NDP – Sooke News Mirror

Alberta Opposition NDP leader says Premier Danielle Smith made the province an international embarrassment by proclaiming those who weren’t vaccinated during COVID-19 faced the worst discrimination she has seen in her life.

Rachel Notley says the Premier of the United Conservative Party must withdraw his comment, apologize and be clear about his position on previous controversial statements, including that smoking is not necessarily bad for your health and that patients have control over their cancer at an early stage. .

“Over the past 48 hours, I have been overwhelmed by thousands and thousands of people who have contacted me and who feel deeply hurt and frankly a bit scared following the comments of our new Prime Minister,” he said. Notley said Thursday.

“We understand that hundreds of thousands of Albertans are discriminated against every day because of characteristics over which they have no choice.”

Notley said the story made international headlines, including one published online earlier Thursday in US magazine Forbes, which is published in various editions around the world.

“This is an article about Alberta in one of the most widely read business publications in the world,” Notley said.

“This is a story that damages Alberta’s reputation, and we will now have to spend months unraveling it.

Smith, 51, made the comment about discrimination at a news conference on Tuesday, hours after being sworn in as prime minister.

“(The unvaccinated) were the most discriminated group I have ever seen in my life,” she said.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a situation in my life where someone was fired from their job or wasn’t allowed to watch their kids play hockey or wasn’t allowed to visit a loved one. in long-term care or in hospital, not allowed to get on a plane to cross the country to see family or even cross the border.

Minority groups, medical professionals and some prime ministers across Canada condemned the remarks as ridiculous and insensitive, pointing out that during Smith’s lifetime there were still forced sterilizations, residential schools and bans on gay marriage. .

As the furor escalated on Wednesday, Smith’s office released a statement making it clear that she did not seek to downplay the experiences of other discriminated groups. The statement did not retract its initial comment or issue an apology.

Smith’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Smith won the leadership of Alberta’s ruling UCP last week to become the new premier on a promise to no longer require vaccines or health restrictions that violate individual freedoms.

A former journalist, Smith said in early 2021: “My entire adult life and career has been spent questioning authority, institutions and conventional wisdom.”

In a May 2003 column for the Calgary Herald newspaper, she questioned whether smoking was harmful to health. “Evidence shows that moderate cigarette smoking can reduce traditional disease risks by 75% or more,” she wrote.

In October 2012, as leader of the opposition Wildrose party, Smith declared that people in poverty should be fed beef contaminated with E. coli, so that the unsaleable product is not wasted.

“We all know meat is safe to eat if cooked properly,” Smith tweeted.

As a radio talk show host in 2020, she retweeted — and later apologized for doing so — a false claim that the drug hydroxychloroquine could beat COVID-19. A year later, she backed ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug for livestock that was touted and then debunked as a possible cure for COVID-19.

Last July, during the UCP leadership campaign, Smith released a video of his interview with a naturopath in which Smith says responsibility for early-stage cancer is within a person’s control. Patients and medical professionals called the comment deeply misinformed and cruel.

Opponents of Smith’s leadership criticized her, including one who had lost her son to cancer, and she apologized for the hurt she had caused.

She said she spoke “awkwardly” and meant that preventative health measures are just one more way to fight cancer at an early stage.

—Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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