Premier Danielle Smith wants the CBC to apologize for posting a video in which she allegedly discusses the case of anti-vaccine pastor Artur Pawlowski, who stands charged with mischief in relation to the role he is accused of playing in the Coutts border blockade in early 2022.
But, in a polarized political world where partisan politics are so strong, it’s not like any hard-line UCP voters are going to switch to Rachel Notley’s NDP in the coming provincial election.
The real danger for Smith is that some people who were leaning towards the UCP may stay at home, instead.
“What a scandal like this can do is further erode that enthusiasm among Conservatives to show up and vote,” says Jared Wesley, associate professor of political science at the University of Alberta and the principal investigator for Common Ground, which studies the unique political nature of the West.
“That is probably the bigger concern at this stage in the election cycle for the UCP than worrying about people switching votes to the NDP.”
Because there’s been so much leadership turmoil, and parties on the right have changed names, formed alliances, broken alliances, accepted fringe elements… it’s all led to a political movement which doesn’t inspire the same loyalty as former premiers like Ralph Klein or Peter Lougheed earned.
The UCP’s strength in 2023… is promoting distrust in the NDP. The “we’re not them” rhetoric, according to Wesley, is the UCP’s strongest draw. But, it’s not the kind of thing a party can take to the bank.