Alberta premier poses for photo with protesters charged in Ottawa convoy
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is under fire for once again appearing to associate with people facing serious criminal charges.
Photos at a Wednesday night UCP event Smith standing beside two Albertans charged with offences related to the Ottawa convoy.
One of the people in the picture, James Bauder, is a "Freedom Convoy" organizer.
He's awaiting trial on charges of mischief to obstruct property, disobeying a lawful court order and obstructing/resisting a peace officer.
Bauder helped pen a letter last year asking the Governor General to remove democratically elected officials – including the prime minister – and to overturn vaccine mandates.
His wife, Sandra Collins Bauder, is also facing charges in relation to her convoy participation.
Both can be spotted beside a smiling Smith in the photo.
James Bauder and Sandra Collins Bauder post (left) pose in a photo with Danielle Smith (centre). (Facebook) "You would think that those kind of associations would be something that she might want to avoid on the eve of an election," Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams said.
"I would've expected her to be a bit more careful about associating with the people that represent a far-right fringe."
CTV News requests to speak with the premier in regards to the photo were not answered.
Neither were multiple questions about the event and her association with attendees.
Instead, the UCP sent a short statement saying the premier took part in a "routine photo line-up" with nearly 200 people.
"The premier does not personally know these individuals," the statement reads.
It made no mention of Bauder's views.
Former NHL star Theoren Fleury, who has posted controversial anti-vaccine rhetoric online in the past, was also at the event.
"There's the judgement question," Williams said
"There's also the question of Danielle Smith's own values. I don't know if people would find it believable that (she) doesn't know who James Bauder or Theo Fleury are, but even if she doesn't, there should be people around her that are making sure she understands."
"The premier is siding with those with extreme views and she needs to explain why," NDP Justice Critic Irfan Sabir said. "It's a pattern of behaviour that the premier has shown over and over again."
PRIVATE CAMPAIGN EVENT
Wednesday's event was hosted for UCP candidate Eric Bouchard, who is hoping to take over Jason Kenney's old seat in Calgary-Lougheed.
Both Williams and fellow Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt say Bouchard is linked to right-wing group Take Back Alberta.
They both allege TBA has already taken a number of positions of power within the party and is backing multiple candidates in May's election.
The event in question was held at a venue that previously hosted a Calgary TBA meeting.
Bouchard has also drawn criticism in the past for a strongly worded tweet attacking Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra.
In it, he called the councillor a “sick f**k” and a “a******”.
He has since scrubbed his Twitter account of all content and hasn’t responded to a request for comment from CTV News.