Recall Danielle Smith campaign hits the streets
The movement to unseat former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith ramped up on Saturday in the riding of Highwood.
Earlier this month, thousands of people signed an online recall petition following Smith’s departure from the Wildrose Party to join the governing PCs.
A grassroots movement of more than 20 people canvassed homes in Okotoks, High River and other towns in the MLA’s constituency with hard copies of the petition in an attempt to force a by-election. The doorknocking was reminiscent of Smith’s own efforts of years past which contributed to the success of the Wildrose Party, leading to their status as Alberta’s Official Opposition.
The Recall Danielle volunteers did not have to look far to locate disenfranchised voters.
“This whole crossing over has just broke everything apart,” said High River resident Jack Sluice.
Chris Derrick and Malcolm Achtman were two of the doorknockers canvassing in High River. Derrick says Smith’s crossing of the Legislature floor left voters in Highwood without a true representative.
“That may be 25,000 or 35,000 votes that have just been chucked in the trash,’ said Derrick. “They (the Wildrose defectors) just said ‘We're going to do things our way’ and that doesn't sit well with me.”
The online petition was posted by two University of Calgary students in the days before the Christmas holidays. The site received 7,500 signatures from voters across the political spectrum, people who were angry with Smith’s floor crossing and its potential impact on provincial politics.
“It's important to have some kind of an opposition,” said Malcolm Achtman. “It seemed to me the Liberals should be the opposition but they're so low on the political totem pole they wouldn't even be the opposition as such.”
Should the Wildrose defectors refuse to face a byelection, Chris Derrick says it would contradict their former stance on Right of Recall legislation.
“It’s really putting the brass tacks, the money where the mouth is.”
Highwood MLA Danielle Smith released the following statement on Saturday afternoon in response to the Recall Danielle campaign.
"I am continuing to gauge the reaction from my constituents and will be doing more consultation in the new year. At the moment I am focused on two of the biggest issues in my constituency: helping to resolve outstanding DRP claims in High River and the need for a water pipeline for Okotoks. I'll continue to do the job I was elected to do, which is to represent the residents of Highwood to the best of my ability."
Recall Danielle petition organizers say they plan to present the petition to Danielle Smith at her constituency office. The group hopes the collected signatures, which equate to nearly one fifth of the votes Smith received in the previous provincial election, will prompt the MLA to consider stepping down.