New AB Premier’s comments provokes reactions
Mikaela Delos Santos, News Editor
Danielle Smith was elected as the new Alberta Premier after the United Conservative Party (UCP) leadership elections on Oct. 6 of this year. The former Wildrose leader became the 19th premier of Alberta after gaining 53 per cent of the votes, defeating Travis Toew’s 46 per cent.
The new premier remarked on Oct. 11 in her first press news conference that “…[the unvaccinated] are the most discriminated-against group that I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime. That’s a pretty extreme level of discrimination I’ve ever seen.” This comment was made after she was sworn in as the new premier.
This prompted reactions from other premiers such as British ColumbiaPremier John Horgan. In an interview with Victoria-based radio station C-FAX, Horgan says that, “it’s laughable.”
According to National Post, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe also disagrees with Smith’s comments, quoting that “What we’re here to do, and what I’m here to do is any of those individuals or groups that do feel they’ve been discriminated (against) in some way, that we’re here to support them.”
National Post also reports that the Alberta leader’s comments would be laughable if she wasn’t the premier, according to Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University.
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek quote tweets on Twitter that “Of the things I could say, I choose to focus on demonstrating to this premier the work that our city continues to do around anti-racism, Indigenous relations, Holocaust remembrance, allyship with the LGBTQ2S+ community & equity-based awareness. In other words, work that matters.”
As a result of these responses, Smith released an apology statement on Twitter stating that “I want to be clear that I did not intend to trivialize in any way the discrimination faced by minority communities and other persecuted groups both here in Canada and around the world…”
In a speech at the Edmonton Chambers of Commerce last Oct. 20, Smith states that there will be a change to the Human Rights Code which makes it illegal to discriminate against people based on their COVID-19 vaccine status within the fall. The premier quotes that “… [she] recognizes that organizations and some businesses in Alberta are still [implementing vaccine-related mandates], and [she] just wants to give a fair warning that [the Alberta government] will be making a serious pivot in that regard.”
The premier was put under fire once again after her previous comments on the Ukraine-Russian war came to light. According to CityNews, Smith remarks that Ukraine should be neutral and denuclearize in a live stream on locals.com, a crowdfunding platform.
“That should have been the answer right from the beginning… So I think the only answer for Ukraine is neutrality.” Smith adds on the live stream.
On Oct. 18, Smith sent out another apology statement on Twitter. Smith states that “[she] categorically condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the indescribable suffering Russia has and still inflicting upon the Ukrainian people.”
In an interview with CBC News, Smith’s comments will create a problem for the politician’s credibility, according to Lori Williams, a political scientist at Mount Royal University. CBC News quotes that “[Williams] believes that this issue raises bigger questions about Smith’s competence and her being able to distinguish between credible and conspiratorial information.”
In a report by Global News, former Alberta legislative assembly member and key fundraiser for Ukraine Thomas Lukaszuk thinks that the premier’s comment is questionable.
“I personally don’t buy it [Smith’s apology], but the fact is we are where we are, and the situation in Ukraine is real and Ukraine requires more help now than ever”.