Danielle Smith has officially been sworn in as the 19th Premier of Alberta. In a ceremony Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor Salma Lakhani said she had received Jason Kenney’s resignation as premier and invited Smith to form government.
Smith became leader of the United Conservative Party last week, getting about 54 per cent of the vote on the sixth ballot. After being sworn in, Smith spoke to the media and wasted no time when it came to giving hints as to what the early days of her time in office may look like.
Premier Smith said, while she appreciates the work the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has done, she will be developing a new team of public health advisors, suggesting that she will be looking to replace current CMOH Dr. Deena Hinshaw. Smith also spoke about potential changes to the Alberta Human Rights Act, suggesting that vaccination status could be covered under protection from discrimination, arguing that the community that faced the most restrictions on their freedoms over the last year were those who made a choice not to be vaccinated.
“I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a situation in my lifetime where a person was fired from their job, or not allowed to watch their kids play hockey… or get on a plane to travel across the country,” she said. “They have been the most discriminated against group that I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime.”
She is now running in a by-election in Brooks-Medicine Hat to gain a seat in the legislature on November 8th. The Alberta NDP has nominated candidate Gwendoline Dirk, with former Brooks Mayor and Alberta Party Leader Barry Morishita also nominated for the riding. The by-election was called following the resignation of UCP MLA Michaela Frey last week.