During the election debate, a controversial ruling by Alberta's ethics commissioner has brought Premier Danielle Smith into the spotlight. Amid a rapidly unfolding scenario, the commissioner voiced criticism against Smith, a development that seems peculiarly timed and notably swift.
Just weeks ago, a complaint was lodged by the NDP with Alberta's ethics commissioner, alleging that Smith had been involved in sending inappropriate emails, instructing prosecutors not to act on pandemic cases.
This claim was circulated by the CBC despite their admission that they had not personally seen these alleged emails.
A significant part of the complaint was Smith's interaction with Artur Pawlowski, a Christian pastor who was charged with various offences under lockdown rules.
This conversation, documented on video, found its way to the CBC, indicating that CBC played a role far beyond the usual reporting of the news.
This evolving situation took a surprising turn as the judge's ruling was released amid the election chaos. The decision was announced on the day of the debate, guaranteeing the presence of media, including the CBC.
Despite their significant involvement, the CBC's allegations were refuted. The commissioner, a former judge, carried out an extensive investigation, confirming that none of the 44 prosecutors responsible for enforcing pandemic regulations in the province received any such emails. This unanimous declaration was backed up by all 32 staff members of the Premier's office.
With a detailed technological search turning up empty, it was clear that there was no evidence of the alleged inappropriate emails. Yet, the ethics commissioner condemned Smith, asserting that her interaction with the pastor and subsequent discussions with Justice Minister Tyler Shandro constituted undue pressure, even though the discussion was brief and led to no significant action.
The media coverage of this event has been exceptionally biased. Instead of focusing on the complete exoneration of Smith from the email allegations, media outlets have instead emphasized Smith's supposed rule-breaking regarding her interaction with Pawlowski. The CBC, remarkably, ignored the fact that their fabricated story was discredited.
This manipulation of information by media groups and the astonishing swiftness of the judgement paints a troubling picture.
However, there are still independent journalists out there who are willing to present the whole truth, the good, bad, and the ugly. Unfortunately, their reach is often limited to more politically conscious individuals and conservatives, leaving a significant portion of the populace uninformed or misinformed.
This whole debacle goes beyond the boundaries of the Alberta election. It sets a precedent for how the media, often controlled, restricted, and subsidized, can operate during an election, shaping the narrative to fit their agenda.
Whether these tactics are robust enough to topple a sitting premier is yet to be seen. However, it does indicate a potential grim future for politicians facing a hostile media landscape.
GUEST: Derek Fildebrandt on the Alberta Ethics commissioner's report.