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Smith's victory in Brooks-Medicine Hat could mark a 'pivot' in her priorities, experts suggest


Alberta Premier Danielle Smith won her seat in the legislature in a byelection on Tuesday night, but political experts say it wasn't the landslide victory she was expecting – something that could suggest a shift in the leader's game plan.

According to the unofficial results from 10:30 p.m., Smith claimed the win with 54.5 per cent of the vote – 6,923 of the votes cast.

The next nearest competitor was the NDP's Gwendoline Dirk, who secured 26.7 per cent or 3,393 votes while Alberta Party leader Barry Morishita had 2,098 votes or 16.5 per cent of the vote.

"It's not surprising that Danielle Smith won," said Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams in an interview with CTV Morning Live Calgary.

"I think it's not great news for her that she won by a reduced margin – she's the premier as opposed to a first-time candidate and didn't get as much as the UCP candidate in the general election."

It was clear there was a challenge for Smith, Williams says, particularly when it comes to smaller municipalities.

"I think that Danielle Smith realizes – as she said in her speech last night – that there's work to be done and she has to work to persuade particularly urban voters that she as premier and her party are the best choice for Albertans going forward," she said.

Both cities in the byelection went to her opponents – the NDP claimed victory in Medicine Hat proper while Morishita won the popular vote in Brooks.

"Even small municipalities might be a challenge for Smith and that's one of the things she's going to have to tack towards. That's why a lot of people are expecting to see her tack a little bit more to the centre and address some of the concerns that are on the front of mind of Albertans," she said.


Williams says while the outcome of the byelection will see Smith back in legislature, there are rumours she could be leaning more toward the priorities for Albertans rather than some of the promises she made during her leadership campaign.

"We're hearing rumours there is going to be a pivot – that she recognizes the path to a potential victory in the next election requires that she address the concerns that Albertans have. Those, of course, being inflation, obviously health care and education.

"Those are key priorities for Albertans that she hasn't addressed significantly up until this point."

Williams says there is a decent amount of money left for her government to work on solutions for those issues, but wonders if that will be enough.

There’s only about six months to go before the next general election. Top Stories

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