So much for the Alberta ballot battle being boring.
The scheduled argy-bargy between UCP leader Danielle Smith and NDP number one Rachel Notley isn’t until Thursday night on a debate stage but we get a sneak peek from one of the combatants on Tuesday.
Smith is on offence. She wants to put Notley on defence.
I’m sure I’ll be talking to the Notley NDP deep-thinkers soon after this column hits the streets.
“You’ve got some people who think: Well, you know, Rachel, maybe she wasn’t so bad,” says Smith.
“You know what, she actually was that bad.”
For Smith, really bad. The worst Alberta premier ever. It is the second day in a row where she’s given Notley that handle.
It doesn’t take the UCP leader long to accuse the Notley NDP of telling lies about the party she leads.
People having to pay for a family doc under Smith’s UCP, people’s pensions eliminated.
Not true, says Smith.
“That, to me, is all you need to know about the NDP. The only way they think they can win is fear and smear.”
Smith takes aim directly at Notley.
“She’s running away from her record and there’s good reason for that,” says the UCP leader.
“She’s got nothing to be proud of there. Why is she not wanting to talk about the things she did when she was premier?
“I can tell you why. It’s a terrible record and she doesn’t want to run on it.”
Smith wants voters to look back and remember the NDP days and think about life today.
Yes, the UCP leader is building up a head of steam, armed with her laundry list of Notley bad.
Loss of tens of thousands of jobs, people leaving Alberta, losing hope, surprise taxes coming out of nowhere, hammering the oilpatch, failing to stand up to Ottawa and not standing up for this province.
“If you vote for the NDP we’re going to see a repeat of what they did when they were in power last time.”
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Smith says Notley is play acting her political position.
“She wants to portray herself as some kind of progressive conservative. She’s even wearing blue these days, you may have noticed.”
“I think they’re trying to fool people into thinking they’re moderates. This is not a moderate NDP at all. It is an ideological NDP,” says Smith.
“They will increase taxes. They will continue to hammer our energy industry, won’t step up for it. They will be making electricity more expensive.”
Smith adds a mention of the Notley NDP’s support for hikes to the carbon tax of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the NDP’s proposed increase to the provincial corporate tax.
“We’ve seen this newsreel before and it’s just a complete repeat of the past.”
The UCP leader says no so-called progressive conservative would line up with Trudeau and federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.
Smith is well aware there is fear and loathing from some voters.
She pushes back.
“There’s nothing scary about reducing debt, putting money into savings, reducing taxes, creating jobs and making life more affordable.”
This day, Smith calls herself a real conservative and insists she is not the person depicted in the press.
“I think a lot of people didn’t listen to my radio shows so they didn’t hear the stories I heard from Albertans. They didn’t hear the hurt and the pain.
“They don’t realize how much that has affected me and I never want us to go there again, never want us to go there again.”
She sees her time as a talk-radio host, and speaking with thousands of Albertans, as a valuable experience she does not apologize for in the least.
“I heard exactly how they were feeling through the Notley years. I heard exactly how they were feeling through the tough times we had.
“Because I spent so much time on talk radio, you have to listen to the people and you have to be open-minded and change your mind. Sometimes you don’t get it right.”
In this election campaign when Smith is rolling out planks in the UCP election platform, there are questions from newshounds, not about the issues of the day but about those other things.
Videos, past comments, you know the drill …
“I don’t live on social media. I don’t live on Twitter. I live in the real world,” says Smith.
“I think too many reporters get excited at what trends on Twitter. I think they should stop. They should go to the coffee shops and talk to real people. Then they might get a bit of a different perspective.”
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