MEDICINE HAT, Alta. — Incoming Alberta premier Danielle Smith says she will seek the southeastern seat of Brooks-Medicine Hat in a byelection, despite not living in the area and there already being a seat open in Calgary.
Smith, who won the leadership of the United Conservative Party on Thursday, said she wanted to run in a rural seat because she thinks rural issues need better representation at the highest level of government.
“The main reason I am so committed to running in a rural riding is I know that our rural ridings didn’t feel like they had the strongest voice at the table during the last years of the COVID pandemic,” Smith said Saturday in Medicine Hat when she announced her intention to run there.
The move was expected after Brooks-Medicine Hat legislature member Michaela Frey, who had earlier signalled she did not intend to run in the 2023 provincial election, resigned her seat Friday.
Smith lives in High River, just outside Calgary, and pundits had wondered whether she would seek the vacant seat of Calgary-Elbow, which has been open since former jobs minister Doug Schweitzer resigned from cabinet and left politics in August.
On Thursday, NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley chided Smith for being scared to run in the already-open Calgary-Elbow constituency and called on her to declare a byelection in that riding as soon as possible.
But Smith said Saturday she would not be calling a byelection in Calgary-Elbow, explaining there’s a convention that byelections aren’t needed if a general election is less than a year away.
“There may be other candidates who are also stepping away, and so I think that rather than have a rolling series of byelections, we may as well just stick with the convention of having the adjacent MLA take care of the issues in the riding and we’ll stick with the fixed election date of May 29,” said Smith.
Calgary-Elbow was once the seat of former premier Ralph Klein and was won by Schweitzer in 2019 with over 44 per cent of the vote, well ahead of the nearest challenger, Janet Eremenko of the NDP, at just over 23 per cent.
Frey won Brooks-Medicine Hat in 2019 with just over 60 per cent of the vote.
Smith has said she would be sworn in as Alberta’s 19th premier on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office issued a statement Saturday saying he’d spoken with Smith on Friday to congratulate her on the leadership victory and to “discuss key areas for cooperation.”
The statement noted they discussed “energy and climate change, and opportunities for Alberta and Canada to become reliable sources of energy and natural resources in a net-zero world.”
Smith, who on Friday said she believed she could have a constructive relationship with Ottawa if it treats Alberta the same as Quebec, said Saturday that her government will re-challenge the federal retail carbon tax in court.
The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the tax in 2021 following challenges from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.
“It’s not like double jeopardy that if the Supreme Court makes a decision you can never challenge it again. If there’s new information that would change the argument, we can re-litigate,” she said.
Smith also said she would be meeting later in the day with Drew Barnes, a UCP member representing Cypress-Medicine Hat who was kicked out of caucus and has been sitting as an independent for criticizing outgoing premier and UCP leader Jason Kenney.
“I’m very hopeful that our caucus will invite him back in,” Smith said.
If successful in the byelection, Smith said she will make frequent trips to the Brooks-Medicine Hat area and hold town halls to make sure she stays in touch with the constituents.
Speaking at Saturday’s announcement, Frey said she was proud to have served the riding and would support Smith in any way she could.
“We need somebody who understands that rural Alberta needs to be treated fairly. We need someone who understands that Alberta needs a strong place in Confederation, and without a strong Alberta, there is no strong Canada,” Frey said.
Gwendoline Dirk, a retired teacher, was nominated to be the NDP’s candidate in Brooks-Medicine Hat in June.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 8, 2022
The Canadian Press
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What lies ahead for Sask. politics after fall sitting begins in controversy, ends with $500 cheques in mail – CBC.ca
The fall sitting of the Saskatchewan Legislature started with controversy and ended quietly on Wednesday with confirmation $500 affordability cheques have been mailed.
The past seven weeks have seen the typical disagreements on what the government’s priorities ought to be, but it began with an incident that made international headlines and led to an apology by the premier.
On Oct. 26, Lt.-Gov. Russell Mirasty delivered the government’s throne speech. Seated in the crowd was convicted killer and former Saskatchewan cabinet minister Colin Thatcher.
Thatcher, 84, was found guilty in 1984 of the first-degree murder of his ex-wife, JoAnn Wilson, who was found beaten and shot to death in the garage of her home the previous year.
He was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 25 years and granted full parole in November 2006.
Thatcher was invited by Thunder Creek MLA Lyle Stewart, who initially defended the decision, before calling it an “error in judgment.”
The Saskatchewan Party government relieved Stewart of his legislative secretary duties. Five days after the throne speech, Premier Scott Moe apologized.
On Wednesday, deputy premier Donna Harpauer met with reporters, as Moe was in Washington, D.C.
“It was a mistake, one that the premier addressed on behalf of all of us, but we are very focused on the government agenda and got back to our agenda very quickly,” she said.
NDP Leader Carla Beck said the invitation was a “slap in the face” to survivors of domestic violence, those that work in the field, and the assembly.
“We’re looking at a government that is out of touch,” the Opposition leader said.
“The fact that they did not see a problem with inviting a convicted wife killer to the legislature on throne speech day and then took five days and international embarrassment to even table the weakest of apologies,” said Beck.
“It sent a terrible message in a province that has twice the rate of domestic violence in the country.
Saskatchewan First Act
A day after Moe’s apology, Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre introduced the Saskatchewan First Act, which the government said will confirm the province’s autonomy and jurisdiction over its natural resources.
“This isn’t about fed-bashing for kicks,” Eyre said on Nov. 1.
