An unflattering photo of Danielle Smith in an image released online by the Premier's Communications Office.

An image released online by the Premier’s Communications Office.

MLA pay remains an uncomfortable issue for Alberta’s political leaders. Yesterday, MLA’s sitting on the Member Services Committee voted to freeze the annual cost-of-living increase to their salary and housing allowance ahead of provincial budget release on March 7, 2013.

“The rationale is clearly we want to lead by example,” Edmonton-Riverview Tory MLA Steve Young told the Edmonton Journal.

The decision to freeze MLA pay happens as rhetoric about politician and doctor pay has reached an all-time high (though the conflict is really about control).

A Wildrose image picturing Premier Alison Redford in a less than flattering light.

A Wildrose image picturing Premier Alison Redford in a less than flattering light.

Yesterday’s pay vote also resulted in more online mudslinging on Twitter’s #ableg hashtag, though this time from an unexpected source.

The Twitter account operated by Premier Alison Redford‘s Communications Staff  – @ABPremierComms – tweeted an image featuring an incredibly unflattering photo of Wildrose leader Danielle Smith with a quote she made at a meeting on June 7, 2012 (see image at the top of this post).

While distasteful, the reaction from the Premier’s Office is not unprovoked.

Over the past year, the official opposition Wildrose Caucus has released numerous images and info-graphics on Twitter and Facebook filled with harsh criticisms and unflattering photos of Premier Redford.

The harsh negative politics and aggressive use of images and info-graphics has helped the Wildrose Party cultivate a significant online following, who have helped spread their message through social media.