Original Published on Oct 13, 2022 at 09:08
Danielle Smith named new premier, says Alberta voices will not be silenced, health changes coming
By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Danielle Smith is the new premier of Alberta and leader of the United Conservative Party after Thursday’s leadership vote.
Smith was sworn in as premier on Tuesday and is Alberta’s 19th premier.
Smith won with 53.77 per cent of the vote, while local Travis Toews, Grande Prairie-Wapiti MLA, received 46.23 per cent of the vote in the sixth round of counting.
All other candidates, Brian Jean, Rebecca Schulz, Todd Lowen, Rajan Sawhney, and Leela Aheer, were eliminated in earlier rounds.
“It is time for Alberta to take its place as a senior partner in building a strong, unified Canada,” said Smith during her acceptance speech.
“No longer will Alberta ask permission from Ottawa to be prosperous and free.
“We will not have our voices silenced and censored.
“We will not be told what we must put in our bodies in order to work or to travel.”
The UCP membership cast about 85,000 ballots to pick the new leader.
She thanked Toews “for his integrity and for leading the charge and bringing our province’s budget back to surplus from the brink of disaster under Rachel Notley’s NDP.
“Alberta and our caucus are going to lean heavily on your strength and experience in the months and years ahead.”
Toews congratulated Smith on social media and said, “I want to thank everyone who supported me during the leadership campaign.”
“Now is not the time for settling old scores or rivalries; it’s not the time to punish our fellow conservatives for past mistakes; this is why as premier and leader of this party, I am wiping the slate clean,” said Smith.
“Every single UCP MLA, regardless of who they supported or what they have said or what decisions they’ve made in the past, good or bad, it’s not important at this moment.
“All that matters now is what we do to serve Albertans from this day forward.”
Smith expects opposition to her and her government in the coming months, she said.
“These folks will do and say almost anything to keep us from succeeding. They will dredge up old statements and mistakes from the past.
“They will use cancel culture and fear-mongering in an attempt to scare and dissuade Albertans from supporting our MLAs and me.”
She said her plans to use the sovereignty act to stand up to the federal government would not be used to separate from Canada.
“What Albertans want is for our province, and all provinces, to have our rights under the constitution of Canada protected and respected by an increasingly hostile Ottawa regime that seeks to control every aspect of our lives.”
Smith tiptoed around questions of using the sovereignty act at her first press conference as premier on Tuesday.
“We are going to take the issues as they arise, but my intention would be to fight vigorously, all the way to the level of the Supreme Court,” she said.
She also said she would get to work promptly on healthcare issues in the province by repairing relationships with nurses and physicians, replacing managers with frontline staff, and attracting international health professionals.
“As premier, when I direct AHS management to double ICU capacity by a specific date and give them the resources to do so, that direction is (to be) followed immediately, and if they can’t do that, then we will find others who can do it for them.”
Smith confirmed on Tuesday that changes at AHS will happen by the end of the year.
She also said she would not be retaining Dr. Deena Hinshaw as the chief medical officer.
“I will get new advice on public health.”
Smith, who does not have a seat in the legislature, has confirmed she will be running in the Brooks-Medicine Hat byelection on Nov. 8.
Smith said she plans on revealing her cabinet on Oct. 21.