NDP leader Rachel Notley has been accused of politicizing the Alberta wildfires by continuing to campaign during a state of emergency and not condemning a tweet by one of her candidates that mocked the disaster.
The province has been battling more than 100 wildfires since early May, forcing the evacuation of nearly 30,000 people and burning 400,000 hectares of land. Premier Danielle Smith declared a state of emergency on May 6 and urged Albertans to support each other and the firefighters.
At the same time, Notley has not suspended her campaign activities, despite criticism that she risks politicizing the disaster response. Despite this, Notley has continued travelling across the province, holding rallies and making campaign promises.
When confronted about the decision to continue campaigning last week, Notley claimed that campaigning was appropriate during an election period.
“As long as we keep a very close eye on where things are at, and ensure the safety and security of those 30,000 Albertans and the communities within which they live is not in any way compromised by the fact that we’re in an election campaign, then I think we also need to continue our conversation with Albertans,” said Notley.
Notley’s politicization of the crisis has sparked the ire of some Albertans who have taken to social media to express their criticism towards the NDP leader.
“I don’t think the rest of Canada understands just how bad things are in Alberta right now. The counties surrounding Edmonton are engulfed in wildfire and Rachel Notley’s election strategy is bragging about the time she threw a hissy-fit to get the Transmountain Pipeline built,” said Twitter user Lexi.
Notley’s campaign has also continued to go on the offensive against Smith. Last week, the Alberta NDP pledged to release a “shocking video” falsely claiming that the UCP leader wants to “dismantle public healthcare” – a claim Smith has denied.
In response, some have accused Notley of engaging in divisive politics while Alberta faces a crisis.
“So glad Notley isn’t wasting her time worrying about Albertans who are dealing with wildfires. Notley’s main focus is her and how to get your vote. I wonder how much of this shocking information will be true? Notley is in desperation mode. What’s shocking is how low she will go,Notley doesn’t want to have Trudeau or Singh around because she thinks we don’t know who she works for,” wrote Twitter user Bradshaw in response to the NDP.
Notley also faced backlash for not denouncing a tweet by NDP candidate Rob Miyashiro, who retweeted a tweet that claimed the wildfires were “a metaphor” for the UCP “burning down” the province.