June 16th, 2024

Danielle Smith wins seat in Brooks-Medicine Hat


By Lethbridge Herald on November 9, 2022.

Premier Danielle Smith addresses her supporters at her Medicine Hat campaign office after winning Tuesday's Brooks-Medicine Hat byelection. Medicine Hat News photo by Collin Gallant

Collin Gallant – SOUTHERN ALBERTA NEWSPAPERS – cgallant@medicinehatnews.com

Premier Danielle Smith won her byelection race on Tuesday night and kicked off her party’s unofficial re-election campaign in Medicine Hat, promising “substantial” health reforms, introducing affordability programs and standing up to Ottawa from her seat in the legislature.

Smith collected 54.5 per cent of the vote in the contest that featured a tighter than usual race between second and third place finishers, Gwendoline Dirk of the New Democrats (26.7 per cent) and Alberta Party Leader Barry Morishita (16.5 per cent with all polls reporting at 10 p.m.).

“This is more than a victory party, this is the start of something much bigger,” Smith told about 100 campaign volunteers and supporters at a downtown restaurant. “Despite the results today we certainly have a fight ahead of us. And now is the time to take decisive action to help Alberta families that are struggling.”

Smith thanked her opponents, but named NDP leader Rachel Notley directly, again linking her to the federal Liberal government and federal wing of the New Democrats. 

“I’m really humbled and will work to represent all the voters of Brooks-Medicine Hat,” she said. “Next year, it will be the turn of Albertans to make their choice … and you can choose a united and energized UCP, that will keep Alberta strong and free and deliver more and better jobs, accessible health care and a lower cost of living.”

Smith was introduced by former Brooks-Medicine Hat MLA Michaela Frey, who resigned in early October to entice the recently elected party leader to seek a seat in the legislature. Smith will be sworn in at the opening of the next session on Nov. 29.

The media was not afforded time to ask questions on Tuesday.

During the 28-day byelection campaign, hampered in part by responsibilities in Edmonton, Smith spoke often at public events about her ability to act on local issues and juggle the responsibilities as local MLA and premier.

During several forums, Smith spoke at length about the srong impression of the Root Cellar, formerly known as the Medicine Hat and District Food Bank, the potential twinning of Highway 3, south of Medicine Hat, and the mental health initiative Our Collective Journey.

She signalled interest in irrigation expansion, and made only passing public mention of the drive by the cities of Brooks and Medicine Hat to create a hydrogen hub to attract industrial development, but met privately with members of both councils to discuss priorities.

In her speech Tuesday she said the next several months would see substantial action on affordability, a revisiting of suspending the vehicle fuel tax and options to “bring electricity costs down.” 

“The provincial government has not caused one bit of inflation, but we can help deal with the effects,” she said, adding “and we must commit to genuine health reform.

Smith also created controversy agreeing with Independence Party of Alberta Candidate Bob Blayone that prominent anti-vaccine advocates should be brought in to advise Alberta Health on pandemic response.

In the early days of her administration, the opposition NDP essentially released daily press statements painting Smith as a destabilizing force.  

After choosing and swearing in her cabinet in early October, Smith stated her plan to remove the current board of Alberta Health Services, citing their inability to increase ICU capacity four-fold during the early pandemic as a failure.

She promised to recruit more doctors and nurses to help ease staffing shortages and capacity issues at hospitals and emergency rooms by rehiring the two per cent of staff who refused a policy that health workers be vaccinated.

That policy was lifted last spring.

At her office opening, former conservative MP Lavar Payne, who more recently backed further right parties and vocally objected to COVID restrictions, said he felt Smith had won back rural Alberta for the UCP.

“My take is that if you can support 80 per cent of the platform, it looks good,” he told the News. 

More traditional conservatives too said they thought Smith would rejuvenate the party and prevent a projected strong showing by the NDP in the May 2023 election. 

“I think she’s smart and up to the job,” said former Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Lorne Taylor during a rally in the Hat on Oct. 30.

Frey received 60.6 per cent of the vote in the 2019 general election, the first under the current boundaries. 