“This is about quantifying, assessing, and defining economic harm. It’s about our place in this federation and our responsibility to the people of Saskatchewan to foster economic growth.”
The Saskatchewan First Act has been overshadowed by new Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act which was introduced on Nov. 28 and is already going to be tweaked by government.
On Wednesday, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations called for the proposed Alberta Sovereignty and the Saskatchewan First acts to be withdrawn.
Moe and Eyre have said the Saskatchewan act is inclusive.
“It doesn’t change the intentions the government has to include all Saskatchewan people, Indigenous or otherwise, in the economy,” Moe said last week.
“What the act is focused on is to make sure we have the focus on Saskatchewan so we can collectively benefit.”
Last week, Beck and members of her caucus received some criticism for voting to move the bill to committee.
Beck said it is not clear what the bill accomplishes.
“My observation is that this was an act that was designed to have a political motivation behind it, but really materially wouldn’t have had that much of an impact on the people of this province. It reasserts rights that already exist.”
Beck said she has concerns about a lack of consultation with Indigenous and Métis communities.
$500 cheques not enough, says Opposition
Beck and the Opposition spent much of the sitting calling on the government to spend more to help people facing increased cost-of-living.
The government said it had responded with its decision to spend $450 million to send $500 cheques to more than 900,000 adults.
After an initial delay in getting the cheques mailed, they have been sent to people who filed their income tax by Aug. 31.
Harpauer said Wednesday the government is addressing needs by spending in areas of need like health care and education.
“We have committed additional dollars in a plan for health care for recruitment, retention, training and incentivizing more workers, recognizing that there is stress in the health-care system,” she said.
“We also addressed stresses within education by providing additional dollars for inflation for our school divisions as well as an increase in student enrolment.”
Beck said the government’s priorities do not match the Opposition’s, mentioning the government’s decision to create a Crown corporation, the Saskatchewan Revenue Agency.
The bill to create the agency was introduced this week. The government said its aim is to “pursue greater autonomy in tax collection.”
“We think this is a priority,” Harpauer said.
“The piece of legislation I introduced this week is a very high-level piece of legislation that won’t come to fruition for a few years. But at some point, we do want to explore it, and this lets the public know what our agenda is.”
Beck said the public was not looking for a new tax collection and administration agency.
“There’s a very big distinction between the priorities that we brought forward because these are concerns that people in the province have,” she said.
“The government seems very pleased with in this building I don’t think translates very well to the people out there who are struggling to just get by right now.”
Harpauer disagreed, saying the proposed revenue agency is a response to what the government has heard.
“We are listening to stakeholders around the province, to different groups as well as our own constituents. This isn’t just coming from nowhere. This is something that people are raising concerns about.”
The Many Ad Bans of Disney+: No Booze, No Politics, No Netflix – BNN Bloomberg
(Bloomberg) — Walt Disney Co. debuts the ad-supported version of its Disney+ streaming service Thursday with strict rules: No alcohol commercials, no political spots and no ads from competitors.
The new service, which is priced at $8 a month, has signed up 100 sponsors across a wide swath of business, including finance, retail and automotive, Rita Ferro, Disney Media’s president of advertising, said in an interview. The company intentionally left some slots open to accommodate marketer interest after the product’s debut, she said.
Although Disney’s position on some of the restrictions may change over time, the Burbank, California-based company will shut out rivals including Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video to prioritize its own shows and films, Ferro said.
“Our content is going to be the only thing you see on our platforms,” she said.
The ad-supported version of Disney’s flagship streaming platform will have 4 minutes of commercials per hour or less, or about half the ad load of Hulu, its sister streaming service. It’s becoming available at a tough time for the media industry at large amid a pullback in ad spending and fears of an imminent recession.
On Tuesday, shares of CBS owner Paramount Global fell 7% after Chief Executive Officer Bob Bakish said the company’s advertising sales this quarter will be “a bit below” the third quarter in a “challenging” market.
The comments echoed those of Jeff Shell, chief executive officer of Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal division, who said the advertising market is “definitely getting worse.” Last week, AMC Networks Inc. announced plans to fire 20% of its US staff, Warner Bros Discovery Inc.’s CNN division laid off employees, and NPR said it would “severely restrict” hiring after a sharp drop in sponsorship revenue.
So far, Disney has been less affected than peers by the wider downturn in ad spending and has benefited from a “flight to quality,” Ferro said.
“There’s no question that the marketplace is challenged, and there’s no question there are more challenging times to come,” Ferro said. “But we have not necessarily seen the slowdown that we have seen in the marketplace.”
With the debut of the ad-backed Disney+, the price of the commercial-free version is increasing by $3 to $11 a month. Achieving profitability in Disney’s direct-to-consumer division, which lost $1.5 billion last quarter mainly due to expenses at Disney+, is a priority for the company.
Disney shares fell by 13% on Nov. 9, the worst daily drop since 2001, after the company reported the loss. They were down 41% this year through the close Wednesday.
In response, Disney on Nov. 20 ousted Chief Executive Officer Bob Chapek and brought back longtime CEO Bob Iger. Iger told employees at the first town hall held after his return that the company will prioritize breaking even on its streaming initiatives over subscriber growth.
As of last quarter, Disney had about 236 million subscribers across all of its online TV businesses, including Hulu and ESPN+. Chapek said at the time that losses had peaked in the direct-to-consumer division, which Disney expects to reach profitability in 2024.
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.
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