Alberta NDP continue 'smear campaign' of Conservatives, dodge questions from independent media

While the previous NDP presser at Calgary's King Edward School took place outside — this time, they spoke with the media indoors. They have consistently refused to take questions from all independent media.

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The Alberta NDP discussed with the media their concerns about another video that surfaced about Danielle Smith — this time on healthcare. 

Premier Danielle Smith expressed concerns over the "structure" of Alberta Health Services in managing Alberta's hospitals at a recent Freedom Talk.

While the previous NDP presser at Calgary's King Edward School took place outside — this time, they spoke with the media indoors. They have consistently refused to take questions from all independent media.

"I think our leader has been clear that we won't be taking questions [from the Western Standard]," said NDP candidate Kathleen Ganley on Wednesday.

"If you [form] government, would you continue to not speak with members of the Alberta press gallery?" asked the reporter. Ganley did not respond and proceeded to take questions over the phone from other outlets.

"If [AHS] can't meet the terms we want them to, we can do an RFP [request for proposal] and then Alberta health insurance can give a different contract to a different group of doctors to run our hospitals," said Smith in the video in question. 

"That is completely compliant with the Canada Health Act," she clarified. In Alberta, physicians are not employees of AHS but independent contractors who are publicly funded.

The Canada Health Act, enacted in 1984 after being passed unanimously in the House of Commons, laid out criteria to ensure "reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers."

That meant Canadians could access medically necessary services without being directly charged. According to the act, all such services would be covered through the province or territories' healthcare insurance plan.

Despite concerns from public healthcare advocates, there has been recent health reform in Ontario, where the provincial Tories expanded publicly-funded surgeries and procedures in private clinics to include hip and knee replacement surgeries in for-profit and not-for-profit clinics.

Bill 60, the Your Health Act, articulates that the province's 900 private clinics cannot prevent patients from paying with their Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card. submitted a freedom of information access request revealing Ontario Health cancelled 1,417 procedures in 2021/22 due to patient death. Of those who died, 42% waited for cataract surgery — despite private clinics offering those surgeries — and 12% waited for hip and knee replacements.

In January, Alberta's UCP government announced immediate access to thousands more publicly-funded orthopedic surgeries as the province partners with more Calgary-chartered surgical facilities.

AHS identified more than 6,000 people waiting for orthopedic surgeries in Calgary. Over half are waiting longer than "clinically appropriate" for knee and hip replacements.

Health Minister Jason Copping clarified that funding more services at hospitals or chartered surgical facilities grows the publicly-funded system without stealing staff or physicians from each other.

However, the Alberta NDP continued to claim that Smith wants Albertans to pay out of pocket to see a doctor. The premier signed a Public Health Guarantee last month to ensure that would not happen.

On May 8, NDP leader Rachel Notley expressed outrage over a separate, unrelated video from 2021 where Smith compared the rush for people to get vaccinated to a citizenry that "succumbed to the charms of tyrants" and to those "who claim to have all the answers." 

The NDP leader appeared to conflate those comments by suggesting Smith was referring to German tyrant Adolf Hitler.

"What we have here is a Premier looking at all Albertans who stepped up — who followed the science and protected themselves, their neighbours, and Alberta's most vulnerable — and she is comparing them to the architects of an anti-Semitic genocide," tweeted Notley.

"This is why Albertans cannot trust Danielle Smith's leadership. You deserve better. You deserve so much better."

One week prior, Notley took swipes at the UCP and the unvaccinated. She claimed Smith peddled "conspiracies" concerning vaccines and healthcare while attempting to elevate the NDP as a party of "science and evidence."

"Higher vaccination rates will reduce pressure on our hospitals, and help lessen, maybe even prevent, future waves of infection," said the NDP leader. 

"I realize some Albertans are vehemently opposed to vaccination, and it may be difficult to change their minds, but it's not impossible."

Rebel News intended to ask the Alberta NDP if they would hold their candidates accountable for past inflammatory rhetoric. To date, we have been denied the chance to seek clarification.

On April 17, security at the Telus Convention Centre booted Rebel from an NDP presser after informing us we could not attend the presser. "The person that rented the space [did not permit it]," said the guard but did not elaborate further.

We planned to ask about the anti-police rhetoric from some NDP Candidates slated to represent the party in the upcoming provincial election.

In October 2021, the NDP MLA Rod Loyola said an Edmonton police badge "gives you the right to beat up citizens and not have to face criminal charges." 

In June 2020, Calgary-Bow candidate Druh Farrell wondered about domestic abuse within police families after watching videos of officers assaulting non-Caucasians.

"There's some sick rage there," said Farrell. "I bet it goes home with them, and the outcome goes largely unreported." 

Both tweets have since been deleted, yet the party has yet to issue a response to questions from independent media to explain the remarks by party hopefuls.

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