Janis Irwin. Supplied
Janis Irwin was elected the new MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood on April 16, the date of the provincial election. She was also appointed Deputy Whip for the Alberta NDP Caucus, as well as the Women and LGBTQ Issues Critic at the caucus’s swearing-in ceremony on May 13. Irwin, who is with Alberta’s New Democratic Party (NDP), replaces Brian Mason who decided not to seek another term.
According to Elections Alberta, Irwin received 63.3 percent of the votes, while United Conservative Party (UCP) candidate Leila Houle was in second place with 25.6 percent. However, while Edmonton’s MLAs remained mostly NDP, the UCP formed a majority government in the province.
“It was definitely bittersweet winning on election night,” says Irwin. “On one hand, I was honoured to have been chosen by the people of Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood and to be on Rachel Notley’s team, but on the other hand, I was sad to see the results provincially. Many incredible candidates who I consider friends did not win that evening.”
Irwin is a very familiar face in the Boyle Street and McCauley neighbourhoods, as she is a presence at many events in the area and is a volunteer contributor to Boyle McCauley News. “I’ve loved getting to know so many community members and hear their concerns and their dreams for our neighbourhoods. They’ve shared with me a number of issues, including health care, education, LGBTQ rights, addressing poverty and inequality, and Indigenous rights. These issues and more are important to me, and I commit to focusing on them in collaboration with community members, taking a positive, proactive approach,” she says.
Social justice is also very important to Irwin, who appears at numerous protests and rallies on a number of topics including the environment, women’s issues, and the LGBTQ2S+ community. “For me, it’s important to show up. It’s one thing to say that you care about social justice and care about the needs of those who are marginalized, but I feel it’s important to put action behind those words. By being present, even if it’s just to sit back and listen, I think it shows what I value. I’ve met incredible community members from being present at many events to date, and I plan to continue to be a visible advocate,” Irwin says.
“I believe that in order to be an effective voice for our communities in the Legislature, I need to be accessible and have a strong understanding of local issues.”