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UCP blasts new NDP leader Nenshi with attack ads; Smith says he has no policy


The UCP has come out swinging at new Alberta NDP leader Naheed Nenshi in a series of attack ads.

In one of the television ads, posted to the party's YouTube channel, Nenshi is pegged as "Justin Trudeau's choice for Alberta."

It then shows a picture of Nenshi about to embrace the prime minister for a hug, with a voiceover saying, "That's Nenshi helping Justin Trudeau defeat Stephen Harper in the 2015 federal election."

The ad goes on to say, "We've had enough of Trudeau in Ottawa, we don't need one in Alberta. Naheed Nenshi, Trudeau's choice for Alberta."

The attack ads come on the heels of Nenshi securing 86 per cent of Alberta NDP membership votes last weekend, during the leadership convention.

"This was not surprising at all," said political scientist Duane Bratt at Mount Royal University.

"Nenshi has been laying fire against Smith, and now that he's the new leader, they're returning fire."

Bratt says attack advertisements can have success in crafting a message to voters.

"Worked on Stéphane Dion, they worked very well against Michael Ignatieff, but they didn't have the profile and the track record that Naheed Nenshi does," Bratt said.

"So we'll have to see if they're just playing to the choir, or if they're actually convincing undecided voters."

Premier Danielle Smith, asked about Nenshi becoming her new opposition leader, says Nenshi needs to learn more about the provincial landscape.

"I'm disappointed because he says he likes to do politics in full sentences. I haven't seen any full sentences out of him through the course of his leadership," said Smith on Wednesday.

"He's got no ideas, no policies, says he wants to repeal all of our legislation, but he won't be specific about what he wants to repeal."

Smith says she believes Nenshi has a lot of work to do to focus on provincial matters.

"I'm more than happy to debate the opposition leader on policy, he just doesn't have anything to offer."

On Thursday, CTV cameras caught up with the premier in Calgary, and she reiterated her message.

"I hope at some point, he decides to discuss policy rather than just personal insults and attacks because I am very policy-based," Smith said.

"I will talk to anybody about good ideas. I just haven't seen any coming from his campaign. There was a pretty ideas-free leadership race that he ran and he hasn't changed since he got elected. So at some point, maybe he'll be familiar enough with the provincial issues in order to formulate some policy ideas. And when he does, I'm right there to be able to talk to him about them."

Bratt agrees Nenshi shied away from policy during his campaign, but does not agree entirely with the premier.

"He ran a policy-lite campaign," Bratt said.

"It was all about win ability but to say he doesn't know anything about Alberta politics, I think that's really unfair for someone who was mayor of the largest city in the province for 11 years."

The UCP funded the ad campaign but would not say how much the ads cost.

Nenshi was unavailable Thursday to immediately respond to Smith's comments before CTV's deadline but did respond to the ads in a 90-second video on social media.

"They are nothing, if not predictable," Nenshi said.

"I said for a long time that Danielle Smith and the UCP government only know how to do two things. They know how to pick fights and they know how to waste money. And now here they are picking a fight with me and wasting big bucks on ads doing so. What do you think they're so scared of?"

Nenshi says the UCP is not focused on education and a federal dental plan.

"They're trying to define me for you but they can't do it because you know me, I've been around," Nenshi said.

"And Lord knows, no one has ever accused me of being quiet and I am proud of what we've built together."

Nenshi says he is in no rush to secure a seat through a by-election in the legislature, with the next provincial election slated for 2027. Top Stories

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