Danielle Smith wins riding in Medicine Hat
Aiden Pasychny, Contributor
Premier Danielle Smith won her seat in the Brooks- Medicine Hat byelection last Tuesday defeating four opponents with 54 per cent of the riding’s vote.
Smith, who took office on Oct. 6 after the resignation of Premier Jason Kenney, was sworn in without a seat in the legislature.
Now that Smith has a seat, she is able to speak to the legislature directly without needing the Infrastructure Minister Nathan Neudorf to speak on her behalf as the deputy premier.
The premier opened her victory speech by stating “this is more than a victory party, this is the start of something much bigger. That Alberta is worth fighting for.”
Smith received 6923 votes to her New Democratic Party (NDP) opponent Gwendoline Dirk’s 3393 which made up 26.7 per cent of the voters.
Smith stated “that was a nail-biter” and followed up on her 54 per cent of the vote by saying “we have much work to do,” in her victory speech.
After being chosen as the party leader on the sixth ballot, Smith has a difficult task ahead. The United Conservative Party (UCP) is struggling with the polls in Alberta, and internally. In order to win the upcoming election, Smith needs to unite the UCP and Alberta’s conservative voters.
Work to do
Now that Smith has secured her seat, she is set to take on Opposition leader Rachel Notley in the spring provincial election.
During her victory speech, Premier Smith made no hesitation to call out the NDP on the upcoming election saying “you can choose Rachel Notley and the NDP that increasingly takes their orders from Jagmeet Singh and Justin Trudeau at the federal level, or you can choose a united confident and energized UCP; a UCP that will keep Alberta strong and free.”
Smith has her work cut out for her though. According to a poll by the business management consultant company, Navigator Ltd., the UCP is trailing the NDP in the polls with the NDP at 54 per cent to the UCP’s 38 per cent.
The last time that the conservatives lagged behind the NDP in the polls was in 2015, the year Rachel Notley’s NDP defeated Jim Prentice and the Progressive conservative party.
In her victory speech, Smith stated that the UCP will “always listen to you the voters.” Smith also described some of the issues the UCP will be tackling if they get reelected, “We are going to deliver more and better jobs, accessible healthcare and a lower cost of living for you and your family.”
The UCP are also still running an anti carbon tax heavy platform with Smith stating that, “the NDP-Liberal coalition sure loves their carbon tax don’t they? The carbon tax is designed by the wealthy and they are not impacted by it. It’s to make life more painful for the poor and the powerless.”
Smith also discussed her outlook on Canada’s inflation while she took aim at Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberal Party. “They think they can off-set your sky-high taxes and inflation by canceling your kid’s favourite tv shows,” she said.
Smith stated that the UCP plans to take “unprecedented and substantial action to help Albertans and their families to make sure that families do not have to make the hard choice of heating their house in winter and feeding their families.”
Smith will need to convince Albertans the UCP will be different under her leadership. If not, popularity is not expected to rise for the UCP come election day.
Alberta’s election date is set for May 29, 2023. The province is gearing up for several heated debates that have yet to be scheduled.
Rachel Notley’s NDP is the leading Opposition party and is expected to take on Smith’s UCP policies related to healthcare, COVID-19 and wage inequality.