LAC LA BICHE - Fort McMurray engineer and economist Joshua Gogo, was in Lac La Biche County recently for a meet-and-greet with locals after announcing his hopes to be the next United Conservative Party (UCP) MLA candidate for an upcoming Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election.
Part of his Friday, November 12 visit included a gathering of about 25 invited guests at the Fat Unicorn Tap and Grill. The local eatery, owned by Lac La Biche County Mayor Paul Reutov, hosted Gogo’s family, area residents, other local elected officials and out of town friends—including Alberta’s Justice Minister Kaycee Madu.
The casual event, Madu told Lakeland This Week, was an opportunity for him to support his friend and introduce a candidate with a lot of experience in the financial sector and a strong understanding of rural values and communities.
“Someone like that with a deep skillset and a deep sense of community would be a great addition to the government in terms of helping us think through the difficulties that we face as people and as a province,” Madu said.
Reutov used the opportunity to formally introduce himself to Madu, saying it was the first time the municipal and provincial elected officials had met. That same day, Reutov also brought Madu and Gogo to an opening puck-drop at the Portage College Voyageurs men's hockey team season-opening home game at the Bold Center.
Family and community
Gogo, a long-time Fort McMurray resident, is the chief economist and president of global advisory and transaction support at a private investment and consulting firm. Gogo also serves on the Assessment Review Board for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and was appointed to the Alberta Automobile Insurance Rates Board by the UCP in 2020. Gogo also has a long list of volunteer work on his resume.
Describing his experiences, Gogo says, he is an active community member whose decision to transition into politics was due to a community need. Gogo says his intention for entering the race will be to advocate for families and bring economic structure and support to the riding. He said the area has been missing someone who understands rural conservative values.
"People around me see my passion for the economy, they see my passion for families, they see my passion for supporting businesses—because this is what I’ve been doing and I love doing it," he told the Lakeland This Week reporter who attended the meet-and-greet.
The issues within the riding, Gogo says, are a lack of infrastructure and roads connecting rural communities with one another, and a lack of market access for businesses looking to expand and operate successfully. Ultimately, he says facilitating these opportunities is vital to attract new business and residents, and retain youth, seniors, and community members.
“Families and the economy, that’s it. Those of us who live in the northern part of this province—in these communities— we know how important that is.”
Gogo and former Wildrose Party leader, MLA and federal MP Brian Jean are both running to be the UCP candidate in the riding’s byelection for the MLA seat vacated when Laila Goodridge suddenly left provincial politics for an appointment as the region’s federal Conservative representative.
No date has been set by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney for a byelection and both candidates will have to be approved by the area’s UCP constituency association before the association’s members vote on who will be the party’s selection in the byelection.
Despite Jean’s political experience, Madu, vehemently said he is confident in Gogo’s abilities to represent the riding as the UCP candidate.
“If I didn't think that he would be the best I wouldn’t be here,” said Madu, explaining that he sees the coming nomination campaign as a democratic opportunity, not a battle. “I have enormous respect for Brian, but I think that—right now—our province needs unity. We need less division, we need the type of politics that is focused on all of us, not a ‘me’ kind of politics. We have a lot of problems that the province is dealing with—we have to get that behind us."
As an opportunity to connect with local supporters and discuss the issues, Gogo went on to say that while he doesn’t want to compare his beliefs to Jean’s, the two candidates do have stark differences.
“I don’t want to talk about him — but we stand for totally different things,” Gogo said. “I want to focus on the economy and families of the region… I want to represent the people of the region and it’s quite clear how different we are in that.”
Moving forward, says Gogo, fostering the relationships between the UCP caucus members is paramount to facilitating positive change and action for the province of Alberta.
“To that extent, I believe in building coalition within the Conservative movement; not fighting inside the Conservative movement.”