CALGARY, Alberta (LifeSiteNews) –– At least two independent Canadian journalists were escorted out of a press conference on Monday after Alberta’s former New Democratic Party (NDP) premier and current candidate Rachel Notley had security guards physically remove them.
The Counter Signal’s Keean Bexte was one of the reporters physically removed from the press conference, saying he suspects the ousting has to do with his intention to ask Notley about her views surrounding police defunding amid the current crime wave in the province. Bexte is the same reporter who just weeks ago was met with silence after asking Calgary’s mayor Jyoti Gondek about her past support for defunding law enforcement now that her city is facing a crisis of crime.
A video posted by Bexte documents what happened on Monday, showing security guards restraining him before removing him from the press conference location.
In what many are calling irony, Notley had just the day before proclaimed on social media that she would “take media questions … as I have done for 15 years as an MLA, nearly 9 years as Alberta NDP leader, four years as Premier and 4 years as Opposition leader.”
She did this after current Alberta premier Danielle Smith of the United Conservative Party (UCP) said she would limit media questions to only one per reporter, with no follow-ups, in the lead-up to the Alberta provincial election which will be held on May 29.
Said Bexte of the incident, “[Notley] promised to take questions from the media, but said later that she only meant ‘mainstream’ outlets. My questions, it seems, were not of interest to the NDP leader.”
“This incident is insulting. Not to me, but to everyone who reads and watches The Counter Signal. Notley wants to make it a crime just to ask a question,” added Bexte in an email to his followers.
Of note is that Bexte says he is “accredited as a Provincial Reporter by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.”
Rachel Notley skewered by premier, other journalists
In response to the footage, Smith took to Twitter yesterday to say the incident was “unreal.”
— Danielle Smith (@ABDanielleSmith) April 17, 2023
The UCP’s “War Room” Twitter account also reacted to the incident after a user said there was a delay with the press conference because of having to deal with “unaccredited media.”
— UCP War Room (@UCPWarRoom) April 17, 2023
Rebel News, who had their reporter Alex Dhaliwal removed from the same press conference, likewise blasted Notley for the move.
“Notley accuses Premier Smith of dodging questions but she removes independent journalists to avoid being held to account,” wrote the independent outlet.
Notley held the press conference to assert that should she win the coming election, she would fund the police, most likely due to a rise in violence in Alberta and the fact that some NDP nominees have openly stated in the past that the police should be defunded.
Alberta’s two largest cities, Calgary, and Edmonton, as well as mid-size cities such as Red Deer and Lethbridge, have seen an uncharacteristic surge in crime in recent months.
In Calgary specifically, many have pointed to the fact that in 2021, when Gondek, who is now mayor, was a councilor, she voted to defund the police by $20 million.
In response to the rise in crime, Smith announced that 100 street cops would be hired through funding from the province to aid law enforcement in Calgary and Edmonton. The stipulation for the funding is that the money must be used for street cops only.
Smith blamed some of the rising crime affecting Alberta cities on the federal government’s “catch and release” bail system, in which violent offenders are often released back onto the streets shortly after being apprehended.
“This starts with the federal government reforming its broken catch-and-release bail system and includes us working with cities and police services to fight back against criminals,” she said.
Notley, who is vocally pro-abortion, served as Alberta’s premier from 2015 to 2019, and while in power her government targeted faith-based institutions, including publicly funded Catholic and Christian schools.
In 2018, David Eggen, Notley’s then-education minister, went as far as demanding that faith-based schools purge religious content from their policies.
More recently, during the COVID-19 so-called pandemic, Notley had suggested that the province enact a door-to-door COVID vaccine campaign. She was also a vocal proponent of lockdowns as a means to control the virus.
As for her current campaign, Notley has vowed that should her NDP win the coming election, all forms of “birth control” will be free for Albertans.
As for Smith, while she takes a pro-freedom approach to COVID, even once saying that the “unvaccinated” were the “most discriminated against” group she’s seen in her lifetime, she too takes a liberal approach to many social issues.
As previously reported by LifeSiteNews, many of Smith’s views, including those surrounding gay “marriage” and public-funding for abortion, remain at odds with traditional conservative values, a fact that has made her a target of the province’s largest pro-life organization.