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Smith hosts first local event since campaign launched

Posted on May 25, 2023 by admin

By Collin Gallant

Southern Alberta Newspapers

More than 300 supporters crowded the parking lot of United Conservative election headquarters in Medicine Hat to hear Danielle Smith in the first campaign event in the riding for the UCP Leader.

“Here in southeast Alberta we know rural Alberta will play a continued role in the growth of our province,” she told a May 17 crowd in the parking lot of the Third Street office.

That will be at risk, she claimed, if the New Democrats form government following the province-wide campaign that will conclude May 29.

Introduced by Cypress-Medicine Hat UCP candidate Justin Wright, Smith thanked teams of local door-knockers who distributed 1,500 lawn signs, as well as her local campaign manager Michaela Frey.

Frey held the seat up under last fall’s byelection that saw new party leader Smith beat current opponents Gwendoline Dirk of the NDP, and Barry Morishita, the Alberta Party leader, in the Brooks-Medicine Hat riding.

“I thought it was important to be here for both forums (May 16) in Brooks and (May 17) in Medicine Hat so I could hear from people and find out what they think are the issues that will turn this election,” Smith told reporters afterwards.

“I think we have the right strategy and the right plan, we’re focusing on jobs and the economy. That’s what we run on and that’s what we’ll deliver.”

The campaign is more than halfway complete, has been hampered by large wildfires in the province – the smoke from which blanketed the Hat on May 17 – and had largely involved big policy and infrastructure promises in centres other than the Hat.

Smith said that is the “whole” picture, and Medicine Hatters would benefit from her party’s general economic plan. Infrastructure specifics include her support for Medicine Hat Catholic School Board’s plan to and amalgamate several schools, replacing them in new facility, a new junior high in Brooks and a health centre in Bassano.

“I think Highway 3 twinning is going to affect everyone,” she said, of a new plan to study staging construction in a 10-year plan. “Think about the importance of getting a kick-start in the community. The thing I hear from Medicine Hatters is that the economic recovery has not been even.

“Twinning and the agrifood tax credit will generate activity in this part of the province, and we’ll expand that tax credit … to manufacturing, which will definitely help this area, too.”

Smith also said hers is the party for ag producers and taxpayers.

The NDP plan would eliminate the small business tax, while raising the general corporate rate from 8 per cent at present to 11 per cent – one point lower than where they were set in the 2015 budget and would still be the lowest in the country.

That’s still three points higher than where they were set by the Jason Kenney-led UCP government in 2020 – advertised as a massive investment and industrial strategy.

Smith believes changing corporate tax rates would threaten projects as corporations seek the best tax advantage.

The UCP opened the campaign with a promise to lower rates in the lowest tax bracket to eight per cent, thereby providing a sliding scale benefit to all individual taxpayers.

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