The federal government is expanding its footprint in Alberta with three new offices for its planned regional economic development agency. The new offices for the Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) will be based in Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie and Lethbridge, the federal Economic Development Ministry is set to announce Thursday. An existing federal office in Calgary will also be expanded. The agency replaces the Western Economic Diversification Canada (WEDC) in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in an effort to better target local federal funding and support for business development. In an interview with Postmedia, Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly said the expansion is the biggest in Western Canada since the creation of the WEDC, which has been operating since 1987. As speculation about an impending federal election swirls, Joly said the announcement is not about partisan politics, but represents a key part of the federal government’s economic recovery plan. “I’m very much aware that I’m a Québécois minister, not from the West, but I’m very much aware that this injustice needs to be dealt with,” she said.