With Alberta’s pre-election season in full-swing, molehills are becoming mountains and politicians are clinging to any issue they believe could help them score political points.
Kicking off this past week, Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths announced that Progressive Conservative MLAs would boycott an annual breakfast hosted by the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association after that organization’s President, Edmonton City Councillor Linda Sloan, criticized the provincial budget. Minister Griffiths claimed that Councillor-President Sloan’s criticisms were unfair, and in a tit-for-tat written letter, he declined the AUMA’s invitation to the meal.
The situation was quickly enflamed when Premier Alison Redford‘s Chief of Staff, Stephen Carter, tweeted that Councillor Sloan had lied, maliciously, by accusing the province of political bias in funding municipal projects. After an ensuing social media firestorm crossed into main stream media reporting, Mr. Carter issued an apology to Councillor Sloan.
Minister Griffiths then tweeted that he would attended the annual AUMA breakfast. Councillor Sloan, a former Liberal MLA, used Minister Griffiths’ u-turn as an opportunity to restate her claim that partisan interests have influence municipal grants. I expect this may be the first of many times the provincial Tories will have to face Councillor Sloan in her role with the AUMA.
Almost immediately after the story of Mr. Carter’s tweet began to die down, Tory caucus communications officer Jessica Jacobs-Mino found herself in hot water after a spat on Twitter with Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid. Her Twitter account has since been deleted.
Opposition politicians were not immune to this week’s pre-election overzealousness. Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman delivered a pitch perfect apology after a media release sent from his caucus wrongfully accused the Town of Penhold of illegally donating $609 to the Innisfail-Sylvan Lake PC association.
A quick rebuttal from Penhold Mayor Dennis Cooper revealed that the financial transaction was not an illegal donation, but a repayment for unused rent given to the town for use of its facilities. The Liberal accusation was the latest in a series of media releases accusing the Tories of being “warlords” for their part in the painfully-named “donation-gate.”