Braid: Nenshi snaps back at burst of UCP attack ads linking him to Trudeau

By the time the election arrives in 2027, Trudeau is likely to be long gone. These ads could look like quaint ancient history, but the UCP doesn’t care

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Bad blood is too tame a term for what’s going on between Premier Danielle Smith and new NDP Leader Naheed Nenshi.

Poisoned blood is more like it.

The UCP barely let Nenshi get his new chair warm before firing election-style attack ads all over social media. They place him in unflattering settings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“We have enough of Trudeau in Ottawa,” the ads say. “We don’t need one in Alberta.”

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Nenshi responded with his own video Thursday afternoon.

“You know what? They’re trying to define me for you, but they can’t do it. Because you know me, I’ve been around.

“And lord knows no one has ever accused me of being quiet.

“So, you know what? Let them pick their fights. Let them waste their money. My job is to show you that you’ve got an alternative.

“I will put up my public record and my record of public service up against Danielle Smith any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Bring it on.”

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The UCP assault comes under cover of the party itself, but approval had to come from Smith.

“I think it’s awesome,” says Cynthia Moore, the past-president of the UCP.

“You have to define Nenshi right away. And we’re not making anything up about his connection to Trudeau.

“And look at the way he attacks the premier. He’ll say just anything.”

Nenshi has certainly been blunt and personal right from the start of his leadership run. He had to know a counter-blast was coming.

“They’re not just incompetent, they are immoral and they are dangerous,” he said of Smith and her ministers.

“The more that I watch Danielle Smith and how she is running or, more correctly, not running the province, I feel like they only know how to do two things: pick fights and waste money.”

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Nenshi and Smith were once friendly acquaintances at U of C.

Recently, he said: “The premier is not the person I used to know 30 years ago, but rather someone who is just concerned with manipulation and triangulation to see how she can stay in power. We deserve better than that.”

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Very strong words, even in our brutal modern politics.

UCP politicians, including Smith, mostly bit their tongues during the NDP campaign. There was always a slim chance Nenshi might delight them by losing.

Smith put out a gracious welcoming tweet after Nenshi won. That was like waving a white flag just before you throw the grenade.

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The UCP ads are sophisticated work that didn’t suddenly pop out of nowhere. They’ve been in the works for weeks.

Garett Spelliscy, the NDP’s executive director, is contemptuous.

“It’s clear that we’re the biggest provincial party so they’ve gotta use that negative hammer,” he says. “It’s really all they have.

“Obviously, he’s a threat to them. There’s only one reason you put out 100 per cent negative ads and that’s to drive down support for your opponent.”

The UCP has definitely been spooked by the NDP’s huge gain in memberships, from 16,000 to 85,000.

Some key UCP players even suggest those numbers are as padded as your grandma’s sofa.

Naheed Nenshi
Naheed Nenshi is introduced as the new leader of the Alberta NDP at the Hyatt Regency in Calgary on Saturday. Photo by Jim Wells /Postmedia Network

Voting integrity was more transparent in the Smith leadership campaign, they claim, without offering evidence of NDP fiddling.

Spelliscy continues: “If they’re gonna hold on to their 45 per cent (in the polls) they have to go negative. They’re rehashing the same formula that worked against Rachel Notley.”

“But it’s very unusual three years out from an election, very American-style and cynical.”

By the time the election arrives in 2027, Trudeau is likely to be long gone. These ads could look like quaint ancient history, but the UCP doesn’t care.

The whole point is to make people turn away from Nenshi before this whole NDP surge gets out of hand.

Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Herald

X: @DonBraid

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