UCP, NDP duels expected to continue throughout Alberta election

Click to play video: 'Will Alberta’s tough-on-crime political promises pay off as provincial elections loom?'
Will Alberta’s tough-on-crime political promises pay off as provincial elections loom?
WATCH: In Alberta, the province is now just a few weeks away from an election, and the governing United Conservatives are trying to make their case for staying in power by focusing its attention on crime. Heather Yourex-West has more – Apr 9, 2023

Less than two months before the scheduled May 29 election, the Alberta NDP and United Conservative Party are already holding dueling news conferences.

Wednesday’s theme: the integrity of each party leader.

In Calgary, Calgary-Shaw MLA and Municipal Affairs Minister Rebecca Schulz held a newser where she condemned numerous NDP candidates.

“It’s frightening to think about what Rachel Notley and the NDP would do in government,” she said as she was joined by several other prominent UCP MLAs like Ric McIver and cabinet ministers Rajan Sawhney and Mickey Amery.

She listed six NDP candidates and MLAs, and alleges they are “anti-police.”

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“These candidates are harbouring deep-seated resentment against our men and women in uniform,” Schulz continued.

“They are seeking to sow anger and division against law enforcement in our communities. So, we want Rachel Notley to show some support for our police and show these candidates the door.”

Just an hour before this news conference, the NDP held their own.

NDP Justice Critic Irfan Sabir stood by a TV where he played a video of Calgary street pastor Artur Pawlowski inciting a crowd at the illegal Coutts border blockade in early 2022.

Pawlowski was charged for his participation in the blockade at the Canada-United States border crossing in southern Alberta.

Sabir demanded Premier Danielle Smith condemn the man and explain why she ever picked up the phone and spoke with him.

This comes as Smith declined to answer questions from reporters regarding why she spoke with Pawlowski about his criminal case and whether there was judicial interference.

Video of the conversation was found posted on Pawlowski’s YouTube page last month but later made private.

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Click to play video: 'Alberta premier faces fresh accusations of judicial interference'
Alberta premier faces fresh accusations of judicial interference

At a news conference Monday, Smith announced that because she was contemplating a defamation lawsuit, she was staying stay silent on the advice of her lawyer.

A notice of defamation letter sent from lawyers on behalf of Smith calls on the CBC to retract and apologize for a January story.

“[Smith] must stop hiding behind empty lawsuit threats and face the questions Albertans and the media have for her,” Sabir said.

“Danielle Smith owes Albertans an explanation for why this extreme individual — facing two criminal charges — got a single second of her time.”

While political analyst Jason Ribeiro points out the two issues on Wednesday are not equivocal, he said Albertans can expect to see both leaders attack the other’s integrity more as it election day draws near.

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“I fully expect things to get sillier and sillier in the season, both until the writ is dropped and after,” he said.

“So, I think Albertans should be prepared for a lot of press releases and a lot of press conferences.”

Ribeiro says the last couple of years has had one of two effects on most people: some have become entrenched in their political beliefs while others are tired of all of it.

“The political machinery is going to start taking over, and the campaign will start to speak,” Ribeiro explained.

“Not necessarily the premier, not necessarily the individual candidates, there will be a narrative that will emerge out of this and that will be in Albertans’ faces from now until the end of the election.”

The writ is expected to drop May 1, with Albertans heading to the ballot boxes on May 29.

Click to play video: 'Alberta cabinet ministers Sonya Savage, Travis Toews not seeking re-election'
Alberta cabinet ministers Sonya Savage, Travis Toews not seeking re-election

— With files from Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press


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