Why is Danielle Smith talking about Ron Leech today?

- April 20th, 2012

Wildrose candidate Ron Leech said something on live radio last week which Wildrose’s opponent immediately jumped on, accusing him and, by extension, Wildrose, of being racist. Though he immediately apologized, polls after these comments show that Wildrose’s lead in the polls began to shrink. (They still lead by 10 points across the province.) So what do the campaign strategists in Wildrose do heading into the campaign’s final weekend? Should they push harder on their core message? Push harder with their attacks on the Progressive Conservatives? Or they do talk about Ron Leech?

Answer: They tried a bit of all three in their leader’s “message event” this morning though the emphasis was most certainly on Leech. With Leech standing near her this morning at a community centre in the riding, Calgary Elbow, held by PC Premier Alison Redford, Danielle Smith was asked why she chose to speak about Leech today? I’m travelling today (with other Ottawa-based reporters who are fascinated by the Alberta race) on Smith’s campaign bus and was in the room this morning to hear her answer that question. Here’s my transcript of her response to that question:

I know that Ron Leech felt sincerely apologetic when his comments were miscontrued earlier this week. And he made a statement but that didn’t seem to be good enough for some and I just wanted to make it super-clear that he as the support of his community behind him. He has 48 different cultural communities that are within his church and within his campaign and I don’t think that message is getting out. I asked Ron how things were going on his campaign and whether or not he had anyone quit his campaign because of the comments of this past week and he said, no actually, we’ve had more people join our campaign and I don’t think that that was getting out.

People understand that Ron Leech is a good man who’s been serving his community for the last 30 years, the kind of dollars that he sends to developing nations. His church alone has supported developing nations with $1.2 million worth of donated services, dollars, to be able to help them. He does ESL training. He has helped with settlement services and so I think we want to put this to rest once and for all. Doctor Leech made a comment this week that he felt sincerely apologetic for. He has the support of all the cultural communities in his area, on his campaign, and it has not wavered because they know he is a good man and he has made great inroads in his community. I think that that needs to be made perfectly clear.

Categories: Politics

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2 comments

  1. Curious says:

    Great. I understand that sometimes things come out the wrong way. It’s good to see he has support of such a diverse community.

    But what about Rev. Hunsberger? As a former Calgary Public School Trustee, why does Ms. Smith not see that there is something amiss in having a candidate who calls the Edmonton Public Schools wicked and profane for promoting “a safe, inclusive equitable and welcoming learning and teaching environment for all members of the school community.”?

  2. Ian Shaw says:

    I agree wicked and profane is strong language not all that different from the language used in the Keystone pipeline debate or the economic summit protests in Toronto. Passion does sometimes get expressed with force.
    However you completely warp the context [such a common practice] Mr. Hunsberger did not say providing ‘a safe, inclusive, equitable and welcoming learning and teaching environment for all members of the school community’ was wicked and profane. He was expressing an opinion about certain sexual behaviours and what he considered incorrect social dogma. You may not agree with that opinion but don’t lie when making a rebuttal.

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