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2023 Election

Alberta Campaign Roundup – Day 15


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From the Alberta Institute

Campaign Roundup – Day 15:

  • We’re halfway through the election campaign now! If you’re enjoying our daily campaign roundups, please consider making a one-off donation or signing up as a supporter of the Alberta Institute for just $10 a month so that we can keep you updated.
  • Polls continue to swing back and forth, with new polling from Janet Brown showing the UCP ahead by 51% to 40% province-wide. Crucially, her poll also shows the UCP leading in the key battleground of Calgary by 51% to 39%.
  • The weekend’s hot, dry conditions brought more wildfires and more evacuation orders. There are now almost 20,000 people who have been forced to flee their homes. New evacuation orders were issued for Rainbow Lake, parts of Leduc County, and Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation.
  • Rachel Notley clarified her position on “safe supply”, coming out in support of the programs that provide pharmaceutical replacements for opioids, but called claims that her party wants to provide hard drugs “utterly ridiculous”.
  • Rachel Notley made an announcement on her Twitter feed, promising to invest in the arts. The NDP, if elected, promised to provide 50% more funding for the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, an Arts Capital Grants Program, and a Live Entertainment Advisory Council.
  • The NDP also held a press conference promising to eliminate the small business tax (from its current 2% rate). She also promised that, if elected, her party would not raise personal income taxes, nor would they go down the road of a PST.
  • The UCP held a press conference announcing new measures to deal with the mental health and addiction crisis. If re-elected, the UCP would draft and pass the Compassionate Intervention Act, which would allow a family member, doctor, psychologist, or police officer to petition a judge to issue a treatment order.
  • Danielle Smith said that providing more drugs to people is not a way to address public safety, nor is it a compassionate way to treat people suffering from addiction. Instead, she promised to build a series of five mental wellness centres, each with 75 beds, as well as add 700 new addiction beds at 11 existing treatment centres.
  • Brian Jean, UCP Candidate for Fort McMurray – Lac La Biche, reminded Albertans of the anti-energy positions of some NDP candidates. He also filmed a video about Danielle Smith’s strong opposition to Justin Trudeau’s anti-energy policies and Rachel Notley’s silence.

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2023 Election

CBC News retracts report alleging email interference by Alberta premier’s office

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Alberta Premier Danielle Smith responds to a question during a news conference after a meeting of western premiers, in Whistler, B.C., on Tuesday, June 27, 2023. CBC News is retracting a report from January alleging someone in Premier Danielle Smith’s office emailed prosecutors to question the handling of cases involving a COVID-19 protest at a U.S. bordering crossing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

By Dean Bennett in Edmonton

CBC News is retracting a report alleging someone in Premier Danielle Smith’s office emailed Crown prosecutors to question and challenge the handling of cases involving COVID-19 protests in Alberta that blocked traffic at a U.S. border crossing for more than two weeks.

CBC made the announcement Wednesday in an unsigned editor’s note atop an amended online version of the original Jan. 19 story.

“Our sources have insisted that Crown prosecutors felt political pressure regarding the Coutts, (Alta.), cases, but they are not able to confirm that the emails they originally described were sent directly from the premier’s office to the Crown,” said the editor’s note.

“As such, we have updated this story and related pieces, removing references to direct contact between the premier’s office and prosecutors — which the premier has vehemently denied.

“CBC News regrets reporting direct contact by email.”

The story, along with public comments made by Smith around that time, sparked months of controversy, accusations, investigations and threats of lawsuits that culminated in an investigation and subsequent May 18 report by ethics commissioner Marguerite Trussler.

In that report, Trussler found no evidence of such emails but, based on other information, concluded Smith broke ethics rules and sought to undermine the rule of law by trying to persuade her then-justice minister to make a COVID-19-related criminal prosecution “go away.”

Smith had challenged the veracity of the CBC email claims from the start, noting officials could find no evidence of such correspondence and that CBC News itself had stated it had not seen the emails in question.

CBC stood by its reporting for months, but in Wednesday’s note stated Trussler’s finding of no evidence to support the existence of the emails prompted it to review the matter anew and reach a new conclusion.

Smith’s office has threatened to sue the CBC for defamation for months over the story, but has yet to formally launch a claim. Smith recently said she wanted to sit down with CBC officials to explore the matter.

Smith stood in the chamber of the legislature last month and formally apologized for her Jan. 6 phone call to then-justice minister Tyler Shandro in which she sought to have him abandon the criminal prosecution of COVID protester Artur Pawlowski.

Shandro refused to intervene and Pawlowski was eventually found guilty of mischief.

Smith has since asked new Justice Minister Mickey Amery to give her guidelines on how she is to interact with him on legal matters.

Smith has said she will also act on Trussler’s recommendation to have new members to the legislature receive briefings on how the separation of powers works in Canada’s democracy.

Her office declined Wednesday to comment on the CBC retraction, state whether the meeting with CBC officials took place, say if Smith still planned to sue or say whether the updated guidelines from Amery had arrived.

CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson said in a statement that the public broadcaster has not met with Smith.

“The editor’s note was published after reviewing all of our journalism and talking again to sources,” Thompson said.

“As you can appreciate, it’s not our place to speak for the premier on what she may or may not do (regarding a lawsuit).”

The Opposition NDP, meanwhile, asked RCMP in a letter last month to investigate whether Smith’s actions violated Criminal Code provisions surrounding breach of trust and obstructing justice.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2023.

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2023 Election

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley mum on political future following election loss

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