UCP pledges to take questions from 'all media,' bashes NDP for 'bully behaviour'

On April 16, NDP leader Rachel Notley claimed she would take media questions as she has done for 15 years. However, she refused a question from a Western Standard reporter during a presser and booted two others.

UCP pledges to take questions from 'all media,' bashes NDP for 'bully behaviour'
Sources: Facebook/ Danielle Smith (Image Left) and Facebook/Rachel Notley (Image Right)
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On Wednesday, the UCP reaffirmed its commitment to take questions from all members of the press after controversy hit the NDP last month for booting two independent journalists and denying questions from a third.

"Our team and our leader have been committed to taking questions from all media outlets," said UCP candidate Rebecca Schulz. "The premier continues to take questions from the media daily — as do we." 

"As you see here today, we're happy to take questions from all media outlets."

At an NDP presser on April 17, Alberta's Official Opposition booted a Rebel News reporter. They also kicked out independent journalist Keean Bexte from the press conference.

The security guard responsible for their removal said, "the person that rented the space" booted them but would not specify who the directive came from. Rebel intended to ask accountability questions around the defunding of the police rhetoric seen by NDP candidates. 

On Tuesday, NDP leader Rachel Notley accused Premier Danielle Smith of "hiding from the media" on day two of the province's election campaign. "She's applying for a job and failing to show up for the interview," tweeted Notley.

"This is rich [coming] from [the] NDP that won't put me on their campaign mailing list for media events," responded Edmonton Journal columnist David Staples.

"They are free to ignore certain media. That's their business. But stop pretending they are somehow brave and transparent."

The UCP previously accused the NDP of hypocrisy after they barred several media outlets from asking questions, including Rebel, Bexte's Counter Signal, and the Western Standard.

"Rachel Notley is a hypocrite," said Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides. "The NDP has barred several media outlets from participating at their press conferences…because Rachel Notley doesn't support [these] outlets."

"Leaders take questions — it's part of the job," boasted Notley on April 14. 

On April 16, she claimed, "I will take media questions [tomorrow]…as I have done for 15 years." However, Notley refused a question from a Western Standard reporter during the presser.

A UCP statement accused Notley of "attacking reporters who ask questions she doesn't want to answer."

"I think all Albertans can see Rachel Notley's hypocrisy on full display here, with the NDP's history of silencing and hand-picking favourable journalists," said Nicolaides.

Two journalists were removed days after Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley criticized Premier Danielle Smith for limiting the media to one question each. In a statement posted to Twitter, Alberta's NDP critic for ethics and democracy condemned the UCP and demanded an apology.

"Journalists are the proxy for the public, and they serve a critical role in Canadian society by questioning elected officials. This kind of attempt to prevent journalists from doing their jobs is dangerous for our democracy," it read.

In response to questions from True North about her office's role in the Thomas Dang hacking scandal, Notley's communications director said, "We don't have dealings with True North." Notley also removed the Western Standard from her press release distribution list.  

"Rachel Notley often says one thing but does another, and this is a prime example," added Nicolaides. "She can't be allowed to hide behind cheap attacks and accusations against all of these outlets. 

The Independent Press Gallery (IPG) penned a letter condemning the antics of the NDP soon after the presser. "Fostering a system where politicians can cherry-pick journalists' questions while blacklisting random outlets is an affront to the basic tenets of democracy and runs contrary to Albertans' expectations for a free press," it reads.

"You have stated on social media that Albertans deserve a leader that takes their questions, and you proudly declared you would take media questions and follow-ups. But your behaviour indicates the opposite."

Nicolaides concurred that this "bully behaviour" must be called out. "The UCP faces tough questions from the media daily. Notley should do the same," he said.


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