NDP to write letter to chief electoral officer over Smith event appearance

During a press conference at Brooks-Medicine Hat NDP candidate Gwendoline Dirk’s campaign office, Alberta Today questioned if Premier Danielle Smith violated elections rules when she spoke at the Medicine Hat College expansion opening on Oct. 25.

“We will be writing a letter to the chief electoral office,” answered Notley. “I understand some folks have reached out to get some opinions from the ethics commission, but this is a matter to be dealt with by the chief electoral officer. The prohibition of what Danielle Smith did is contained in the Elections Act and we know (they are) careful the rules are followed at Elections Alberta. We expect them to properly investigate this action on the part of the premier.”

Leader of the Alberta Party, Barry Morishita, said, “Ms. Smith has to make her own decisions of an ethical and legal nature and she makes those choices. I would err on the side of caution in that regard, but she chose not to.”

MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat, Drew Barnes, says he is disappointed in the NDP for politicizing the expansion to Medicine Hat College.

“The $10.7 million that was spent on three key areas is going to go a long way to help the good people of Medicine Hat College to provide a better education for all Albertans. Shame on the NDP for changing the focus from that.”

Barnes attended the opening and pointed out Smith recognized many individuals in the crowd, including her opponents.

“It was very much part of the premier’s duty,” added Barnes, “and Premier Smith, unlike the NDP, focused on the good work that happened and Rachel Notley should do the same.”

The evening after the MHC extension opening, Smith and her team went door knocking. Volunteers with Dirk’s campaign office who live on the Southeast Hill and in the Aberdeen, Belfast and Cambridge neighbourhood, both in the Cypress-Medicine Hat riding, reported Premier Smith and Minister Jason Copping showing up on their doorsteps.

The News office attempted multiple times on Wednesday and Thursday this week to contact Smith’s campaign office for confirmation and/or a statement but has yet to receive a response.

Morishita said, “I think it speaks to knowing the community. It’s on a map and it’s important to understand where it is and what is going on. It speaks to someone coming in from outside the community. You just had to ask and obviously that didn’t happen.”

A post on social media said Morishita was also door knocking outside his riding, which he says isn’t true.

“I’ve only door-knocked along the riverside on this side (East) of the river and everything else has been on that (West) side and in Redcliff.”

Barnes said, “It’s very important for Premier Smith to learn as much as she can about the needs of the people of Medicine Hat. That includes both Brooks-Medicine Hat and Cypress-Medicine Hat. Better she learns about where we need water storage, where we still need Highway 3 twinned, where we need economic opportunities. This is maybe a start of her learning about the similarities the two constituencies have and hopefully they’ll figure it out to work hard for Alberta to be the most prosperous place, including Medicine Hat.”

SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News