The Alberta government has held seven announcement events within the past four days, which is raising eyebrows from pundits and opposition parties.
The writ has not yet dropped for the much-anticipated spring election, but for many, it appears campaigning is already underway.
“All governments do this,” Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said. “All opposition parties criticize it. Opposition parties that become government then go out and do the same thing.”
The government sent two ministers to the Alberta University of the Arts on Thursday to announce the school’s new name after it received university status last March. Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt gave a speech in which he touted the government’s actions on post-secondary education since it came into power in 2015.
“In the upcoming months, Albertans will face a choice about their future,” Schmidt said at the podium. “You all get to decide between a government that would build and hire or cut and fire.”
The same message Education Minister David Eggen told reporters while visiting a Calgary school on Monday.
Meanwhile, Premier Rachel Notley spoke in Edmonton on Thursday, announcing the government’s next steps in the Made-in-Alberta energy strategy. That announcement came after the premier’s appearance at a government re-announcement at the Calgary Cancer Centre on Monday.
Notley revived the Calgary Cancer Centre project in 2015 after it was cancelled by the Progressive Conservatives in 2014.
Construction at the centre has been underway for quite some time, but the premier noted workers are concerned the project will get cancelled again under a UCP government.
“Some of this stuff, particularly when they’re re-announcing the same thing like they did at the cancer centre the other day, is a bit distasteful,” Bratt said.
Prior to the 2015 election campaign, Notley accused the then-governing PC party of using announcements before the writ dropped as pre-election campaigning.
Thursday, she said her government still has to do its job ahead of the big vote.
“Eventually, there’s no question, the election happens, but we can’t stop governing altogether,” Notley said.
According to Bratt, the issue with criticism around these types government announcements is voters still don’t know when the election will be.
“So does that mean an announcement, or even re-announcing a previous announcement, in January is off limits because there is going to be an election five months from now?” Bratt said.
Opposition parties are taking note of the NDP’s events and announcements.
“The government is making use of all the tools at their disposal… to really promote what they’ve done,” Alberta Liberal Party leader David Khan, said.
Meantime the official Opposition, the United Conservative Party, is calling for the premier to drop the writ sooner rather than later.
“The premier has been taking the opportunity at these re-announcements to attack the opposition and quite frankly, if the premier wants to engage in this type of behaviour, she should call an election,” Airdrie UCP MLA Angela Pitt said. “Stop using taxpayers dollars and let Albertans decide who has the best plan forward.”
The legislature returns on March 18 for a speech from the throne. Political experts are anticipating the writ will be dropped shortly after and say Albertans could be heading to the polls in mid-April.