(Edmonton) Alberta Premier Danielle Smith on Saturday expanded her new policy of restricting media questions to limit not only questions from journalists, but also those from the media.
Ms Smith told her Corus radio show that not only are individual reporters now limited to one question at press conferences — as announced on Friday — but that she will not accept more than one question in total from the from a news outlet during an event.
Ms. Smith reiterated that she needed to limit the questions in order to provide more answers.
“Each outlet will have one question instead of two during this campaign period because I need to make sure we reach as many people as possible,” Ms. Smith said on Your Province Your Premier.
“That way we can reach more media, because the election campaign will generate a lot more interest. »
Ms. Smith’s senior adviser, Rob Anderson, confirmed the change in a statement on Twitter, writing that Ms. Smith will take one question per media outlet and per press conference for six weeks, so she can speak to more media. during the next election period.
The election campaign is due to start on May 1 and the polls will take place on May 29, but politicians on both sides are already hard at work, knocking on doors, making promises and criticizing each other.
Leader of the Opposition, New Democrat Rachel Notley, promised to answer as many questions as possible, including follow-up questions, adding that if Ms. Smith doesn’t want to answer questions, she shouldn’t be first. minister.
Reporters from major news outlets often have more than one reporter attending Ms. Smith’s press conferences to ask questions about a variety of topics unique to their specialty or on which they work.
Traditionally, they ask a main question and a follow-up question.
These follow-up questions are considered essential to allow journalists to clarify the first answer if necessary and to hold politicians to account who do not answer the first question, but simply state talking points that have not only related to the question.
Ms. Smith used the “one question, no follow-up” technique with reporters on Friday and then with listeners to her radio show on Saturday.
On Friday, Ms. Smith was asked to reconcile conflicting comments in which she speaks favorably of Art Pawlowski, a street pastor from Calgary, while disavowing his “extremist views”. Art Pawlowski has made headlines for protesting COVID-19 health measures and the LGBTQ community.
Ms Smith said she spoke out against all forms of intolerance. There was no follow-up.
Smith was asked what role the centre-right populist group Take Back Alberta will play in her campaign. Take Back Alberta has a growing influence within the party, supporting half of the council members and getting involved in riding associations and candidate nominations.
Mr. Smith responded that the United Conservative Party is an open, “one member, one vote” party where everyone has a say. No follow-up was given.
On her Saturday show, a caller named Jeff, who described himself as a longtime supporter of the United Conservative Party, asked Ms. Smith for an update on conflicting health policy statements.
In response, Ms. Smith accused the NDP of trying to cover their tracks and reminded Jeff that her government is working to create health spending accounts for uninsured services such as dentists and therapists.
Callers to the show aren’t usually allowed follow-up questions, but one caller who called on Saturday to ask about electricity costs managed to ask one main question and two follow-up questions. .
Ms Smith has faced questions about her stance on health after announcing this week that her government would not allow out-of-pocket payment for health care, despite her advocating, in a policy paper released in 2021, a new model that includes payment for a family doctor, co-payments for surgeries, and possibly private hospitals.
Another listener emphatically asked Ms Smith if she still stands by her 2021 view on health.
“I don’t believe that a leopard changes its spots, so let me ask you the question directly: do you categorically reject what you have written in this document? Yes or no ? Please don’t give the larks a mirror type response,” the post read, read aloud by the host.
Ms. Smith did not answer with a yes or a no, but instead referred to health spending accounts.
In addition to limiting questions, Ms. Smith also announced this week that she would not comment on the ongoing investigation by the province’s ethics commissioner.
Ms. Smith’s office said Ethics Commissioner Marguerite Trussler is trying to determine whether Ms. Smith interfered in the workings of justice by conferring with the defendant about his case before his criminal trial.
In that call, Ms. Smith is heard offering to do research on behalf of the accused while telling him that the charges against him were politically motivated, adding that she shares her concerns about how prosecutors the Crown conduct cases related to COVID-19 measures.