Health care, racism and wildfires: Alberta election campaign nears halfway point

·2 min read

Alberta's NDP focused on fixing health-care and combating racism Friday, while the United Conservative Party criticized a rival candidate for past comments about Alberta's energy sector.

The province's election campaign is nearing the halfway point before voting day on May 29.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley, appearing on Global Calgary, talked about health care, affordability and the $1.2-billion deal to replace the aging Saddledome with a new arena for the Calgary Flames.

She said she can't commit to the deal until she knows more about the final project and its costs.

"All I'm doing on that issue is taking a very cautious and conservative approach that I think most Calgarians and Albertans would expect us to do," she said.

The NDP also announced it would provide all Albertans with better health-care cards as part of its commitment to protect public health care. And to combat hate and discrimination, it said it would introduce an anti-racism act and establish an anti-racism office.

United Conservative Leader Danielle Smith wasn't campaigning Friday. She was in Grande Prairie, Alta., in her role as premier to tour a fire zone and meet with local officials and Indigenous leaders.

The UCP government declared a state of emergency last week due to dozens of wildfires burning in central and northern Alberta. About 16,500 people have been forced from their homes in several communities.

On Thursday, Smith dismissed concerns over her past musing about selling hospitals to private operators. She was hustled offstage after a few protesters disrupted her news conference in Calgary.

Smith later returned to take questions, comparing the protesters to the Opposition NDP and saying both seek to misrepresent her position on health care.

She said she should be judged on what she does, not her past comments, as her positions on different issues have evolved.

On Friday, some of her UCP candidates held a news conference to demand an apology from NDP candidate Kevin Van Tighem for comments he made in a 2021 book about the energy sector.

Van Tighem, who is running in Livingstone-Macleod, said in a statement on Twitter that "everybody's insights evolve."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2023.

The Canadian Press