In a Thursday morning press conference held over Zoom, the former Wildrose Party leader declared her intentions to replace Jason Kenney after his shocking decision to resign as leader Wednesday night.
Kenney survived a contentious leadership review vote with 51.4% but told the crowd, “The result is not what I hoped for or frankly what I expected. While 51% of the vote passes the constitutional threshold of a majority, it is not adequate support to continue on as leader.”
During Smith's press conference, she reiterated her commitment to an independent media which holds government to account. She also noted that she supports a full inquiry into the actions of the government and Alberta Health Services, something first proposed by MLA Todd Loewen who was tossed out of the UCP caucus by Kenney for being an outspoken critic of Kenney's failure to balance civil liberties against public health measures.
Rebel News reporter Adam Soos pressed Smith on the treatment of lockdown resisters in Alberta at the hands of Alberta Health Services, police and the court system.
“We never should have come down on pastors the way we did...we should drop the charges against small businesses,” Smith said.
Smith said she had been in touch with Pastor James Coates who spent 35 days in jail for refusing to limit his church to comply with government restrictions on places of worship, as well as people near Pastor Art Pawlowski, who spent over 50 days in jail and has been arrested multiple time and was subjected to a now-overturned travel ban and gag order.
“One of the things that may help solve what happened is an apology. I am prepared to go around the province and apologize on behalf of the government and try to make some amends,” Smith stated.
Smith unsuccessfully tried to merge the Wildrose Party with the former Progressive Conservative Party (PCAA) helmed by Jim Prentice in 2015 by crossing the floor with a handful of her MLAs. The move, widely rejected by Wildrose members, led to her immediate ouster and saw Brian Jean take control of the party just weeks before the provincial election which saw the NDP take power after 44 years of PCAA rule.
Since leaving politics, Smith has been working in conservative broadcasting