A third party advertiser created to promote Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is sending out automated text messages criticizing Danielle Smith’s candidacy for the United Conservative Party leadership.

Some Albertans received text messages from Shaping Alberta’s Future on Saturday warning potential voters that Smith is a “conservative of convenience.” The text provides a link to the organization’s website, which published an article questioning Smith’s conservative values. 

In the article, Shaping Alberta’s Future says a “true conservative” would oppose tax hikes and support conservative social issues but Smith’s record “flips that script.” The UCP offers room for discussion, but Smith plays a “game of avoidance” by declaring herself a libertarian on social issues, the organization alleges. 

“For years, Danielle Smith has called herself a conservative and is running on that same platform for UCP leadership. But there’s a big difference between talking conservative and living it.”

According to its website, Shaping Alberta’s Future was formed to promote Kenney and the United Conservative Party. It’s been registered as a third party advertiser with Elections Alberta since 2018.

Some Albertans posted screenshots of the text message they received and a screenshot of Shaping Alberta’s Future’s website to social media on Saturday. 

The third party group says Smith does not offer clear messaging on her views on abortion, pointing to her comments in CTV News Edmonton after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion nationwide.

Smith wrote at the time, “I am pro-choice, and that includes supporting a person’s right to make choices on what to do with their own body, such as medical treatments and vaccines.”

Shaping Alberta’s Future says this response is a “vague message that doesn’t help UCP members understand how those beliefs translate into policy.”

In response to the attack, the Smith campaign said it’s “focused on putting out a positive message, based on good policy, to every corner of the province.”

“That’s our focus right now and will continue to be throughout the remainder of the campaign,” the campaign said in a statement to True North. 

Shaping Alberta’s Future also took aim at Smith’s fiscal policy, pointing to a 2020 column she published in the Calgary Herald calling for a provincial sales tax. Former finance minister Travis Toews raised that column with voters earlier in the election race, resulting in Smith saying she won’t introduce the tax.

Toews himself once discussed the possibility of a provincial sales tax. In November 2020, he told members of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce he would consider looking at a provincial sales tax, but only after the pandemic and after further spending cuts.

In July, Toews told True North those comments were indicative only of his promise to propose a revenue panel before the end of his government’s term.  

Smith also signed a Canadian Taxpayers Federation pledge in August saying she would never impose a Provincial Sales Tax or raise taxes of any kind, if elected Premier.

“Conservative or libertarian?” Shaping Alberta’s Future wrote. “Anti-tax or pro-tax? Will the real Danielle Smith please stand up?”

The third party group did not respond to a request for comment by publication deadline Monday.

Alberta Correspondent | + posts

Rachel is a seasoned political reporter who’s covered government institutions from a variety of levels. A Carleton University journalism graduate, she was a multimedia reporter for three local Niagara newspapers. Her work has been published in the Toronto Star. Rachel was the inaugural recipient of the Political Matters internship, placing her at The Globe and Mail’s parliamentary bureau. She spent three years covering the federal government for iPolitics. Rachel is the Alberta correspondent for True North based in Edmonton.

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