Several high profile candidates with Jewish ties have lost their bids to hold office in Monday’s municipal elections in Alberta.
In Edmonton, businessman Michael Oshry came in sixth place for the mayor’s race, well behind the winner Amarjeet Sohi. He received 14,500 votes, or just over 6 per cent of the ballots. Sohi pulled in 45 per cent of the votes, or 105,683.
Oshry served one term on council in 2013-2017. A native of South Africa, he moved to Edmonton when he was seven years old. Oshry had called for more resources for Edmonton’s police department to help fight antisemitism, among other issues.
The new mayor, Sohi, is a former federal Liberal cabinet minister. Sohi has pledged to support a motion to council within his first 100 days in office that finds solutions to hate-based violence. According to a news release from B’nai Brith Canada, Sohi supports the idea of Edmonton city council adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
“We look forward to working with him,” said Stacey Levitt-Wright, the CEO of Edmonton’s Jewish Federation. In a statement to The CJN, she added that having the city adopting the IHRA definition, “would be our hope and intention, and it was something raised to all the candidates we met with.”
Meanwhile, in Calgary, where Jyoti Gondek won as the city’s first female mayor, the election saw the defeat of long time councillor Diane Colley-Urquhart. Colley-Urquhart is not Jewish but was a good friend to the Calgary Jewish community. She had been on council in Ward 13 for 21 years.
The Calgary branch of JNF recently honoured her at a gala this past summer.
In 2019, Colley-Urquhart co-sponsored the motion to have Calgary’s city council adopt January 27 as the annual day to commemorate the Holocaust. The first official civic commemoration ceremony took place in 2020.
While Colley-Urquhart did try to get Calgary to pass the IHRA definition of antisemitism at the same time, that part of her motion received pushback, after a public campaign against it from, in part, the Independent Jewish Voices organization.
The Calgary Jewish Federation’s Adam Silver explained that the IHRA definition was adopted in the preamble to the Holocaust motion, but not in the motion itself.
“Of course, we will continue to engage with city council and the mayor’s office, as well as other municipal and provincial institutions about issues relevant to our community as Jews and as Calgarians/Albertans, including antisemitism and its definition as presented by IHRA,” Silver said Tuesday.
B’nai Brith Canada has issued a statement congratulating the new mayors of Alberta’s largest cities.
“It is our intention to work closely with the mayors’ offices and the municipal governments to push back against hate in Alberta,” said Michael Mostyn, B’nai Brith’s CEO.