My Liberal grandfather might roll in his grave, but I’ll vote for what’s best for Fort McMurray

Categories: Canada



We need a provincial government that will stand up to Ottawa and make the case for oil and gas

Posted: April 27, 2023

Adem Campbell got involved with the baseball community in Fort McMurray, part of what convinced him to stay in the city. (Submitted by Adem Campbell)
Banner image for the community opinion project for the Alberta Election 2023. (CBC)

This column is an opinion by Adem Campbell, who teaches in Fort McMurray. For more information about CBC’s Alberta election 2023 opinion series, visit the My Priority home page.

I flipped from die-hard Liberal to conservative and my grandfather might be rolling over in his grave.

But I fell in love with the people of Fort McMurray. And since I’m loyal and protective in my approach to politics, I will vote to support freedom, support oil and gas, and support my community. 

In a way, my original Liberal allegiance was tied to community, too, wanting to preserve our east coast lifestyle. I grew up on the shores of the Miramichi River in New Brunswick. I was a fly fisherman, a baseball player, a staunch United Church of Canada member. 

My grandfather was the president of the Northumberland Liberal Association in the 1960s, and I worked and volunteered for the Liberal Party as a young adult. 

I was strongly opposed to the Alberta oilsands, influenced by the documentaries of Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio. 

So what happened? A job came calling. I moved to Fort McMurray on an eight-week plan in 2013 to fill a medical leave. I wanted to make enough cash for a pickup truck, then move home with enough teaching experience to secure permanent employment.

But first baseball tempted me to stay when I got a job coaching Fort McMurray minor baseball and with the Father Mercredi School’s baseball academy. 

Adem Campbell (left) with his Peewee AAA team when they won the Baseball Alberta Provincials in 2017. (Baseball Alberta)

After that, it was community support that kept me here. I was an uninsured renter when the Horse River Fire destroyed 20 per cent of the city, including my rental property and everything other than my truck and the clothes on my back.

I was at a crossroads, sitting in a hotel in Edmonton, wondering if I should just move back to New Brunswick.

But baseball families, colleagues, and random members of the community all came to my aid with free clothing, a donated RV, food and a couple thousand in cash. So many people came through with acts of kindness, it was crazy. I settled here for good.

I am proud of this community. Growing up back east, I was fed a lie that the oil and gas industry was full of “rednecks” and that Fort McMurray was a backward, bigoted community.

Adem and Elissa Campbell were married in Fort McMurray in July 2022. Their celebration took place near the Clearwater River. (Submitted by Adem Campbell)

It’s not true. Fort McMurray is the mosaic of diversity that is Canada. Our classrooms are filled with students whose families made similar journeys looking for economic opportunity, coming from across Canada and all around the world. And as a social studies teacher at school, I can see we’re really trying to focus on reconciliation, incorporating Indigenous culture into our classrooms.

The workforce doesn’t match the stereotype either. My beautiful wife was born and raised in Fort Mac and is a red seal electrician working for an oil and gas company. 

Since I settled and put down roots, I got involved in politics. In 2017, I ran for municipal councillor and lost, but still got 4,005 votes. I volunteered federally for Pierre Poilievre’s leadership campaign, getting involved after the Liberals invoked the Emergency Measures Act to control the Freedom Convoy.

As messy as the convoy was for the city of Ottawa, I was blown away that it required freezing bank accounts, and rhetoric that painted anyone who supported the cause as anti-science, and a potential racist or bigot. That includes me and many of those I care about. We had a massive freedom rally here in Fort McMurray with trucks and passenger vehicles from downtown all the way to Confederation Way.

Adem Campbell (right) supported Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre (centre) during his leadership campaign. (Submitted by Adem Campbell)

Today, I really feel I belong in Fort McMurray and there is no other place I’d rather call home. I am not currently working on any campaigns. But as I cast a vote provincially, I’ll be looking for someone to stand up for the freedom and welfare of the people of Fort McMurray.

No one should be trying to landlock Alberta’s natural resources or see oil and gas companies as the enemy. The industry can be an ally in the reduction of global emissions. In fact, Alberta is leading the way with carbon capture technology, with CNRL and Suncor being some of the world’s largest funders in these projects.
We need a provincial government that will stand up to Ottawa and make this case, one that will ensure our right to export natural resources and protect our individual inherent rights. That’s what’s going to determine my vote when I cast it this spring. 

My Priority

What’s the one thing that means the most to you in terms of the provincial election and why is that? We recruited over a dozen residents from across Alberta to answer that question.

Read their opinion pieces as they’re published at

Keep in mind, these pieces should not be taken as endorsements of any particular political party by either the writers or the CBC. They are expressions of the writers’ points of view, and a look at how those opinions came to be formed.

Adem Campbell (centre) got involved in coaching baseball in Fort McMurray, a big part of what convinced him to put down roots. He’s pictured here with his parents Earl and Kathy Campbell, who were visiting when the Pewee team he coached won provincials. (Submitted by Adem Campbell)


Adem Campbell

Freelance contributor

Adem Campbell is a high school social studies teacher in Fort McMurray. He moved out west for a temporary teaching contract and fell in love with the community.

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