[Delivered to the leader of His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition of Alberta by mail and email]
April 19, 2023
Dear Rachel Notley,
On Monday, April 17, security contractors hired by the Alberta NDP removed two journalists from your press conference: Keean Bexte from The Counter Signal and Alex Dhaliwal from Rebel News.
At the same conference, you dismissed Western Standard columnist Nigel Hannaford and doubled down on a blanket ban of the Standard from asking you any questions at all. Further, you confirmed that your party has cut off that outlet from receiving NDP media advisories.
Fostering a system where politicians can cherry-pick journalists’ questions while blacklisting random outlets is an affront to the basic tenets of democracy, and runs contrary to the expectations that Albertans have for a free press.
You have stated on social media that Albertans deserve a leader that takes their questions, and you proudly declared you would take media questions and follow-ups. But your behaviour indicates the opposite.
On April 14, Premier Danielle Smith announced that she will be limiting journalists at press events to one question each in order to accommodate a greater variety of questions. This prompted you to portray Premier Smith as a censor and yourself as a defender of press freedom.
You claim to support the values of openness and transparency, but the hypocrisy here is too great to ignore.
In fact, you wrote on Twitter on April 16 that “Leaders with nothing to hide actually answer questions from the media.” Does this mean you have something to hide?
Independent journalism is vital to a healthy Canadian mediasphere, and reporters should not be blacklisted simply because they don’t work for large government-subsidized media organizations.
Independent journalists are able to ask questions of politicians that truly hold power to account and inform the Canadian public. You have led Albertans to believe that this is something you value.
Ms. Notley, will you commit to allowing independent media outlets to cover all future Alberta NDP press conferences?
In addition, will you commit to maintaining press access for independent media if your party wins the general election?
We request your response by Thursday, April 20 at 11am MT.
Independent Press Gallery of Canada
The Counter Signal
The Western Standard
The Western Standard
Sheila Gunn Reid
Alberta Bureau Chief