‘I think she’s doing a great job’: UCP MLAs show support for Premier Smith after emergency caucus meeting

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UCP MLAs speak out after emergency caucus meeting
MLAs who were at Saturday's caucus meeting are speaking out about the emergency gathering. It was held after allegations that a staffer in Premier Danielle Smith's office sent a series of emails to crown prosecutors. Smith has called for an internal review, but one political expert says that won't go far enough. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports. – Jan 22, 2023

Several UCP MLAs who attended Saturday’s emergency caucus meeting say Premier Danielle Smith appears to have the support of caucus.

Five UCP MLAs were at a Lunar New Year celebration in Calgary on Sunday, including Brian Jean who is the MLA for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche

He said there was nothing for him to offer at the Saturday meeting.

The meeting was called after a CBC story indicated a staffer from Smith’s office emailed crown prosecutors and questioned their judgment on some cases, including the Coutts border blockades.

“What I did do is listen and I made sure I was attentive. I didn’t need to be there but it was a great meeting and I’m glad we had it,” said Jobs, Economy and Northern Development Minister Brian Jean.

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Smith said she has not been in contact with crown prosecutors and has no knowledge of anyone on her staff having done so.

On Saturday, Smith said the government’s IT department will do its own investigation into the emails, involving her 34 staff members and around 400 crown prosecutors.

But Mount Royal University associate professor Lori Williams says the only way to settle the matter is with an independent investigation done by someone who is not part of government.

“If there has been a misinterpretation or incorrect information, that’s the sort of thing that an independent inquiry can put finality on,” Williams said. “It’s a bit surprising that they think a couple or three days’ worth of internal investigation will settle this matter.”

She said the independent investigator should have the reputation, credentials and training to be impartial.

“A sitting judge would be a good choice for that. If they were to find there was no interference, then that could restore some trust,” Williams said.

Calgary-Hays MLA Ric McIver said premier Smith has the support of caucus.

“Caucus is questioning a media outlet that brought something forward with no evidence at all,” McIver said. “If evidence appears later, we will have to consider that, but at this point in time, there has been no evidence presented.”

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Jean said he believes Smith has the support of UCP MLAs

“I haven’t heard anybody say anything different,” he said. “She has my support. She is the duly elected leader of our party and she is the premier of the province, and I think she’s doing a great job.”

Williams said UCP members don’t have much choice but to show a united front considering an election could be coming up soon.

“I think they are putting on a brave front. I think that’s to be expected under the circumstances.

“But the questions aren’t going to go away simply because those who speak publicly are expressing support for the premier,” Williams said. “They’re not going to go away based on an internal investigation.”

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