Alberta election campaign: Smith, Notley keep eye on wildfires as campaign continues

·2 min read

CALGARY — Leaders of Alberta's two main political parties started Friday on the election campaign trail in Calgary, but both quickly turned their attention toward the wildfires burning across Alberta.

Voting day is set for May 29.

On Friday, United Conservative Party Leader Danielle Smith appeared on Global News. She had planned to spend time with volunteers and voters, before calling an emergency management cabinet committee meeting on the wildfire situation.

Alberta emergency officials have said more than 13,000 people have been ordered to leave their homes as 78 wildfires burn across the province — 19 of them out of control.

"Cabinet continues to be kept up-to-date on the wildfire situation — as is the leader of the Opposition," said a statement from the premier's office. "Cabinet continues to have decision-making abilities to deal with emergency decisions.

"This is a very serious ongoing situation, and Alberta's government will continue to monitor and provide Albertans with the most up-to-date information."

Earlier Friday, NDP Leader Rachel Notley held a news conference to talk about her plan to hire thousands of teachers and support workers in the public education system if her party wins.

She took a minute out of that announcement, however, to send her thoughts to those affected by the wildfires across Alberta.

"My deepest sympathies and thoughts to families who have lost their homes or who have been forced from them as a result of wildfires in areas across our province," Notley told reporters. "Our hearts go out to you in this very, very difficult time."

She also thanked firefighters who are working to keep people safe and asked Albertans to follow the provincewide fire ban that's in place.

Smith also mentioned the fires in her morning television interview.

"We will have officials leading this effort," she said. "They'll be doing regular updates on the website ... and then they'll also have the officials doing a regular, daily update as long as the risk remains elevated."

Smith said she's keeping a close eye on the situation. Her next media availability is currently set for Saturday.

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

The Canadian Press