Two weeks before an anticipated bitterly contested provincial election, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith allegedly interfered with the judicial process, according to a decision issued on Thursday by the Canadian province’s ethics commissioner.
The announcement is just another obstacle for the right-leaning ruling United Conservative Party (UCP), which has encountered issues due to statements made by Smith and other candidates. Smith’s crisis management abilities are currently being put to the test in Alberta due to raging wildfires.
Ethics Commissioner Marguerite Trussler said Smith had breached conflict of interest laws by contacting the province’s justice minister about the case of a Calgary pastor facing criminal charges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is a threat to democracy to interfere with the administration of justice,” she wrote.
In statement on Thursday, Smith said she would seek legal advice on how a premier could talk to a justice minister about sensitive matters in the future.
Alberta, Canada’s main oil-producing province, holds provincial elections on May 29 and polls indicate a tight two-way race between the UCP and the left-leaning New Democratic Party.
Last week Smith apologized for having compared Albertans vaccinated against COVID-19 with followers of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. She made the comments in 2021 when working as a radio show host.
A UCP candidate apologized on Wednesday after comparing transgender children in schools to putting feces in food, but said she would not withdraw from the election, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp said.
Smith said in a statement on Thursday that Johnson will not sit as a UCP member in the legislature if she wins the election as a party candidate.
In March, another UCP candidate resigned after claiming children are exposed to pornography in schools and teachers help them change their gender identities.