Last week was a bumpy ride for Premier Alison Redford on the campaign trail.
To begin, two election polls were not flattering. One showed Danielle Smith forming the next majority government, while the other put the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party running neck-and-neck.
Following that, Redford had to scramble twice to mend fences, one strained by one of her ministers, and the other by a Tory worker.
The accuracy of political polls is frequently questioned.
Much depends on what you’re willing to believe. If a poll reflects favourably, you may consider it credible. If it reflects badly, its credibility is questioned.
Accurate or not, the results are food for thought and should not be swept under the carpet as irrelevant.
Redford’s next task was dealing with Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk who, during a conference call in Airdrie, urged voters to phone their MLA Rob Anderson and tell him to quit criticizing Lukaszuk’s stand on educational matters.
Anderson is the Wildrose education critic in the legislature.
When callers asked the minister about additional funding for schools in Airdrie, or lack thereof, he responded: “You know what I am really itching to say it, so I will, even though I shouldn’t, but the first thing you can do, actually, in Airdrie is to call your MLA and ask him not to oppose me in the legislature every day on considering new ways for funding structure. That really is the problem.”
Lukaszuk, after 11 years in the legislature, should have known better.
He was walking a fine line, within a razor’s edge of promoting harassment against another member of the legislature. He quickly backtracked, admitting the statement was “unprofessional.”
But the opposition parties didn’t let it go. They filed a complaint against Lukaszuk to Alberta’s Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.
Then on Friday, a Tory worker spouted off on Twitter that Wildrose Leader Smith was not qualified to comment on family issues because she had no children.
Amanda Wilkie, an assistant to the executive director in Redford’s Southern Alberta office, was responding to Smith promising more help and money for families with children in school.
Wilkie tweeted: “If @ elect Danielle likes young and growing families so much, why doesn’t she have children of her own? #wrp family pack = insincere #abvote.”
When met with a barrage of complaints on Twitter, she said “Fine, I apologize.”
Angry tweeters called the apology hollow and insincere. Later, reports said Wilkie was fired, others said she resigned.
Smith responded, saying she and her husband have a son from his previous marriage, and that family is very important to her. She further explained she found she was physically incapable of having children, after seeking help from the Calgary Regional Fertility Clinic.
Some might excuse Wilkie’s comments as that of an overzealous Redford supporter. But she didn’t do her homework, and she should have been able to appreciate exactly what she said.
The tweet ended up as a slap to families incapable of having children.
And Lukaszuk’s unprofessional comments could sway voters concerned about the education of their children.
And the polls say a bumpy road is ahead for the premier, believe them or not.
Rick Zemanek is an Advocate editor.