Turnout in that race reached 66 per cent, following the province, though turnout is traditionally much lower in byelections.

In unofficial results, it appeared turnout Tuesday was about 37 per cent.

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HaroldP

Congratulations to Danielle Smith! Wow, what an incredible margin of win. You achieved way more votes that all the other candidates combined. You have begun a great victory to be followed by others in our 2023 election! Go Danielle, go UCP!

johnny57

Way to go Danielle! Now time to kick some Ottawa butt! Put Trudope and his authoritarian government back in their lane. The pendulum has just started swinging-back our way!

Southern Albertan

This:
“Hot take: Premier Danielle Smith finally wins a seat in Brooks-Medicine Hat – with an unimpressive 54.5% of the vote. The NDP’s Gwendolyn Dirk won the vote outright for the NDP within the boundaries of Medicine Hat. Is that a harbinger of things to come when Calgary residents get a chance to vote?”
http://www.albertapolitics.ca

Ben Matlock

At 55% this is not a victory the UCP will be overly pleased with. Yes, Smith won a majority and the margin between her and the NDP candidate looks impressive in isolation. However, in 2019 the UCP candidate won with 61% of the vote, in 2015 the UCP and Wildrose combined for 72% of the vote, and in 2012 the UCP and Widrose combined for 82% of the vote..

The NDP made substantial gains from 2012 to 2015, only to slide between 2015 and 2019, going from 24% to 18%, but this time around the NDP candidate, Gwendoline Dirk, received 27% of the vote.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ben Matlock
HaroldP

The by-election never gets the voter turn out, it was a no brainer Danielle was destined to win

A win is a win, but this was and will be a pattern of victories for the UCP who already have so many seats on the other side of the house.

Ben Matlock

Of course the turn out for by-elections is always lower than for general elections, but don’t forget we are talking about the percentage of the popular vote not the absolute number of votes cast. It’s also interesting to note that Smith lost in the City of Medicine Hat proper. I think it’s also telling that in her victory speech I understand she steered clear of any mention of COVID, COVID restrictions or debunked COVID therapies. Time will tell if that was a one-off or if she feels she has her base locked up and now it’s time to reach out to uncommitted voters.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ben Matlock
JimO

Smiths win was a given in the fact a turtle could have won if it was on the ballot. Aside from a recent anomaly when a NDPer got elected two elections ago it has always been a safe Conservative seat. Her views are that of the religious right and that is who gave their vote. Having been born in Lethbridge but lived and worked in Medicine Hat since I was 13 (moved back 4 yrs ago) I know how the religious vote in that city work their right wing fingers into who wins and does not. The fact Smith won by that % is in keeping with her support base so yes it was not a “Victory” in the true nature of the word.
Being that she is of the party currently in power and the leader of same party it remains to be seen if she uses that position to improve things for the long forgotten corner of the province. If not she will be thrown to curb and I suspect she will change ridings come next provincial election as her “true” riding selection will come up and once again Medicine Hat will be just another afterthought.

HaroldP

Oh, so the “religious vote” is somehow wrong in your mind? As for me and my household we too support the moral and ethically based candidates…. hopefully and prayerfully Alberta gets back to principles of days gone by….”Bible Bill”…..

JimO

You would have to know the politics of the city is held in control by a religious following in the Hat to know what I mean. Having run for office there and knowing how a group of finatics controled city hall I can say with certainty that they do control elections. This group is involved in who is selected to represent as conservative candidate in both federal and provincial elections. This same group used their following to corrupt the municipal government over the past 20 years and have attempted to control their implants at the higher levels of government representatives. When the implants do not do their bidding they have tried to replace them with another individual during the nomination process. Again you would have to know what has happened in the past to know this happens.
Having to personally known past conservative/Reform both MP and MLA for Medicine Hat I assure you this group of finatics set or attempt to set the agenda to meet their warped agendas..

HaroldP

“Fanatics” hmmm sounds like you are prejudice or tasting sour grapes!

JimO

Again….you do not know the dynamics behind the dirty politics that went on to make a statement. Hardly sour grapes.