It’s still feeling really good and I don’t think that we’ve left anything on the table. I’ve had a really fabulous team and they’ve worked really hard,” Henderson said outside his campaign headquarters.

Although Uppal’s victory was declared by several news organizations, Henderson concurred that there were still several polls outstanding, including more than 3,000 special ballots that were issued in the riding that will only be counted Tuesday.

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“We always knew that this race would be a tight one. Unfortunately, this means we’ll need to wait to find out who has the honour of serving Mill Woods residents in Ottawa,” Henderson told reporters outside his campaign office Monday night. “While the results are still uncertain what is settled is my gratitude for my volunteers and supporters.”

Having served on Edmonton city council since 2007, Henderson said he wouldn’t be running for re-election prior to the federal election. Henderson will return to his post as councillor for the next month.

duscook@postmedia.com

lboothby@postmedia.com

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