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‘Everyone’s afraid of Danielle’: UCP canvassers recruited at Take Back Alberta events

Click to play video: '‘Everyone’s afraid of Danielle’: UCP canvassing strategy revealed in Take Back Alberta meeting'
‘Everyone’s afraid of Danielle’: UCP canvassing strategy revealed in Take Back Alberta meeting
New audio recordings from a Take Back Alberta event reveal what United Conservative Party canvassers are hearing at the door, and the steps being taken to get the party re-elected. Canvassers say they're having to convince people to vote for the party and not the leader. Provincial Affairs Reporter Saif Kaisar has the story – May 19, 2023

New audio recordings reveal what United Conservative Party canvassers are hearing at the door, and the steps being taken to get the party re-elected.

In a recording of a Take Back Alberta meeting May 11, the organization’s leader, David Parker, was heard rallying support for UCP Leader Danielle Smith, while taking shots at the Alberta NDP.

“We’re watching Albertans decide whether they want a lot more government overreach, right? Or if they want a lot more freedom,” he told a crowd of supporters in Calgary in the same recording obtained by Global News.

“That’s really the option that’s before us,” said Parker.

In the recording, Parker speaks for around an hour and then introduces two representatives from Sovereign North Strategies who were there to recruit canvassers.

The recruiter  is heard explaining his experiences while door knocking on behalf of the UCP.

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“Everyone’s afraid of Danielle. There’s ways to kind of bring that in and it’s making a difference. When I talk to people at the doors, number one concern, ‘I’m conservative my whole life, but I don’t know about Danielle.'”

The recruiter said his strategy is to convince potential supporters to vote for the party and not for the leader.

“As we get out there and start to talk to people, give them those positive interactions, start wheeling people in, and they’re like, ‘You know what? These people aren’t bad. These UCPers are nice,'” he said.

“Show them that we’re nice, and they’re like, ‘Oh, I can vote for this. I can vote for my candidate.’ Why? ‘Because he’s good or she’s good —  maybe Danielle’s crazy — but I want someone at the table that going to reason her out.”

Political strategist Stephen Carter with plenty of campaign experience in Alberta calls that strategy a bad one.

“”Don’t worry, I’ll get rid of my boss’ is generally not a great starting position in politics,” Carter explained.

“It never works. The leader is the brand, the brand is the leader. So, if you start saying, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll regulate her’ — you’ve already lost.”

Carter said he’s heard from several UCP candidates that they’re having to campaign against Smith just as much as they are against NDP leader Rachel Notley.

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“If you’re trying to win, you’ve got to reinforce the leader and you’ve got to reinforce the party. You can’t walk away from neither and expect to win,” Carter said.

“Make Danielle Smith seem human. Don’t try and go around Danielle Smith. Danielle performed very well in the debate yesterday,” he added.

After the debate Thursday evening, Smith was asked about the various Take Back Alberta recordings which have surfaced throughout the election.

“We have a one-member, one-vote party, and we have the opportunity for people to make decisions on our policies,” Smith responded.

“What I always hear when people get a chance to see me is, ‘Wow, you’re not at all like how the media depict you’, and I hope people got to see the real me this evening.”

Click to play video: '‘Take Back Alberta’ claims to to control United Conservative Party, premier’s office'
‘Take Back Alberta’ claims to to control United Conservative Party, premier’s office

In a statement to Global News, Sovereign North Strategies says it is not affiliated with Take Back Alberta.

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“Our recruiter was overzealous in where he was recruiting. We’ve instructed all Sovereign North staff to stay away from Take Back Alberta events,” Cole Cander, Chief Operating Officer for Western Canada, told Global News.

When the United Conservatives were asked what they were hearing at the doors, they echoed Smith’s comments in the post-debate media scrum.

“Every one of our 120,000 members has the same chance to influence policy and the director of our party,” said Justin Marshall, spokesperson for the party.

“Unlike the NDP and Rachel Notley who report to their union bosses and Jagmeet Singh.”

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