NDP critic, Premier Smith clash at MHC expansion ceremony

NDP critic for Advanced Education David Eggen held a press conference at the Medicine Hat College campus prior to Tuesday’s grand opening of the Health, Wellness and Athletics Expansion.

“I would like to congratulate the college for the completion of this expansion, which was, as it happens, funded by the NDP government in 2018. Back then, as we are now, the Alberta NDP is committed to investing in post-secondary institutions to make them affordable.”

Eggen criticized the UCP government for its approach to education, including $700 million in cuts across the province. MHC took $3 million in cuts, or a 7 per cent reduction to its operating and capital budget.

“The UCP has hurt young Albertans trying to launch their careers and older Albertans trying to change their careers and provide a better life for their families. I’m hoping we (NDP) will be back in position next year so we can start to repair the damage this UCP government has inflicted on our post-secondaries across the province,” stated Eggen.

Eggen also criticized Premier Danielle Smith, who was in attendance as well, for taking part in the grand opening, claiming the Elections Act required a blackout period for announcements during an electoral period.

“My reading of it is it contravenes that, and I think Danielle Smith seems to concur,” Eggen said. “She filed a grievance against the former PC government for making an announcement during an electoral period back in 2014. I think this warrants further investigation. It certainly goes against the spirit of the act.”

Smith disagrees.

“I made sure to acknowledge the different individuals who were here in the spirit of what we were doing today, I am delighted to be here,” she said. “I am premier, it would have been a bit strange if I hadn’t been here to lend my support to this terrific facility and great celebration today.”

In an email to CTV Lethbridge, the Office of the Ethics Commissioner of Alberta stated, “Premier Smith is participating in an event that is not unusual for a politician. An election goal is a political goal and not a private interest. Only private interests are covered by the Conflicts of Interest Act.”

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SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News